The Big Horn Outdoor Adventure Show is like taking a giant step toward opening day.
Plan a fishing trip and check out the new fishing gear. Enroll in hunter education or book a hunt. Buy a boat or reserve a guided whitewater raft trip.
Three area boat dealers will be on-site this week for the 53rd annual show organized by the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council.
Hunting rigs ranging from ATVs to pickups and all sorts of outdoor recreation accessories will be on display Thursday through Sunday at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center.
The first 200 people through the doors each day will receive a free fishing lure, said council executive director Wanda Clifford.
With about 240 vendors exhibiting at the show, visitors can always expect to make discoveries, she said.
For example, a new smartphone application will be on display that enables sportsmen to field-check hunting regulations specifically filtered for a species, season and game management unit.
Shooters will enjoy seeing a jumping target that bounces and flips with each hit to provide a new target for the next shot.
The council has had virtual fishing and laser-shot shooting simulators for years, but a new virtual shooting booth is geared to teaching kids the basics of clay target shooting.
Live birds of prey will be available in an educational presentation by the Outdoor Learning Center based at West Valley High School.
Fishing always is well represented at the Big Horn Show, ranging from gear to ocean charter boats, Alaska and Canada outfitters – and a chance for the kids to wet a line and catch a trout in stocked pools at the fairgrounds.
The show’s best lineup of free seminars in years features angling experts speaking on topics such as chinook salmon, smallmouth and largemouth bass, walleyes and sturgeon. Hunting seminar topics include calling tactics for elk, bowhunting for pressured elk and bowhunting for whitetails. The seminars run each hour of the show up to 6 p.m.
Staff biologists and enforcement officers from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Idaho Fish and Game Department will be staffing booths to answer sportsmen’s questions, along with representatives from the U.S Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Land Management.
Some exhibitors offer free drawings for gear, services or trips, headlined this year by a drawing for an Alaska fishing trip and $1,000 spending money offered by Dave Smith Motors.
Raffles also are popular. Buy tickets to support a group or cause and get chances to win items such as rifles.
Helicopter rides will be offered from the fairgrounds. A 10-minute tour of the Spokane Valley area will cost $40 a person. Longer rides are possible.
About 30 hunting outfitters from Alaska, Canada and the Inland Northwest are on the exhibitor list, including Montana pheasant hunting guides.
Taxidermists will be well represented in their booths and second-hand in the Trophy Territory area devoted to displaying the heads, racks, horns and skulls of big game brought in by the region’s hunters. These are the roots of the show, where it all began a half century ago as a place for hunters to compare their harvest with others.
Ribbons are awarded and the top trophies are displayed after being officially measured by Boone and Crockett scorers.
Sportsmen bringing mounts to be judged should enter through the south entrance of the Fair and Expo Center and continue through the Yellow Gate to Bay 3. Entries will be accepted Wednesday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m.-noon.