in the early 1970s by Johnny Morris, there are now
"58 stores across America and Canada", and a new store in Colorado Springs, CO broke ground this month and is expected to open in 2013.
Bass Pro Shops state that "Each store is unique and offers a truly unforgettable shopping experience - as close to the Great Outdoors as you can get indoors!" Seeing and shopping at the original
Bass Pro Shops store was an unforgettable experience. The store is enormous and impressive. There are twelve distinct departments filling four floors. They include Hunting Gear & Clothing, Fishing, Marine & Watersports, Kids' Toys & Clothing, Camping, and many more.
While touring the store, I came across three rather prehistoric-looking and scary creatures in a large tank – two alligator gar and an alligator snapping turtle.
A plaque by the tank reads: Alligator Snapping Turtle – In 2010 this male Alligator Snapping Turtle was estimated to be over 75 yrs. of age and measured 65.7cm along the shell and weighted 185 lbs.
According to National Geographic
, the “alligator snapping turtle is the largest freshwater turtle in North American and among the largest in the world” and “alligator snappers can live to be 50 to 100 years old.” It appears, then, that this snapper is middle-aged and of about average shell length (66 centimeters is average), but he is a tad above-average in weight. Males average about 175 pounds in weight, notes National Geographic.
A second plaque by the tank reads: Alligator Gar (Atractosteus spatula) – Caught by Johnny Morris and Bill Dance On the Trinity River of Texas.
Johnny Morris is, of course, the founder of Bass Pro Shops and Bill Dance
is one of the world's most famous TV fishermen. "Bill Dance Outdoors" premiered in 1968 and is currently "broadcast on the Versus network (formerly the Outdoor Life Network)."
I had only recently heard of alligator gar after watching an episode of River Monsters. At the River Monster’s site, it states that alligator gar can have a maximum length of up to 10 feet and maximum weight up to 350-400 pounds. According to River Monsters
, “The alligator gar — an ancient fish that has existed for 100 million years — roams the rivers, streams and bayous of the southeastern United States. It gets its name from its alligator-like snout and its double row of dagger sharp teeth. Unlike most of its close relatives, the alligator gar can breathe air and survive above water for up to two hours. Its body is covered in an armor plating of diamond-shaped, enamel-coated ganoid scales, and it's been said that this shining armor can produce sparks when struck by an axe."
Down the hall from the tank, and just passed a huge indoor waterfall, "America's Great Hunting Hall" can be found. The brochure indicates that "over 900 guns are on display" along with gun accessories, ammunition, decoys, calls, tree stands, and knives as well as clothing for hunting. The Fine Gun Room is nearby and features "an impressive collection of unique and limited-edition firearms." In addition, it appears that the original Bass Pro Shops will soon be the home to the NRA Sporting Arms Museum.
Construction was also underway on The Archery Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc., which is relocating from its current location in Springfield to the Springfield Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World. Its website states
, "Founded in 1971, the Archery Hall of Fame recognizes outstanding individuals whose lifetime contributions to archery at the national level have earned them the respect of their peers and a nationwide following."
A special preview of The Archery Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc. was available for viewing. No opening date was announced, but a plaque indicated that once it opens, “you will be able to step back in history and see the comparatively crude but highly efficient bows, arrows and broadheads of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s as well as many other artifacts.”
Bass Pro Shops may seem like a mecca for outdoors-men, which it is, but it is also appealing to women and children. There were a number of families visiting the store and the clothing areas for ladies, kids, and men seemed to be popular destinations, along with the "Gifts & Home Decor" department and an area with a sign at the entrance reading “Welcome to Tracker Country – Boat/ATV Super Center.” The 10,546 square feet indoor Boat Showroom features the best-selling boats in the world, Tracker and Nitro, and a Service Department. And, of course, the kids liked to look at the fish, turtles, and waterfalls, play in the arcade, and get some fudge at the Fudge Shop.
After visiting the original store, it became clear that Bass Pro Shops lives up to its claim of being "The Grandaddy Of All Outdoor Stores." Everyone is welcome including "Fisherman, Hunters and Other Liars."