I hate summer. It's too hot and humid to do anything worthwhile outside, in my opinion. I don't fish much, don't have the patience for baseball, would rather hit my thumb with a hammer than work in the yard or a garden and the beach is for, well, terns and seagulls.

At work I'm easily agitated and grumpy from the end of turkey season until the month of August. If it were not for an occasional gun show, by late summer, friends would likely be visiting me in a mental ward somewhere.

Being a hunter first and foremost, I live for hunting seasons.

Best outdoor show

Then thank goodness August finally rolls around and the annual Wildlife Extravaganza sponsored by the Mississippi Wildlife Federation is held at the Trademart Building in Jackson. This is the Magnolia State's outdoor show to end all outdoor shows.

"Outdoor enthusiasts from all over the state and beyond come to this show. Many schedule annual vacation time just to make this once-a-year trek to Jackson for this tremendous event," says Cathy Shropshire, executive director of the state's wildlife federation organization.

The show is held beginning on Friday afternoon on Aug. 3 then all day Saturday, Aug. 5, and Sunday, Aug. 6. More than 30,000 people will file through the ticket counter to view hundreds of vendor displays stocked with the latest hunting and fishing equipment. The stage area will host dozens of seminars teaching a wide variety of outdoor skills. Seminar speakers will include many national outdoor talents as well as a selection of perennial favorites at the show. A number of Mississippi's own outdoor celebrities will attend as well. Truly there is something for everyone.

"Ganza" main event

The event at the annual Wildlife Extravaganza that draws a great deal of the attention is the Big Buck Contest. Deer hunters from all over the state can bring in the big bucks taken the year before in Mississippi for an official scoring. Personnel from the state wildlife department who are trained as official Boone and Crockett scorers measure each buck submitted for the contest.

Each participant receives an official score certificate suitable for framing. Each buck mount is put on display in the west hall of the Trademart for public viewing. By Saturday afternoon, this aisle gets extremely crowded elbow-to-elbow as folks file by to take a look and to photograph the biggest bucks of the year.

At the end of the contest, champion bucks are awarded in a number of categories representing biggest typical buck, non-typical, archery, muzzleloader, female hunter and youth hunter. Ribbons are awarded for the top bucks in each of the categories. This is a very popular event every year and a pleasure just to see the proof that Mississippi can produce some fantastic white-tailed bucks.

If you took a big buck last year, be sure to enter it into this contest. Remember, too, that any buck scoring a minimum of 125 B&C will be entered into the state's Magnolia Records Program. All the bucks registered to date can be viewed on line at the state wildlife agency web site at www.mdwfp.com.

Show stoppers

The booth displayers have grown so over the years that now a good many of them have had to spill over to the outside parking lot area in front of the show building. These vendors might include camping trailers, deer camp housing units, all-terrain vehicles, food outlets and other types of retailers.

Walking all the aisles inside can take quite a while, especially when the crowds swell on Saturday. Expect to see and visit with western outfitters, local state commercial hunting operations, farming implement dealers, ATV dealers and a whole host of other outdoor-related businesses. Outdoor equipment will be for sale including hunting clothes, tree stands, food-plot seed and much more.

The main stage will sport seminars on hunting-dog handling, snake demonstrations, deer-calling lessons, outdoor photography, turkey-hunting skills, outdoor-product demos and other activities.

Others may be interested in the new "Camo Kids" dress up contest for the young folks. This is not so much a beauty contest as it is a chance to see how creatively parents can dress their kids in camouflage outfits. This event grows in entries every year.

Another event that pulls in a large number of waterfowl hunters is the statewide Ducks Unlimited calling contest held during the Extravaganza. The duck callers can be heard practicing their calls all over the show, and event goers can sit in on all the live action.

One more hot demonstration is the huge fish tank that comes in on a trailer. The tank is full of many of the common species of freshwater game fish found in Mississippi lakes and rivers. Kids can get a close-up look at bass, bream, catfish and crappie. The seminar shows fishing techniques with rods and reels using actual lures. Sometimes they even catch one.

So folks, make plans now to take off the first weekend in August to attend the Wildlife Extravaganza. You can experience for yourself, as I do every year, the unofficial end of summer and the kickoff to the coming hunting seasons. It never comes soon enough to suit me.