Top Shot winner Ellerman a special guest at Wildlife Expo
NATCHEZ — The Highland Wildlife Expo has come a long way since it’s debut in 2006, from a few hundred people cramped in Highland Baptist Church, to more than a thousand spectators filling up the Vidalia Conference and Convention Center.
And on Sept. 19, the Expo is back in action with sponsors like Redneck Adventures Television Show, Bryan’s Marine and Bowie Outfitters making big contributions for the grand prizes.
Expo director Bruce McCall said it would be a three-hour event, with more than 30 booths set up with free activities.
“Those booths will have taxidermists, crafts with guys showing their handmade knives and we’ll have an antique gun guy there,” McCall said.
Other booths will include Bryan’s Marine, Mississippi and Louisiana game wardens and Robin Pearson — better known as the Snake Lady.
McCall said the event will be broken up into two segments, the first hour-and-a-half will allow spectators to visit each booth and get free food.
“We have Highland Baptist Church members cooking up jambalaya,” McCall said. “We’ll also have homemade cookies for the people as they walk around to see the booths.”
The second half of the event will feature three guest speakers. The first speakers will be the Miss. and La. game wardens updating the public on information on hunting and fishing guidelines.
The second speaker will be a pro staffer giving updates on new outdoors products in the market.
The final speaker will be special guest Dustin Ellerman, Season 3 winner of The Outdoors Channel’s Top Shot television show.
With all the excitement surrounding the Expo, McCall found it fair to create a children’s section.
“They’re going to make bird houses and wildlife hand puppets, plus they’ll get to see some live animals,” he said. “That way, they get to do their thing while adults do theirs.”
Perhaps one of the most anticipated parts of the event would be the grand prize giveaway. The Expo will give away more than $25,000 worth of door prizes.
“Every one gets a ticket when they walk in the door and we pull numbers to give away several prizes,” McCall said. “At the end of the night, we have half a dozen grand prizes to give away, too.”
Grand prizes includes a Dawkins Polaris four-wheeler, an AR-15 rifle from Bowie Outfitters and a squirrel hunting trip provided by Jimmy Allgood at Redneck Adventures.
Allgood said getting a chance to participate in the Redneck Adventures Squirrel Hunt is a once in a lifetime deal.
“It’s a great opportunity because only a select local few get to hang out with pro athletes, celebrities and country music entertainers,” All Good said.
The squirrel hunt has turned into much more than gunning for rodents. Allgood said it has expanded into a hog, rabbit and raccoon hunt as well.
The best part of the hunt is the charity that derives from it.
“Much of the meat goes back to the hunters to feed the hungry at the Natchez Stewpot,” Allgood said.
McCall said the goal for the Expo is not only to educate the public about several aspect of outdoors, but also to bring the church closer to the public.
“Our mission is to have a free, family-oriented event that’s open to the community so that folks can see the church wants to be apart of the community,” McCall said.
The Highland Wildlife Expo will begin at 6 p.m. Sept. 19 at the Vidalia Conference and Convention Center.