A reason to get outdoors: Maxwell hosts annual hunting, fishing expo

A spent casing flies past Travis Hendt as he fires at a practice target with his Ruger handgun at the Maxwell Gun Club on Saturday afternoon. Individuals turned out to the club for target and clay shooting as an event option during the Maxwell Outdoor Expo.

MAXWELL — Travis Herdt fired off one round after another from his Ruger handgun at a practice target Saturday afternoon out at the Maxwell Gun Club.

“I haven’t had a chance to shoot for a long time. That’s why I’m out here,” Herdt said. “Whether you hit (the targets) or not, it’s just a good time to go out and let the guns bark.”

Herdt was one of a group of about a half-dozen people that made an early stop at the range to shoot at targets or clay pigeons. It was among the handful of activities that individuals could experience in the afternoon during the Maxwell Outdoor Expo.

The event is a chance for outdoor enthusiasts to gather for opportunities to try their hands at pistol or archery ranges during the day and fishing, outdoor photography and backwoods emergency situation seminars in the late afternoon.

The event concluded with a wildgame feed at night at the First Baptist Church in town — a menu that featured everything from venison, turkey and fish to frog legs and fried alligator.

Herdt recently moved back to Nebraska from the Olympic Peninsula in Washington and said he has been a lifetime hunter and fisherman.

“I can tell you there are a lot more opportunities to do both here than where I was,” Herdt said.

This marked the 14th outdoor expo in Maxwell and the first since 2018. The reason for the year off?

“Our cook (for the game feed) moved to Arkansas,” said event organizer Russ Tobey said with a smile. “That’s a big deal. So we took a year off until there was someone who was willing to take on that large task.”

Tobey said the expo has grown over the years from a small group of mostly friends to an event that has attracted an estimated 250 to 300 people each year.

“I love hunting and love spending time with other outdoorsmen,” Tobey said. “I just thought I would use this as a way to pull people together in our area who love those type of events.

“It started out real small but I went to an outdoor show in Omaha and thought, ‘We could do that,’” Tobey said. “It’s not like that exactly ... but we have so many hands-on (activities) that it just works.”

He said the expo isn’t so much of an educational experience as it is a chance for the outdoors-enthusiasts to come together during the middle of the winter.

That community and appreciation of nature is something that keeps Tobey going back into the woods each year.

“I find that spending time in a tree or a blind to be relaxing but hunting is something you can do with other people and get a chance to know them better,” Tobey said. “Then there’s the beauty of nature and enjoying the wildlife,” Tobey said. “For most hunters, its not about the kill. It’s the whole aspect of finding where you need to be and watching the animals. If you get something, that’s just frosting on the cake.”

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