Successful opening draws crowd

As they surveyed the scene, nearly motionless, at the Blair County Convention Center on Friday, Andromeda, the red-tailed hawk, and Nostradamus, the screech owl, might have nervously eyed the rows of shotguns on tables and racks throughout the room.

Of course, there was no danger to the birds, both guests of the Centre Wildlife Care table at the Alleghenies Adventure Outdoor Show. Injured and unable to return to the wild, they helped press a message of wildlife care Friday in a room full of sportsmen, outdoorsmen and the vendors who equip them.

With its opening Friday, the show drew groups of camouflage-clad hunters – among them, fans of headliner Travis “T-Bone” Turner, one of the stars of hunting show “Bone Collector” on the Outdoor Channel.

“They’re just down-home guys,” said Kimberly Harker of Hollidaysburg, pushing her 6-month-old son’s stroller with husband, Allen Harker.

“They get so excited – you’d swear every deer they kill is their first one,” said Allen Harker, a self-proclaimed “avid outdoorsman” on his way out after buying Bone Collector gear.

Not everyone perusing the equipment Friday was a hunter: Husband and wife, John Hogan and Jan Littrell of Hollidaysburg, fresh from buying boots, soup mix and stuffed animals, pointed out the curious combination of living birds and their taxidermy equivalents, placed at adjacent tables at the Convention Center.

“This is your future,” Hogan said with a laugh.

Vendors described a successful opening afternoon. Selling guns and accessories under a sign that read “Hunt politely – use a silencer,” Brandon Beck of Raystown Guns & Outdoors said he hoped for a busy day. A silencer-equipped rifle sat at his table. They require tougher background checks, he said, but they’re certainly easy on a hunter’s ears.

Other vendors offered a wide mix: There were holsters handmade in Altoona, Native American flutes and signs explaining “the top ten reasons men prefer guns over women” (reason No. 10: You can trade an old .44 for a new .22).

Putting their autographs on hunters’ gear while a massive taxidermy bear looked on, “Bone Collector” hosts Turner and Nick Mundt explained the wide appeal of outdoor shows and outdoor gear in the state.

“Pennsylvania, as a whole is sportsman-rich,” Mundt of South Dakota said. “We’ve got a lot of fans and a lot of good people we know in Pennsylvania.”

The Alleghenies Adventure Outdoor show continues from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today.