AUGUSTA — Walking into the Maine Sportsman’s Show on Saturday morning was akin to a trip to the candy store as a child.

There was so much to marvel at, hold, watch and interact with that it brought out the youth in many adults.

The fact that the temperature was hitting 50 degrees outside the Augusta Civic Center venue meant people were finally breaking loose from cabin fever. Huge crowds of all ages came to check out the latest in outdoor recreation and hunting and fishing.

There was just about everything, including a large promotional shark head.

Deckhand Earle Spaulding of Raymond was manning the booth of Maine Ocean Adventures, which offers deep-sea fishing charters and custom cruises aboard the Dawg Daze boat out of South Portland.

“You get something that size on the line and you know you’ve got some fun for a few hours,” Spaulding said of the shark.

He said the most prevalent sharks off the Maine coast are blue sharks, makos and threshers.

“In the past year, there were a couple of great whites spotted off Boothbay,” Spaulding said. 

He said great white sharks have been seen at Jeffreys Ledge, which is about 200 miles long and 25 miles out off the coast of Wells in the Gulf of Maine.

Spaulding said this was his first time in 15 years attending the sportsmen’s show.

“In the past, I just came to enjoy it,” he said. “Today’s crowd has been steady. I’m meeting a lot of people with pretty good interest.”

Khaki camouflage clothing was one of the more prevalent outfits that children and adults wore.

It was wall-to-wall people of all ages inside and a river of people outside still streaming through the entrance doors by 11:15 a.m. Many parents were wearing small children on their shoulders while others pushed them in strollers.

“This crowd is very good,” Ginny Hurley of West Gardner said while helping to tend the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine booth just inside the entrance.

“I think there’s more people here than last year,” she said. “Lots of families and kids. Maine’s outdoor sporting heritage is a family tradition that gets passed on and you involve everybody. This show gets people outdoors and they get to see the latest and greatest of the toys — the guns and the bows.”

Bass boats, boats and huge kayaks lined booths and the walls for people to touch and marvel at. An announcer on the loud speaker system called out names every few minutes, advising people that they’d won a door prize from Cabela’s or L.L. Bean.

Two men spotted a huge duck boat sporting a $22,989 price tag and joked about it.

“It’s only $22-9,” one man said. “You want one?”

Down a ways from the boat, a little girl told her mother she wanted to see the dogs.

Sure enough, she was talking about live dogs from the Maine Spaniel Field Trial Club, which works to improve the “flushing” spaniel as a breed for upland hunting for partridge, ruffed grouse, woodcock and pheasants.

David Duguay of Lyman held Phoebe, a 5-year-old, field-bred English cocker spaniel, while several children crowded around him to pet her.

Roni-Jo Morrison, 11, of Livermore Falls, stood on her crutches and petted Phoebe for a bit, a big grin on her face.

“We came to see what was here,” her mom, Bobbi-Jo Morrison said.

When asked what her favorite thing, so far, was at the show, Roni-Jo grinned and said, “The bows.”

“She has her own bow and shoots at the house with her daddy,” Bobbi-Jo Morrison said. Her daughter isn’t yet old enough to hunt.

Vern Knapp of Plymouth, president of the Maine Spaniel Field Trial Club, said he and the club and its dogs have been attending the sportsmen’s show for 20 years.

“This crowd is way bigger today with the great weather we’re having today,” Knapp said. “Yesterday’s crowd was good, but this is bigger; but it’s always bigger on Saturday.”

Club member Trish Jackson of Ripley gave demonstrations of the spaniels’ retrieving abilities, throwing a life-size rubber duck the length of a room, then sending each dog after it. When the running dog neared the duck, it put the brakes on, sliding across the floor to the duck, picked it up in its mouth and ran back to Jackson, tail wagging all the way.

In the next aisle, Richard Tasker kept the attention of children as he peeled the bark of hiking and walking sticks he was making for his Dick’s Stix business.

“Yesterday was good,” Tasker said. “I enjoy doing it.”

Miss Maine, Kristin Korda of Saco, showed up for photographs at the SAM booth. She was wearing a beaver coat given to her by the Maine Trappers Association. Toby Montgomery of the association said the coat was made from 14 donated beaver pelts by Tsarevich Fur of Northport.

Down at the end of one aisle, Trevor Judd, 15, of Livermore, was filling out raffle tickets for a chance to win a Stoeger 12-gauge, over and under Uplander shotgun, a weekend at Libby Camps or a week at Macannamac Camps.

His 3-year-old brother, Gaige Judd, was draped on Trevor’s back, tired from walking.

“This is our fifth year here,” Trevor said. “We came to try to catch the fish in the pool and to see the big Bean boot outside.”

That L.L. Bean boot vehicle parked outside the entrance attracted the attention of more than one child who exuberantly yelled, “Look, daddy! It’s Bigfoot!”

The sportsman’s show will continue from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

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Editor’s note: This story was updated on April 1 to remove any reference that great white sharks may lawfully be fished off Jeffreys Ledge.


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