Santa's Wonderland - The Magic Returns!

 Santa's Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops Altoona

Santa's Wonderland returns with the glitter, lights, fun and games, and magic that Christmas should always have!

Join us for Santa's Wonderland Preview Night, this Saturday, November 9. from 5-8 p.m.

Be first to get your free 4 x 6 photo with Santa after we welcome Santa and light the tree!

  • Hot chocolate and cookies
  • Carolers
  • Gift Card giveawaysSanta's Wonderland Bass Pro Shops Altoona


Who will help Santa cut the ribbon this year?

Free crafts from 6-8 p.m. on Preview Night, plus backpack clips for the first 125 kids!

Santa's Wonderland is open through December 24!

Free photos with Santa 

Remote control trucks, slot car racing, and games!

Free crafts and activity tables!

Write a letter to Santa and receive an e-mail back from him!


Here is the schedule through December 8 for all Santa's Wonderland Activities!  

Times will change beginning December 9.

We will be using the Bass Pass system again during busy times. The Bass Pass is like a virtual line, allowing you to shop and enjoy the store instead of waiting in line for long hours. It provides a designated time for you to get in line to see Santa. 

Bass Passes are given out on a first come, first serve basis. When they're gone, they're gone!

Santa's Wonderland Schedule - Bass Pro Shops Altoona


Keep up-to-date on ALL Christmas events, including Black Friday Sales, Toys for Tots Weekend

and more by liking our Facebook page and watching this blog!



Product Spotlight - Elite 8.5 Quart Stainless Steel Slow Cooker

Elite 8.5 Quart Stainless Steel Slow Cooker  - Bass Pro Shops Altoona

'Tis the season to get the slow cooker out...I mean REALLY out.  Granted it gets used once in a while during the summer, but not very often. As temperatures cool, the slow cooker usage rises. I

Elite 8.5 Quart Stainless Steel Slow Cooker


Bass Pro Shops carries this Elite slow cooker. We use this cooker at the store for demos and associate events.  It's large capacity is perfect for large groups. The large removable stoneware pot is easy to clean and the clear tempered lid allows you to check on what's cookin' without removing the lid. 

From stews, soups, and chili to roasts of all kind, pheasant, rabbit, squirrel, side dishes like applesauce and sweet potatoes, and desserts like brownies (yes, brownies) can make just about anything in a slow cooker. 

Here are a couple of slow cooker tips from the Hy-Vee Seasons magazine:

Test Your Slow Cooker for Accuracy

Fill the cooker half to two-thirds full with water. Put the lid on, turn the cooker to low, and let it heat on low for eight hours. After the eight hours, use a food thermometer and see if the water is 185-200 degrees Fahrenheit. If it's not, then it's time to replace the cooker.

Clean the Stains out of your Cooker

Fill the pot halfway with water and add one cup of white vinegar. Heat on high for two hours, then clean as usual. 


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This Weekend @ Bass Pro Shops Altoona

It is quiet at Bass Pro Shops this weekend! Our Fall Harvest Sale is underway, so there are some great buys on flannel shirts, fleece blankets and more!

Santa's Wonderland Bass Pro Shops AltoonaMeanwhile, elves are working furiously to get Santa's Wonderland in tip-top shape, because...


Santa's Wonderland Opens November 9!

Santa's Wonderland Bass Pro Shops Altoona

Join us for Santa's Wonderland Preview Night from 5-8 p.m. and be first to get your free 4 x 6 photo with Santa!

  • Hot chocolate and cookies
  • Carolers
  • Gift Card giveaways


Who will help Santa cut the ribbon this year?Santa's Wonderland Bass Pro Shops Altoona

Keep up-to-date on ALL Christmas events, including Black Friday Sales, Toys for Tots Weekend and More by liking our Facebook page! 


On the Trail - Now you See Him, Now you DON’T!

Do the Right Thing

Buck -Muzzleloader - Bass Pro Shops AltoonaBy Dan Stephany, Bass Pro Shops Altoona Receiving Manager and Outdoorsman

This week finds us on the brink of the November rut and anticipation is running high.  A few days ago, I went to a friends’ property (private land) that I had a couple of trail cameras on.  We had located a few good bucks that we wanted to chase this November, and I went in with two main objectives. First, to check my camera’s batteries and see if the SD card was getting full and, second, to sit a nearby tree stand in hopes of catching a mature buck on his feet before dark.

Things turned south pretty fast.  As I was approaching my tree stand, I jumped a good buck bedded with 4 does. The good news was that he felt pretty comfortable there and was very close to my stand.  The bad news was that I cleared out the entire bedding area and couldn’t sit there.  As if to add insult to injury, I walked down the ridge a little further to find my trail camera, lock box and steel cable all stolen!  I immediately called the land owner, and he assured me that I had exclusive rights to hunt the property, and that nobody else should be out there.  One other bit of information is that this property is located almost a full mile off the road.  Whoever found the camera and eventually took it must have made multiple trips out.  The steel cable could only be cut with a bolt cutter, something a random wanderer would more than likely not have with them.

If you are reading this, and you consider yourself an ethical sportsman, I am going to ask you a favor…would you please share this article and let our voice be heard!  I am sure I am not the only person who this has happened to.  I have heard countless stories in our store from people, much like myself, who had permission on a property and hung cameras, stands, or planned a hunt, only to have it stolen out from under them by someone who has no conscience, no ethics and does not deserve to be called a sportsman!  Our reputation as conservationists and sportsmen are being ambushed by people who are trespassing and blatantly violating laws all in the name of tagging a “shooter.”  Well, it is time that we voice our frustration and let those around us know that we are fed up with this kind of behavior.  I am not suggesting violence, or even promoting confrontation with those we encounter in the woods. I am, however, hoping that some of you reading this will join me and reclaim our reputation as ethical sportsmen who going to be honest, respecting the laws, and respecting other's property - both land and physical equipment. Let’s begin a movement that focuses on doing the right thing, even if that means you need to return something you may have taken from someone else in the past.  I am even hoping the person who took my equipment will read this and be convinced to put it back. I can, and will, forgive anyone who chooses to do the right thing and simply say they are sorry.

Will you join me?  Let’s give people every reason to associate hunters and sportsmen as the most ethical and honest people they know!  I may have had a frustrating day in the woods this past week, but I refuse to let that keep me from enjoying what I love to do!  I’ll see you in the woods and on the trail again next Tuesday!

Good hunting! 


Conservation Connections - Wolves in the Midwest

Keona the Gray WolfPella Wildlife Company was on hand again at Bass Pro Shops Altoona. This time they brought along Keona the gray wolf.  Keona is actually an Arctic wolf, which is a subspecies of grays. She came to PWC when she was very young, and was acquired through the genetic bank. She is one of three wolves that PWC has at their facility. 

As PWC Director Ron DeArmond explains in this video clip, they work closely with government and scientific organizations to study wolves and help track their travel routes.  He says the thousands of wolves in the upper Midwest are starting to disperse and change their travels. 


Pella Wildlife Company visits Bass Pro Shops Altoona on the last Saturday of each month, with a different animal each time. 


Pet Safety Tips

Dogs are an everyday occurrence at Bass Pro Shops Altoona. Not all Bass Pro Shops are able to welcome pets, so we are fortunate in that respect. It's National Animal Safety and Protection month, so I thought we'd take a minute to talk about taking care of our dogs. Here are just a few thoughts to get you started, based on personal experience:

* Pet-proof your home - We have an Airedale with a penchant for sticking his nose into garbage cans. He sticks his head in just about any garbage can, bucket, or tackle box as he walks by, so we know to keep access to those areas closed off or monitored. I don't know how many times I've heard or read about the aftermath of a dog getting into the garbage...been there done that. Keep your garbage in a closet or in a cupboard or other inaccessible site. Make sure the door is latched!

Our Airedale stuck his nose in a tackle bag and pulled out some plastic worms, which he enjoyed until caught in the act. We have also pulled a trout out of his throat, mid-swallow. He had already eaten three. All because a bucket was left in a breezeway for "just a minute." 
when he was younger, and more limber, he ate a bowl of Hershey Kisses that were up on a counter...he's a big dog and it was an easy reach. Easier than we realized, obviously. His size helped in the fact that the chocolate didn't have any bad effects.   

Hunting lab

* Give them a good petting! Of course, hopefully, we all pet our dogs and love 'em up regularly. But, the next time you're doing so, use it as a chance to take notice of any changes that may be a health concern. We also have a 12-year-old Springer Spaniel who loves to be petted. I was giving her an ear scratching and rub a few days ago and discovered a large lump on her ear that needed to be removed. 

Trying on her life jacket!* Of course, at Bass Pro we think about safety for dogs when they're outdoors. How many people put a life jacket on their dog? The aforementioned Spring spaniel jumped off the side of a Sun Tracker Party Barge when she was about a year the middle of the lake. Her dog instincts kicked in and she was able to, rather sloppily, dog paddle in circles until we got back to her and I lifted her out. 

Dogs can get tired and pulled under water just like people. Play it safe and get your pooch a life jacket.

* Hunting dogs may be tough in the field, but they need protection, too. Keep them warm and protected from scrapes, cuts, and abrasions with a good hunting vest. Additionally, keep them hydrated and supplied with food, as needed. If they ride in a kennel in the back of a vehicle, put a liner in it. If the kennel is in the back of an open truck bed, use a kennel cover to protect them from wind, cold, dust and debris.  Pick up some wound fact, you can pick up a whole Sporting Dog first aid kit.

Some dogs may be adaptable to using dog boots. These are great for hunting, if terrain requires, but also for snow. In fact, in online reviews, Bass Pro Shops customers have even found these boots useful for protecting a dogs feet after surgical procedures - I wish I would have thought of that a few years ago after a lump was removed from our dog's paw!

Classic Accessories® Dog Whisperer™ Food and Hydration Pack

* Last, but not least, don't forget to give your pet the nutrition they need, throw in a healthy treat now 

and then, and enjoy some doggy fun and games!

Our dogs give us unconditional love. Be a responsible pet owner and take good care of your pets, because they take good care of us.


While most service animals are allowed inside Bass Pro Shops retail locations, further regulations may differ from store to store.  Please contact the store you will be visiting prior to arriving for information as to whether or not your pet will be allowed in the store. 

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Sock Thermometers

RedHead SocksThere's a chill in the air. The perennial debate has begun and rages on in many homes regarding the firing up of the furnace - what temp, at what times, and for how long. I don't care that much about what the temperature is or how cold it is's Iowa. It gets cold. That's a given. 

I don't obsess over what the thermometer says. My RedHead Lifetime Guarantee socks tell me. If I pull them out of the drawer, cold weather has arrived. I pull them out of the drawer and they bring my feet up to the right temperature. I wear them with my boots in the snow, but most importantly, I wear them in the house. These are my house "slipper socks," so to speak. I wear the men's version, but they come in ladies', too. 

They're soft and double-stitched in all the stressed areas. A new pair will be in my future this year, I suspect, but that's okay. With the lifetime guarantee, I can return them and get a new pair. It doesn't matter what Bass Pro Shop I take them to; I can return them and get a free pair. No questions asked. 

What's new this year with the RedHead socks is that they now come in men's lightweight quarter socks and men's RedHead Lifetime Guarantee Socksmidweight crew!  Not as heavy, shorter, and easier for casual and hiking wear. I'm looking forward to purchasing some soon to wear to day, my low cut RedHead athletic socks will tell me it's time to make the switch!

RedHead Lifetime Guarantee Socks






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Outdoor Cooking Primer - Ballpark Popcorn Crunch

Ballpark Popcorn from the Popcorn Board

Once again, we're stretching the "outdoor" aspect...but in honor of the World Series (played outdoors) and National Popcorn Popping month (grown outdoors) we're sharing another easy recipe from the Popcorn Board! 

It's SO easy you could throw it together and eat it while you're watching the World Series...and not have to worry about having your popcorn dumped on someone's head as it's passing down your row of seats!

Grab the popper and get to it...batter up!


Ballpark Popcorn Crunch

Yield: 3 quarts

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 quarts unsalted popped popcorn
1 cup chopped walnuts
Cream together butter and brown sugar till light and fluffy. 

In a separate bowl, toss popcorn and walnuts.
Add creamed mixture to popcorn and nuts. Combine until coated.
Spread on a large baking sheet in a single layer.
Bake at 350-degree oven for 10 minutes or until crisp.


Outdoor Cooking Primer - Herbed Popcorn Chili Topper

The chili is simmering away over the campfire or on the stove. How about an interesting topper for it? Something other than saltines or oyster crackers? We found this great easy popcorn topper...celebrate National Chili Month AND National Popcorn Poppin' Month!

Herbed Popcorn Chili Topper

Herbed Popcorn Chili and Soup Topper

Yield: 4 cups

4 cups air-popped popcorn Butter or original flavor cooking spray
1/4 teaspoon parsley flakes
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4  teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4  teaspoon Cajun Creole seasoning or chili powder





Place popcorn in a large, clean paper bag.
Spray popcorn lightly with cooking spray, about 5 quick sprays.
Sprinkle parsley, thyme, basil, oregano and Cajun Creole seasoning onto popcorn.
Close bag and shake to distribute seasoning.
Sprinkle on chili or soup at serving time.



Friday Featured Fan Spotlight

Bass Pro Shops Altoona Facebook fans are among the most LOYAL fans in the world. They come in all shapes and sizes and from all walks of life. Between pursuing a college degree and part-time employment, time can fly. Enjoying outdoor activities become even more appreciated. Uriah Hanson, a management student at Drake University and labor relations specialist at MidAmerican Energy, is a fan who appreciates all his moments spent outdoors.


How Long have You Enjoyed the Great Outdoors? Forever!

Uriah and dogs

Uriah, like many sportsmen and women, got started at a young age...and like many others, he learned from a family member. It was that experience that gave him the bug for the birds.

"I first remember going fishing with my dad and family when I was four or five years old. It wasn’t until I turned 11, and we started pheasant hunting together, that I really got hooked on the sport. It was my first hunting experience and the game that kick-started my love for the outdoors. There is nothing more exciting than the flush of a rooster right under your toes and seeing good dogs in the field. Training my own dogs and being able to see them work and learn right before my eyes, as we’re hunting, is another reason I love hunting upland birds. Being able to see all my hard work and effort pay off for the dogs and for me is one of the best feelings there is."

Uriah is very involved with the North Polk Pheasants Forever Chapter, which has seen tremendous growth. As a public lands hunter, he Uriah Hansonrelishes being involved with an organization that can do so much good to extend the life of those hunting grounds.

"I really enjoy being a part of the chapter, not only for the great board members that I work with and have become friends with, but also to see all the good that the chapter is able to do. Just in the past year we have spent over $15,000 on local habitat restoration at public hunting areas such as Paul Errington Marsh and Big Creek State Park. I hunt and spend my time almost completely on public grounds, so it's a pleasure to be a part of an organization putting so much time, effort, and money into making those grounds the best they can possibly be. The other aspect I love is being a part of our youth involvement, youth events, and contributions to youth shooting initiatives. Whether it's donating money or supplies to the Ankeny trap team, or sponsoring a mentored youth hunt/education day that we do annually, seeing those kids light up, when they shoot their first clay pigeon or pheasant, is a feeling that you can’t help but be proud of."

What's Your Favorite Outdoor Activity? Hunting

"I try to get outside and do something as often as possible between work and school!  One of my favorite things to do is get outside with Uriah and friends at Drake University stadium!my girlfriend and our dogs. We enjoy taking them for walks and runs on many of the public areas throughout the metro in the evenings. I also enjoy being able to get the dogs out in the fields in the fall and actually hunt with's great being able to watch them grow and learn right before your eyes.

"I am an avid hunter and go after numerous species but my main targets are pheasants, ducks/geese, deer (both gun and archery), and turkeys. Normally, if there is a hunting season going on, I am going to be out after something!  In the off season I fish occasionally, but not a ton. Instead, I normally spend my time outdoors during the summer at the lake or working with the dogs."

Go-To Gear? Knife

"I always have a good knife handy...when I don’t I usually wish that I did. There are tons of times where you’re in the middle of a hunt or climbing into your stand and realize there is a loose cord or string that needs cut, and that’s when you hope that the knife is still in the pack where you last saw it. On top of that, when it comes time to clean the animals after the hunt, it tends to be hard to do without the knife.

Words of Wisdom?  It's not the kill of the hunt, it's the experience.

"Take advantage of every opportunity you have to get outdoors. Whether it’s a walk on a trail or hunting elk out west, it’s not about the kill or achieving something that matters in the end. It’s just the ability to get out, take in the fresh air, and enjoy the surroundings. 

"I think all too often we get so busy in everyday life that we forget to take a step back and enjoy the simple things like a timber in the fall, or a fresh snowfall in the middle of January.  The simple things are sometimes the things that can make life the happiest.

"In September, I had the opportunity to go on a DIY elk hunt in Colorado with a good friend. We spent a week in the mountains, sleeping in a tent and eating granola bars and soup, only to come out a week later with no elk. The trip was still a success. For me to have the ability to see parts of the country and wilderness like that were priceless. It’s trips like that where you really get to see the beauty of the outdoors and understand that hunting isn’t about the killing or harvesting, but rather spending time with good friends and family and seeing nature at its purest form."


the North Polk Pheasants Forever hosts its 25th Annual Banquet in February 2014! 

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This Weekend @ Bass Pro Shops Altoona - Wolves and Witches!

The Halloween fun continues this weekend at Bass Pro Shops Altoona!


Costume Parade Winner

Saturday, October 26

* Free 4 x 6 photo with the Peanuts characters in the pumpkin patch: Noon-5 p.m.
* Costume Parade - Saturday only, 4-5 p.m., October 19 - One winner receive a $10 gift card!
* Free craft: 1-5 p.m.

Sunday, October 27

* Free 4 x 6 photo with the Peanuts characters in the pumpkin patch: Noon-5 p.m.
* Scavenger Hunt - Sunday only, 2-3 p.m.
* Free craft 1-5 p.m.


Keona from Pella Wildlife Company

PELLA WILDLIFE COMPANY IS BACK - Saturday, Oct. 26 only, 11 a.m.- 3 p.m.

Come meet Keona, the Arctic Wolf and learn more about wolves and the Pella Wildlife Company!





Try Before You Buy!

Saturday - Uncle Buck's Hidden Heat Chili Mix
Sunday - Tiger Sauce on Shredded Chicken

Scouts Selling Popcorn

Saturday, October 26 - Scout Troop #33 from Runnells

COMING NOVEMBER 9 - SANTA'S WONDERLAND OPENS!! Watch our Facebook page and this blog for details!


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Nature's Food for Wildlife

What do deer really like to eat that Mother Nature already provides? It's important to know for stand and blind placement.

Mass crops are plentiful in the timber.  Iowa outdoorsman and bowhunter Don Mealey says bow hunting should be a "big picture" activity. One aspect is the foods provided in nature that deer really like, and other wildlife for that matter!

Acorns are great, but what else is there?

  • Hickory nuts - The hickory trees are loaded because of Iowa's wet spring. Turkeys like them, too!
  • Hazelnuts - Hazelnuts are like ice cream to deer. They grow just at the right level to make them easily accessible to browing deer.
  • Walnuts - Not so much for deer, but the squirrels love them!
  • Buckeyes - break open the hull and the buckeye supplies a tasty treat for wildlife. 
  • Honey Locust trees - Deer have often been spotted eating the pods that hang off this thorny tree.

A variety of thoughts are online as to whether deer eat hedge apples or just the leaves. Hedge apples (Osage orange) are in abundance this year in Iowa and, in this video clip, Mealey says deer like those green balls that some people use to keep spiders away! 


Consider the whole picture when hunting and know your "grocery" supply for wildlife. 


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It's Chilly - Make Chili!

Venison ChiliWhen cool weather hits, there are simply few better smells in the house than a pot of chili cooking on the stove. October is National Chili Month and our temps are cooperating to put us in the mood!

Tailgating, campfires, holidays, or just for dinner...everyone seems to have their favorite chili settings! As for how it's made?  beans, no beans, beef, chicken, venison, pork, spicy, mild, thin, thick, white, red, even green...everyone has a preference!

Maybe you prefer to use your own seasonings. However, sometimes it's nice to use a basic chili mix and you can always kick it up a notch yourself with added flavor, such as your special hot sauce or those roasted peppers from the garden!  

For an easy mix, try these new mixes from Cherith Valley: Mango Habanero, White Bean and Lime, and Tito's Classic Chili Mix.

Cherith Valley Tito's Classic Chili Mix at Bass Pro Shops

Cherith Valley White Bean and Lime Chili Mix at Bass Pro ShopsCherith Valley Mango Habanero Chili Mix at Bass Pro Shops






All three are super simple - just add water, plus meat if you prefer. For those with diet restrictions, they are also all:

  • Non-GMO
  • Reduced sodium
  • Gluten-free
  • MSG-free
  • Free of artificial preservatives, flavorings, or colorings

You've got the old standards to choose from, too:  Uncle Buck's Hidden Heat , Whoop Ass Chili Mix, Ass Kickin' Chili Fixins', and the always popular Uncle Buck's Black Bean or Two-Step Black Bean Chili in a bottle.

Get the big cooking pot's time for some chili! Later we'll post a great cornbread recipe and also a popcorn topper for your chili!  Yep, popcorn! 


On the Trail Tuesday - Dilemma

On the Trail Tuesday - Bass Pro Shops"A Dilemma on the Calendar"

By Dan Stephany, Bass Pro Shops Altoona Receiving Manager and Outdoorsman

Welcome back to those of you who have been following along with our Facebook page and blog articles each week. On the Trail Tuesday is a weekly update about our journey through this 2013 hunting season chasing mature whitetails on public ground. Last week, I headed to the stand with high hopes riding a big cold front that pushed through ushering in some of the coldest weather of the season. My anticipation couldn’t have been higher as I settled in to my stand with several hours of daylight left. By the time I climbed down, I was confused and a little frustrated after only seeing three deer, a mature doe and two fawns off in the distance. In hindsight, I may have overlooked one important factor – the lunar cycle.

Moon Phases

While we had a great cold front move through, we also were in the waxing gibbous phase of the moon. Many game biologists will agree that the waning crescent moon phase is the best for deer movement. With the late rising moon phase, the deer movement was probably in the few hours following sunset, and not during shooting light.

In an effort to test the theory, I ventured out again on Thursday to a different part of the property, also with the wind in my favor. The results were identical, with only two does sighted during the last five minutes of light. That being said, I am left with a dilemma on the calendar. The moon phase is changing this weekend and should be much better come next week. I will be on vacation the following week, and should still see some of the best movement of the moon phase, plus the date on the calendar lines up with when we traditionally see the beginning of the rut in the Midwest. 


My dilemma is fighting the urge to head back out this week and try to make something happen when it may not be right yet.  When I have done this in the past, I have gotten tired and frustrated with not seeing deer. By the time the rut hits, when I should be spending the most time in the tree stands, I am burned out and not as willing to head to the woods. So today, I will not head out to the stand, but instead will stick to the plan - wait for the moon to line up with the calendar and hopefully stack the odds in my favor for wrapping my tag around a mature whitetail!

For those of you putting time in the stand – good luck!  I have heard of some awesome deer hitting the ground already.  I look forward to sharing with you again next week as we take this journey together!


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The Facts about Bats

Let's face of the least appreciated creatures in our great outdoors is the bat. Visions of fangs, wings folded and hanging upside down, and thoughts of rabies cause even the bravest souls to be afraid of the mere sight of a bat on TV...let alone encountering one in person.

What better time to show a little love for bats than October, with it's blustery weather, darkening skies, and spooky Halloween celebrations, is also Bat Appreciation Month!

Bats are more like Batman...a superhero of the skies, protecting the the villains...mosquitoes and other insects that harm people, crops, and livestock. There are more than 1,000 species of bats in the world. Here are some fun facts about the bat, from Animal Planet and the Pella Wildlife Company.

  • They're the only mammals that can fly. They actually have the power to push through the air, and their thin wings are highly sensitive.
  • A single brown bat can catch around 1,200 mosquito-sized insects in one hour. According to the Pella Wildlife Company, Big Brown Bats can eat their entire body weight in one night...a small colony of 150 Big Browns can eat 1.3 million pests each year.
  • Vampire bats don't suck blood. If you are traveling in Central or South America, you might see a vampire bat bite a cow and then lick blood from the wound, but otherwise, no.
  • Fewer than 10 people in the last 50 years have contracted rabies from North American bats. Bats avoid people. Here in Iowa, less than ½ of 1% of bats carry rabies. In the last 40 years, only 16 people have died from bat-borne rabies.
  • Bats use echolocation to get around in the dark. Bats have to rely on navigational methods other than sight. Bats send out beeps and listen for variations in the echoes that bounce back at them and that's how they get around.
  • Bats are's easier to hunt bugs and that's important to any state that has crops. For example, according to Pella Wildlife Company, bats provide an estimated value to Iowa’s agricultural industry of $1.76 billion per year...roughly $50 an acre. If Iowa was to lose even half of its current bat population, the economic effects could raise the price of goods ranging from ethanol and plastics to everyday grocery items. Besides being important for Iowa’s ag industry, bats are responsible for controlling many other night-flying insects. One Little Brown Bat can eat up to 1000 mosquitoes an hour! In fact all of Iowa’s bats are insect eaters.
  • Bats make up 1/4 of the mammals population.
  • The average bat will probably outlive your pet dog and some species of brown bats can live to 30 years.
  • They have only one "pup" per year. Many times, these are the babies that fly in to houses in the spring, as they are learning their wings!
  • More than 50 percent of bat species in the United States are either in severe decline or are listed as endangered. There is a cold-loving fungus, called White Nose Syndrome, that is devastating to the bat population and has been found in 18 states. It is not harmful to humans and is transmitted from bat to bat, but otherwise not much is known about WNS. One theory suggests that the fungus wakes bats up during their hibernation, causing them to deplete their fat reserves. Then they either die from starvation or freeze to death.
  • An anticoagulant found in vampire bat saliva may soon be used to treat human cardiac patients. It blood flowing from vampire bats' prey, and seems to also keep blood flowing in human beings, too. So, scientists are trying to copy the enzymes to treat heart conditions and stop the effects of strokes in humans.
  • Bats spend a lot of time grooming...they clean themselves and each other by licking and scratching for hours.

Audubon Bat HouseNobody wants bats in their home, but they've been known to take up residence in some. But what you CAN do is get a bat house and they are sold at Bass Pro Shops Altoona. Check with your local Bass Pro Shop to see if they have them. The bat house provides an alternative to your chimney and, creepy as it may sound, even a small box can house 100 bats.

According to the Pella Wildlife Company, bat houses should be placed 10-12 feet off the ground in a place that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight a day. Make sure it's out in the open, so they're easily found by echolocation. Old barns and dead trees make great summer roosts for bats. Bats enjoy being in the top of the loft and will not hurt people or animals.

Keep in mind: bats are intelligent and gentle creatures.They would prefer only to be left alone to eat the bugs we consider to be pests.

What do you do if you encounter a bat? Nothing. It will find its way back to its roost. If it's showing strange behavior, like flying outdoors during the day or in freezing temperatures, the call the DNR and have knowledgeable people take care of it.

Like any other member of wildlife, show a little respect to the bat. He wants to avoid you as much as you want to avoid him.

For more information on bats in Iowa:

Pella Wildlife Company -

Polk County Conservation -

Bat Conservation International -

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National Cookbook Month - Dutch Oven Cooking

If you can cook it in an oven, you can cook it in cast iron over coals. Dutch Oven cooking can be done year round, but it's a super way to enjoy the great outdoors in the cool fall weather. A firepit, concrete slab, or even a small Weber Smokey Joe charcoal grill can hold your coals for your cast iron oven. Dutch Oven cooking is more than just chili, stew and cornbread. In honor of National Cookbook Month, check out some of the cookbooks Bass Pro Shops has to offer to help you with recipes, coal placement, etc. All of these cookbooks make a great gift for someone who is wanting to start Dutch Oven cooking, campers, and those cooks who want to explore different cooking methods. Here is a look at a few from the collection offered:

Dutch Oven Gold

Val and Marie Cowley bring you 225 dutch oven recipes and tips for mouth-watering campsite meals! 


Championships Dutch Oven Cookbook


More recipes from the Crowley's favorite collection, developed especially for dutch ovens, featuring 200 recipes. 



Lodge Texas Treasury

The Texas Treasury of Dutch Oven Cooking is a collection of recipes from the competitive cook-offs sanctioned by the Lone Star Dutch Oven Society. It includes history on the Dutch Oven and tips for care and maintenance.




Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook

Founded in 1896, Lodge remains the only American manufacturer of quality cast iron cookware. This cookbook is a celebration of cast iron and features over 200 delicious recipes to make in cast iron, from peanut brittle to curry to pancakes!



Cast Iron cooking for dummies
Lodge also brings you this basic "dummies" book that covers everything from care to cooking. Don't be scared off by cast iron cooking...the experts will walk you through it!
Bass Pro Shops carries a multitude of cast iron equipment and accessories, from tripod stands to cooking stands, lid lifters, and heavy-duty gloves. 
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Popcorn Poppin' Goodness

National Popcorn Poppin' MonthIs there any happier word than popcorn? Okay, maybe ice cream...but it's National Popcorn Poppin' Month so we're going to celebrate popcorn!

Popcorn has come a long way. The Popcorn Board says that the first use of wild and early cultivated popcorn was popping. A Spanish missionary in Peru between 1609 and 1629, Bernabé Cobo, wrote in that the Peruvian Indians toasted a "certain kind of corn until it bursts. They call it pisancalla, and they use it as a confection."

I can remember, as a young child back in the 1960s, going to buy fresh-picked popcorn. The corn came from a field that now lays under the rolling waters of the Des Moines River and Lake Red Rock in Iowa. I think of it every time I drive across the mile-long bridge.

We'd bring our harvest home and, sitting on overturned buckets in the garage, my dad and I would shell it. I remember using my thumbs to kind of push the kernels off. I'm positive my dad shelled most. It was probably a Sunday. We didn't have popcorn often, but when we did it was usually on Sunday night...had to have something to eat while watching Wild Kingdom and the Wonderful World of Disney!

We popped it in a pan on the stove; later we graduated to the electric popper that had the lid as the bowl. 

Air poppers became popular in the late 70's and early 80's.Then the microwave took over. According to the Popcorn Board, in the 1990s microwave popcorn accounted for $240 million in annual U.S. popcorn sales.

The Popcorn Board says that today we consume 16 billion quarts of popped popcorn each year and the average American eats about 51 quarts.

Today, the microwave continues to reign. At Bass Pro Shops you can get some Ass Kickin' brand popcorn in cool flavors like Barbecue, Chile Lime, Habanero, and Kettle Korn. Top it off with some Ass Kickin' Popcorn Seasoning!

For those who prefer making popcorn the old-fashioned way, there are some classic poppers to choose from at Bass Pro Shops. The Whirley-Pop popper lets you put some elbow grease into it. Want to try popping over the open fire? The Rome Popcorn Popper is a classic open fire popper...perfect for campfires. The Bass Pro Shops Open-Fire Pop Popcorn Popper Kit is designed for use over any outside open fire - campfire, fire pit, grill, or outdoor fireplace. Don't forget the Real Theater Popcorn to use with them!

Like to create your own popcorn concoctions? The Popcorn Board has an amazing web site with over 100 popcorn recipes, fun facts, quizzes, coloring sheets and other activities for kids. The National Education Association even has popcorn-related lesson and educational tools for ages K-5!

So, pop your favorite popcorn, gather up the kids, and celebrate America's favorite snack!



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This Weekend @ Bass Pro Shops Altoona - Calling All Goblins!

Calling all goblins, baby chickies, and....crayons??

Halloween event

The Halloween fun starts this weekend at Bass Pro Shops Altoona!

Saturday, October 19

* Free 4 x 6 photo with the Peanuts characters in the pumpkin patch: Noon-5 p.m.
* Costume Parade - Saturday only, 4-5 p.m., October 19 - One winner receive a $10 gift card!
* Free craft: 1-5 p.m.

Sunday, October 20

* Free 4 x 6 photo with the Peanuts characters in the pumpkin patch: Noon-5 p.m.
* Scavenger Hunt - Sunday only, 2-3 p.m.
* Free craft 1-5 p.m.

Try Before You Buy!

Saturday - Uncle Buck's Hush Puppy Mix
Sunday - Uncle Buck's Two Step Potato Soup Mix

The Grill Shack is Open this Weekend!

Saturday and Sunday - Support the Southwestern Community College Shooting Sports team by grabbing a bite to eat at the grill shack outside our front doors!

Scouts Selling Popcorn

Saturday, October 19 - Scout troop #133 from Carlisle
Sunday, October 20 - Cub Scout Pack #463 from Altoona


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On the Trail Tuesday - Cold Front Action

On the Trail Tuesdays - Dan Stephany

By Dan Stephany, Bass Pro Shops Altoona Receiving Manager and Outdoorsman

If you are a bow hunter anywhere in the Midwest, and haven’t had a chance to get to a stand yet, you are potentially missing out on some fantastic deer movement! This past week, in Iowa, we had a great cold front pass through. In October, that is a trigger for large bucks to get on their feet  and head for food early. This weather, combined with all of the agricultural crops being harvested, adds up to a recipe for great hunting! Many times this produces daylight sightings of fully mature bucks that we may not see until the rut in November.

While I was not able to check trail cameras this past week, I did receive several pictures from people I knew, or from friends at our store, that all harvested awesome bucks. Every one of these deer grossed over 170” Boone and Crockett, which is amazing in its own right. However, considering the date on the calendar, it is about two-three weeks earlier than we usually see deer of this size being harvested.

October Bucks

The Iowa weather forecast is calling for highs in the 50s and lows in the 30s almost every day this week, so if you can find a chance to climb a tree or sneak into a blind, the odds are in your favor for seeing some great October action.

                           Altoona Forecast                          

I'm hoping to climb a tree with bow in hand tonight for the first time this year.  Tonight I'm on a doe mission, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a mature buck steps out in daylight either. I guess I'll just have to sit in my tree and find out.

Isn’t that why we all go out anyway? For the chance that maybe, just maybe, it's the lucky day.

Good luck and hunt safe!


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Outdoor Cooking Primer - Pheasant Legs and Thighs

Pheasant recipePheasant season starts this weekend in Iowa. 

Our numbers in Iowa may be low, but we know many hunters venture north to the Dakotas. We also have many pheasant hunting fans and blog followers, so we're going to share a couple of pheasant recipes. We wish all pheasant hunters "Good Luck" in the field!



Pheasant Legs and Thighs

1 can of cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup

1/2 cup of sour cream

1/2 cup of milk

Pheasant legs and thighs (skin removed)


Mix soup, sour cream and milk. Pour into large skillet with legs and thighs. Simmer on low for three hours or until tender. If sauce becomes too thick, add more milk.

This dish will surprise you on how tasty and tender pheasant legs and thighs can be!


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