The popular outreach program that takes protein (venison, fish and fowl) donated by sportsmen and turns it into a gift of kindness to help those less fortunate in the community arrived in St. Paul this past Monday. Of the approximately 50 such events that have been held around the country, this marked the second time (since 2010) where volunteers from the outdoor television industry rolled up their sleeves and donned aprons for a good cause.
The concept of HUNT. FISH. FEED. first began with the Sportsman Channel launching the initiative back in 2007 and has since served up several thousand meals in an effort to end hunger. Not only does it show sportsman doing something positive to give back to the local community, but it allows television executives, TV personalities, local politicians and others an opportunity to see first-hand how people continue to need such assistance.
Back in 2010 I was fortunate to first experience one of these events at the Catholic Charities Dorothy Day Center in St. Paul. At the time, my entire family assisted in both the preparation and the clean-up of the charity meal conducted by HUNT. FISH. FEED. I must say how even though this is a one-meal effort and the need continues daily, there is something quite humbling to witness how certain segments of humanity depend greatly on such volunteer efforts. It changes how your perceive the world. And I dare say, it warms the heart in ways very few other volunteer efforts can achieve.
This time around, however, I was invited to the event to just cover all the good deeds going on. In fact, Michelle Scheuermann and I conducted a quick podcast with some special guests that will be posting soon — stay tuned. On that podcast we talk briefly about HUNT. FISH. FEED., but mostly we talk with some wild cooking notables who share some great insight on how to best prepare wild game.
If you ever get the opportunity in your local community to volunteer with any such charity work I encourage you to give it a try. And if you are part of a sportsman group and can parlay that effort into a more positive image for sportsmen, even more power to you. At the very least, every sportsman should consider perhaps donating some of their wild game to a local food shelf. Some states and localities might have certain restrictions on you doing that, but at the very least check it out as the need continues to exist.
In closing, here are some pictures from Monday’s event held at the Catholic Charities Dorothy Day Center:
Here The Sporting Chef, Scott Leysath, stirs up some hearty venison chili that will be served to all guests.
Volunteers form a production line to fill each tray with salads, fruit, cheese bread, venison chili, chocolate brownie and milk.
All in all over 200 people were served in downtown St. Paul on this day.
Moments before food service began, Scott Leysath took a moment to discuss the HUNT. FISH. FEED. program with St. Paul Mayor, Chris Coleman.
Last Thursday when I walked out of the SHOT Show Press Room and hoofed it back to my hotel room it ended an era for me. I had now attended 25 SHOT Shows during the past 27 years and I determined it was time to move on.
Oh, sure, don’t count me out that maybe in another 5 years or so I might stop back for a glimpse to see how the industry is evolving, but for the time being I’m moving on to some other opportunities in life that are not SHOT Show focused—at least on an annual basis.
Indeed, next year while many of my outdoors cohorts will reassemble in Vegas to keep alive the vibrant SHOT traditions, I will be spending my time in Orlando at an entirely different trade show—the PGA Golf Merchandise Show. Oh, I’ve been to this show a couple times before, too, but it’s time to break out of my usual routine.
While the guns have always been a big attraction for me at SHOT, the people I’ve met have been even more important.
Yet, as I reflect back on SHOT over the years I have so many fond recollections. Memories of products I first viewed at SHOT before they hit the market and became big sellers. Memories of outdoor icons walking the aisles just like normal folks. Memories of endless aisles and exhibitor booths that would honestly take a full four days of walking in an attempt to see it all. Those are but a few of the constants to be experienced at SHOT.
But change happens.
I remember the days of SHOT when the entire hunting community was under one, single roof. This was before the archery community found it necessary to fracture off and create their own, independent trade show now known as the ATA Show. I don’t blame them. As I recall their booths were rather scattered around on the SHOT Show floor. If you came with the sole interest in archery you had to walk by a lot of guns and accessories to get from archery booth to the next archery booth. I believe it was at this time SHOT recognized how grouping like items such as guns, clothing, outdoor products, etc. was a worthwhile undertaking for the floor layout.
Lots of firearms industry business occurs at SHOT during its annual four day run.
So, yes, unless you are a bit long in the tooth you may not remember SHOT for also being heavily archery. Yet, it most certainly was back in its day 15+ years ago.
I remember a day when the so-called black guns and related products were banned from the show. Not sure if this was an official SHOT stance or not, but the word was made pretty clear how these were not a welcome sight. I believe what essentially happened was after the archery factions departure from SHOT it created a vacuum for a new category of goods which has now fully evolved into the Law Enforcement Section.
Try to imagine a SHOT Show today with no Modern Sporting Rifles on display. Indeed, 20+ years ago they did not enjoy the same widespread acceptance within the hunting community as they do today. People’s attitudes change. Obviously, SHOT has grown much more tolerant of changing buyer attitudes, as well.
Yes, I even remember a year when the folks at SHOT decided to wet their line, so to speak, in the fishing market. Imagine that. Buyers could drool for days over guns, but then before traveling home they could also purchase their sporting store’s fishing essentials. The fishing show didn’t succeed. I believe it was only attempted one year, but kudos to the NSSF for trying new things.
Even though SHOT is about business, it’s the fun times AFTER HOURS where friendships are celebrated and cherished often lasting a lifetime.
Another big change I have noticed is how product manufacturers interact with outdoors writers. There was a time when you could walk down the aisles of the show with media credentials and the booth staff would try to lure you in for a product pitch and perhaps a sample or two. Wow…has that changed. Case in point. This year I walked up to the Havalon Knife booth asking if they had any product samples for sale. My intent was to purchase one of their new innovative knives with a replaceable blade for a potential product review and to establish a contact person direct with the company. Instead, the booth attendant looked at my media badge and sternly informed me how they are here [at SHOT] only to sell to “stocking dealers.” Really? Not only did they lose a potential customer, but they lost out on an opportunity for me to write anything positive about their company.
Over time these sort of changes are inevitable. During the course of 25 years you see lots of good and occasionally some bad. It happens. Part of the growing process. And over this time SHOT has never stopped growing. Oh, sure, some of SHOT’s new rules don’t particularly thrill me when they change the way I have enjoyed SHOT for so many years, but I understand why they are necessary. Nothing stays the same even as much as you would like it to.
More than anything SHOT has been a wonderful reason to make personal connections. New friends, old friends…you can never be quite sure how attending SHOT will ultimately enhance your life until you experience it. While many folks may focus on the new and innovative products to be seen, for me the networking and the people who attend SHOT has always been of great importance.
For sure, over the past 25 years I might forget some new product I first experienced back in 1998, but I won’t forget the character I briefly met on the elevator heading towards SHOT who taught me one of the most fundamental marketing principles I still use to this day. You just have to be there to experience it. I will miss those people next year. Thus, I will also miss SHOT…but it’s time to move on.
The year was 2001 and it happened to be the last night I was in New Orleans for the SHOT Show. What’s a guy to do? Of course, you go down to Bourbon Street and have a bit of fun before it all ends. After all, there’s no place on earth quite like Bourbon Street, am I right?
Well, little did I realize how the excitement didn’t end when I hopped in a cab to go back to my hotel. Indeed, what I walked into in my room was nothing short of a nightmare. What my disbelieving eyes were seeing is water everywhere. Water was dripping from the ceiling and I stood in a complete and destructive mess. Everything I had collected at SHOT, all my clothes, yes everything I took with me on the trip was now drenched with water. Worse yet, I didn’t even know what kind of water, if you get my drift!!
Water dripping everywhere from the ceiling is not the sight you care to see in your hotel room while at SHOT.
What a mess. And when the large hotel chain didn’t want to compensate me until I showed them these pictures it was a bad deal on many different levels.
Imagine the fun of having to pack up all your wet belongings and leave for the airport in just a few short hours. So much for a good night’s rest before heading to the airport.
Yeah, horror stories like this happen in life…and even during SHOT. What saved me during this incident is grabbing my digital camera (didn’t have a cell phone in those days) and snapping multiple photos. You see, the large hotel chain did not want to compensate me for any of the damages nor for any of my frustrations/troubles after the fact. That tune changed completely when images (evidence) was brought to their attention. I went from no compensation to four nights of comped rooms plus replacement of all damaged property.
When you’re traveling, no matter at SHOT or anywhere, there simply is no excuse for not taking multiple images even if they appear mundane and not necessary.
A great example of a nice picture to grab is inside a Las Vegas taxi cab. Back 11 years ago I was in Vegas with my then fiancé (now wife) and we were headed to the courthouse to get a marriage license. It was about 9pm at night and it just seemed like a fun time to do it. We hopped in a taxi, told him where we wanted to go…and the rest is yet the beginning of another nightmare.
The cabbie spoke broken English and did not have a clue. He took us to a building he claimed was the courthouse and dropped us off. It wasn’t. It was 6 Vegas blocks from the courthouse and a high-crime part of town away from the touristy Freemont Street area. We were pissed. Not only did he scam us…he also put our personal safety in jeopardy as we encountered many street people that night hiking back to a safe area.
I got my satisfaction later, however. You see, what the cabbie didn’t realize is that whenever I get into a cab I discreetly snap a picture of the cabbie’s license. Armed with that information, I proceeded to call the Las Vegas Taxi Cab Authority and describe my predicament. The nice guy on the phone informed me how this cabbie will have his license immediately suspended within the hour and that likely it will lead to a termination of his employment. The only reason this could happen was because I was armed with the evidence to identify.
Pictures are important. They help us remember details. They can serve as evidence. They can document the sort of things that might ordinarily get lost or easily forgotten. What if you left a briefcase or a purse inside a taxi cab? How would you describe the driver who took off with it? He was driving a yellow cab?
For instance, I generally snap a photo of all my receipts when traveling. That way in case they get misplaced, I still have a way of tracking expenses. I also snap images of important business cards, hospitality room invitations, just about anything I am likely to forget.
Sometimes even snapping a picture of a good restaurant helps jog your memory for future years.
Indeed, fun pictures of the SHOT experience are always the priority. Yet, I still think people need to use the camera on their phone for the handy tool it can become. Images not needed can be easily deleted. Images not taken can hold a lifetime of regrets. Develop the habit of using your phone’s camera often and for everything.
One final thought. Three days ago a friend of mine arrived in Las Vegas for a different trade show happening currently this week. She had a miserable day with plane delays and a taxi ride where her cab driver was pulled over by police and ticketed on the way to her hotel. Just to finally unwind she sat down and ordered room service. Her misery was not about to end…at least not quite yet.
Her shrimp Cobb salad and water delivered to her room ended up costing her $49.78. To make matters even worse, they forgot the bottle of water and the salad came inside a styrofoam container the size you would get a burger in at some fast food joint. Hardly worth that kind of money, would you say? And to top it all off…THE SALAD DID NOT CONTAIN ANY SHRIMP!!!
Would you be taking PICTURES and complaining? I sure bet you would.