Conservation Connections - Turtles of Iowa

Pella Wildlife CompanyDo you know the difference between a turtle and a tortoise? The Pella Wildlife Company joined us again recently as part of our Conservation Connections partnership and this time they brought some of the many turtles that are native to Iowa.


The Ornate Box Turtle is a unique turtle in Iowa because it acts like a tortoise. One of the big differences Ornate Box turtlebetween tortoises and turtles is that tortoises live on land and turtles live in the water.  According to the Ornate Box Turtle is the only turtle in Iowa that is "fully terrestrial." Additionally, while you can hunt some turtles in Iowa, the Ornate Box Turtle is NOT one of them. It is a threatened species and it is illegal to kill or collect them under Iowa law.


Snapping Turtle

On the opposite end of the scale is the snapping turtle, Iowa's LARGEST turtle. It's legal to take with a valid fishing license...trap them, grab them by hand (if you dare!), hook and line, turtle hook...the possession limit is 100 pounds for live and 50 pounds for dressed turtles. Among their many turtle, the Pella Wildlife Company brought along this 15-year-old snapper so kids, young and old, could see one up close.  But, not TOO close!  this one has a stretch of 6-8 inches when he snaps, so you can imagine what kind of reach an even bigger one would have!

Check out our latest video with Ron DeArmond from the Pella Wildlife Company on Turtles of Iowa.

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Outdoor Cooking Primer - Grilled Mourning Dove Breasts

It's dove season, so here's an EASY recipe for cooking up those great delicacies on the grill!


Kicked up Grilled Dove Breasts Grilled Mourning Dove Breasts

Mourning dove breasts

Small jalapeno

Strips of bacon


Salt and pepper

Olive Oil

Cut bacon strips


Cut bacon into smaller strips. Remove seeds and membrane from jalapeno and cut it into slivers. Place one sliver of jalapeno on each breast. Then wrap each breast with a strip of bacon, securing the bacon and jalapeno to the breast with a toothpick. Brush with olive oil. Sprinkle some rosemary on each breast, along with salt and pepper. 

Spray aluminum foil with cooking spray. Place wrapped breasts on the foil and put on grill. Cook until tender.

Do you have any other recipes for dove? Share them here or on our Facebook page!

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This Weekend at Bass Pro Shops Altoona

Try Before you Buy!

Uncle Buck's Syrup

Saturday, Noon - 4 p.m. - Try our new Uncle Buck's syrups over ice cream!

Sunday, Noon - 4 p.m.  - Try our Uncle Buck's Jerky! Samples will be handed out from the Jerky Shack!

Free Workshop - Selecting the Right Reel - Saturday, September 7, 2 p.m.

Join our fishing associates to learn how to determine the right reel for your fishing needs. 

Boy Scout Month at Bass Pro ShopsGrilling for Boy Scouts!

It's Boy Scout month at Bass Pro Shops! The Grill Shack will be open on Saturday, September 7, from 11:00 - 2 p.m. with all proceeds benefiting the Boy Scouts!

Bass Pro Shops is proud to continue the tradition of collecting donations in support of this youth organization that has developed the marks of true leadership in millions of youth all across our nation since 1910.

Join Bass Pro Shops in celebrating a century of Scouting by making a donation to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). Together, let's continue the tradition into the next 100 years. The BSA are as vital and relevant today as when their journey began, and is one of the nation's largest and most prominent values-based youth development organizations.

You can donate to the Boy Scouts all month at Bass Pro Shops Altoona at the registers - half of the money raised during the month-long program will remain locally. 

Jay and Scout - Sunday, September 8 - 1 p.m. - by the Main Aquarium

Join Scout the K9 and therapy dog as he goes through his paces with owner Jay. 


Outdoor Cooking Primer - Crappie Cakes

Crappie CakesIn our continuous quest to find new and exciting ways to eat the copious amounts of crappie my husband brings home, he came across a recipe for Crappie Cakes. He whipped them up last night and...WOW! It's our NEW favorite way to fix crappie!  The original recipe called for another brand of crab boil, but we had King Cooker in the cupboard (of course...we sell it at Bass Pro Shops!).  Another switch up is that we used Keebler Townhouse Light and Buttery crackers, instead of saltines, as is called for in the original recipe. Dijon Mustard is our choice of mustard, and we used Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce instead of just regular hot sauce. My husband got a little overzealous with the sriracha and probably added 2 Tbsp instead of 1/2 tsp, so they were nice and spicy!  Serve them up with homegrown tomatoes and green beans...yum! Food from the work of your hands!

One last note:
We doubled the recipe, so you might easily halve the recipe below, if you have a smaller amount of crappie. We ended up with about eight or nine patties. We did have some of the poached crappie left over...guess that's going to turn in to Crappie Salad...or Crappie-Salad Stuffed Tomatoes...or Crappie Wraps with Cole Slaw!  Hmmm......


Crappie Cakes

1 Cup King Cooker Crab, Shrimp, and Crawfish Boil
1 large red bell pepper
1 medium onion
1 1/2 cups Townhouse Original Buttery crackers finely crushed (about 1 1/2 sleeves)
2/3 cup mayonnaise
2 large egg beaten
4 tsp Old Bay seasoning
4 tsp Worcestershire
4 tsp mustard Dijon Mustard
1/2 tsp Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce
2 lb crappie fillets

Finely chop onion and red pepper and cook until soft in 1/2 Tbsp of butter. Set aside.

Bring 8 quarts water of water to boil with the 1 cup King Cooker Crab, Shrimp, and Crawfish Boil.


When water is boiling, gently drop in the fillets.
Bring back to boil and poach for two minutes.
Take off heat and let stand for five minutes and then drain.
Put crushed crackers in a large bowl. Mix next six ingredients together in a bowl.
Combine pepper & onion mix, the wet ingredients and the saltines in a bowl. Mix them together half way then shred in the cooked crappie.

Crappie Cakes

Don't mix too much because crappie will be very flaky. 

Heat 2 Tbs butter in skillet. Cook the cakes over medium heat until they have a nice golden crust. Flip gently and cook other side.


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The Colorful Side of Women's Archery Products

Stroll through the Bass Pro Shops Altoona Hunting Department and you're likely to find loads of blaze orange, camo green, black, Pink? Yes, pink...and red, blue, green. The archery aisles, in particular, are beginning to bloom with color.

From arrow parts to archery accessories, Gun Vault Specialist Alicia Bricker says the women's archery products are growing in leaps and bounds with variations of pink to appeal to the increasing number of women who are bow hunting.

"We have several different arrows to choose from and now even a few different ones in pink, such as the Mayhem Hot Pursuit arrow by Carbon Express. We also have pink fletchings that can be used to accent an arrow, as well."

Ladies' Archery Products from Bass Pro Shops

From pink lighted arrow nocks, to pink arrow wraps, fletchings, and pink broadheads, such as the Queen Wasp (100 grain, 3-blade fixed blade, 1" cutting diameter), there are plenty of ways for women to dress up their bow. Lighted nocks are also available in blue, red, green, and orange. Wraps and fletchings are available in a wide assortment of colors and styles, as well. Bricker uses the pink Montec G5 85 grain fixed broadheads because she uses a smaller bow, with a smaller draw length and draw weight.

"The 85 grain is lighter than a higher grain and the fixed broadhead gives better penetration than an expandable broadhead for shooting a lighter draw weight combined with my shorter draw length. My draw weight is 50 lbs and length is 22.5”. My draw weight is actually pretty good now, but when I started with the broadheads I was only pulling back 40 lbs. My draw length is really short compared to most people. With my draw weight and length being small the lighter grained broadhead allows me to make up some speed and then the fixed blade allows for an ensured penetration since I don’t have enough “UMPH,” let’s just say, behind mine."

Ladies' Archery Products
For accessories, Bricker points out the Cobra Bushwacker Sight  in pink camo, with light, four fiber optic pins, and a level for holding your bow steady and at the same angle each shot. She'll be using it this season. For wrist straps, she uses the Outdoor ProStaff black with pink deer prints. With the wrist straps, a hunter won't have to grip the bow after the shot to keep it from falling. It will still drop forward, but you won’t drop it to the ground. It allows your shot to follow through. The strap will catch and slow down some of the fall.  
Other pink bow and shooting accessories include:
  • G5 Meta peep - Multiple colors are available.
  • Pink String Chubs - helps with string vibration making one less sound to spook the deer! Multiple colors available.
  • Pink Ultramax and String Leech -  Limbsaver by SVL - Another noise/vibration energy dampening system. Multiple colors available.
  • Pink cable slides - Multiple colors also available
  • Releases - single caliper and dual caliper. Bricker prefers a spring-loaded release since it only needs one motion Ladies' Archery Products from Bass Pro Shops Altoonato open and close the release rather than having to push the trigger back up. She also prefers a stiff shaft on a release, instead of the cloth strap, so that the release stays up in her  hand and is easier to get into her hand when she's ready to shoot.  Some people prefer the cloth strap, so that they are more hands free when they are wearing the release. Fox brand also has a blue one and they all have camo or black, of course.
  • Treestand Harnesses - Gorilla G-Tac Air safety harness and the HSS (Hunter Safety System) Lady Pro Series. Specifically designed with women in mind, they are contoured for a women which provides a more comfortable fit than a regular harness.

Bass Pro Shops Altoona Ladies' Archery ProductsBows? Bricker shoots a Diamond Razor Edge, which is a youth bow instead of a women’s, mainly because her draw length is smaller than most people. The bow gives her the range she needs with weight and length, so she is able to go down to 30 lbs and up to 60 lbs. Since most bows don't have under a 24 inch draw length, this one fits her perfectly.

Come see for yourself what's pretty in pink...and other Bass Pro Shops Altoona or check out what's online at


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Elk Hunting Basics-Preparation is Key

Elk photo from RMEF

So, you're considering going elk hunting out west as a new adventure?

We asked Jeff Swan, Volunteer State Chair of the Iowa Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Chapters, to share some knowledge on the considerations hunters need to factor in when planning their first elk hunt. 

Allen says, "Hunting elk in the Rocky Mountain west is not your typical weekend outing to the woods to hang in a stand waiting on a whitetail." 

He says there are many factors to consider, however early planning is #1, starting in winter.

Do Your Homework

"The first factor to consider is where. Most western states, with elk hunting opportunities, distribute permits to non-resident hunters through a drawing system.  When planning a western hunt, you must think well ahead of time in order to get your application in on time. For example, in Wyoming, applications for the elk drawing are due by the end of January. If you fail to draw, most states have some form of preference point system so that in subsequent years you have better odds of drawing if you continue to apply and accrue points every year. You don't necessarily have to rely on drawing a tag in the states that use a lottery-like drawing system for the permits. There are still some over-the-counter states, such as areas of Colorado and Idaho.
"Once you have your tag in hand, the planning really begins. Most states issue permits for certain areas of the state, rather than the state as a whole; after obtaining the permit, it's time to begin your research. When going into uncharted water, the Internet is a valuable resource. There you can access aerial photos and topographical maps through websites such as Google Maps or the various state wildlife agency hunt planning website. Various hunting websites such as can be used to find others who have hunted the same area and are willing to help out.  Wildlife biologists in the area you intend to hunt are a good source of information about elk numbers, locations, etc.  

With basic information obtained through these resources, you can access Google Maps or other such sites to take advantage of the aerial photos and topo maps.  With these maps you can look for timbered north facing bedding slopes, open meadows you might find elk feeding in, and other likely looking areas in which to find elk."

Prepare Yourself for the Hunt

Next, Allen says, after you've prepared the location of the hunt, and where the elk might be in that area, it's now time to prepare yourself.

"Elk country is tough, non-forgiving country. Not only are you at a higher elevation with lower oxygen concentration, but the terrain itself is difficult to negotiate. If you are to be an effective elk hunter you must prepare yourself physically and mentally. 

Physical preparation can't begin a few weeks before your hunt, it must begin months prior. Elk country is big country and there are not elk behind every tree. It may take several miles and several days of up and down hiking to find the elk in order to begin hunting them. It is also important to give yourself plenty of time on an elk hunt. On a do-it-yourself type hunt, I try for a minimum of 7-8 days because you want to give yourself ample time to locate and then hunt the elk."  

Allan says you also want to obtain the highest quality gear you can for hunting in the mountains.

"First, quality optics, in the form of a good pair of binoculars, is important. You'll spend a lot of time behind the glasses looking over lots of country to find the elk, and the better your binoculars the more success you'll have. You get what you pay for with high quality optics; it's in your best interest to spend as much as you can afford to get the best optics you can. They'll last a lifetime and you'll be able to spend more time glassing with them, without giving yourself a headache and eye fatigue. 

You also want to obtain high quality clothing for your hunt. In addition to the physical demands elk country provides, the weather can be a game changer for the unprepared. Weather in the mountains can range from sunny and 80 to snowing and below freezing in less than 24 hours. Obviously, the later in the season you choose to hunt, the greater the chance of running into severe cold and snow, so prepare accordingly.  Despite that, I have hunted in blizzard conditions in mid-September. You must be prepared for anything the weather can throw at you while in the mountains. Don't skimp on quality clothing or rain gear - it can make or break your hunt."  

Prepare for Wide Open Spaces - Get a Rangefinder

Allen reminds East Coast and Midwestern hunters that another thing they need to prepare for is a different hunting style for a different terrain. He says for those used to hunting and shooting in the East or Midwest in small wood lots or large expanses of timber, going out west with the wide open spaces can provide a challenge, especially for bowhunters. 

"First, the wide open spaces where you might find elk can make it difficult to judge distances. Add to that the overall size of an elk in comparison to a deer, and range estimation errors are common.  A laser range finder with angle compensation can be a lifesaver when hunting out west. Knowing the exact distance to your target will give you added confidence when the moment of truth rolls around."

Do-it-Yourself or Hire Out?

There are lots of advantages to using a quality outfitter, with the only drawback being the price tag. Outfitters generally have the gear and means of access to your hunt area. They know the game and their travel patterns, they often have leased up quality private grounds for your hunt, and they are in the area year round to scout. It's difficult to scout your hunt area in person from a thousand miles away. But, you want to be careful in choosing an outfitter. You want to make sure you choose a reputable outfitter who will do his or her best to put you on your quarry. 

"Remember, it's still a fair chase hunt and there are no such things as guarantees. Be wary of outfitters who offer you a guaranteed hunt opportunity. Again, do your research. Most outfitters will provide you with a list of previous clients. Call them!  Not just the successful ones, but those who failed to score as well. Call the local wildlife biologist or game warden and ask them questions. They will know about the outfitter and the land/wildlife in that area. Utilize the Internet and sites such as to gather information about an outfitter.  Make an educated decision based upon information from all these resources - it's your money you're spending."

Regardless of whether you hunt DIY or with an outfitter, Allen restates that the better prepared you are ahead of time, the more enjoyable and successful your trip will be.

  • Do your homework and research your hunt area
  • Prepare yourself physically and mentally
  • Obtain high quality optics, clothing, and a good laser rangefinder for your hunt.


For more information, you may also visit Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation's web site at


Tournament Talk - Trail's End

Kary Ray and Mike Parve

Lance Baker and Kary Ray head to the Mighty Mississippi for one more round of the Bass World Sports tournament. It's been a busy summer for the guys. They send a special thank you to their good buddy Mike Parve as he subbed during the last tournament while Lance was on "baby watch." He and Kary Ray landed with a solid 3rd place finish at BWS with 13.72.

From Lance:

"ONE MORE ROUND! Wish us luck....we need a good finish to secure our Top 3 for Angler of the Year again this year and to qualify for the Bass World Sports Classic. We are currently sitting in second place right now with some of the Mississippi's best right on our heels! It's been an awesome year all around so we hope to finish it with a bang!"

Once the tournament trail ends, the guys will be making appearances here at the store and in our BPS community events! They'll be with us at the Southeast Polk High School Homecoming parade showing off the new Nitro and, of course, they'll be at our Fall Fishing Event September 21-22 and 28-29!


Pro Staff



Casting For Recovery - Healing the Body and Soul

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread,
places to play in and pray in, 
where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.  
~John Muir


Casting for RecoveryNature is a healer of the body and mind and one national organization is casting its lines to capture that power. Casting for Recovery (CFR) takes the serenity of fly fishing and turns it into a calming inspiration and therapy for breast cancer survivors.

Casting for Recovery was organized in 1996 in Vermont by a breast cancer reconstructive surgeon and a professional fly fisherman. It provides breast cancer survivors an opportunity to gather for one weekend designed solely for them to learn the art and therapy of fly fishing, but, more importantly, to relax and bond stress and fear-free, with other women who are fighting the brave fight.

CFR has grown to over 1500 volunteers and boasts sponsors such as as Under Armour and SmartWoolRetreats don't exist in every state, but any survivor can find one to attend. According to CFR, in 2012, 42 retreats in 33 states served over 600 survivors; many states hold multiple retreats. By 2012, 444 retreats had been conducted, serving more than 5,600 women across the country. There are now “Sister” organizations in Canada, U.K./Ireland, and New Zealand. Each two-and-a-half day retreat is offered at no cost to 14 women and incorporates both fly-fishing instruction and social support. It ends with a half day of guided catch-and-release fly fishing.

Casting for Recovery IowaIowans Annette and Kirk Norris combined their love of fly fishing and helping others to bring the first Casting for Recovery retreat to the state. 

"My husband Kirk and I love to fly fish and we were returning home from a trip in Alaska and read about Casting for Recovery in an airplane magazine. We have always wanted to give back in some way and CFR was perfect."

The Iowa retreat will be held at the Hotel Winneshiek in Decorah and will include fishing the scenic river valleys of beautiful northeast Iowa

Kirk contacted CFR and started the ball rolling. They were told they would need to raise the money and find the people and Annette and Kirk went to work doing just that. Annette attended a retreat in Indiana, so she could gain the full experience of the special weekend and bring it back to Iowa. She notes that the national organization offers specific guidelines on how to run the retreat. They selected the Decorah Driftless Area for the October 10-11 retreat, given its great fishing and wonderful fall beauty. 

Norris says they've been trained by Casting for Recovery and three women from the national organization will be on hand to help at this first retreat. She says their retreat team includes breast cancer nurses, psychosocial counselors and fly fishing instructors. 

"Sunday we invite 14 river helpers, most of them men, to work one on one. The weekend focus is on wellness and empowerment, as opposed to helplessness. Physically, the motion of fly casting is similar to the exercises that are prescribed after surgery or radiation, thus promoting soft tissue stretching. The rhythm of casting the line in a natural setting also relieves everyday stress and provides a sense of calm."

Casting for Recovery

Why go? Annette says the weekend is not all about fishing, it's about empowerment. 

"The focus is supportive and encouraging. We have women from all over Iowa that have applied and some have never met another women with breast cancer. Some have never been away from home since cancer. That's what it is about."

The Norris's biggest concern is future funding, since the retreat costs about $1,000-$1,300 per participant. Individuals or organizations who would like to contribute to Casting for Recovery should visit Donations may be earmarked for a specific retreat, such as Iowa, or to the organization as a whole. Additionally, flies may also be donated and they are distributed where needed. The CFR wish list is:

  • For fishing – Bead-head Nymphs (sizes 10, 12); Attractor Dry Flies (sizes 8-12); Terrestrials (sizes 10, 12); Wooly Buggers (lightly weighted, sizes 6, 8); Parachute Adams (sizes 10, 12)
  • For fundraising – Special Flies or Collections (by exceptional tiers)
  • For participants – Put together a box of flies for each participant, each with an assortment of 6-12 flies. There are 14 participants at each retreat.
  • For prize drawings at the retreats – put together a box of flies for one lucky participant. 

Donations may be sent to:

Casting for Recovery
P.O. Box 1123
3738 Main Street
Manchester, VT 05254

For more information on attending a Casting for Recovery retreat or volunteering, visit

Watch their powerful video Voice of Courage!



It's Another Hometown Festival @ Bass Pro Shops Altoona!

Bass Pro Shops Hometown Festival

It's another fun weekend of free family and kids' activities!  

Saturday and Sunday, August 31-Sept. 1

Noon-5 p.m.!

Bass Pro Shops Daisy BB Gun RangeA fun family event to help us say good-bye to summer and hello to fall!

Complete all four of the these activities and spin the prize wheel!

  • Kids play the Pick a Duck game at our Pick a Duck pond! Scoop a duck with a number and win a flashing wrist band!
  • The Bass Pro Shops Daisy BB Gun Range
  • Casting Buckets
  • Metal detector treasure hunt

Plus these fun activities, too!

  • Face painting
  • Free craft - Color a wood duck
  • Free photo download like you're in the #14 show car!

Of course, we never forget the FOOD!

Dutch Oven CookingFree seminars and product demos on Saturday only

  • 1:30 p.m. Smokin’ – Tips for successful meat smoking 
  • 2:30 p.m. Outdoor Grilling – Choosing the right grill 
  • 3:30 p.m. Dutch Oven Cooking – Tips for outdoor cooking

Free Hot Dogs - 1-4 p.m.

Free Ice Cream Samples  - 4-5 p.m.

Free Food Product Sampling - Noon-5 p.m.
Our Gifts Department will be sampling some of our tasty products!



Geocaching - The New Hide and Seek

The couple was wandering around in an area by our parking lot...kind of an unusual site. So, as our manager left for the day, he pulled up to visit with them and discovered they were geocaching (gee-oh-cashing, for those who don't know). 

So what is geocaching? It's a world-wide, real-time treasure hunt conducted by millions of people...right in our own backyards!Geocaching couple

Who does it?  Anyone!  Families, travelers...anyone with a GPS or GPS-enabled mobile phone can play the game.

The people, called geocachers, use GPS coordinates to locate "treasures," trinkets, and items hidden in containers, called geocaches or "cache" for short.

According to, there are 2,190,817 active geocaches and over six million geocachers worldwide.  

While it's called a "game," the rules are VERY simple. If you take something out of a geocache, replace it with something of equal or lesser value. Record your find in the log book included in the cache, and go online to record your experience at

Geocache log

The size of the cache can could be the size of, for example, a small LED toy flashlight or smaller, or it could be as big as a bucket! It could be hidden in a box or it could be hanging from a tree. You just have to look high and low and find them. Small caches may simply hold a logbook for you to record your visit, while the bigger caches may hold items. Remember the rule, if you take an item, replace it with something of equal or lesser value. There are even trackable pieces inside some of the caches, some of which have traveled thousands of miles around the world because of geocachers taking and replacing. So, be prepared to replace what you take. 

How did this all get started? CliffsNotes version: 

May 2000 GPS coordinates become widely accessible. Guy hangs a bucket full of prizes in a tree, publishes the coordinates on an Internet forum. Within three days two people find the bucket, write about their find online, and BAM! Geocaching is born.

Let's go back to our friendly, geocaching couple earlier this week.  They were from Pennsylvania, had been at our neighboring Adventureland Park and were adding to their travels by geocaching in the area. There were at least four caches they found on our property...and what's really cool you can go to the log book and see photos of people who have been here on geocache hunts!

I'm already seeing that this is something my husband and I are going to HAVE to explore.  And what a great way for families with kids, in this electronic society, to "connect" with the outdoors. 

Okay, I have to go find something....but first, I think we need to go hide something!  Hmmmm....


Caches are never buried and make it appropriate for the food items or scented items or things that might melt or freeze. For a full listing of guidelines and more helpful information, visit

Before hiding something in an Iowa state park, visit the Iowa DNR web page

Geocaching Glossary of Terms -












This Weekend @ Bass Pro Shops Altoona - Support the Elk Foundation

We're taking a breather after the Fall Hunting Classic, - but we have our Labor Day sale going and some great food sampling going on.

Try Before you Buy!

Saturday, Noon - 4 p.m. Onion rings made with Uncle Buck's batter.

Sunday, Noon - 4 p.m. - It's Meyer’s lemonade!


Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

Plus - The grill shack is open as we whip up some hamburgers and hot dogs to raise money for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, our conservation partner in the month of August.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation isn't just for states that have elk. RMEF works to ensure the future of elk, along with other wildlife, and their habitats, along with our hunting heritage. In 1907, only 41,000 elk remained in North America.  Today there are well over 1 million elk thanks to the money and hard work invested by hunters to restore and conserve habitat. Through donations to groups like RMEF, hunters add $300 million a year to conservation efforts.

So, stop by the grill shack outside the store and help show your support for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation!



Next weekend it's our Labor Day Hometown Festival weekend!  Celebrate the end of summer and say hello to fall with free activities and fun for the kids, free hot dogs, and ice cream samples, too!


Explore Your Boundaries at the Boundary Waters Canoe Area

IArrowhead Regionn northeast Minnesota, in what's known as the Arrowhead Region (due to its shape), there's a pristine area that beckons to the most hearty outdoors lover. Just over one million vast acres of wilderness dotted with lakes and rivers carved out by glaciers and sculpted over the years by Mother Nature...the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) traverses almost 200 miles along the U.S. and Canada border.

Boundary Waters

The BWCAW is historically important to our country's beginnings. It was crucial to our country's existence as a trade route and the primary means of transportation was canoe. It’s in this spirit that the area remains today.

Under the Wilderness Act of 1964, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Area was set aside by Congress in 1978 to be preserved in its natural setting without roads, structures, and most motorized access of any kind. This is what distinguishes its 1200 miles of canoe routes and over 2,000 camp sites from our national parks and forests.  

Do you like peace and quiet and a close relationship with nature? Then the rugged wilderness of the Boundary Waters calls to you. Many in the Midwest are already familiar with at least the existence of the Boundary Waters, due to our close proximity, but its popularity as a destination for paddlers, hikers, primitive campers, and fishermen, has spread throughout the country. According to a 2012 USDA Forest Service trends analysis, in 2007 the managers estimated total visitors at more than 250,000.

Peter Maley, Camping Associate at Bass Pro Shops in Altoona, Iowa, is a Boundary Waters devotee. He spent two summers as a canoe guide there in the early 1980s and continues to make several trips each year. He has also been there several times on annual winter camping trips for cross-country skiing, camping, and ice fishing.

"People often think that you have to be an expert outdoorsman or woman to take a Boundary Waters trip. But, that's not true. There are Boundary Waters adventures for all levels – novice through expert. There are plenty of outfitters to supply you with gear and knowledge and trip levels from basic family and group outings to major expeditions."

It's important to note that you don't just "show up" at the Boundary Waters. A permit is required to enter the BWCAW and there areBoundary Waters Entry Point specified points of entry for watercraft or hiking, which helps manage the use of the wilderness for the enjoyment of all. A few allow motor boat entry but the majority are by non-motorized and require portaging. Permits are allocated on a first-come, first served basis, even more of a reason, says Maley, for extensive advanced planning.

"You need to reserve MONTHS in advance for the more popular entry point. You can make reservations and get permits through the U.S. Forest Service, through outfitters, and at The permits needed are snatched up very quickly, so it's really important to jump online at the end of January and get your reservations."

Maley says you want to think ahead about other things, too. 

"It also takes advance planning for equipment, gear, and travel time, for example. Be prepared for anything – no phone, radio or other means of communication access. Like any wilderness there are inherent risks, so a well-thought out first aid kit is important, for example. Bring a map and a compass - most people get confused at least once!"

Maley says he has had a multitude of experiences including putting stitches in people, using epipens for stings, and contending with forest fires and controlled burns.

With all his Boundary Waters background and opportunities to visit, Maley says his favorite time is in the fall.  

"Crowds drop dramatically after Labor Day. After September 30, only self-issuing permits are required so you don't have to reserve in advance.  Bugs almost non-existent. The birch and aspen colors are beginning to change, and the waterfowl migration is beginning and night sky viewing is at a premium!"

Maley notes that it is legal to hunt in the BWCAW because it’s part of Superior National Forest. 

"Trapping is also supported, moose and bear hunting, grouse (roughed and spruce), ducks, and geese, not to mention the fall bite for the dedicated fisherman. Deer hunting has become more popular, but wilderness hunting is even harder work because of the portaging."

Make sure to check with the Minnesota state and federal government regarding all hunting regulations and needed permits.

Maley encourages beginners and experts alike to visit as a great resource for planning your trip north. There's a message board with several topics related to travelling in the area – food, gear, route, fishing conditions.

"It's the satisfaction of travelling by your own propulsion across lakes and portages to your home for the night – a tent, a fire and warmth, with an unparalleled view of the sky and stories around the campfire. That's what the Boundary Waters are all about."

Boundary Waters Sand Bar


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Dorm Daydreaming

I often reflect on my college years this time of year. Heading back to college the first two years meant coming up with the all-important dorm decorations!  The last two years, (yes, it was simply the four-year plan for me), were spent residing off campus, so I had to come up with even more decorations and supplies. 

Browning Bed SetSo, in walking around Bass Pro Shops in my daily duties, I decided to come up with a "what if? list. What if I was going back to college now, 35 years later?  Here are some items I might want 35 years later when returning to campus:

1.  Bedding - We have some new pink and gray plaid Browning bed sets that are nice - very college dorm room looking. They would be my style. There's also a pink camo bed set  - somewhat "lipstick" pink - if subtlety is not your speed.Bass Pro Shops Pink Camo

If you're not a fan of pink and just like your camo to be...well...camo, don't worry. We have other bedding sets that reflect various camo patterns, plus Bone Collector brand. 

Now, if you're the kind that likes to have everything matching and coordinated you can also pick up the Browning towel sets to complement. Now, I remember in January of 1979 (or was it 1980), we were catching rays in the courtyard of Oak-Elm Residence Hall at Iowa State University, because it was 80 degrees.  So make sure you have a good beach towel, too, for just such an unexpected weather event!Bass Pro Shops Camp Mugs

2.  Dinnerware - Billions upon billions of pounds of Ramen noodles, canned soup, and hot chocolate have been consumed over the years by college students. I would have LOVED to have had some of the Bass Pro Shops Camp mugs that we sell. They're the perfect size for any of the above listed food and drinks, plus more.  Plenty of colors, plus we have new wildlife mugs arriving soon...and let's not forget, the Bubba Mug, and the Tervis Tumblers!  

3. A good flashlight - Doesn't have to be expensive, just make sure it has fresh batteries all the time. You never know when the power might go out in your dorm or off-campusCampus Safety Pepper Gel housing. Get a head lamp and you could provide much-needed dorm hallway shadow puppet entertainment while the power is out, and ease  anxieties of others around you. Seriously, though, this is the beginning of responsible home renting and owning, so you have to think about things like power outages.

4. Pepper Spray - Pepper spray is a good thing to have for those treks across campus after night class. Use it responsibly and put your parents' minds at ease, too.

5. Now, let's get down to the serious subject of entertainment:

Iceless CoolerFirst, I would get the Iceless Cooler. Road trip anyone? Keep the cool things cool on those spring break trips or road trips to football games!

Second, I would get the Weber Smokey Joe Silver charcoal grill. While tailgating has evolved immensely, the Smokey Joe remains a great multi-purpose small grill that would also travel well...on road trips. :)

To go with the grill, I would have to have all the appropriate grilling tools, such as spatula and tongs, along with the jalapeno rack. I would get a giant Sportsman's locker tote to carry all of the supplies in. It could also be used for storage.

Last, but not least, if you're attending an Iowa Regents school, don't forget your collegiate camo...go Cyclones!


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Staycations Iowa Style - South Central Iowa

Red Rock DamAs a born and raised Central Iowan, I am somewhat partial to encouraging people to visit the south central Iowa area, and specifically Lake Red.

Lake Red Rock is Iowa's largest lake, and a mecca for boating, camping, and fishing. It sits between Knoxville (my hometown) and Pella, and offers plenty to do in the area for all interests.

Red Rock is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers facility comprised of 15,000 acres of water and 35,000 acres of land. The Red Rock Dam completed in 1969 is located on the Des Moines River with the primary purpose to control flooding below the dam, plus further on downstream along the Mississippi River. Nine campgrounds include one county and one state park, a youth camp, and the Hickory Ridge Wilderness Campground. Hickory Ridge is a free primitive paddle-in, hike-in campground with eight sites (four reservable and four non-reservable sites on one of Iowa's many water trails.

The area is also home to the Volksweg Trail, which was just recently added to the National Trails System by the Department of the Interior. The 13-mile asphalt trail links Pella, a town steeped in Dutch heritage, to and around the lake area. The trail travels along the edge of the Howell Station Campground (below the dam,) and on through timber, prairie, and open fields. Hikers and bikers on the trail get a great workout, while enjoying the spectacular scenery and wildlife of the area.Lake Red Rock Heron

Lake Red Rock EagleRed Rock, especially below the dam, is home to a large number of bald eagles that spend their winters roosting and feeding in the area...some can actually be seen there year round. Throw in some pelicans, a variety of ducks and geese, and heron, and you have a plethora of waterfowl for viewing and photography! Then there are the birds and other wildlife to be found in the timber, campgrounds, and along the Volksweg, especially during the quieter winter season.

Don't forget to climb the 106' Observation Tower at Cordova Park, operated by Marion County, for a beautiful panoramic vista of the area. On a clear day you can see as far as the Principal Tower in downtown Des Moines!

Lake Red Rock

While in the area, check out the communities of Knoxville and Pella. Knoxville is home to the Knoxville Raceway and the National Sprint Car Museum, and a beautiful course, typical of Iowa's county seats. It's also the birthplace of the Iowa flag! Just outside Knoxville is Marion County Park. This 115-acre park includes a seven-acre lake that has a wheelchair accessible fishing pier, and a historical wooden covered bridge alongside.  To me, the most special part of this park is the Historical museum and village, both of which give the visitor a look at life in Marion County of old.

As mentioned earlier, the community of Pella is rich in Dutch heritage, and includes the beautiful Pella Opera House, the Tulip Tower, windmill, Wyatt Earp Village, and quaint Dutch-style architecture.

So hop in the car, head to south central Iowa and be prepared to soak up an area rich in wildlife and outdoor recreation, Iowa history, and cultural tradition.

Lake Red Rock Map



The Mental of Shed Hunting

Don MealeyDon Mealey from the Iowa Bow Hunting Association is passionate about hunting and passing on knowledge to others. But, it's not about simply hunting the animal...he makes it a year-round hunt by hunting sheds. 

Mealey was a guest speaker for the recent Bass Pro Shops Altoona Hunter's Appreciation weekend. After 30+ years of experience, he knows that you just have to head out and hit the land. 

Go anywhere deer live. He says a found "trophy" is in the beholder's eyes. It could be a single tine, it could be a giant moose antler. He says there is no wrong way to shed hunt and sometimes it's trial and error. You can be out for eight hours walking and not find anything or you could find something in the first five minutes.

There are some basic location traits you can look for as a guide to good areas to focus on:

1.  South-facing slopes - After hunting season, think bedding spots where they're soaking up the warm rays of the sun.

2.  Fences and creeks - As deer cross fences and creeks, the sudden impact helps jar the antlers off.  They may not be right next to each other, but keep looking!

3.  Draws - As the deer move to feeding areas, they'll tend to stay in the draw.

4.  Feeding Areas - They could be far away from the area down a fence line, or side-by-side, or 100 yards apart. You just never know. But Mealey says alfalfa/hayfields and corn/beanfields are great places to look. He said often farmers who may not let you hunt the area during season, will be happy to have you shed hunt, to save their equipment tires from getting ruined by the tines. 

5.  Feed stations - AFTER hunting season, set up a feed station. Mid-February or so. The deer will come in and often will drop their antlers in the general vicinity. In Iowa it's illegal to use feed stations during the season, so make sure season is over. 

You can shed hunt any time, but don't want to go too early in case they haven't shed and you don't want to go too late and spook the deer. He Don Mealey Shed Huntingsays the bigger the buck after the rut, the earlier the antlers may fall off. If it's a breeder buck, he'll be ran down and often those shed earlier, too. 

It's all part of the game - the game of hunting and having a game plan for fall. If you find the antlers in the spring, you know there's a pretty good chance that the buck will still be around in the fall. 

In this video, Mealey explains what he thinks is the most important aspect of the "game" of shed hunting:








Check out more from Don at Don Mealey's Hunting Channel and Don Mealey's Bowhunter Education Channel. Here's a great video of a 2013 Shed Hunt:




Get Your Game Cameras On

What's on your game camera? Do you know? Driving the interstate five days a week, it's evident the deer are enjoying the beautiful weather and bountiful bean crops we have in our area this year. But what else are they doing? Where are they traveling? Is that buck you spotted last year still around?  

2012 Buck2013 buck











Under Armour Arsenal Pro John Dudley says NOW is the time to have your game cameras up and working to help you prepare for the hunt. 


Friday Featured Fan Spotlight

Bass Pro Shops Altoona fans live all over the world! From South America to Canada and United Kingdom to Australia, fans from around the world have joined our Facebook family! But our largest number of fans are from right here in Iowa.
Meet an Iowan who loves fishing in this state so much he has started his own Facebook page about it!

Featured Fan Nick

How Long have you Enjoyed the Great Outdoors?

Nick participates in hunting, target shooting, fishing year round, jig molding and finishing. Growing up on a northern Iowa river, and havingFriday Featured Fan friends who were outdoorsmen, encouraged his desire to learn. 
"I have been fishing ever since I was a little guy. I grew up right on the Cedar parents weren't very big fisherman, so I was on my own. I learned all the simple things to catch fish with the help of my brother...I fished everyday any chance i could. I just started hunting awhile ago, my friends had a big impact on that because i was always left out when they went out hunting."
What's Your Favorite Activity
"My favorite activity is hard to choose. Ice fishing out on the lake, sitting in a ice shanty with friends...relaxing to music and pulling Friday Featured Fanthrough the ice. But, a close second would be waterfowl hunting...waking up in the morning bright and early to get out to our spot and get our spread out and just being with friends doing what we do best."
Go-To Gear
"In my tackle box I always like to have pink jig heads and a pack of white two-inch Mister Twisters. Otherwise I just like to have my whole arsenal in one place to adjust to what conditions that are there."
Words of Wisdom?
"Get out there and enjoy nature and life...and a quote from one of my role models in fishing, Mike Iaconelli - "Never give up."
Nick has started his own Facebook page! Check out Iowa Fishing Reports and Conditions - for sharing photos, tips, techniques, and conditions on fishing in Iowa. 

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This Week @ Bass Pro Shops - It's All for the Kids!

Next Generation of HuntersIt's our Next Generation Weekend! The last weekend of the 2013 Fall Hunting Classic is especially for the kids!

As always, we like to encourage the Next Generation of outdoor enthusiasts! Our Fall Hunting Classic Next Generation weekend gives kids the chance to shoot a BB gun, bow and arrow, and do some fun crafts. 

An important aspect of the weekend will be our free Kids' Seminar - 10 Safety Tips - which will focus on hunting safety. Your children may not hunt now, but you never know down the road if they will have the opportunity. It's never too early to start teaching safety! 

Next Generation Weekend

Next Generation Weekend

August 17-18
Noon-5 p.m.

Free Craft

  • Free Kids' Archery!

  • Free Daisy BB Shooting Range!

  • Free Kids' Craft!

  • Free Photo Download and On-Target Certificate for Complete the BB Shooting Range and archery activities!

  • Water Bottle

    Free collapsible water bottle to the first 100 kids to complete activities each day!

  • 1:30, 3:00 and 4:30 p.m. - Free Kids' Seminar - 10 Safety Tips



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Outdoor Cooking Primer - Jalapeno Boats

Jalapeno Boats - Adjustable Grill Grid Bass Pro ShopsThe Mucho Nacho jalapenos are coming on strong in our garden!  I like to leave them on as long as possible, as they are fatter, longer (about four inches or so average) and j-u-u-st a touch bit hotter than the usual jalapeno.

However, we couldn't wait to hit the grill with some...and my husband doesn't like quite as much we picked a few and created Jalapeno Boats, using the Charcoal Companion SpaceSaver™ Adjustable Grill Grid. They're an easy alternative to Stuffed/Grilled Jalapenos using the Jalapeno Rack that we sell. Easier scooping and stuffing. These are also nice because the filling can really be whatever YOU want to create, but this gives you a start! 

Jalapeno Boats

  • 4 Mucho Nacho jalapenos (or any "giant" jalapeno)
  • 8 oz. vegetable garden-flavored cream cheese 
  • 2 Tbsp crispy bacon bits (pre-cooked or cooked yourself)
  • 2 Tbsp dried pomegrannate-cranberry pieces
  • Shredded Mexican-blend cheese
  • Rubber gloves

Mix together the cream cheese, bacon bits, and dried fruit pieces. Next, PUT ON RUBBER GLOVES!  

Cut the stem end off. Halve each jalapeno and scoop out seeds and membrane with a spoon. Then spoon in the cream cheese mixture so it's fairly level. Top with a small amount of the shredded cheese.  

Put the halves on the adjustable grill grid and place on grill using indirect heat. On our Weber gas grill I had the back burner off (that's where the grid went), the middle on low-medium and the front on high. Close the lid and they should be ready in about 20-25 minutes. They'll get a nice char on the bottom and the cheese on top forms a nice golden-brown crust, which helps hold the cream cheese filling in when you eat it! 

Let them cool just a bit before biting in...the cheese will be hot! 

I have to give a plug for the adjustable grill grid. It can accommodate cooking for just two (like us) or many more, adjusting from 88 square inches of cooking space up to 154 square inches - expands from 8'' x 11'' up to 14'' x 11". The holes in the bottom of the grid allow the heat to surround the food, cooking it evenly. Perfect way to cook veggies, shrimp and other small food, especially with its non-stick surface.


Product Spotlight: Ducks and Dogs

The infatuation with all things Duck Dynasty continues at Bass Pro Shops!  The Season 3 two-disc DVD is here featuring the Robertson family.  Season 3 was the most-watched series telecast in network history - the DVD includes five deleted scenes, five webisodes, five video mash-ups, and two music videos. 

Duck Dynasty Dog Treats

But, wait! There's MORE! 

Duck Dynasty DOG TREATS for real happy dogs!

From pint-sized pooches to big bruisers, these treats will satisfy every canine's craving. All natural and made in the USA...but, according to the box, it's really an easy recipe for these treats:

Duck Dynasty Dog Treats

Duck Dynasty's Southern Style Dog Treats come in two packaging sizes and most are in duck and chicken flavors!

6 oz Bag - Treats (6.99) 

Duck and Chicken Flavor - Soft-Baked Treats - soft little bone shapes easy for chewing!

                                                 Training Treats - little round kibble, perfect for training your dog to be happy, happy, happy!

Mint Flavor - Dental Treats - Gives your good pooch good breath!

24 oz Box - Biscuits (also only 6.99!)

The biscuits come in small and large sizes with that wonderful duck and chicken flavoring!

But why believe a person?  Take it from Riley, our 10-week-old canine customer, who loved the soft-baked treats and couldn't keep out of them:

Riley and Treats"Floor-lickin' good!"                                                           

"Where's the rest? Give me MORE!!!!"Duck Dynasty Dog Treats