1926 - Scouting Spreads Along the Florida Panhandle

In 1926, the Scouts in the Panama City and Marianna areas were organized into the Choctawhatchee Council with headquarters in Dothan, Alabama, which was already serving a number of other counties in southeast Alabama.  The annual report of the National Council for 1926 listed 39 Scout Troops with 766 Scouts in the Choctawhatchee Council.  An interesting note shown in the cost per Scout reported $9.24 each, which would have made the Council's budget for that year, $7,077.

Mr. W. L. Sprouse was named as the first Scout Executive of the Choctawhatchee Council with offices in Dothan.  Mr. Sprouse wrote with admiration of the early days in that area, telling of Camp Cheerful in the Bear Creek section of Bay County, which at that time was the BSA Camp directed for 15 counties in Alabama and Florida.  It was a "real wilderness camp".  Today's maps show no trace of Camp Cheerful, however Bear Creek runs northeast of Saint Andrews Bay towards the Youngstown, Florida area.

Mr. Sprouse also said, "we used to ramble over Walton, Holmes, Jackson, Bay, Calhoun, and Washington counties on the Scouting Trail.  The pioneer days passed all too soon.  Even now I can see and hear the old gang gathered around the campfire at Camp Cheerful on beautiful Bear Creek where we held our summer camps".

Beginning in 1961, the Spanish Trail Scout Reservation was founded just west of Defuniak Springs.  It offers full camping facilities at two main camps; Camp Euchee and Camp Jambo.  Featuring a 40 acre lake for swimming, canoeing, and fishing, there is also a large dining hall, shooting and archery ranges, and outdoor ampitheatre.

Part of the Choctawhatchee Council was incorporated into the present day Gulf Coast Council headquartered in Pensacola and currently serves over 15,000 youth in 11 counties.  The Council encompasses four Districts:  Pensacola Bay (Escambia and Santa Rosa counties in Florida), Long Leaf Pine (Conecuh, Escambia, and Monroe counties in southwest Alabama), Choctawhatchee (Okaloosa and Walton counties in Florida), and Lake Sands (Bay, Gulf, Holmes, and Washington counties in Florida).

Camping has certainly come a long way from primitive camping, surplus canvas tents, cooking over open campfires, and dim flashlights of the 1920's.  Today's camper has a wide variety of lightweight and watertight tents, warm sleeping bags, long lasting and very bright led lanterns and flashlights, and propane or liquid fueled stoves.  Let Bass Pro Shops outfit your Scout or Troop with the very best in camping gear.

Destin Bass Pro Shops continues to support Scouting and wishes them another 100 years of success on the Gulf Coast.

Gary Feduccia

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100 Years of Scouting on the Gulf Coast

BSA logoOn January 29, 1914, the first National Charter was granted to Boy Scouting here in what is now the Gulf Coast Council.  Scouting on the Gulf Coast started in a small office in the Pensacola YMCA.  The Council's first official service territory consisted of just the Pensacola area that at the time had a total population of 23,000.  The first Council President was Judge W. B. Sheppard.  The Council started with a $200 budget and 5 registered Troops.

While Scouting first started in the United States 104 years ago, Scouting on the Gulf Coast was not far behind.  Today, the Gulf Coast Council serves Scout Districts from Pensacola, southern Alabama, to Port Saint Joe, with hundreds and hundreds of Boy Scout Troops and Cub Scout Packs.

The Destin Bass Pro Shops congratulates the Gulf Coast Council for its 100 years of Scouting service and wishes continued excellence for many, many years to come.

Gary Feduccia

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Ratatouille Over an Open Fire

Join Camp Oven Guru, Gary, on Saturday January 4th, as he prepares Ratatouille with fresh vegetables over an open fire under our gazebo.  Ratatouille is an easy to make and very healthy vegetarian dish that originated in the French area of Nice and was soon picked up by the Italians.  It is very tasty and is usually served as a side dish, although it can be served over rice or pasta as a main course or eaten like a vegetable stew.

I like to use a large #12 dutch (camp) oven and sauté the following cubed or coarsely chopped vegetables in olive oil until tender:

Onions, zucchini, eggplant (peeled), bell peppers, yellow squash, and crushed garlic.  When tender, add canned or fresh tomatoes and juices.  Add a couple of bay leaves and a sprinkle of thyme and basil.  Let it simmer until flavors mingle.  Salt and pepper to taste. YUUMMMM!

Gary Feduccia

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Fly Fishing Classes at Bass Pro Shops


If you've ever wanted to learn how to fly fish, Bass Pro Shops in Destin will be offering FREE fly fishing classes beginning in March.  Participants should plan on attending all 6 Saturdays, either morning or afternoon classes over a six week period.  Each class will consist of one hour of classroom instruction followed by one hour of hands-on casting, and weather permitting, fishing in our stocked ponds.  The final class will involve two hours of fishing.  All equipment will be provided and participants will have the option of purchasing a recommended textbook.

Classroom studies will include:  Basic Fly Fishing; Gadgets and Equipment; Leaders and Lines; Fly Selection; Reading Water; and Casting.

Interested individuals may sign-up for either the 6 morning or 6 afternoon classes by calling Customer Service at (850) 269-6200.  Morning or afternoon classes are limited to a maximum of 6 persons.  Morning classes will be held from 10 am til Noon; afternoon classes will be held from 2 til 4 pm.

All classes will be held on Saturdays on the following dates:  March 15th, 22nd, & 29th; and April 5th, 12th, & 19th.

Gary Feduccia

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The Amazing Biolite Campstove

I recently had the opportunity to witness a demonstration of the BIOLITE CAMPSTOVE,  This stove weighs 2.1 lbs. and burns sticks, twigs, and most any dry biomass, eliminating the need for expensive fuel canisters.  This campstove uses the heat from the fire to generate electricity through a thermoelectric generator to charge a phone, camera, or similar USB devices, while providing boiling water for foodstuffs, coffee, or whatever!

Before using the campstove to charge other devices, it is necessary to charge the campstove's internal battery through a USB connection or you may let the campstove charge itself by keeping a fire going in the combustion chamber.  The internal battery serves to power a small fan (the only moving part) that blows air into the combustion chamber, increasing the intensity and temperature of the fire.

I was amazed at how quickly this small stove boiled water and started charging an Iphone we used.  There was also a noticible LACK of soot on the bottom of the provided cup.  We also used the campstove to power a USB string of LED lights.  Power is available as long as a fire is in the combustion chamber.  Advertised boil time is approximately 4 1/2 minutes for 1 liter of water.  A 20 minute charge of your phone should give you about 20 minutes of talk time.

Altogether, this is a great little stove.  Although some backpacking purists might say it is a little too big for backpacking, the additional charging capabilities and not being dependent upon carrying extra fuel canisters should justify the extra size and weight.  The BIOLITE CAMPSTOVE is not only a great little tool for wilderness backpacking or camping, but can serve as a cooking device and provide charging capabilities during prolonged power outages.

Gary Feduccia

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Free Surf Fishing Classes

Join Destin's Bass Pro Shops' staff at beautiful Henderson Beach State Park, across from the Destin WalMart for upcoming Fall Surf Fishing Classes!  All tackle, bait, and equipment will be provided and there is no charge for the classes. You bring your Saltwater Fishing License, sunscreen and water.  Admission to the Park is free when you pre-register. 

We have had these successful Surf Fishing Classes the past two Springs, but cooler weather brings another run of different species of fishes along our coastlines.  Learn the proper rigs and baits to use for Fall fishing!  Learn how to properly cast  a surf fishing rig and make the most of your fishing experience at one of our most beautiful State Parks!

Classes will be held from 8 am til Noon on Saturday, October 5th; Saturday, October 12th; Saturday, October 26th; and Saturday, November 2nd.

Please call our Customer Service Department at (850) 269-6200 to register.  Class size is limited to the first 10 callers.

For all of your saltwater, freshwater, or fly fishing needs or Licenses, check out our Fishing Departments at Destin's Bass Pro Shops.

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Saltwater Drop Shot Rig Fishing

The drop shot rig has roots in the eastern U.S., dating back to the mid-70's and was first seen in "Fishing Facts" magazine.  In the 1990's, Japanese anglers resurrected the method for use on their highly pressured waters.  The Japanese refined the technique and it soon returned to the States.  In 1997, the drop shot rig was relatively unknown except to a few Southern California fishermen who had ties to Japanese manufacturers and pros.  The system worked extremely well, and those that knew about it did their best to keep it a secret.  Then, in winter 1999, two major tournaments were won using the drop shot rig - the B.A.S.S. Invitational at Lake Oroville, and the WON Bass Classic on Lake Cachuma.  The proverbial cat was out of the bag - way out!

While largely viewed as a fresh water tactic for finessing finicky bass or fishing in highly pressured waters, the drop shot rig is readily adaptable for presenting soft baits such as Berkeley Gulp or DOA's in our bays for redfish and speckled trout.  The presentation is different from using a jig or a popping cork in that the bait can be rigged to be held just above the weeds.  This will put the bait in full view of the fish we want to catch.  In addition, the weight being below the bait allows for anglers to feel the soft bites more easily.  But this is more of a rig to use when we have a good idea of where the fish are, rather than when we are searching water using a lure.

The basic rig resembles a standard dropper used in the ocean and for freshwater catfish, with one difference - there is no line (dropper) between the hook and the main line.  Tie a standard Polomar knot - start by going through the "hook-point" side of the eye, and leaving at least two extra feet of line on the tag end.  The extra line will be used to attach the sinker.  Once the Polomar is tied, take the tag end and thread it back through the "hook-point" side of the eye, again.  This last step forces the hook shaft to lie against the line, which aids hook setting.  Another option is the VMC Spinshot wide gap hook, which has a swivel through the eye of the hook, allowing the bait to move without twisting the line. 

Once the hook is in place, attach the weight.  Drop shot leads have an eyelet on the top that pinches the line, allowing the lead to pull off if snagged.  Choose one that is heavy enough to stay in contact with the bottom, but not too heavy.  In most situations, use a 1/8 to 5/16 ounce, but a 3/8 to 1/2 ounce can be used in extremely deep water or during windy situations.  I use 1/4 ounce normally or 3/8 ounce when the wind is up a little.  Experiment with the weight, as this rig will cast well, and increasing the weight slightly will let you cast further.  The "drop" (distance from hook to weight) can range from six inches to four feet, or more, depending upon how high the grass is relative to the bottom.  Remember, we want our bait just over the top of the grass we are fishing.  Another thing to consider is bottom composition.  Use a cylinder weight over grass, and save the round sinker for a rocky bottom as the round is more likely to snag.

I am just starting to experiment with this rig.  My first trip using the drop shot rig resulted in five specks in about half an hour.  After casting, take the slack out of the line and hold the rod at a 10 o'clock position.  After raising the rod tip slowly 2 or 3 times, reel up the slack to get a tight line again.  Fish this rig slowly.  This rig has a lot of versatility and I cannot wait to try variations of the drop shot rig.  I can see a lot of different ways to use this and to target different species.

Jim Martino

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Destin Bass Pro Shops Supports Operation Outdoor Freedom

The Florida Department of Agriculture and the Florida State Forest Service will be providing Wounded Veterans with hunting and fishing opportunities in the upcoming months as part of their ongoing Operation Outdoor Freedom.  On schedule is a Dove Hunt at Point Washington in Walton County from November 15th through the 17th, and a Deer Hunt at Pine Log State Forest near Ebro from January 17th through the 19th.

Participant requirements are a 30% or greater disability rating from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs or Purple Heart Recipient.

Donations from individuals and organizations are welcomed.  Donation and participant information may be obtained by calling Florida State Forest Service Ranger, Steve Weherley at (850) 747-5639 or (850) 691-5923 or email steve.weherley@freshfromflorida.com.

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Lionfish Still a Threat to Coast Fisheries

Join the Emerald Coast Reef Association in their quest to reduce the harmful Lionfish population in our Gulf Waters.  Lionfish reproduce by the thousands and consume the eggs of our popular sportfish (see previous post).  The Emerald Coast reef Association is holding a LIONFISH TOURNAMENT from Saturday, September 14th through Sunday, October 13th, 2013.

A GRAND PRIZE of $2,500 will be awarded to the 2-person team with the most Lionfish over 500!  1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prizes are:  $1000, $750, and $500.  The largest and smallest Lionfish will each earn $100.  Drawings for other prizes will be held.

Registration is $25 per team.  You may register online at:  www.ecreef.org or in person at these other fine establishments:  Scuba Tech, Destin; Emerald Coast Scuba, Destin; Discovery Dive World, Valparaiso; or Divers Emporium, Crestview.

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Oakley Redfish Tour at Destin Bass Pro Shops

Join our first annual Destin Open - Oakley Redfish Tour at Destin's Bass Pro Shops on Friday, September 6th and Saturday, September 7th  .All anglers are welcomed and registration will be on Friday, September 6th from 5 til 6 pm.  A Captains' Meeting will be held immediately after registration from 6 til 8 pm, where we will review all rules and tournament information.  Food will be served to all participants.

The first 50 teams to participate will receive a pair of Polarized Oakley sunglasses and a pair of Wright McGill inshore rods with a combined value of $600!  Entry fees are $500 per team.

All participating teams will launch on Saturday, September 7th, from Joe's Bayou ramp in Destin for this one day event.  Weigh-Ins will begin at 3 pm at the Destin Bass Pro Shops, 4301 Legendary Drive, Destin, Florida.

Based on a minimum of 50 teams, the following payouts are scheduled:

1.  Guaranteed MAKO LTS 18 ($30,000 value)

2.  $5,000

3.  $4,000

4.  $3,000

5.  $2,000

6.  $1,000

7.  $900

8.  $800

9.  $700

10. $600

ATX, "Big Fish"  $1,000

For ALL of you freshwater and saltwater fishing needs, come visit the Destin Bass Pro Shops!

Gary Feduccia

 

ATX "Big Fish"

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Boy and Cub Scout Events at Destin Bass Pro Shops

Bass Pro Shops in Destin and stores nationwide will be be teaming up with the Boy Scouts of America again this year for Boy Scout Appreciation Month during September.  During the month, we will be hosting various Scouting Units to solicit donations.  All Funds collected will be divided equally between the local Gulf Coast Council and the National BSA Office. 

The Destin Bass Pro Shops will again be offering the Fishing and Rifle Shooting Merit Badge Classes on Tuesday and Thursday evenings beginning at 6 pm.  Class size is limited and pre-registration is required by calling our Customer Service Department at 269-6200, beginning in late August.  Only registered Boy Scouts may apply.  There is no fee for the Boy Scout Merit Badge Classes.

Scout Units will again be selling popcorn in the front of our store beginning in late August through the end of October.  This annual fundraiser provides the needed money to finance Troop and Pack events throughout the year.

For the 4th year in a row, Destin Bass Pro Shops will host the annual Scout Fun Day on Saturday, October 26th beginning at noon.  Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts from all around will be setting up games of chance, skill challenges, and booths for the public to enjoy Free of Charge.  This huge event takes place in the Bass Pro Shops parking lot on the northeast side of the building and is fun for the entire family!  Just around sunset, when the skies turn dark, the famous HAUNTED TENT opens to the public.  Boy and Cub Scouts from all over try to put-on the scariest, most gruesome displays that their imaginations can think of.  The Haunted Tent is actually a series of linked military tents connected together so that visitors who dare are led through a maze of dimly lit displays and live action.  There is a small charge for the Haunted Tent.  While all of this is going on outside, Trick-or-Treaters can come get candy inside the store as we will be in the midst of a week-long celebration of Halloween.

Gary Feduccia

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Smoked King Mackerel Dip

One of the great things about fishing the Destin, Florida area is the variety of fish available to catch.  It seems that even on the worst fishing days, cooperative King Mackerel will prevent a fisherman from being skunked on a fishing trip.  The King responds to a variety of fishing techniques, and can be targeted even when the boat is concentrating on bottom fish.

The smoking part of this process works well with most any type fish to be served just as a smoked fish entree.  The same techniques may be used with Trout, Grouper, or whatever.  This receipe uses King Mackerel.  Soak the fish in a brine solution (receipe below).  King Mackerel takes the brine process well but some of the lighter fish like grouper or snapper probably don't need the brine.  This receipe fills a one gallon Ziploc bag with a King Mackerel filet.

For the brine, you need:

King Mackerel fillets

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup salt (I use sea salt)

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)

Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 quarts water

 

Mix sugar, salt, garlic, pepper, lemon, and water.  Soak fish in the brine mixture for at least four hours, turning every half-hour or so.  Brining overnight does not hurt the receipe.  Remove the fish and rinse gently.  Allow it to dry on a rack until a glaze forms.  Put the fish in your smoker and smoke under a low heat until the fish flakes easily (1 1/2 to 2 hours +/-),  Moist fish makes for a better dip.

For the dip, you will need:

8 cups smoked King Mackerel or other fish

6 cups mayonnaise

1 cup finely minced celery

1 cup sweet pickle relish

3 small sweet onions grated

1/4 cup lemon juice

Garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste

Hot sauce to taste

 

Combine all ingredients and chill.  Serve with crackers, small breads, tortilla chips, celery, etc.  Be creative and experiment.

ENJOY!  Jim Martino

 

 

 

 

 

For

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The Power of Weber Grills

Weber grills, in my opinion, are among the highest quality charcoal and gas grills available for the money!  I have a 9 year-old Weber Gold charcoal grill that I still use every other week, when I want the flavor that only charcoal and some wood chips can produce.  The only maintenance it has required is an occasional cleaning and I did replace the grilling surface for a new chromed one and I have replaced the steel grid that holds the charcoal off the bottom.  New grid and grill surfaces makes a nearly new grill! 

It has now been over two years since I purchased the Weber Q-100 propane grill from Bass Pro Shops.  It still fires up on the first or second push of the piezo ignition button, heats up quickly and is ready for searing and cooking in about 5 minutes.  This grill is extremely frugal with propane and users should not expect a "rocket exhaust" of flaming propane as in many other gas grills.  The Q-100 has certainly met my expectations and has a more than adequate grilling area for my family of 3 and I have been able to cook for a few guests as well. Every few months I take my pressure washer to the Q-100 to remove the grease and crud that falls down inside of the body.  The grease trap functions very well and I just rinse it out with a little detergent and hot water.  Once I pressure wash the grill, I take a small needle or bent-open safety pin to re-open the tiny holes where the propane comes out.  This clears the holes of any debris that might be blocking them and assures an even burning across the tube.

My Wife, who is no big fan of cooking with charcoal, said the other day that she thought the Q-100 was the best gas grill we have ever owned.  She was not aware at the time that the grill is over two years old, since it shows no signs of wear or any corrosion. 

Check out the full line of Weber Gold and Silver model charcoal grills and the line of Weber Q propane grills at Bass Pro Shops.  You will save money on the initial purchase and save even more money over the extreme life of these grills because you won't have to replace them every couple of years!  Get to cookin' . . . Get a WEBER!

By the way, Bass Pro Shops now carries Citrus Wood Chips to add different subtle flavors to your favorite meats and seafoods.    

Gary Feduccia   

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Single Largest Kid's Fishing Event in the USA!

Destin's Bass Pro Shops along with Lowes, Walmart, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, the Pensacola Recreational Fisherman's Association, many volunteers and other vendors co-hosted the annual Pensacola Kids' Fishing Clinic on Saturday, April 13th at the Plaza De Luna along the Bay in historic Pensacola.  Some 1000 to 1500 kids and their parents attended this event, billed as the largest in the USA, where the lines extended northward from the park for several blocks.  The kids and their parents attended instructional booths where they learned about fishing tackle, casting techniques, knot tying, conservation, and a hands-on salt water touch tank.  The kids received a free rod and reel combo, a tackle box, terminal tackle, a fishing bucket, booklets on fishing, and Florida Fish and Wildlife Rules and Regulations.  Everything was free, including the great food, drinks, and snacks.

General Manager, Ryan Cox, Gary Feduccia, Dave Lockett, and Melissa and Oscar Zepeda hosted instructional booths and helped the kids with fishing and baiting their hooks.  Destin Bass Pro Shops provided many of the combos and tackle boxes given to the kids.

Kids were encouraged and provided the opportunity to fish along the Bay using cut squid.  Several species of fish were caught and released, including a 10 pound Red Drum.  Since 1996, more than 52,000 kids and some 43,000 parents have participated in the Kids' Fishing Clinics.  Destin's Bass Pro Shops is proud to have been a participant and co-sponsor in this annual event for the past 3 years.  We feel that we are helping to teach our kids responsible marine conservation and stewardship that will last them for a lifetime of fishing enjoyment.

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Doolittle Raiders Last Reunion

Destin's Bass Pro Shops General Manager and Honorary Base Commander of the 33rd Fighter Wing at nearby Eglin Air Force Base, Ryan Cox and Gary Feduccia, Promotions Department attended a Hanger Dedication Ceremony on April 17th with three of the four surviving Doolittle Raiders at their 71st and final get-together.  The Raiders included Lt. Colonels Dick Cole and Edward Saylor and Staff Sergeant David Thatcher.  The modern, huge hanger was dedicated to Lt. Colonel Edward Saylor, who was a Maintenance Engineer on the B-25's involved in the first bombing of Tokyo and other areas in Japan on April 18th, 1942.

Following an opening with the "Star Spangled Banner" sung by the excellent Niceville High School chorus and introductions, Lt. Colonel Saylor talked about the details of their training at Eglin AFB, their premature departure from the aircraft carrier Hornet after it was observed by a Japanese fishing vessel, the low level bombing raid over Japan, and their recovery in China and elsewhere.

On a decorated table on-stage was the custom glassed display case containing 80 silver goblets commissioned in Tucson, Arizona after the war.  Each goblet is inscribed twice with the name of one of the Raiders.  On one side the name is right-side up; on the opposite, up-side down so that whichever orientation the goblet is in, the Raider's name can be read.  All but four of the goblets were displayed up-side down as a sign of their passing.  A bottle of fine brandy dating from the postwar years was displayed in front of the display case, supposedly to be consumed by the last two Raiders surviving.  The display case and goblets are kept at the Air Force Acadamy in Colorado Springs, except for these especial reunions.

A poignant scene in the Saylor Hanger was the Doolittle Raiders posing in front of a restored B-25, almost nose-to-nose with an ultra-modern F-35.  The Saylor Hanger will be used to maintain and service the new F-35's that are based at Eglin.

For the entire week a group of six B-25's and other WWII aircraft took off from the Destin airport and could be seen and heard flying around the Destin and Eglin area. One of the Raiders made the headlines by piloting one of the restored B-25's at the young age of 97! There is no sound comparable to the roar of the huge radial engines on a B-25 and several of them flying together is really impressive!

Destin Bass Pro Shops salutes the Doolittle Raiders and all of our military personnel, active and retired who do so much for our country. 

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Annual Scout-O-Rama a Big Attraction for All

Destin's Bass Pro Shops was again invited to participate in the annual District Scout-O-Rama on April 6th at UpTown Station Shopping Center in Fort Walton Beach.  Cub and Boy Scout Units and members of the Order of the Arrow from the two-county District area set up free games and attractions, and booths and other areas of interest were manned by the Eglin Aero Modeling Club, the Choctawhatchee Bay Alliance, the Northwest Florida Amateur Astronomy Association, local Fire and Law Enforcement Agencies, and others.  Numerous inflatable rides were available to the Scouts and attending public for a small fee.

Bass Pro Shops set up a canopy with a display of camping gear that is available for purchase at the store and gave small prizes to those who tried our "putt-putt" two-tier golf green. 

The event brought hundreds of Scouts and visitors to the shopping center to participate in the activites.

The other major District event will take place on the afternoon and evening on Saturday, October 26th, when the Scouting District presents, "Family Fun Day" in the Bass Pro Shops' parking lot in the Destin Commons Shopping Center in Destin.  This Halloween event will feature many of the same games and activities as in the Scout-O-Rama, but will feature the annual, "Haunted Tent", where Scout Units compete to have the scariest displays inside the huge linked tents.

Gary Feduccia

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EAT YOUR HEARTS OUT, GREAT PLAINS AND NORTHEAST!

Wow, with the great mild February weather we have been experiencing in the Destin area, now is the best time to clean up those yards and outdoor living areas before Spring gets underway.  The songbirds have already started their chirping and mating calls, so it's time to clean out those old bird houses or add some new ones.  Seed and suet feeders should be cleaned and restocked with fresh food.  Don't forget to scrub that hummingbird feeder before setting it out once warmer weather and the hummingbirds return.

It's also a great time, while the weather is mild and not too hot, to clean up those flower beds and planting areas.  While you are at it, add a generous amount of compost and peat to the existing soil.  Now is a great time to build a compost bin and put that lawn waste you will generate this year to good use.  Plan on planting a variety of nectar bearing flowers that will attract not only many species of birds, but will benefit your yard and garden with the presence of pollinating bees.

Bass Pro Shops Gift Department carries a large assortment of home and garden items that can turn your backyard into an attractive showcase.  From blue bird houses to seed feeders, suet frames, and hummingbird supplies, to the brackets that hold them, Bass Pro Shops has what you need.  We even carry a variety of birdseeds and hummingbird nectar and birding books to get you started and keep it interesting.

Another neat item to consider is one of Bass Pro Shops' weather stations,  Several models have exterior mounted thermometers, hygrometers (relative humidity), anemometers (wind speed and direction), and rain gauges that send the information to a central display inside your home.  Weather stations from Bass Pro Shops are a fun and educational way to keep up with the changing weather trends where you live.

So, take advantage of the mild weather we are having.  Air out those sleeping bags, re-spool those reels, wash that kayak or boat, clean that grill or smoker, and get those yards ready to be a showcase once spring growth begins.

Gary Feduccia

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COMETS PANSTARRS AND ISON INCOMING!

Now is the time to pick up a nice pair of binoculars at Bass Pro Shops to see the incoming comet PANSTARRS (named after the Hawaiian based telescope that was used to discover it:  the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System).  This is predicted to be a fairly bright and naked eye object for a couple of weeks.  Binocular users will have a treat in watching the comet as it approaches and recedes from the Sun from about February 27th through late March or even later.  On March 5th, the comet is closest the Earth at a little more than 101 million miles.  Look for it right after sunset in the west about 17 degrees southeast of the Sun. (Your fist held at arm's length covers about 10 degrees of sky).  On the 5th, the comet will set about 15 minutes after the Sun.

Try to watch the comet in the west every evening as it comes closest the Sun on March 9th.  It will be due east of the Sun on the 9th and may be difficult to see due to glare.  NEVER point your binoculars directly at the Sun!  Immediate and non-reversable eye damage may occur.  On March 12th, look for the comet just a smidgen left of the crescent Moon.  On the 13th, the Moon will be superimposed on the comet's gaseous tail.  Over the following days, the comet will rapidly fade and lose brightness as it recedes from the Sun back into the outer reaches of the Solar System.  Binoculars will allow the user to follow the comet long after it fades from naked-eye visibility.

Comet Panstarrs is just a preview of what's to come in November and December.  That's when comet ISON will come into our evening skies and is predicted to be much, much brighter than Panstarrs!  Of course predicting the brightness of comets is not an exact science and the "comet experts" have been off just as much as the earthly long range weather forecasters.

For beginning and experienced astronomers and for daytime and low-light wildlife watchers a nice pair of 10X50 binoculars from Bass Pro Shops is perfect for hand-held views.  The 50 mm objective lenses gulp in much more light than 42 mm or 35 mm lenses and can show more detail.  The 10 X magnification is about as high as you can go without using a tripod but allows steady viewing using both hands.

Bass Pro Shops carries RedHead, Nikon, Leupold, Redfield, Steiner, Vortex, and Pursuit binoculars in a variety of price ranges to meet your needs.

Gary Feduccia

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Better than Restaurant Grilled Fish

Get your charcoal grill out of winter storage and get it cleaned and ready for some excellent grilled fish.  Any firm fleshed fish will work nicely and among my suggestions are filets of grouper, snapper, drum, tile, trigger, or even fresh water catfish.  I recommend purchasing "natural" charcoal rather than briquets, since the latter contains lime and other ingredients that may impart their own flavors to the smoke.  Avoid using liquid charcoal lighter which will also impart an unpleasant  kerosene taste to your fish.  I recommend either an electric charcoal starter or a charcoal chimney, both of which we carry at Bass Pro Shops.

Soak a good handful of  BPS Western Brand Hickory or other hardwood chips in water for at least 30 minutes prior to cooking.  Start your charcoal fire and lightly oil the grill (just to make it easier to clean).  Do not use the grill for cooking your fish as it will fall through the gaps into the fire.  Instead, I recommend using a Space Saver Grilling Grid or a Weber Stainless Steel Grill Pan (available at Bass Pro Shops) on top of the grill, both of which have very small holes or slits to allow the heat and smoke to get to the food, without letting it fall through.  These are great for grilling shimp and small vegie pieces, too. 

Rinse the fillets and brush lightly with olive oil.  Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper to each fillet then place on a lightly oiled Grilling Grid or Grill Pan.  I like to add a pat of real butter and thin slices of lemon to the top of each fillet.

When the charcoal is uniformly lit and ashen grey, spread the coals evenly and add half the soaked hardwood chips.  Place the Grid or Pan with the fillets on the grill and close the lid.  Cook and smoke for about 15 minutes, then open the lid and turn the fillets.  Add more hardwood chips if needed.  Close the lid and cook another 15 minutes, more or less, depending upon the thickness or thinness of the fillets.  They are done when fish flakes easily with a fork.

This receipe will also work on a gas grill on medium heat that has a provision to produce hardwood smoke.

Serve with a crisp green salad and baked potato.  It doesn't get much better than this!

 

Gary Feduccia

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Spring Activities at Destin Bass Pro Shops

Even though it is just the beginning of February here in Destin, Spring is in the air, literally.  Yellow pine pollen has begun to cover our vehicles and azeleas have started to bloom.  Numerous reports of large catches of flounder offshore on the bridge rubble have been coming in proving that the weather hasn't been to cold for fishing.

Bass Pro Shops is kicking off the season with our annual Spring Fishing Classic that begins of Friday, February 22nd, featuring sweepstakes, rod and reel trade-ins, seminars by National Bass Fishing Pros at our BassMaster University, and fun kids' activities.

As a prelude to the opening of turkey season on March 16th, our annual Spring Hunting Sale and Event begins on February 25th with weekend turkey seminars and other activities and demonstrations.  We're even going to squeeze in our Next Generation Weekend on March 9th and 10th with a live catch and release pond and free photos just for the kids.

Overlapping our hunting events, the BassPro Shops' Great American Boat Show kicks off on March 22nd with many family activities and great deals on the boat of your dreams!  Fishing legends ROLAND MARTIN and TIM HORTON will be returning to Destin to present tips and techniques for successful fishing.  Kids' activites, seminars, competitions for great prizes, and weekend drawings are all part of our Boat Show activities.

Even while the Boat Show is still going on, our Easter Celebration begins on March 23rd!  Kids can enjoy Easter egg hunts, crafts, and get their free photo taken with the Easter Bunny!

Expect all this and more at Destin Bass Pro Shops during 2013, and this only covers the first three months!  Please check our Destin store's web site for events and workshops regarding specific activities, dates, and times.

 

Gary Feduccia

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