There’s nothing like it in the state, and there hasn’t been for a long time, so when the Louisiana Sportsman Show and Festival opens at noon Thursday at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales, area outdoors folks have a full four days to get in on the action.

It’s the 38th time for the show, and the Lamar Dixon expanse has allowed the event to grow far beyond the Mercedes-Benz Superdome where it had grown until Hurricane Katrina uprooted it a dozen years ago.

What started mostly as a boat and fishing tackle show has expanded to include much, much more.

Yes, there will be 10 boat dealers on the grounds, and Bowie Outfitters and other local outdoors shops will have their usual can’t-miss deals on rods, reels and all sorts of other fishing essentials. There will also be enough fishing outfitters to carry anglers far from Louisiana’s bountiful fishing in bayous, rivers, marshes and offshore waters.

And local veteran freshwater and saltwater fishermen will offer seminars throughout the four days.

So how much more?

Try enough ATVs and other off-road vehicles to equip hunting camps across the southern parishes — there’s even a Yamaha ATV test track — and a dedicated spot for tractor and outdoor power equipment to get camps, fields and forests ready for the next hunting season.

For the youngsters, Sunday is admission-free and there’s a special Kids’ Zone. The always-popular Splash Dogs is a competition for the retrievers.

But it’s the Louisiana Sportsman Big Buck Contest that has separated the past several shows from those of the Superdome days.

Hunters can have their deer scored by such notable whitetail deer experts as retired state biologist David Moreland, and there’s always a display of the trophies taken during the recent season and those past.

While there’s a 60-day wait from the day the buck was taken for an “official” score, the emphasis is on getting the trophies identified. So even if the mount you’ve scheduled from a local taxidermist isn’t ready, it’s possible to bring the antlers in for the Quality Deer Management Association Louisiana-sponsored event.

The contest booth will accept antlers beginning at noon Friday, and all entries must be at the booth by 6 p.m. Saturday. There’s no fee to enter.

After scoring, winners will be announced in seven categories — Best Louisiana Gun, Best Louisiana Bow, Best Out-of-state Gun, Best Out-of-state Bow, Best Ladies, Best Youth and Best Muzzleloader/Crossbow.

Moreland and his crew will score each entry on Boone & Crockett (modern firearms) or Pope & Young (archery) systems to determine if the entry meets the minimum score for its specific typical antlers or nontypical antlers for the state records.

Show times run noon-7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m-7 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday with the Big Buck Contest awards and the four-wheeler drawing set for 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

For details, ticket prices and a map go to website: www.louisianasportsmanshow.com.

Ascension DU’s bash

Ascension Parish’s Ducks Unlimited Chapter is tacking what it’s calling “a 60-gun bash” on the end of Friday’s Sportsman Show schedule.

Set to run 6-10 p.m., a $25 ticket (also good for admission to the big show) gets a chance at one of the 60 firearms to be given away that night plus food and drink and drawings for other things like a Cabela’s $1,000 shopping spree and other outdoor prizes.

There are other donation levels, and tickets can be purchased on the Ducks Unlimited website: www.ducks.org.

Kiwanis bass

Kenneth St. Romain is at it again reminding bass fishermen about Sunday’s 37th Kiwanis Open Bass Tournament set to take out from the Morrison Parkway public landing Sunday morning in New Roads.

The oxbow is refilling after last year’s drawdown and fishermen are reporting the bass are moving to the shallows and the lake’s largemouths appear to have come through the low-water period ready to bite.

And for the first time in several weekends, weather conditions should be stable.

As usual, it’s a pick-your-partner tournament with a $150 entry fee, a fee that goes up to $175 on tournament day.

Call St. Romain at (225) 718-1319 for more info, or to enter.