DUNDEE, MICH. Outdoor paradise under roof
Even if you're not a hunter or fisherman, Cabela's is worth a look.
By CATHY SECKMAN
There's nothing quite so American as a store that combines shopping and entertainment in gargantuan fashion.
Cabela's of Dundee, Mich., sells hunting, fishing and outdoor gear, but the store also offers enough activities and entertainment to keep your family happy all day.
The entertainment starts outside with the battling grizzlies, an 18-foot high, 22-foot long bronze sculpture set amid flowerbeds in front of the store. Small children climb among the grizzlies' feet, and families gather for snapshots.
To one side of the store are a small lake and picnic area. Bird dog demonstrations are held here at times, as well as equipment clinics.
Don't forget to browse through the outdoor boat display before going inside.
Once inside, it's a good idea to pick up a map, because the store is large and complex.
Mounts: It's easy to be overwhelmed at first by the hundreds of trophy mounts. Deer, elk, caribou and moose heads are lined up on every wall. Some of them even talk.
Dozens of trophy fish are mounted in display boxes overhead, representing fish native to Michigan and the Northeast.
Straight ahead down a central aisle is Conservation Mountain, a 35-foot fiberglass mountain that includes a waterfall, beaver ponds, and habitats that display full-size animal mounts in their natural settings.
Chamois and Dall sheep climb the steep face of the mountain. At its base, a herd of musk oxen stand off winter-white wolves.
Moose graze next to foraging black bears, a lynx descends a rocky outcropping, and a polar bear defends its kill.
At either end of the store are two more habitat scenes.
The South Diorama displays big game from Russia and the South Pacific. In the North Diorama are the African Big Five, the elephant, rhinoceros, leopard, cape buffalo and lion.
If you follow the stream across the bridge and through the fishing department -- stopping to admire the brown speckled trout swimming along -- you'll come to a 65,000-gallon walk-through aquarium that holds fish native to Michigan and the Northeast.
Merchandise: In between all the displays, of course, is the merchandise.
Cabela's has a large clothing line of sporting and outdoor gear, and a sprawling gift shop. Don't leave without visiting the candy department for some Cabela's chocolate bars.
The fishing, boating, ATV and hunting departments are large and well-stocked.
A cutlery department sells every knife and multipurpose tool you've ever heard of, and there are plenty of guns and bows for sale. An indoor archery shooting range is available.
There is also a Bargain Cave, but the selection isn't large. You'd have to be there on the right day, looking for the right thing, to get much of a bargain.
Upstairs, the camping and cooking departments can take hours to browse.
Also upstairs are the furniture and art galleries, where everything you need for a rustic hunting or fishing lodge is available.
The Tamarack Cafe at the top of the stairs serves a wild game menu that includes moose and ostrich, among other delicacies.
When the kids get bored, you can give them some quarters and send them to the laser arcade behind the mountain, where they can test their skills at a shooting gallery.
Auditoriums and conference rooms, seating 400, are available for rent, and Cabela's will cater.
Special events like bird dog demonstrations and gun clinics are held regularly, and are announced at www.cabelas.com.
You don't have to be a hunter or fisherman to enjoy Cabela's; you just have to be a browser.