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Heartland Trails Bass Tournaments Dedicated To All Anglers

Mike Eutsler

Ralph and Bonnie Haggard, owners of Heartland Trails, Inc. have taken their dream to successive levels of achievement since the inaugural pro-am tournament in 1994. Their dream isn’t really very complex, quite simply; provide the highest quality family oriented bass fishing event possible for weekend anglers in the Midwest. The success they are enjoying has not come easily. Twenty two boats at the first Heartland Pro-Am tournament in 1994 was almost enough to make them quit! Even though the first two years were not what was expected, the Platte City, Missouri duo wasn’t going to turn back just yet and the results have been dramatic.

As word spread of this honest, well run circuit, the numbers started to climb. Heartland Trails, Inc. Pro-Am, which has always been held on Sunday, provides anglers with a chance to prefish on Saturday and not have to take a day off from work. Heartlands Pro-Am has remained strong throughout the last decade even when other similar circuits were declining.

Heartland’s success can also be attributed to the invaluable staff members that have been with Ralph and Bonnie since the start. David Shaw, well known emcee and weighmaster for all Heartland events, has developed a unique style of making anglers at ease on stage and has the uncanny ability to recall names and past success of the hundreds of anglers that have crossed the stage in the past 11 years. Karen Shaw, David’s wife, Mark, Tina Odle and family have proved to be invaluable as they make things happen at every event. Bill and Donna Amis have also been called on to learn the ropes and have been very reliable. Cam and Rob Haggard, sons of Ralph and Bonnie, started as youngsters on the circuit and are still very active in the organization.

Ralph started a newsletter giving tournament results which soon evolved into magazine form that was named The Competing Angler, the magazine grew to 68 pages and took on a new name in 2003, Heartland on the Trail. The current magazine, Heartland Trails, is a bimonthly magazine that began in 2006 with production by Mike Eutsler.

Presently, the Heartland Trails magazine still formats the original theme of reporting tournament results and upcoming events, but has also embraced a new direction through individual angler acknowledgements, new products, cutting edge techniques, multi species fishing articles and other outdoor related features. Heartland Trails reports updates on conservation issues, regulations or announcements with unique application to the tournament angler.

Sponsors, advertisers and supporters are given an incredible amount of exposure through Heartland Trails magazine membership, subscriptions, with distribution in over 200 Midwestern marinas’s, tackle shops, boat dealerships and is prominently displayed in Bass Pro Shops TMBC Centers and fishing departments. Membership is offered through subscription-$14.95 or by membership $30 (required to be eligible for tournament entry).

Tracker Marine Group and Mercury Marine were designated as the official boat and motor sponsors of Heartland Trails in 2006. This three year contractual agreement has taken Heartland Trails to their highest level of success with tournament paybacks and first place prizes unequaled in the United States! The tremendous support from Tracker and Mercury has allowed for higher paybacks, bigger 1st place prizes and product incentives. This type of sponsor commitment is what has made Ralph and Bonnies dream become a reality.

The 2007 Heartland Trails, Inc. tournament schedule features 4 distinct circuits that provide anglers with choices that suit their style of fishing.

Elite Tour

Our premier event is the Elite Tour, a one angler, one boat, one tournament format that continues to grow and will feature 4 tournaments in 2007. The winning angler will take home a certificate for a $25,000 Nitro 591/Mercury OptiMax 150 package! Entry fee is $300 per event.

Pro-Am

The Heartland Trails Pro-Am has 4 events left in 2007 and will have a September 2007 Classic Championship where the top 40 pro’s will be fishing for a $25,000 Nitro/Mercury certificate. The top 40 amateurs will also be competing for a $20,000 Nitro/Mercury certificate in this same event. Pro entry is $200 and amateur entry is $85.

Team Series

Our newly renamed Team Series uses the buddy format in four 2007 events that feature the highest payback in the nation! One place for every three entries will be paid back cash! First place prize in each tournament is a $25,000 591 Nitro/Mercury OptiMax 150 certificate. Entry fee is $250 per team.

BFT

Heartland’s newest circuit is the BFT (Bass Fishing Tournament), this is a standard buddy format with a cash payback of one place for each 4 entries. Entry is $200 per event.

Cash incentive programs developed by Heartland Trails, Inc. are unequaled in bass tournament history. Incentives from KeelGuard, SolarBat, Mercury Marine, Tracker Marine, Tail Walker Lures, Carstar and many other boat manufacturers apply to Heartland Trails circuits. These add up to several thousand dollars of additional cash available to qualifying anglers. Product support from Terminator, Jewel Baits, Chompers, Rejuvenade, ProGuide Batteries, 2IG rods, Gene Larew Lures, and Garmin provide anglers with tackle and gear at each tournament.

Heartland Trails, Inc. website at www.hpata.com is currently a statistics type website that is being updated, and in keeping with Heartland tradition, the new version will be a top notch interactive website that will enhance visitor usage. The website is almost finished and will be online soon. The 2007 tournament schedules, latest tournament results and tournament entry registration are available now at www.hpata.com.

In 2006, Heartland Trails entered into an agreement with Bass Edge. Aaron Martin, veteran Heartland Trails angler, is the creator of this unique national television program that provides entertainment, instruction and education. The show, totally produced by Bass Edge, has already been given rave reviews and Heartland is proud to be a small part of their success. Heartland looks forward to expanding their involvement with Aaron and BassEdge.

Heartland Trails, Inc. also walks the walk and talks the talk with a 12 year commitment to many charities and youth events. Ralph Haggard and staff have conducted an annual benefit for the Spinal Cord Society and recently the Kim Patek Paralysis Foundation, for the last 12 years without receiving any compensation. In 2006 a check for $10,000 was presented to Freddie Patek at the Truman Lake event in June. Weigh in equipment and trailer has been used at the Missouri State Water Patrols, Cops for Kids annual tournament. Other youth events are sponsored, in part, annually in Kansas City and Springfield, Missouri.

Heartland Trails, Inc. owners Ralph and Bonnie Haggard could be satisfied with what they have accomplished in the last 12 years, but they are not done yet! Work and plans are already in progress to implement a “grass roots’ program that will recruit beginning anglers as well as rejuvenate angler “drop outs”. Details of this exciting program will be announced in the near future.

To contact Heartland Trails, Inc., call 816-464-5557, check us out on the web at www.hpata.com, or contact Mike Eutsler at 417-872-5995 or michael.eutsler@sbcglobal.net.


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