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Circle Of Life On Display At Cabela’s In Berks County

13 March 2011 No Comment

The first time I visited Cabela’s in Hamburg, Berks County, I felt like I had walked into a Jeff Foxworthy skit. I saw more plaid shirts than Larry the Cable Guy’s closet and more severed heads than Stephen King’s nightmares. Ok, so they were critters mounted on trophy boards, but still, there were a LOT of them coming out of the store.

I was pretty convinced, too, that Larry the Cable Guy lived in the back of the store. Really. There was a pick-up truck in the Bargain Cave with a camper-cover over the back and the scene was made to look like someone was camping there. I figured it had to be Larry. Rednecks? Yeah. I felt right at home. These were my people.

The African diorama is frightenly realistic as it portrays animals in their true natural settings.

I was there on assignment for the newspaper, waiting for emergency responders to return from volunteer duty in New Orleans, where they had been helping people recover from Hurricane Katrina. I got there early to check out the place and get the lay of the land before I had to get to work and I’m glad I did. Cabela’s is more than just a store for outdoorsmen (and women). This place is a day trip destination all on its own.

“When my wife and I make the trip out to Cabela’s we always make sure to bring the kids. Our kids are 4, 8, and 17,” said Anthony Skorochod of Nazareth, a professional photographer when he is not working as an emergency responder. “We have never gone there to specifically go shopping; we consider it a family destination. It’s almost like a museum, aquarium, and place for shopping all rolled into one.”

Sure, you can buy guns and fishing rods and hunting gear and camp supplies – heck, everything from bullets to boots – but the store itself is geared to impress visitors. The first thing you see when you enter is the two-story high “Conservation Mountain” that dominates the back of the store. Each of the four sides displays wildlife from mountain regions around the world, from the Arctic to the Rockies to the Himalayas. Stuffed ears, moose, deer, fox, wolves, lions, cougars all populate the display in settings designed to emulate their native habitats.

The 55,000-gallon aquarium to the right of the entrance features game fish from across North America and both fishing fans and kids will be excited to walk through and see the (often very large) fish swimming from section to section.

The African Diorama features some startling real-life scenes, such as a crocodile tearing apart a wildebeest and lions chasing down their prey but the scene also features a full-size African elephant, zebras and other wildlife in a tableau that has earned Cabela’s the moniker of “High Temple of Taxidermy” from roadsideamerica.com, a travel website dedicated to weird and unusual stops across America.

The four-season, globe-hopping Conservation Mountain is the centerpiece of Cabela's Hamburg store.

Deer Country is a separate room dedicated to trophies from throughout North America and provides an educational experience that helps visitors learn about different types of deer, which ones have what antlers and where they live, etc.

Skorochod said his family can easily spend the day at Cabela’s just checking out the scenes.

“The 4-year-old loves the fish. The walk-through aquarium is simply amazing and keeps my toddler occupied for usually the first hour we are there. It’s always our first stop when arriving at Cabela’s,” he said. “The 8-year-old loves all the stuffed game throughout the store. He learns all about the animals they have on display and it’s nice that he’s able to see that in person. My 17-year-old loves all the hunting apparel and accessories. They have everything he loves, from work-wear to skiwear to camo.

“Even my wife loves the bargain room they have in the back of the store. She’s always able to find a good deal on something. Also, she loves shoes. They have one of the biggest selections of shoes I’ve ever seen. As for me, I like to keep up with what’s new in firearms and ammunition.”

Cabela’s also has regularly scheduled events and educational seminars for outdoors enthusiasts, featuring everything from turkey-calling contests to boating safety to National Rifle Association certified instruction courses.

If You Go: Cabela’s is located on Route 61 north, just off Interstate 78 about 45 minutes from Allentown. It’s open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays. For more, go to http://www.cabelas.com/retail-stores-hamburg.shtml.

Facts: While Cabela’s is a year-round destination, it can also make a great side-trip if you are headed to Hershey Park or Yuengling Breweries in nearby Pottsville. And it’s not just for hunting and fishing enthusiasts. Hikers, boaters, campers and anyone who enjoys the outdoors will find something worthwhile.

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