A Root Awakening

I like to garden - veggies, perennial flowers, shrubs and trees, annuals, etc. Tropical plants stay outside in the summer and then move inside to escape winter's wrath, just like us. Hanging plants are nurtured inside throughout the long winter months, as I await the first sign of new growth. One day their roots awaken and begin the regrowth process once again.

However, plants aren't the only living things that can have a "root awakening."

I recently followed a group of middle-aged customers, as I left work one day, headed toward the Bass Pro Shops Altoona exit doors. Suddenly, just inside the automatic exit doors, I overheard one of them exclaim, "There it is...there's the picture!"

As I trailed them out the automatic exit door, they stopped in front of a large, aged photo in our exit area. 

Historical hunting picture

They huddled together. A woman in the group pointed and said, "There he is."

I had to stop. 

"Do you know these people?" I asked.

They explained that the gentleman on the right was their neighbor now and in his 80s. They guessed he was about 17 in the photo. We visited about how he had been a life-long hunter and how hunting and fishing have played such an important role in the lives of so many Iowans.

As I headed to my car, the reality of the photos hit me. Despite the many times I've looked at them, I had not listened to them. These are the people who created our state. Hunting and fishing were not simply a sport. It was a way of life and a means of survival. Living off the land was not the latest fad - it put food on the table, especially during harsh economic times. The rivers, lakes, ponds, timber, and fields were nature's grocery store. 

Later that night, my husband and I settled in to begin watching The National Parks: America's Best Idea, being rebroadcast on public television. We had watched part of it last year, and knew it was worth watching again.

Iowa HuntersOver the course of the week, during the series and in special programming in conjunction with it, we soaked up the history of the national parks and the passion of park pioneers like John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt. What did I learn? That important aspects of conservation and wildlife management came from fellow Iowans. Aldo Leopold, environmentalist and instrumental in land ethics, and John Lacey, a Republican Congressman, and author of the first federal conservation legislation (Lacey Act of 1900) and supporter of a national park service, were both from Iowa. These are the leaders who helped put giant trees, granite cliffs, winding canyons, and more, into the forefront of U.S. citizens' minds. They used artists, writings, newspapers, and photographs to show Americans that our country's natural treasures were far more important than any man-made castle in Europe, that we should be proud to have such wonders to enjoy, and that they needed to be managed with care. Then I thought about Iowan Ding Darling, long-time newspaper cartoonist and well-known conservationist (J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge), who continued that fight.

The folks in the photos on our store walls were affected by Leopold, Lacey, and others, even as we are today. Legal limits, wildlife refuges, hunting regulations, a deep love for the outdoors, and the determination that true harmony comes from a balance between man and nature, prey and predator, have allowed white-tailed deer, elk, antelope, wild turkey, and many other species to recover after decades of uncontrolled and exploited hunting.

So, thank you, guys cleaning your guns by the pot-bellied stove...

Thank you, women pheasant hunters having a good time...

Thank you, dashing looking young man with a giant cat...

Thank you, duck hunters out in the field, smiling and celebrating your successful hunt.

Because of you, I had my root awakening that week. A regrowth of pride in my natural heritage as an Iowan, combined with a revitalized passion for our country's land and natural treasures, and a reaffirmed disdain for those who abuse it through littering, vandalism, or total disregard for laws and etiquette. Knowledge that my roots are shared by the people who grace our store walls and with Iowans, like Leopold and Lacey and Darling, who led the charge to help protect our wilderness and natural beauty for years to come.

"We abuse land because we see it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” ― Aldo Leopold

"I do not believe that any man can adequately appreciate the world of today unless he has some knowledge of -- a little more than a slight knowledge, some feeling for and of -- the history of the world of the past."  - Teddy Roosevelt

Female Hunters

Lost Island LakeGuy with Fish





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Outdoor Cooking Primer - Individual Baked Oatmeal

Individual Baked OatmealHere's another recipe that's not made from what we've hunted or fished, but would be great to take along on outdoor activities! I've made them twice and we eat them like cookies!  They are perfect for road trips, camping trips, hikes, or a treat while fishing. Easy to make and you can just mix them by hand. They're healthy, too! 

Key notes:

I actually got 36 out of this recipe, as opposed to 24. 

I used sugar-free syrup the second time, to cut down on the sugars and the cost, as opposed to 100% pure maple syrup. 

Make sure to apply the cooking spray to the bottom and the sides of the paper cups. Otherwise, they will stick...I found this out the second time when I was in a hurry to make them. 

Thanks to Hy-Vee for providing this great recipe! Enjoy!

Individual Baked Oatmeal

2 Hy-Vee large eggs
1 tbsp Hy-Vee vanilla
1 c. Hy-Vee unsweetened applesauce
1 c. Hy-Vee Select pure maple syrup
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 c. blueberries
5 c. Hy-Vee old-fashioned oats
1 tsp Hy-Vee salt
3 tsp Hy-Vee baking powder
1/4 c. ground flax seed
1 tbsp Hy-Vee cinnamon
2 1/2 c. Hy-Vee skim milk
All you do

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 muffin cups with liners and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, mix eggs, vanilla, applesauce and maple syrup together. Add mashed banana and blueberries.
In a separate bowl, mix together oats, salt, baking powder, flax seed and cinnamon. Add milk to dry mixture. Combine oatmeal mixture with egg mixture. Fill muffin cups.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until set. B. Can also freeze in freezer-safe bag and reheat when needed.

Daily nutritional values: 2% vitamin A, 6% calcium, 2% vitamin C,   6% iron

Nutrition information per serving: Calories: 130 Protein: 4g, Carbohydrate: 25g, Saturated Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 15mg, Sodium: 190mg, Dietary Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 11g, Fat: 2g, Trans fats: 0g


Outdoor Cooking Primer - Rabbit Cacciatore

My husband and I love rabbit, wild or commercial. Lean, mild, and extremely healthy, rabbit is showing up on more and more restaurant menus around the country.  It's also very versatile and can be used just like you might use chicken, for example. Fry it up or, my favorite, throw it whole in the slow cooker for three hours or so, with your favorite seasonings. In researching recipes, I came across this recipe from the Missouri Department of Conservation...and it sounded very similar to what we do. 

Here's what we do - Slow cook the rabbit. In a sauce pan, mix up a tomato sauce using our homegrown frozen tomatoes, tomato paste, fresh parm, mushrooms, and onions.

From Missouri Department of Conservation

Remove the rabbit bones from the slow cooker.  Warning: It will be falling off the bones, and there are many little bones with rabbit, so you have to be very careful.  Add the sauce to the slow cooker rabbit, then serve over noodles of choice.

It makes a hearty and healthy belly-warming dish!  Leftovers? Well, we've made rabbit enchiladas, rabbit paninis, and rabbit salad (like chicken salad)!

So, try something new and use rabbit instead of chicken. You won't be disappointed!

Rabbit Cacciatore

  • 1 whole rabbit, cut into pieces
  • 1 package sliced button mushrooms
  • 14oz. can diced Italian-seasoned tomatoes (drained)
  • 12 oz cooked pasta (rotini or fettuccini)
  • 3 T. flour
  • 2 tsp. chopped garlic
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • 1 cup chopped onion

Dust rabbit with flour enough to coat, season with salt and pepper.

In skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.

Add rabbit and cook for approximately 3 minutes per side, remove rabbit and set aside.

Add onions, mushrooms, and garlic to the skillet reducing the heat to medium, cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally.

Add drained tomatoes, wine, and tomato paste, bring to a boil.

Add rabbit, and tuck into the sauce.

Cook mixture on medium-low heat partially covered for approximately 8 minutes, until the meat is tender.

Serve over cooked pasta of choice.


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Bear Hunting Tips Part 2

In Bear Hunting Tips (Part 1), bowhunter Don Mealey shared some tips including the importance of practicing in realistic scenarios before the hunt. Mealey also talked about the importance of bait, especially when hunting in heavy undergrowth, such as the area of Canada in which he was hunting. It's harder to "spot and stalk" in those dense areas.

"Hunting over bait is not a given situation and you still have to make the shot," says Mealey.

You have to compete with Mother Nature's bait when bear hunting.  If there is a bountiful blueberry crop then you have some tough competition!

"The bears already know where the natural baits are...they can sit here and eat blueberries all day long and the berries are high in the nutrients they need this time of year. The better the blueberry crop, the harder the bait is," says Mealey.

In this video clip, Don shows you his bait and stand set-up and explains the importance of manipulating your bait site.

More very important advice - Know the rules and regulations for the state or country in which you are hunting. You don't want to have your trip ruined by lack of research,  planning or ignorance of the law.

To see more of Don's bear hunt, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXa_RGAhDuQ.


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This Weekend @ Bass Pro Shops Altoona

It's the first weekend of our Fall Fishing Event! Plan for fall fishing and learn the importance of keeping our lakes healthy and available for fishing, plus let your kids learn about the joy of fishing!

Saturday and Sunday, September 21 and 22

First - for the Kids!

 Kids' Catch and Release PondNoon - 4 p.m. The Catch and Release Pond is back! Our indoor bluegill pond gives kids the chance to catch a fish with one of our poles...then get Beginning Fishing for Kids Workshoptheir picture taken at our free "You at the Lake" photo download!

 Noon - 1 p.m. - Beginning Fishing for Kids Workshop
- with our Pro Staff Lance Baker and Kary Ray!
Learn the basics of fishing. Hands-on fun for kids - they'll receive a “Bass Pro Shops Kids Fishing Team" certificate and a free pair of sunglasses!

Plus - Seminars for Adults!

, September 21

1 p.m. - Fish Hatcheries: From Hatcheries To Lakes - Learn about the importance of our fish hatcheries to how our lakes are stocked. Presented by Mike Mason, from the Iowa DNR, Iowa Fish Hatcheries Supervisor.
2 p.m. - What You Should Know About Fishing Using Electronics - Learn how to use your GPS to find the best catch! Free fishing towel for the first 50 customers at the 2 p.m. seminar each day!
3 p.m.- Best Baits: Baits That Work For Successful Fall Fishing - with Pro Staff Lance Baker and Kary Ray

Sunday, Sept. 22
1 p.m. - Area Fishing: What You Should Know
2 p.m. - Expert Tips: Best Fall Fishing Practices - Free fishing towel for the first 50 customers at the 2 p.m. seminar each day -
With Pro Staff Lance Baker and Kary Ray
3 p.m. - Changing Water Conditions: How It Affects Fishing

1 -3 p.m. Both Days - Free Craft for Kids!  Color your own tackle box! 1-3 p.m. both days


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Outdoor Cooking Primer - Wild Doves in Wine

Another dove recipe. This one is also from the Missouri Department of Conservation web site! 

Wild Doves in Wine

8 doves, cleaned and picked

3 T. olive oil or bacon drippings, heated

Brown doves on all sides in oil or drippings in heavy iron skillet.

1/2 cup sherry or dry red wine

1/2 cup olive oil

2 T. worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp. salt

Add all ingredients to doves. Cover skillet with tight lid. Simmer over a low heat (liquid should never boil) for 1 1/2 hours or until tender.

Serve with brown and wild rice.


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Pheasant Season Forecast for Iowa

PheasantPheasant season starts October 19 in Iowa. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources' August 2013 Roadside Survey was just released and Iowa's pheasant population continues to struggle. Their nesting outlook in June was not very positive, predicting lower numbers because of last year's snowy winter following by an extremely wet nesting season. The roadside survey was just released and it doesn't bring any better news. 
The roadside survey takes data from just over 200, 30-mile routes. They try to do the count on a cool morning, when the sun is shining, no wind and heavy dew. According to the report, our wet spring once again made for another bad chick survival year.
"Rainfall during the 2013 nesting season was the highest in state history (141 yrs of record) dating back to 1872. Over 15 inches of rain fell in 
April and May, more than twice the normal rainfall of 7.1 inches. Temperatures were also significantly cooler than normal. According to the state climatologist, the spring of 2013 was the 5th coolest in state history. The only colder springs occurred in 1960, 1875, 1882, and 1888. Pheasants did not become established in Iowa until around 1920, so the spring of 2013 was the wettest and coldest ever experienced by the population.
"Statewide data on chicks (measure of nest success) showed a significant decline (-26%), while age ratios (chicks per adult 
hen – measure of overall hen success) showed -18% compared to 2012. Both are indicative of a poor nesting season, which was expected given the record rainfall and cold temperatures during the nesting season."
Weather and habitat are the two big factors that effect pheasant population. The DNR says that if our weather patterns continue, with late snows and heavy rains that break down nesting areas, it will be hard to recover the pheasant numbers.
The complete August 2013 Roadside Survey, for Iowa's upland wildlife population,  can be read at www.iowadnr.gov/Portals/idnr/Arsrpt13.pdf.
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Fall Fishing Event is Coming!

Fall Fishing

It's finally getting cooler, which means fall fishing will be that much more pleasurable! Here's your opportunity to:

  • Plan for fall fishing
  • Learn the importance of keeping our lakes healthy and available for fishing
  • Let your kids learn about the joy of fishing


Catch and Release PondBass Pro Shops Fall Fishing Event!

Weekends of September 21-22 and 28-29

First, for the kids!

  • The Catch and Release Pond is back! Noon-4 p.m.
    Our indoor bluegill pond gives kids the chance to catch a fish with one of our poles...then get their picture taken at our free "You at the Lake" photo download!Kids Fishing Workshop
  • Beginning Fishing for Kids Workshop Noon – 1 p.m.
    Kids will learn the basics of fishing from our experts! Hands-on fun, with a “Bass Pro Shops Kids Fishing Team" certificate and a free pair of sunglasses for all!

Free Craft - Color your own tackle box! 1-3 p.m. both days!



Next, for the Adults
(Our Pro Staff of Lance Baker and Kary Ray will be in the store the first weekend, Sept. 21 and 22, to help with seminars and answer questions!)

Saturdays, September 21 and 28:
1 p.m. - Fish Hatcheries: From Hatcheries To Lakes - Learn from the DNR's Iowa Fish Hatcheries Supervisor Mike Mason about the importance of our fish

hatcheries and how our lakes are stocked.

2 p.m. - What You Should Know About Fishing Using Electronics - Learn how to use your GPS to find the best catch!
Free fishing towel for the first 50 customers at the 2 p.m. seminar each day!

3 p.m.- Best Baits: Baits That Work For Successful Fall Fishing

Sundays, Sept. 22 & 29:
1 p.m. - Area Fishing: What You Should Know

2 p.m. - Expert Tips: Best Fall Fishing Practices - Free fishing towel for the first 50 customers at the 2 p.m. seminar each day!

3 p.m. - Changing Water Conditions: How It Affects Fishing



Outdoor Cooking Primer - Dutch Oven Honey Dijon Chicken

Dutch Oven CookingYou can feel the cool air starting to finally arrive!  Time to fire up the cast iron and do some Dutch Oven outdoor cooking!  Use a fire pit, cement slab or gravel to place your coals on...or we use a small Weber Smokey Joe grill as our charcoal holder!

Here is a recipe we've borrowed from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Iowa State Fair Recipes brochure from this summer.

Honey Dijon Chicken

Honey Dijon Marinade
1 Cup Honey Dijon Mustard
1/2 Cup Honey
1/2 Cup Mayonnaise
Splash of Lime Juice

1 Pkg Chicken Tenders
2 Cups Sliced Mushrooms. Cooked
1 Small Onion
3-4 Slices of Cooked Bacon
1 Cup Monterrey Jack Cheese

Mix the marinade ingredients together and hold back about 1/2—1 Cup for dipping sauce later. Place the chicken tenders in the remaining marinade and let sit for two hours.
Spray the bottom of a Dutch Oven and place over 20-26 hot coals. Cook chicken tenders until browned on both sides. Then place the mushrooms, onion, bacon and cheese over the top of the tenders.

Place the lid on the oven.

Remove coals from below the oven so only 6 remain.
Place 12 coals on top of the oven and bake for 20 minutes.


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This Weekend @ Bass Pro Shops Altoona

Collegiate CamoHeaded to Ames for the Iowa State-Iowa Football game? Stop by the store on your way to and from the festivities! We're got our jerky on sale and GREAT seasoning and sauces to use for your tailgating! 


Jerky sampling from Noon – 4 p.m. in front of the main aquarium on Saturday and Sunday!


Sunday, September 15 - Jay Green and Scout, the K9  therapy dog, will be here for a dog obedience demonstration in front of the aquarium at 1:00 p.m.


Locally, look for us at the SE Polk Homecoming Parade, Thursday night, September 19 - you won't be able to miss us - we'll be the ones with all of the COOL STUFF AND CANDY to throw out!  

Go Rams!


Coming next weekend - the Fall Fishing Event and the Catch and Release pond for kids is back!  Watch our blog and Facebook page for details!


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Bear Hunting Tips

Planning a bear hunt? If you have the opportunity to hunt bear, Don Mealey from the Iowa Bow Hunter's Association offers up some advice for your prep and the actual hunt. 

Don, who also has Don Mealey's Bowhunter Education Channel on YouTube, is a longtime avid bowhunter. He recently went to Nipigon, Ontario, about 700 miles north of Des Moines, Iowa, for some bear hunting. He was kind enough to shoot some video just for us and to share some tips.

Mealey says practice is crucial. Do it in low light and simulate the real situation as much as possible.

"Practice before you go. Make your practice as realistic as you can. Put pressure on yourself that it's the real deal, so when you do get into the real situation, you'll know what to do."

"Many times people take their shot too quickly, because they get excited when they have a bear over bait. It's not a whitetail deer. When they come to the bait, they've already committed to eating and they are focused on that."

Watch this video showing just how many times he had an opportunity with just one bear!


Mealey says he understands that some people may not want or like to hunt over bait. However, in the dense undergrowth of the location, Mealey notes it's hard to do a "spot and stalk."

"Hunting over bait is not a given situation and you still have to make the shot."

To see more of Don's bear hunt, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXa_RGAhDuQ.


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Product Spotlight: Hunt for a Cure

Join Bass Pro Shops in the Hunt for a Cure!

Hunt for a CureThe Hunt for a Cure hoodie and Ts for ladies are now in at Bass Pro Shops Altoona! Join the fight and sport Bass Pro Shops' Shield and Ribbon Rack T-shirts and sweatshirts!  

10% of the proceeds go to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.  The t-shirts are 100% cotton in light pink with the ribbon racks design. The hooded sweatshirt is a 50/50, heavy blend fuschia.

Selection may vary by store. For more Hunt for a Cure selections, visit basspro.com! 


Bass Pro Shops Hunt for a Cure

Hunt for a Cure T-shirt











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Outdoor Cooking Primer - Dove d'Elegence

In my search for different tasty mourning dove recipes, other than grilling them, I found this recipe on the Missouri Department of Conservation web site. Enjoy!

Dove d'Elegence

12 doves
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/3 cup chives, chopped
1 T. salt
1 T. pepper
1/2 cup evaporated milk
3/4 cup water
1 can (10 3/4 oz.) cream of mushroom soup
3/4 cup brandy
1 can (17 oz.) English peas
3 beef bouillon cubes
3 tsp. margarine or butter

Place doves in casserole dish. Arrange onions, celery and chives around. Salt and pepper. Add milk, water, mushroom soup, brandy, peas, margarine and bouillon cubes. Bake at 375 F for 2 hours. Remove doves and place on platter. Thicken gravy. Pour over doves. Serve with wild rice. Serves 4.

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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 www.HerpNet.net 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, and...pink. 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 colors...at Bass Pro Shops Altoona or check out what's online at www.basspro.com.


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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 Bowhuntingnet.com 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 outfitterrating.com 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 www.rmef.org/TheHunt.aspx.


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