If you are new to hunting, fishing, archery or another type of outdoor activity and want to learn for the first time, the Rockingham Fishing & Hunting Expo is a good place to start.
The 14th annual expo will be held at the SNHU Arena in Manchester Saturday, Jan. 7, and Sunday, Jan. 8. The event is the largest and longest continually operated outdoor sporting expo in New Hampshire, featuring more than 200 exhibitors specializing in various kinds of outdoor sports. Previous expos were held at Rockingham Park in Salem and drew more than 10,000 visitors over the course of the weekend.
Expo organizer Fred Allard said the focus is primarily on fishing and hunting, but a mix of other exhibitors will include those who specialize in kayaking, canoeing, camping, falconry and more. Exhibitors from New Hampshire, Vermont, New York and several Canadian communities are all expected to attend.
“A lot of the seminars that will be shown focus on beginner levels,” Allard said. “So if someone is interested in kayaking and wants to get into it for the first time, there will be a seminar you can learn from. … If you want to learn specifically about deer hunting, we’ll have a guy doing a seminar on that. … There’s a lot of beginner stuff you can find here.”
Other seminars will include a live display of redtail hawks from the New Hampshire Falconers Association, ice fishing tactics and techniques courtesy of Tim Moore Outdoors in Greenland, a taxidermy presentation by Wily Coyote Taxidermy, a video presentation on coastal water fishing by Capt. Mel True of Fishnet Charters, an introduction to basic target archery courtesy of Mike Bolduc of Archery in Motion in Concord and more. Allard said the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department will also be there selling and providing information on fishing and hunting licenses.
Popular events for the kids include fishing in the live trout pond and an interactive archery seminar specifically for younger archers to learn. There will also be paintball ranges, a laser shot range and a small obstacle course, Allard said.
New to this year’s expo will be an appearance by the Whitetails of North America, the largest collection of trophy whitetail deer in the world, according to Allard. Assembled by Vermont hunter John LaBerge, the display will cover more than 80 feet of exhibit space — and that’s not even enough to include everything he has.
“I have about 60 deer in my collection, but we’ll only be able to fit about 23 deer across 80 feet,” LaBerge said. “There are quite a few that I can swap off and change for the next year, though.”
LaBerge has travelled all over the country buying and collecting replicas to add to his record-setting collection, including one of the Missouri Monarch, the No. 1 non-typical whitetail in the world.
“Nobody around here has ever seen a display like this,” he said. “I mean, you’ll have individuals who have great displays but are only at their homes, and some other places that may have security like you can’t believe. … But I’ve been told by many people that they haven’t seen a traveling display like this ever.”
LaBerge said a staple of his display appearing at shows is the photo opportunities visitors can take with the whitetails.
“Most shows like this that you go to will only have maybe one deer set up, and they’ll only give you one picture for $10 or something … so what we like to do is let all the kids come and take pictures with the deer, or with their parents in front of their favorite deer. It’s a really big deal with the kids.”