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March 28, 2011

Faith Outdoors

A sure sign of spring happens this week. It’s the annual Northwest Sportshow, which takes place March 30 through April 3 (Wednesday through Sunday).

Even though the weather has been feeling more like February than late March, walking through the doors of the Minneapolis Convention Center will make you feel better by turning your thoughts — and dreams — toward the upcoming fishing sesaon, not to mention the turkey season just around the corner and, later on, the fall hunting seasons.

Walking the numerous and spacious aisles of the main auditorium is always fun for me, as I have made this an annual adventure. In addition to looking at lots of gear and trip destinations, I have been able to find some good prices on stuff. For example, about two or three years ago, I saw a Nikon Pro Staff scope at the Reed’s booth for $99. It normally sells for $139. So, I bought it for my son’s 20-gauge.

Nikon makes excellent scopes and this one has performed well. This year, we went to the gun range to sight in the shotgun with the Nikon scope. My son, Andy, took three shots at 50 yards to see if the scope was still on (it’s very important to check your scope every year). All three shots — with two different brands of ammo, no less — landed in the bullseye. In fact, they were all touching!

That’s the kind of performance you want in a scope, and the price was great. In fact, I don’t think I have seen a price that low on this scope since then. Some companies offer great deals at the show, so it’s worth looking. My advice would be to price items you are interested in buying, then check the prices at the show to see if there’s a deal to be had.

The show also features numerous seminars dealing with a wide range of topics, including fishing and turkey hunting. Most of them are designed for beginners, so keep that in mind when you’re trying to decide which seminar to attend.

Often times, more advanced tips can be found by talking to people who work in the booths. One of my favorite booths is Ammo Craft, which sells primarily hunting gear. The owner, Ron Becker, is an avid turkey hunter, and he has carried on the tradition of the store’s previous owner, Don Parsons, in supplying a wide array of stuff for turkey hunters.

About two years ago, I bought a push button call from him called the Pro Push Pin Yelper made by Quaker Boy. It’s a great call that is very easy to use. It makes the softer calls like clucks and purrs that can help bring a gobbler into gun range.

Ron recommended the call and I have used it a lot over the last two seasons. It’s my go-to call when I’m trying to get a tom to come those last few critical yards. I have a lot of confidence in this call, and I highly recommend it. Other companies make this type of call, called a pushbutton call. The funny thing is, these calls are so easy to use that they are often overlooked by hunters.

I think what happened is that, when they first came out, they were marketed to hunters who had a tough time using other calls, like box, slate and mouth calls. But, let me tell you, I am proficient with all of these calls, yet I still like my Pro Push Pin Yelper for the soft calls. And, make no mistake, soft calls are very important in turkey hunting, though you hear lots more about the basic mating call of hens in the spring — the yelp.

I remember going to the show way back when I was a preteen. It was held at the Minneapolis Armory, and one of my favorite booths to visit was one run by a guy who called himself The Rat Man. He made a series of jointed wood lures that can best be described as sexy in the water. These lures had more gyrations than the scantily clad women you see on Dancing with the Stars.

Funny thing is, I have never caught a fish on one of these seductive lures. Maybe I didn’t use them often enough. But, that didn’t matter. The Rat Man, complete with his black eye patch — probably used primarily for dramatic effect — was one of the most entertaining characters at the show. And, quite frankly, there has not been anyone like him since he vanished from the scene a number of years ago.

That’s OK. I still like going to the show. I’m fired up about the upcoming turkey hunting and fishing seasons, and I’m fired up about making my annual trip to the Northwest Sportshow.

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About Dave Hrbacek

Staff photographer and writer for The Catholic Spirit. Also, avid outdoors enthusiast with a passion for hunting, fishing and photography. Married to Julie and have four children, three boys and a girl.

View all posts by Dave Hrbacek