Montreal’s 2014 hunting, fishing and camping show

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IMG_3133There are few better places to find the latest in outdoorsman tech than the Hunting, Fishing and Camping Show, which this year took place at Montreal’s Place Bonaventure February 20-23.

From scopes to crossbows, high-tech feet warmers to fancy goose calls, this show had it all.

With hundreds of kiosks, it takes a keen eye to find the goods that would interest an Eeyou audience. Naturally, we started with the firearms.

Dropping by the Browning booth, Claude Chartrand was happy to promote the company’s latest offerings.

“We have some over and under shotguns that are new this year and we have also introduced the A5 semi-automatic shotgun, which is used for goose hunting and duck hunting,” said Chartrand. “Also in the category of rifles we have introduced the Eclipse Hunter rifle in different categories, it is manufactured in 13 different calibres.

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Next, Alain from Le Baron Sports was happy to show off the Henry Mare’s Leg Lever Action pistol, now legal in Canada. With hunting as a family experience becoming increasingly popular, this particular model came with a number lock that required a code, making it an ideal weapon for a younger person as they wouldn’t be able to fire it unless mom or dad unlocked it.

“They call this the Mare’s Leg because it just like what the cowboys used to have. It is a great gun,” said Alain.

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HuntFish3 519 (3)Claude Doree from Agences de Sports Tri-Omf was showcasing the Benelli line. He was quick to pull a Super Black Eagle semi-auto 12 gauge , which featured a 3-1/2 chamber, off the wall to give us a closer look at the best that Benelli has to offer goose hunters.

“This model comes with five different chokes and a comfort-tech stock which reduces the recoil about 35%. It only has 10 different parts so it’s very easy to take down in a field if it gets dumped in the mud, for example. It cleans up really quickly and comes with a 10-year warranty. It’s the best shotgun on the market right now,” said Doree.

He also brought out the Beretta A400 Xtreme, which he described as one of the company’s finest offerings for 2013. It is another 3-1/2-chamber shotgun, but this one features a gas-operated system. This was his other recommendation for top-of-the-line technology.

Meanwhile, Alain Goulet from Vortex Canada had a fine selection of binoculars on display. For the northern hunter, he recommended the Razor HD model.

“This is the 10×50, but it’s also available in a 8×42, a 10×42 and a 12×50. It is a high-end piece that has HD glass and so it’s good for bright images and colours. This is an awesome pair of binoculars,” said Goulet.

“These retail between $1500 to $1700 but what makes it such a great product is the quality of the prisms used here. Also they are completely waterproofed and so you can literally use them in all kinds of conditions, plus they come with a lifetime warranty.”

We then encountered several gentlemen representing eastern outdoors sales for Savage Arms. They suggested the new B.MAG as the best choice from their line for hunters.

When asked about the company’s Indian-themed name and logo, Stéphane Pépin was glad to tell the story of how it came about.

He explained that the company is actually named for its founder, Arthur Savage, who began Savage Arms back in 1894 and the company’s Indian head logo is a licensed image of Chief Lame Deer. As the company’s history goes, Savage actually made a deal with the chief for discounted rifles in exchange for the tribe’s support and endorsement. Lame Deer later gave Savage the image of himself as a gift for the company to use as he was so enamoured with their products.

“We actually get several calls about this every day,” said Pépin.

Also on hand from Savage Arms was Yannick Lamarre, who said that the 17W SM B.MAG that used the new rim-fire cartridges is an awesome choice.

“The difference between this product and the others is that this one can go 3000 feet per second and so it is a niche between the centre fire and a lower rim fire that we had. This one will supersede all rim-fire performance,” said Lamarre.

HuntFish3 519 (20)The B.MAG he was holding also came with rotary mags and featured a standard barrel. Nut Lamarre said the company had just announced that it would be making a bull barrel available for that particular product by the end of 2014.

Moving along, we checked out the seemingly endless bounty of vendors flogging hunting apparel and even novelty hunting apparel. This year the show even had hunting gear just for the ladies.

Line Giguère was there for Confections Gali, a Quebec-based company that features all sorts of exquisite hunting garments for women that combined sleek with sexy and functional in a whole new way.

“We custom make most of our products to fit the clients. They can pick their camo pattern, the pockets and the sizing when ordering so the customer really gets what they want,” said Giguère.

Her booth offered a wide variety of jackets, hunting pants, hats, pyjamas and even lingerie, all of which were completely customizable for the client so that they would be getting something to suit every shape.

The high quality of stitching and fabric were such that it is easy to imagine that movie stars would wear these garments during hunting expeditions.

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Call maker Rhéal Charlebois, of Recall Designs, had an incredibly array of calls in just about every colour of the rainbow and every finish of wood.

“This year I have my short fuse call – because the call is short and fast. It is a really good call,” he said.

Over at the Distribution Plein Air booth, Philip Girard suggested a unique backpack set up with special straps to carry your crossbow or shotgun.

“With the Archery Crossbow Bolt Backpack you can strap on your crossbow or rifle to the bag so that your two hands are free while you travel through the bush. Plus, it has all sorts of pockets for your accessories and ammo,” said Girard.

HuntFish3 519 (30)Moving into the main room of the event, which featured boats, vehicles, high-tech tools, fishing gear and outfitting camps, we found ourselves drawn to the Garmin booth.

Philip Boudreau was hawking high-tech GPS systems that doubled as fish finders for individuals looking to tech out their fishing experience.

“This is the new 8000 system from Garmin and it is a touch screen GPS and a multi-function display so you can add a fish-finder, a down-view system and down scan imagery to see the bottom,” said Boudreau.

Using its various functions, he demonstrated how the product used sonar to create an incredible underwater display using what he called the CHIRP Process Transducer. This allows for the product to use continuous waves and echo to make crisp and clear images.

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Chasing the vacation dollars of Quebecers were tourism representatives from Maine and other New England states. But none were as memorable as Mackie, a casino worker from Atlantic City, who attends the show every year wearing stilts and clown glitter to showcase Cape May, New Jersey.

“We are back again as we just love this area and would really love it if you were to come to our area to visit us,” said Mackie. “We have beautiful beaches, sparkling sands, history, casinos, resorts, Atlantic City and much more.”

Along the New Jersey coast, fishing enthusiasts can try to hook flounder, white perch, whiting, king fish or mackerel.

About a nine-hour drive from Montreal, Mackie said this is a great place to take the kids to the beach as the waters are calm and the waves aren’t as intense as places like Wildwood, Ocean City or Cape May.

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For anyone who has ever wanted to go on a fancy, guided walleye or trout fishing tour on St. Lawrence River or Lac Témiscouata à Cabano, Les excursions de pêche Bruno Morency were on hand to provide a memorable experience.

“In May, we fish on Lake Témiscouata for lake trout and speckled trout up to six pounds,” said Paulin Gingras, a Morency associate.

Bruno Morency, who has the aura of a movie star, offers these tours on the St. Lawrence, featuring his 19 years of experience and expertise at fishing walleye on the river.

“The river is a great place for walleye fishing because the fish population is so high,” said Morency.

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Another basic and incredibly handy product we came across was the Pad Auto Collant, promoted by Serge Genais. This rubbery little rectangle is a self-adhering contraption to stick your phone, pens, glasses, GPS, coins or you name it to the dash of your car, boat or ATV without getting them gummed up. Reusable and compact, it’s perfect for the person who keeps misplacing things.

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HuntFish3 519 (51)To keep your feet warm on cold days outdoors, Simon Senecal from Thermastrom has a solution in the form of heated insoles. Developed in Quebec, they feature a non-woven textile that gives off heat and a battery holder that can be strapped on your calf. They are all leather and feature a slim fit that will slip into any kind of shoe, ski boot or regular hunting boot.

While Senecal wouldn’t recommend them for -50 temperatures because the batteries would drain too quickly, the heaters work fine up to -30 C.

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As we wound up our tour, we were happy to run into several familiar faces from Eeyou Istchee at the Mistissini booth proudly representing the Cree tourism industry.

Titus Shecapio said that while it was a slow first day, he knew things would pick up.

“We are here to represent Mistissini and all of the different tourism-related businesses that we have in the community. I have been telling people about the region and promoting the lake, as it is the largest freshwater lake in Quebec and our main attraction,” said Shecapio.

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