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It’s always good to see the Diamond Blades/Knives of Alaska crew. They’re the leaders in the hunting knife world. Their products have stood the test of time. Sure, they come out with new products but you trust them because of their past history.

Last week I said I wanted to write about Varmint Hunting but … maybe that will happen next week. A more time-sensitive topic popped up. I’ve been writing a weekly article for the ISJ since… I can’t remember when. You might think after a year or two you’d run out of topics to write about. But if you love something there’s always something new — a new angle or maybe you just get up in the mountains and get refreshed and have five more articles you’re dying to write.

Like right now I’m sitting in the Dallas-Fort Worth airport leaving the Dallas Safari Club Convention & Expo. Suddenly it hit me. I miss Katy. I’d pay $100 if she was sitting here with me right now for 10 minutes holding hands.

It’s weird, we just celebrated our 38th anniversary and I think I love her more now than when we got married. OK, I better switch back to hunting because if Katy sees that I’m comparing our love with my love for hunting this could be my last article!

Anyway, now is the show season and it makes sense. Hunting season is pretty much over so because it’s a dead time, January to March is the perfect time to schedule the shows. The SHOT show is the mother of all shows. It’s Jan. 17 to 21 so everything else falls somewhere around it. Although this year for some reason the Safari Club International Convention moved back to Vegas and is on the tail end of the same week at SHOT. Usually, it is in February.

But with all the above said, let’s talk about why you ought to hit the shows. We’ll start with the SHOT. Monday is Media Day at the Range. They invite writers to test out all of the new (and old) rifles, pistols, shotguns, crossbows and ammo. Of course, that’s a fun day. The show actually runs Tuesday through Friday. All of the big manufacturers are there. Worldwide. I don’t know if every country is there but nearly. Firearm manufacturers, ammo, backpacks, knives, optics, outdoor clothing, backpacks — you name it. The reason I’m there is to see all of the new gear for 2022. I’ll be finding new products to test and write about, lining up sponsors, trips, etc. It is by invitation only but if you ever get to go, you should.

Next let’s talk about the club conventions like SCI and DSC. Probably two-thirds of the booths are guides. If you want to book the hunting/fishing trip of a lifetime, these are the shows to hit. I want to take Katy and Kolby on a South Louisiana redfish/spec fishing trip and to Alaska fishing so I hit some of those booths. I met a good sounding group of Cajuns that run Saltgrassoutdoors.com. Then I talked to Waterfalls Resort, which is where I went for my first Alaska fishing trip years ago, which instigated my writing career. I may take them there.

Then you have the state shows like the Idaho Sportsman Show, The Great Northwest Outdoor Expo (I hope they’re having it this year) and so forth. I love these shows. They’re local so you meet a lot of local manufacturers with a new product that they’ve invented. That’s how I met the SneakyHunter Bootlamps crew.

Then of course there are a lot of guides there, too. You can usually tell by talking to them if they’re legit but check references. You don’t want to save your pennies for the trip of a lifetime only to end up with some bozo for a guide.

Then I love hitting the seminars. But take with a grain of salt seminars put on by celebrities if they’re promoting their sponsor’s products. Like any shopping check around and do some research. I conduct 40 to 60 seminars a year. I had a seminar at the DSC, two at SHOT and three at the SCI Conv. I try to give honest reviews because if I say this air gun is the best, some kid may be saving up his paper route earnings to buy that air gun. If it’s a dud he’s stuck with it until he gets out of college and gets a real job.

But still, here’s a couple of words of warning:

1. Remember the old proverb — a gift blinds the eyes of the wise. If the speaker is sponsored, the gift will sway his opinion.

2. Marketing is made to create discontent. A few years ago the .300 Win. Short Mag was advertised as the best rifle ever and the 30-06 was relegated to the museum. Then the 6.5 Creedmoor came out and overnight the .300 Win. Short Mag was deemed worthless. Manufacturers have to breed discontent or you’ll use the same rifle your dad did, your kid will use it and your grandkid will. That’s bad for business. They want you to buy a new rifle every year.

Everyone likes new inventions but products also have to stand the test of time. So investigate and make wise buying decisions.

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. He can be reached via email at smileya7@aol.com.