By Gerald Almy
Most outdoor sportsman shows are held in late winter, after fall hunting seasons have finished. There's a nice gap there that they fill between the end of deer season and before fishing and spring turkey hunting get going strong. The packed parking lots and halls at those shows prove that it's a good strategy.
The Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show, however, takes a different approach. They schedule their annual event during early to mid-August. Their rationale is that fishing is a bit slow then and outdoorsmen are getting excited about the coming hunting seasons. But with no game yet open, they'll turn their attention to the events and speakers at the show. It's a system that has worked. After all, this year marks the 30th anniversary of the show.
The event will take place August 9-11 at the Richmond Raceway Complex at 600 E. Laburnum Ave., near Richmond. It is being sponsored by Green Top Hunting & Fishing, The Virginia Deer Hunter's Association, Keystone Tractor Works and Whitten Brothers. Hours are 4 - 9 p.m. on Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday the 11th.
One of the highlights of this show is the Virginia Deer Classic, a contest that compares the biggest bucks tagged in Virginia last year in different categories. This year's contestants will have their bucks antlers scored under the official Boone & Crockett system.
Certified judges will award ribbons and trophies in five antler classes. Crossbow hunting will be a new addition to the contest, with deer bagged that way judged separately from bucks taken with rifles or compound bows. Typical and non-typical racks will also be judged in separate categories. Awards will be presented to winners at 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Hunters must have a certified Virginia Game Check Card or their confirmation number from the Game Department's Telephone Check System in order to enter a deer in the contest. For more details, call Denny Quaiff at 804/590-3481, or check out the website virginiadeerhunters.org.
The Virginia Open Turkey Calling Contest will also be held at the show. This will begin Saturday at 3 p.m. in the upstairs seminar room. Qualified judges will award three places in four separate divisions. Those include senior, intermediate, junior and friction. First place winner of the senior and friction divisions will be eligible to go to the Grand National Calling Contest, provided at least ten people sign up for each division.
For more information contact Phil Wyatt, 804/337-9433.
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries will have several booths at the show. Conservation police officers will be on hand as well as wildlife biologists to discuss any subject about fishing and hunting in Virginia. You'll even be able to buy hunting and fishing licenses at the show or register a boat. A Basic Hunter Education Class is scheduled during the show as well on Saturday.
The NRA Great American Whitetail Collection will againbe on display at the Outdoor Sportsman Show. Included in the NRA display is the famous Hole-in-the-Horn buck, with a non-typical rack score of 328 2/8 inches. The rack weighs 11 ½ pounds. It's one of the largest free-range bucks ever bagged.
As a special attraction, a door prize will be given away for a 6-day pre-rut Kansas bow hunt or a 5 day Kansas gun hunt in December with Midwest Finest Whitetails.
New for this year, the Green Top Pavilion will feature 25 booths of decoy carvers and collectors demonstrating their skills and selling their wares.
Several celebrity guest speakers will be at the event, including Dave Poteat and Tim Anello and Pat and Nicole Reeve, who host TV shows on hunting. All told there will be 400 booths at the show with hunting supplies, bows, treestands, muzzleloaders, turkey and duck calls and camouflage clothing as well as art work and refreshments.
Admission is $10 daily, $15 for a three-day pass. Children 15 and under are admitted free if accompanied by an adult. For more details, call 804/748-7529 or visit the show website sportsmanshow.com.
Award-winning outdoors writer Gerald Almy is a Maurertown resident.