I attended SHOT Show for the first time last year. While I came away amazed by the spectacle of the show itself, I have to admit I was a bit underwhelmed by the amount of dog and wingshooting-related items on display.
I didn’t attend SHOT this year, but I did ask fellow blogger David Draper to keep an eye out for any new or interesting items while he was there. Unsurprisingly, David didn’t find much dog-related stuff at this year’s show, either. Garmin/Tri-Tronics, SportDOG and Dogtra released new e-collars this year (new collar round-up forthcoming) but the truth is, if you want to find gundog-related items and vendors, you’re largely not going to find them at an event like SHOT.
You will, however, find them in spades at a show like the Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever 30th Anniversary Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic which is by far the nation’s largest upland hunting and conservation event.
I’ve attended the past two events in Omaha and Kansas City, respectively, and I can say that Pheasant Fest is a must-see. It’s like SHOT for gundog owners and bird hunters, minus the Elvis impersonators, surgically-enhanced booth babes and tactical zombies. In honor of Pheasants Forever’s 30th anniversary, this year’s show is being held in PF’s hometown of Minneapolis February 15-17 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
The bird dog parade is always an entertaining spectacle, and the seminar list for the three-day event is chock-full of great pro trainers and venerated legends in the bird dog world. And what’s nice about it is attendees will have the opportunity to meet face-to-face with breeders, trainers, and dog kennel and club representatives. Pheasant Fest features the leading dog trainers and handlers in the country, including Bob West, Tom Dokken, Rick Smith, Ronnie Smith, and Delmar Smith.
So if you always wanted to meet a legend like Delmar Smith, you can do it here. I got the chance at last year’s show, and it was awesome.
Intrigued by a particular gundog breed and would like to know more about it? Chances are the breed club will have a booth at Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic. Want to learn how to cook a pheasant without cream of mushroom soup? There will be cooking seminars from the likes of Hank Shaw and Georgia Pelligrini all weekend.
And if you’re a landowner, or simply concerned or interested in habitat improvement or conservation, you’ll have the chance to learn more than you ever thought you could. A complete exhibitors and seminar list can be found at the Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic website.
One really interesting new addition to this year’s show is “The Gun Counter,” which, for lack of a better term, is basically an “all things shotgun and wingshooting” segment where you can learn about new shotguns (and old) and tips on how better to shoot them.
From this press release from Pheasants Forever:
This portion of the show is an all-encompassing forum to learn more about the tools which bird hunters use in the field. “Most of our members’ commitment to wildlife habitat conservation originates in their passion for bird hunting. The new Gun Counter segment of Pheasant Fest allows avid bird hunters and gear junkies to learn about the wide array of shotguns, ammo and gear from the most well-known manufacturers in the hunting industry,” says Brad Heidel, Pheasants Forever director of corporate sales. Manufacturers like Browning/Winchester Firearms, Federal Premium Ammunition, and Winchester Ammunition will be giving seminars on the companies’ newest innovations and product lines. Following seminars, audience members will have the opportunity to participate in Q&A with manufacturers. Representing the long history of American double gun manufacturing, the Parker and L.C. Smith Gun Collectors Associations will be present and giving seminars on these two classic American firearms. Throughout the weekend, seminars on how to refine and improve your upland shooting skills will be presented by expert wingshooters Tom Fiumarello & Patrick Flanigan.
If my schedule allows, I’m going to be there. Anyone else planning on attending this year’s event?