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Keith Drury at Ritchie's
Keith Drury, Polaris sales manager at Ritchie's Implement, Inc. in Barneveld, will be on hand to talk to and show hunters about ATVs, small tractors and food plot equipment.

For years, Keith Drury has watched hunters pass on by his store in Barneveld.

So Drury, who is Polaris sales manager at Ritchie's Implement, Inc., is taking his wares to the hunters at the upcoming Wisconsin Deer and Turkey Expo.

The annual three-day show, which is a staple in four Midwest states, comes to the Alliant Energy Center Friday to April 3 in Madison.

Ritchie's will be one of more than 500 exhibitors at the Expo.

"People are coming out here purchasing hunting land," Drury said. "We're not that far away from Madison, and many people don't know we're here. We're a block away from the Department of Natural Resources deer registration station in Barneveld, so we see hundreds of hunters go by each fall."

This will be Ritchie's first year at the Expo.

"I think people are feeling better about business now, so we're seeing some new exhibitors," said Glenn Helgeland, the show's producer for Mequon-based Target Communications.

Ritchie's opened its first farm products store in Cobb in the 1960s, then added Darlington, and finally Barneveld to the mix in 2002, when they purchased an existing implement business in the Village.

So what exactly does a farm implement business have to do with hunting turkeys and deer in southern Wisconsin?

"We have a lot of the things hunters need, including Kubota tractors, various all terrain vehicles, Land Pride equipment for mowing and planting food plots as well as chain saws and various hand tools," said Randy Runde, store manager in Barneveld.

Helgeland said he can see the connection.

"Anything relating to food plots has been hot for years and it isn't showing any signs of slowing down," Helgeland said.

Ritchie's officials said they simply hope to make some customer contacts.

"We believe our line of Polaris, Kubota and Land Pride are some of the top companies in producing food plot equipment," Runde said. "We'll bring a number of implements to the Expo, including an electric model of the Polaris Ranger. It'll be up on jacks so people can hear it run, too, or at least try to hear it."

Helgeland said the show, however, is mostly a place for deer and turkey hunters to gather -- socially or to ask a few experts a few questions.

"People want answers to questions. Ninety percent of the people want to know how to kill the biggest buck or the largest gobbler," Helgeland said. "The expanded tech information center is a good example. This year we've added the ‘Deer Hunting Answer Man' and the ‘Turkey Hunting Answer Man.' "

In addition to the seminars, scoring deer heads, and almost everything related to deer, turkey and bear hunting, recreational licenses will be available at the Expo.

"We have our regular DNR booth as well as conservation wardens and wildlife biologists to answer questions," said Kevin Huggins, of the DNR. "We will be able to sell any kind of license, including leftover turkey permits."

Jeremy Plautz, a Dane County conservation warden, said a new Wall of Shame will display a number of seized deer mounts.

He also said "people can get information about Learn-to-Hunt programs right at the booth, along with a view of the deer mounts. We'll have a flier explaining head mount."

Other new highlights include a puppies and kids area on Sunday, a gun auction at 11 a.m. Sunday and a sportsmen's raffle and sweepstakes.

2011 Wisconsin Deer and Turkey Expo

What: In its 27th year, the 2011 Wisconsin Deer and Turkey Expo is the largest show of its kind in the Midwest. Organizers expect attendance of about 28,000.

When: The three-day Expo, which includes visits to locations in Illinois, Michigan and Ohio, runs from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, April 1; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 2; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 3.

Where: The Alliant Energy Center, 1919 Alliant Energy Center Way. The Center is along the Beltline off Rimrock Road or John Nolen Drive in Madison, Wis.

Admission: $12/one-day adult ($10 w/coupon); $20/two-day adult ($18 w/coupon); $11/one-day military ($9 w/coupon); $18/two-day military ($16 w/coupon); $9 for hunter education graduates ages 12 to 18 who show proof of course completion (otherwise $12); $4/youth ages 6 to 11; children 5 and younger get in free. First-year hunters who have passed hunter education between Jan. 1, 2010 and March 31, 2011, and proof of completion are admitted free. On Friday Family Night, all youth ages 11 and younger are free with an admission-paying adult. Parking is $5.50 per day. A $2 admission discount coupon is available at

Contact Jerry Davis, a freelance writer, at or 608-924-1112.