The Great American Outdoor Show

Now is the time to book hunts for next fall, and there’s no better place to do this in person than the Great American Outdoor Show. Formally called the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show, the NRA has cleaned up the anti-gun baloney from a couple of years ago and reorganized it with a greater emphasis on hunting and shooting.

For 9 days, the “Harrisburg Show” as it’s often called, is ground zero for all things hunting, including some of the most exotic hunts in the world. Virtually every row is home to at least one African safari company, with New Zealand and Australia well represented as well. In total, the show attracts more than 1,000 exhibitors and covers over 650,000 sq. ft.! With an amazing number of challenging adventures to choose from, the one by Muddy Marsh Outfitters right here in North America stood out as one of the most difficult, interesting and affordable. (Jim Shockey has hunted there, and you can too.)

T. J. Jenkins runs Muddy Marsh Outfitters on Maryland’s eastern shore and spoke about the quest for the nations little elk-sika deer. “Sika are in the elk family,” said Jenkins. “They make a whistle, what some call a bugle, and the females make a chirp, much like that of a cow elk. They are a bit more elusive than a whitetail”

“We will bowhunt only from September 11 to January 31, with sika activity running pretty steady,” he continued. “The rut is in October, but unlike a whitetail, they keep their wits about them during that time. They are more vocal during the rut, but that’s the only real advantage. We hunt treestands and ground blinds, usually watching transition areas in the morning and by feeders and food sources in the afternoon. Sikas don’t tolerate movement, and they often jump the string. Overall, whitetail gear works well for sika. It’s best to control scent, and a Thermacell helps during early season for keeping away mosquitoes.”

Sika deer are free roaming and found only in swamps and marshes in eastern Maryland and Virginia. They’re about half the size of a whitetail deer, and stags grow antlers slowly. The stag shown above is the Maryland record sika taken with a bow.

Bagging a mature stag is quite a hunting accomplishment and limited in opportunity, yet Jenkins charges only $225 per day. “I was always frustrated at how expensive out-of-state hunting had become, so I do my best to keep my rates reasonable,” he said.

Click here to learn more about the 2015 Great American Outdoor Show. It runs from Feb. 7-15, 2015, at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, so there’s still time to attend!

P.S. Did you know North American Hunter has an online store?

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