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Outdoor show at Armory

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By Mike Forster

Experienced outdoorsmen and youthful novices alike will have an opportunity to be exposed to a wide array of woodsy-related events, demonstrations and goods this very weekend.

The tenth annual Outdoor Show will be hosted by the Bedford Outdoor Sportsman Association (BOSA) on Saturday, March 8, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event, a favorite of sportsmen of all stripes, will be held at the Bedford Bedford Armory on East Main Street.

The armory is home to Bedford?s Army National Guard Company A which, along with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF), is co-sponsoring the event.

?We want to entertain and to educate,? said Steven Grant, president of BOSA. ?We?re concerned that kids are spending all of their time on PlayStation or on computers.?

The numbers support Grant?s concerns. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the number of hunters has dropped from 16.75 million in 1982, to 14 million in 1996, to 12.5 million in 2006.

?Ignorance is not bliss,? said Grant. ?The more we can educate kids on nature, the more they?re likely to preserve it.?

Sharon Thompson, vice president of BOSA agreed with Grant. ?Hunting gives my daughter the chance to think in different situations and to be selective,? she said.

Both young folks and adults should find lots to enjoy at the Outdoor Show, with displays, activities, door prizes and vendor booths galore.

The centerpiece of the show will be a predator/prey wildlife display which is designed by Gene Parker. It changes from year to year. One year, the display even included live trout.

Folks are encouraged to bring their mounted heads to display. David Looney, treasurer of BOSA, expects to see some beauts. ?Bedford County produces the most deer, but also some of the biggest,? he noted.

One of the favorite events at last year?s show was the retriever demonstration. This year, Bedford?s John Cowlbeck will return with fan favorite Maddie, a gorgeous and well-decorated black Lab. Also, Ron and Marge Samuels will be putting their dogs through the paces.

The live auction will offer prints, a guided hunt, antler lamps and knives, among other outdoorsy items.

The turkey contest will judge birds taken in Bedford County in the Spring of 2007. Those wishing to enter should bring their check-in tag, beard and spurs.

Additionally, for youth that have never been exposed to hunting, this might be a gateway opportunity. ?We?ll have hunting education instructors (at the show),? said Looney. ?They?re willing to talk to youth about what it takes to get started and about upcoming classes.?

At the show, a dart-hunting simulator will be set up, which will help to replicate the hunting experience via the use of lasers. Additionally, there will be a series of raffles that will be open to youth and which will award (supervised) local bear, turkey, squirrel and deer hunting trips as well as a trout fishing outing.

Cost of admission is $2, with those under 12 years of age admitted free. Monies raised by BOSA are used in a variety of ways that encourage youth participation in the outdoors, including the National Wildlife Turkey Foundation?s youth program, the Bedford County 4H shooting team and the purchase of lifetime hunting licenses for youth of our area.