One of the world's largest hunting and fishing shows -- with special emphasis on hunting -- opens this week in Atlanta with a new exhibit featuring big game animals from throughout North America.
The Buckarama, now in its 18th year, is the Georgia Wildlife Federation's primary fundraising event of the year, said show director Doug Rithmire.
"We had 70,000 people last year -- just in Atlanta, and right at 40,000 at the Buckarama in Perry," he said. "We believe we'll surpass that this year with no problem."
This year's Atlanta Buckarama will be held Thursday through Sunday at the Atlanta Expo Center, I-285 at Exit 55 near Atlanta; and the Perry Buckarama is scheduled for Aug. 18-20 at the Georgia AgriCenter at I-75 and Exit 135 in Perry, Ga.
One of the most popular parts of the events are the annual deer antler contests, which typically attract the largest racks harvested in Georgia.
"This year will be an especially big year because we're scoring them all, and the largest scoring ones will be included in a new book with all the record bucks," Rithmire said.
Anyone with a deer they'd like to enter and have scored should bring it along, but be prepared to leave it for scoring and retrieve it after scoring all entries is completed.
"We usually have 200 to 300 deer come in, but this year we'll probably have double, partly because of the book coming out."
Headlining this year's exhibits is a collection of big game animals assembled by Rodney Kelly, who will discuss hunting for various species and offer advice on techniques and places to go.
Some of the species he will discuss at his daily seminars include whitetail deer, black bear, moose, mountain goat and elk. Many of the trophies are full mounts.
Also this year, Galen Shinkle will hold seminars on archery. His trick shooting is unmatched anywhere and quite entertaining.
In 1989, Shinkle made the Guinness Book of World Records by shooting 10 bull's-eye hits in a six-inch target in 60 seconds. Although other archers might be able to pull off such a feat, Shinkle did it while hanging upside down from his friend, Joe Ponder's, teeth.
In addition to exhibitions, Shinkle will offer a youth archery class daily, and all youngsters are welcome to attend. Prizes will be offered, too.
Other events include the second annual Black Powder Buckhunters Shoot, seminars on how the sun and moon affect wildlife movement and hunting opportunities, hunting dogs in action, and many other programs and exhibits.
"The important thing is, these shows are owned by the sportsmen of Georgia," Rithmire said. "For the last 18 years, we've brought together exhibitors from all over the world, and products the public can buy at a special show price."
The Georgia Wildlife Federation, which is planning to open new headquarters soon in Covington, Ga., also holds an annual Fish-A-Rama and Turkey-Rama, both in February, but the Buckarama is by far the largest annual event.
Reach Robert Pavey at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 119, or firstname.lastname@example.org.