If there’s any segment of the American economy that thrives on the spirit of rugged individualism that looks at a task and tells us we can do it better, smarter, easier or more quickly with the use of a little innovation, it’s definitely the outdoor industry.
The outpouring of new products born of home workshop and backyard engineering seen at the outdoor business’s trade shows every year is absolutely stunning. There’s seemingly no end to what outdoor enthusiasts can come up with and market.
It’s also rewarding to see the entrepreneurial spirit in action. In an age when every groundbreaking idea seems to come rooted in a software upgrade – or in the form of some handheld gadget we, only a short time before, had no idea we couldn’t live without – the sort of things outdoor enthusiasts create occupy the opposite end of the spectrum.
Between the end of most deer seasons and the beginning of the nation’s turkey seasons, the outdoor industry hosts its trade show seasons, and it is at these most new inventions first see the bright light of day. For many, it is the only light they ever see, but for the persistent and creative, it’s a sure venue to allow a new idea to break through.
Necessity is the mother of invention, they say, and I’m sure that’s true. It’s also been my experience that bad planning and the regret that follows is the father of necessity. The labor-saving and injury-evading devices that lined the aisles of these shows in the past few weeks demonstrate the truth in another of my favorite maxims: good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgement.
My favorite new ideas, both for functionality and sheer guts on the part of their inventors to give it a try include the Sure-Loc X-Press compound bow press, the umbrella-style collapsible turkey decoys by Mississippi Decoys and the planting and food plot management tools offered by Chapin Outfitters geared toward people who plant smaller food plots or who work without a tractor.
Whatever the year ahead holds for them, it’s good to know they’re there.
Kevin Tate is V.P. of Media Productions for Mossy Oak in West Point.