It's the time of year when deer are dropping their antlers, turkeys are following manure spreaders and Phil, the famous Punxsutawney groundhog, is ready to tell us how much cabin fever season we have left.
This is the time of year sportsmen and women are headed to the wild game feeds and sport shows to bone up on their hunting skills, share the fruits of last season's hunts (maybe brag a little about them), familiarize themselves with new gear and dream about their next hunt.
When I was a kid, we had the famous Wally Taber come through at this time of the year, and he'd fill the junior high auditorium. He's probably responsible for more kids dreaming of hunting Alaska and Africa than anyone.
Few schools are venues for that kind of program these days. One reason might be that schools (not necessarily here, but for sure elsewhere) often forbid such entertainment because innocents might notice pictures of firearms and hear the word "gun." (Though I doubt schools forbid mentioning words such as "cocaine," or "marijuana," or - well - you make your own list.)
The good news is that if you're looking for a drug to cure your cabin fever, we have sportsman's dinners and sport shows. As far as sportsmen's dinners go, keep your ear to the ground for the local events. If my calendar was open, I'd attend the one I know about, but there are certainly more than this.
On February 10, the First Church of God (Madison Ave. in Warren) is hosting a dinner/seminar with Wade Nolan. There's a lot that will make this worth attending. Nolan is best in class for this kind of program and I guarantee you'll have a great time.
When The Everyday Hunter isn't hunting, he's thinking about hunting, talking about hunting, dreaming about hunting, writing about hunting, or wishing he were hunting. If you want to tell him exactly where your favorite hunting spot is, contact him at EverydayHunter@gmail.com. This column and others can be accessed online at www.EverydayHunter.com.
Beyond that, check out the sports and outdoor shows. If you've never been to the big one - the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show in Harrisburg - you can't imagine what you're missing. It's in its 57th year, and it's the largest event of its kind in all of North America. The dates are February 4-12.
Here, you'll find every piece of new gear, plus seminars by the top hunters and fishermen in America. These are the folks, both men and women, who make the sporting life their profession. You've heard their names - Ralph and Vickie, the Wensel brothers, Jim and Eva Shockey, the Lakoskys, Boddington and many more will be at the Harrisburg show this year.
It's a chance to meet them, probe them with questions and see what they're like when they're not on TV. The website (www.easternsportshow.com) offers all the details and you can order tickets online for quicker entry into the show.
If you're thinking about booking a guided hunt, attending this show will be a big help. Interested in hunting New Zealand? Africa? Alberta? Alaska? Colorado? Illinois? You'll find a ton of outfitters - from everywhere - all in one place. You'll be able to size them up, ask all your questions, get references and compare services.
Brainstorm your questions ahead of time - these outfitters want you to ask all of them and are there to give you answers. You don't need to make a commitment, but take a backpack, collect their brochures, get phone numbers and gawk at their displays.
Smaller shows well worth attending include the Allegheny Sport Show in Monroeville, February 15-19 (www.sportandtravel.com) and the Erie Sport Show, March 2-4 (www.sportandtravelexpo.com). I've been to shows in Hamburg, N.Y., Bradford, Cleveland, Ohio, Columbus, Ohio and others. Another one nearby is the Central PA Sport Show in Clearfield County (www.centralpaoutdoorshow.com) March 23-25, where local trapper Darin Freeborough is the featured speaker.
These shows are a win-win for everyone. You won't find many places in the middle of winter with a more festive atmosphere. So whether you attend a sportsman's dinner or a full-fledged sport show, check them out and make plans to cure your cabin fever.