I attended the show with my friends Roger and Connie Flynn, and up until a few days before, I wasn't for sure I was going to go. I was originally going to be working while the show was going on but I started a new schedule and was going to be off Saturday, but working late Friday night and I knew that waking up early to make the trip could be tough. But I decided it would be a good day no matter how tired I was and I was going to make the most of it. Mine and Roger's plan was to find the best deal we could on supplies for food plots.
Shows like this are filled with all things new. There are new products that longstanding companies come out with each year, new companies making their debut and new people trying to break into the industry. Some of the new products (and people) come off as gimmicky, but it's also cool to see new things happening and where the outdoor industry is headed.
I got to meet a few people I previously only know through social media, and catch up with a few old friends. Joshua Carney has one of the most unique talents and is able to make almost any game call you can think of with his mouth. It's pretty awesome hearing him mimic all sorts of wildlife, and he has a big personality to match the crowds he draws every time he lets loose with an elk bugle or coyote howl. Check out his videos on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube if you want to be inspired.
Kendall Jones attracted a lot of media attention when she completed the African Big 5. When photos of her trophy class animals appeared on social media she began receiving death threats and was called all sorts of horrible things, but she's turned all the attention around and has become one of the greatest ambassadors of our sport. Check out her show "Kendall Jones: Game On!" on YouTube.
Speaking of Africa, let's go back to what made the show special for me. On the back of your ticket to get into the show, you filled out your information to be entered in door prize drawings. We had been at the show about two hours when I heard over the loudspeaker "Adam Brister from Canton, Georgia, you have just won an African Safari from Wild Wildebeest Safaris!" You probably could have knocked me over with a feather at that moment. A few minutes later I got a call from the show office asking me to come claim my prize.
I have up to three years to go on the hunt so I have a lot of saving, research, planning, preparation and gear testing to do in the meantime. That should give me plenty to write about.
I have to give a big "thank you" to my buddy Roger for making sure I was there. He went with me to this show to the first time two years ago and this year we brought Connie along. I was in their wedding a few months ago, and I'm glad they were there to be a part of it. I feel very blessed to have this opportunity.