The dead of winter is off-season for a lot of outdoors men and women, which is probably why a sizable crowd attended the Altoona Mirror's seventh annual Hunting & Fishing Show Saturday at the Blair County Convention Center, according to Teresa Patterson of Hollidaysburg, co-host of a national television show called "Wired Outdoors."
Hunting, for instance, "is such a social sport," Patterson said.
People like to talk about their hunting exploits. They like to be with their families.
"It's bonding with kids," she said as she stood as her display booth in the convention center and discussed "Wired Outdoors," which reaches 16 million viewers on the Sportsman Channel, and her 30,000 friends on Facebook.
She said she was asked questions on Saturday like how do you get a daughter, a spouse or a "significant other" to become interested in the outdoors
Some people may just like to walk along with the hunter, or they may want to photograph the hunt, she suggested.
Whatever the case may be, the show on Saturday drew a good crowd of almost 1,500 visitors who were able to hear from experts like Kirk McKendree, who specializes in hunting predators like coyotes, bobcats, the red and grey fox, bear and the mountain lion.
Listening to McKendree, it became apparent that there is a lot of knowledge, skill and preparation necessary to properly bag predator animals. He called the coyote "stealthy," the bobcat "solitary," the red fox "timid," and the grey fox "gutsy" - the point being it takes different techniques to confront each of these animals.
Shirley Grenoble, a member of the National Wild Turkey Federation, and Peter Fiduccia, the "Deer Doctor," and host of the "Woods N' Water" TV series, will make presentations today as the Hunting and Fishing Show continues.
The visitors also have a large number of exhibits to view.
They can examine rifles, knives and hunting gear. They can talk about conservation.
Two members of the Clearfield Creek Watershed Association, Ray Hollern of Loretto and Ed McMullen of Gallitzin, were on hand to talk about their efforts to restore the watershed that follows Route 53 that includes 393 square miles in Cambria and Clearfield Counties. The group has helped build settlement ponds and other projects to restore the watershed damaged by deep-mine acid drainage.
Mike Culp of Duncansville, among several representatives of the Allegheny Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, showed an album of photos of the group's restoration of barren ground by planting trees and grass. Those areas have become havens for turkey and other wildlife.
Both groups work with children.
Two local kennels, Larke Lab Kennels, owned by Larry and Linda Mock of Williamsburg, and Barnes Puppy Love Kennels, owned by Dave Barnes of Roaring Spring, brought several dogs to the Convention Center and demonstrated their hunting skills.
Mostly the day was just strolling through the exhibits, listening to experts and watching the dogs.
"I'm a sportsman. ... I hunt, fish, do everything, said Tom Detwiler of Williamsburg, explaining why he was at the show.
He brought a friend, Matt Forshey, who said he loves the outdoors.
"I like everything about it," he said.
Don Sheldon of Ebensburg likes to fish, but he and his wife Jeanine came to the show because of their son, Tyler, 7.
When talking about his son, Don Sheldon got a smile on his face, noting proudly, "He caught a 21-inch bass last summer on his own."
His son, he said, is hooked on fishing even at his young age.
Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.