GROVE, Okla. — Family-friendly show with an outdoor twist.

GROVE, Okla. — Family-friendly show with an outdoor twist.
That's how Vance Montgomery describes the 19th Annual MidSouth Tackle, Hunting and Boat Show, set for Feb. 17 to 19 in Grove.
"Most shows, I would consider a trade show or an expo," Montgomery said. "Our show is more of a festival. With lots of entertainment for the families and kids."
This is the first year Montgomery is hosting his show in Grove and on the waters of Grand Lake.
The show, he said, will be like like others in the past - featuring a wide-variety of fishing tackle dealers, as well as hunting and boat dealers.
As in the past, the show will feature a number of discount tackle dealers, including a variety of smaller companies with products not often found in the big-box stores.
More than 150 companies will be represented during the expo. On     Friday evening, the first 500 children in attendance will receive free tackle.

A trout pond will also be set up throughout the weekend, giving children a chance to try their hand at fishing, with some assistance.

"A lot of kids catch their first fish there," Montgomery said. "This teaches them what fishing is all about."


Several people will take part in the show, providing entertainment or educational seminars.

Joe Martin, a Texas-based outdoor enthusiast, known as the "Snake Man" provides an unusual show featuring a variety of rattlesnakes, which Montgomery said is one of the expo's "best attractions."

Another demonstration comes, in part, thanks to a 60-foot long aquarium, which vendors use throughout the day to provide product demonstrations.

It is also used three times a day by Jason Reynolds of Eufaula, who will send his dogs flying through the air with his Fish-N-Fetch displays.

"He has seven labrador retrievers who are trained to put on a retrieving clinic," Montgomery said. "The kids love it. These are highly trained, jumping retrievers. One dog can jump 23 feet into the air.

"It's very entertaining, and typically when he does it, it's standing room only with 2,000 to 3,000 people watching."

On the hunting side, a new company the Montana-based Real Target, will display an electronic target shooting game.

"There's lots of entertainment and lots of giveaways," Montgomery said.

Competitors will also have a chance to take part in the 19th Annual Oklahoma State Waterfowl Calling Championship, which serves as a qualifier for the World's Championship Duck Calling Contest, held each November in Stuttgart, Arkansas.

This year the compeition will also feature an amature division - designed for hunters who are good at calling waterfowl, but do not compete on a regular basis. The competition includes a two-man team and a single division, with winners in both competing for a $500 prize.

"The entertainment is well worth the price of admission," Montgomery said. "All of the product [on display] is just a bonus."

Something new

This year, Montgomery has something special up his sleeve for those who attend his show.

Participants will have an opportunity to win a custom-made table, designed to the winner's specification, worth close to $8,000.

The table can be similar to ones Montgomery has created in the past two months - including one with a bass fish chasing a bullfrog in the water - which has garnered more than seven million views and 92,000 shares since its initial posting on social media.

The image, Montgomery said, has changed his business - opening doors from across the country and even around the world for sales.

"It's all custom," Montgomery said. "Every piece is a piece of art."

His current creation, which will be on display at the show in Grove, features the bass jumping out of the water after bullfrog above the table, and three crappies swimming below the water surface.

He estimates he will put in more than 900 man hours into the piece by the time it is completed.

If the winner is not a fisherman, Montgomery said, the table can be created using a hunting theme.

A table - currently in the design phase - will feature several mallards emerging from the water, suspended in the air, with fish and other water creatures, including an otter, swimming below.

Creating art from nature

In all of his work involving fish, Montgomery said, he can create custom pieces to the angler's specifications using a photograph as well as the weight and size measurements. This allows the angler to "catch and return" the fish while still having a trophy to display.

He often goes above and beyond the normal process, by adding hand-painted accents to the airbrushed models.

For example, he explained, he uses gold paint to hand tip each scale on a bass fish destined for the custom table display.

"The attention to details is what makes the difference," Montgomery said. "I like being able to take taxidermy to a different level. The custom process is one of a kind. It's more like art than just fish, wildlife or birds."

Looking ahead

Now that Montgomery is bringing the annual event to Grand Lake and Grove, he's already making plans for 2018's offerings.

When the show kicks off next year, he plans to include the 2018 Oklahoma State Team Championship Bass Tournament. The tournament will feature the best anglers in Oklahoma battling it out to become the state champion.

The weigh-ins are slated to take place at the show, similar to the Bassmaster Classic weigh-ins.

He also plans to host a Crappie Masters Championship Tour Trail tournament at the same time - allowing both style of anglers to compete for top prizes.

"Grove gives me the lake access," Montgomery said. "I've always wanted to feature a tournament weigh-in, with fish, at the expo.

"Now moving to Grove, this ties it all together, which is awesome."

Montgomery also plans to expand the show in 2018 to include boat dealers offering rides on the waters of Grand Lake.

A professional angler, Montgomery considers Grand Lake his home lake.

"It's important for me to have [the show] on the water," Montgomery said. "I think it will be the biggest event ever."

Painting photo

Vance Montgomery adds some finishing touches of gold paint on the scales on one of the fish which will be part of his latest custom table. He said small details, like adding color to the scales, is what helps make his creations more life-like.

With the big table

Vance Montgomery holds one of his model fish while examining the centerpiece of his table. Montgomery plans to give away a custom-made table at the end of the 19th MidSouth Tackle, Hunting and Boat Show, Feb. 17 to 19 in Grove.

Schedule of events

Friday, Feb. 17

Noon to 9 p.m. - Show opens and Kids Fishing in the Pond

1:15 p.m. - “Sportsman’s Chaplin” Nathan Bolton - By His Grace Gun Dog Training at BASS TUB

6 to 9 p.m. - Firearm Frenzy - Eight guns given away every 30 minutes from 6 to 9 p.m.

6 p.m. - Red Balloon Kids Giveaway - First 500 kids to attend will receive free fishing and hunting products wherever they find vendors with red balloons.

6 p.m. - Joe Martin - Texas Rattle Snake Show

7 p.m. - Jason Reynolds - Fetch and Fish Dog Jumping Show

Saturday, Feb. 18

9 a.m. to 7 p.m. - Show opens and Kids Fishing in the Pond

11:15 a.m. - “Sportsman’s Chaplin” Nathan Bolton - By His Grace Gun Dog Training at BASS TUB

Noon - Jason Reynolds - Fetch and Fish Dog Jumping Show

Noon to 3 p.m. - Mid-South Duck Calling Contest.

1 p.m. - Joe Martin - Texas Rattle Snake Show

3:30 p.m. - Jason Reynolds - Fetch and Fish Dog Jumping Show

4:15 p.m. - Joe Martin - Texas Rattle Snake Show

Sunday, Feb. 19

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. - Show opens and Kids Fishing in the Pond

12:15 p.m. - "Sportsman’s Chaplin” Nathan Bolton - By His Grace Gun Dog Training at BASS TUB

1 p.m. - Joe Martin - Texas Rattle Snake Show

3 p.m. - Jason Reynolds - Fetch and Fish Dog Jumping Show

If You Go

The 19th Annual Mid-South Tackle, Hunting and Boat Show will take place Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 17, 18 and 19, at the Grove Civic Center, 1702 South Main, Grove.

The event is from Noon to 9 p.m., on Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday.

Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and military, $5 for children 6 to 12, and free for children 5 and under.

For more information, persons interested may visit or call 918-343-4868.