If the author had cash to burn, he wouldn’t rent a truck to go hunt the Haul Road, he’d buy a new truck just for the trip. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)

If the author had cash to burn, he wouldn’t rent a truck to go hunt the Haul Road, he’d buy a new truck just for the trip. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)

I Went to the Woods: Spending spree

Hunting expos are a lot like soccer in that I’m not experienced enough to know the hierarchy.

  • By Jeff Lund For the Juneau Empire
  • Wednesday, February 15, 2023 5:51pm
  • Sports

The world of hunting expos is a lot like soccer in that I’m not experienced enough to know the hierarchy.

Two weekends ago was the Western Hunting & Conservation Expo and the amount of content that was created, and is now being shared, is remarkable. It seemed like the place to be for a hunter, so is going to the Western Hunting & Conservation Expo like attending the final of the League Cup? FA Cup? UEFA Cup? They all sound really legit, but are nearly indecipherable to someone of my limited knowledge.

Where does Shot Show rank? There’s a Pacific Northwest Sportsmen’s Show (Feb. 15-19), but that seems too geographically specific. The Open Season Sportsman’s Expo is next month and has the all-encompassing name of a potential expo king, but I hadn’t heard of it until my google search. It’s also in Kansas. Nothing against Kansas, but it seems like the grandest of all the grand hunting expos would be hosted elsewhere.

I’ve been to an outdoor expo, but not the Western Hunting & Conservation Expo which carries with it a different element of legitimacy within the hunting realm. The expo I attended was the International Sportsmen’s Expo in Sacramento which had everything. I stuck primarily to the fly-fishing section since fly fishing had not yet been supplanted by hunting in my obsession power rankings, but I did meander through the entire impressive spectacle.

That was over ten years ago.

During the Western Hunting & Conservation Expo, tag sales and attendance raised nearly $14 million for conservation which is a good thing, though the terms “conservation” and “conservationist” are generously applied to people who carry the honorary title in one hand and $15 beer in the other. Nothing against attendees (or beer), but to be a real conversationalist involves more than buying a hunting license or raffle ticket. That’s why I reduce myself to a dude who hunts and supports people who are actual conservationists and organizations like Mule Deer Foundation and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Anyway, herds of humans donated and spent fortunes during that weekend in Utah.

A Utah antelope tag sold for $500,000, an Arizona mule deer hunt for $725,000. A bighorn sheep tag in Texas went for only $175,000 which seems low. I say this, of course, because those sort of numbers are not real to a high school English teacher who – in the wake of building a new home with his wife – has to decide between a new skiff or a used truck, but not both.

For the record, my wife is all-in on a skiff.

It isn’t really useful to wonder what it’s like to be able to throw around that kind of cash, but for the price of that bighorn sheep tag, I could fly to Anchorage, buy a 2023 Chevy Silverado ($50,225) stop buy Cabela’s for a Champion 5,500W Dual Fuel Inverter Generator ($1,099.00) for my new Camp Chef Woodwind Pellet Grill ($1,199.00) that will go outside a Kodiak Canvas 8-person Cabin Lodge Tent ($949.99) that I’d use when I arrive north of the Brooks Range for an archery caribou hunt. Hunt in style! After the hunt I could leave the truck in Anchorage, get home, buy a new truck and skiff and have money left over.

This space isn’t large enough, and I don’t have the energy, to breakdown the hunt I could do had I an extra $500,000 in my bank account that was begging to get spent. I’d probably end up paying off the new house, then buying every raffle ticket from every student for every sport with what’s left.

And somehow still manage to lose.

• Jeff Lund is a freelance writer based in Ketchikan. His book, “A Miserable Paradise: Life in Southeast Alaska,” is available in local bookstores and at Amazon.com. “I Went to the Woods” appears twice per month in the Sports & Outdoors section of the Juneau Empire.

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