From the Crossroads

Welcome to the Bass Pro Shops blog from Clarksville, IN!  My name is Brian Eickholtz, and I will be posting blogs about hunting, fishing, and various other outdoor activities that we all love.  Deer, turkey, and waterfowl hunting as well as bass fishing are the activities that I'm involved in the most.  I look forward to bringing you great information on these topics and many more in the future!


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OCULUS RIFLE SCOPE - TRIED AND TRUE

This review is on the Bass Pro Shop brand Oculus Riflescope 6-24×50 with Mil Dot Reticle.

In April 2014 Officer Todd M. with the Clarksville Indiana Police Department went to Camp Atterbury for Sniper training. Officer Todd states:  “We had a Leupold VX3 3.5-10×42 scope with standard reticle but desired a scope with the Mil Dot reticle and had a limited budget. We are issued the Remington 700P .308 caliber 1:12 twist 26”barrel. I found and purchased the Oculus scope at Bass Pro Shop but was kind of skeptical so I brought along the Leupold scope as a back up. After the week long training I was really impressed with the performance of the Oculus scope. We shot from 50yds all the way out to 500yds. The scope tracked as it should and preformed over all very well. We shot in 15mph steady wind with 30+ mph wind gusts and also shot in rain and hail. I have trained with this rifle and Oculus scope several times since then and it continues to impress me. The 24 power scope really gives an advantage at long distances and for a tight shot placement.”

Bass Pro Shops Clarksville would like to thank Officer Todd for his excellent review and comments regarding the Oculus brand scope.  For additional information about this scope and other Oculus Branded items, check our website at www.basspro.com or visit the Clarksville Bass Pro Shop at 951 E. Lewis & Clark Parkway, Clarksville, IN  47129, Phone 812-218-5500.

 

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Summertime Froggin'

Each year the sweltering summer heat slows many outdoor activities down.  People don’t quit fishing or having fun outside, but adjustments are made.  Night fishing becomes more popular and early morning or late evening trips are more popular among anglers.  The hunters use the evening hours to check trail cams and maybe plant food plots in the morning.  The heat of the day just isn’t a very good time to find much enjoyment in the outdoors.  If you want to beat the heat, find some great table fare, and have a lot of fun along the way try some summertime frog gigging.

Frog gigging is simple from a how-to standpoint.  To start with, you need a frog gig.  I would recommend the Danielson gig that is available in stores at Bass Pro Shops for $15.99.  It includes an extendable pole and a 5 prong gig pre-rigged on the tip.  If you already have a pole and just need a gig, or are looking for an upgrade, I would highly recommend the 5 prong “fish spear” available in the store or online.  The fish spear is heavier and more rigid with larger barbs for holding frogs even better than the smaller gigs.  Always check your states regulations for prong count and gig width regulations.  While you’re gig shopping be sure to grab a fish basket to put your frogs in.  They go in easily and can’t come out!  

Now that you have a gig, you need some light to shine frogs with.  There is a wide array of lights that would be acceptable for frog gigging.  The brighter the light, the better for spotting frogs, but I do like to have a dimmer light for the approach to them to keep them from being spooked.  I always have a quality headlamp like Princeton Tec Fuel LED Headlamp or the Princeton Remix.  Each of these headlamps have various setting so you can choose a brighter or dimmer shine, depending on the situation.  The Quarrow 70-lumen Head Lamp is also a great choice.  I also like to keep a quality, water resistant flashlight like the 5.11 Tactical TMT A2 available.  It offers 220 lumens and a good sturdy clip you can clip in a pants pocket or use the included wrist sling to keep it handy.

Now that all of the equipment is taken care of, let’s take a look at how to properly clean you frogs.  I use the Gerber Game Shears for basically every part of cleaning a frog.  You could also use a hatchet or butcher knife and a pair of pliers.  To start, you cut the hind legs off the frog as shown in the picture.  For this you can use the shears, hatchet, or butcher knife.  Next cut off his feet with your game shears or hatchet.  If you are using game shears slide one blade down his leg between the hip and the knee.  Make a cut and then grab the extra skin and work your finger between the muscle and the skin and pull the rest off towards the feet.  If you are using pliers, just grab some free skin and pull down towards the feet.  A pair of locking pliers like vice grips works the best for this.   Rinse your frog legs off in cold water and then soak them in salt water in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.  Soaking them really plumps up the legs.  If you have never salted frog legs, you are in for a surprise.  Just don’t let them jump out of the bowl!

 

Good Luck!

Brian Eickholtz

 

 

For more tips on surviving summer check out my blog on how to keep the ticks from eating you up!

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Prepare Your Boat for a Successful Spring

     A cool breeze hits the back of your neck as you slip off the trailer and into the water for the first time this spring.  Turning to your depth finder to check the temperature of the chilly water, you begin thinking of the possibilities the day, the month, the rest of spring, summer, and fall have in store for you.  Anticipation overwhelms you as you turn the key to crank your engine as you did a hundred times the year before.  All of the excitement and anticipation is washed away as the only response your key gives you is a click and the doom of having a dead battery.

     Getting the boat out for a new fishing season is always exciting.  Catching fish and relaxing on the water with friends and family is on the horizon.  There is always some prep work to be done before getting your boat to the water though.  I like to start by taking everything out of the boat and getting it aired out nicely from being stored all winter.  For a fisherman, it’s like hitting the reset button.  You can reorganize and eliminate equipment that is no longer necessary while finding a new home for any new gear you may have acquired.  Check your safety equipment like life vests and fire extinguisher.  Repair any problems that you had come up the previous year like broken switches, loose carpet, etc.  Once you are finished checking the interior, you can move on to the motor.

Stabile and Gear Lube for all of your engine protection needs.     Keeping your motor ready to go and getting it ready for spring is very important.  When you are on the water, it is your lifeline.  Take any extra step you can to keep from being stranded.  Trust me, it’s no fun sitting dead in the water with little hope of what to do.  The first thing that I do to prepare my motor for spring is add Sta-bil Ethanol Treatment to the gas.  I use this product year round and add extra when I put the boat up for the winter.  Sta-bil cleans the gas and protects your engine from moisture damage.  Not only does it protect the engine itself, but it also helps protect hoses and seals that can be ruined by too much exposure to the ethanol that is in gas.  During the fishing season, your motor will run noticeably better when you use this as well!  Take the time to change your lower unit lubrication.  It is a very simple process.  Find the two screws in the starboard side of your engine in the lower unit.  Loosen the top screw and place a catch pan under the other.  Remove the lower screw and let the oil drain out.  If it is reluctant to drain, open the top screw a little more.  If you do not have another gasket, make sure you don’t lose the one that you have.  Clean the end of the bottom screw while the oil is draining.  It has a magnetic end and likely has a few metal shavings on it.  Once your lower unit has drained, get a fresh quart of lower unit oil and a pump that attaches to the bottle and fill your lower unit from the bottom hole.  Once oil begins coming out of the top hole, tighten the top screw down and then quickly pull the pump out of the bottom hole and put the lower screw back in.  You now have fresh lubrication for your lower unit gears!

   You can’t talk about prepping a boat without talking about batteries.  Batteries are one thing that we know that we will have to replace at some point.  Rarely do you get past 3 years with any type of marine battery.  However, you can do some things to ensure that you get the maximum life out of them.  Make sure that you charge your batteries every trip and preferably leave them hooked up to a charger that maintains them while not in use.  Make sure that your batteries are secure inside their compartment.  Loose batteries in the back of a boat can make for a bad situation.  Look for corrosion on the posts and remove it if it is present.

Finally, you should inspect your trailer carefully.  Check your lights to make sure that they are working with no burnt out bulbs.  Ensure your tires are fully inflated and not showing too much or uneven wear.  Replace your old jack or crank if they are worn out.  Lastly, but very important, check your bearings on your trailer.  Make sure that they have plenty of grease and the covers are secure over the bearings.

Preparing your boat for a long fishing season might be quite a chore, but it will pay off when you are fishing rather than repairing a mid-season crisis during prime time.  Invest the time on your boat now before you get too involved in the fishing season to worry about “minor” inconveniences. 

 

Have Fun and Be Careful

-Brian Eickholtz

For more reading on springtime fishing and boating, check out this blog.

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Trapping a New Era

The New Year means many things to different people in the outdoor community.  Many outdoorsmen and women have cabin fever and will wait nearly eight months to cure it with another crack at a big buck this fall.  Some may be grasping to waterfowl hunting as the season draws its last breath.  Several are out with dogs watching them freeze up and point as the scent of quail in a deadfall tickles their nostrils.  Still yet others are following intently behind a group of beagles hot on the heels of a wiley rabbit.  Fishermen are going through their tackle inspecting every inch of it and making sure new hooks, fresh line, and a well tooled boat are all geared up for the inevitable spring.  Turkey hunters form a new mouth call to the bridge of their mouth in anticipation of the warm morning that will spawn echoing gobbles from every ridge and holler around.   Another direction we can go to extend our season and enjoy the pursuit is predators and furbearers.

Coyote hunting and coon hunting are great ways to spend the lonesome days of January.Here I am with a coyote I caught in one of my traps.  What I’m talking about though takes us farther back through our outdoor heritage.  Walk by the river and streams in the shoes of mountain men who blazed a trail for the start of our great nation.  Survival was forefront on their mind as they ran their trap lines to make a living.  Something tells me that the anticipation of those men checking traps was no less than mine as I do it today.  Survival being substituted with conservation is the main difference between the old days and the modern trapper.  The North American Wildlife Conservation Model has been so successful in allowing humans to coexist with wildlife that it almost works too well.  More knowledgeable hunters and anglers allow us to maximize our ultimate renewable resources of fish and game.  Deer, duck, turkey, small game, elk, and nearly every other species that has graced our land are at record high numbers.  Some birds like quail do suffer still from fewer and fewer grasslands and more predation.  With the higher numbers of game species available, the predator counts also inflate.  They are opportunistic and don’t evenly prey on any one species or type of animal, which leaves the weaker game animals in harm’s way.  The inflation in predator numbers started my itch to begin trapping.  Hoping to catch a few coyotes turned into having coon and muskrat traps to run as well.  Going to bed each night, you can’t help to think about what you might have in your traps the next day.  Nothing makes the fire burn more than to be outwitted once only to reset and think about what will happen the next day, hoping to not be outdone again.

Controlling the predator numbers and keeping the raccoons out of your sweet corn patch isn’t the only benefits to trapping, though.  If you take care of your catch and store it properly, you can take it to a local fur buyer and get a little bit of coin out of the deal.  You won’t want to quit your job, but you may be able to put a nice chunk towards buying a new gun or other item that we can’t have too many of!  Check out the trapping supplies available at Bass Pro Shops by clicking here.  You will find a selection of coil spring and conibear traps as well as dog proof raccoon traps.  Additionally, you will find many accessories that you may try along the way like sifters, trap dye, trap setters, lures and more!       

                                  A nice mess of coons.                                            

In the future, I will discuss some more in depth items about topics like trap preparation, placement, tools, fur handling, and general strategies.  I will say that I have spent many days afield and had never taken up trapping.  It was always an oversight for me or something that didn’t sound that intriguing to a deer, duck, and turkey hunter that bass fished.  Having half of this season under my belt, I couldn’t tell you how wrong I was.  Trapping encompasses the essence of all the outdoor skills that you have learned in the field.  Moreover, the anticipation of what may happen is the paramount excitement in everything we outdoor people all share.  Big bucks, big bass, big turkeys, hoards of ducks, dogs on a perfect trail are things we dream of and live as we prepare to pursue our quarry afield.  Rarely are our expectations met but when it happens it’s a special, memorable moment to cherish.

 

-Brian Eickholtz

 

 

 

PS:  For more great ways to enjoy the cold, winter moths check out my blog "Treasures of January."

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Quick and Easy Method for Skinning Squirrels

Squirrel Pin hangs the squirrels nicely.Squirrel season is an exciting timeStep on back legs of squirrel and cut 1/4" up tail. to look forward to for anyone who enjoys being in the woods.  A long summer of cabin fever can make simple things like watching gray squirrels in a hickory tree special for any hunter.  I know I look forward to it for more than just a time to get out in the woods.  I look forward also to the excellent table fare that goes along with being a successful squirrel hunter.  Many hunters I talk to have given up on squirrels, though.  Unfortunately it’s not because they lost interest in hunting them. Cut from the top of its back to the belly just inside of skin. They either find squirrels too hard to clean or too tough to eat.  I find both scenarios to be unfortunate because when done properly, neither claim can be further from the truth.  In the following paragraphs I will illustrate to you proper care and cleaning for your squirrels and in a later article we will discuss cooking tips as well.

You can begin making things easy on yourself when you are out in the woods.  Rather than balling your squirrels up in a game vest, use a large safety pin to insert through the back feet of your squirrels.  I use a 5” model that holds a limit of squirrels perfectly.  The great thing is it keeps your squirrels laid out nicely without a mess and they are handy to haul around the woods with you.  If I am doing a lot of walking and need to be hands free, I simply hook the pin to my belt or belt loop. This is what it looks like on each side after the 2 cuts are made

Whenever you return from the field, the sooner you get your squirrels cleaned up the better especially since early fall temperatures tend to get warm by midday.  The only cleaning utensils I use is a small locking pocket knife like a Buck Prince, a pair of Gerber Game Shears, and a large plastic bowl to put squirrels in.  The game shears are critical and I would recommend them to any hunter.  They make life a lot easier for several tasks as you will see later.

The first thing you should do is take a squirrel off of your safety pin and lay it tail up on an elevated platform (stair, crate, or stump works fine).  Step on its back legs with your right foot.   Now go about 1/4” up its tail and lay your knife across it.  Push the top of your knife blade down into the tail withFlip squirrel over, step on hide and up back legs upward. your off hand until you hear the tail bone break.  Now carefully cut down its back about ¾”.  Next, carefully insert your knife between the paunch and skin on either side of the squirrel and make a cut from the top of its back to the bottom of its belly being careful to not puncture the paunch.  Repeat on the other side of the body.  Peel the tail and back skin down and little, flip the squirrel over and lay the tail on your step.  Step on the tail head with your right foot and pull the hind legs of the squirrel until the skin peels off to the front shoulders.  Once you see the tops of his shoulders, continue pulling pressure but work the front legs through the hide.  Once most of the leg is through, grab one leg and pull it the rest of the way through the hide to the ankle, repeat on the opposite leg.  Flip the squirrel around and you should see a triangular shaped patch of hide on the belly.  Grab that and pull to get the back legs clear of the hide.  Now, you should have a naked squirrel with hide coming from 5 points, the 4 legs and the head.  Grab your game shears and cut the front legs off at the ankle and the head at the neck.  Discard the hide and cut the two back legs off at the ankles. Pull front legs out of hide. You are now finished skinning the squirrel, place it in the pan.

It is important to skin all of your squirrels at once before attempting to evacuate the inner organs.  By skinning them all before gutting, you will have cleaner meat with less hair and less chance of any type of contamination.  Above we used the knife to make exactly 3 cuts.  The game shears cut off 4 legs and the head.  Cleaning squirrels is very easy just using applied pressure.  If you find something to be ripping while applying pressure that shouldn’t be (paunch, front legs coming off etc) you should stop and look where the hide is catching and free it from the skin.  Stopping and fixing before everything gets tore up will make this easier and cleaner.

 

Pull his "pants" off now.Here you have 5 points of contact, 4 legs and 1 head.

 

 

Cut off hide at all 5 points, head and 4 legs.Here is the skinned squirrel.

 

 

Once you get all of your squirrels skinned, it is now time to remove the innards.  Grab the squirrel under his front legs with your left hand.  Insert your locking pocket knife into the top of its neck and make a shallow cut down towards the rear of the squirrel.  The first couple of inches you need to make sure you are under the rib cage.  This cut can be deep but once you get past the rib cage you need to make a very shallow cut and stay directly under the skin so that you don’t puncture any guts.  Bring this cut all of the way down to the pelvic bone.  Now grab the esophagus in the neck of the squirrel and pull it down.  Most of the innards will come out and you will be left with a bladder near the pelvic area.  Carefully squeeze the top of this and pull it out being careful not to bust it.  Next cut through the pelvic bone and remove any more entrails and reproductive organs.  To finish, cut the flanks off on each side  between the rib cage and back legs.

 

Make a shallow downward cut.

Stay shallow below ribcage.Evacuate innards of squirrel.Cut the flanks off each sideHere is finished product!Cut them up with your shears and your done.

 

After finishing skinning and dressing all of your squirrels, wash them thoroughly with cold water in the sink.  If you plan on eating in the next 48-72 hours, lightly salt them, fill container with water, cover, and leave in the fridge.  If not, you will have to freeze them.  I usually cut my squirrels up before freezing them.  For this job the Gerber Game Shears are excellent.  Cut the back legs off, the loin just behind the rib cage, and then the front legs off.  The game shears makes this a very simple task.  For best freezing results use a FoodSaver unit to seal your squirrels in.  They remove the air from the bag and make for a fresher product when you are ready to eat.  Make sure to label any game that goes into the freezer.  I usually use a Sharpie marker to label the date and type of game in each bag.  For more information on squirrel hunting check out my past blog Time to Get Squirrely.

 

Have fun and good luck,

 

-Brian Eickholtz

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Archery from a Different Angle

              Daylight fades away faster every evening and has been for close to a month now.  Foggy mornings and crisper air, subtle hints of fall, will soon follow.  July and August are big months for getting archery equipment ready for the fall.  New sights, arrows, maybe even a new bow are in the works for many bow hunters.  The excitement of showing off the new equipment and trying it out leads to evening shoots with family and friends.  My shooting buddies and I have always held friendly competitions similar to “HORSE.”  If you have ever played basketball, you know what I’m talking about.  An archer picks a shot, any shot, and shoots for a specific target.  The following archers must shoot the same shot from the same spot and the person farthest from the target gets a letter.  The last person to not spell horse wins.  Maybe you could play a game of “ARROW” instead; same difference but trying to figure out who has one “R” and who has two might complicate things. 

            The mistake I see most bow hunters make is dropping the tailgate on the truck, setting out a target, and firing shots from 20, 30, 40, and maybe even 50 yards.  This of course, is after the range has been carefully walked off or ranged to insure the distances were correct for the sight pins on the bow.  Unfortunately, many times in the woods a deer is going to be standing at 37 yards or 24 yards.  You rarely get that perfectly rounded range to shoot at.  Try taking some shots at those odd distances, get a feel for your bow and how much change in flight there is from 20 to 30 and from 30 to 40.  Even a range finder doesn’t tell you where to hold your 30 yard pin for a 36 yard shot.  Practice judging distances and shoot your bow for the distances you estimate.  Most times in real hunting situations, using a range finder to range a deer for exact yardages is not going to work.  The deer move through too fast or that split second you have to draw is wasted with a range finder to the eye.  Ranging likely spots when you first settle in is a good plan, but you will still have to make some estimates when the moment of truth arrives.  My dad always taught me to “feel” the target when I’m aiming at it.  The only way that you can do that is have a good idea of how your bow performs, and judge range to some extent. 

            To help you judge those distances, I would buy a range finder.  You do not have to buy the most expensive one; I would actually recommend the Nikon Prostaff 3 which Bass Pro Shops sells for $179.99 plus tax.  This range finder has great clarity, simple to use, and is great for range and field use.  Now, notice that I said use the range finder to help you judge distances.  Do not lean on it as your yardage estimator all of the time though, train yourself to do that and verify your estimates with the range finder. 

            Whether you decide to purchase a range finder or not, it is now time to apply some of your range estimating abilities.  Get your climbing tree stand out and set it up in an area that you can shoot your bow.  Set a target or 2 out at unknown distances.  A small woods or an area that looks like a place you would hunt works a lot better than a grass field in a telephone pole.  Placing targets in areas with trees, brush, and other obstructions like creeks adds depth to you range and will be more like what you will face in hunting situations. 

            This next exercise will help you more with your bow hunting skills, than anything else that I can tell you to do.  It will challenge you physically and mentally just like when you are sitting on the cold stand in mid November looking through the peep at the boiler room of a bruiser buck.  Grab a dozen or half dozen arrows and attach it onto your pull up rope on you stand.  Put your safety harness on and proceed to climb the tree.  Once up the tree at a height you would normally hunt at pull your stuff up, put your release on and put a few arrows in each target.  It’s important to begin shooting as soon as you get your bow up and ready.  You can train yourself to manage your breathing and nerves if you begin shooting directly after climbing a tree.  Do not cheat and use a range finder before you climb or after you’re up.  Estimate what the distances are and let them fly.  After shooting each target, use your range finder to compare what you judged the target for and what the actual distance was to check yourself.  Climb back down, adjust your targets if you would like a new challenge, and head back up the tree for some more practice.  Remember, most of the time when hunting from a tree stand or taking any type of heavy downward angle shot with a bow, you will likely hit high.  It is important to understand this and adjust for it whenever you are hunting from a stand.    

 

            Anything that you do will require practice, but archery demands practice and perfection.  From your form and stance to the trigger pull and the follow through everything has to be just right for an arrow to hit its target.  Obviously all of this is amplified when shooting longer targets so make sure that you are shooting within your comfort zone.  Following these practice tips will help you expand your comfort zone and hopefully help you be successful this year in the woods.

 

-Brian Eickholtz     

 

P.s..: Try starting out an evening practicing at 30 or 40 yards whichever you consider to be the upper end of your range.  After a couple of sets, move your target to 20 yards  and enjoy the ease of shooting that distance after shooting from twice as far away.

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Crank to New Depths with a Strike King 10XD

     It’s the time of year again when spring has run out and the heat of summer is bearing down on us.  The heat makes most of us want to sit inside and cool off in the air-conditioning for the better part of the day.  Bass are starting to get the same idea as the water heats up past 80 degrees.  Shallow fish are still being caught and there is early morning and late evening topwater bites as well.  Luckily, as the sun gets hotter and the fish move deeper, there is a tool to get you down to the depths the fish feel comfortable at.  Before now we have been able to get maybe 20 feet out of a crankbait on light line and a very long cast.  The new Strike King 10XD allows you to easily fish 25 feet and beyond.

                                         Here you can see the size difference of the 10XD and the 6XD, which had been one of the largest and deepest diving bats untill the 10XD came out.

     One thing immediately noticeable when you see the 10XD is its size.  Compared to a standard 6XD, it is huge!  The 6XD weighs in at 1 ounce while the 10XD completely doubles its size at 2 ounces.  In addition, the lip is about twice as wide on the 10XD.  The weight and bill changes many of the aspects of this bait, including giving it the ability to dive deep.  Along with that comes more drag in the water.  Standard cranking equipment probably won’t do the job with this monster of the deep.  You will have to have something with a lot more backbone than a standard cranking rod.  I would recommend a large flipping stick.  Something in the 7’6”-7’10’ range in a heavy action should suffice.  Check out the Bass Pro Shops Carbon Light, the Bass Pro Extreme, and the Duckett Fishing Micro Magic rod.   Also critical will be a reel beefy enough to handle the added drag.  You should look at a reel with a 5.1- 6.1 gear ratio to give you the extra power you need for hammering this bait through the depths.  Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier, Johnny Morris Signature Series, and Abu Garcia Revo reels would all make excellent choices for this technique. 

     Most deep cranking is done with lightweight 10-12 pound test fluorocarbon.  To throw the 10XD, you will need at least 14 pound fluorocarbon.  Don’t count out braid either.  Braid has very good castability, no stretch, and is super sensitive.  Braid may also save you a lure if you were to get hung up really deep.  Considering the depth that the 10XD is fished, I don’t believe fish will be able to readily see the braid and they should bite just as well as with fluorocarbon.  If you are concerned they may see it, consider using a heavy fluorocarbon leader with 17-20 pound test.  Attach your leader using a Modified Albright knot.  It is slender, easy to tie and a super strong way to attach fluorocarbon to braid.

     Never head to the lake in the summer without a lure knocker.  Anytime you fish deep, especially with a crankbait, a lure knocker is going to save you a ton of money.  It’s not a matter of if you’ll get hung up, it’s really a matter of when you get hung.  In my experience the Bass Pro Shops E-Z Lure Retriever is about 90% effective at getting your bait back.  To make it easier to use, I fill an old round reel with the nylon line that comes with the retriever.  Then I find an old broken rod to attach the reel to (if you don’t have one ask a buddy) and cut it down right above the first eye.  Run the line through the eye and attach your lure retriever to the line and you have a compact, neat, quick and easy to use lure retriever at your disposal.

     Summertime is a great time to catch a lot of big bass, so get out of the A/C and give it a shot.  With the tools outlined above, you should be able to have a successful trip and may catch the bag of a lifetime if you find a sweet spot with the 10XD.  Good luck and be safe on the water!

 

-Brian Eickholtz                                              

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Don't Let Ticks Keep You Out of the Woods!

Arriving at the woods on a cool dew drenched morning you are greeted by chirping frogs and birds of all tPermethrin is available in a spray jug or aresol containerypes awakening.  A faint gobble peaks your interest and expedites your retreat from the truck.  Getting closer to the bird you see the perfect spot to ambush your prey.  An old log has fallen and is lying right in front of a tree just wide enough to make an excellent backrest.  As luck would have it, there is good cover around you as well.  With plenty of windows to shoot and a comfortable setup, you take a seat on the log and wait for the bird to come off the roost.  Hearing the bird fly down and hit the ground gobbling really gets you stoked and it sounds like he’s heading your way.  A yelp from your slate call followed by a reassuring gobble makes you tremble with anticipation.  Suddenly, a crawling sensation moves up your leg.  The crawling works its way up your leg followed by another, and then another.  By the time the turkey gets there and has been harvested, the excitement is nearly gone because you know that you have been infested with ticks!

Ticks are a nightmare for any warm weather woodsman or woman.  Deer ticks, wood ticks, and lonestar ticks are all common here in southern Indiana.  Deer ticks are very tiny and hard to spot while the others are larger and easier to locate and remove.  Many times when you encounter a deer tick, you will have several of them.  They seem to manifest in certain areas like the dead log our turkey hunter above employed as a seat.  They get on you fast and like to latch on around your waist area.  If left untreated, ticks can cause health problems so get them off immediately if you have them and get out of the woods!

                                                                                                  

I know many a mushroom hunter, fisherman, and turkey hunter who refuse to go into certain areas anymore because of fear of ticks.  Trust me I don’t blame them but you don’t have to be way out in the woods to end up with a tick problem.  Furthermore, there are things that can be done to prevent ticks from getting on you no matter where you’re at.  My number one recommendation is to treat your clothes with Sawyers Permethrin Insect Repellent.  I have used this with abundant success for about three or four years now.  There are several great features about this product, but the best part is that you don’t get ticks on you if you use it.  Additionally, it lasts for up to 6 weeks or 6 washings on your clothes so you aren’t constantly reapplying.  Finally, it is completely scent free when dry so deer and coyote hunters can use it too!  Apply Permethrin by hanging your clothes on a line and spraying them down everywhere until the clothes are slightly damp.  Make sure that you get your socks and the inside of your waistline on your pants.  Allow the clothes to dry and they are ready for use.  Additionally, you are free to wash your clothes once they dry as well.  Remember, Permethrin is for use on your clothes only and should not be used on your skin.Maxi Deet is compact for easy transport.

If you would like to have a skin applied repellent as well, try some Sawyers Premium Insect Repellent with 20% Picaridin.  Its low odor makes it more pleasant than traditional sprays and it is effective against ticks and other insects.  MAXI-DEET Low Odor Insect Repellent Spray comes in a convenient tube that easily slips in a pack or pant pocket.  It is a great item for a camper, hiker, or hunter who needs to stay lightweight while having protection from insects.

Insect Repellent with Picaridin

Don’t let pesky little ticks keep you from enjoying the fruits of spring in the Great Outdoors!  Treat your clothes and walk with confidence even in areas with terrible tick infestations.  You will be surprised by the situations you can put yourself in and still come out tick free.  Treating for ticks is likely the best thing that you can do to make your warm weather outdoor activities more enjoyable.  If your still skeptical and fearful that you may end up with ticks, check out the reviews for Sawyers Permethrin.

 

Good Luck,

Brian Eickholtz

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Battle for the Belt: 2013 Part 1

                As the southern winds of spring finally sweep across the Midwest fishermen everywhere are developing a fever.  Some diagnose it as cabin fever, others call it fishing fever, but whichever it is it needs treated quickly.  If you find yourself amongst a group of anglers with fishing fever, what better way to cure it than with a bass tournament?  For us here at Bass Pro Shops, that was really the obvious way for us to kick off spring.

               We hosted our first employee tournament of the year last week on the Ohio River in Jeffersonville, IN.  A chilly morning greeted us but the sometimes mighty river was slick as it gently flowed downstream.  Isolated pieces of debris bobbed around as they drifted in the current that pulled on the tail end of rain and snow storms in the prior weeks.  Anticipation was high as the 11 boats took off toward their destinations in the opening minutes, but at the end of the day only a few could shine.  The top three finishers were:John Oldham and Todd Harbin with thier winning catch!

 

                                        1st:  John Oldham and Todd Harbin           11.90 lbs.

                                        2nd: Don Mullins and Richard Ison              8.89 lbs.

                                        3rd:  Wayne Young and Chris Short           7.33 lbs.               

 

                                                Big Bass:  John Oldham                  4.48 lbs

 

                  Bragging rights have been established and the first place team also received the “Title Belt” trophy that travels with the winners of the employee tournaments.  The winners get a plaque with their names, winning weight, venue, and date inscribed on it to be fastened to the belt.  The traveling trophy is decorated with Bass Pro Shops trinkets, but the ultimate validation is that it has been signed by Kevin VanDam himself.

Our championship belt signed by KVD and passed from winner to winner in our tournaments.

Richard Ison and Don Mullins with thier second place catch!

                  These tournaments are really fun for all of us who participate in them.  I would strongly encourage you to set one up with your co-workers, friends, or other groups that you may be involved with.  Camaraderie, fishing tips, and a passion for the outdoors are just a few of the things shared in these outings.  Even if you can’t organize a tournament day, find somebody that wants to go fishing and take them or ask someone to take you if you want to go but don’t believe you have the means.  Spring has sprung, take advantage of the beautiful weather and spend some meaningful time in the outdoors.  There’s no better way to wash winter away!

 

Good Luck,

Brian Eickholtz 

 

 

P.s.  For more information on springtime largemouth bass fishing check this link out!

 

 

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Offset Your Ammo Cost: Part 3

 

     After reading parts one and two of this series, you now know what you need to get started reloading.  Additionally, you have brass that is ready to
be loaded.  Now it is time to get down to the real business of loading your own ammo.  This process is all about repetition, consistency, and efficiency.  
While I won't be able to teach you what is going to work best for you, I will be able to present the process and give you some great tips that help me be as
efficient and consistent as possible.    

                                                                                                         STEP 1:  Prime Cases (Pistol and Rifle)

    The first step to loading your rounds is seating new primers into the casing.  Most single action presses have a primer arm that you can swing out of
the way or use to seat primers. Here you can see the primer arm swinging into position to prime the casing. You can also choose a hand primer that allows you to prime cartridges away from your press.  If you are using your press, install the proper shell holder for the round that you are loading.  Insert the cartridge into the holder and pull your press handle down to raise the cartridge up.  Place a primer facing upward into the holder on the swinging primer arm on your press.  Lower the arm into the groove of the piston that your shell holder is sitting on and continue an upward stroke with your press handle.  You should feel some resistance as the primer seats into the primer pocket of your casing.  If the primer does not feel like it is feeding into the case, don't force it.  Lower your press arm and check that you have the correct shell holder installed.  Raise the press arm and seat the primer.  Make sure that you have the press handle all of the way up before lowering it back down.   Inspect the cartridge to insure that the primer is flush with the rear of the case.  If it seems bulged, crooked, or smashed you will have to deprime it and put a new primer in it.  If you find a case or multiple cases that will not accept a primer, check to see if there are crimp marks around the primer pocket.  Sometimes you will run into military brass that has crimped primer pockets which need to be reamed before seating a new primer.  If you do not pick up range brass or use military brass, this will probably never come up while you are loading.  After seating primers, I like to load my cases upright into a loading tray so I can easily transition to the next step.



                                                                                                                STEP 2:  Charging Cases  (Pistol and Rifle)

    For this you will need your powder, powder measurer, scale, and primed cases in a loading tray.  You can get a traditional scale or digital, but I prefer the latter.  Additionally, it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a powder trickler and powder funnel handy as well.  You do not have to have those, but it will save you some time and help you especially if you are trying to brew up an extremely precise load.  The first thing that you should do, if you have not done so already, is open your reloading manual to the caliber you are loading.  Find the powder that you selected on the data chart and figure out how many grains of powder is recommended to load.  I always start with the low side number and usually find the most accurate load will be in the low to mid velocity range.  Do not start with the high number on the right.  Once you have a good idea of how many grains of powder you would like to load, fill your powder measurer up with powder.  Make sure that you have the proper dispensing tube screwed onto the bottom of your powder measurer for the case you are loading. Here is an RCBS powder dispenser with a powder baffle (inside the clear powder tube) and micrometer upgrade installed.  Additionally, notice the green dispensing tube at the bottom that the case is up against.  There is a large and small size for the dispensers, make sure you are using the appropriate one.  You will have to unscrew the metering bolt until you are dropping close to the appropriate charge.  This is where the consistency factor really comes into play.  You are measuring the powder out by volume and not weight so you have to be very consistent at what you're doing.  In order to get any manual powder measurer to work properly, you must use the same stroke repeatedly.  I like to slowly move the arm up and tap it upwards at the top and then move it down in a smooth motion and tap it again at the bottom.  If I tap too hard or too light at either spot, I may have more or less powder in the charges, respectively.  My recommendation is to practice this until you can consistently drop within 0.2 grains of your targeted charge.  For instance, if I am loading a .223 and I want to drop 25.5 grains of powder, I would be sure that I could consistently drop between 25.3 and 25.7 grains.  It is possible to drop an exact charge every time, and with practice, you will.  For that kind of accuracy, I would recommend a micrometer upgrade for your powder measurer.  A flaky or spherical powder usually meters the most accurate for me.  Rod shaped powders shoot well but are hard to meter in your powder measurer.  This is also where a trickler will come into play.  If you are 0.10 off just trickle the extra little bit in and you are perfect.  
    To insure that my powder measurer is set up to dispense the correct weight, I weigh out every drop until I hit my target weight 3 times in a row.   That will tell you that your powder measurer is set precisely and you are being consistent in your motions.  I will then only weigh about every 7-10 loads after that to make sure that they are coming out consistent.  If you are loading a competition or hunting load I would recommend weighing every powder charge before funneling it to the casing.  If you are loading range or general purpose ammo your audit every 7-10 loads should keep you consistent enough.  If anything feels funny or you are unsure if you double charged a load, dump it out and do it again.  Double charges are not very common because most powders
have enough volume to overflow a case on a double charge, but it should be considered.  It is more likely that this will happen accidently in a pistol rather than a rifle load.  As mentioned earlier, I like to keep my loads within 0.2 more or less than my target weight.  You will not see much change in accuracy holding those tolerances.  Make sure that you keep your brass layed out neatly and add your charged loads to the loading tray.Lay your cases out in a loading tray once they are charged with powder.  The loading tray will keep them upright and unable to spill the powder you just measured into them.  Once you get into a flow with this and gain some confidence in your style and powder measurer, this step will be easy, accurate, and efficient.  
      Automatic powder measurers are available from most of the major reloading manufacturers.  The advantage of using these is every powder charge that you load is measured out to an exact weight.  This makes automatic powder measurers useful for competition shooters and hunters who look for an exact charge in each load.  Furthermore, they require no extra skill to use.  You load your powder into the measurer, set the digital display to dispense the amount you want to use, press a button and it drops your powder into a small dish on a scale displaying the exact weight.  You then put a funnel over your brass and pour the powder into the casing.  There are a couple of disadvantages to using these.  The first and most important to me is time.  This process takes
considerably longer to execute than a simple volumetric manual powder measurer.  The second is the price of these units are about 3-5 times as much as a manual measurer.  If you are specializing in large or small rifle loads for long range shooting, this would be a worthy investment.  For short range hunting and target loads, I would consider the manual powder dispenser.


                                                                                                                             STEP 3:  Seating (Rifle)


    The first two steps of this process are identical for rifles and pistols.  Step 3 is slightly different between the two but most of the same practices are employed for either one.  This step is also a spot where you can test around at different C.O.L.'s(Case Overall Lengths) to try to achieve greater accuracy.  With that being said, the first thing that I would instruct you to do is open your reloading manual and see what the recommended C.O.L. is for your round.  You do not want to vary too much from that setting, seating the bullet too deep will probably over pressure your round and could cause damage.  Seating the bullet too shallow could cause numerous problems including an over pressured round and an action not closing completely. 
    Semi-automatic guns like an AR-15 have another limiting factor in the C.O.L.  That is the clip.  The maximum C.O.L. for any .223 or 5.56 round to be shot out of
an AR-15 is 2.260."  I'm not saying that there is no magazine on the market that won't go out to 2.265" or 2.270," but in most cases you want to shoot for
<2.260" as your maximum case length to shoot out of an AR-15.  In order to do this, you must have your seating die set up correctly.  An example of a seating
die can be seen at the right. Make slight adjustments to your seating die after you measure to see how far away from your targeted C.O.L. you are. Place an empty cartridge in the shell holder and pull the press handle all of the way down.  Your cartridge should now be as high up in the press as it will go.  Unscrew the seating bolt on top of your die several turns and begin threading the die into the press.  Continue to screw the die in until it stops on your case.  Unscrew your die one full turn and tighten the locking ring on the threads of your die.  Tighten the die back up to your press and it is now properly set up but you still have to adjust your bullet depth.  Place a bullet into the mouth of your casing with the pointed end up.  You should be able to get the bullet to just sit on top of the case mouth.  Boat tail bullets are generally easier to set since they sit down into the throat of the case a little further.  Place the case into the shell holder on your press and slowly pull the press arm down to raise your cartridge.  You
should not feel any resistance as the case and bullet enters the seating die.  Once the press arm is all of the way down and the case it at its highest point, screw the seating bolt on the die in until you feel it pushing against the bullet.  Slightly raise the press arm and screw in the seating bolt another 1/4 turn or so.  Lower the press arm slowly again to seat the bullet.  Remove the cartridge and measure the length and see how it compares to the C.O.L. you are trying to achieve.  The length will more than likely still be too long, so continue to screw in the seating bolt using small increments.  Do not screw the entire die in further, just the bolt at the top of your die as shown in the photo.  Test often as a small adjustment will make a big change in your C.O.L.  This step requires a feel much like dropping powder does.  If you lower the press arm all of the way and then nudge it down, chances are your C.O.L.
will be shorter than if you just lower the arm with no nudge at the end.  Just like with metering powder, I like to check my work until I get about 3 in a row seated to the correct length without making adjustments.  I will then check every 7-10 cartridges for the correct C.O.L.  Very slight variations in length can be expected, but if it is more or less than 0.05" from your target length, you may have a problem and should check yourself carefully to see what is going wrong.

**NOTE:  Please check your specific die for instructions setting it up in the press as it may vary from what I have demonstrated here depending on the type of crimp it applies to the cartridge.**
Here is a bullet in a .223 before being seated, notice the cannellure on the bullet.Here is the .223 after being seated, not the cannellure position now.
    STEP 3: Seating (Pistol)

    This step is the same as seating for a rifle but you have to modify your brass slightly before you begin.  In order for your case to accept the bullet correctly, you must expand the case mouth before you start loading.  You will notice when buying dies that pistol dies generally come with three dies
while rifle usually only comes with two.  The extra die is the expanding die as seen in the picture.  The only thing that this does is slightly open the case mouth so your bullet fits nicely into the case.  To set this up, pull the arm of your press so that it is fully engaged and the shell holder is at the
highest point.  Screw the expanding die into your press until it touches the top of the shell holder.  Tighten down the lock ring on the die and secure the set screw.  Lower your shell holder back down and insert a cartridge.  Raise the case into the expander die until you feel some resistance.  Take the cartridge out to see if your case has expanded enough to comfortably accept a bullet, if not screw the top adjustment screw on the expander die in further and repeat.  Do this until you can comfortably place a bullet in the case that sits straight up and doesn't try to lay over in the case.  You will then set
up your seating die as instructed above.  The seating die will pull the walls of the case back in to the bullet to secure it in the case and set it to the depth that you have adjusted your die to.  Case expanding can be done when you are doing case preparations but I would just assume to do it before I load a fresh batch of ammo.

                            Here is a pistol bullet and case next to the expanding bolt before being expanded, notice how far the bullet stick out of the case.Here is the 9mm after being expanded.  Notice how much further the bullet sits down into the case.



                                                                                                                                    Step 4:  Enjoy

    Congratulations on successfully completing the reloading process.  You should now have uniform consistent rounds that you can shoot with confidence.  
The final step is storing your loads that won't be immediately shot.  I keep a reference book with a load number for each batch that I reload.  The reference
number will include information like the powder, powder weight, primer brand and size, bullet brand and weight, C.O.L., and anything else I deem relevant to
the load.  I will then use an old ammo box, coffee can, or hard case slotted ammo boxes to store ammo in.  Write the reference number on the storage
container so you can reference the load after you shoot it and leave feedback in your reference book based on its performance.  Keeping detailed records will
pay off big time for you whenever you revisit the bench to load more ammo up.  It also saves time in the R&D department, because it has already been done,
you just have to execute the loading process at the bench.
    Breaking the reloading process into steps is critical to comprehending what is going on without having an information overload.  I realize that this
article presents a mass of information that will be hard to process if taken in all at once.  I would tell you to start at the top, go one step at a time and
you will have a successful loading experience.  After all, you can't put powder into a case with no primer, no better than you can load a bullet into a case
without powder.  Within each of these steps you are going to find small things that will make the process go faster and smoother for you.  This might include
the layout of your loading bench or having a system in place for keeping the correct amount of ready brass available for your shooting needs.  Experience
will teach you a lot of this, and you will find that going off script is normal too.  Stuck cases, broken depriming pins, and stripped screws will all happen
to you at some point in time.  Being ready for these situations to happen comes from experience as a loader.  The security you feel from having your ammo
readily available with the stroke of a press is relieving.  Finally, you know you are getting a better hand crafted product for cheaper than something
stuffed together at a factory. 

 

Enjoy,

 

Brian Eickholtz

 

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Offset Your Ammo Cost: Part 2

     Throughout my last blog I explained the items that you would need to start loading your own ammunition for rifles and pistols.  In the next couple of weeks we will take an in depth look at how you get from empty brass to ammunition ready for the range and field.  The topic of today’s discussion will be brass preparation.  If you plan on starting out with new brass, this information will not come into play until you have shot some ammo and collected some empty casings.  If you have ever done any reloading before, then you know that brass preparation is an essential part of the loading process that demands more of your time than any other aspect of loading, especially if you are loading for rifles.  However, having brass readily available is one of the biggest cost saving aspects of loading your own ammo.

                                                                                            Here are a couple of essential tools for brass preperation: a case trimmer and tumbler.

Step 1: Tumbling Brass

    Add Turbo Charger to your media to get a high luster finish even after you've cleaned thousands of cases with your media. The first thing that I do when I get back from the range is load my tumbler up with media and throw my empty brass from the day in it.  I usually use the Lyman Corncob Case Cleaning Media, but there are plenty of options out Lyman corn cob media works great for cleaning cases.there.  The great thing about this media is it seems to last forever especially if you use the Lyman® Turbo Charger Media Reactivator periodically.  This will add luster back to your brass and it does not take as long to clean.  One trick that I always use when tumbling brass is cut up a used dryer sheet into four squares.  Drop the squares in with your media and brass and all of the dirt will stick to the dryer sheets instead of your tumbler and media.  Tumbling time will be about 2-5 hours depending on how much brass you have and the freshness of your media.  The brass should look shiny and clean when you get it out.  When you are satisfied with the brass, turn the tumbler off and sift the media into a small bucket or container and make sure that none is left inside of your casings.  I usually tumble all like brass together and try to avoid mixing brass because cases become entwined together and do not get fully cleaned when mixed.

 

Step 2: Sizing and Decapping

            Here is a sizing die for a .223.  Notice the decapping sticking out the bottom of the die.  This die sizes and decaps your cartridge all at once.Now that you have clean brass, you can begin sizing and decapping.  Both of these steps are achieved with one stroke of the press.  Refer to the picture on the left to locate your sizing die.  Read the instructions included with your die for setting it up into your press and install the appropriate shell holder onto your press. 

     For rifles, lay your brass out on a lube pad as shown in the picture and spray a light coating of case lube on them.  Roll them around a little bit and they are ready to be sized.  Also spray just a little bit of lubricant inside of your die.  ***DO NOT over lube your casings because bad things can happen.  A very light coating is all that you need.  Any more and your brass will dimple on the shoulders and could get stuck in your die***.  Place the brass into the shell holder and steadily pull the lever down until it reaches the bottom.  Steadily raise the arm of your press again.  You will feel some resistance as your brass comes out of die when the collate holding the decapping pin exits the neck of the case.  Inspect your case to ensure that the spent primer has been punched from the case.  If not, screw the decapping pin farther into your die and run the brass through again.  Also check your case for dimples or abnormalities.  If anything looks split, dimpled or incorrect, dispose the case and go to the next.  Shooters that use a bolt action gun may prefer to use a neck sizing die.  This type of die will extend the life of your brass but cannot be used in a semi automatic gun or a gun that is clip fed.  If you shoot the same cartridge out of multiple guns, you will need to keep that brass specific to each gun if you are neck sizing.Lay your brass on a lube pad to keep your area neat and clean.  I recommend a spray lube because it is easier to deal with.

     If you read the last article, I recommended buying a carbide die for pistols.  If you followed this advice, skip the case lubing for sizing your pistol cases, put them in the press and start punching primers.  If you bought a steel die for your pistol, be sure to lube your cases before running them through your die or you could end up with trouble.  As far as case lubricant goes, I prefer some type of spray lube.  It seems to be less messy and easier to use than the liquid form.  In addition, it is easy to control how much is getting onto your cases so you don’t over-lube them. 

Step 3: Case Trimming

     Adjust your caliper to the maximum case length and check each case to see if they are under that length or need to be trimmed.Now that you have your cases cleaned, sized, and decapped it is time to trim them back to their original factory length.  This step is usually not necessary when loading a straight walled cartridge.  So for pistols, this step can usually be skipped unless you are shooting a high pressure load.  Measure a few until you are comfortable that they will fall under the maximum case length shown in your reloading book.  If you are loading rifle ammunition, set your calipers at the maximum case length and lock them into place.  Measure each brass case that you have resized to make sure they are under this length.  For example, .223 has a maximum case length of 1.760” with a trim to length of 1.750”.  Ideally you want your cases to fall in this range, but you definitely do not want them to exceed the maximum case length.  Sort them between cases that exceed the maximum case length and cases that are under the maximum case length.  Each trimmer will be set up a little different so set yours up as instructed in the manual with the product.   Always remember to start out cutting a little long and make fine adjustments until you can consistently reach the length that you are targeting.Set your trimmer to with a case that you know the length of and make fine adjustments from there. For example, I will always use a case that is about 1.759” to set my initial trim to length and adjust my trimmer from there. After you trim a case use a deburring tool to deburr and dechamfer the inside and outside of the case mouth.  It only takes about a half a turn on each side to properly smooth the case mouth out.  After you get your trimmer set to trim to the right length, always check cases periodically to make sure that you’re trimming consistently.     Whenever I get through trimming cases I always like to send the brass through the tumbler again to get rid of any brass shavings or case lubricant left on my cases.  You do not have to leave them tumble for as long, a half hour or hour should suffice.  Once that is finished, sift the media from the cases and inspect the flash hole of each case to make sure that no media got caught in it.  If your flash hole is obstructed, use a tack or pin to punch out the object before continuing. 

     Once you have done these three steps, you have completed all case preparation needed to load your brass.  Always inspect your brass carefully for any major dimples, splits, or bulges.  Check the rim of your cartridge to make sure that it is intact and don’t take any chances on brass.  If it looks bad, pitch it!  Brass is usually somewhat easy to come by and a trip to the local range can get you restocked quickly.  If you pick up unknown brass or are given brass by someone, always run a magnet over it before putting it in your dies.  If it sticks to the magnet, DO NOT attempt to reload it because it is a steel casing that will damage your dies.  If you have more brass than you plan on reloading immediately, put them in a cool dry place for storage.  I prefer to vacuum seal my brass that will not be loaded promptly.  Plastic sealable bags and ammo cans work great too.  Add some silica packets to the bags or cans to insure a dry climate for your brass.  Hopefully these tips will help you on your way to loading your own ammo.  Next time we will add primers, powder, and bullets to your shiny clean brass.

-Brian Eickholtz          

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Offset Your Ammo Cost: Part 1

     If you are a hunter or shooter then you have probably seen an increase in the cost of keeping your guns loaded.  Ammunition prices have basically tripled over the last ten years. There are several reasons for this including high demand throughout the world for metals found in ammunition like brass, copper, and lead.  Ammunition is also an item that stays in high demand and, if you've been shopping in the last few weeks, you may be having a hard time finding exactly what you need or like to shoot with your gun.  Like with most industries, ammo is produced in batches based on what is forecasted to sell.  If more ammo is sold than anticipated and the stock runs out, it may be gone for weeks or months.  If you like to hunt or shoot waiting months for ammo to arrive is not an option.  Luckily, there is another option that will make your shooting and hunting more rewarding and cost efficient than ever: loading your own ammo.  

     Reloading is a great process to have knowledge of.  Understanding how your ammunition is loaded can be critical in making your gun shoot to its full capabilities.  In fact, a skilled loader can load bullets that will shoot much better than standard factory loads.  It doesn't take a rocket scientist to learn how to do either just a little attention to detail.  The only downfall of loading your own ammo is that there is some start up expense, but this will be offset by what you save in no time.  Getting started loading your own ammo is as simple as stopping by your local Bass Pro Shops and speaking with the experts in the Hunting department.  I will provide you with a starting point and tell you what works best for me to help get you pointed in the right direction.

     There are several basic items that you will need to begin loading ammo:  a press, scale, caliper, case trimmer, case tumbler, dies, powder dispenser, and most importantly a reloading manual.  You can purchase these items separately or in one of the great kits that we offer in our stores.  Generally, I recommend people start out with a kit.  You will get most of the basic hardware you need to get started, but you will usually have to buy additional items along the way.  For example, if you are loading new brass then a case trimmer and tumbler will not be necessary because you have no case prep work to do.  However, you will want to add this to your setup down the line because having the brass is going to save you quite a bit of money as opposed to buying new brass each time.   Loading dies, which resize your case and seat bullets, are specific to each cartridge and you need a different one for each caliber you plan to load for.  If you  decide that you only want to load for .223, that will be the only die that you need.  You can purchase additional dies as necessary and the dies are universal to be accepted into any standard press.  The last and cheapest component you will need to load is a shell holder which even comes with some dies that you buy.  Finally you will need the parts for your round:  bullets, brass, powder, and primers. 

     Before buying a setup for reloading, analyze what you are loading for.  Generally you will save the most money on large or uncommon calibers.  If you are loading for an AR-15 or a semi automatic pistol that you put a lot of rounds through, you may consider a progressive press.  You will be able to load much faster but you may lose that custom accuracy that comes with loading on a single stage press.  Personally, I load my .223 and 9mm with a single stage press and I still save quite a bit of money plus I always have ammo available.  For loading straight walled pistol calibers, make sure that you buy "carbide" die sets!  This is extremely important and will save you time and money because you do not have lubricate your cases before sizing them.  I will speak more about that in the next blog, which I will walk you through the loading steps for both rifle and pistols.  I will be specifically talking about .223 and 9mm, but you can apply the information I will give you to anything that you need to load. 

     For a beginner I would check out a couple of different kits and pick the one that suits your needs.  The most cost effective way to go is the Lee Breech Lock Challenger kit for $149.99.  Another Great choice is the Hornady Lock N' Load Classic Reloading Kit for $319.99.  My favorite kit, though, is the RCBS® Rock Chucker™ Supreme Master Reloading Kit sold at Bass Pro Shops for $359.99.  It combines a great press with excellent accessories that you will need to start your loading.  All of these kits come with a press, scale, hand priming tool, and several other extras.  Now go pick you out a kit and get the proper bullets, brass, primers and powder so you will be ready to load when I post my next article showing you how to put everything together.  Refer to the all important reloading manual as to what you will need if you have questions about what powder, primer, or bullets you need!

 

-Brian Eickholtz

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Borden High School Outdoor Club - Turkey Time!

On Thursday December 20th, 2012, The Bass Pro Shops in Clarksville Indiana, in conjunction with the Southern Indiana Rifle Club  hosted a turkey shoot for the members of the Borden High School Outdoor Club.

Borden Outdoor Club

 

The Borden Outdoor club is an extra-curricular club designed around getting students involved in various outdoor activities.  In some of these instances it is the first opportunity some of these kids have to participate in these activities.  The club has done all kinds of things, from canoeing trips to quail hunting.

Enjoying the day!

On this day, 30 students gathered at the Southern Indiana Rifle Club to participate in an old fashioned turkey shoot, and compete for one of the 10 turkeys donated by Bass Pro Shops.  The weather was outstanding for a December day, and 10 sharp eye students were able to take a turkey home in time for Christmas.

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IMPRESSIONS AND THE FUTURE!

In May 2012, Fishing Associate Ed Snook was invited to do a Career Day at an Elementary School, in Greenville, Indiana.  Snook talked to the 2nd grade class about being a touring bass fisherman and sales associate at Bass Pro Shops Clarksville.  Merchandising Manager Scott Liebert gathered up some backpacks for Snook to take as handouts, and Special Events Coordinator/Promotions, Tina Tucker provided some items to go into the backpacks for each child at Career Day.  Snook brought his boat, talked about the excitement and hard work of being a touring bass fisherman, and how much he enjoyed working at the Clarksville store.  Everyone loved the talk and the goodies.

A couple of months after Snook’s visit to the school, Tucker was contacted by Samuel and his mother Alicia.  It seems like Samuel did not forget the impression Ed Snook and his expertise had on the class.  Samuel had decided he wanted to make a 3D replica of the Bass Pro Shops in Clarksville for a school project!  Tucker provided a store brochure, some stickers and tattoos to help him in construction of his replica.
 

Samuel at school with his model.

Once he completed his project and to Ed’s pleasant surprise, he received a text message from the teacher at the Elementary School.  In that text was a picture of Samuel with his completed 3D replica he had made of the Clarksville Bass Pro.  The text stated, “One of our kids made this for his project because of the fishing guy that was here on Career Day”.. 

Samuel, proudly showing his "Clarksville Bass Pro Shops"

Samuel is seven years old and in the 2nd Grade.  His teacher is Mrs. Plass.  Samuel loves to hunt (and he shot his first deer this season!).  He is a member of Super Shooters 4-H Club.  He loves to practice target shooting with his .22 and his bow.  Samuel will wear a Bass Pro shirt every day of the week if his mom would let him, and she says most of the time they do!

Samuel’s mom emailed Tucker the pictures of the completed project!  With this being his favorite store, he wanted it to look as much like it as possible.  You be the judge!

Samuel's Model

Bass Pro Shops, Clarksville Indiana

This is just some of the rewards we gain from the impressions that we put forward to our youth.  These kids are our future.  Taking the time to go to a Career Day and putting on the store events is just a couple of the ways to endear the fishing and hunting heritage to today’s youth.  Samuel did a fantastic job on his model!

For those of you who ever get an opportunity to visit a school or youth organization, take it!  Children and parents alike never forget the good that comes out of these sessions, and neither do the associates or the stores!

 

Tina Tucker, Special Events Coordinator/Promotions, Bass Pro Shops, Clarksville

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CANINE COMPLETE WORKSHOPS AT THE CLARKSVILLE BASS PRO!

Bass Pro Shops Clarksville will be conducting Canine Complete Workshops in February.

Do you want to know what it takes to train your dog?  Here is your chance to gain that knowledge and train your canine!

These workshops will be approximately 2 to 3 hours in length. 

Ron Knox, Instructor and Hunting Department Associate

Instructor, Ron Knox, has been raising and training working dogs since 1989.  He is certified as an expert in K-9 Search and Rescue in Indiana.  He also worked as a Search and Rescue (SAR) dog trainer and handler for Jefferson County Emergency Medical Services (now Louisville Metro EMS) in Kentucky for five years. Knox has trained and handled one of the first Level 2 SAR dogs for the Kentucky Search Dog Association.  As a Police Officer for the Clark County Sheriff’s Office in Indiana, he was in charge of developing their first K-9 Division and assigned to SWAT for eight years.   Knox has trained over 200 dogs in areas of obedience, agility, SAR, narcotic detection, tracking, cadaver, and underwater detection.  He has participated in over 100 missions involving missing, lost, or fleeing persons.  As a retired Lieutenant from the Louisville Metro EMS, he now lives on a small farm in Henryville, Indiana, where he raises and trains Sporting Dogs for upland and woodland game bird hunting.  He currently works part time in the Hunting Department at the Clarksville Bass Pro Shops Store.

You will be able to pick from one of the dates and times below for the “Canine Complete” workshop of your choice.  All topics will be covered in each workshop.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Four Classes:  10am, 1pm, 4pm, and 7pm

 

Sunday February 10, 2013

Two Classes:  11am and 2pm

 

Course topics:

Understanding the Canine

Selection of a Breed or Puppy

Care and Nutrition

Housebreaking

Training the Canine

This seminar and class is catered to the needs of all dog owners as well as perspective dog owners.  Topics begin with Knox explaining the different classifications of canines, help you to understand your current canine better, plus give you the tools to assist in selecting your next canine partner. There will also be the Complete Basics on leash obedience class with explanation of off leash and continuation on working with canines.  This workshop is designed to give the Trainer’s (you) the knowledge to train your canine partner.  Future workshops will be offered for you to return and gain help in trouble areas you may find along the way.  

Bring your canine, a crate or human partner to assist you if your canine might have problems sitting through this class.  Pre-registration is required.  Please call 812-218-5500, to sign up for Canine Complete Class.   Please specify the day and time of the class you are registering for:  February 9, Saturday 10am, 1pm, 4pm or 7pm; February 10, Sunday 11am and 2pm.   Remember to pick the date and time that is convenient for you and your pet!

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Tune into Success

   Shorter days, longer nights, and a little nip i the air assures us that the whitetail rut is approaching swiftly.  Many of you guys and gals have probably already been out and spent quite a few hours in a tree or blind waiting for an opportunity to arise.  I would venture to guess that many readers have already harvested a deer or two this season.  No matter your situation, I'm sure that you are looking forward to the next couple of weeks as the rut peaks throughout the Midwest.  November 1-20 is undoubtedly the most exciting time to be in the woods for me.  The promise of a action packed rut combined with the anticipation of never knowing exactly what is going to happen, can happen, or might not ever happen is an exhilarating swing of emotions that draw each of us back to the woods every year.  Last year I posted a blog titled "Bow Prep Tips for Crunch Time" that illustrated the small things you can do to insure that your bow is ready for the moment of truth.  In this blog, I will talk more about how to prepare you for "crunch time."

    Most of us have spent the better part of the summer getting our bows sighted in and our form hammered back out to prepare for deer season.  Muscle memory when shooting a bow is important.  Drawing to the same anchor spot, aligning your sight bracket with your peep correctly, squeezing the trigger; all important actions that will impact how well you shoot.  Of course those are not the only things affecting your shot.  You have to think about follow through, "feeling" your target as my dad taught me.  Weather conditions and steady winds can throw you off too.  Try climbing your treestand to your maximum height, pull your bow and arrows up, and then draw and fire about 6-12 shots at various ranges and targets.  Your accelerated heart rate from climbing the stand may help emulate what it will be like when buck fever dawns on you.  Shooting from an elevated position that you have not practiced from can be detrimental to that ever important first shot.  One thing to keep in mind:  if you are in a treestand shooting down at a target (or deer) it is critical to bend at the waist to keep your upper body properly aligned.  Lowering your arm rather than bending at the waist is a sure way to botch a seemingly easy shot.  The same is true for uphill shots which most whitetail hunters encounter far less often.

    If you have the form and the mental side of archery down pat, I offer you one last suggestion.  Keep shooting actively throughout the season!  I have fallen victim to this at least once.  You go out and try so hard to perfect everything about your archery shooting ability only to sit on stand for days and weeks without firing a shot.  When the magic happens on a cold day in November, you suddenly find yourself watching a bruiser flagging the other way as you sit there with a muddy broadhead and broken ego. I recommend buying a small target like a Rinehart Archery Field Target to get a couple of practice shots in before you leave the truck to head for your stand.  This will keep you focused on what needs to occur for you to hit where you are aiming.  Whether you are drawing on a big buck, a doe, or a 3-d target at the house, archery is all about concentration and focus. Remember the basics and let the emotions take over after you send one through the boiler room!

Good Hunting!

-Brian Eickholtz
Bass Pro Shops
Clarksville, IN

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2012 Bassmaster All Star Tournament

This past week the annual Bassmaster All Star Tournament was held on Lake Shelbyville, and on Lake Decatur in Decatur, IL. Three members of the Bass Pro Shops Clarksville, IN  Pro Staff were there to show off our Nito Boat products by way of Demo rides to the public. In the photo below from left to right is: Dan White, Bobby Crane, and Gary Earl awaiting the demo rides to start.

Dan White, Bobby Crane, & Gary Earl

Please follow the links below to view some "On the Water" footage taken from the decks of our demo boats by two of the reporters from WCIA-3 TV in Champain,IL.

http://illinoishomepage.net/fulltext?nxd_id=418792

http://illinoishomepage.net/fulltext?nxd_id=418932

The top 8 Elite Series anglers in the Toyota Tundra Angler of the Year ponts were there. And the last 4 anglers to round out the field of 12 were voted in by people across the country via the Bassmaster website.

Thursday and Friday all 12 anglers fished against each other trying to make the cut for Saturday's event.

The final four who fished on Saturday were: Edwin Evers, Aaron Martens, Gerald Swindle, and Ott Defoe.

We had 2 of our Nitro Z9 Pros in the final four.

The top 2 from Saturday were Edwin Evers, and Aaron Martens who fished "head to head" on Sunday for the title of 2012All Star Champion.

With the drought conditions this year has provided, fishing was tough all week on these two bodies of water but both Evers, and Martens brought in fish to the final weigh-in on Sunday. Martens took the title of 2012 All Star Champion by only 1 pound, 4oz over Evers.

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FUN FAMILY ACTIVITIES AT THE CLARKSVILLE BASS PRO SHOPS!

Did you know our store is one of the most family and fun oriented establishments in the area?  We have some upcoming events that are sure to be a big hit with the entire family at the Clarksville Bass Pro Shops!

Family Fun for all ages.

In October and early November, join us for the following:

Outdoor Rewards Night – Sunday, October 7

For all of our customers, this event will take place from 6pm to 9pm.  Not an Outdoor Rewards Member?  It’s easy to sign up on your next visit to a Bass Pro Shops.  Just stop at the Customer Service Desk, and tell them you want to be an Outdoor Rewards Member!  There is no cost and you earn points which that can be used on future purchases!

2012 Waterfowl Migration - October 13 and 14:  There will be factory representatives in the store to answer all of your questions as well as give you tips and tricks on products. Vendors such as Zinks , Final Approach, and Haydel,  just to mention a few.  All you waterfowl fans won’t want to miss this event.

PBR Event for the Kids!  October 13 and 14

The Professional Bull Riders has partnered with Bass Pro Shops to develop this event that will be a great family outing!

Activities as part of this event are:

Stick Bull Riding

Bull Roping

Crafting a Free Leather Wristband

Best Dressed Cowboy or Cowgirl

Color your Kickers

Free Face Painting

Face painting for the young fans!

Bandana Giveaway to the first 100 customers to attend the event!

Meet a Professional Bull Rider!

This event will take place from Noon to 4pm on October 13 and 14!  Check the Clarksville Store Website for times and additional details! 

Visit with use October 19 through the 31 for Halloween!

Once again the Peanuts gang will be joining us for festive Halloween Events beginning October 19 and continuing through October 31!

Activities Scheduled are:

FREE FAMILY PHOTO:

Weekdays October 19, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31 - 5-8pm 

Weekends Sat. & Sun. October 20, 21, 27, 28 - Noon-5pm

CRAFTS & Coloring Sheets

Saturdays and Sundays, October 20, 21, 27, 28 – 1pm – 4pm

Crafts, costumes, and more!

TRICK OR TREATING

Fridays October 19 & 26, Wednesday October 31 – 5pm – 8pm

GRAB AN APPLE ACTIVITY

Saturdays October 20 and 27 - 1pm – 3pm

SCAVENGER HUNT

Sundays October 21 & 28 - 1pm – 3pm

COSTUME PARADES

Fridays October 19 & 26 - 6pm-7pm

 

2012 Fall Deer Tab

For the avid hunter, beginning October 22, we will be starting our 2012 Fall Deer Tab.  Seminars and activities will be going on between October 22 and November 18.

Archery Basics

October 22 - 3pm Learn about bow basics, arrow choices, reliable releases and selecting the right broad head.

Selecting the Right Gun & Ammo

October 24 - 3pm Choosing the right gun and caliber can be tricky. Our experts will answer your questions and help you decide which rifle shotgun, or handgun meets your need

Dress for the Hunt

November 10 - 3pm Our experts will show you the latest in camo patterns and technologies. We will cover extreme weather gear, scent and insect control as well as the variety of patterns available.

Optics for Your Hunt

November 11 - 3pm Our experts will help you find the perfect scope, range finder, or pair of binoculars for your next hunt. We’ll match products to fit your specific needs.

 

FLY TYING WITH DERBY CITY FLY FISHERS – OCTOBER 25

Join us in the theater at 6:30pm and learn all about fly tying with the local experts!  You won’t want to miss this exciting and informative hand-on workshop!

 

Conservation partners.

October is National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) Month.

Throughout the year, Bass Pro Shops partners with different conservation groups to help support the mission and legacy of outdoor conservation.  There will be opportunities for you to donate $2.00 for a chance to win hundreds of dollars in gift cards to Bass Pro Shops! Various chapters will be in the store during the month to introduce you to the mission of the NWTF.  On October 27 and 28, the NWTF JAKES trailer will be at the Clarksville Store for the Kid’s to try their hand at BB Guns and air soft.  You won’t want to miss this educational and informative event!

To check on times, and any other events, please call 812-218-5500.   Our friendly staff will be glad to assist you and let you know what is happening at your local Clarksville store.

Tina Tucker,  Special Events Coordinator, Bass Pro Shops, Clarksville, Indiana

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Woods or Water?

    Early fall is a significant time of year for anyone that has a passion for the outdoors.  Several hunting seasons are coming in and fish are really starting to bite.  If you are here in Indiana, dove and squirrel season are in full swing and our archery season for deer is just around the corner.  The early season for teal and geese has already come and gone.  With the addition of crossbows as a legal hunting method during our archery season, folks are really starting to gain some options.  Managing your days off work to fit all of this in can be difficult at times, but it can be done.  Combo hunts are some of my favorite.  For example, some friends and I spent one Sunday morning hunting geese and  when that was done, we re-tooled and shot our limits of doves.My lab Woody looks on after a successful combo hunt on a September Sunday morning.  Watching football on Sunday afternoon after a morning like that is very satisfying.  

    Don't limit yourself to just hunting though, fishing is awesome right now, too.  Whether you are soaking a wax worm under a bobber to catch a mess of bluegill or gunning after some largemouth,  you are bound to find some kind of success.  Look for the bass to begin moving shallow and chasing bait around.  The Alabama Rig is an excellent selection for bass right now.  Mix it up with crankbaits, topwater, and spinnerbaits as well.  Focus on looking for bait and fishing near the bait.  Try different colors and depths until you find what they want.  If you have done all of that and can't figure out a way to catch them, you can always head home and finish the afternoon with a bow shoot.

   There are no shortage of options right now when it comes to enjoying yourself outside.  The beautiful weather we have been blessed with this month is just an extra incentive to be out doing something.  The hardest part will be choosing what to do with your time off.  Make sure to plan a trip to Bass Pro Shops on your way out so you can be geared for success.  Nothing is as bad as finding out you don't have enough shotgun shells or the kind of baits you need to be successful on these nice days.
 

-Brian Eickholtz

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NEW AT YOUR CLARKSVILLE BASS PRO SHOPS, CARHARTT FOR WOMEN!

You asked for it and now we have it!  Our Women’s Department now carries Carhartt  for the ladies.  We have expanded our store Carhartt merchandise with the latest in this strong and fashionable line of clothing.

Our brand new womens Carhartt clothing line!

Let me tell you a little bit of history about the Carhartt Brand:  Hamilton Carhartt was born in 1855 in Macedon Lock, New York. He grew up in Southern Michigan. He modified his last name by adding an extra "t" to ensure he would stand out from other businessmen. The original Carhartt clothing line was an overall garment created specifically for railroad workers.  Hamilton Carhartt founded his namesake company in 1889 and began making work wear with a single goal in mind and that was to set a standard of excellence to which all others would aspire. He started with only 4 sewing machines and about 5 employees, the first products manufactured were overalls in duck and denim fabrics. By traveling from town to town and visiting each railroad division, he was able to establish himself in the overall business.  Carhartt Master Cloth was designed and woven especially for use in Carhartt garments and was pledged to be the best cloth that could be produced.  Hamilton Carhartt passed away in 1937 at the age of 82. Today, just  like Bass Pro Shops, his company remains a family owned operation committed to the mission of providing Best-in-Class apparel for the active worker.

All kinds of styles for the men!

Carhartt is used in many occupations and venues!  There are numerous movies and television shows that have Carhartt products being worn and used in them.  Next time you are watching your favorite TV show or a movie, see if you can spot the items!  While you are out with the family, play a game with the kids and see how many people they can identify wearing something of the Carhartt Brand.  

So, ladies, make a stop in our Women’s Department and check out this quality and time tested merchandise. 

Jackets, hats, and more for the ladies!

Continue on into the kid’s department and get some Carhartt for them.

Keeping the kids in style!

And don’t forget, the Men’s Department has a complete line of Carhartt from work wear to casual wear, including belts and gloves! 

The original, tried and true!

We have it all!

Carhartt for the whole family!  We have the latest merchandise for men, women, and kids!  Bass Pro Shops Clarksville, make it your family one stop shop for Carhartt!

Tina Tucker - Special Events Coordinator/Promotions

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