Waterfowl Shows: Find one and Go!

I have worked waterfowl shows for many years. Some good and some not so good, but I always look forward to the show season. My interest usually starts with a few flyers and catalogs I receive in the mail. I wade through these like a little kid with a new Sears Christmas catalog. The things I wish for and the little voice in my head telling me I have enough never seems to stop me from adding to my inventory.

Almost all of the shows also offer presentations by vendors, callers, outfitters, and experts in the field. Many times TV personalities are easily accessible and willing to share personal stories with you.

Take the time to explore and interact with all the possibilities. You can learn a lot in one visit.

Shows occur across the country. On the west coast is the Oregon Waterfowl Festival running from June 23 – 24th. Lots of great vendors and two days’ worth of fun. For those in the south, the New Orleans Sportsmen show is huge running from July 19 to 21, 2019. The east coast hosts the Waterfowl Festival November 8 – 10. It takes very little to find a show in your area from large too small.

Scheels is a big player in the waterfowl weekends and they have events all across the United States. If you have a chance be sure to check them out. Most stores expand outside with lots of vendors and products to tee first hand. Keep checking their website, but many of these occur on the first weekend of August.

Mack’s Prairie Wings is certainly a go-to experience with their annual show in late August and their National Calling contest in November. Presley’s is another show well worth the time to attend. Typically, they also have a show on the first weekend of August. Reeds Family Outdoor Outfitters is another well worth visiting. They have their Fall Classic August 16 – 18.

Game Fair is something altogether different in the size and scope of vendors. To put it in as few words as possible it is huge. This year their event runs August 9, 10, 11 and 16, 17 and 18. Held at the Armstrong Ranch Kennels just outside of Anoka, Minnesota, the show since 1982 brings in most vendors engaged in waterfowl. Something there for everyone.

Gamefair is expansive. The show is outdoors and takes on the flavor of a county fair.

Bass Pro Shop’s over the years has held waterfowl shows, but with the Cabela’s merger, 2018 was not active. This year may be different, but these events previously held at Cabela’s were large and well attended.

Every vendor worth their salt is there to show off what is new and innovative.

Rogers Sporting Goods in Liberty, Mo is perhaps one of the Midwest regions largest shows. It is always held the first weekend in August. In addition to this show is the annual duck and goose calling contest that draws lots of people. At the show, vendors expand to the outside of the building and create a midway of products for you to explore.

Each vendor has deals you cannot get elsewhere.

In some stores, you almost need a map to see it all.

Another way to stay in the hunt all year is to watch the online videos produced independently. All have different destinations, species, and a variety of great hunts to get your blood running for the upcoming season. All of these are well done and full of exciting hunts. You can learn a lot watching these videos so check them out:

The Grind

Fowled Reality

Cana Outdoors

Dry Creek Waterfowl

Lights Out Waterfowl

Ongaro’s Outdoor Outfitters

I would be remiss if I did not give you some tips on how to attend and interact at these shows. First, as you walk around, look for vendors that are out-front and wanting to shake your hand. Consider that the first sign of interest in you. Take the time to ask them how to use the product, what is new and what is possible if you purchase the product. Spend some time asking about their hunting season, where they hunted, how they hunted and about their success. I have learned so much in talking to people and you will too. Show off your pictures and your spreads, let them know you want to learn and that you can contribute to the conversation.

Walk up and talk to the vendors, look for those willing to talk to you and share their successes. The pro staff is very knowledgeable.

Make sure you visit with as many vendors as possible, note the prices and the deals each show offers. I know many time manufacturers have special packages and prices just for that show. You can take advantage of those by just asking. Take the flyer with you so you can see and compare. Know your inventory or personal equipment and what you already own. Also, take advantage of bundles. I had one show where buying one item from one vendor made another item from a completely different vendor ½ off.

Some great deal awaits you in the near future.

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About the author: David R. Vaught, Ph.D. began hunting waterfowl at a young age due to his father being a waterfowl biologist for the Missouri Department of Conservation. Today he hunts both public and private waterfowl grounds and is always working on something related to waterfowl throughout the year. He loves to turkey hunt and fish for walleye and crappie in the spring. David is a university professor, holds an NRA Level II coaching certification and works with youth in trap and skeet shooting in the summer with his annual trap-shooting academy.

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