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Big Horn Show is a wild time

Archery and air-rifle ranges, staffed by able instructors, are popular stops with families attending the Big Horn Show. (Colin Mulvany)
Archery and air-rifle ranges, staffed by able instructors, are popular stops with families attending the Big Horn Show. (Colin Mulvany)

Think of the 52nd annual Big Horn Outdoor Adventure Show as an Inland Northwest search engine for wildlife-related outdoor pursuits.

Experts in fishing, hunting, rafting, wildlife, taxidermy, boats and other vehicles are among more than 200 exhibitors moving into the Spokane Fair and Expo Center for a four-day run that starts Thursday.

Sponsored by the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council, the show is unique in the Northwest for several reasons:

• It’s a family show, with a spectrum of attractions from shooting ranges, fishing ponds and other activities for kids to the latest blood-sport gear and trophies appealing to anglers and hunters.

• Profits from the show stay local for wildlife conservation projects such as conducting hunter education classes, supporting big-game research and developing youth and disabled hunting and fishing opportunities.

Fishing-related exhibitors have increased this year, said Wanda Clifford, council executive director.

“Around 40 different fishing guides and fishing product booths are coming, including The Evening Hatch, which does fly fishing off the Yakima, Klickitat for steelhead and Upper Columbia for trout,” she said.

“On the hunting side we have over 65 guide services and hunting-related products, including Savage Arms and Deep Timber Sounds Game Calls for Archery and Rifle.”

Hunting and fishing techniques will be detailed in five-to-eight free seminars a day.

Book an ocean fishing trip or learn how the latest technology is personalizing GPS maps for hunters.

The show continually evolves with the region’s outdoor interests. For example, dogs always catch the eye of show visitors. But there’s an addition to the traditional pheasant and partridge dogs featured by the Spokane Bird Dog Association. A newer group – North Idaho Antler Dogs – will be promoting the more recent working dog job of finding shed antlers.

Among the exhibitors are 25 nonprofit groups ranging from Ducks Unlimited and the Mule Deer Foundation to the Spokane Walleye Club.

The trailer will be on hand with videos and information on traveling and storing food in bear country to avoid bear encounters.

“We especially like to work one-on-one with group leaders to help them with bear awareness and how to use bear spray for their youth groups, church groups or whatever,” said Chuck Bartlebaugh of the Center for Wildlife Information.

Washington and Idaho fish and wildlife agencies have booths where questions are posed and myths are busted regarding fishing and hunting regulations and wildlife management.

The work of numerous taxidermists graces the show, especially in Trophy Territory, where area sportsmen bring their big-game mounts for official Boone and Crockett scoring and display.

This year’s feature attractions include:

• Air-rifle and archery target-shooting ranges and fishing ponds for kids.

• Helicopter tours from the fairgrounds: $40 a person for a 10-minute ride each day of the show until dark.

• Hunter education class registration.

• Boat giveaway – a 2012 MasterCraft x15 with $3,000 of accessories including wake boards.

• Animated laser light show designed to educate the public about wildlife, conservation, ethics and safety.

• Great Bear Exhibit featuring live black bears.

“The show is busting at the seams this year with outdoor-related items in every corner, nook and cranny,” Clifford said, noting that Cabela’s Wholesale Sports and the White Elephant will have booths.

“There has been more interest in being a part of this year’s show than we have ever had,” she said.

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