Why Does Hunting and FIshing Gear Cost So Much? The Skinny or (Fatty) on FET (Federal Excise Tax)

I constantly hear that the archery industry and Bass Pro must be making huge profits on bows, accessories, arrows and components.  “I could make this part for much less” or “How can you charge so much for something that costs only a few dollars to make”?   

One of the reasons is the high FET (Federal Excise Tax) that is imposed on the hunting and fishing industries.  This tax is not only imposed on imported products but hunting and fishing products produced here in the United States of America. IRS Form 720 is not a form most taxpayers are familiar with. It is the form for FET, and it is only filed by those taxpayers - usually businesses - responsible for collecting the excise taxes. The most important use for Form 720 is for businesses that distribute various kinds of fuel; however, it has a motley array of other miscellanea, including the “Tanning Tax” from Obamacare. For the most part this FET is determined by the MSRP (Manufactures Suggested Retail Price) of an item and not the wholesale price of the product. Because taxpayers don’t see these taxes on their own tax forms, they miss out on these peculiarities. One of the most peculiar of these is a whopping 11% tax on “bows, quivers, broadheads, and points.”

Review the link below to learn more about the RULES as it pertains to archery and sport fishing.


Now you are starting to get the picture.  Below is a chart that reviews collected FET just the archery industry has produced over the past few years.

As you can see $55.7 Million dollars of FET generated in 2014.  Wow!, is right, that is a lot of money, and that is not including the sales tax charged on the products your purchase.

2015 there is a 49 cent FET on each arrow shaft produced, almost $6.00 / dozen arrows.

As with most taxes, it is very complicated for the manufacture to determine what the tax will be.  Take a look at the computation formula listed in the link below.


This sounds strange at first, but it turns out to make more sense in context. The Pittman-Robertson Act is an 80-year-old piece of legislation that helps fund game conservation efforts through these taxes on hunting equipment, including bows, firearms and fishing. The key is that the funds from the tax are to be marked for purposes that benefit those who are paying the tax. This is called the “Benefit Principle."

The Pittman-Robertson taxes are collected at a federal level and only then allocated in block grants to the states in proportion to their land area and the number of hunting license holders. In other words, it is clearly designed to work within the hunting community. Nonetheless, it is not a perfect user fee. For example, an archery enthusiast who does not hunt will still pay the tax, and mostly end up funding the activities of his or hers bowhunting counterparts.

So next time when you start thinking that an item you are about to purchase cost too much.... Keep in mind that you are also paying unseen taxes that are being utilized for the preservation of hunting and fishing.



Optics Simplified

Shop our extensive selection of Optics at basspro.com

When it comes to gearing up for your hunt this season, there are many things to consider:  weapon of choice, caliber/gauge, decoys, camouflage clothing, calls, etc.  However, one thing always seems to raise the most questions, and coincidentally it can be the most important purchase you make that can directly affect the success of your hunt: optics.

Few things can improve your odds of bagging your trophy of a lifetime like good glass, but not all glass is created equal.  That being said, what separates a $1500 scope from a $100 scope and everything in between? Manufacturers will use certain buzzwords such as: eye relief, fully-multi coated, light transmission, exit pupil and a slew of other words; but what do these terms mean and how do they help you choose what is best for you? Once you understand these buzzwords, you can easily determine what features you need to make your scope work for you.





The first thing you are likely to encounter when looking at scopes is something to the tune of 3-9x40 or 4-16x50. What do these numbers mean?  Read out loud, this would sound like "three to nine by forty" or "four to sixteen by fifty".  

The first part of the equation is what is called the magnification; and on a 3-9x40 scope, the magnification on this scope can be adjusted from 3 power to 9 power, and anywhere in between. Setting the scope to 3 power, means that your target will appear to be 3 times closer to you than it actually is, and at 9 power, it will appear 9 times closer to you.  In raw numbers, something at 100 yards away would appear to be 33.3 yards away at 3 power, and 11.1 yards away at 9 power.

Another important thing to consider is the magnification range, which is calculated by dividing the maximum power of the scope by the minimum power. A 3-9 power scope has a 3x magnification range, whereas a 4-16 scope has a 4x magnification range.  There are now scopes with as high as 8x magnification ranges.  The higher the magnification range, the more versatile the scope can be, but it also comes at a price.

The second part of the equation (40 on a 3-9x40 scope) is the measure of the objective lens (the one you don't look into, at the front of the scope) in millimeters, and all other factors being equal, a larger objective lens will allow more light to enter the scope, which usually results in a brighter picture.

Things to consider:

Average shot - It is very easy to over magnify your gun.  Most whitetail deer are shot under 100 yards, so a scope powered above 9 power is not only unnecessary, it can become a hindrance.

Bigger isn't always better - If 40 is good and 44 is great, it would stand to reason that 50 or more is even better, but that's not always the case.  A larger objective lens forces you to mount the scope higher to allow the bell of the scope to clear the barrel.  This works against you in two-fold, first because the farther away the scope and the bore are, the less accurate your gun will be; two, your cheek weld on your rifle stock will be compromised from having to lift your head to be able to see through your scope.


Eye Relief/Exit Pupil

The next thing you are likely to notice when looking through a mounted scope is the eye relief.  Eye relief is simply the distance your eye needs to be from the scope where you can see a full picture.  Most standard rifle scopes will have eye relief up to about 4", which means your eye can be as far as 4 inches away from the scope and still see a full picture.  Any farther, and you will begin to see a black shadow/ring around the outside of your picture inside the scope, conversely if you get to close, you risk hitting yourself in the face with the scope when your gun recoils after firing.  Shotgun/muzzleloader scopes can have eye relief up to 6", which helps accommodate for the extra recoil associated with these firearms, but we will discuss later at what cost this comes.

Exit pupil is a term that the majority of people have almost no clue what it is, but is a very crucial part of purchasing optics.  Exit pupil is quite literally the size of the picture that enters your eye.  A healthy human eye can dilate up to about 7 millimeters (sometimes more), and aged eyes may only be able to open to 4 millimeters or less.  Exit pupil is measured in millimeters, and is calculated by dividing the size of the objective lens in millimeters by the magnification power.  A scope with a 40 mm objective set at 3 power, will produce an exit pupil of about 13.3 mm, which is more than adequate for transmitting as much light/picture as possible to the eye.  Conversely, the same scope, set at 9 power, will produce an exit pupil of about 4.44 mm, which is going to produce a relatively smaller, darker picture.

Things to consider:

Bigger isn't always better (Part II) - If 3" of eye relief is good, and 4" is better, 6" should be great.  Once again, not always the case.  The farther away you get from your scope, the more your field of view suffers.  You want to be far enough away that you don't hit yourself, but not so far that you can't see anything but a pinhole through your lens.  

But sometimes, bigger is better -  It's hard to go wrong with more exit pupil.  No matter how good your glass is, if the picture getting to your eye is tiny, it will appear dark and tough to see.  Overpowering your scope can drastically reduce your exit pupil, and the last thing you want during that golden hour of last light is a dark picture.


Light Transmission/Lens Coatings:

Contrary to popular belief, scopes do not "gather" light, rather they transmit it.  The finest (and most expensive) scopes can have light transmission ratings nearing about 98%.  Great scopes will transmit up to 95% light, but the majority of scopes transmit somewhere around 90% of light that hits the objective lens. Unfortunately, not all manufacturers will list their light transmission rating, and there isn't an accepted standardized measuring system, so not all transmission ratings are created equal.

Light transmission is largely a factor of coatings on the lenses.  It seems silly, but these microscopic coatings put on the lenses are what can separate a $500 scope from a $1500 scope.  Coatings can do many things, from reducing glare,  or waterproofing and fogproofing the glass, to phase correction which aligns the different color spectrums as they move through the lenses.  The more coatings added, the more expensive the scope.  You will also hear four terms when describing how the coatings are applied to the lenses: coated, fully coated, multicoated and fully multicoated.  Coated is the lowest grade, and it means that there is at least one coating on one lens surface.  Next is fully coated, which means there is one coating on all air to glass surfaces.  The next two are the most frequent options.  Multicoated means there are multiple layers on at least one lens and as you can probably guess, fully multicoated means there are multiple layers on all air to glass surfaces.

Things to consider:

Go big or go home - In today's market, there is no reason to purchase any optic that is not fully multicoated, even budget friendly scopes are available in fully multicoated options.  


Tube Diameter

The majority of scopes on the market in the United States will have a 1" main tube.  In recent years, long range shooting sports have increased the demand for scopes using a 30 mm tube, and in some very specialized cases, tubes up to 34 and 35 mm.  

The importance behind tube diameter comes when you understand how scopes are built.  Inside the main tube of the scope lies another tube, called the erector tube.  The erector tube is an obviously, smaller tube, which houses some lenses and your reticle, and is how elevation/windage adjustments are made.  When the adjustment turrets on the side and top of your scope are turned, they press on this erector tube and move it inside the scope.  When you "run out of adjustment" in your scope, what you have actually done is pushed the erector tube as far as it can go in one direction.  However, if you have a bigger outside tube, you can increase the amount of adjustment available in your scope, which is decided advantage when shooting at longer ranges where "doping your scope" is required.

Things to consider:

Bigger can be better - I would guess that 95% of rifle scopes on the market still carry a 1" main tube, and it has served very well, and will continue to do so, especially in most hunting applications.  However, for those looking to stretch their shooting a little further, depending on manufacturer, a 30 mm tube usually offers about 20 MOA (20 inches at 100 yards) more adjustment than a comparable scope with a 1" tube.



Next to exit pupil, this is far and away the most misunderstood term in optics, but it happens to be one of the most important ones to grasp.  Simply put, parallax is an optical illusion.  

Consider this: you are driving down the road and look down at your speedometer, and your needle is centered directly over 60 mph.  If a person sitting in your passenger seat looks over, it will likely appear to them that the needle is somewhere around 58 mph, because they are looking at it from a different angle.  The needle didn't move, the numbers behind it didn't move, so what happened?  Parallax.

Parallax in a scope is the same concept, if I were to lock a scope down in a vise and aim it at a point on the wall, any distance away (the further away, the more obvious it becomes).  With my eye centered behind the scope, moving my head side to side would make it appear that the crosshairs moved off of my target.  Once again, the scope didn't move and the target didn't move, but if I was shooting, my point of impact would be off. Quite simply, my scope and my target are not operating on the same plane, and I need to adjust my parallax on my scope to get them working together.

On most scopes, parallax adjustment is fixed at 100 yards, which is usually fine for most hunting purposes.  If your head happens to be slightly off at 100 yards, your point of impact may only shift less than an inch or so. However, for those who frequently shoot longer ranges, there are scopes that offer some sort of parallax adjustment, which is either found on the front of the scope around the objective lens, or a third dial on the left hand side of the scope.  Either of these is usually easily distinguishable because it will have numbers, usually starting at 25 and ending at infinity, which are associated with the range of your target.  To use these, all you have to do is establish the range of your target, dial your parallax to match, and you should reduce and possibly eliminate any perceived crosshair movement due to change in head position behind your scope.

Things to consider:

Average shot - Once again consider your average shot.  Having a parallax adjustment can't hurt, but like any features, you will pay more to get it.  If you aren't going to be shooting over 200 yards anytime soon, a parallax adjustment is probably not necessary.  However, if you plan on routinely shooting over 200 yards, and especially if you plan on doing so from different shooting positions, parallax adjustment is an absolute must.


Optics Triangle:

It stands to reason that as a consumer, you would want to have the best of all the features.  However, as we all know, this is usually not possible.  Optics are no exception, and most questions regarding features can be answered by consulting what is called the optics triangle.  The optics triangle references three key features: magnification, eye relief, and field of view.  Every scope has these three features, but they are all in direct correlation with each other.  If you increase the magnification of your scope, you have to decrease the eye relief and the field of view, and so on and so forth.  The closer you get to one feature, the more you rob from the others.  Sometimes, magnification is the most important necessity (long range, prairie dog hunting). Other times, eye relief is more important (shotgun/muzzleloaders).  The important thing to consider is that changing one directly affects the other two.




Start this season off with a BOOM!

As seasons change and weather begins to turn favorable, there are few things more enjoyable than getting a little trigger time.  Recreational target shooting has seen an incredible uptick in popularity in recent years, and while your standard cardboard/plywood target with a bullseye taped on it is still as applicable as ever, perhaps it's time to step up your game.  I'm talking, of course, about exploding targets.  Yes, EXPLODING.

Over the past few years, there have been a plethora of new companies offering these targets, sometimes mistakenly referred to as Tannerite, which is a brand of exploding target (think Kleenex vs. facial tissue), they are more aptly described as binary exploding targets.  These targets are referred to as binary, because they come from the factory as two separate compounds, an oxidizer and a catalyst, which are completely harmless until opened and mixed together.  Once the two components are mixed, the target is now considered an explosive, although it is relatively safe in the fact that it still requires a high velocity projectile to detonate it.  While not recommended, claims from manufacturers are that the mixed binary compound can withstand an open flame and intense impacts such as being hit with a hammer or even shot with a low velocity projectile such as a pistol round, without detonating.  Most manufacturers claim that their standard rifle targets require a 40 grain projectile traveling at least 2200 fps, although I have personally been successful in using a .17 HMR in consistently detonating these targets, which usually consists of a 17 grain projectile at around 2500 fps.  That being said, I also seem to notice that a bigger gun tends to produce a bigger bang, so choose your weapon wisely!

As far as standard rifle targets go, there are offerings all the way from 1/4 lb targets up to 2 lb targets, and if you have a container large enough, you can always combine targets to make a bigger boom!  If you do decide to use a container different than the one offered from the factory, be sure that it isn't made of anything (or near anything for that matter) that could become shrapnel.  My personal favorite targets are the 1 lb and 2 lb offerings from Sonic Boom.

If you are more of a handgun, shotgun or rimfire shooter, do not despair, you aren't going to be left out of the fun!  Sonic Boom also offers a Rimfire Target, which offers a little bit better bang for your buck (pun intended)!  The Rimfire Target comes with 10 capsules to split up the mixture into smaller portions, which allow the targets to be detonated with a firearm shooting a 17 grain or higher projectile at 1000 fps or better.  This means that while the product claims it to be a "rimfire" target, lower velocity firearms such as handguns and shotguns can also set these targets off.

As always, proper eye and ear protection is always strongly recommended, as is ensuring that you are a safe distance from the target before detonating.  It should also be noted that while binary targets are currently legal for purchase in all 50 states, you should always check local laws and ordinances to ensure that it is indeed legal to set off an explosive device in your area.  Exploding targets, when used properly, can be just the thing you need to make shooting exciting again.  Clanging a steel target is always fun, but nothing says your shot is on target like a pillar of smoke and a heart-stopping BOOM!



Moveable Single Pin Bow Sight Choices That Will Help You Perform Better

Single-Pin Sights

The Tru-Glo Archer’s Choice Range Rover Pro


$199.99 SKU: 2213935

The Tru-Glo Archer’s Choice Range Rover Pro features PWR-Dot Illuminated Center Dot Technology to help improve long-distance accuracy. The ultra-smooth Zero-In Adjustment Dial delivers precise micro-adjust elevation tuning, and more than 40 pre-marked yardage tapes help make setup faster and easier. The Range Rover Pro boasts an adjustable green LED with 11 brightness settings for plenty of customization. The sight also features a large circular field of view and a glow-in-the-dark shooter’s ring. A quiver can be mounted directly to the bracket via the included quiver mount. Adjustable for right- or left-handed shooters and can be fitted with a 1.87" lens.


The Axcel AccuTouch HD X41


$279.99 SKU 2209617

The Axcel AccuTouch HD X41  gives you the best of both worlds: a single-pin slider sight that, thanks to its revolutionary Accu-Clicks, acts like a multi-pin sight. The user sets each Accu-Click at a specific distance so that the slider stops at the desired point. The Accu-Clicks, combined with a 45-degree rear-facing sight scale, allow the user to set the sight from an arm’s distance away. The Red Elevation Tension Lever lets the shooter choose how easily the sight slides along the elevation bar. In addition, the AccuTouch offers all-axis leveling capabilities. Other features include a Windage Lock Button that prevents the micro-adjustable windage knob from turning when engaged. Models include the AccuTouch, and the AccuTouch Pro, $329.99 SKU 2209618 a dovetail version with a 6-inch carbon bar. This sight can be fitted with a 1.75" lens.

The Trophy Ridge Clutch


$199.99  SKU: 2195405

The Trophy Ridge Clutch blurs the line between a target and hunting sight. Double-sided sight tapes allow for both target and hunting precision with the same bow. The fast, smooth friction drive system creates repeatable movement for precise positioning of the ultra-bright pin. Made from machined aluminum with premium stainless-steel hardware, the Clutch offers micro-click windage adjustment, micro-elevation adjustments for customized base yardage, laser-engraved tool-less windage and elevation adjustments and second-axis adjustability. The Clutch comes with 10 custom sight tapes.  The Clutch can be fitted with a 1.75" lens, not included.


The Apex Covert Pro


$199.99 SKU: 2214009

The Apex Covert Pro with advanced single-pin sight features new PWR-Dot Illuminated Center Dot Technology, providing the user with an adjustable green LED with 11 brightness settings. The Covert Pro offers incredibly smooth, one-handed adjustments and Gravity-Line rotational adjustment that aligns pin movement with gravity. This sight comes with more than 60 pre-marked yardage tapes and boasts a rear-facing, easy-to-see yardage-tape location. With an adjustable second- and third-axis illuminated level, an adjustable yardage pointer and dampened end-of-travel stops incorporated into the bracket, the Covert Pro delivers quick and easy setup and ease of use .Adjustable for right- or left-handed shooters and can be fitted with a 1.87" lens. 


Trophy Ridge React Trio

$249.99 SKU: 2195398

Trophy Ridge React Trio Enjoy the readiness of a fixed 3 pin bow sight with versatility to reach out even further when needed with the Trophy Ridge® React Trio Bow Sight. This unique bow sight uses Trophy Ridge's React Technology to turn your 40-yard pin into a movable pin, allowing you to hunt at extended ranges up to 120 yards. Drive shaft knob on the back of the sight provides fast, quiet, and accurate movement up and down for extended range shots, while the rock solid lock down feature hold sight securely for single distance shooting. Positive stop design at the 40 yard position provides fast 3 pin target acquisition in a hunting situation. Precision installed bubble level and 2nd and 3rd axis leveling help you keep the sight flat and accurate. Tool-free micro windage and elevation adjustments. Contrast Glo Ring helps you effortlessly align the peep to the sight ring, working with the impact-armored ultra-bright, .19" fiber optics for superior low light shooting.

The Spot Hogg® Tommy Hogg

$199.99 SKU: 2116919

The Spot Hogg® Tommy Hogg™ 1-Pin Bow Sight features front control yardage adjustment to give great quiver clearance without sacrificing sight adjustability. The rugged hard mount gives super-stable mounting, and solid 6061 aluminum construction is both ultra-durable and lightweight. HRD technology means no bushings to loosen or rattle.  Micro adjustable 2nd & 3rd axis.  Micro adjustment for windage & elevation are tool-free, and the precision laser engraved sight scale & knobs are very easy to read. Removable rack for traveling. The sight scale is compatible with archery programs. Now includes sight tapes.

Single-Pin Sights

The Archer’s Choice Range Rover Pro ($233) from TruGlo (888-887-8456; www.truglo.com) features PWR-Dot Illuminated Center Dot Technology to help improve long-distance accuracy. The ultra-smooth Zero-In Adjustment Dial delivers precise micro-adjust elevation tuning, and more than 40 pre-marked yardage tapes help make setup faster and easier. The Range Rover Pro boasts an adjustable green LED with 11 brightness settings for plenty of customization. The sight also features a large circular field of view and a glow-in-the-dark shooter’s ring. A quiver can be mounted directly to the bracket via the included quiver mount.

The AccuTouch ($289 to $349 depending on model) from Axcel Sights (434-929-2800; www.axcelsights.com) gives you the best of both worlds: a single-pin slider sight that, thanks to its revolutionary Accu-Clicks, acts like a multi-pin sight. The user sets each Accu-Click at a specific distance so that the slider stops at the desired point. The Accu-Clicks, combined with a 45-degree rear-facing sight scale, allow the user to set the sight from an arm’s distance away. The Red Elevation Tension Lever lets the shooter choose how easily the sight slides along the elevation bar. In addition, the AccuTouch offers all-axis leveling capabilities. Other features include a Windage Lock Button that prevents the micro-adjustable windage knob from turning when engaged. Models include the AccuTouch, the AccuTouch HD with Mathews Harmonic Dampers and the AccuTouch Pro, a dovetail version with a 6-inch carbon bar.

The Optimizer Lite King Pin ($350) represents the third generation of HHA’s (800-548-7812; www.hhasports.com) wildly popular single-pin mover. This new iteration is more user-friendly than ever thanks to interchangeable wheels that make changing tapes easy and let archers use multiple arrow and draw weights. Once the King Pin is sighted-in at 20 and 60 yards, it’s dialed in to the yard out to 100 yards, and a sight tape magnifier allows for adjustment to the 1/4 yard. A “Blind 20” feature allows you to return to your most common predetermined distance – without looking. The optional Blue Burst light makes for fast and easy adjustment in dark ground blinds. This deadly accurate sight has fully integrated second- and third-axis adjustment.

- See more at: http://www.grandviewoutdoors.com/articles/5745-bowsights-to-look-for-in-2015#sthash.PSdhXXIM.dpuf

Sizing up a Compound Bow

So you are looking at your first Compound Bow or upgrading the one you have had for 20 years.  Wheels, cams, stabilizers, risers, let-off,  limbs. What does it all mean? Choosing the best bow for compound archery, whether backyard shooting, hunting, tournaments on 3-D targets or paper punching.  Learn how we do it at Bass Pro Shops.

Shop our extensive Archery selection at basspro.com!

Eye Dominance:

The fancy name for this is “ocular dominance,” which basically means that your brain prefers visual input from one eye over the other. Your brain considers that eye’s input more “true.”

You dominant eye is usually the same side as your writing hand. But “cross-dominance,” is not uncommon. Some right-handed archers shoot left-handed because their left eye is dominant. I have found about 15% of our sales are to this type of archer. You can determine your dominant eye in three easy steps:

1. Place your hands at arm’s length, and press your thumbs and forefingers together to form a triangular opening.

2. Keeping both eyes open, look through the triangle and center it on something, like a doorknob.

3. Now close one eye, then the other. If you can’t close one of your eyes by blinking, have someone cover it for you.

Notice how the doorknob stays in place with one eye but “jumps” with the other eye? Your dominant eye keeps the doorknob centered in the triangle. Archers who are right-eye dominant should shoot right-handed. Archers who are left-eye dominant should shoot left-handed.

Another easy way is use the buddy system:

1. Place your hands at arm’s length, and press your thumbs and forefingers together to form a triangular opening.

2. Keeping both eyes open, look through the triangle and center it on top of your buddies nose.  Have your buddy tell you what eye he or she sees and that is your dominate eye.

Determine your Draw Length:

Your local Bass Pro Shops can measure it quickly and precisely.  Here is an easy way to estimate your draw length on your own:

First, measure your wingspan. Stand up straight with both arms and hands extended to your sides, forming a “T.” Have a friend measure from the tip of one middle finger to the tip of the other middle finger in a straight line. Divide that number by 2.5 to estimate your draw length. An archery pro will need to measure you again for accuracy and precision. You don’t want to buy a bow with a draw length that’s too short or too long. 

Keep in mind a half inch off on your draw length can be all that is keeping you from holding steady.

ATA or Axel to Axel Length:

The axle-to-axle measurement is the length between the bow’s cams– the wheel-like devices that help power the bow – attached to the bow’s limb tips.

Why does this measurement matter? It’s important for the axle-to-axle length of your bow to fit the type of shooting or hunting you’ll be doing. An extremely long bow, for instance, might make hunting in a tight blind or single-seated tree stand difficult. If you’re roaming an open course, scouting turkeys from the ground or hunting deer from a tree stand with open platforms, you can probably get by with a longer bow. It might even be beneficial. Why? Typically, the longer a bow’s axle-to-axle measurement, the more forgiving it will be when taking longer shots. Though with today's technology the shorter ATA bows are very forgiving and easier than ever to shoot.  Try a few before making your final decision.

Draw Weight:

There’s no magic formula for determining draw weights. Start with a low-poundage bow, especially if you’ve never drawn one before. The more you use your bow-shooting muscles, the more weight you’ll be able to draw, and the farther you’ll be able to shoot.

These days it’s easier than ever to find quality bows with larger amounts of adjustable draw weights.  This means you can easily change your draw weight as you develop your shooting skills and archery muscles.

Keep in mind that most of today's bows set at 40 pounds of draw weight can easily produce enough kinetic energy to pass through an animal with the proper broadhead tipped arrow.

Take a lesson:

There are many archery coaches and classes offer around your area.  Take a few hours or a day and take a lesson from your local pro.  He or she can teach you the little things that will help you hold steadier and hit your target more often.


What You Need to Know About Metal Detecting

The prospect of finding buried treasure has intrigued people for all of history. People have spent their lives and made epic voyages in search of the shiny stuff. Hobbyists and avid treasure hunters carry on the tradition with metal detectors.

But how do you get started treasure hunting? What type of gear will you need? Where do you start looking?

The first thing you need to do is determine what you want to do with metal detecting. Do you simply want to comb your backyard for coins or trinkets for the sake of curiosity? Is it something you'd like to do with your child? Or would you like to search for potentially valuable items, such as gold or silver, without being fooled by scrap items such as old aluminum cans?

For casual hobbyist purposes, a simple, affordable, and easy-to-work metal detector is recommended. A basic unit such as the Bounty Hunter Challenger will do the trick. These units are able to detect the full spectrum of metals as any metal detector (so if by chance there is gold in your backyard, you stand a chance of finding it!). They have less bells and whistles that you won't be needing, making these options simpler to operate. These more basic units are often also available in smaller sizes for children, such as the Bounty Hunter Junior.


For more advanced purposes, there are models such as the Bounty Hunter Camo LS with greater control of discrimination or notching, which filter the types of metals your metal detectors alerts you to. For instance, you may set it so that it will only beep when detecting metals on the gold end of the metal spectrum, and not, say, iron or aluminum. These models often have built in pin-pointers, which allow you to pin point very small objects in an area your metal detector has found objects in.

Beyond your gear, you need to determine where you might go metal detecting. It is important to do your research on a site you have your eye on, and to be aware of laws and regulations in the area. For instance, it is illegal to metal detect in National parks or monuments. Some states may require permits or may have other similar restrictions. Regulations by state can be found here: http://www.mdhtalk.org/maps/fp-map-regulations.htm. Lastly, be respectful and courteous. Don't leave holes dug where people may be walking or hiking, as this can be dangerous.

Enjoy your new hobby, and good luck!




Let's Talk Turkey!

With temperatures quickly shooting into the 70's in much of the Midwest, it is time to start gearing up for the last (but not least) hunting season before Spring gives way to Summer:  Spring Turkey season!

The good news: the game hasn't changed that much.  All your needs are basically the same:  gun, ammo, camo, calls, decoys and lots of patience are all that is needed to finally bag that big gobbler that we all dream about this time of year.

The only thing that has really changed (for the better) in the past few years is the development of hyper-realistic decoys.  One of the leaders in this trend, Avian-X, has been a best-seller since their debut a few years ago with their LCD (Lifelike Collapsible Decoy) line of decoys.  Not one to rest on their laurels, Avian has upped the ante yet again with new Merriam and Rio combo packs aimed to add diversity to your arsenal.





Most turkey decoy manufacturers tend to model their coloring after the Eastern subspecies of turkey, because they are by far the most numerous in population and distribution.  However, they are located almost exclusively East of the Missouri River.  

There are 3 other major subspecies of turkey found in the United States:  Merriam, Rio and Osceola.  Osceola turkeys are only found in the state of Florida, but the Merriam and Rio subspecies can be found scattered throughout the states West of the Missouri River.



Currently, the only way to get these new color options is to buy them in the combo pack, which comes standard with LCD Jake and Lookout Hen decoys.  Of course, you will still be able to buy the other poses individually in the Eastern configuration, but if diversity is what you seek, look no further than the new Avian-X lineup.


Eating on the Go, a Backpackers Guide to Cooking

 Backpacking is a fun way of going places and staying places that not a lot of people get to visit or see and a great way to get exersize. Eating right to keep your strength up and your body healthy is incredibly important while you are out exploring the wilds. I have a lot of people asking which stoves and cookware they should use and that is a really good question. All of this is depending on a few factors, so remember to ask yourself a few questions when your shopping for the perfect gear:

1. How many people are you going to be cooking for?

2. How many miles will you be walking in a day?

3. How much room are you going to have for fuel and the stove?

4. How many days are you going to be out there?

All of these are incredibly imperative to know, and it is hard to to just give the same answer every time you go out. Some times I go with friends and other times I go by myself, some times I go 15 miles a day and others I go 5. If I go on the shorter walking trips I don't mind carrying an extra pound or 2, depending on the terrain. If I go on the longer trips, I make sure I am in a group of people and we can all take different parts and pieces so the load is not so heavy and the less weight on longer walking trips is incredibly helpful and makes for a more enjoyable time.

Lets start out with how many people you are going with and this will lead into the other questions. Everyone should always carry your own plates, utensils and cups. I make sure I use Nalgene bottles to carry my water in, they have a rule on the side so you can see how many ounces you have in it, and that way I do not need to bring a measuring cup. That helps create extra space and takes weight off of the back. Some sets come with pots, bowls, mugs and utensils and have extra space that you can hide your fuel in. Now when carrying these sets make sure you evenly distribute weight between you and the other person. They may not weigh much, but they do take up space and that is a valuable commodity when camping. Have the other person carry more of the food or the cleaning supplies for cooking.

Stoves and fuel are the next thing you want to think about. there are so many different types out there, it is going to be up to what you are comfortable using. Some folks want wood fires. For this you can do many different things. You can bring a grate with you if you have a lot of room, you can bring small camping stoves that the chimneys are just big enough to set a pot on without it falling through, or there are some larger stoves that burn wood and create electricity for charging small electronics.

Other stoves use Isopro canisters where the stoves screw right on top and are very lightweight. These are going to be more compact and the canisters will fit inside most nesting cook sets. When you are camping in the winter with these you need to make sure you take the canister in to your sleeping bag with you as it will freeze and you will have to warm it back up to get it started. There are also ones who take white gas or camp gas that are also lightweight and that you don't have to worry about the fuel freezing. These allow you to not have to find wood for fuel which would be helpful if you are going to a desert or a prairie where not many trees grow. They both have many different styles of stove tops that you can choose from. However you have to make sure you bring enough fuel with you for either of these stove methods so it does take up a little more space in your pack.

There are many other types of stoves like ones that take wax cubes and only burn for 12 minutes(enough to get water boiling ) and some that use sterno. It is all what you feel comfortable in using and carrying with you out there.


Food on the other hand is going to take up either little or a lot of space depending on how long you are out there and how much you are walking each day. You can either put together and package your own meals, you can buy the prepackaged meals by backpackers pantry and mountain house or bring food that does not need refrigeration. Honestly I like to bring a mixture of all of these. Some easy things to buy at the store is anything in a cans or jars as in soups, vegetables, tuna, chipped beef, or pringles which are easy to make, however, you do have to clean out the containers and bring them back out with you. That makes for easy meals but a lot of trash you have to haul with you.

I also bring noodles and those gravy packets you can pick up in any grocery store and just add water to. That helps broaden your spectrum on the food you can eat and the plastic bags can be used for storing garbage in to eliminate smells (if they zip closed) to help not attract animals to you and they do not take up much space when empty. Now the prepackaged backpackers meals are also great because they have MEAT in them. I get bored very easily with meatless meals and eggs and meat will spoil before the end of the first day you are out when you bring it fresh, so being able to have chicken and noodles, chili mac and beef, jaimcan barbecued chicken, Colorado omelets, beef stew and others is the real treat. These are super easy to make, you just boil water and add it to the package. You can eat it straight out of the package or put it in a bowl or on a plate if you are sharing, and most of those have 2 to 2 and a half servings per bag.

Don't forget the snacks! Those are the easiest to pack. Nuts like almonds have a lot of protein in them and are good for you. Raisins and crazins and other dried fruit is great to carry around and won't go bad. Beef jerky and sausages are a great snack that won't go bad with good packaging. Granola bars, trail bars and cereal bars are great and the cereal bars sometimes have that milk like substance that gives you calcium that help your bones. Just make sure you have a good variety of fruits to carbohydrates while you are out there.  



Dont Be Afraid Of Tackle Organization

 Its that time of year when the ice starts to melt and when many of us start getting the itch to hit the water.  The question is are you ready for a successful year by being organized?

 Now that the gift cards are all used up on new tackle that you got from the holidays, you may have a ton of tackle with nowhere to go.  Many people think that its time to get a bigger tackle box or a bigger bag.  However maybe its time to start thinking smaller.  If you fish for more then one species it might be time to declutter that big bulky tackle box and go a more species specific route. 

 Take our utility box carriers for example, these are a great way to go down the species specific route.  You can load them up with all of your bass, walleye or pan-fish tackle and it makes things quick when loading up the boat for a spur of the moment trip. 


 For the bank fisherman tackle backpacks have become very popular and are a great way to take only the essentials. Here is the Bass Pro XPS Stalker.

  • The most convenient way to organize utility boxes
  • Made from durable, water-resistant polyester
  • Features padded carry strap with padded hook 'n' loop handle wrap
  • Stores boxes vertically for easy access
  • Available in two sizes: 6-360 and 7-370
  • 6-360 holds six 360 utility boxes
  • 7-370 holds seven 370 utility boxes

 When your not on the water or walking the shoreline, another great way to stay organized at home is with a tackle trolleyThis helpful unit can store up to 12 rod and reel combos and has three adjustable shelves that can hold up to 50 pounds each.  A great way to stay organized if you you think small and go species specific.

 So there are a few things to consider when getting organized, and how to sometimes thinking smaller is the way to go.  Thanks for reading and tight lines my friends.


Home Defense Without Breaking the Bank


There is a growing population of people in the gun world who believe that in order to have a solid home defense plan, one must own a purposefully built AR with a night vision sight, all of the lasers and lights that would fit on it, and any other bells and whistles for any remaining rail space. A setup like the one pictured above can easily run you thousands of dollars, possibly more, but it is by no means the only thing capable of protecting you from everything that goes bump in the night.  If you can afford the aforementioned AR system, don't let me be the one to stop you, but if you want that warm fuzzy feeling without having to take out a small loan or pawn off your first born then here are some suggestions for you.


Defense Shotguns

A good ol' 12 gauge buckshot round is my personal preference for home defense. This offers plenty of knockdown power with less threat of over penetration. There is a host of shotguns being produced with home defense in mind and some are just as costly as the AR, but for those that aren't worried about having defend our homes against the incursion a pump or even a double barrel shotgun would more than suffice.

My personal choice is going to be the pump and there are plenty of options well under the $500 mark.  My shotgun of choice is the Winchester SXP Defender, coming in right at $350 it is one of the smoothest actions of all pump shotguns and feeds any round you throw in the chamber.  Of course, there are other options available, the Mossberg 500 and Remington 870 offer great platforms that can be customized with all the accessories you could ever want.

If you aren't a fan of the pump action, there are also several double barrel options built specifically with defense in mind. The only downfall of going to a double barrel is that you are limited to two rounds, but if you foresee two rounds of 12 gauge not being enough firepower, I would begin to reconsider what kind of situations I plan on getting myself in.




Handgun shooting is a different breed of sport altogether and employs new techniques and practices but for those who carry a handgun on them and are accustomed to doing so, a handgun is second to none for defense. Handguns were designed with defense in mind, as their smaller size makes them easier to conceal and are less unwieldy than a long gun when operating in narrow spaces found in households. One thing to keep in mind with handguns is to be sure to get the right ammo.  Drywall and wood are no contest for a fast moving pistol round; full metal jacket (FMJ) bullets can penetrate through several layers of drywall before coming to a halt. If you think a handgun might better suit your needs and are willing to train to become proficient in using it, they are definitely a viable option.

The options for handguns are endless, with prices ranging from just a couple hundred dollars and up in to the thousands depending on model.  Choosing a cartridge is another factor, with the most popular defense handgun calibers being .380 ACP, 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP and .38 Special, but that is a whole other topic unto itself.

As with any gun you plan on using, whether it be for defense, hunting or any other purpose, plan on putting in the time to train and become proficient with your weapon.  No one wants to have to use their weapon to defend themselves from danger, but if the time should come, you do not want to be the one who is unfamiliar or uncomfortable with their weapon.


It's Tornado Season!

Living in the Midwest, tornadoes aren't usually something to be excited about.  That is, unless, you are speaking of snow geese, in which case, a tornado can be the most spectacular thing you will ever witness.  Every year, as temperatures rise and snow and ice melt away, millions of snow geese make their grand passage back to their breeding ground on the tundra.  Their migration takes them right through the heart of the Midwest, making several resting stops along the way and if done right, providing some of the most fast and furious wing-shooting a hunter can find in the Northern hemisphere.

Light geese, which includes snow, blue and Ross's geese, have grown to astronomic numbers and as such are quickly eating through and damaging their arctic and sub-arctic nesting grounds.  Current snow goose populations are estimated to be well over 5 million birds, and some estimates even say the population may be nearing 10 million.  In the late 90's, it was realized that these birds were not only literally eating themselves out of house and home, but were also a huge risk factor for outbreaks such as avian cholera given their population and contact with all other waterfowl.  So it was decided that the best course of action to combat the growing population was to relax the laws concerning hunting them.  The Light Goose Conservation Order was established, which allows hunters to hunt light geese during their spring migration with unplugged shotguns and electronic callers.  Hunters are also allowed to hunt until 1/2 hour after sunset and there are no bag or possession limits.

There are many tactics regarding hunting snow geese, but one thing that is usually never debated is hunting them requires you to go BIG!  Snow geese frequently travel in very large flocks, and as such, prefer to be with other very large flocks.  This means your spread needs to look natural/big.

Perhaps the easiest way to build a large spread is with the use of socks.  There are several companies that offer some sort of sock-style decoy, and the rule of thumb is snow goose spreads start with 10 dozen decoys. It is not uncommon to see spreads of 100 dozen or MORE!

A couple of the more popular sock decoys come from companies such as Deadly Decoys and Tanglefree.  Deadly Decoys is a company that specializes in sock-style decoys.  Tanglefree also offers other more standard decoys, but their Slammer Sock line is no slouch in realism or durability.

Deadly Decoys:

Tanglefree Slammer Socks:

As you can see, Deadly offers a headless option on their decoys, which is usually quite a bit cheaper as well as easier to store.  I like a good mix of both, but I don't worry about it enough to say there is a definite difference.  However, hunting in the Midwest, you will see a good mix of blues to snows, so you should have around 25-50% of your spread in blue goose decoys, but the proportion can be up to your preference.

Perhaps the most significant thing you will notice when watching snow geese feed in a field, is they are rarely all on the ground.  In an active feed, which is what you are trying to portray, there are always birds "hopping" each other to get to the untouched food.  Because of this, it is a good idea to invest in a couple (or several) flyers, which are just decoys that simulate birds in flight, whether they are landing or hopping.  I like the Deadly flyers, because they offer movement in sparse wind, but don't turn into windmills when wind gets nasty like it can in the early spring.


Snow goose hunting is possibly the perfect embodiment of one of my favorite quotes regarding waterfowl:  "To be successful, one must possess passion, dedication and a boatload of decoys".  Snow geese can be very fickle creatures, and can frustrate you beyond belief, but when it all comes together and you get that first tornado circling overhead, it will become painfully obvious how addicting it can become.


For information regarding seasons, consult your local wildlife agency.






Special Paddelfishing Season For Iowans

Are you ready for the paddelfish snagging season?  We have you covered here at Bass Pro Shops, we have everything you will need to make your season a great one.  We have a nice display set up just for this specific season, with a paddelfish mounted as the cherry on top.



The Iowa DNR has opened up a special paddelfish snagging season that will be running from March 1st through April 15th, 2015.  There is limited licenses available from the DNR for this special snagging season to prevent the overharvest of paddelfish.  A total of 1000 snagging permits will be issued (950 for residents and 50 for non-residents).  Anglers are allowed one license with a transport tag, the special license is $22 for residents and $42 for non-residents.  In addition to the snagging permit anglers must also have a valid Iowa fishing license.  The exception to this is youth anglers under the age of 16, however they must obtain a special ID card from the DNR and obtain the snagging license for paddelfish.

There are size requirements for the paddelfish to be taken into possession.  A fish measuring under 35 inches or over 45 inches maybe kept as a legal fish.                  


Fish falling into the 35-45 inch slot when measured from the eye of the fish to the fork in the tail must be released alive upon catch.  A flexible measuring tape (as pictured above) is the ideal device to use when measuring a paddelfish.  When you do catch a taggable fish you must adhere the tag to the fish's lower jaw.  Here is a link to the Iowa DNR to for all of the specific regulations for paddelfish.

For all of your gear needs look no further than our paddelfish snagging display to make sure you have the proper equipment.  Our Snagging Special rods paired with our snagging reels are a favorite for snagging and the upcoming catfishing season. When you do hook up with one of these beautiful fish make sure that line is going to hold up to the fight like our XPS 8 braid.  An important thing to remember when shopping for your terminal tackle is that your treble hooks may not exceed 5/0, when two of the hook points are placed on a ruler they must not exceed 1 1/4 inches in length.


 So starting this March Iowa waters on the Missouri and Big Sioux Rivers (including all backwaters, sloughs and any tributary of the Missouri) will be the place to be for snagging a beautiful and very delicious paddelfish.

Thanks for reading and we look forward to seeing you at Bass Pro Shops!



























Backyard Fire Fun

Having your own fire pit is all the rage these days and I am one of those people following this trend. There are a lot of different uses for fire pits. They are great for sitting outside with friends and family either keeping warm on chilly evenings while being able to stay outside visiting and getting fresh air, or having something to gather by on a warm summer evening. Some folks even use theirs for grilling if they come with the grill part that sits above the fire bowl. All this without the hassle of driving miles out of town to get to a park with a camp ground.

I truly appreciate my fire pit because I can store it in my garage when it is not in use and pull it out whenever the mood strikes me. I am a big outdoors person and I, personally, love the smell of a good campfire so being able to just set one up in my own backyard in the middle of the city warms my soul. I also use it for family gatherings as a centerpiece on my patio. The best part about having friends and family gather around them on nice summer nights is you can keep the kids outdoors and away from television and other electronics. Also watching the kids burn marshmallows and getting all gooey and messy when they do make the perfectly toasted s'more is a lot of fun during spring, summer and fall.




Blade Steel 101

Most of us carry some sort of knife, especially those who find ourselves outdoors for our hobbies. Even if you don't consider yourself to be an outdoor enthusiast, some still carry a knife to take care of simple daily tasks such as opening boxes or mail. From hunting blades to pocket knives and even kitchen knives, not all blades are created equal.

There are many things to consider when buying a knife, but one of the most important is the blade. Of course, blades come in many shapes and sizes for different tasks but they also come in different materials to accomplish those tasks.  There are a lot of steels to choose from, especially considering almost every knife maker makes their own special steel, but today I will only be talking a little about the most common blade steels that you will find.

D-2 Steel

D-2 Steel, also known as tool steel, is not that common and is more of a higher end steel and is difficult to produce. It is also one of the only non-stainless steels frequently offered for pocket knives.  This steel is not the easiest to sharpen, so don't expect to easily put back on a factory fresh edge. What D-2 lacks in ease to make and sharpen it makes up for with being extremely durable and makes a good blade to pry and other tasks where softer knives might bend or chip. 

There aren't many companies producing blades with D-2 steel, but the ones that do are very high quality, such as the Benchmade Adamas shown below.



420HC steel is one of the most common stainless steels and has been around for a long time. On the toughness scale 420HC is on the lower side, so for holding an edge it is not the best. Being a softer steel however makes this steel fantastically easy to sharpen making it popular for hunting and filet knives because you can get it back to a razor sharp edge very easily, especially while in the field.

Almost all knife manufacturers use 420HC, and it can be found in many mid-range knives.  One of the most iconic knives of all time, the Buck 110, uses this steel.




154CM is one of the best all around stainless steels that you can find in pocket knives. It offers a fantastic ability to hold an edge and yet is not incredibly difficult to sharpen. It is also a very durable steel and isn't as easy to break or crack. The downside of this steel is that it is not easy to make and is a bit more on the pricey side, but for someone who needs a high quality tool that holds an edge very well this steel is more than worth the money.

This steel can be found in many mid to high end knives, such as the Benchmade Griptilian series.





S30V is considered to be a super steel because it utilizes newer technology to produce the steel. This makes it pricey and a little more rare. The durability and edge retention on this steel is some of the best available, but once again that makes it difficult to sharpen.

S30V is usually reserved for higher end knives, but there are a few budget friendly options, such as the Buck Paradigm Avid.




Again, these are just a few of the many knife steels available, but they are some of the most prevalent in your every day carry and hunting knives.  Obviously, there are going to be other features to consider when purchasing a knife such as a opening mechanisms and locking designs, but when it all comes down to it, the blade is still the business end.

There is a wealth of information available on the internet to guide you in your purchasing decisions, these are just a few of the great resources to consider:

Hunting Knife Buyer's Guide

Fillet Knife Buyer's Guide

Knife Buying 101 - A Numbers Game




Illumination Demystified

As with many outdoor gear choices, a trip to the illumination aisle at your outdoor store can be confusing, even intimidating. There are many choices. Lanterns with all sorts of different fuel types, mantels, bulbs, and other variations. Flashlights with all sorts of strange batteries and numbers. Lumens? Candlepower? What's it all mean?

Understanding the what a lumen or a candlepower is is very important in your choice. Different lights are advertised with different units, but they are both different kinds of measurements of brightness.

Many spotlights such as the Bass Pro Shops 3.5 Million Candlepower 12V Corded Spotlight are expressed in candlepower. To put it simply, one candlepower is the amount of light emitted by one standard candle. That being said, candlepower is the intensity of light at the source of the light, be it the flame of a candle or the bulb of a spotlight or lantern. This does not take into account brightness resulting from concentrating the source (such as with reflectors) or other conditions.

However, most flashlights, like the Streamlight Polytac HP LED Polymer Flashlight are advertised in lumens. In order to understand how a lumen is measured, we need a bridge between candle power and lumens. Candle power and lumens are related by foot-candles. One foot candle is the amount of illumination received at the surface the spherical area around a light source one square foot in radius from a light source of one candle power. In other words, it is the amount of light one foot away from the light source of one candle power in any direction.

One lumen is equivalent to the amount of light emitted by a source of one foot candle landing on an area of one square foot. In essence, lumens express the amount of light in an area. When it comes to flashlights, headlamps, and other common devices, the lumen measurement tells you how much light will actually get to the object you are pointing your flashlight at. This difference is why you can have a 2 Million Candle Power spotlight, but only be seeing 250 lumens of light on the object at which you are pointing.

Regardless of whether your light is expressed in candle power, candelas, or lumens, the higher the measurement for all of these means a greater beam distance, which is often what people are looking for who need a higher lumen flashlight or a higher candle power spotlight. It is important to keep in mind the difference, however, between candlepower (candelas) and lumens so you are able to make the right choice. A 2 Million Candle Power spotlight sounds like it would provide you with more light than a 1000 lumen flashlight, but this is not the case.







Winter Car Saftey

Snow falling, below freezing temperatures, other people not driving safely, black ice, animals dashing out in front of your car, I hate driving in this weather, but 'tis the season. Some people just do not slow down for icy weather, sometimes because they are in a hurry or some because they have not driven in this weather or are novice drivers and do not fully understand the danger. The worst part is if you are on rural roads or roads not well traveled and something happens. It may be hours that you are stranded either due to the car breaking down, icy roads or animals. 

Be prepared! There a few small items that you can keep in your car that will keep you safe and warm while waiting for help.

The first and most important thing I always keep in my car is an Emergency Blanket. I keep it in my glove box because the packaging makes it small and it's not in my way. I have had a few questions about how these work over the years and I want to impart what I have learned. They are that silvery color on purpose, this color actually reflects your own body heat back at you instead of absorbing it. This is very important in below freezing temperatures to keeping you alive when stranded. Wearing hats and gloves are important, they trap some of your body heat, but they don't contain it. When you are sitting in your car while you are driving you don't notice the heat loss since your body is generating its own heat and people usually have the heaters in their cars going to supplement this loss. These blankets do not have a rating because they do not absorb and hold heat, they just reflect your own heat back at you, if you know you are in a situation where you know you will be waiting a long time for help do not hesitate to use it. Also if you need to use this, keep all of your winter gear on, and cover as much of your body with the blanket as you can and your heat loss will be at a rate much slower than just hats coats and gloves by themselves. 

Secondly, I keep and extra fleece blanket or two in the car so if I know its going to be a short wait I can just use those and not have to open up the emergency blanket. I personally keep 2 in the car because I often have kids or other passengers in the car with me. 

Third, Water. I just keep them under the front seats you never know whats going to happen and how long you can be stranded. I always keep a nalgene bottle or a camelbak bottle full in the car only because they keep longer and are more durable than the thin plastic bottles that bottled water normally comes in and they are refillable. Also if they are under the front seats, especially on long drives, they tend to thaw while your heater is running so its not always completely frozen.

The fourth item I keep is a small emergency kit, gauze, snacks like granola bars and hard candy(in case of low blood sugar), and I am on heart medication so I keep two days worth of pills in a small container, all in a small back pack kept in the back seat for easy access.  

Last, but not least, is something I personally just throw in the glove box next to the emergency blanket because I dislike being cold....Hand Warmers! I keep them in there as soon as October rolls around I throw them in the car. You never know when your going to use them, and if you do end up needing the emergency blanket it creates more warmth to trap inside with you!

So this season be prepared, drive slow when the weather calls for it and I hope you never need to use your emergency kit! 


New Look For an Old Favorite: CarbonLite Baitcasting Reel

CarbonLite Baitcasting Reel     

The wait is over, the brand new CarbonLite Baitcasting reels are here and with a new look!  First, you'll notice the white color change. It might change the way you fish at dawn or dusk as a lighter color could make it easier to see. What you probably won't notice is the .1 (oz) weight difference. Not only is it lighter; it's still one of the lightest reels out on the market. It has the same gear ratios as the previous CarbonLite. Left handed retrieve only in the 6.4. This may look like the new kid on the block but the CarbonLite still has the same drag stack, dual braking system, and 10 ball bearings that we all know and love.

The CarbonLite reel has always been in the top ten, so if you've never had the chance to try one out, you should, whether in-store or asking your fishing partner to let you borrow theirs.

The light weight on this reel makes a big difference when casting over a long period of time. This light weight quality is accomplished by using carbon fibers, aircraft grade aluminum  and stainless washers that help the reel from being too heavy, yet maintain the strength and durability to pull in the big ones.

 Try all three gear ratios to cover all types of fishing and fishing techniques especially before the Fall fishing, comes to a close. This nice thing about fishing is if you miss the Fall, Spring is soon to follow.




Invasion of the Wiggle Warts!

Invasion of the Wiggle Warts

Brand-new Bass Pro Shops EXCLUSIVE Wiggle Warts have arrived!

The Wiggle Wart is a classic lure that is part of the Storm lineup that was purchased by Rapala in the 1990's and has been a favorite for early spring and a must for Ozark waters. Bass Pro Shops now has added 4 new colors that are exclusive to our lineup of Wiggle Warts.

The first new color is Phantom Green Blue Craw (top picture, far left), a translucent green with blue on the underbelly. The next color is Phantom PB & J Craw (top picture, middle),a translucent purple-brown craw with a distinct translucent darker purple underbelly. Then Phantom Brown Orange (top picture, far right), a translucent brown with a translucent belly. Lastly is Peanut Butter & Jelly Craw (bottom picture), featuring a light brown (ie: peanut butter) with a purple underbelly. 

No longer will you need to send in your Wiggle Warts for a custom PB & J paint job, Bass Pro Shops has you covered without paying extra. These colors will be perfect for matching the crayfish as they change colors with the seasons and their environment. Especially with the additional phantom colors for clear water applications.

For fishing with the Wiggle Wart make sure to use a rod with a parabolic bend in it to allow the bait some give when a fish sucks it into their mouth from a distance. One such rod would be the new Bass Pro Shops Crankin' Stick, with a mix of graphite and fiberglass to allow for some give. Also when using in the colder weather of early spring make sure to not over reel the bait. Not only are the baitfish slow but so are the bass. Use a slow speed reel such as a 5:2.1 Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier baitcasting reel to help slow down your retrieve. Match this with 10 - 12 lb Fluorocarbon to get the Wiggle Wart down to its running depth. If you need it to run a little shallower than its 7' - 18' running depth, use a wider diameter line such as a heavier pound test.

To match the crayfish, look for chunk rock banks and rip rap in which they usually hide in. Make sure to get it down to where it is ticking and grinding along the rocks like a crayfish. Also in the prespawn look for slopped banks that lead to spawning flats that the fish will be transitioning along as they move towards the spawn.




Its that time of the year folks, where the age old question comes up to slow smoke the turkey into tender deliciousness, or to fast cook it with a deep fryer into juicy fried heaven?

Well folks, honestly I think it all depends on the kind of person you are. Smoked or fried, they can both turn out  juicy and tender and flavorful. I think it is all about the preparation and thought that goes into it, and what methods you have at your disposal. The more you plan out your meal and allow for time, the better it turns out.


Turkeys take a long time to prepare to bake, smoke or fry. You have to allow for them to thaw first off, and that depends on how big the bird is. Butterball says that if you are going to thaw it in the refrigerator to allow 1 day for every four pounds. Or if you prefer the quick thaw method, soak(still in the wrapper) in a bucket of cold water changing out the water every 30 minutes to keep the water temperature correct, and allow 30 minutes per pound.

Brining a turkey is a great way to ensure the turkey stays moist while cooking while adding a bit of flavor, kind of like marinating, but it is used more for keeping the meat moist. There are all sorts of recipes where you can use orange juice concentrate, soy sauce, brown sugar and many other ingredients, most importantly salt, which also tenderizes the meat. Many cookbooks for smoking and frying have great brine recipes as well as the internet. A lot of people also use injection as a way to flavor the turkey as well after brining. The extra attention lends a lot of flavor to the bird and in my family we do one flavor on one side and different flavor on the other side for some variety.

Smoking a turkey can be a long, intensive process that, depending on the size of the turkey, can take a day or so, depending on the directions. I found in many cookbooks that the easiest way is to prep the smoker to 250 degrees and for every 5 to 6 pounds let it cook for 4 hours, checking it to make sure the meat has reached 165 degrees internally in the middle of the biggest muscle area. The longest, most involved recipe called for the smoker to be at 200 to 220 degrees, wrapped in cheese cloth to moisten every half an hour for 6 hours, then to cut the cloth off and doing a total cooking time of 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 and a half hours for every one pound of turkey, basting every hour for the rest of the cooking time. The best wood I have found to use is a fruit type such as apple, peach or orange. It complements the meat quite well. There are many directions out there but it really depends on what recipe sounds the most appealing and tasty to you.

While smoking there can be a few safety issues. make sure if it is on a deck that the smoker is off the ground as the bottom of the smoker can become very hot and cause a fire. Some electric smoker brands sell stands just for that reason. Make sure all smoking is done outside, not only will all the smoke blacken your walls and ceiling, but a room full of smoke causes severe breathing problems and can be very dangerous. Make sure the smoker is not near any walls outside. Not only can your smoker blacken the walls but the heat coming off it can melt siding and can catch the wood on fire.

Frying a turkey can be a wonderfully fast way of cooking it after thawing, brining, and seasoning it. You just need to make sure you have enough oil and the right temperature. to make sure you have enough oil, before brining and seasoning it, place it in the empty fryer you will be using and pour in enough water to cover it. pull the turkey out and measure how much water you used. This is how you will know how much oil to use. make sure you dry out the pot before adding any oil to it later.

Most fryers have a timer on it so you usually need two people to watch it to make sure if someone needs to run inside to grab something the other can keep an eye on it and turn it before time runs out to keep the burner on. This is a safety feature that can keep a lot of accidents from happening. I always have a second person with me to help put the turkey in and pull it out to prevent splattering and accidental burns. Make sure the oil is up to 350 degrees for optimal frying. if the temperature is below 340 it will start to seep into the meat and make it taste and feel greasy. 

Fryers do need a lot of watching and require extra attention to prevent accidents. First off, make sure you have a bucket of sand and not water. Oil floats on water so this cannot put out a fire, sand will soak up and cover the oil so it can easily put out oil fires before they get out of hand. Make sure you have a large flat surface away from any buildings, decks, trees, shrubs, garages, kids, or pets. Otherwise keep it away from anything that can melt, catch on fire or anything that can cause chaos and accidentally knock over the fryer. Also, make sure the propane tank is upwind of the fryer, if it is positioned downwind the heat from the fryer can melt the hose or cause the thank to get too hot and either situation can be dangerous.

Well folks, no matter how you decide to cook your turkey this season, I hope it turns out perfect for you. Thank you for reading and have a safe and happy holiday season!


Spooky Trails

Its October and its the last time most of us will be out camping and hiking here in the Midwest. I was just going on a late October camping trip, a few years ago, to do some fall leafing and hiking when I stumbled upon something fun to do at the end of October a few years back.

A group of us pulled up to Indian Cave State park on a Thursday and we were registering our cars and getting firewood. I was not driving so I was looking at the different things to do posted on their bulletin board and saw they had all sorts of things to do. Crafts for the kids, living history (blacksmiths, broom makers, soap makers and candle makers) on Saturday and Sunday. Movies and a hay rack ride on Friday and Saturday night. I asked about the tickets and they were $5 per adult and I spent the next 10 minutes talking everyone into going the next night. We all had a lot of fun and none of us realized that some state parks all over have Halloween activities.

Since I have my own family now, we have made a tradition of finding a new park to try to make the best of our last camping weekend of the year. Finding State Parks that celebrate Halloween with haunted hay rack rides, early trick or treating in the RV areas, crafts, living history displays, smores making, pumpkin carving contests and other fun things has been much easier now that I know these things are available to us. Each park has been different and they all have something for everyone, including the little ones so the whole family gets involved.

One of our family's favorite things to do after dinner or before they go to bed is going on a spooky "midnight hike." We usually have a few kids under 10 in the group and I call it that to make it sound more fun. Really we go out right after the sun has set because trails are creepy when they are dark and anything with the word midnight before it makes it spookier for the kids. I have put together a day hiking back pack emergency and survival kit that I grab to come with us every time we go. I usually pack the Day Hiker First Aid Kit which comes with supplies to treat cuts and scrapes, sprains, blisters, insect bites, headaches, muscle aches, and allergic reactions. Then I also bring extra band-aids because you can never have enough, snacks for every one, in case its a long hike or we find a cool spot to look out over water or down cliffs, glow sticks, extra water and extra batteries for the flash lights. Just make sure if you do have little ones that safety comes first. Make sure they have reflective material on their clothes or are wearing glow sticks so you can safely find them if you are doing any evening or night time walking. I make sure everyone in the group has a flash light or head lamp so no one trips and falls over any tree branches or steps into any holes. 

There is so many things to do out there that my husband and I have yet to run out of new parks to try out each year even within an hour of our house, and there are so many state parks out there Most of these events are posted on the parks websites and are easy to find. I found mine at the Nebraska game and parks commission website outdoornebraska.gov under their calendar. Missouri state parks had Halloween events listed right under their Things To Do on their front page. In some states you have to call the parks directly or be able to get a hold of the states Department of Natural Resources magazines.

My family's favorite is the Haunted hay rack ride at Indian Cave State park near Falls City, Ne. It runs on Fridays and Saturdays the two weeks before Halloween week. My brother's Family gets a kick out of going to Buffalo Bills Ranch State historical park in North Platte, Ne every year. This one runs for only one day on Saturday, October 25th.  My Friend Shanna and her family really enjoy the pumpkin carving contest at the Calamus Reservoir in Nebraska which is on the 18th of October.

Be safe as you and your families try out new things this year and have a great time outdoors!