Dan Smith watched his grandson mimic the hunters standing in front of him.
Smith has been a deer hunter all his life. But he wasn't shooting on Saturday. He was mostly occupied with making sure the 5-year-old didn't whack anyone nearby with the bow that was a little too unwieldy for his small frame.
The grandfather-and-grandson duo were among hundreds at the Missouri Deer Classic & Outdoor Expo on Saturday. The 27-year-old event attracts hunters and their families to celebrate the sport.
This was Smith's first time at the Deer Classic, though he's a crossbow hunter. His friends invited him on Friday, and he decided to bring his grandson along for the festivities. He was impressed with what he found.
"It's the best deer show I have ever been to," Smith said. "There's a great atmosphere and it's so kid-friendly."
The Deer Classic is an annual exhibition where hunters can bring their deer and antler mounts for official judging. This year, the event brought in 106 vendors who sold everything from taxidermy services to venison jerky. Melissa Bachman, host of the TV show "Winchester Deadly Passion," was also in attendance.
The two-day event also includes a gun show and an indoor 3D archery course.
The Deer Classic inspires a fair amount of nostalgia for hunter Sam Brooks.
"I used to shoot in these type tournaments when I was younger," he said. "It's in my blood, I've been coming to these events on and off for years."
He and his son, Evan Brooks, were among the camouflaged bodies watching a line of bow hunters shoot on the 40-target course at the event.
Brooks said he brought Evan to the event because he feels like the interactions help his child's autism. Although many attendees gazed at nearby mounted bucks or stopped at vendor booths, Evan enjoyed watching the hunters fire their bows, he said.
Many kids walked around the event with bows made out of pipes that had been donated by the United Bowhunters of Missouri. The group instructed kids on how to use them to hit targets. Last year, the United Bowhunters gave out nearly 400 bows, according to the Missouri Deer Classic and Outdoor Expo website.
It was one of these bows that Smith had to be sure his grandchild didn't accidentally hit anyone with. The pipe bow was just a couple inches taller than the child. After Smith watched the boy mimicking the archers for about 20 minutes, his grandson slung his bow over his shoulder and let Smith know he was ready to move on.
The Deer Classic will continue 9 a.m. to 4 p.m Sunday at the Central Missouri Events Center. Admission is $8 for adults, $4 for children aged 10 to 16 and free for children younger than 10.
Supervising editor is Edward Hart.