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







Durango FFA Boots - Rebels with a Cause!

FA BootsFFA Boots

"Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve"

FFA Motto

It's the Iowa State Fair and that means NO better time for the arrival of the new Durango Rebel FFA boots at Bass Pro Shops! 

We're proud of our FFA organizations and the excellent agriculture education and positive leadership skills it has brought to so many students through the years. Being in the Midwest, we especially realize the immense impact of this student-lead organization and its 216 chapters around our state.

With the beautiful blue coloring, intricate gold stitching and the FFA eagle emblem proudly displayed, the 11" Rebel Men's or Ladies Western Boots shout FFA!

At Bass Pro Shops Altoona we currently have the Lady Rebel in Black or Brown and the Men's in brown.

Lady Rebel


  • Oiled full-grain leather upper with FFA patch and detailed stitching on shaft
  • Removable contoured and ventilated cushion footbed
  • Molded EVA midsole
  • Dual-density, translucent FFA graphic outsole
  • 1-1/2'' Rebel heel
  • Rolled shank area
  • Square Toe
  • Durable double row welt stitch construction


  • Removable contoured and ventilated cushion footbedMen's FFA
  • Molded EVA midsole
  • Dual-density, translucent FFA graphic outsole
  • 1-1/2'' Rebel heel
  • Rolled shank area
  • Square Toe
  • Durable double row welt stitch construction


But, the BEST feature of these boots?  Rocky Brands, Inc. will donate at least $5 per pair sold of the Rebel FFA Boots to FFA, with a guaranteed minimum donation of $25,000.00!


Ladies, Take a Walk on the Wild Side

I love the outdoors...camping, gardening, hiking, cooking wild game, and enjoying wildlife photography and wildlife in general. I don't hunt, nor do I fish very super outdoorsman husband does plenty of that. This may be the fall that I actually go out in the blind with him...we'll see. I don't know if I can sit still that long!

But, does being an outdoors woman simply mean that you know how to hunt and fish? Although that might be a big part of it, to me being an outdoors woman means being semi-knowledgeable, at the very least, about a variety of outdoors skills, their challenges, nature's challenges and respecting it, and respecting the equipment. To me, you don't have to be an expert...just have a basic working knowledge, appreciation and enjoyment. It means taking the time and effort to learn...and having someone to teach you.

Sometimes it's nice to learn with other women who are in the same boat...and two great opportunities for women to do that exist right here in Iowa and other locations around the world.  

So, grab your girlfriends, daughters, moms, or just come by yourself, explore the outdoors, learn new skills, do some networking of a different kind, and become a wild outdoor woman!

Becoming an Outdoors Woman Iowa logo - courtesy Iowa DNR

Becoming an Outdoors Woman

Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW) is an international program. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources sponsors a BOW weekend in September. Anyone 18 years or older (it's geared towards women) can take advantage of this great chance to learn outdoor skills and activities, whether they've tried them before or are completely new to the experience, and they learn with people who are in the same mind set..."what is this, how do I do it,  will I make a fool of myself?" (Okay, that last one is what would be going through MY mind.)

Photo courtesy of Iowa DNRThis year's Becoming an Outdoors Woman workshop is September 20-22 at Springbrook State Park. Lodging is available in dormitories with eight-person's not required, but that's part of the fun and camaraderie!  The line-up of workshops over the course of the weekend includes Introduction to Firearms, Basic Shooting, Wild Edibles, Wild Game Cooking, Dutch Oven Cooking, Basic Motor Boat, Fly Fishing, Bow 5k - courtesy of Iowa DNRRiver Fishing, Archery, Survival Skills, Geocaching, Bird Watching, Stand Up Paddling, and so much more.  Of course, you HAVE to have a campfire at night, too! The first night includes an optional, relaxing 5k run/walk through the woods and around the lake...a great way to meet other participants and the instructors.

For more information on registration costs and deadlines for the Becoming an Outdoors Woman program in Iowa,  visit There are BOW programs around the world and you can get more information on other locations at

Wild Women of the WoodsWild Women of the Woods

New this year is the Wild Women of the Woods program sponsored by the Story County Conservation Office. Story County Conservation Naturalist Emily Herring says this year's event is October 4-5 at Hickory Grove Park . While it's the first year for Story County, she's confident from past experiences it will be a hit.

"As a naturalist, I have coordinated other several events in different counties. It is always a good time and women come back year after year.  It truly is a comfortable learning atmosphere and a great place to meet new friends."

She says there will be free camping for the event, with bathrooms nearby and showers available at the campground. She says if you want to bring a camper or have electricity, that's'll camp in the main campground, but WILL have to pay for the campsite. You can also just do the Saturday event, if you're not able to stay Friday night.

Herring says they plan on having different session each year and if a session is really popular and fills fast this year, they will try to offer it again the following year. A diverse program will be offered for women of all different interests - this year's offerings include: Wild Edibles, Kayaking, Silk Painting, Fly Fishing, Archery, Nature Photography, "Leave no Trace", Tree Identification and Ecology Hike, Rock Climbing, Bike Maintenance, Nature Drawing, Fire Building, Yoga, and Fossil Hunting.

Since the sessions fill up on a first come, first serve basis, Herring encourages those interested to sign up as early as possible!

For more information and to register for Wild Women of the Woods, visit!


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Staycations Iowa Style - The Rathbun Area

So often I hear people gripe about driving across Iowa and, in their opinion, how boring it is. I encourage people need to get off Interstate 80 (after they've stopped at Bass Pro Shops Altoona, of course!) and experience a bit of our state. In our staycations series we asked our Facebook fans for some recommendations - where would you suggest people visit in our state? One area that received several mentions, and that I visit regularly, is the Lake Rathbun area in southern Iowa. 

Rathbun area map

Lake Rathbun is one of the largest lakes in Iowa, located about seven miles north of Centerville in Appanoose County. If you're coming from the north, say down highway 5, the stretch from Knoxville to Centerville is one of the prettiest drives in our state, as is much of the driving headed east or west out of Centerville on Highway 2.Honey Creek State Park

Rathbun is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers facility with over 700 campsites available at eight parks at the 11,000 acre lake. It's also home to Honey Creek State Park and Honey Creek Resort, both operated by the state.

The state park has 149 campsites, but another unique feature is its "camper cabins."  The rustic pine cabins are great for those who don't want to tent camp, don't have an RV, or simply want more of a roof over their head, while enjoying the great outdoors. I met a woman at our Family Summer Camp this year who has two sons, both with severe medical issues and confined to wheelchairs, and she loves the camper cabins because they have electricity and her sons can better enjoy the camping experience.

For those who want something even more comfortable, Honey Creek Resort is available. This state-operated resort has a hotel, cottages/cabins, an RV Park, and a water park. 

My two favorite things about the resort are things YOU can enjoy, too, without actually staying there:


1. Their naturalist programs and activities are open to the public. It is the resort's goal to connect people to nature and the outdoors, whether they are staying at the resort or just visiting the area for the day. Some activities do have limited spaces available. You can check out their continuously updated list of activities on their web site.

2. The Lakeshore Grille has amazing their bacon-stuffed jalapenos. First-class food in a relaxed atmosphere with a great view!

While you're in the area, here are some other suggestions:

  • Rathbun OHV Park - If you have an ATV, then you might enjoy the Rathbun OHV Park located on the southwest arm of the Lake off Highway 142. It's a 120-acre riding area with a variety of skill-level trails.
  • The Rathbun Fish Hatchery - Open ever day for tours, the fish produced here are use to stock farm ponds, rivers, lakes and reservoirs around the state. According to the DNR web site:

Annually, more than 200,000 large fingerling catfish, 100,000 small fingerling catfish, 50 million walleye fry, 225,000 two-inch walleye fingerlings and 175,000 eight inch walleye fingerlings are produced at Rathbun.

More than 75,000 four- to six-inch catfish are provided for county conservation boards and cities each year for their caged-catfish rearing programs. 

  • Sharon Bluffs State Park is just south and east of Centerville – You can either go south of Centerville or east on Highway 2 and you’ll see signs for it….then it’s about four miles on gravel. Nice little park for picnics and walks.

If you're enjoying the area for more than just a few days, take a drive east to Van Buren County and discover the way life used to be 150 years ago in the Villages of Van Buren. That county has 110 ghost towns!  Scenic highways, hiking trails, gravel, mike, and pedestrian trails, and canoe, kayak and boat accesses provide plenty of ways to enjoy the scenery and history.

Facebook fan Rachel is an avid horse person. She says if you like horse camping head to Stevens State Forest to the west of Appanoose 
River Valley
County. Parts of the 15,000 acres have primitive horse camping available. She also suggests River Valley Horsecamp by the Shimek State Forest. Located south of the Villages of Van Buren, the camp has miles of trails and borders on 40 miles of established horse trails in Shimek State Forest. 


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This Weekend @ Bass Pro Shops Altoona - Hunter Appreciation Weekend!

We love our hunters and want everyone to be safe and educated before they hit the fields! 

Join us this weekend as the Fall Hunting Classic continues with:

Hunter Appreciation Weekend

August 9-11


Friday, August 9
6:30 p.m. - Tips for Bow Hunting
7:30 p.m. - Tactics for Hunting Turkey

Saturday, August 10Shed dog hunting
1:30 p.m. - Shed Hunting:  How to Successfully Hunt for Sheds
2:30 p.m. - From the Field to the Table - How to Fry Turkey
3:30 p.m. - Hunting Tips and Techniques
4:30 p.m. - Exploring the Shooting Sports: Introduction to Competitive Handgun, Rifle, Shotgun, and 3-Gun Shooting
5:30 p.m. - Now You See Me, Now You Don't: Choosing Correct Camouflage Clothing

Sunday, August 11
1:30 p.m. - Exploring the Shooting Sports: Introduction to Competitive Handgun, Rifle, Shotgun, and 3-Gun Shooting
2:30 p.m. - Tactics for Hunting Deer
3:30 p.m. - Hunting Tips and Techniques
4:30 p.m. - What's New in Scent Control
5:30 p.m. - Choosing the Right Optics


Bass Pro Shops Altoona ATV courseBut, wait!  There's more!
Saturday, August 10 and Sunday, August 11

The ATV Course is BACK by Popular Demand!
Try your ATV skills on our course from Noon – 4 p.m.!


Outdoor Cooking Primer - Smoked Surprises

You know about smoked brisket, ribs, trout, etc. But what are some foods you may NOT have thought about smoking? The recent issue of Hy-Vee's Seasons magazine has some great ideas:

  • Corn - It's sweet corn time here in the Heartland! Take the husks off one side of an ear and remove all the silk. Brush the expose kernels with butter and place on the smoker husk side down.  Smoke for 30 minutes.
  • Peaches - Cut the peach in half and remove the pit. Smoke at 225 for 30 minutes.  Peaches are also great thrown on the grill for a bit.
  • Salt - Spread two cups of kosher salt on a large aluminum tray. Smoke for one to two hours, until it gets a brown tint. Cool and store in airtight container.
  • Pecans - Toss two pounds of raw pecans with 1/2 cup butter and salt to taste. Smoke at 225 for one hour, stirring halfway through.
  • Sweet potatoes - As a sweet potato freak, I will HAVE to try this. Slice sweet potates and put them in a skillet with butter, brown sugar and herbs. Smoke with a turkey or other meats at 225 to 250.  

Smoker Salsa

Of course, it's garden time so don't forget about smoking jalapenos, onions, and tomatoes for an awesome smoker salsa. 

Experiment and have fun!



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Americans Continue Passion for the Outdoors

Americans continue to be passionate about outdoor activities, according to a recently released study by The Outdoor Foundation, but the younger set needs a some additional encouragement. In 2012 the largest number of people took part in the greatest number of outdoor outings than in any of the six previous years of the study.

Over 42,000 participants ages six and older were surveyed about 43 different activities. They averaged over 87 outings each in 2012.  The Foundation broke the responses down by ages - youth and young adult participation (ages 6 to 24)  in one grouping and adults (ages 25 and above) in another.

Fishing, camping, and hiking were #3, 4, and 5 in the top five most popular outdoor activities among youth and young adults. Most popular activities were based on participation rate among the group. Bluffton

Interestingly, in the adult category, fishing (includes fresh, salt, and fly) was #1, with hiking at #4 and camping #5.

Another interesting result, from a bird lover's perspective - bird watching was in the top five of favorite activities for both groups. This was determined based on the number of outings per person.  The adults also included wildlife viewing and backpacking in their top five.

Growth in some activities reflect what we've seen in our own state. In this survey, kayaking (recreational, touring, and white water) increased in participation from 2009 to 2012. Iowa's 18,000 miles of water trails has witnessed a growth in usage and we've seen that growth in our own store by the many customers purchasing paddling equipment.Young fishing

The Foundation's study did show one very important factor - participation rates in 2012 by the 6 to 17 year olds were "substantially" lower than they were in 2006. Even more important reason for adults to be good role models and get their young children out enjoying and learning about the great outdoors - whether through family outings or simple trips to Bass Pro Shops for our Next Generation events for kids.

For a complete look at The Outdoor Foundation's 2013 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report visit


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Top 10 Ways Bass Pro Shops is STILL like the Iowa State Fair

Just five days until the Iowa State Fair! In honor of our great state fair, we once again remind you of how Bass Pro Shops Altoona is ALMOST like the Iowa State Fair...but not quite.

10. The Iowa State Fair is 400 acres of Iowa history. Bass Pro Shops Altoona is 144,000 square feet of Iowa history.

Corn Dog mix9. The Iowa State Fair is renowned for the incredible amounts of good food to be found, including new choices each year! Bass Pro Shops Altoona has good food to offer, too, including cotton candy, pop corn, kettle corn, salt water taffy, funnel cake mix, corn dog mix, and a FUDGE ON A STICK! We have new flavors of fudge all the time...including strawberry margarita and maple bacon walnut fudge!

wild hogs

8. The livestock are always a popular attraction at the Iowa State Fair...I always have to see the big bull and the big boar! Bass Pro Shops Altoona has incredible animals, too, including oxen and pigs. Of course, they're all stuffed, but you get the idea...

7.  The Iowa State Fair has the Department of Natural Resources building with its live fish display and an archery range. Bass Pro Shops Altoona has a very cool 30,000 gallon fish tank with a catfish pushing 90 pounds, state record gar, giant bass, record crappie and more...and we have an archery range.


6.  The Iowa State Fair has a Midway full of rides and games for all thrill levels. Bass Pro Shops Altoona has a beautiful wildlife carousel during Family Summer Camp and Santa's Wonderland, an ATV obstacle course during the Fall Hunting Classic, a shooting arcade, the most unique bowling alley in the state at Uncle Buck's Fishbowl, and shopping carts for young ones to ride in while their parents shop!

Bass Pro Shops Altoona shooting arcade

5.  The Midway also has Bobo the Clown welcoming you at the water tank. Fortunately, we don't have anything to compare to Bobo. Our greeters who welcome you to the store are really nice and won't make you cry.

4.  The State Fair museum is open daily only during the fair and showcases a great collection of historical records, antiques, and other memorabilia. Bass Pro Shops Altoona is part museum, with a LARGE number of antiques and memorabilia, including several photographs on loan from the Iowa State Historical Museum. 

3. The Iowa State Fair has loads of free entertainment on multiple stages and some great grandstand acts. Bass Pro Shops has loads of free entertainment held in multiple areas of the store, inside and outside, at any given time of the year.

2.  The Iowa State Fair is great for kids and families. Bass Pro Shops is all about kids and families.

1. Nothing compares to the Iowa State Fair...and NOTHING compares to Bass Pro Shops. It's an experience, not just a store.



This Week @ Bass Pro Shops Altoona - It's All About Hunting!


Fall Hunting Classic

August 2-18

This is it!  The BIGGEST Hunting Event Ever!

Sixteen days of special events, savings, and daily deals!


August 2-11 - It's the return of the Second Amendment Instant Savings on Guns and Safes! Savings are equal to the value of the sales tax - offer only good on in-stock guns and safes.

August 2-7 - Bow and Crossbow Trade-In! Save up to $100 on top of sale prices by bringing in your old bow or crossbow (no long bows or recurves)

(Watch for similar trade-ins later during the Classic on scopes, binoculars, and rangefinders!)


August 3 - Join us for our Free Hunting University!

Hunting University!

1 p.m. - "Whitetail Q & A" with Dave Reisner, "Bow Madness" TV and Team Drury.

2 p.m. - "Hunting Strategies on Small Tracts" with Kyle Wieter, from the Realtree Pro Staff and Adrenaline Junkies TV show!

3 p.m. - "Perfect Form for a Perfect Shot" with John Dudley, Under Armour Arsenal Hunter, Nock On TV show.






Throw in the State Sales Tax holiday on Friday, August 2 and Saturday, August 3, and we've got ourselves one heck of a weekend!

Join us!



State Sales Tax Holiday

2013 Iowa State Sales Tax HolidayOur Iowa State Sales Tax Holiday on select clothing and footwear is this coming Friday, August 2, and Saturday, August 3!  This is the 14th year for what has turned into a very popular two days of shopping.

Most people wouldn't think of Bass Pro Shops as having some of those select items that qualify for the sales tax holiday. But, there are actually MANY items that fit the bill.

From head to toe there is something for everyone and all ages: Scarves to socks, bibs for babies and bibs for adults, coats, hats, coveralls, bandanas, bathing suits, belts with buckles, hooded shirts and sweatshirts, ponchos and pants, and rainwear and running shoes, flip-flops and hiking boots, and so much more!
The sales tax holiday (including no local option sales tax) applies to sales of an article of clothing or footwear having a selling price less than $100.
From our own well known brands such as RedHead, Natural Reflections, and Bob Timberlake, to Columbia, The North Face, Under Armour, Sperry, Reef, Rocky, Merrell, and other popular brands...make sure to include Bass Pro Shops in your sales tax holiday shopping sprees!
If you don't, you'll never know what you might miss.
For detailed information on the Iowa state sales tax holiday, and a list of other states with similar events, visit