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It’s the new year and a good time for reflection on last year and years past.  It’s also the start of the “off season” if you’re in the hunting products business, so you have even more time to reflect.  It never fails that with all this reflecting going on, some memorable comments, and customers, come to mind, most of them at various hunting shows where I’ve had my booth.


Like the fellow in Pennsylvania that walked up to my booth.  It was obvious that he had an optics problem on his mind and he needed help.  He made a cursory scan of my binoculars on display and then asked, “Do you have anything that will see through fog?”  No sir, that’s called radar.


Or the gentleman I wrote about a few months ago, that had figured out which binocular suited his needs and I then asked him if he wanted it in an 8x or 10x.  “Oh, 8x, tens give you a headache.”  I asked him how he came to that conclusion and he said his buddy had a 10x and got headaches from it.  I then asked if his pal had spent more that $50 for them.  “Probably not; he’s pretty cheap!”  What was lost on this guy, and I’m sure his partner too, is that the same bino in 8x would most likely have caused the same need for medication.


It never fails.  At every show, at least one guy walks up that’s got to have night vision.  “I don’t stock it, but I can get it for you.  What do you need it for?”  Almost to a man, it’s for hogs or predators.  Fair enough.  “Generation One night vision is usually good for about 50 yards and is pretty grainy.  Runs about $200-300.”  “No, I need better.  Got to see a couple hundred yards!”  “Ok, Gen 2 and 3 will do that.  They start at about a Grand and go up to several thousand bucks.”  “I’m not gunna spend that kind of money just to kill a darned ole hog!  My spotlight does fine and I only spent twenty bucks for it!”  “Guess you don’t need night vision then.”


What do mattresses and optics have in common?  Kids get the hand-me-downs.  Doctors will tell you that kids need as good a night’s sleep as you do, but they get mattresses the parents can’t sleep on any more.  Often, optics are the same way.  If a kid is responsible enough to handle a gun, then he ought to be responsible enough to take proper care of a good binocular or scope.  Doesn’t mean you have to get them The Best, but get them something worth having.  When they grow up, they can get whatever they want and the Fruits of their Labor will justify, but don’t stick them with that clouded old 1953 Weaver 4x scope in the back of the closet – unless, of course, you’re afraid your kid will get Old Mossyhorns before you do.


One character always seems to make it by the booth in the course of a show.  He’s the guy that probably didn’t have many friends back in high school.  He’ll ease up to the booth, look over your offerings, then begin to tell you how he has the best binocular ever made.  He’ll go into great detail as to its crispness, suitability, longevity (he’s had it for over twenty years, when his uncle gave it to him), and brightness (I wonder if it sees through fog?).  I couldn’t sell him a new binocular if I paid him to take it!  “I’m really happy for you, Fella, so why are you here at my booth?”  At this point, he glances down at my products again, sticks his hands in his pockets and saunters on down the aisle, no doubt looking for the next poor vender selling something he has the best of and needs to hear about it.


There is always one last type of nimrod that comes by the booth – sometimes in great numbers.  They have hunted the world.  Some will tell you about their latest quest, complete with pictures.  Sometimes they have been through some harrowing times, spent days on the trail of their quarry, took a great trophy, got skunked, or helped their hunting partner get his prize.  Some will pick my brain as to what optics might be best for their needs, while others never even bring up the subject of optics, but want to talk on and on.  I can spend a lot of my time dealing with these folks.  Actually, I enjoy the banter and hunting shows just wouldn’t seem complete if these characters didn’t come by, and I’d miss them if they didn’t.  In fact, I have a name for this group – I call them Dear Friends.