Pro Staff Blog

Pheasant Fest & The Shot Show Travel File of Joella Bates

Pheasant Fest

On January 17, 2008, I braved blizzard conditions in route to St. Paul, Minnesota for the set-up day of my first Pheasants Forever event. I was met by Roby and Rachel, a young couple traveling with the McConnell Hall Outfitters’ (MHO) trailer in tow from Anderson, South Carolina. Since my journey had begun the previous day with my departure from Smoke Rise Ranch in Glouster, Ohio, the stress of my near-sleepless night had finally caught up with me. I made the decision to check into the Country Inn just off I-91 for a much needed rest. Since the Pheasant Fest did not open to the public until Friday afternoon, we drove in the convention center early and set up the booth.

I had no clue that Pheasants Forever would draw such a large crowd of hunting dogs and people from all over the country. I had the distinct honor of being granted a press pass that would have allowed me access to some very special meetings including one with the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Unfortunately, previously accepted responsibilities that included manning the MHO booth and selling their patented camo-faced briar jeans manufactured in partnership with Diamond Gusset of Bon Aqua, Tennessee kept me from being able to attend the meetings.

The event was kicked-off with a bird dog parade around the convention center followed by a ribbon cutting ceremony. The entire second floor of the center housed exhibits featuring hunting dogs. Many of the show visitors also brought their hunting dogs.

I was particularly impressed by the number of activities offered to entice children and families to the event. Rudy, the PF mascot, greeted children of all ages. I was encouraged by the great turn-out of children at the event and made a special attempt to thank the adults that were accompanying them. We (I am including all of you in this statement) know that in order to perpetuate the hunting heritage, we must act not to recruit youth and protect habitat and hunting privileges if hunting is to be available for future generations.

I look forward to working with representatives of both Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever in their efforts to acquire and enhance habitat for both species.

I wish to personally thank all of the sponsors, exhibitors, manufacturers, outfitters, and consumers that attended the 2008 Pheasant Fest and contributed to the event record attendance.



On February 1, 2008, my plane touched down in Las Vegas just after 1:00 AM. By the time I caught the shuttle to the Polo Towers, it was almost 2:00 AM, a time that I didn’t dare call the guys from J.F. Griffin Publishing, whom I would be working with at the 30th annual SHOT (Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade) Show. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) owner and operator began the annual event when 290 exhibiting companies gathered for the first time in 1979 (the year of my high school graduation) in St. Louis, Missouri.

This annual event provides the industry an opportunity to “stand together” exhibiting a unified effort to promote our sporting traditions and preserve our firearm freedoms. Every dollar generated by the SHOT Show goes to programs that perpetuate our industry from the Mom and Pops to the major manufacturers. The revenues have supported programs that are introducing newcomers to the shooting sports and helping current consumers to ting new and added hunting and shooting opportunities. Supporting legislative initiatives and legal efforts that defend our Second Amendment freedoms is just one of the primary objectives of the NSSF.

This annual event was like old home week for me. Since 1996, I have missed very few SHOT Shows. I had spent the last two years working the show in the Raven Wear of Canada (a company specializing in custom-made cool and cold weather clothing for the avid outdoors person) which afforded me very little time to actually walk the show floor and visit with other manufacturers. I took advantage of the newly found freedom and introduced my co-workers Jeremy Garnish and Drew Kelly to many of the industry’s people that have come to play an important role in my efforts to promote the hunting and shooting industry.

My obsession for participating in these outdoor activities is protected by my constant desire to perpetuate this heritage and inspire and motivate others especially families to seek the wonders of the wild for their recreational time. It is always thrilling to me to visit with and swap hunting and shooting stories with my friends, both those inside and outside the industry. Equally as important, I have to see what is new and better as far as what products I will need for myself and those that I need to share with you, so we can both be more effective and efficient in our shooting and hunting endeavors. I will share more of these products with you at a later time.

I got to see many industry legends that I claim as friends like Michael Waddell, Jim Shockey, Jim Zumbo, Hank Parker and his boys, Lee and Tiffany Lakowsky, David Morris, Ted Nugget, Bill Jordan, and feller Tennessean, Wade Borne. As always, I met some new folks that no doubt will become friends: Tred and Ann Barta and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Several years ago, I had attempted to invite Stone Cold to go on a hog hunt with me; it is hard to believe that when I actually told him about it, he agreed to take me up on the invitation. I will certainly fill you in on the details when it happens.

Another highlight of my trip was seeing several ladies that I have participated in events with over the years. Three and four years ago, I attended Shooting for Women Conferences in Phoenix, Arizona and Nashville, Tennessee. I just kept running in to ladies that I had met from those conferences. I will introduce you to some of them in future writings. I also met up with my good friend Terri Troyer. She and I spent some quality time visiting manufacturers that are making products for ladies. I promise I will write about those companies and products in upcoming reviews. A good friend of mine has a neat website that you need to check out. Go to for lots of hunting and fishing info from ladies who love the outdoors to ladies that love it too.

Last but definitely not least, I attended my first State of the Industry Gala. I was inspired by the speakers and touched by the significant contributions of both time and money made by members of our industry. My hat is off to you and all the others that continue to support conservation efforts that keep our heritage strong.

Being a country gal from Tennessee, I must mention the incredible thrill of hearing fellow Tennessean, Randy Travis’ performance following the Industry Address. Words from his one of his hit songs keep echoing in my head    ” …… I swear it’s true. Oh, I wouldn’t have nothin if I didn’t have you. Neither one of us will ever be the same …… ”

Until next time, keep dreaming big and shooting straight!

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Kevin Paulson

Kevin Paulson is the Founder and CEO of His passion for Hunting began at the age of 5 hunting alongside of his father. Kevin has followed his dreams through outfitting, conservation work, videography and hunting trips around the world.

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