The “Grand Poobah” of hunting sport shows

Dan DurbinThe Field and Stream Deer and Turkey Expo in Madison is the “Grand Poobah” of hunting expos in the U.S. Each year when Wisconsin Outdoor News attends the show, our booth is packed with people looking to renew or sign up for a new subscription, and we also tend to get our fair share of questions.

Ultimately, the most frequent question is, “Where’s Bortz,” referring to our beloved editor. Most of the time I tell them I don’t know, because he’s usually hunting or fishing in a spot he won’t reveal to me (although I have been granted entry to a few of those spots when Bortz forced me to wear a blind fold, or when he took me on a path I could never find again.)

This year, we had our “Master of Subscriptions” working the booth once again. That would be Capt. Ron Seeger, who knows everyone, and fears no one who asks for extra hats. He often brings along a Racine kringle, too, and extra nice subscribers often get to sample a piece of Capt. Ron’s kringle. This year riding shotgun was my lovely wife, Lisa, and my two sons, Hunter and Blake. Lisa signs people up with a smile, Hunter handles the cash, and Blake passes out papers because he is too cute for anyone to say no to – even if they already subscribe!

Dan's sons, Hunter and Blake pose for a photo while working in the Wisconsin Outdoor News boothThis show, more than most, has people coming up to the booth to “talk” about the DNR, wolves, politics, and how our deer herd is being “handled.” Honestly, it was fairly quiet.

We did have a few people comment on the deer czar and why the DNR had to pay someone so much money to come up with results that Wisconsin hunters had been complaining about for years. They weren’t mad at the czar, they were just upset that no one seemed to listen to us hunters who are in the trenches every season.

We had a ton of GOOD comments about our paper, which like going to church on Sunday, seems to recharge the batteries of us writers and ad sales people, about our paper.

“Best paper out boys.”

“I have canceled all my subscriptions except for Wisconsin Outdoor News.”

“Keep up the good work fellas.”

It’s so flattering. It makes this guy proud to work for a paper that truly is relished by the staggering amount of hunters, trappers and anglers in this great state.

Makes you feel humble, and thankful, for our publisher, our editor, and our network of freelancers who make Wisconsin Outdoor News what it is. We don’t pull punches, and we don’t bow down to advertisers just to get the some dollars. The paper is real, and that is why our subscriber numbers have increased every year, even as most daily papers are struggling to keep the lights on.


While I was often stuck in my bunker, I did see some really cool new products. There was the guy who offered a new bracket that would turn an iPhone into a bow site (and it even adjusted for angles.) With trail cams erupting all over, I met with the folks from Stic-N-Pic, who had a camera holder that could be set out even if there were no trees in the area and was so stealth that thieves wouldn’t even be able to see it for their next hoist. Then there was the guy from Tree Stand Up that had a simple product that allows people to set up a ladder stand safely with just one person.

Yup, it was a sweet place for anyone looking for deer and turkey products that might make them be a bit more successful next season.

Some people say that sport shows are going the way of dinosaurs, eventually they will be extinct. But the people who claim that, who choose internet orders instead of face-to-face exploration, may not really understand the need for a sport show. They don’t know that a seminar at these shows might help them out next season. They may not know that a hot dog bought for a son or daughter simply tastes better in a show habitat. After all, when ordering a product online, you don’t see that glow of a kid looking up at you when you purchase it – just for them.

Indeed, shows are made for families, and moms and dads are the conductors of this wonderful train. We’ll see you next year, and don’t let the train be derailed.

It would be a shame.

Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, Wisconsin – Dan Durbin

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