Planning Your Western Hunt

With any hunt you need to plan your hunt and hunt your plan. If you're thinking of heading out West to hunt, then that planning calls for unique prep work, both physically and mentally.

Hunting Lead Clint Grenier has hunted in 12 5 Tips for Planning a Western Huntstates, plus Canada, and has been Western hunting for the last 10 years. All of his hunts are unguided and on public land. The success of his hunts rely on how well he has prepared. Here are his top tips for planning your Western hunt.

 

Tags/Licenses

Most Western tags are limited and are acquired by a drawing conducted in the previous winter through spring, so you have to think ahead. Some of these limited hunts can be drawn with 0 preference points to well over 20+ points for others. You gain preference points after you are unsuccessful in applying for a limited hunt.

Some over the counter tags are also available. However, these hunts and areas usually get hunted the hardest and will have the most competition from other hunters. Another good opportunity is to purchase leftover tags. Leftover tags are any surplus of tags that remain after the regular draw quotas are filled. State wildlife agencies will usually post these on their websites shortly after the draw has concluded, along with a date when they go on sale. If you have any questions, most western state wildlife agencies have “hunt planners” - customer service reps that are ready and willing to help you. They are extremely helpful and I encourage you to use this resource that's so readily available to you. 

Equipment

A Western hunt is a completely different experience than most hunts in the Midwest or East. A typical hunt in the Midwest usually starts with waking up in your own bed, followed by a short drive to your hunting area, and then a short walk from there until you're hunting. Western hunting is more of a combination between hunting, camping, survival, and a marathon. Not only will you need proper hunting gear, you will also need specialized gear for all of these activities. From tents and sleeping bags to fire starters and water filters, there are a number of tools that are not even involved with the actual hunting part of the trip, but are essentials. Your pack, GPS, compass, and a good pair of boots are some other things that should be on your list.

Physical Preparation

Just like you need to be prepared with specialized equipment, you also need to be prepared for a different style of hunting, which can be very physically challenging. First of all, most hunting done in the West is conducted at much higher elevations then in the East. Being in good physical shape at 1,000 feet above seaRedHead RH5000 level is much different than being in shape at 10,000 feet above sea level. Many hunters have been humbled when they get in those elevations and then try to navigate through some of the roughest country anywhere. In addition to the rough country and elevation, a hunter in the West will have to carry much of that specialized gear, water, and food with them on their back. With densities of game animals lower than in many other parts of the country, you may be carrying everything for miles to find the game you're looking for. Also, remember that, once you are successful, even more work and physical exertion will be required to get the meat out. The short story here is to try to get in the best shape you can long before the hunt arises. The better shape you are in the more you will enjoy it and the better chance you give yourself to be successful.

Scouting

After you have figured out where and when you are going, the next step is to learn as much as possible to help your chances of being successful. If at all possible, try to plan a summer trip/vacation to the area. It’s hard to beat first-hand experience and knowledge of an area. Try to cover as much ground as possible searching for new or even old signs. One thing to remember in the West is that animals can migrate to different areas or elevations at different times of the year. Just because animals or signs aren't present or fresh, it doesn’t mean they won’t be there when hunting seasons come around.

With most people having to travel for a Western hunt, planning a scouting trip may be hard or impossible to do. This is where scouting from your computer or picking up the phone can be beneficial. You can find tons of information from state wildlife agency websites or by talking to their hunt planners on the phone. Examples of some of the information available there are:

  • Migration routes
  • Hunter success rates
  • Unit maps and borders
  • Draw odds
  • Populations and density maps

Other good places for information are State and Federal forest offices, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) offices, and also by viewing maps on Google Earth or Google Maps.

 

Field Care

Field care of meat and trophies is similar anywhere you go, but can be different in the West because of the circumstances. For example, when someone harvests a deer in the Midwest, a common practice is to field dress it where it expires, take it home whole in your vehicle, then hang it up until you are ready to process or take to the processor. On a Western hunt, more often than not, you will not be able to drive a vehicle to the spot where an animal expires. The animal will have to be quartered and packed out on a pack designed to carry meat. The meat is usually placed in game bags that allow it to cool, but also keep it clean. Be sure to Game Bagsread up on the techniques of quartering and sometimes even deboning to reduce weight. Many Western hunters will not even field dress their animal, but instead use a “gutless” method when quartering their animals. It would also be beneficial to know the proper technique of caping out your animal, if it is something that you intend to take to your taxidermist.

 

Remember, a Western hunt takes the term "planning your hunt" to a whole new level. From tags, to gear, to studying and physically preparing, with proper planning you can go West and hunt successfully.

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This Weekend @ Bass Pro Shops Altoona - Freedom & Family

The NRA Freedom Days Event is here! Join us for workshops and special sales!

On Saturday & Sunday, July 23 & 24 - Sign up in the store to be an NRA member and receive a $25 Bass Pro Shops Gift card!

Free Seminars - Bass Pro Shops logo mug to first 20 seminar attendees each day

Saturday, July 23
Altoona Police Dept.
11AM Gun Safety
2PM Dress Your MSR
3PM Conceal Carry Basics - Hosted by our own Altoona Police Department! Come learn from our officers the right way and the wrong way of how to carry, act, and react...and give them a big thank you, while you're here!

Sunday, July 24

2PM Conceal Carry Basics - Hosted by our own Altoona Police Department! Come learn from our officers the right way and the wrong way of how to carry, act and react...and give them a big thank you, while you're here!
3PM Shooting Range Accessories

2nd Amendment Instant Savings on Guns | July 15-31 - Up to $150 - Equal to the value of your sales tax!

Last Chance for Family Summer Camp!

It's the last weekend for Family Summer Camp. Don't let your kids (and YOU!) miss out on this fun, yet educational, free family opportunity! Beat the heat with our free workshops and indoor activities, like the casting buckets, archery range and Daisy BB gun range.

Family Summer Camp Workshops

All workshops are approximately 20-30 minutes in length. Kids will receive a free lanyard (while supplies last) at their first workshop and earn a pin for every workshop they complete.

Saturday - July 23

Noon - Fishing
1pm - Water Safety
2pm - Hunting
3pm - Hiking & Backpacking
4pm - Bird Watching

Sunday, July 24Wooden Camp Photo Frame

Noon - Hunting
1pm - Outdoor Gardening
2pm - Archery
3pm - Camping
4pm - Backyard Adventure

 

Free Craft - Wooden Camp Photo Frame!
July 23 & 23 - Noon-2 p.m.

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This Weekend @ Bass Pro Shops Altoona - Don't Let Your Kids Miss Family Summer Camp!

There are only TWO weekends left for Family Summer Camp! Don't let your kids (and YOU!) miss out on this fun, yet educational, free family opportunity! Beat the heat with our free workshops and indoor activities, like the casting buckets, archery range and Daisy BB gun range.

Family Summer Camp Workshops

All workshops are approximately 20-30 minutes in length. Kids will receive a free lanyard (while supplies last) Family Summer Camp Fun!at their first workshop and earn a pin for every workshop they complete.

Saturday - July 16

Noon - Fishing
1pm - Water Safety
2pm - Hunting
3pm - Hiking & Backpacking
4pm - Bird Watching

Sunday, July 17

Noon - Hunting
1pm - Outdoor Gardening
2pm - Archery
3pm - Camping
4pm - Backyard Adventure

Tuesday, July 19

Noon - Bird Watching
1pm - Fishing
2pm - Archery
3pm - Hiking & Backpacking
4pm - Backyard Adventure

Thursday, July 21owl

Noon - Archery
1pm - Outdoor Gardening
2pm - Hunting
3pm - Water Safety
4pm - Camping

Free Craft
Noon-2 p.m., on Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday!Photo frame

July 16, 17 - A HOOT of an Owl Door Hanger!

July 19, 21 - A very Cool Camp Frame!

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Outdoor Cooking Primer - Grilled Crappie

After much debate on how to do it, we finally grilled crappie. Yes, grilled.

We are always on a quest for new ways to eat crappie and this was one we had debated. Plank or no pGrilled Crappielank. On the grates or off.

We didn't plank it and we didn't put it on the grates. We simply put the fillets on coated grill grids on our good old Weber. This allowed the heat to get to the bottom and crisp it up. As you can see there were seven nice fillets, an uneven number because the batch had been split up when freezing.

The seasoning was very simple. Some smoked paprika on each and, with our low sodium regimen, soGrilled Crappie and Beet Greensme shakes of a chipotle salt-free seasoning and they were ready to grill. A little shredded Italian cheese at the end was our only sodium downfall. Bass Pro Shops does carry Rub Some Fish Seafood Seasoning, which is a fairly low-sodium seasoning, so we will have to try that sometime!

After getting the grill to medium heat with all three burners, the back two burners were turned off and the front left on medium. This allowed the fish to cook over indirect heat, and still get nicely browned. We sprayed the fish with butter spray when they were almost done, then sprinkled the l cheese on to allow it to melt.

Next time, we will leave the fish on just a bit longer to see how crispy we can get it without drying out the fillets.

Our side was sauteed beet greens - another new cooking adventure! Extremely healthy, spicy - just the way we like it!

Enjoy!

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Product Spotlight - New Dog Items!

We are receiving a large number of new dog items for our shelves, including a new dog life vest! From items to use at home or in the field, more items continue to come in each day. Here's a look at highlights:

  • The DoggyPaddle life jackets for dogs! Even dogs should wear personal flotation dDog life vestevices or life jackets. The Playhound brand vest has reflective strips and a heavy-duty rubber grip on the back for easy lifting of your dog, if needed. They come in sizes extra-small for those tiny pups to the XL for the big boys and girls. Instructions on the hanger explain the length, girth, and neck sizes so you get the proper fitting PFD. Snug, adjustable nylon strap buckles keep it on securely.
  • Water dishes - From the Petmate Mason Jar water system to the favorite stainless steel or new RoadTrip Collapsible Bowlrubber collapsible water/food bowl, there is a size for all needs and all sizes of dogs. Whether at home or on the road, any of these should help Rover quench his or her thirst and fill their tummy.
  • Toys abound - soft toys perfect for puppies to big rubber bouncing balls for that big dog or tiny tiger in your house! For example, the Tug-and-Toss Jolly Ball is new here - it floats and bounces and has a handle for easy retrieval - plus it's made in the USA.
  • Need to work on some training, too? The HexaBumper Pro-Pack is here from Avery Sporting Dog. The six flat sides make it easier for your dog to pick up and hold the bumper for retrieval. Plus, we have a bumper bag for carrying everything!

We have a large assortment of collars and leashes, including collars with reflective strips.

Last, but not least, when you're a store that allows dogs, like us, being a responsible pet owner is something we like to see and we don't like to hear "Clean up in the aisle!" So you can buy Clean-Up sacks in a cute little dog bone shaped holder to bring along with you to the store...plus replacement sacks, too!

Stop in to your local Bass Pro Shop to see what's new in the dog aisle!

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This Weekend @Bass Pro Shops Altoona - Family Summer Camp Continues

Beat the heat with inside with our free workshops and indoor activities, like the casting buckets, archery range and Daisy BB gun range.

Family Summer Camp Workshops

All workshops are approximately 20-30 minutes in length. Kids will receive a free lanyard (while supplies last) Famiy Summer Campat their first workshop and earn a pin for every workshop they complete.

Saturday - July 9

Noon -  Fishing
1pm - Water Safety
2pm - Hunting
3pm - Hiking & Backpacking
4pm - Bird Watching

Sunday, July 10

Noon - Hunting
1pm - Outdoor Gardening
2pm - Archery
3pm - Camping
4pm - Backyard Adventure

Tuesday, July 12

Noon - Bird Watching
1pm - Fishing
2pm - Archery
3pm - Hiking & Backpacking
4pm - Backyard Adventure

Thursday, July 14

Noon - Archery
1pm - Outdoor Gardening
2pm - Hunting
3pm - Water Safety
4pm - CampingBear Track Magnet

Free Craft
Noon-2 p.m., on Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday!owl

July 9 & 10 - It's a Bear Track Magnet!

July 12, 14 - Owl Door Hanger!

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Outdoor Cooking Primer - Heart Healthier Sloppy Joes

With our new heart-healthyHeart Healthy Sloppy Joe's way of eating, this recipe seemed like a perfect fit. When your husband, who is not a "loose meat" or Sloppy Joe fan, says, "Wow, this is the best I've ever had," then you know it's a success.

I received this recipe through our Bass Pro Shops wellness program newsletter. However, here are the changes I made:

  • Instead of ground sirloin, we used ground turkey. It would also be excellent with ground venison!
  • I did not use salt. There is no need for salt. Use other spices and no-salt seasonings. I added smoked paprika, pepper blend, and my homemade seasoning mixture a la' Emeril.
  • Instead of using regular buns, we had some homemade sourdough bread. Using a small bowl, I "cut" the top and bottom pieces out of two slices of bread. I spread a light coating of vegetable oil spread on each, sprinkled with dill weed, and toasted them in a skillet - our own little version of a butter bun!
  • We did this on the spur of the moment, but I'm sure you could do it in a slow cooker, too, especially for bigger crowds.

Lighter Sloppy Joe's - Kicked Up & Heart Healthier

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 pound ground turkey or ground venison
1 Tbsp homemade Emeril's Essence (made without salt)
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp pepper blend seasoning
1 - 8 ounce can no salt added tomato sauce
1/4 water
Whole wheat buns
1 - 15 oz can no salt added chickpeas (garbanzo beans) (drained)
Bread and butter pickles

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Throw in chopped onion and saute until tender.

Add the ground turkey (or venison), browning and stirring to crumble. Add the essence, sugar, smoked paprika, and pepper blend. Cook another minute, stirring to mix well.

Add the water and tomato sauce, reduce heat, simmer and let thicken, about 2 minutes.

Put the garbanzo beans in a bowl and mash them with a fork or potato masher...MUCH easier said than done. Don't worry about them being totally smashed. Stir those into the meat mixture.

Scoop the meat onto your whole wheat bun or whatever you're using. A multigrain ciabatta would work, too. Top with about three of the pickles after shaking the pickles to get as much juice off as possible. The garbanzos, seasonings, and pickles create a flavorful, crunchy combo! You really will be surprised.

Low in salt, low in fat, high in fiber and exceptionally high in taste!

Enjoy!

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This Weekend @Bass Pro Shops Altoona - Family Summer Camp Fourth

It's a Bass Pro Shops Altoona Fourth of July, Family Summer Camp style- and it all happens indoors

Along with our free workshops and indoor activities, like the casting buckets, archery range and Daisy BB gun range, we also have the free indoor Catch and Release Pond back on July 2 & 3!Catch and Release pond

July 2 & 3

Catch and Release pond - Noon-5 p.m. We supply the poles and the kids try to catch a fish!

Then kids can choose a butterfly or turtle to magically appear in their photo at the free photo download, noon-5 p.m.

Family Summer Camp Workshops

All workshops are approximately 20-30 minutes in length. Kids will receive a free lanyard (while supplies last) Famiy Summer Campat their first workshop and earn a pin for every workshop they complete.

Saturday - July 2

Noon -  Fishing
1pm - Water Safety
2pm - Hunting
3pm - Hiking & Backpacking
4pm - Bird Watching

Sunday, July 3

Noon - Hunting
1pm - Outdoor Gardening
2pm - Archery
3pm - Camping
4pm - Backyard Adventure

Tuesday, July 5

Noon - Bird Watching
1pm - Fishing
2pm - Archery
3pm - Hiking & Backpacking
4pm - Backyard Adventure

Thursday, July 7

Noon - ArcheryPatriotic Bandana
1pm - Outdoor Gardening
2pm - Hunting
3pm - Water Safety
4pm - Camping

Free Craft
Noon-2 p.m., on Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday!

Bear Track MagnetJune July 2 & 3 - it's a Patriotic Bandana!

July 5, 7, 9, & 10 - It's a Bear Track Magnet!

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Safe Hiking Tips

During the summer, many people head to the trails. From national park mountains to cityscapes to state parks, the idea of backpacking and hiking can take on different meanings to those who enjoy the activities. No matter where you are backpacking or hiking, there area safety tips to remember.

Longtime Scout instructor and Trainer, Dann Flaherty, says safe hiking/backpacking includes using the buddy system and being visible.

Flaherty's third safety factor is to make a plan for your hike and make sure others are aware of it...then hike that plan. That way if you're not home within a reasonable amount of time for the plan, others will know that something may be wrong.

Safe hiking!

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An Appalachian Fly Fishing Adventure

Rod WotenBy Rod Woten
Local Pro Staff
Bass Pro Shops Altoona

I’m very fortunate that the company I work for has a facility in Luray, Virginia, that I get to travel to a couple of times every year.  Luray sits in the Shenandoah Valley nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Not long after I started traveling to Luray, I learned of the tiny brook trout that live in the mountain streams around Luray. For a fly angler, to catch a truly wild trout is one of the ultimate goals, even if it is something the size of these small brook trout that come from the small streams up in the mountains. Ever since I first heard about these fish, I’ve been doing research and putting together a plan for that trip where I might have some free time to fish up in the mountains. Finally, I had the opportunity. I was able to time my trip, so that I arrived in the area early on Sunday afternoon, which would leave me plenty of time to fish before checking into my hotel that evening and heading to work at the Luray facility first thing Monday morning. After extensive research, I finally decided that Jeremy’s Run would be the stream I would target. 

Jeremy’s Run appealed to me for several reasons:

  • It was in relatively close proximity to Luray, which would minimize my drive time. 
  • It seemed that fishing Jeremy’s Run was pretty decent year-round, as long as water levels stayed up. 
  • Of all the streams I researched, Jeremy’s Run had some of the best access.  Since time was a premium for me, the less time spent hiking meant the more time I could spend fishing.  Also because I was flying, I was very limited in what I could bring along for gear.  My packable wading boots made the trip, but there just wasn’t room for waders or much other additional gear.

I arrived at the Elk Wallow Picnic wayside along Skyline Drive later that afternoon.  After getting my rod rigged and slipping on my wading boots, I began the trek down the mountain to find Jeremy’s Run. To get to Jeremy’s Run, I actually had to follow the Appalachian Trail, until the intersection with Jeremy’s Run Trail, which was an adventure in itself.  I’ve always wanted to hike the AT, and now I can say that I have. 

It seemed like forever before I finally reached the concrete pillar that designates the intersection of the AT and Jeremy’s Run Trail. I was actually starting to wonder if I had missed it or taken the wrong trail altogether. TheAppalachian Trail marker directions said it was a short hike to the intersection, but apparently the author’s idea of a short hike and mine are two very different things.  From that point on, I added distance to every mention of distance in the directions I was following. Even once I was on Jeremy’s Trail, I still had thoughts that I had taken a wrong turn or maybe Jeremy’s Run had gone dry, because it took what seemed like an eternity before I could even hear the sound of running water. Somewhere in the deep heavily forested ravine that was now on my right was Jeremy’s Run. I wondered how I would even get down to the stream to fish it, and how brook trout could live in the little trickle I was hearing. I continued on, losing altitude as I went, which also brought me to the startling realization that it would take me a lot longer to hike out than it did for me to hike in. The entire time I was awestruck by my surroundings…millipedes as big as a Sharpie everywhere, mushrooms and fungus the likes of which I had never seen, a thick mossy carpet on every rock and massive hardwood trees that were probably as old as our nation. 

I, also, constantly had the thought of bears in the back of my mind. I had noticed two road kill bears on the highway on my way into Front Royal, so I knew that they were on the move and a bear encounter was a real possibility. On one hand, I thought it would be cool to see my first black bear in the wild, but on the other it was situation that I’m not sure I really wanted to have to deal with…especially if it was a sow with cubs.  Regardless, I soldiered on and eventually the trail flattened out, the forest opened up a bit, and Jeremy’s Run had grown much larger. Suddenly the trail ended abruptly at the side of the stream only to resume on the opposite side. I had arrived. 

Immediately to my right was a small pool with a small waterfall above it consisting of rocks and years’ worth of accumulated logs. As I looked further upstream, the entire stream appeared to be made up of this endless series of pools with a drop and small riffle into the next pool. The gradient must have been very steep, because the pool about 100 yards upstream of me was at my line of sight or slightly higher. It was truly a weird feeling looking at that pool of water that was over my head only a short distance away. 

The pool I was on appeared to be about mid-calf deep at its deepest point near the face of the log jam. I roll-casted my hopper-dropper rig into that general area of the pool and, before I could blink, a flash erupted from under the log jam and attempted to inhale my foam grasshopper from the surface of the water. I was so surprised that I totally whiffed on the hookset!  Undaunted, I rolled the hopper back into the same spot. Once again the flash came out, but this time I was ready. I flexed the rod backwards and employed my best strip-set, only to come up empty again. I got a better look at the brookie this time, however, and ascertained that my hopper was too big for him to get in his mouth. I quickly snipped the hopper-dropper from my tippet and threaded on my old reliable elk hair caddis. I roll-casted into that same spot in the pool several more times but the brookie was onto me now and refused to come out again. I crawled my way overWild Brook Trout that log jam and proceeded upstream to the next pool.

It was similar to the previous pool only not quite as deep and with more rocks lining its bottom. I flipped the EH Caddis towards the head of the pool and it was immediately met by an olive green flash. I set the hook and immediately felt weight on my line. I could tell just by the feel that this brookie was larger than the one that outwitted me on the previous pool. I stripped line to bring the brookie to hand and eventually landed a nice 6” wild mountain brook trout!  There is a 9” minimum for keepers on Jeremy’s Run, so, after a quick photo, I slid the fish back into the edge of the pool and he quickly darted from my hand and disappeared back in to the stones littering the bottom. I worked my way upstream repeating this process, catching one or two in every pool before moving along.  Unfortunately, none were as big as the six-incher I landed right off the bat.

This was absolutely some of the most physically demanding fishing I had ever done. This was due not only to the strenuous hike in (and OUT!), but due to all the crawling over, under, or through log jams to get from pool to pool, scaling boulders and tripping over smaller rocks as I waded. The pools are much different than what I was used to at home as well. The deepest ones were only about knee deep and some only as big around as a laundry baskets. It was amazing that these fish can thrive in such small waters. It also made me realize how nice of a fish my 6” brook trout was. The brookies didn’t hesitate to rise to a dry fly, often doing so with fury. If you missed one though, they usually don’t give you a second chance. If you let too much line fall on the pool, or even cast your shadow over the pool, you could forget about getting a rise from that pool as well. 

Twilight began to creep down the mountain, so, with reluctance, I stopped casting, stowed my fly rod and began the hike back up the mountain to my rental car. The hike out was even more strenuous than I had feared. My leg muscles were already sore from all the acrobatics required to fish the stream, as well as working them to control my speed on the hike down, so they began to burn in earnest on the way out.  Somewhere along the way, the barred owls began hooting, which caused me to quicken my step as much as I could. I began to look for my boot tracks from the hike down in the muddy spots of the trial. This not only occupied my mind, but also assured me that I was on the right path.  I actually began to piece this write up together in my head as I walked. I also began to make a game of noting things along the trail…deer track…another millipede…a cairn left by some previous angler…colorful mushrooms…another of my boot prints…bear track… 

Wait…WHAT?!?!?!  BEAR TRACK!! My heart began to race, and I felt the hair stand up on the back of my Bear trackneck. To make matters worse, the perfectly shaped bear track overlapped my boot track from the hike in, so I KNEW that bear had been through there within the past few hours. The single track was SO perfect that I actually thought to myself for a second that someone else was playing a trick on me. Then I realized that I had not seen or heard another soul since I left my car on Skyline Drive. Needless to say, I picked up the pace even more. I as moving as fast as my muscles, heart, and lungs would carry me, but it still didn’t seem to be enough. I was deep in thought trying to determine how much longer I could keep up this pace, when I saw a black streak going up a tree about 100 yards ahead of me. I stopped in my track to see a black bear cub perched at the top of an old dead pine. Within a few seconds, a second cub popped its head out from the other side of the topless tree. Drat! The exact scenario I didn’t want to have happen was playing out before my very eyes. I noticed motion at the base of the tree and then heard the grunting between the cubs and the movement on the ground. The momma bear! My head raced….was she blocking the trail? If so, how do I get back to my car? The forest is way too thick for me to bushwhack and I’d probably just get lost. I slowly eased my way around the corner of the trail to get a better assessment of the situation and spotted the large black mass shuffling around the bottom of the tree. Luckily they were all about 30 yards off the left side of the trail so I didn’t have to worry about coming between her and her cubs. Based on that information, I quickly decided to put my head down and try to scoot past the trio as quickly as I could, attempting to project that I hadn’t even seen them. I was hoping that once they realized I was not a threat, I could just breeze on by. With determination, I stepped out to the middle of the trail and began to move forward with purpose. Within about three steps, the mother bear caught sight of me and bolted into the underbrush the opposite direction of the trail. I let out a slight sigh of relief, but kept right on truckin’ until I got back to the asphalt below the parking lot where I left the car.

It took me a good half day to recover, but, by Monday afternoon, I had already decideWild Brook Troutd to fish Jeremy’s Run from the other direction, starting at the bottom and working my way up. My theory was that I could squeeze that in after work, since it wouldn’t take me nearly as long to drive or hike to the stream. I found good fishing almost immediately and started catching brookies within sight of the bridge over Jeremy’s Run at the start of the trail. The hiking was much easier on the way in and the stream was much wider, flatter and generally easier to fish. I even found a nice pool with an old root ball in the middle of it, where I caught several brookies in a row, including at least a couple that were as big as my big brookie from the day before. I continued to hike upward and fish, wherever the trail was close to the stream. One particular stretch that wandered quite a ways from the stream felt very much like prime bear territory to me. Eventually, I reached a spot where the stream became very narrow and rugged…much more like what I had fished the day before. By that time the sun was starting to set and my legs were in no shape for more log jam wrestling or boulder hopping, so I turned around and headed back to the car. When I reached the spot that felt very bear-like to me on the way in, I spotted the tail end of a smaller, single bear as it crashed into the underbrush headed away from me.  In just two days I went from never having seen a black bear in the wild to having seen four! I arrived back at my car a short time later and brought my Appalachian adventure to an end.

I feel very blessed to have been able to fish in the mountains on this trip. Jeremy’s Run is definitely a stream I will visit again. There are lots of other sections of it I’d like to fish yet. I chuckle now thinking about all the reports that said Jeremy’s Run is one of the most accessible streams in the Blue Ridge Mountains. If that’s the case, I have to wonder what the less accessible streams are like! While the 6” brookies I caught are decent fish by small mountain stream standards, I know there are larger brookies up there, so I’m bound and determined to catch a 9-inch one some trip yet to be planned.

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Third Annual Digs for Dogs!

Digs for Dogs

Our Digs for Dogs event returns with a twist!

Since dogs AND veterans are both dear to our hearts, this year's Digs for Dogs special doghouse silent auction will benefit the Puppy Jake Foundation!

  • Any business or company that builds and donates a house, will have all money raised in the silent auction from that house going to Puppy Jake Foundation.
  • Any non-profit organization that builds and donates a house will receive back half the money that their house raises in the silent auction! It's a win-win!
 

Build a fun & functional doghouse –all sizes, be creative!
Entries displayed at the store Aug. 12-21 for silent auction bidding by the public.

  • Winning bids announced Aug. 22.
  • All dog houses must be wide enough to fit in our aisles for display. Bass Pro Shops Digs for Dogshas the right to refuse any entry they deem unsafe to animals.
  • Money received by Bass Pro Shops Altoona from silent auction winners goes to the Puppy Jake Foundation and, in the case of a non-profit group, half will go to the donating group.
  • Team prizes for creative contest are per group, not individual.
  • Winners must pick up the house they win.

Most creative doghouse contest, too!
1st Place - $150 Bass Pro Shops Gift Card
2nd Place - $100 Bass Pro Shops Gift Card

 

Deliver your doghouse to the store on Aug. 10 or 11.
For more information on how to enter a house, or questions,

Digs for Dogscontact Gail McMahon at glmcmahon@basspro.com.

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This Week @ Bass Pro Shops Altoona - Family Summer Camp Returns!

Beat the heat and bring your kids to our annual favorite - Family Summer Camp 2016!Family Summer Camp

An opportunity for you and your kids to have fun learning about the outdoors INDOORS with free crafts, free fun workshops, the Daisy BB Gun Shooting Range and the Archery Range.Family Summer Camp

We've moved everything indoors because we want everyone to have a cool time! From the old favorites of archery, hunting/shooting, fishing, backyard adventures (bugs, bees, and trees!), water safety, camping, hiking,and bird watching to the new workshop Outdoor Gardening, we have something for child's interests! Kids receive a lanyard at the first workshop and then a pin for each workshop afterwards!

Here is the schedule for June 25-June 30. The complete Family Summer Camp schedule can be found at http://bit.ly/28JkSq9.

A different craft activity each summer camp day, noon- 2 p.m., while supplies last. Our craft for this week is:

Family Summer Camp crafts

 

 

 

 

Free Workshops start at Noon!

Saturday - June 25

Noon -  Fishing

1pm - Water Safety

2pm - Hunting

3pm - Hiking & Backpacking

4pm - Bird Watching

 

Sunday, June 26

Noon - Hunting

1pm - Outdoor Gardening

2pm - Archery

3pm - Camping

4pm - Backyard Adventure

 

Tuesday, June 28

Noon - Bird Watching

1pm - Fishing

2pm - Archery

3pm - Hiking & Backpacking

4pm - Backyard Adventure

 

Thursday, June 30

Noon - Archery

1pm - Outdoor Gardening

2pm - Hunting

3pm - Water Safety

4pm - Camping

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Plan Your Hike, Hike Your Plan

Thinking about doing some hiking? Warm weather always means more walkers and hikers. Whether you're hiking a trail at a state park, or hiking a mountain trail at a national park, or doing some major walking in the city or on country roads, safety is paramount.

Long time scouting instructor and trainer, Dann Flaherty, says the top thing to remember is safety - using the buddy system, with two or more in your group, and being visible on the road.

Flaherty's third important tip is having a plan and hiking that plan...and making sure others are aware of it!

Know where you're going, but, as Scouts know, you always need to "be prepared" in case you get turned around. Hike in numbers of three or more, so if someone gets hurt one person can render first aid, while others for for help.

Be prepared for emergencies by carrying water, protein and hydrating treats, such as jerky and fruit, and having the means to make fire.

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Tackling Tackle Craft

Have you ever had that one special jig that seems to catch fish, no matter the conditions? Maybe it was the reliable go-to, red and white bucktail jig for walleyes. Or possibly the pink and white marabou jig that crappies couldn’t resist. We’ve all found that one special color combination that seems to perform when everything else fails. But what do you do when your local bait shop doesn’t have it in stock or the manufacturer quits making that jig?

For me, the answer was easy: "I’ll make my own."

I was in fourth grade when I tied my first bucktail jig. All I had was a hand-me-down “starter kit” that belonged to my great-uncle. He passed away before he was able to fully dive into building his own tackle, but I was happy to pick up where he left off.  The kit itself consisted of a few basic jig-heads in yellow, white, and black, some marabou feathers in the same colors, a few basic tools, such as a bobbin anTackle craftd a whip finisher, and a beginner’s “how-to” pamphlet on jig tying. I was eager to open everything up and get to work at my mom’s kitchen table, and it wasn’t long before
I had my first, hand-tied marabou jig completed and ready for the water. 

You don’t need a lot to start making your own fishing jigs. A pack of plain jig-heads, a spool of thread, some feathers from a pheasant or duck that you or your buddy shot, and a bottle of head cement, and you have everything you need to get started. Obviously, if you walk over to our White River Fly Shop, you will see that the options are virtually endless when it comes to colors and materials, but don’t let the vast assortment intimidate you. Keep things simple. 

If you like to fish for panfish, pick out your favorite color and size of jig-head, some material in colors of your choosing (options range from feathers of all types to deer, elk and rabbit hair), a spool of thread (I like red), and a bottle of head cement (fancy name for glue). You will also need some basic tools like a vice, bobbin, and bobbin threader. Luckily, there are kits available that have all of the tools you need to get started, as well as how-to guides that will guide you step-by-step through the process. There are also hundreds of books out there that you can buy that will teach you jig-tying, fly-tying or rod-building (more on that later), just to name a few aspects of tackle-craft. In today’s society of “at your fingertips” technology, you can also get on YouTube and find countless videos from beginners and experts alike that will make it easy for you to get started making your own jigs. 

Besides the fun and relaxation making your own fishing tackle can provide, it also brings with it a sense of accomplishment, and, for me, a sense of pride, knowing that I have made something that the fish deem worthy to bite. Whether it’s because it actually looks like something the fish would eat, or because it looked bad enough to make the fish mad and want to attack, is another discussion for another day. Either way, catching fish on one-of-a-kind tackle that you built with your own hands is much more satisfying, to me anyway, than using something that everyone has in their tackle box at home.

I still have the first jig I tied, and it’s interesting to look back and see where I started and compare it to some of the jigs that I’ve tied more recently. The wraps are neater now, and more consistent. The material length is clean cut and the overall finish is something that looks more appealing, at least to a fisherman’s eye. I’ve used some of my original jigs and some of my most recent jigs, and they have all caught fish at some point - even the odd color combinations, like baby blue and fluorescent orange with silver flashabou.

So, don’t worry about whether or not it will look good; let the fish decide that for you. Stop out to Bass Pro and pick up everything you need to get started making your own one-of-a-kind fishing jigs.

Good luck with your own tackle craft and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Chad BensonChad Benson
Archery Lead
Bass Pro Shops
Altoona, Iowa

 

 

 

 

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This Weekend @ Bass Pro Shops Altoona - We've Gone Fishin'!

It's the second weekend of our Gone Fishing Event! Dads, celebrate Father's Day with the kids at our indoor Catch and Release pond!

June 18 & 19, Saturday and Sunday:

12-4 p.m.

  • It's the free indoor Catch and Release Pond  - we supply the poles! Plus, kids receive a "First Fish" certificate to celebrate the catch!
  • Free Photo Download
  • Free Gone Fishing Door Hanger to the first 100 who attend the catch and release pond.
  • Free Fishing Seminars

  11am   Gone Fishing - Best local destinations for group fishing
  1 pm    Best Bait - What bait to choose for local fishing
  2 pm    Fishing- Anyone can do it ! Best equipment to have for taking friends or family fishing for the first time
  3 pm    Go Fish- information on how to make fishing fun for kids

  • Free Nibbles and Bites Fishing booklet with local fishing information, tips, and more for those who are starting to fish or want to help someone start fishing.
  • Pledge to take someone fishing and be entered in the chance to win a fishing trip to the Keys!Gone Fishing Video Trade-In!
  • Trade in your old video games, help veterans, AND save $5 off a new youth starter rod and reel combo of $19.99 or more. All video games will be donated to the AMVETS association. Limit 1 per person, no matter how many games you donate.

Last, but not least, don't forget to tag your photos of taking someone fishing with #gonefishing!

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Outdoor Cooking Primer - Smoking Tips from the Top

When it comes to any outdoor cooking, here are five tips that will help you out. These are pretty common rules of thumb:

1. Bring your red meats up to room temp before throwing them on the grill or smoker. Fish and chicken stay refrigerated.

2. Be sure to season all sides of the meat. As Emeril would say, "You don't just eat one side!"

3. Cook to internal temperature, not based on a clock. Every grill or smoker is a little different. 

4. Don't poke and flip your food around, unless you're trying to prevent flare ups. On that note...

5. Use a spatula or tongs to turn...never use a fork. You'll let out all the juices!

 

Now, recently we had the opportunity to visit with Ron Milhous, from the Kansas City Barbeque Society award-winning BBQ team of Down Home Cookin' & Bar-B-Que, Ames, Iowa. They are not only an award-winning barbeque team, but they also have a restaurant in Ames.

In this YouTube clip, Milhous explains his three top tips - the rub, low & slow, and don't forget the water!

Don't forget the accessories and tools!

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Kayaking - Thumbs Up from a Newbie

Tony Tries It - KayakingGuest Blogger:

Tony Conrad
DJ, Blogger, Dance Dad
Faith, Family, and Technology

 

I think this might be my very first non-food "Tony Tries It…" but when I saw that Bass Pro Shop in Altoona, Iowa was offering folks a chance to try out kayaking in their parking lot I knew I wanted to give it a go!

I’ve never kayaked before. The closest I came was in middle school the couple years I went to church camp at Wesley Woods outside of Indianola, Iowa. Every afternoon we’d canoe or rowboat across Lake Ahquabi to the beach to swim.

The crew at Bass Pro made trying out kayaking easy. They set up a large shallow pool in their parking lot.  It was big enough for two kayakers at a time.

My youngest and I decided we wanted to try it while my oldest daughter opted to record video of us and take  some pictures.

There wasn’t a line when we arrived. All I needed to do was fill out a quick liability waver and we were off.  I got in first. I’m 6’2″ and was thinking the kayak might be a little cramped. It wasn’t. There was plenty of room.

It took a little time to get used to how to work the paddle but I got it down.  My daughter did too and soon was going by herself.

So what did I think of kayaking? I thought it was really fun! There were a few times I lost my balance, but I don’t think I was in any real danger of tipping over or falling out.

It makes me want to kayak a little longer. Last year the DNR brought kayaks to the pond in our town and you could rent them for a half hour or so. If they do that again this summer I will participate. It would be fun to tool around a pond.

It would also be fun to kayak down any of Iowa’s rivers. Some might enjoy going by themselves and being alone in nature. I think it’d be fun to go with someone else. Someone to keep you company and share the experience. I could see my brother and I enjoying an afternoon of kayaking.

We’re not it the position to buy a kayak now… but I’m leaving the option open in the future. Of course, if we did want one, they have a great selection at Bass Pro. I haven’t priced kayaks but they seemed reasonable.

Bass Pro Shop Ascend KayakWhat about you? Have ever kayaked? What was your first experience like?

By the way, Bass Pro Shop usually has fun things like this and family friendly activities going on most weekends.  Be sure and follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter so you’ll be the first to know the schedule.

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Fly Fishing in the Black Hills

Rod Woten, ColdWater Guide ServiceOur local pro Rod Woten, ColdWater Guide Services, headed to the Black Hills recently for some vacation time and his favorite hobby - fly fishing! Here's a little rundown of the highlights!

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We had a great time fly fishing in The Black Hills of South Dakota! I had a hit list of streams I wanted to fish and we managed to hit them all. We caught trout in every one of them we fished, too. Even managed to catch all three of the major stream species: brown, rainbow and brook trout. I was also fortunate enough to be able to spend one of the days fishing with my buddy, Zach, that I met through the Hooked on Hardwater Event put on by Craig Oyler and The Rapid City Club for Boys.Black Hills Fly Fishing

 
I am amazed and how unique each stream was....

Castle Creek was very narrow and more open mountain meadow type of fishing. The hopper bite was very good there. We caught lots of small wild brookies on nymphs, as well as some larger ones, and a couple of good rainbows on foam hoppers. I even had a HUGE rainbow swing and miss at my hopper twice before he got wise to me. I didn't know fish that big could live in a stream that size! For many reasons, this was my favorite stream during the entire trip.

French Creek in Custer Park was much more wooded with tall granite cliffs. This is the same creek that Custer discovered gold in during the 1870s, so the appeal of catching browns from those same waters was irresistible to me. Nymph fishing seemed to work best here, but sometimes it was hard to keep the creek chubs off your fly long enough for the trout to hit!

Rapid Creek, through the Pactola Flats, was most like the waters I'm used to at home, except there are LOTS of BIG trout in there. Strangely enough, this was also the toughest stream we fished. The water was shallow and clear and those big old bruisers are very wise to the ways of fly fisherman. A dry fly fished well ahead of their feeding runs seemed to be the best approach.

Spring Creek immediately below the Sheridan Lake Dam was similar to French Creek, only MUCH more rugged. The browns here were hungry, as well, and a tan elk hair caddis was just the ticket.

Rapid Creek in Downtown Rapid City was a real treat for us. If I had access to such a dynamite dry fly bite that close to me, I'd probably be living in a cardboard box down by the creek! We caught mostly browns and rainbows and we caught them on hoppers, nymphs, caddis...you name it! I wonder how many Rapid City residents have absolutely no idea what a wonderful trout stream they have running right through their downtown?
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Going, Going, Gone Fishing!

According to a 2014 report by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation and the Outdoor Foundation,  participation in fishing among women, children, and Hispanics is on the rise. In that report, of the over 4 million first-time anglers, over 40% were women. Also in the report were three other very telling statistics:

  • Youth – Fishing participation as a child has a powerful effect on future participation - 83.7% of Take the Pledge!adult anglers fished as a child
  • Influencers – Parents, siblings and friends continue to be the largest influencers to the introduction of fishing; specifically, parents introduce 81.8% of 6-12 year olds and 76.6% of 13-17 year olds
  • Social – Over 83% of fishing trips involve more than one person
  • Spontaneous – Most fishing trips are spontaneous or planned within a week of the trip (79%)
  • Reasons to fish – Catching fish and enjoying the sounds/smells of nature. Over 80% of participants report catching fish during their last fishing trip

Bass Pro Shops' Gone Fishing Event is designed to encourage you to help move this trend forward by pledging to take someone fishing. You can start by bringing a child in for our catch and release pond. It's a simple, comfortable atmosphere where they can experience the basic fun of catching a fishing for the first time.

Next step, take our pledge to take someone fishing - partner, neighbor, woman, man, child, young or old. Know someone with special needs? Fishing is something most everyone can enjoy, even if it's simply the physical and emotional benefit of being outdoors in the fresh air and in nature.

So, join the fishing movement with us at our Gone Fishing Event:

June 11 &12, 18 & 19, Saturday and Sunday:

12-4 p.m.

  • It's the free indoor Catch and Release Pond  - we supply the poles! Plus, kids receive a "First Fish" certificate to celebrate the catch!
  • Free Photo Download
  • Free Gone Fishing Door Hanger to the first 100 who attend the catch and release pond.
  • Free Fishing Seminars

  11am   Gone Fishing - Best local destinations for group fishing
  1 pm    Best Bait - What bait to choose for local fishing
  2 pm    Fishing- Anyone can do it ! Best equipment to have for taking friends or family fishing for the first time
  3 pm    Go Fish- information on how to make fishing fun for kids

  • Free Nibbles and Bites Fishing booklet with local fishing information, tips, and more for those who are starting to fish or want to help someone start fishing.
  • Pledge to take someone fishing and be entered in the chance to win a fishing trip to the Keys!Gone Fishing Video Trade-In!
  • Trade in your old video games, help veterans, AND save $5 off a new youth starter rod and reel combo of $19.99 or more. All video games will be donated to the AMVETS association. Limit 1 per person, no matter how many games you donate.

Last, but not least, don't forget to tag your photos of taking someone fishing with #gonefishing!

_______________________________________________

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Kids, Camping, and Bugs

When I was little our family camped all the time. "Real" camping, some would call it. A large tent that slept 10, good old Coleman sleeping bags, two metal cots that my parents got to sleep on, and air mattresses for the rest of us...the kind you pump up with your foot. Camp stove, pots and pans, along with the tent and all other gear, were loaded into a homemade trailer pulled behind our stick-shift wagon.

I loved camping and those 2-3 week family camping trips gave me memories I will always have and cherish. the tent was our hotel and nature was our view. But, even a nice hotel can have bugs and when you camp there are bugs! My dad tried to assure me that they wouldn't bother or hurt me. I grew tolerant of them outside, but not when they're inside!

Talking about bugs is just one of the many workshops I help with at Family Summer Camp and I think most kids are secretly fascinated by them. We talk about good bugs and bad and the how vitally important some insects, such as pollinators, are to our habitat and food sources. http://www.basspro.com/Home-Gifts-Toys-Games/Type-Kids-Nature/_/N-1z0usrdZ1z0v0sw?ddnv=FlyOHG_NatCtr_KdNtr

A coworker mentioned that her granddaughter loves the Bug Vacuum we sell in our Kids' Nature Department. She loves to go camping, too, and explore. Kids, camping, and bugs, just go hand-in-hand.

Bass Pro Shops has a large assortment of insect-related products, especially from the Backyard Safari line, that you can bring along on that next family camping trip and let your kids be nature explorers. From the previously mentioned Bug Vacuum with laser light, to cargo vests, to binoculars, compasses, mini pop-up habitats and more, there is something to spark an interest in just about every child when it comes to bugs, butterflies, and even birds.

Watch for the details on Family Summer Camp at your local Bass Pro Shops and get your kids started on some backyard & outdoor adventures with bugs.

Maybe when they go camping, they won't be scared of the daddy longlegs creeping up the wall.

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