LOUISVILLE, Ky. – With the dawn of Day Two of the 2016 ATA Trade Show at the Kentucky Expo Center in Louisville, a busy day of order writing, media interviews and bowhunting celebrity appearances took center stage in the northern reaches of the Bluegrass State.
Buck Commander Crew Draws Large Crowds
Like the ground swell of people who used to follow Tiger Woods around a golf course during his prime, Wednesday afternoon found a tidal wave of bowhunting fans following around the celebrities and hosts of Duck Dynasty and Buck Commander television fame.
With the familiar red, white and blue bandana of Willie Robertson leading the way, an entourage of hunting and music industry celebrities including Jep Robertson, 2015 CMA Entertainer of the Year Luke Bryan and country music powerhouse Jason Aldean visited the booths of Plano Synergy, Realtree and Redneck Hunting Blinds in rapid-fire succession.
Along the way, the group paused to sign literally hundreds of autographs and take countless smartphone photos with excited fans who were crowding into the various booths being visited by the group.
Danker, Hosie Team Up for Target the Heart
The second day of this year’s show got off to an inspirational start as Chuck McAlister spoke to a gathering of several hundred folks meeting for the fourth edition of the Target the Heart prayer breakfast.
A couple of hours prior to the show opening up for the day, Major League Bowhunter star Jeff Danker gave his testimony to the crowd, talking about one of the most important bucks of his hunting career, a huge Boone & Crockett-size buck that he never caught up with.
Despite never tagging the buck, Danker indicated the whitetail was instrumental in his growth as a husband, a father, a man of deep Christian faith, a bowhunter and a member of the hunting industry.
Team Realtree member Nate Hosie, the budding Nashville music star and co-host of HeadHunters TV, followed a presentation by the Father’s in the Field faith-based ministry group and performed some inspirational music from his forthcoming album.
Hosie also shared the testimony of how a serious automobile accident and the death of his sister in a 10-month period of time helped to change his life and spur on his growth as a man and as a musician.
At the end of the gathering, a Scent Blocker hunting outfit donated by Robinson Outdoor Products and a new Halon compound bow donated by Mathews, were both given away to a couple of the TTH attendees.
Bowhunting and Baseball
In the city that has helped to make Louisville Slugger baseball bats world renowned, it’s little wonder that Georgia native and San Francisco Giants pitcher Hunter Strickland is in town this week for the 2016 ATA Trade Show.
Especially since he has a bowhunting company named Spread Crushers (actually born from a bullpen discussion), an organization that promotes hunter safety while giving kids, U.S. military veterans and persons with disabilities the chance to hunt and to gain an up close and personal look at the sport of baseball.
“This is my first time at the ATA Show,” said Strickland to ATA staff writer Shannon Rikard. “My brother has been here before but this is my first trip. I love it and I’m excited about everything I’ve seen.”
With 2016 Major League Baseball Hall of Fame inductions being announced on Wednesday, Strickland was as eager to talk about bowhunting as he was the nation’s baseball pastime.
“Everyone here has the same interests,” he said in an ATA Trade Show news release. “It’s great to be in this atmosphere and be surrounded by other bowhunters.”
Mossy Oak Celebrates 30th Anniversary
Thanks to a handful of dirt, sticks and leaves scooped up when Ronald Reagan was president of the United States, Mississippi-based Mossy Oak is celebrating its 30th anniversary this week at the 2016 ATA Show.
“Mossy Oak sprang up out of my love for hunting and being obsessed with getting closer to critters,” said Toxey Haas, founder and CEO of Mossy Oak, in a press release.
“I never dreamed that we would be where we are today, 30 years later.”
Bill Sugg, president of the company, agrees.
“Camouflage has come a long way in 30 years and is being used for more than just hunting these days,” said Sugg.
Part of that three decades long journey has been due to the number of partnerships that Mossy Oak has forged along the way.
“The outdoor industry as a whole has been vital to our success,” said Sugg. “Without retailers and manufacturers, writers and TV support, conservation partnerships and pro staff, we simply wouldn’t be (seeing) the success we are today. It is with much gratitude that we celebrate 30 years.”
Hass agreed: “The thing that I’m proudest of is not the growth of the business, but the relationships, the family, within the brand today,” he said. “People really are what are most important. I’m overwhelmed with thanks for all the great relationships formed through the brand.”
YETI Coolers Gets Bottled Up
From the “what will they think of next” category, Austin, Texas-based YETI Coolers seems to have done it again with one of the show’s hit products in the non bow and arrows categories.
After highly successful introductions in the past couple of years for the company’s Rambler series of highly engineered drink tumblers, this week has brought the introduction of the drink ware series’ Rambler Bottles, a thermos-style bottle that promises to keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold for lengthy periods of time.
Offered in 18-, 36- and 64-ounce versions, the newly minted YETI Rambler Bottles and their “Over the Nose Technology” have drawn big crowds this week at the company’s booth. The new Rambler Bottles will reportedly hit retail shelves around the country later this spring.
Redneck Blinds Goes Ghillie
On the heels of their highly successful fiberglass blinds, Redneck Blinds has introduced two new soft-sided blinds this week that offer many of the advantages of their trademark hard-shell products, all at a lower price point.
The 6×6 Camo 360 and the 6×6 Ghillie 360 blinds are said to have enough room for three adults (or two adults and two children) to bowhunt quietly and comfortably thanks in part to the heavy duty, flame retardant and double-stitched 600 denier camo cover that the blinds feature.
With double-zippers on the door and windows, a powder-coated steel frame and a 77-inch-high ceiling, these durable blinds can be used on the ground or sitting on top of the company’s new six-foot heavy duty blind stand.
Day Two Odds and Ends
Did You Know? – Louisville is the hometown of Jennifer Lawrence, the Hunger Games movie franchise actress who portrayed the bow-shooting Katniss Everdeen.
Did You Know? – Baseball bat-making giant Louisville Slugger has made more than 100 million bats (wood, aluminum and custom-made versions) since the company got its start back in the 1800s
According to the Archery Trade Association and its Archery 360 website, some four million U.S. women are current participants in the sports of target archery and/or bowhunting.
On numerous occasions this week, hunting show hosts and industry personalities have talked about the family atmosphere that they find while attending the annual ATA Show. That includes Team Realtree and Whitetail Freaks member Kandi Kisky.
“The best part of the show is seeing everyone from the industry,” she said. “And the worst part is the traveling. But we’re very excited to be here and to see Mathews return to the show for the first time in a long time.”
David Holder, Raised Hunting co-host and Bear Archery pro-staff member, agreed with Kisky: “Besides seeing all of the new and incredible products, the best part of the ATA Show for us is the camaraderie with other folks in the industry and like-minded folks (who share our passion for hunting).”
Former NFL wide receiver Jordan Shipley, now a Team Hoyt pro-staffer and co-host of The Bucks of Tecomate show, concurs: “The best part of ATA for me is the relationships,” he said. “You get to reconnect with likeminded people and catch up on what’s been going on in their lives and on their hunts. The only bad part is there are so many booths (to see at the show) that it’s hard to figure out where you’re going next.”