If there was one thing made clear at the National Outfitters Hunting and Fishing exhibition held this past Thursday through Saturday (February 15-18) at the Palais de Congrès in Montreal, it’s that Quebec’s outfitting industry is not just thriving but is kicking and screaming. Hundreds of exhibitors from across the province and country lined the crowded hall to showcase their outfitters’ operations and show off new models of trucks, ATVs, boats and other goods.

Among them were hundreds of hunting and fishing enthusiasts who had come to book their future trips. That is the main goal of this three-day expo, to connect the outfitters with their clientele.

Says Jeanie Mianscum of Obatogamau Outfitters in Chibougamau: “I am here to represent the outfitting camp. We have lots of clients that come every year so they meet us here to make their deposits. We show them pictures of what they can catch: walleye or northern pike.”

Mianscum was not the only friendly face representing the north as The Cree Outfitters Association (COTA) and the Awashish Outdoor Adventures Company both had booths.

In representing the association, Angel Mianscum’s main role was to present information on the various Cree outfitter organizations. The question she most commonly answered was, “How long is the drive?”

Beside the COTA booth was the Awashish Outdoor Adventures booth being manned by George Awashish, who seemed delighted to be taking part in the event.

“It’s actually the best place to be, to be with potential clients,” he said. Awashish beamed with pride when he spoke of his family’s company. “We are offering fishing trips up on the Rupert River, fully packaged, trips that run four days, five days and seven days. It’s only accessible by plane to a very cold, remote area where you only see my clients and my family. I am from Mistissini, it’s a family owned and operated business that has been running for five years.” Aside from outfitting operations, also on display were the latest in ATVs, fishing boats and trucks.

Suzuki had some fancy new vehicles to show off, all decked out in camouflage for ideal bush travel.

“For this year we have the LTA 450, AFI full injection, it is the same body as the King Quad 700 so it has a very large body, fuel injection and rear suspension and independent suspension,” said Suzuki rep Marc Andre.

What was really interesting about this particular vehicle was that you could order it with regular wheels or skidoo tracks. The version with tracks was definitely had the feel of a miniature tank or something else that Canada’s military should be using and onlookers gawked in awe.

Kawasaki also had some fun little utility vehicles all decked out in camouflage. The Mule 610 4x

4 was definitely a hit with its sturdy-yet-compact design. This vehicle both looked and felt as though it was created for hunting in the bush.

The new 2007 Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500, 4x

2 and 4x

4 was on display at this event and seemed to generate a great deal of attention from passersby. Though there was nobody on hand to tell us what in particular made the 2007 version better than the 2006 model, the pickup’s imposing stature and fancy wheel wells were enough to generate buzz.

Ten Point Crossbows were definitely all the rage at this year’s show and on display at just about every booth that featured weapons. For that matter, crossbows were about the most high tech weapons there as this show really did not feature guns or rifles (much to our dismay!) As Ten Point only releases their new models in February, only the 2006 models were on display. The Pro Elites and Pro Fusions were no less impressive, www.tenpointcrossbows.com.

It were not for animals there would be no hunting, so animals both alive and stuffed decorated the aisles and in some instances were available for human interaction.

Faucon Environmental Services provided a display of live hawks and owls for anyone who felt brave enough for an encounter. Though not many of us will ever have the opportunity to have a live owl perched on our hands, these trained birds posed no real threat, www.faucon.biz

Not to be outdone, Chenil de la Rivière Blanche had its own display of sleeping Bloodhounds for anyone considering purchasing a première hunting dog. Though it was hard to believe that anyone or thing could sleep through all this chaos, these sleeping beauties caught the attention of even the most gruff looking hunters and just about everyone else in the vicinity, http://chenildelariviereblanche.com/Despite the endless amount of trophies, from stuffed bears (of any variety), lynx, musk oxen and even a toucan, there was strangely only one taxidermist booth at the entire show. Daniel Callan, a master taxidermist from Cornwall

Ontario, said he got into taxidermy for his love of animals.

“It was something as a kid,” said Callan. “I raised pigeons for years and my favourite pigeon died so I had it mounted. I bugged the taxidermist so much that he showed me how to do it. I still have the pigeon and that was 28 years ago.” Though mounting trophies makes up the bulk of his business, when asked what his strangest taxidermy request was ever, he responded, “Their pet dog!”

Callan and his associate Richard Davis, who was busy gluing feathers onto a fresh piece at their booth, both became taxidermists through apprenticeships but offer private courses for those that are really interested in taking up the art. Go to callantaxidermy.com for more information.

There was so much to take in at this year’s show that it would be impossible to talk about all of it in one piece. To keep up to date with the National Outfitters or to have your own booth at next year’s show, go to: www.pourvoirie.net