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 it...one 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 innocent...us...from 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 nocturnal...it'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 - http://pellawildlifecompany.org.

Polk County Conservation - www.polkcountyiowa.gov/conservation/education/nature-in-iowa/animals-in-iowa/bats/

Bat Conservation International - www.batcon.org

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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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What? Protect Your Hearing!

With hunting season here, and the increased interest in shooting sports, it's time to review hearing protection.
Besides...it National Protect Your Hearing Month!

RedHead Foam Shooting Plugs

Did you know that people who don't wear hearing protection devices (HPD) while shooting can have hearing loss with as little as one shot? In the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) Audiology Information Series, Michael Stewart, PhD, CCC-A, Professor of Audiology, Central Michigan University, says, "Audiologists see this often, especially during hunting season when hunters and bystanders may be exposed to rapid fire from big bore rifles, shotguns, or pistols."

RedHead® Electronic Sport 2-Microphone Earmuff

Sounds louder than 85 decibels can cause permanent hearing loss. The destructive noise can come from one loud blast or explosion or prolonged exposure to high noise levels. For example, according to the National Rifle Association (NRA) , at 140+ dBs, a firearm blast has a higher noise level than a jackhammer and even a jet engine!

150 dB = fireworks at 3 feet
140 dB = firearms, jet engine
130 dB = jackhammer
120 dB = jet plane takeoff, siren

Extremely Loud
110 dB = maximum output of some MP3 players, model airplane, chain saw
106 dB = gas lawn mower, snowblower
100 dB = hand drill, pneumatic drill
90 dB = subway, passing motorcycle

Hearing protection should be an automatic accessory for anyone using firearms. There are so many options that there's no excuse to not have some kind of hearing protection, depending on your budget and needs. There are options for youth and adults, and even pink ear muffs for the ladies! There are inexpensive malleable foam plugs up to hi-tech electronic protection.
The key measurement to note when purchasing hearing protection is the NRR (Noise Reduction Rating). This EPA rating is a measurement of a hearing protection device's potential noise reduction. The highest NRR rating for earplugs is 33, and the highest available NRR rating for ear muffs is 31.
As an example, Bass Pro Shops' foam ear plugs have an NRR rating of 31. The Howard Leight Leightning L3 High Attenuation Hearing Protection Earmuffs provides an NRR of 30.
Take a tip from the ASHA and take time to protect your ears in some way...you never know what you might miss many years from now!
Tips To Protect Your Hearing
  • Always use some type of hearing protection  any time you fire a gun.
  • Always have disposable HPDs handy - make them part of your gear.
  • Double-protect your ears, like putting muffs over plugs, when shooting big-bore firearms.
  • Choose smaller caliber firearms for target practice and hunting.
  • Choose single-shot firearms instead of lever action, pump, or semi-automatic guns.
  • Avoid shooting in groups or in reverberant environments.
  • Use electronic or nonlinear HPDs for hunting.


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It's the Great Pumpkin Halloween Event!

Halloween Bass Pro ShopsWhat better place than Bass Pro Shops Altoona to have a safe, climate-controlled, and fun Halloween?

Calling all ghosts, goblins, witches, princesses, fairy tale characters, clowns, super heroes, mummies, dressed up doggies, and walking pumpkins!

Your ability to make people smile is requested at one of our most popular events!

Bass Pro Shops Altoona Halloween Event


* Free 4 x 6 photo with the Peanuts characters in the pumpkin patch: Weeknights 5-8 p.m., Weekends Noon-5 p.m. 

   (All ages welcomed!)

* Free giveaway to the first 100 kids to get their photo taken WEEKNIGHTS ONLY.

* Trick or Treating - Every weeknight between Oct. 19-31, 6-7 p.m.

* Costume Parade - Saturdays, October 19 & 26 only, 4-5 p.m.- One winner at each parade receives a $10 gift card!

* Scavenger Hunt - Sundays, October 20 & 27 only, 2-3 p.m.

* Free crafts - Weeknights only 6-7 p.m., Weekends only 1-5 p.m., Halloween night only 6-8 p.m.

Halloween Bass Pro Shops Altoona

Halloween Bass Pro Shops AltoonaHalloween Bass Pro Shops Altoona


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National Cookbook Month - Southern Food Heritage Day

Dadgum That's Good, Too

Get in touch with your inner grits! October 11 is Southern Food Heritage Day - but there's more to southern food than grits!  In honor of National Cookbook Month AND Southern Food Heritage Day, here are some cookbooks you might want to explore for the hearty, home-cooked, just like mom's (grandma's ?) cooking!


"Dadgum, That's Good, Too!" - John McLemore is the owner and President/CEO of Masterbuilt AND he knows how to cook! Learn about his passion for southern cooking in this cookbook that features over 135 recipes for smoking, grilling, frying, steaming, and boiling!


Hall of Fame of Southern Recipes

"Hall of Fame of Southern Recipes" These authors hand-picked over 200 recipes out of 25,000 from the Best of the Best State Cookbook series. 

Best of the Best from the Deep South


"Best of the Best from the Deep South" - Get a little more specific with these recipes from Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama. The pecan pie on the cover is enough for me to want to invest in this cookbook!

500 Treasured Country Recipes


"500 Treasured Country Recipes" - Southern and Country often go hand in hand. Check out these mouthwatering down-home recipes for potlucks, holidays and just plain good eatin'!


Hometstyle Recipes

"Gooseberry Patch 101 Homestyle FavoritesEasy weeknight recipes to Sunday dinner meat and potatoes style! 

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This Weekend @ Bass Pro Shops Altoona!

So much going on this weekend in the area, including the Youth Waterfowl Hunt at Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt sponsored by Polk County Conservation, and the first game ever for our new minor league hockey team the Iowa Wild!  

Stop and see us while you're in the area!

Our Ducks Unlimited Conservation month continues, as well as our Local Hero Discount Month!

Saturday, October 12

  • Santa's Wonderland 2013Santa's Wonderland Job Fair for Bass Pro Shops Altoona

Do you love the holidays and working with children? Looking for reliable, energetic, and personable candidates with great customer service skills. Must be available nights and weekends. Minimum 18 years of age to apply. Come to the store to apply and find out more!

October 12, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Can't make it to the job fair? Stop in at the Customer Service Desk and ask for an application!


  • Boy Scout Troop 99 will be selling popcorn at the store beginning around 10:30 a.m. 


Sunday, October 13

  • Mahaska County Ducks Unlimited will at the store from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. helping us promote our Ducks Unlimited Conservation month! Stop by and find out more about all that Duck's Unlimited does to help wetlands and waterfowl, especially in Iowa!
  • Boy Scout Pack 61 will be selling popcorn beginning around 10:30 a.m.


Next week we get spooky, creepy and kooky!  It's the Great Pumpkin Halloween Event - October 19-31!  Watch this blog and our Facebook page for details!

 Halloween Event - Bass Pro Shops Altoona


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Outdoor Cooking Primer - Slow Cooker Applesauce

Slow Cooker Applesauce

It's National Apple Month! Now that your buckets of apples from the orchard are peeled using your LEM Apple and Potato Peeler, it's time to make something super easy to eat! 

I found this recipe at http://southernfood.about.com. However, as usual, I changed it a bit. I doubled the batch and used apple cranberry juice (which was already in my fridge) instead of apple juice. Your slow cooker may be full with the fresh cut apples, but it will shrink considerably while cooking.  Throw some pecan chips on the top and it's a wonderful taste of fall camping, hiking, lunches,or even after-school! Put it warm over ice cream, too, for a REALLY special treat.


Slow-Cooker Applesauce


8 to 10 apples, peeled, cored, and cut in chunks
1/3 cup apple juice or water
1 scant teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup packed brown sugar


Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 7 to 9 hours. Stir to blend and mash lightly, if desired.


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On the Trail Tuesdays - First Buck

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

We recognize that not everybody has private land to hunt and, like most of us, usually work with small budgets. This year, a couple of us at Bass Pro Shops Altoona have taken up the challenge of taking a mature buck on public land with archery equipment. Our goal is to scout, pattern, and then attempt to harvest a deer bringing you all the information we gather along the way. 

We set up a couple of trail cameras in September and placed a few stands in natural funnels, based on aerial maps and walking the property a few times. The cameras confirmed our suspicions regarding deer movement. While we didn’t capture any Iowa giants, we definitely were able to find several nice bucks to chase this season.

The first chance we had to hunt was this past weekend. With a great cold front pushing through on Friday and Saturday, I took my oldest son out for the youth season in an attempt to harvest his first buck. Micah has been successful each of the past two seasons harvesting does. This year he was willing to pass on several does for a shot at a buck. First Buck - Bass Pro Shops Altoona

We went out after work on Saturday and set up on the ground. We were on the downwind side of a nice draw that led out to a bean field. After about 15 minutes, we had a mature doe walk right past us at 20 yards - she never even looked in our direction. We felt pretty good about our chances after that experience.  Sure enough, about 45 minutes before sunset, we had a nice buck walk right out in front of us. Micah was able to settle the crosshairs as he stopped in an opening at 25 yards and let the muzzleloader smoke fly. His shot found the mark and the buck only made it 80 yards (most of which was falling down the ravine!) The heart-shot buck’s trail was easy to follow and Micah had his first buck on the ground. To say we were excited would be an understatement! Our scouting paid off, and Micah was the lucky hunter to capitalize on Iowa's public land.First Buck - Bass Pro Shops Altoona

Our next goal? Let the property rest a while before the November rut kicks in to full force. Then we’ll set up again on the travel routes between the bedding areas we found while scouting. We will keep you posted as our season continues. 

In the meantime, check back for regular updates about what we're finding on our cameras and what kind of movement we're noticing. We'll bring you photos and tips, too!

Until then, good luck and hunt safe!


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Conservation Connections - A Fox of a Different Color!

Silver color phase red fox @ Bass Pro Shops AltoonaMeet Kit the red fox...yes, RED!  The Pella Wildlife Company (PWC) was on hand recently to introduce us to this beautiful member of the wildlife community. 

Red foxes actually come in three color "phases." Red, silver (which is what Kit is) and a cross.  A "cross" is a cross between a red and a silver.

Seven to twelve percent of foxes are born into the silver color phase. PWC representatives say they know there are silver foxes in Iowa because there have been two cross color sightings near Pella. 

Red and gray fox are often misidentified by people.  A red fox has a white tip on the end of its tail, while the gray has a black tipped-tail. The gray fox is actually a little stouter than a red fox, with shorter legs, and just like it's name...it's gray! Red fox are seen more often than gray. The gray fox is a tree climber.

Cross phase fox photo from alaska-in-pictures.com

The most notable difference between a red fox and a cross color also has to do with coloring. The red fox has black "boots" and black under its tail and on its ears.  The cross will have a black face and black pretty much anywhere on its body. 

Ron DeArmond from the Pella Wildlife Company introduces a very squirmy Kit in this brief Conservation Connections video!


Pella Wildlife Company will be back at Bass Pro Shops Altoona on Saturday, October 26, with a gray wolf! 


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National Cookbook Month - Tasty Reads for the Grill/Smoker

Steve Raichlen

With smartphones, tablets, e-readers and such, actually sitting down and looking at a cookbook has become a lost art. On the other hand, if you like a particular cook's method, a specific style of cooking (like Dutch Oven), or want to read AND learn from a champion in a certain genre of cooking, then a cookbook comes in handy and gives you a one-stop shop for recipes.

Additionally, cookbooks typically give you an easily accessible way of looking at things. I still refer to my Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook from 1950, one of my mother's wedding presents...back when most mom's really cooked. 

Many people don't realize that Bass Pro Shops has cookbooks. In honor of National Cookbook Month, we're going to look at some of the various cookbooks we carry at Bass Pro Shops Altoona, and group them by subject.

Grilling/Smoking, and Barbecue Cookbooks

How to Grill

Steven Raichlen - Host of Primal Grill on public television, Raichlen provides step-by-step instructions and is easy to understand. The Altoona store has a few Raichlen cookbooks:

"The Barbecue! Bible" - Over 500 recipes and winner of a Julia Child Cookbook Award

"Barbecue Bible - Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades"  

"How to Grill" - The Complete Illustrated Book of Barbecue Techniques and Recipes


Paul Kirk and Ardie A. Davis Paul Kirk's Championship Sauces

"Paul Kirk's Championship Barbecue Sauces" - 175 recipes - I have this book and have made some of the recipes. Plus, I've used some of the basics for making my own "concoctions."

"Simple Smoking: Over 80 Recipes for the Home-Smoking Enthusiast'' - Over 80 home-smoking recipes and instruction on a variety of techniques for cooking and spicing.

"America's Best BBQ" - Paul Kirk and Ardie A. Davis - 100 recipes from two of the best!

"25 Essentials - Techniques for Smoking" - Ardie A. Davis - Love this one - own and have used it for basics and full recipes. 

Smoke & Spice


Cheryl and Bill Jamison - Four-time James Beard Award winning cookbook authors, they've helped bring barbecuing, grilling and smoking to the forefront in America's way of cooking!

"Smoke and Spice" - Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison offer up recipes for smoking main dishes, but ALSO side dishes and desserts!


Weber's Smoke



"Weber's Smoke" Cookbook by Jamie Purviance - Weber is the foremost name in grilling; this cookbook is a great source for delicious smoke cooking secrets! 


Myron Mixon


Myron Mixon -  You've watched him on TLC's "BBQ Pitmasters" - Three-time Barbecue World Champion!

"Everyday Barbecue"- You don't need fancy equipment - Mixon shows you how you can barbecue any day...even the busiest ones!

"Smokin' with Myron Mixon" -From essentials of the grill to essentials of the tools, Mixon even supplies readers with 75 of his own recipes. 






Outdoor Cooking Primer - Venison Ziti

Venison is the main source of red meat at our house...actually it's our ONLY source of red meat. We typically have ample supplies due to my husband's hunting prowess...so, it's a good thing bow season started this week because we're running low!

Not long ago, I was visiting with a customer whose husband was just starting deer hunting. I explained that venison was all we ate for red meat. She seemed surprised and asked what I made with it.

"Everything that you make using beef," I said. 

The easiest dish to start with is Baked Ziti. It's just a simple baked pasta dish and much of it can be done ahead of time. Like lasagna, it can be thrown together and refrigerated, or even frozen, and then cooked later.

I made ziti this past Saturday night for our dinner AND my husband was able to take the leftovers with him as he headed out for hunting season. What better way to get in the deer hunting frame of mind...eat venison!

Before the true pasta lovers and aficionados correct me, I'll warn you that we use "ziti" as a universal term, meaning any short tubular pasta. That's only because our grocery store doesn't always have ziti specifically, however carries every other type of short tubular pasta. So we often use rigatoni or penne, which I actually prefer because they have ridges and hold the sauce better.

You can make your baked ziti as basic or loaded as you desire.

Venison Ziti

Venison Ziti


1 pound venison burger
1 pound venison Italian sausage
1 box ziti or penne pasta
1 jar spaghetti sauce of choice (We sometimes make our own sauce using frozen tomatoes, mixed with one small can tomato paste and diced fresh onions, minced garlic, oregano, and fresh ground mixed peppercorns)
2 cups shredded Italian Cheese Blend
Smoked paprika

Preheat oven to 375. Brown and drain the burger and sausage. Add the jarred sauce to the meat and heat. Do not boil.

Boil the pasta according to directions. Drain the pasta; do not rinse.

Spray a 13 x 9 pan with cooking spray. Put cooked pasta in the pan and distribute evenly. Pour the sauce/meat mixture over the noodles, mixing together in the 13 x 9 pan. Add about 1/2 cup cheese and blend it through. 

Cover top of ziti with the remaining cheese...add more if you really love cheese!

Sprinkle smoked paprika, light garlic powder and oregano on top. 

Cover the dish with aluminum foil (tent the foil to prevent cheese from sticking or spray it with cooking spray). Place in oven and bake for about 30 minutes at 375. Remove cover and raise temp to 400 and bake for another 15 minutes or so until cheese is nicely browned. 


This Weekend @ Bass Pro Shops Altoona - Thank You to Our Heroes!

Local Heroes


It's Local Hero Month

We thank those who risk their lives to protect us! October is our Local Hero Discount month! Members of law enforcement, fire, and emergency response receive a 10% discount on regular priced merchandise purchased in the store. Some exclusions apply. Must show ID to receive discount!




Ducks Unlimited

It's Ducks Unlimited Month at Bass Pro Shops, as we celebrate our partners in conservation. DU is the leader in wetlands and waterfowl conservation. According to their web site, DU actually started during the Dust Bowl when waterfowl numbers were depleted so drastically.

"Wetlands improve the overall health of our environment by recharging and purifying groundwater, moderating floods and reducing soil erosion. Wetlands are North America’s most productive ecosystems, providing critical habitat to more than 900 wildlife species and invaluable recreation opportunities for people to enjoy."

Iowa is included in DU's Living Lakes Initiative. This initiative works to preserve our waterfowl heritage and "establish stepping stones of perpetually protected and managed shallow lake complexes from southern Iowa through northern Minnesota to provide quality wetland food and habitat resources for waterfowl."

For more information on Iowa DU projects, visit www.ducks.org/related/iowa-projects.

You can donate $2 to Ducks Unlimited when you visit Bass Pro Shops Altoona this month. Your $2 donation will also enter you in a drawing for one of 10 $500 gift cards!  Donate at any cash register when you check out or at the Customer Service counter.

The Iowa State University Ducks Unlimited Chapter will be at the store Saturday, October 5, selling tickets for their 30th Annual Banquet! 


Jerky Madness - Try Before you Buy!

We're CRAZY about our Uncle Buck's Jerky! We will be handing out samples on Saturday, October 5.  Come give it a try!


Other Happenings

The Ankeny High School Trap Team will be here selling tickets to their annual banquet. Their trap shooting team is growing like crazy! Come show your support. 

Boy Scout Pack #85 will be at the store selling popcorn to help send scouts to camp next year.


Halloween EventCOMING UP

It's the Great Pumpkin Halloween Event - October 19-31...watch for details!


Product Spotlight - LEM Apple and Potato Peeler

LEM Apple Peeler/Corer/Slicer

The orchards are bursting with apples! Apple trees are loaded with fruit around much of the country. Here in Iowa, Iowa orchards are reporting early bumper crops of apples and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey is encouraging everyone to head out to do some picking at our local orchards.

At our house, we were thrilled to be given two 5-gallon buckets of apples.

Oh, the pies!

Oh, the applesauce!

Oh, the peeling!

With hands that just aren't made for peeling and coring that many apples any more, we invested in an LEM Apple and Potato Peeler from Bass Pro Shops.

This product is slick! Peels, cores, and slices into rings...take the apple off and cut down the middle and you're done!

It attaches to any surface, too!

Important note:  There is one thing to "assemble" on the peeler...attaching the wooden handle knob to the handle. However, the screw has reverse threads. Instead of turning the screw to the right, turn it to the left. 

My husband did the peeling and graciously let me record how easy it is...check it out in this quick video:


Find the LEM Apple and Potato Peeler at Bass Pro Shops Altoona or online at www.basspro.com!


Are you Squirrel Smart? Squirrel Awareness Month!

OSquirrel on bird feederctober is National Squirrel Awareness Month. We see them in the tree, we see them stealing bird seed from the feeders, we see them tormenting our pets, we see them hiding and finding their treasured acorns in our lawns. But do we really KNOW them? Here's your chance to astonish and amaze your friends with your squirrel smarts!


So, become more squirrel-friendly with these fun facts from www.squirrels.org (yes, they have their own web page):

1. 365 species of squirrels or squirrel like mammals through out the world

2. These species are divided into seven families. The three most common squirrel families are the ground squirrel, the flying squirrel and the tree squirrel. The Gray squirrel is probably the most common of the tree squirrels, inhabiting most of the northern hemisphere. 

3. The name "squirrel" can be traced back to Aristotle. He "used the word "skiouros," skia meaning shade, while "oura" means tail. Thus the meaning "he who sits in the shadow of his tail" was recorded."  

4. The average gray squirrel is about 15 inches long and eats nuts, fruits, seeds and just about anything else you put in front of him (or her).

5. The red squirrel is a little shorter at about 8-10 inches long. 

6. Baby squirrels are born hairless, no teeth and essentially blind. But when they do get their eyes open and working, they are located high on each side of their head, creating a wide field of vision, without turning the head. Since they are always looking for predators, a squirrel rarely focuses on what it's eating. So if you attempt to hand feed a squirrel, your chances of being bitten are pretty good!

7.  A squirrel breaks the shell of a nut with its teeth, then cleans the nut by licking it or rubbing it on its face before burying. This applies a scent to the nut which helps the squirrel find it later, even under a foot of snow.

8. The male tree squirrel takes twice as long as the female to groom itself. They are the cleanest animal in the rodent family.

9. A squirrel's teeth grow continuously. Their incisor's will grow six inches per year, but stay short due to the constant wear they receive. 

10.  Squirrels range in size from the African pygmy squirrel at 2.8 to 3.9 inches and weighing just 0.35 ounces to the Indian giant squirrel that is 36 inches long and up to 4 pounds.

Last, but not least, squirrels can run up to 20 mph. Unfortunately, that's not quite fast enough to outrun a car, which is often the demise of urban squirrels.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) notes that this should be a good year for the squirrel hunting season, which runs now through January 31, 2014. The daily bag limit is six (fox and gray squirrels combined) and the possession limit is 12.  There are no restrictions on shooting hours.



Scholastic Shooting Sports Programs in Iowa

Youth shooting sports programs and teams are becoming more popular in Iowa. This past June over 1,000 students took part in the High School State Championships in Cedar Falls.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources Shooting Sports Program  encompasses Archery in the Schools and the Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP). The SCTP allows youth from grade school up to high school to learn team-based clay target shooting in an organized manner. Of course, they also learn lifelong skills, such as firearm safety, leadership and focus. There were 89 high school and other program teams registered in 2013 and they're projecting 105 teams in 2014, with an estimated 2,640 participants expected.
Uriah Hansen has seen the increase in growth, too. Hansen is on the board of the North Polk Pheasants Forever Chapter, which works closely to support the Ankeny, Iowa, trap team. He says the Ankeny team is bursting at the seams with kids wanting to be a part of the team.
"I think we are seeing a huge growth in programs like this as people begin to get more curious about the shooting sports...as time goes on and more people begin to get involved, I think we are going to see this continued growth in scholastic teams and interest in them."
Iowa Scholastic Clay Target Program, Inc. is a non-profit organization that assists in providing financial support to the teams and their coaches. Hansen says that is also their Pheasant Forever Chapter's main support for the Ankeny team, which is where they feel it will benefit them the most. 
"Our main support is monetary support for the club and the kids. As you know, shooting is not a cheap sport, and it gets more expensive the better you get. It may cost a shooter $25 a week in just shells to get five rounds of trap in, plus an equal cost for clay targets. That doesn't take into account the cost of a gun, often times which may come close to $1,000 or more to shoot, the vests, and other safety protection required just to step on the range. You take those kind of numbers and spread them across 100+ kids and you're talking $2500 in just shells, if they practice one night a week."

SWCC Shooting Spartans

Shooting sports teams are popping up on the collegiate level, too. Southwestern Community College in Creston, Iowa, is new to the shooting sports program arena, and they actually have a school-supported team. The SWCC Spartans came in strong in their first competition on September 21, landing fourth in a field of nine teams, which included the University of Iowa and Iowa State University.  They  have 25 team members, including three female and travel with 15 members to away shoots. Head Coach Charlie Mundy says the idea of having a team picked up a little steam about a year ago.
"The college was looking for a niche to help keep our current students engaged or attract new students. We had done a little research and realized that there were not many places for a shooting athlete to continue after 4-H and high school. SWCC recognizes our shooting athletes the same as our other sport athletes, whether baseball, basketball, track, etc. Most of the college and university teams around here are considered club sports, which basically means that the athletes are funding their own way. SWCC is supporting our shooting team in the same manner as any other sport here at SWCC."
There are typically challenges in organizing any new student group. However, Mundy says the shooting sports team offers a unique set of challenges, including public perception.
"The political environment is one of the toughest things that we deal with. Most people try to say that we carry weapons. We consider our guns SWCCto be a piece of athletic equipment that is no different than a basketball or a baseball bat...we consider our athletes to be exactly that, athletes. A shooter has to be in good shape and extremely mentally able to focus. Shooting sports are very mental. We also had to find a gun club that was willing to partner with us. We are very lucky to have the High Lakes Outdoor Alliance in Afton (Iowa) as our partners. We have to have a place to store our ammo, guns, etc., and they have been very accommodating. None of these items are allowed on campus. They help to facilitate our practices and home shoots."
Mundy is positive about the future of shooting sports at the collegiate level, much like the high school level. 
"Iowa high school shooting sports have seen their numbers grow by the hundreds in the past couple of years and even since the beginning of our team I have heard some rumblings of other colleges following us in the pursuit of a shooting team."
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