Situated next to a display of Ole Hickory barbecue pits, directly across from the Toyota truck exhibit, and just down the aisle from the food court, the sign in booth No. 1514 at the Sportsmen's Outdoor Show sticks out like a big ol' spare tire.
"Shed Fat! Lose Weight! Hunter's Health Crisis!"
How's that for taking the fun out of the dutch oven cooking finals going on at the other end of the South Towne Expo Center?
Jeff and Susan Clements, a husband-and-wife team from Wasilla, Alaska, a hunting village about an hour north of Anchorage, are hawking the products of a multilevel marketing company called Isagenix, featuring a lineup of superfood shakes and bars and other replacement foods that they claim will not only help you bag that bear, ox, elk, deer, moose, caribou or bighorn, but you'll look real good in the celebration photo afterward.
And as an added bonus, it won't be you that gets killed in the process.
"Obesity contributes to over 30,000 hunter deaths annually!" proclaims a statistic on a sign that also points out that 81 percent of hunters are overweight, 110,000 hunters die annually from heart disease and 70,000 have strokes although certainly not all while they're stalking their prey.
These stark figures sit next to a giant poster showing before-and-after figures of Jeff and Susan.
According to the photos and their own testimony, Susan has lost 50 pounds ("a 14 to a 4!") and Jeff has lost 27 pounds since they started on the Isagenix system last summer. Between them, they have misplaced a small person. By this time next year we may not be able to see them."We still drink coffee," says Susan, hoisting a cup from Starbucks, "and you can have one good meal a day."
Whether it's the Isagenix or just good old-fashioned discipline and fewer calories, the Clements do cut something of a sharp contrast to the average person walking the aisles and manning the booths at the annual International Sportsmen's Exposition, which concludes its four-day run today in Sandy.
For every mean, lean wrangler who weighs about as much as his/her belt buckle, there are plenty more with belt buckles that aren't visible.
And why not? The expo show displays all sorts of reasons why people don't have to work all that hard at their hunting and fishing. The convention center grounds are crammed with displays for four-runners, ATVs, four-wheel-drive trucks, boats that will get you anywhere and everywhere, guide services, time share condos, motor
homes and trailers to haul all your gear (one sign says "Save your breath for braggin"').
And the food! At the Dutch Oven Cookoff, just the smell of the barbecue pork, spare ribs, braided sausage and "Oh My Apple Pie" could put on five pounds.
"If you're gonna cook in the woods, you've gotta be able to fight off those bears," says a woman in the contest who is busy cooking up a menu of crackback ribs with voodoo sauce and raspberry poppyseed cake for dessert.
What a way to go.
It's precisely too much of this kind of fare, says Jeff Clements, that can get you in trouble.
A big-game guide himself who specializes in bighorn sheep, Clements, 47, said he noticed as the years and pounds wore on that the sheep kept getting noticeably faster.
Then, last summer, "Another guide buddy of mine said, 'Man, you gotta try this,"' and thrust a meal replacement milkshake at him.
Twenty-seven pounds and nine months later, he proclaims, "I feel 10 years younger. And I'm fitting in pants I wore in high school."
And he's not so out of breath chasing the sheep.
"People are like, 'You've had five energy drinks,"' he says. "And I'm like, 'No, I'm just eatin' right.'
"Hunters are getting sicker and more overweight," he says. "We got guys (clients) we can't even get in a Super Cub (a small plane used for hunting), and the seats are 30 inches wide. It didn't used to be like that."He lowers his voice as he talks. A couple of cases in point are checking out the Toyota 4-by-4s just across the way.
Lee Benson's column runs Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Please send e-mail to [email protected] and faxes to 801-237-2527.