I think it is a safe bet that hunters have been getting together since the beginning of our time on this earth.
I have often heard of Native American tribes meeting at certain times of the year to trade and the mountain man yearly rendezvous are a colorful chapter in our history. It is no wonder then that brothers and sisters of the outdoors continue to meet at a regular yearly event. In keeping with tradition many of us got together last Sunday at the annual Deer Expo hosted by the Leetonia Sportsman's Association.
These meetings have always been a time to swap hunting stories and maybe brag a little. I can easily picture a couple of Neanderthal hunters enthralling one another with tales about the wooly mammoth they killed to feed their clan. I can hear one bragging, as he spreads his arms to indicate his trophy, that the beast had tusks this big.
Not much has changed over the eons, except that now we have official scorers to confirm the trophy's size. At Leetonia we had representatives of Buckeye Big Bucks Club and Pope & Young to measure deer racks according to a well thought out formula. The hunters had to understand that the measurements were not official as a certain time must pass between taking the deer and having it officially scored. Even so, just knowing that your deer is a candidate for the record book is a thrill.
Deer Expo plaques were awarded to the hunters with the largest rack in three categories: men, women and youth. Everyone who brought a rack to be scored was eligible to also win a muzzleloader in a free drawing.
Every youth who attended with an adult was entered in a free drawing to win a Daisy Red Ryder BB gun or a Windy Hills game call. It was a great moment for me when I passed a young man who had won the Red Ryder and I saw the smile on his face. I could definitely relate to him because I never had a Red Ryder when I was young. My BB gun was just a plain old Daisy. Then, Barb bought me one at a garage sale a couple of years ago and this old guy had a smile on his face. Some of us never grow up, and for that I am thankful.
Back in mountain man days there must have been peddlers at each rendezvous selling much need supplies, such as traps, food, guns and ammunition. Not much has changed in that respect. The Deer Expo had all of that for sale and we could buy traps, guns, ammunition, an ATV, and a bowl of the world's best chili. What more could anyone ask?
But, let's not forget the main reason for a Deer Expo and that is to see some really remarkable deer. There were some big ones. I saw the mount of one buck that must have weighed 200 pounds on the hoof. I'll bet he didn't have a lot of competition when it came time to fight other bucks for the lady deer. His neck looked as powerful as a cape buffalo.
None of my deer would have been in the same class as these big bucks, but I could have brought my small 7-point buck and still been in the running to win the muzzleloader.
But, I was more interested in meeting the vendors and hunters than winning a prize as I knew I would get at least one story I could use in this column. I also got to meet several of my readers and this is always a pleasure.
This fourth annual Deer Expo was a success and there is no doubt that the tradition will continue next year. Lord willing I'll be there, so save a couple of hunting stories for me and we'll have a bowl of chili together.