|By Eric C.
JACKSON, Mich. – Finding unique antique and vintage hunting, fishing, trapping and other sporting gear has always been a rewarding quest throughout the state of Michigan and, for those “in the know,” the annual Michigan Vintage Hunting, Fishing and Trapping Spring Show and Sale is a “must attend.”
This year, the 26th annual show is scheduled April 6 at the Eagle’s Hall (301 Detroit St.) in Jackson. There will be about 50 vendors at 100 tables, according to Greg Woodland, who organized the event.
Woodland, longtime antique and vintage fishing lure collector, has been involved with the show the past 25 years. And he can attest to the wide variety of unique sporting items found at the Jackson show, where “the emphasis is on anything made in Michigan.”
“Michigan was number one in the fishing and hunting makers,” he said. “Daisy BB gun was first made here between 1895 and 1957, Heddon lures (which started from a kitchen in Dowagiac, Mich.) was one of the first and largest fishing lure companies, then you get into Marble knives (made in Gladstone, Mich.), Chris Craft boats (founded and prospered from Algonac, Mich.) in 1874, and that’s just scratching the surface.”
That won’t consider the number of ice-fishing lures, ice spears, duck decoys, ammunition boxes, traps, archery-related gear, advertising material (always in heavy demand), vintage Michigan hunting and fishing licenses, and Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and conservation items that will be sprawled out on the tables at the 26th Show and Sale.
Michigan hunting and fishing licenses have long been popular. As a matter of fact, that’s how the Inaugural Spring Show and Sale began, according to Woodland. At first, the show and sale were limited to only Michigan hunting and fishing licenses.
“It was originally the Michigan Hunting and Fishing Collectors - that was the original name of the group who sponsored the show,” Woodland said. “It was started by a retired conservation officer; but, by 10 years in, we saw that we needed to expand.”
In 2000, Woodland said the Michigan Hunting and Fishing Collectors opened to other categories beyond conservation licenses. “That’s when membership really expanded,” Woodland said.
But since then, the membership has declined, and the club officially dissolved last year. “We got to looking around at each other and said, ’yep, all we are now are old men sitting around the same table’ … but the annual show and sale was popular, and people were wanting it.”
Currently, Woodland is organizing the show.
Many of the collectors still concentrate on Michigan-made products. Given the plethora of early fishing devices made in the state, the vast array of lures alone, can keep a collector busy for a lifetime.
“There’s always new surprises out there,” Woodland says. “It’s impossible to put a number on how many lures were made in Michigan. In Detroit, alone, there were so many small makers that were working out of their garages.”
Surprisingly, over the past decade the price of fishing lures and hunting collectibles have pretty much “tanked,” according to Woodland. “It was the Great Recession of 2008,” he says, “That’s what wiped out about 50 percent of the value of lures.”
Whether that makes for a “buying opportunity,” or a “time to get out of the market, is up to the speculator.
But, but beyond that, Woodland, says he works with vendors who enjoy sharing the history.
“We include vendors who enjoy collecting many different items in hopes of preserving the history of hunting and fishing in our great state of Michigan and beyond,” Woodland said.
Contact: (517) 256-2644