Column: Amongst hunting gadgets, knowledge is a hot commodity

Tony Dolle shows off ORCA coolers. They were one of many new
cooler companies displaying at the ATA Show.

Tony Dolle shows off ORCA coolers. They were one of many new
cooler companies displaying at the ATA Show.

Last week found me at the Archery Trade Association (ATA) Show in Louisville. At one point, I was sitting on the floor against the back wall of the Kentucky Exhibition Center watching hundreds of people stand in line to buy six dollar hamburgers. At times like this, the economy seems fine.

The ATA is the annual gathering of the archery industry. Manufacturers are here to unveil the latest and greatest and then write orders with dealers. Dealers are here to plan their stock for the year. Writers are here looking for stories, and it seems like every Joe Bob with a video camera is here promoting his new television show.

Most of the major companies in the hunting industry have impressive booths. BowTech Archery drew a huge crowd when they unveiled the newest bow in their line, the Experience. Traditional archery seems to be making a surge at the show this year. Undoubtedly, it is spring boarding off the back of successful movies, like the Hunger Games and Brave. Clothes are still a big deal, too. Realtree, Mossy Oak and Scent-Lok remain major players.

I had the opportunity to sit down with Ronnie “Cuz” Strickland for a quite a while. We had a real interesting conversation about being prepared.

“I’m not talking about the crazy Dooms Day type of prepping, but I’ interested in learning more about how to take care of one’s self and family if necessity arose,” he said. “I mean, look at Katrina. People there didn’t have water. How many people know how to attain or collect fresh water. I think there is a lot of room in the media markets for educating people on how to take care of themselves in the wake of a disaster.”

Cuz is one of the most forward thinking individuals the outdoor industry has ever had the privilege of calling their own. If he sees a market, it needs to exist. It got me thinking. I can hunt and fish, but can I make a fire from stick and string? Can I collect fresh water? Can I preserve food? The answer is probably not well enough. So even amongst all these gadgets, knowledge is still a hot commodity.

One of the categories that surprised me here is coolers. A few years ago, Yeti launched an aggressive marketing campaign to promote their high-end line of coolers. It seems the competition has taken notice. I have counted six different manufacturers here selling their line of coolers. It makes sense, though. Of all the gear a backcountry hunter needs, coolers are important for preserving your animal. This new age of coolers promotes keeping ice for up to two weeks. My old coolers hardly keep ice for an afternoon. Being able to keep food and drinks cold on a weekend long camping trip with a single bag of ice would be nice. The marketing has worked. I see the need. Guess I’m going to have to buy a new cooler.

Walking the aisles here at the ATA is always a thrill. It’s great to be surrounded by so many who love bows and bow hunting. There are a bunch of gimmicks and many first time exhibitors who won’t bear around this time next year, but the core of the archery industry is solid.

See you down the trail …

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