Yankee Classic

Some of the very impressive mounts that are part of the Whitetails of North America Collection, featured at the 27th annual Yankee Sportsman’s Classic at the Robert E. Miller Expo Center in Essex Jan. 18-20.

So, it’s January, the winter has taken hold of your soul and you haven’t a clue as to what you can do about it.

Sit at home next weekend and go brain-dead on the TV? Take a walk in sub-zero temperatures and frigid winds? Or, maybe take a ride somewhere, at least to get away from winter?

One way to keep the winter blues away, for at least a day, would be a trip to Essex to take in the 27th annual Yankee Sportsman’s Classic at the Robert E. Miller Expo Center Jan. 18-20.

We’ve been to the classic before and, frankly, the trip is worth it. Some 14,000 outdoors folks and their families are expected to come from all over Vermont to take in the hunting and fishing activities.

Sponsored by the Vermont Trappers Association, about 200 exhibitors will be taking part and more than 50 free seminars will be offered. Whitetail deer hunters can get the latest tips from Hal Blood, the “Buck Hunter” from Maine, Tim Andrus and the Adirondack Deer Trackers.

Expert callers Joe Judd and Ken Hammel will talk turkey, predator hunter Bob Howe will be on hand, and bass fishing experts Chris Adams and JJ Judd will offer tips on landing big bass. There will be seminars on beekeeping and how to properly field dress and process your deer.

Seminars will be held on hunting trophy moose in Maine, trophy brook trout fishing, trapping in the modern era, tactics for killing a big buck and more. There will be a host of events for children as well, including a kids’ trout pond, live animal shows, free wild game samples, a children’s archery shoot, a kids’ pellet gun shoot and, along with the adults, they can take in the Whitetails of North America Collection.

Want to book a whitetail hunt in Illinois or Quebec? How about a fly-fishing week on a remote lake in Maine? How about a day trip on a fishing charter on Lake Champlain? There will be outfitters and guides to show you the way.

Frank Stanley, promotions director, said that just over 14,000 people attended last year’s classic.

“Usually, our biggest attractions are the wildlife animal shows and the trout pond, where kids are found,” he said. “Our most-attended seminars are with Hal Blood and the Adirondack Deer Trackers.”

Stanley said he brought his own children to the show and they found a place in the outdoors.

“My son got to catch fish in the tour pond and shot his first BB gun there,” he said. “It’s a good start to get kids interested, seeing the trophy deer heads and all of the different products out there.”

Personally, Stanley said the classic gives him a chance to rekindle old friendships.

“I’ve been doing this since the early 2000s,” he said. “It’s the one place I get to see 30 to 40 people, guys I haven’t seen all year, and to catch up with all of these guys. I think that goes for a lot of people.”

Hunting and fishing is a very big part of Vermont culture. According to the latest data, one in five Vermonters take to the woods and streams, spending $300 million annually.

Tickets are $11 for adults, $5 for children ages 3 to 12, with children under the age of 3 admitted free. Show hours are noon to 7 p.m. on Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is good for all three days and parking is free. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Camp Ta-Kum-Ta.

Winter wildlife tracking

Vermonters of all ages can learn about winter wildlife tracking Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. at the McClure Library in Pittsford. The guided walk is free.

Ali Thomas, the education manager for the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, will lead the walk. Thomas, who studied under renowned wildlife tracker James Halfpenny, is an experienced naturalist.

According to Thomas, tracking wildlife is a great way to connect with nature and the outdoors, and getting started requires no experience or equipment.

“You need only the curiosity to witness stories wildlife leave behind in the snow, from tracks of a fox catching a ruffed grouse in the snow to a mouse scurrying along, whipping its tail behind. Winter in Vermont is a great time to discover signs of wildlife,” Thomas said in a press release.

Contact Dennis Jensen at d.jensen62@yahoo.com

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