MORE THAN 2,000 ATTEND 2005 NEW MEXICO OUTDOOR EXPO

MORE THAN 2,000 ATTEND 2005 NEW MEXICO OUTDOOR EXPO
ALBUQUERQUE – When the last catfish bell rang Sunday evening, about the only things left at the New Mexico Outdoor Expo were smiles – more than 2,000 of them. That was the estimated attendance at the fourth-annual event at the Albuquerque Shooting Range Park, where families and individuals off all ages turned out May 14-15 for two free days of shooting, casting, climbing and fishing. “It was our best turnout, and we hope to watch it grow again next year,” said Mark Birkhauser, Department of Game and Fish hunter education coordinator and Expo organizer. “Our goal is to introduce families, especially kids, to the joys and responsibilities of outdoor and wildlife-related recreation. They can come to this event and learn in a safe environment how to shoot a bow, a pistol or a muzzleloader. They can take the kids catfishing, learn to cast or take a crack at the climbing wall – all free — no experience necessary.” Participants shot about 30,000 rounds of ammunition at the .22-caliber rifle range, and countless rounds on the shotgun, pistol and muzzleloader rangers. Volunteer hunter education instructors were busy from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. making sure everyone had a pleasant and safe experience. One of the top attractions was the 15,000-gallon aquarium full of large game fish, where fisheries biologists and expert anglers showed eager crowds how fish live and breathe – and how to catch them. The biggest crowd-pleaser, however, was the swimming pool full of large catfish, where children and adults whooped and hollered as they caught and released fish all day long. “The look on the kids’ faces when they hook a big fish or shoot a gun for the first time makes it all worthwhile,” Birkhauser said.

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