The majority of outdoor sportsmen shows are held in late winter, after fall hunting seasons have finished. That's certainly a perfect time to hold such an event, when there's not much to do outside.
The Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show, however, takes the opposite approach. They schedule their annual event during early to mid-August. They figure that fishing is often slow then and outdoorsmen and women are getting excited about the coming hunting seasons. It's a system that has worked out well over the years. In fact, this year marks the 31st time the show will be held.
The event will take place August 8-10 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, among others. 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 10th.
Many things draw people to this Richmond show, but one of the highlights is the Virginia Deer Classic, a contest that compares the biggest bucks tagged in the state last year in different categories. This year's contestants will have their buck's antlers scored using the official Boone & Crockett method, the most widely respected measuring system.
Certified judges will award ribbons and trophies in five antler classes including typical and non-typical and various point levels from 6-pointers on up. Bucks taken will be judged according to the type of hunting gear used, with categories including crossbows, muzzleloaders, rifles and regular bows. 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. Quaiff is the editor of the organization's fine publication, Whitetail Times.
The Virginia Open Turkey Calling Contest will also be held at the show. This will begin Saturday 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 10 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 fishing and hunting opportunities and regulations 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 again be 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. This awesome set of antlers weighs 11½ pounds and is one of the largest free-range bucks ever bagged.
New for this year there will be a Virginia Sportsman Gunning Decoy Contest, sponsored by the Classic Edge.
A number of celebrity guest speakers will be at the event, including Kip Campbell, host of Red Arrow TV, Fred Abbas, co-host of A-Way Outdoors, and RJ and Jay Paul Molinere, from Meet the Swamp People. All told there will be 400 booths at the show with hunting supplies, bows, tree stands, muzzleloaders, turkey and duck calls, waterfowl blinds 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.