Hunt. Fish. Feed. Event Coming To St. Paul

Do you still have some excess venison in the freezer you might be willing to donate? The Sportsman Channel’s Hunt. Fish. Feed. project is coming to St. Paul this Sunday and they could use some additional sportsman-donated venison to help feed those in need.

This successful event was first launched in Las Vegas, NV last month (during the SHOT Show) and will be hosted in several additional cities throughout the U.S. during the upcoming year. The effort showcases sportsmen providing food for and feeding those less fortunate in each respective city.

The Twin Cities event is special because it’s being held in conjunction with FISHAPALOOZA—the region’s largest ice fishing contest. During that event on Saturday in Forest Lake, participants will be given the chance to donate their catch to the feed-the-hungry event taking place the next day.Huntfishfeed

“This is a unique opportunity for us to connect anglers with our Hunt.Fish.Feed efforts to serve fish alongside our venison dishes,” said Todd Hansen, Sr. Vice President of Sportsman Channel. “A special thanks to our partners, Comcast, Sportsmen Against Hunger and FISHAPALOOZA for helping us accomplish this goal and bring awareness to sportsmen’s efforts to help those in need.” 

WHAT: Hunt.Fish.Feed.SM Twin Cities

WHO: Expecting to serve over 350 nutritious meals to those in need

WHERE: Catholic Charities Dorothy Day Center
                 183 Old 6th Street
                 St. Paul, MN 55102

WHEN: Sunday, February 28, 2010, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

DONATE: Visit the HFF website and click on “Donate.”

MORE INFORMATION: Join the conversation about Hunt.Fish.Feed. online at and

If you have extra venison to share, please consider helping out this worthwhile cause by donating it for this event or to your local food shelf.

I plan on being there this Sunday to volunteer and to meet many other sportsmen giving generously of their time and their harvested game/fish resources. This is a great community service project reflecting both a positive image on all hunters and fishermen while at the same time showing how a charitable component truly exists within our outdoor sports.

© 2010 Jim Braaten.   All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

SHOT Show Gathers Hunting’s Newest And Best Products

Imagine a trade show with approximately 1,800 display booths requiring a person to walk over 13 miles just to see everything.   Now, imagine how this industry-only show (not open to the public) has achieved such great popularity it draws excited exhibitors and attendees from all 50 states, including over 75 countries worldwide.

There must be something special going on, huh?   Indeed, the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) is no ordinary trade show and the doors are about to open for this year.DSC07341

Ever since SHOT’s beginning back in 1979, it has grown into the biggest shooting sports and hunting showcase of its kind found anywhere in the world.   In fact, Tradeshow Week, the trade-show industry’s premier journal, has in recent years ranked the SHOT Show within the top 25 largest trade shows found in the U.S. and Canada.

As I look back, I recall attending my first SHOT Show in 1989 when it was then held in Dallas, Texas.   I’m pleased to say this year marks my 20th SHOT having only missed shows held in Atlanta, Georgia (1999) and in Orlando, Florida (2009).   All I can say is it just keeps getting bigger, better and more exciting every year.

On display at SHOT will be thousands of new hunting and shooting-related products each hoping to make an impact very soon on retailer shelves.   Truth is, if you’ve developed a gadget or some other idea for the outdoor industry this trade show is almost a must attend.   It’s also become a must attend for the nearly 60,000 retail store product buyers and the 1,500 media folks who annually show up.

So, what will be this year’s big new outdoor product for sportsmen?   How will the shooting sports industry’s mood be looking ahead to President Obama’s second year in the White House?   Which outdoor companies will emerge with hot products and which ones will fold due to the on-going stress of a very challenging economy?

PIC_00955These questions and much more will be answered in less than 48 hours when the doors open at the Sands Expo & Convention Center in Las Vegas kicking off the 32nd annual Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade Show for 2010.

I’ll be micro-blogging as I walk SHOT this week (January 19–22) on my personal blog ( as well as posting quick comments on Twitter:   Please follow along and feel free to interact with any questions or comments.

Just keep in mind things happen at a very fast pace during SHOT Show week.   I’ve heard it said that during the four days this outdoor show runs if your goal is to visit every booth, you have approximately 22 seconds of time for snoop and discovery with each exhibitor.   Obviously, one person can’t cover it all, but as my sore feet will attest each evening back in the hotel room…I intend to give it my best attempt.

© 2010 Jim Braaten.   All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

A First Deer Creates Lifetime Memories

There are times in everyone’s life when events leave an indelible impression in the mind often lasting a lifetime.   A first kiss, a first car, graduation day, your first house, your first child—all monumental moments during a person’s life with memories often permanently etched in one’s mind.

Of course, if you’re a deer hunter there’s no finer moment than that “first deer”—especially when you’re only 12 years old and still rather new to the sport of hunting.

This past Sunday morning I continued the mentoring process by taking my stepson, Luke, out into the woods with me deer hunting.   His enthusiasm was flowing strong, but I could tell his confidence was starting to wane just a bit.   You see, in years past we’ve certainly seen plenty of deer when out hunting together, but none have ever been in close range truly offering that heart-pumping excitement.

That situation certainly changed this past weekend.

Luke and I chose a stand near a river bottom that divided two unpicked corn fields.   If you deer hunt the agricultural zone this fall, then hunting in close proximity to any unpicked cornfield will likely be part of that recipe for deer hunting success.   It certainly proved that way for us.

As kids do, Luke was fidgeting on his chair to the point he finally laid his gun down to better reposition himself.   Most of us experienced deer hunters certainly know what often happens next.   With his 20 gauge no longer in his hands…along comes a nice doe on the opposite side of the river.   His mentor (that be me) firmly whispered “freeze…don’t move.   There’s a deer coming our way.”

During the next 15 minutes there were two nice does that mingled within 45 yards of our location.   Often they stared directly at us as if to indicate they were watching us, too…but for the most part they continued on with their planned activities.

With my 12–year old certainly not at the ready, I figured this would be a good learning experience for him to move slowly, but deliberately, to retrieve his gun.   The process took several minutes with no sudden gestures that could spook our early morning visitors.   Once the gun was positioned back in his lap, I whispered “bring the gun to your shoulder…but leave it on safety.”

Luke complied with my every instruction as my intentions were simply for him to practice getting the feel for preparing to take a shot.   I also instructed him we’re not going to shoot at these deer.   My thinking was they might be slightly out of his range for his iron-sighted slug barrel and because of that I didn’t want him taking any marginal shots.DSC01750

Then suddenly, something extraordinary happened.   Both does that once looked as if they were walking away to disappear into the cornfield turned 180 degrees and started walking directly at us.   Within a few seconds the largest doe had cut the distance between us to less than half and now stood a mere 20 yards away presenting the most perfect shot possible.

I commanded to Luke in words spoken under my breath “take ‘em…but click your gun’s safety off quietly.”   Several seconds later a thunderous roar echoed throughout the river bottom breaking the silence of the early morning.   A young boy, my stepson, had just taken a giant step toward becoming a young man.   There, laying on the opposite side of the river in the very same spot where he had shot at it, was Luke’s first deer.

We jumped to our feet and celebrated the once-in-a-lifetime “first deer” experience with several rounds of high-fives.

I’m now convinced there is no other single event in a young child’s life that could illicit the same level of thrill and raw emotion comparable to what Luke was feeling at precisely 6:55 a.m. last Sunday morning.   It’s a unique life experience that every youth ought to have the opportunity to embrace.

Yet, in the process, stepfather learned something rather important on that fabulous morning in the deer woods.   I discovered how it’s possible to rekindle fond memories of your own “first deer.”   I may have been living somewhat vicariously through Luke’s monumental achievement at that moment, but the pride and thrill of the event could not have been any greater for me had it been my very first deer all over again.

Indeed, when you choose to mentor a youth in the out-of-doors the rewards offered by the bonding experience will often stay with the both of you for a lifetime to come.

© 2009 Jim Braaten.   All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.