It’s hard for me to believe that another year has passed and the time has come for the annual trek to the State Fairgrounds in Columbia for the Palmetto Sportsmen’s Classic.
This 30th version of the annual event will be March 28 to 30, and it is sure to please both young and old with more than 300 exhibitors offering the latest in fishing, hunting and outdoors equipment.
As always, numerous seminars and lectures will be presented throughout the three-day show, with a few special appearances.
This year’s rundown features many of the old favorites and a few new additions, including one that will appeal to fans of the television program “Swamp People.”
Troy Landry, one of the stars of this popular show on the History Channel, will be signing autographs from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday in the Nutt Cattle Arena.
The Lake Marion Archery Club will be holding a 3-D Archery Shoot inside the Hampton Building on Saturday and Sunday. The club, one of our state’s finest, regularly holds Archery Shooters Assocation, Bowhunters of South Carolina and South Carolina Archery Association shoots, as well as their own club shoots. Its inclusion into the this year’s show is a great way to introduce sportsmen of all ages to the joys of shooting a bow.
Along those same lines, the National Archery in the Schools Program’s State Championships will be held in conjunction with the Palmetto Sportsman’s Classic; it will also be taking place in the Hampton Building.
A gigantic inflatable BB Gun Range has been added to this year’s slate. Sponsored by Daisy BB Guns and manned by instructors from the National Wild Turkey Federation, youngsters will be taught both gun safety and marksmanship skills at this unique feature that will be housed in the Ruff Building.
While you’re there, ask them about the NWTF’s “Take Aim” program. This initiative includes an aggressive goal of tripling the number of NWTF Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship participants at their events.
Retriever World will be conducting hunting retriever demonstrations.
This seminar will help those interested see how to develop all of the skills necessary for your dog and hunting companion to reach “Super Retriever” status.
From the steps that begin with puppies and basic obedience to teaching hand signals and more advanced techniques, professional trainer Ray Coffey will be around all weekend to answer questions and give direction.
After 31 years in the business, Joey Mines, host of the popular TV show “Outdoors with Joey Mines,” will be set up in the Cantey Building for a “meet and greet” with fans of the show.
Bwana Jim also makes a return trip to Columbia, all of his critters in tow. With everything from snakes and alligators to wallabies and exotic birds, he’ll share his knowledge of animals in a fun, educational manner.
And anglers won’t be left out of the fun, either.
The national touring show of the American Fly Fishing Schools will be providing instruction in fresh and saltwater fly-fishing techniques, along with fly-tying demonstrations. The program includes a kid’s fly casting competition from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, with prizes awarded to winners.
The Bass Tub is back!
This 9-foot tall, 5,000-gallon aquarium will be stocked with largemouth bass, crappie and stripers so that attendees can get a close-up view of the action as bass tournament professionals teach various techniques of lure presentation.
Finally, the S.C. Youth Bass Fishing Championship is being held on Lake Murray Saturday, and the final weigh-in will take place at the Classic that afternoon.
The tournament, filled with anglers from the Bass Federation Junior and Student Angler Federation Clubs, as well as members of the B.A.S.S. Junior Bassmasters, will offer a competition for top honors in the Palmetto State.
These are but a few of the many happenings and, as always, I’m looking forward to being there. If you’d like to see what it’s all about, make the short run down to the fairgrounds for what’s guaranteed to be a good time.
Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, and free for children 10 and under.
For more information, visit the S.C. Department of Natural Resources website at http://www.dnr.sc.gov and look for the link to the event.
Youth Day for turkey hunters
Each year, our state recognizes one day before the start of the regular turkey season as Youth Day, where any hunter age 17 and under may get an early start on the season, as long as they’re accompanied by a properly licensed adult of at least 21 years of age. This time, the day will be on March 29, the Saturday before the general opening on April 1.
Only those hunters that qualify for youth status may take or attempt to take a turkey and, while a hunting license is not required of youth hunters, the use of turkey tags is.
These days, the majority of turkey hunters check a little box on their license renewal each June, and their free turkey tags are automatically mailed to them several weeks before April hits.
Still, some forget to do so and have to scramble to acquire them as opening day approaches.
If you fall into that category, or are new to turkey hunting and want to give it a try this year, you can get your set of tags by jumping online and visiting the DNR website at http://www.dnr.sc.gov, by visiting any of the DNR offices or by going to former Big Game Check Stations where handwritten tags can be obtained.