This week I had the pleasure of working the Archery Trade Association show in downtown Indianapolis for Traditions Media. The ATA show is big shindig that started as an archery specific industry trade show, but eventually morphed into a fairly stout industry outdoor show.

What I mean by that is, not all of the companies represented at ATA are archery related. There are plenty of manufacturers that showcase new products for other types of hunting including waterfowl, upland game.

Last year’s ATA show was in Louisville and it was real eye-opener for me. Who knew the “Derby City” was an internationally recognized restaurant hot spot? Churchill Downs, baseball bats and one of my favorite bands, My Morning Jacket share the spotlight with particularly well prepared meals and that’s a fact. Oh yeah, and killer Bourbon.

The show moved north to Indy this year, and as I suspected the Circle City did not disappoint. Much like Louisville — though on a larger scale — Indy represented the Hoosier Sate well. Keep in mind, the attendees are from all over the world so that’s important. Or, at least should be. Suffice it to say, I heard a lot of people mention how cool downtown Indy is.

Don’t get me wrong, Indianapolis has always had a lot to offer. But if you haven’t been downtown in recent years and done it up right, you’re missing out. The OG places such as St. Elmo’s Steak House are still packed every night, but now there are lots of other options for evening festivities. It’s kind of hard to pick a spot to be honest.

If all goes well at a trade show you shouldn’t have much time to take a stroll around the floor and check all the different companies out. As much as I’d like to say I did that, I didn’t and it’s because I didn’t have time.

As you can imagine an archery show has a lot of deer hunters present. Not surprisingly deer numbers were a hot topic and I can’t help myself, I like to listen to these conversations. The theme that came up over and over was poor hunting or a complete lack of deer altogether. This is not just an Indiana thing folks. There are deer issues all over the U.S., and I can assure you even famous hunters that have access to the best ground on Planet Earth have struggled in recent years. Sometimes that hard to decipher through all the bravado.

I think a lot of Hoosier hunters have a tendency to scream and shout that our DNR has botched up deer management and made us suffer through terrible seasons. I suppose we all need place to point our fingers once in a while. My take: Nobody is perfect. After listening to hunter after hunter from down south, out west and back east, and of course right here in the Midwest — it ain’t just an Indiana thang folks.

There are lots of factors that have contributed to poor hunting success, not the least of which is weird weather. Heck, I don’t even get motivated to go out half the time when it’s more like August in November. I ain’t sayin’, but I’m just sayin’ — if it’s 72 degrees and the bugs are flying you won’t get a lot of sympathy from me when you say “hunting sucked."

You can blame whatever you want, but the bottom line is deer hunting has been a struggle for many of us in recent years. And if it makes you feel any better, just know that it’s not just “us” that have had a hard time with it.

On the bright side, some really great new deer hunting stuff is hitting the market in 2017. From Ameristep’s new Supernatural ground blind that features an organic fiber “Naturshell” exterior fabric to the new Barnett Ghost 420 crossbow that cranks out bolts at a lightning quick 420 feet per second and sports a haunting camo job, the archery industry is firing on all cylinders. It’s almost hard to believe how immense such as specialized segment of the market has become.

You’ll just have to trust me when I say it’s going to be a good year for bow hunters and deer hunters in general for that matter. Next week I’ll be in Las Vegas working the mother ship of all outdoor trade shows, the National Shooting Sports Foundation SHOT Show. I can promise you I’ll skip lunch at least one day and do a “hot lap” to take it all in. I’ll report back to my fellow La Porteans the first chance I have.

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