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The Great American Outdoor Show

As I write this column, I am sitting in our hotel room in Hummelstown, Pennsylvania. I told you a few weeks ago Taryn and I were going to go to the Great American Outdoor Show.
I’m usually one who does my homework and researches upcoming hunts and trips to the max. This one I did not. I just saw it advertised and thought it looked like fun, and we got a huge surprise, for the good.
First, the trip here was an adventure in itself. We drove down here Sunday, Feb. 4. Generally from Millersburg to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania is about five and a half hours. When we got to the Pennsylvania Turnpike, rain turned to snow, then snow to ice. Kinda sounds like my last column about the QDMA banquet.
When we cleared the Pennsylvania tunnels on I-76, the interstate speeds were less than 40 mph and accidents everywhere. We did arrive safely after about 350 miles and eight hours of tense driving.
Monday morning was clear and sunny. When we arrived at the show, we were amazed. Produced by the NRA, the GAOS is held in the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg with over 1,100 exhibitors covering 650,000 square feet of exhibit space. The nine-day show is considered one of the largest consumer and sports events in the world with over 200 professional seminars and interactive speaking engagements and some of the country's best known celebrities. They also entertain with evening concerts and a huge NRA banquet.
As we walked in the door, we received a program with a map of the complex. The first hall was the Shooting Sports Hall. Just about every gun manufacturer was represented along with every conceivable related product. Hunting, tactical, you name it, it was there.
As we covered this hall today, some gentleman walked up to us and thanked us for coming. I got the chance to meet Chris Cox, the executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action and our principal political strategist for the Second Amendment. I thanked him for their hard work.
We covered the Outfitter Hall (my favorite), where we connected with our friend Mike, who we met at the airport in South Africa. He lives about 100 miles from the show. We also had the chance to meet Maine game warden Jonathan Parker from “The Warden” show (Outdoor Channel) as well as John Wilson from “Trophy Quest.”
We spent several hours in this part of the complex, hunting and fishing outfitters from around the world. My only issue is that I now have 50 new places I want to go.
The Fishing Hall, in the center of everything, had about everything imaginable for anglers. As we walked through this hall today, I stopped to talk with Shane Shanower, the son of Don and Becky Shanower from New Philadelphia. (Don worked for Millersburg Tire for many years before retiring.) Shane helps with the angler’s lure seminars.
I couldn't believe, with the thousands of people at the show, how many from this area were there. It was good to get to talk with you. I stopped at one booth where a fellow was selling those hanging chairs. I don't remember his name, but what caught my eye was the company he worked for was bobbyhanna.com. I showed him my driver's license, and he told us he was raised in Holmesville. Small world.
The Archery Hall, the Boat Hall, the Outdoor Products Hall, the Outdoor Lifestyle Hall, the kids' games, the 3D Archery Shooting Range and oh yes, there was food.
I could go on and on. I know when we prepare for a hunt, we generally train physically for it. I did not realize we had to train for an outdoor show. We literally went to the car Monday afternoon and took an hour nap.
Let me put it to you this way, you gotta see it to believe it. Put it on your calendar for next February, and we’ll see ya there.
In the meantime we’re praying for safe passage home tomorrow as another winter storm blows through. As I always pray, "Lord, I’m in your hands."

Published: February 9, 2018
New Article ID: 2018180209941