YAKIMA, Wash. — The bird hunting seasons are not over, yet. But they are winding down quickly. Upland hunters have through Monday, Jan. 20 to chase pheasants, quail and partridge in Eastern Washington. Waterfowlers get a few more days. Duck and goose hunting in most of Washington closes next Sunday, Jan. 26.
So there is still some time to get out for a last hunt or two.
If the wintry weather is making it tough to get motivated, there are some other options to feed your outdoor fix, and do it indoors.
This is the time of year that several different sportsmen shows around the region get fired up. The first in the area, the Tri-Cities Sportsmen Show, runs this Friday through Sunday at the Hapo Center in Pasco.
Formerly the TRAC Center, the Hapo Center has been upgraded with a concrete floor allowing for more display space and this year show producer Merle Shuyler says he has used that new space to add more exhibitors with new RV’s, boats, pick-ups and SUVs.
Shuyler, who also puts on the Central Washington Sportsmen Show at the SunDome in Yakima next month, does a great job of bringing lots of outdoor exhibitors and attractions into the shows, providing something for the whole family.
This year’s show in Pasco will feature a live animal display with a tiger, cougar, lynx and several other wild creatures that can be viewed up close. There is also a kid’s fishing pond loaded with trout as well as some 80 different outdoor oriented vendors including guides and outfitters from around the West. If you are looking to pick up tips to catch more fish, or be more successful in the field, hourly fishing and hunting demonstrations will be presented all three days of the show.
The next in the line-up of sportsmen shows gets underway next week at the fairgrounds in Puyallup. Called the Washington Sportsmen’s Show, this is the biggest show in Washington and runs five days, Wednesday, Jan. 22nd through Sunday the 26th.
Taking up several of the big buildings on the fairgrounds, the show also presents lots of boats, RV’s and other vehicles. Seminars on hunting, fishing, wilderness survival and outdoor cooking by expert speakers are presented hourly each day. The list of exhibitors is pretty extensive, with all kinds of guides, outfitters, lodges and manufacturers there to talk to folks.
Maybe the biggest attraction is the several retailers that set up shop at the show and sell all kinds of fishing and hunting gear at really attractive prices.
Last year my fishing buddy Doug Jewett and I ran over to Puyallup to take in the show and ended up bringing home a few hundred dollars’ worth of flashers, lures, fishing rods, and other stuff. We are planning on going back again next week, with a bigger truck and a few more dollars.
If you don’t want to brave the pass to get over to the west side, another option for a mega show is the Pacific Northwest Sportsmen’s Show in Portland running Wednesday, Feb. 5th through Sunday, the 9th.
This is the second largest sportsmen show in the country, and if you like to hunt, fish, camp or just enjoy the outdoors, you owe it to yourself to take this show in at least once in your life. There is just so much to see, and like the other shows, it is made up of hundreds of exhibitors hawking their outdoor wares or services, including lots of boats and accessories, SUV’s, RV’s and more.
As is the case with the other shows, retailers are set up with some pretty hot buys on all things hunting and fishing.
Word to the wise though, if you can avoid going on the weekend to the Puyallup or Portland shows, do so. Weekend attendance, especially in Portland, makes it very difficult to find a place to park, and the aisles get so clogged with people it is hard to even stop and look at the different booths.
If you don’t want to hassle with the drive to the bigger shows, our own Central Washington Sportsmen Show will run Feb. 14-16. This will be the 31st version of the show at the SunDome and while it isn’t of the magnitude of the Portland or Puyallup Shows, Shuyler does a good job of bringing in fishing pros and hunting experts who are well versed in the outdoor activities we enjoy right here in our area. All have first-hand knowledge on fishing specific waters for different kinds of fish and will help make you more successful.
The other attraction of all the shows is the horn and antler displays. Each show has a professional display that includes some of the largest deer, elk, and other big game animals taken in the Northwest. The Yakima show also has a horn and antler competition where local hunters can bring their horns and antlers to be professionally measured and then they are displayed during the show.
This time of year it is sometimes tough to get out in the field, or on the water. But for those of us who still need an outdoor fix, the sportsmen shows in the region give us a chance to check out what’s new in the hunting and fishing world. And if you are looking for some hot deals, the shows are definitely worth checking out.
• Rob Phillips is an award-winning freelance outdoor writer who has written the Northwest Sportsman column for over 25 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org