Testing out a Savage rifle at last year’s SHOT Show in Las Vegas.

Photo courtesy of Tom Claycomb

To some degree, things are slowing down in the outdoor world. At least as much as it ever does for us in Idaho.

I say this because we still have ice fishing, steelhead fishing, varmint hunting, waterfowl hunting, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.

Because this is the slowest time of the year, now is the time all of the big shows are scheduled. I won’t even begin to be able to list them all. As far as I know, every state has a least one big show. Some states even have multiple ones. For example, Texas has the Dallas Safari Club Convention and Expo. I think Houston is about to start one. They also have a hog hunting show and who knows what else.

Then on top of all that, there are the national shows. There’s the upcoming Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show, which is held every year in Las Vegas. There’s also the Safari Club International Convention in Vegas and the Great American Outdoor Show in Pennsylvania, just to name the few that I know of. Then this summer you’ll have the ICAST, which is the world’s largest sportfishing show, and a lot of the big outdoor writer conventions such as POMA and SEOPA.

But back to the current winter shows. If you’re any kind of an outdoorsman at all, I think that you’d enjoy attending one. I must confess, I hate Las Vegas. But I must attend the SHOT because that’s where I initiate a huge amount of my business. Everyone who is anyone in the outdoor world attends the SHOT.

On Jan. 18, the “Media Day at The Range” is held. All the new guns, ammo, optics and so forth will be there for writers to test. Of course they do this in hopes that we will write about it. For instance, Crosman is introducing a new airgun that shoots arrows. I knew about it a few months ago but was sworn to secrecy. Now it’s on display for all to see. In terms of gear available at the SHOT, the list goes on and on.

The media will dominate the range in the morning. They changed the format so that in the afternoon the buyers are catered to. In the past, the bigger name writers attended in the morning and the lesser-known ones came in the afternoon. Now the only way that media can attend is if they are invited by a company. It makes sense to cater to the buyers in the afternoon because they are the ones they are really targeting.

On this year’s schedule, the Archery Trade Association show was held this week, the Dallas Safari Club Convention will be held this weekend, the SHOT will be held between Jan. 18-22, and the SCI Convention will be held Feb. 3-6. Everyone is jumping from one show to the next. It may sound weird, but because I have to scramble to line up one show and then rush to the next, I won’t get 50 percent of my invitations to attend meetings, breakfast, lunch and suppers for another week.

There’s a lot that’s already lined up. Paige Darden with MyTopo invited me to the State of the Industry Dinner at the SHOT, which will feature Jeff Foxworthy as the speaker. I know it probably sounds like a lot of fun, but I get up at 6 a.m. and hit it hard until 10 p.m. Half the time Katy and I are so tired we grab a burger on the walk to the motel and hit the sack.

But with all the above said, I’d like to encourage you to try to hit at least one show this winter, especially if you want to line up a hunting or fishing trip with a guide. I see a lot of Oregon and Alaska fishing guides at the Boise and Yakima shows, as well as elk, deer, bear and sheep guides. The nice deal about these shows is that it’s easier to get a local reference to check how good the guide is.

If you want to line up a safari, then you have to hit the Dallas Safari Club or the Safari Club International conventions. I’m usually tied up 70 percent of the time at these two shows conducting seminars and working deals. But you can line up all manner of foreign hunts and fishing trips.

In a few weeks, I’ll write a follow up article on the SHOT. It is an amazing show. Well, after typing this, I can’t wait!

Tom Claycomb lives in Idaho and has outdoors columns in newspapers in Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Louisiana. He also writes for various outdoors magazines and teaches outdoors seminars at stores like Cabela’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Bass Pro Shop.