The next morning we decided to head on over to the hotel about 30 minutes before the exhibit hall opened and grab some breakfast. Once again thanks to a previous trip there, I knew of a little out of the way pastry shop in the hotel where we grabbed a tasty and fast breakfast.
After breakfast we slowly made our way into the exhibit hall, and the first thing we saw was all the tables featuring the custom made turkey call competition. I didn't expect to see that, and the craftsmanship in some of these is outstanding.
|One of the decorative call entries|
|Dad carefully studying them|
|Trey checking out the Avian-X decoys|
|Trey and Jana Waller of Skull Bound TV|
|One of their triple fan and multi-beard plaques|
By about 2:30 Trey starting getting tired, so we decided to call it a day and go back to the room to get ready for an early dinner treat. On the way out, he posed for a photo by some interesting mounts featuring eastern and oscellated turkey displays.
I had planned a little dinner treat for my dad and Trey. For years my dad and I would drive out to Dickson, TN every weekend during gun season and hunt from Friday through Sunday. We did this basically every weekend during gun season between my ages of 10 and 17. It was a great time, and it has been 17 years since I last took a trip out there. Every trip we would stop to eat at this little catfish joint appropriately named Twin Lakes Catfish Kitchen for all you can eat spicy catfish, coleslaw, white beans, hush puppies, and fries. So, we made the one hour drive from the Opryland Hotel to the restaurant and enjoyed one of the tastiest catfish comfort food meals I have had in a long time. It was just like I remembered, and I will not wait another 17 years before I return.
After than large meal we went back to the hotel and crashed for the night. The next morning we weren't in a hurry so we took our time loading the car before heading back to Opryland. That was a mistake, because the crowd between Friday and Saturday had probably tripled. It was difficult to walk amongst the mass of people, and on future trips I plan to just make a whole day of it on Friday and avoid Saturday. That being said, there were still deals to be had as some suppliers had marked down their prices from what they were on Friday. We spent most of the morning on Saturday at the Flextone/Tenzing/Plano booth where I picked up a few items at a discount and walked around the small custom call booths where many of the people took time trying to show Trey how to use various friction calls.
|Trey picked out his Christmas present for 2015|
She is a class act, as was Steve Tittsworth from Greenback Tactical Hunters. Ironically I met Steve a week prior to the convention when I purchased a hunting jacket from him on Facebook. When I walked up to the Orca booth to say hi Jana was standing beside him and she immediately intercepted me and proceeded to introduce Steve to Trey and I. Steve and I let her in on the fact the we had previously met, and I got a little chuckle out of it. Another TV personality I had some interaction with and I found very interesting was Eddie Salter (The Turkey Man on Sportsman Channel).
This was a great convention and we are already making plans for a return trip next year. Now that we know how things work, I will be more prepared. I will definitely bring a backpack (something I didn't do until Saturday this year) and spend all day Friday 9AM to 7PM at the exhibit hall and avoid Saturday's crowds. I also think Amy would enjoy attending as there were lots of arts and craft type exhibits, not to mention the detailed craftsmanship involved in making the calls.
I would also like to take this opportunity to point out some additional booths that I thought featured some of the most innovative products at this years show:
- Fanatic Outdoors - Hammock Seat is very innovative
- Tenzing Packs - Packs that are innovative both from functionality and materials
- Orion Coolers - Based in Sparta, TN and I think offer a better feature set than Yeti or Orca. If you are looking for a high end cooler give these guys a look, I think you will be pleased.
- Avian-X - These guys aren't new comers to the turkey hunting game, but their decoys set the standard for lifelike and portable decoys.
- Dad's Custom Calls - It was hard to pick one manufacturer, but I think I liked these guys the best. They are a small business and they have some interesting products including the tiny peg & slate call.
|Trey checking out a DSD jake decoy while I eyeballed the new Sitka gear hanging above it|