It wasn’t long ago that the thought of January and a new year depressed me. Here in Indiana, it means unpredictable but typically bitter cold weather, shoveling snow, short days but mostly it means my hunting has come to an end. When the last page of the calendar turns over, what it really tells me is another deer season has come and gone and the next one is an eternity away. I know a lot of you in the south are just hitting the woods and I have to admit the thought of a nice Alabama lease or joining a Mississippi hunt club has crossed my mind more than once, but a harsher reality is as I get a little older, I am mostly hunted out by this time.

What many of you may not know is that January (and February) has become the hunting industry’s trade show season. Nearly every hunter has at one time or another attended a Deer and Turkey Expo or a Waterfowl show and walked the floor to find a good deal on the latest gadget or last year’s model of waders. Did you know there were trade shows….big ones…that the public isn’t invited to?

The Archery Trade Show (ATA) is an annual event that hosts nearly every hunting related company in the country and even a few from outside the US. This year the ATA show was in our backyard here in Indianapolis, which gave us plenty of time to really take it all in. The show is open to all ATA members, manufacturers and outdoor media. The real crux of the show goers are buyers for large stores and independent owners of archery shops.  And this show is just for archery related hunting. The SHOT show in Las Vegas later this month is 5 times bigger and includes the entire shooting industry.

It really is a hunters dream to walk the sprawling floor (it takes up nearly all of the Indianapolis Convention Center which hosted a Superbowl just a few years ago) and get an early peek at what products and gadgets you will see in stores this summer. Whether its Realtree, Under Armour, Yeti or a new start-up company… if you use it, shoot it, wear it or ride it…it’s here. For instance, our friends at Hunter Safety Systems unveiled their new Elimishield scent control harnesses. The first harness manufacturer to include a scent eliminating component to its entire line of products.

One of the changes I have noticed over the last few years is the frequency that I am asked about hunting leases. Whether I am wearing one of our member logo hats or an AHLA shirt, I am repeatedly stopped or asked about hunting leases and our association. I usually have the same reply to anyone that asks about a hunting lease. Get it in writing (with a hunting lease agreement) and make sure everyone is protected with hunting lease insurance.

For some, it’s also a nice chance to see or meet many of the hunting “celebrities”.  Granted most of these “celebs” are only recognizable in a room full of hunting show fanatics, but I have been fortunate to meet Eddie Salter, Hank Parker, Jim Shockey and few of the hunting media pioneers over the years.

Although some of the larger industry trade shows are harder to get into, there are still many shows across the country that just so happen to coincide with the end of your hunting season. Coincidence?

Here is a link to a complete list of shows around the country.