Vermont Outdoor Show and its massive deer rack pull in a crowdAlbert J. Marro / Staff Photo
Johnny King holds the controversial antlers from a whitetail deer some claim should hold the world record. King was at the Vermont Outdoor Show, which opened Friday afternoon at the Holiday Inn in Rutland Town. The show continues today from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
RUTLAND TOWN — If you polled the folks attending Friday’s opening day of the Vermont Outdoor Show at Holiday Inn, the Johnny King Buck should be the No. 1 typical whitetail in the world.
A steady stream of folks checked out the massive deer antlers, and most agreed with people who said the rack should be at the top of the list.
Attendance was respectable Friday at the three-day show, which continues today and Sunday.
Show organizer Fred Allard was pleased with the traffic that had come through the doors by about 6 p.m.
“It’s been pretty good for a Friday,” Allard said between collecting money and handing out raffle tickets.
Inside the show, the mood was just as positive.
One of the highlights of the show is the Johnny King Buck.
The enormous antlers drew a steady stream of appreciative admirers who hefted the rack of 225 cumulative inches and posed for photos with the trophy.
Johnny King, of Wisconsin, the hunter who shot the deer, answered questions and told his story over and over. He was joined by antler collector Jay Fish, who now owns the antlers, and former Boone and Crockett Club scorer Ron Boucher, of Wallingford, who lost his position with the club because of the antlers.
The deer has been a source of controversy ever since King shot it.
Boucher, one of the country’s most respected and experienced big-game measurers, said the buck should be the new No. 1 whitetail typical buck.
But B&C scorers determined one of the rack’s points was “nontypical” and it was denied the top spot.
Boucher argued so often and so publicly that he was relieved of his B&C scoring position.
The trio will offer a seminar today and Sunday, telling the story and answering questions.
Just feet away, Lane Benoit sat in his Mountain Men Adventures booth with his brother, Zeb.
The pair are two of the famous Benoit deer-hunting family and the sons of legendary deer tracker Larry Benoit, who died in October.
Lane Benoit will also put on seminars today and Sunday, and as part of that seminar will offer a tribute to his famous father.
At a show two weeks ago, Lane Benoit said he broke down and many in the room followed suit.
“The emotions just came out,” said Lane Benoit, who got a standing ovation following his presentation. “It was a very proud moment for me. It was heart-lifting.”
Benoit said he had just talked to two hunters from Pennsylvania who came to the show just to hear him talk about his dad.
“He just touched so many people,” Benoit said. “The impact he made in the hunting world was huge. I’m just carrying on the legacy.”
At booths around the show, the mood was good Friday.
Matthew Trombley, owner of 3rd Alarm Charters out of Florence, had a steady stream of people at his booth where he was offering guided trout and salmon trolling trips on Lake Champlain and striper fishing on the Hudson River.
Just a short distance away, Nate Laskiewicz, owner of Lake Region Fishing Service in Bomoseen, was offering guided bass and pike fishing trips on his Skeeter bass boat and letting folks know about his television program, “Lakes Region Fishing” at 5:30 a.m. Sundays on WPTZ.
“I think having a show here in Rutland is great,” Laskiewicz said. “Rutland is a great area to have a show.”
Bill Wright of the Rutland Bass Club, a BASS affiliated organization, was also glad to have an outdoor show in his backyard.
“I’m glad we got one down here,” Wright said. “We’re dealing with our neighbors and our own community.”
Wright said his group has wanted to let people know they’re out there and attract youth to the sport, whether for fun or competition.
“We’re trying to give back to the sport,” Wright said.
Tim Nichols, a dog handler with Leashed Dog Tracking Service, was just wanting folks to know about the services he offers deer hunters and he was happy with the turnout.
“I didn’t think there was going to be this many booths and this many people,” he said.
Nichols offers help for hunters tracking wounded deer. He said there is no fee for the service, but he does accept donations, which most hunters would gladly give in exchange for recovering a wounded deer.
Pete Lajoie of Gameheads Limited taxidermy in Shrewsbury said he was looking to get some face time with potential customers and put a card in their wallets.
Lajoie gets animals from all over the world and was displaying mounts of a gemsbock, an impala, a kudu and a bushbuck on display in addition to a white-tailed deer.
He said he thinks the show will be a success, but said it needs more room.
That’s something Allard had already figured out and said he was looking at other locations for next year if the show proves successful.
That seems likely. Allard estimated attendance at a couple of hundred just a few hours into Friday and said he had to turn away vendors because of a lack of space.
The event continues today and Sunday with a full slate of seminars, a turkey-calling competition and a kids’ casting competition.
The show is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $8, with kids 12 and younger admitted for free.
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