By Kevin Tate/Outdoors Writer
Two or three times a year, I attend trade shows and similar conventions that gather the newest and most outrageous outdoors-oriented inventions, regardless of their functionality, for the viewing pleasure of likely customers, potential business partners and the reporting media.
Without fail, there are ultimately a few winners, a lot of losers and plenty that fall somewhere in between, but there’s still a lot of opportunity out there that lies as yet untapped.
At one such recent show I saw a product intended for use in the West that would effectively costume the hunter to look like a doe pronghorn, a doe mule deer or a cow elk, and no, I’m not making that up. Anyone reading this is bound to realize I spend a lot of time amusing myself with my own imagination, but it requires hardly any imagination at all to name a dozen ways being convincingly dressed like a large game animal could go really, really, really bad. Like watching a car wreck that’s about to happen, you almost want to see someone hunting so-attired just to witness the eventual calamity for yourself. Can you imagine the looks you’d get when you stopped at the gas station for a biscuit and coffee along the way? If people actually died laughing, would you be charged with negligent homicide for wantonly causing it to happen?
Another invention represented across the aisle at the same show was a tool to help with field dressing deer. Without going into more detail than you’d want to read over breakfast, the tool amounted, in its entirety, to a stick with a notch cut in each end.
The way the company described using it was pretty clever, but I can only imagine everyone who sees it and wants one will, rather than shell out actual money, find a stick instead, and cut a notch in each end.
Of course, quite a few inventions that seem questionable in nature at first glance turn out to be great. To me, the most notable of these is the Thermacell, the portable mosquito repeller. The first time I saw one, in fact the first several times I saw one, I thought it was surely destined for the ignominy bin along with the likes of battery-powered electric socks. It’s a thing you carry that has a little tank of butane inside it that heats up a plate that cooks off a pad of stuff that makes a vapor that keeps mosquitoes away. Right, thought I.
Well, that’s exactly what it does, and very well at that.
With the onset of early deer season not far away, I’ll happily say I’d much rather be without my shooting equipment or my food or pretty much anything else than go without a Thermacell, so I remind myself not to judge new inventions too harshly.
Unless they dress you up like the game, that is.
Kevin Tate is V.P. of Media Productions for Mossy Oak in West Point.