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Chris French
Mike Roberts

Filling longest hours in the shortest month

February: You either love it or hate it. For me, the best things about the month of February is the fact that it brings with it a host of outdoor shows in our area and the fact that March is not far behind and, with any luck, so is some warmer weather.

Cabin Fever starting to get to you?

Today is the last day of the New England Fishing and Outdoor Expo at the Worcester, Massachusetts DCU Center. A few years ago, the show changed hands and then it went out of business for a year or two, but now it is back in a big way.

Looking for something a little closer?

Then why not hit the Northeast Fishing & Hunting Show coming Feb. 14-16 at the Connecticut Convention Center, 100 Columbus Boulevard in Hartford, right off of I-91. It’s really easy to get to and for me to say that, you just know it has to be easy.

I find my yearly trip to the Northeast Fishing & Hunting Show a great way a great way to shake the cabin fever doldrums that usually hit around this time of the year. The show features hundreds of booths showcasing the latest products for fishing and hunting enthusiasts and is designed as a great outing for the entire family, according to show organizer Kristie Gonsalves, President of Northeast Expos. The show features more than 50 hours of seminars by national and regional expert fishermen and hunters, plus demonstrations at a casting pond and fly-tying center. There are also hands-on opportunities at some of the booths.

You can also expect to find the newest fishing, hunting and outdoor equipment by some of the nation’s top manufacturers and you can also purchase many of them. It’s a great time to go one-on-one with charter boat captains if you are interested in booking a fishing trip. If boats are your thing then the show is a great place to be because there will be plenty of them. Fly tying and fly casting demonstrations abound at the show and it is a super draw for fly fishermen.

Something new has been added this year: free appraisals of vintage outdoor collectibles such as antique fishing tackle, decoys, firearms, knifes, artwork, and other sporting treasures on Friday and Saturday. The most interesting items will recorded and shared with viewers of Treasures and Traditions TV, a new show on The Discovery Network’s destination America channel. Appraisal appointments must be made in advance at www.treasuresandtraditionstv.com.

The Northeast Fishing & Hunting Show will also feature my old buddy Greg Myerson, the world record holder for the largest striped bass (81.88 lbs). Myerson is a great guy and what I would call hardcore when it comes to fishing for striped bass.

Another buddy of mine, Southington resident Pete Picone, an author as well as a wildlife biologist for Connecticut’s DEEP Wildlife Division, will be there and can enthrall you with his talks on wildlife. Pete’s latest book, Wildlife Is My Passion, is a great read.

Del DelMastro a Connecticut archer, will be there to talk about archery tackle and urban deer. There will be a host of fishing experts, including Captain Bill Brown, the well known saltwater charter boat captain and outdoor writer, as well as a host of other charter captains — Greg Dubrule, T.J. Karbowski, Pete Myers, Bruce Miller, John Planeta and B.J. Silvia.

Old reliable lure maker, Al Gag (Gag’s Grabbers) along with Smash’em Fishing & Tackle and the Run off Lure Company will also be there.

The fly fishermen will find experts like Peter Kutzer, head fly fishing instructor for the Orvis Company of Vermont, Marla Blair, and Dave Brandt giving instructions. And what would fly fishing be without expert fly tiers like Ted Lewis, Mike Motyl, Mike Stewart and Fred Wilson?

New this year are the incredible woods carving demonstrations by Kris Connors of Clinton. Old favorites will be there also, including the Virtual Reality Fishing Simulator that is like fighting the fish of your dreams in person.

The ever-popular catch and release trout pond will also be there, allowing anyone to catch a tagged trout and win a child’s rod & reel.

The NRA Laser Shooting Range is also a popular attraction. And how about Talons Birds of Prey with live birds to show and talk about?

Sportsmen’s Outpost will feature a live archery range, and there will be a kid’s bass casting competition sponsored by the CT Bass Federation Booth.

Returning once again will be the “elements of nature” art show with a wide array of artists and unique pieces of wood, antler, stone, clay, bronze, photography and taxidermy, all with a nature theme. You can meet the artists and watch demonstrations.

You can also get all of the latest and newest of rules and regulations for both hunting & fishing from the CT DEEP, which will also be in attendance at the Northeast Fishing & Hunting Show at the CT Convention Center.

Admission is $12 adults and $4 for children ages 5 to 12. Children under 5 are free. Admission is by cash only! Show hours are Friday, Feb. 14 from noon to 8 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 15 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 16 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

THE GREAT BACKYARD BIRD COUNT

Another February treat. The folks in charge tell us that The Great Back Yard Bird Count (GBBC) has now gone global with watchers in more than 100 countries expected to participate in the 17th annual, taking place this from Feb. 14-17.

Anyone anywhere in the world can count birds for at least 15 minutes on one or more days and enter their sightings at www.BirdCount.org.

The information gathered by tens of thousands of volunteers helps track the health of bird populations at a scale that would otherwise be impossible. The GBBC is a joint project of Cornell lab of Ornithology, The National Audubon Society and Bird Studies Canada.

“People who care about birds can change the world,” said Audubon chief scientist Gary Langham. “Technology has made it possible for people everywhere to unite around a shared love of birds and a commitment to protect them.”

In North America, GBBC participants will add their data to help define the magnitude of a dramatic irruption of magnificent Snowy Owls. Bird watchers will also be on the lookout for the invasive Eurasian Collared Dove to see if it has expended its range. GBBC observations may help show whether or not numbers of American Crows will continue to rebound after being hit hard by the West Nile virus and whether more insect-eating species are showing in new areas, possible due to the changing of the climate.

Last year’s GBBC shattered records after going global for the first time thanks to integration with the eBird online checklist program launched in 2002 by the Cornell Lab and Audubon. Participants reported that their bird sightings from all 7 continents, including 111 countries and independent territories. More than 34 million birds and 3,610 species were recorded, nearly one-third of the world’s total bird species documented in just four days.

“This is a milestone for citizen science in so many aspects, number of species, diversity of counties involved, total participants and number of individual birds recorded. We hope this is just the beginning of something far larger, engaging the whole world in creating a detailed annual snapshot of how our planet’s birds are faring as the years go by,” said Cornell Lab Director, Dr. John Fitzpatrick.

“Canadian participants in the GBBC has increased tremendously in recent years and it’s wonderful to see this program growing globally,” said Bird Studies Canada President Dr. George Finney. “The count is introducing unprecedented numbers of people to the exciting field of bird watching.”

The GBBC is a great way for people of all ages and backgrounds to connect with nature and make a difference for birds. It’s free and easy. To learn more about how to join the count visit www.birdcount.org and view photos from the 2013 GBBC photo contest.

Think Spring! See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops wherever they may be.



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