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WOODS: Summer wildlife extravaganzas are on the horizon

Ok, the temps outside in the shade pushed above the 95 mark already. The weatherman suggested we soon would be having triple digit daytime temperatures. My main AC unit at the house threw in the towel last Monday and this is being written in June. So, what the heck is there to look forward to?

Then a colleague strolls in the door to announce like an advertisement for the Christmas shopping season that there are only 74 days left until hunting season. That statement certainly brought a smile. As we discussed our collective strategies for “making” it through another long, hot summer, I reminded him I only had to make it until August 2nd.

Another Ganza Cranks Up

Why August the 2nd? Because that is the day that the 27th-annual Mississippi Wildlife Extravaganza opens at the Trade Mart building on the Fairgrounds just off High Street in Jackson. Festivities start on that Friday with Kids Day at 3p.m.-9 p.m.

The main headliner celebrities this year will be Greg and Jake Miller hosts of the Pursuit TV on the Outdoor Channel. These guys are extremely knowledgeable about cutting edge deer hunting topics and will come loaded with enough real life deer hunting stories to interest anybody loving to deer hunt.

Woods-The Big Show 095_rgbPerennial guest favorites will be Paul Meek presenting his “Turkey Calling Made Easy for Beginners” talk. The kids love Paul’s on stage seminars teaching them the basics of turkey calling. Preston Pittman will also share turkey hunting tips on stage. The Ironman Bowfishing seminar will be a popular repeat, too.

The Fetch-N-Fish tub will be back to the show for more High Flying Retrievers and fish handgrabbing demonstrations. Percy King will show off his collection of snakes and reptiles. “Mr. Snake” of Mississippi Terry Vandeventer will also be on stage discussing the resident snakes found in the Magnolia State. David Hall will be back again with his demo on hawks.

As the list of presenters and exhibitors continues to grow, you can check out everything as it is updated on the Mississippi Wildlife Federation’s web site at www.mswildlife.org.

The Big Buck Event

One of the primary mainstays of the Wildlife Extravaganza is the official statewide Big Buck Contest along with the associated Magnolia Records Program. Up to 200 or more mounted bucks will be brought in by hunters for official Boone and Crocket scoring.

Bucks reaching a score of 125 or more points will be entered into the MRP program and listed on the state wildlife web site. Ribbons will be awarded to the top scoring buck in several categories.

It’s always interesting to see firsthand the big buck potential we have in Mississippi. It’s also a good opportunity to view examples of exceptional non-typical or “weird” whitetail racks as well.

More Ganza Activities

How could we forget one of the prime drivers of the Wildlife Extravaganza in the roughly 200 product vendors set up inside the huge show space of the Trade Mart Building? Everything under the sun hunting and fishing related will be for sale or on demonstration.

Shop for camouflage clothing for the whole family, hunting boots, fishing shoes, tree stands, shooting houses, hunting gear of all kinds, knives, bags, backpacks, and you name it. Hunting land real estate people will be on hand to promote properties for sale. Several hunting and fishing outfitters will also be on site to sell you that hunt of a lifetime or some good fishing exploits.

Many other things will be happening as well with plenty of activities planned for the kids. The Cutest Camo Kids Contest will be held again so get your little one all dolled up in camo and let both the gals and the guys show off their camo cuteness. Rumor is, too, they are working on camo cutie photographs for the men, as well.

There will be a catch and release “pond” for trout farm fishing for the kids. Also a bungee jump outside. A video screen on the back wall will display continuous photos from the show all three days plus information on many of the other Mississippi Wildlife Federation’s programs.

Of course, certainly last but not least will be the food vendors, too. This is like having a mini-state fair on site for the goodies to eat. I am sure there will be fried catfish, fried dill pickles, chicken-on-a-stick, corn dogs, lemonade and maybe some funnel cakes. I’ll be ready for that.

To be honest, this annual event put on by the Mississippi Wildlife Federation is their largest single fundraiser of the year. Proceeds from the Ganza support the office operation, personnel, and many of the wildlife conservation oriented programs they deliver all year long. So, please come out to see us this year and bring the family.

Each year some 30-40,000 people will come from all over the state and elsewhere just to attend this event. Imagine the overall economic impact of that many people coming to town. Besides ticket sales to get into the show, there are hotel rooms, food service, fuel and lots of incidentals.

Many families use this weekend also to start shopping local outlets for school clothes and supplies. Even the big box outdoors stores benefit from the Ganza. It is a definite win-win for Jackson, and the state.

John J. Woods, Ph.D., is vice president in charge of economic development and training, Eagle Ridge Conference and Training Center, the Workforce Development Center and contract training services at Hinds Community College in Raymond.

About John Woods

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