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



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


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


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



You never know when the magic's going to happen.  Full moon, neap tide . . . it just didn't matter on September 29th.  We rounded Ft. Pickens Point looking for FA (false albacore . . . aka bonito) and hit incredibly clear, blue-turquoise water like you don't usually find around here until winter.  We headed out toward the "Mass" (the sunken ship, Massachusetts) and saw a large congregation of birds including pelicans over a school of fish east of buoy #4.  It looked like a mix of Spanish and albies, but there were some big explosions in the mix which I took for sharks.  My client, Mike Youkee from the UK was ready with a 9wt Sage Xi3, Tibor Everglades, floating line with 10' intermediate "ghost" tip, 20# fluoro tippet, and a #6 clear gummy minnow.

Mike put the fly into the melee, got an immediate take, and the line started screaming off the reel. Hot Dang I thought . . . he'd managed to hook a nice FA out of the middle of all the Spanish.  Mike was "bowed up" in a big way but seemed to have control of the situation, so we just sat there along the edge of the school while he battled the fish.  Then I saw some big fish boiling around the edges of the school but couldn't figure out what they were . . . until one jumped.  Blackfin!  They were all around us.  These were the biggest tunas I've ever had around the boat . . . 20 - 30 pounders, and I grabbed the 10w and started casting like a mad man.  No takes in the first few casts.  Mike was well into the backing fighting his fish, and I realized in all the excitement that I was coming dangerously close to crossing his line.  So I put the 10wt down and concentrated on helping him land his fish which was looking more and more like a blackfin.

Then we saw his fish, and it was definitely a 3' blackfin moving in slow circles around the boat.  The fish couldn't sound because the water was only 25' deep, and Mike played it beautifully within range of the net.  The iridescent lavender color of the fish's back was simply incredible . . . indescribable.  I've never seen anything like it before.  It took two shots, but I eased the net over the magnificent fish's head, grabbed the tail, and lifted it into the boat.  We only kept it out of the water long enough to get the photos and then released it with a head-first thrust and watched it power away.  It was an unforgettable, breathtaking experience for both Mike and me.  I'm hoping the clear "bluewater" will be with us for a while.  If so, the blackfin will stick around and so will the sailfish.  Kayak fishermen are landing both species regularly close to shore just east of the Navarre pier.

The Gulf is absolutely loaded with Spanish mackeral, and these schooling fish are a couple sizes larger than normal.  You'll find them at the Mass and on both sides of the channel.  There are also huge schools of ladyfish close to shore both east and west of the pass.  I think they stack up better on outgoing water.  We spent some time in a big school a few days ago and landed some real monsters (for ladyfish) . . . up to 4#.  That was on spinning tackle, but man, what fun on a 6wt!

The false albacore are as unpredictable as always.  We found them numerous times during the month on spin-fishing trips, but they always seem to be AWOL on my fly fishing charters.  I think they're a little farther offshore at the moment, but they'll be moving in as the water temperature drops in October.  The bull reds are starting to show up occasionally in the Gulf.  A buddy of mine called one day last week while hooked up in a school of a "thousand redfish" (his words) just south of buoys 3 & 4.  He was so excited he could hardly talk, and I could hear the reel screaming in the background.  He told me later that while he was fighting his fish the school drifted down and out of sight.  Never could find them again.  That's a pretty good disappearing act for a thousand redfish.  I've also heard of schools of big reds under bait balls between the Perdido Bay condos and Alabama Pass.  Later in October the millions of baitfish in Pensacola Bay will start migrating to the gulf.  There will be a time when their scent travels with the outgoing currents into the Gulf, and the annual "Running of the Bulls" will commence.  It's time to get your 10wts ready . . . one with a sinking line and the other with a floater.  I think it's going to happen early this year. 


Captain Baz Yelverton

Gulf Breeze Guide Service

Gulf Breeze, Fl  32561-0251

For all your saltwater inshore and offshore tackle needs come by Bass Pro Shops.



Over the weekend of September 28th and 29th, Destin's Bass Pro Shops teamed-up with Mark McDuffy of Wounded Warriors, the Hub City Bassmasters Club and our own Pro Staff, and Live Oak Landing, south of Freeport, Fl. to host 10 Wounded Warriors and their families for a weekend retreat, fun, food, fellowship, and a fishing trip long to be remembered.

The beautiful Live Oak Landing RVC facility on Black Creek offered free cottages and accommodations for participants through Mark McDuffy, organizer of the Wounded Warrior Fishing retreat, and himself a wounded veteran.

Bass Pro Shops provided pontoon boat rides up the creek and down to the Choctawhatchee Bay, while our fishing Pro's and the Hub City Bassmasters' Club provided boats for fishing.  Numerous bass, trout, and redfish were caught by all.

Friday evening, Bass Pro Shops' Staff provided a fish fry with all the trimmings in the spacious pavilion provided by Live Oak Landing.  Bass Pro Shops and members of the Hub City Bassmasters Club provided the participants with neat fishing accessories and tackle.  Other great and generous sponsors provided prizes and a BBQ cookout for the Warriors on Saturday evening.

Live Oak Landing ( is an ideal getaway location for this type of event.  Located at the mouth of Black Creek, just off Hwy. 331 south of Freeport, boaters can enjoy freshwater fishing east up the creek and rivers emptying into the Choctawhatchee Bay, where saltwater fishing is popular.

For more information about Mark McDuffy and the Wounded Warrior events, contact Mark at (850) 499-8385 or

Bass Pro Shops is proud of our active and retired Servicemen and is glad to be able to participate in the Wounded Warrior Program and local events.

By Gary Feduccia



The other day while enjoying the first taste of fall weather, I decided to get a turkey and cook it in my Orion Cooker from Bass Pro Shops.  With 16 pounds of charcoal on hand I pulled the Orion to the center of my patio and opened the top.  Oh no, the stainless steel drip pan was missing!  While rummaging around through my pots and pans looking for the drip pan, I pulled out a 9 inch round aluminum cake pan that I thought I could use for a substitute.

Centering it in the bottom of the Orion Cooker, the cake pan was a little smaller than the drip pan and I found that I had much more space around the perimeter for additional wood chips.  Getting the cooker going and after closing the lid on the seasoned turkey, I saw that I was getting a lot more smoke from the additional chips than I had before with the regular drip pan in place. 

The 12 pound turkey, of course, turned out GREAT in the reduced cooking time (3 and 1/2 hours) with the Orion.  Before I purchased the Orion Cooker at Bass Pro Shops, I was used to nearly 8 hours of cooking a similar sized bird in a charcoal smoker.  Even better is the fact that the use of the smaller drip pan in the Orion with the additional chips gave the turkey a really smoked flavor, rather than just the hint of smoke as before.

So, for those of you who want more of a smoked flavor to your Orion cooked foods, or the taste benefits of a smoker, with the reduced cooking times in the Orion, just try a smaller drip pan!  Can't wait to try some ribs!  By the way, I did locate my stainless steel drip pan, but may just leave it in a drawer.

For all your outdoor cooking needs, check out the grills, smokers, dutch and camp ovens, Orion cookers and accessories at Bass Pro Shops.

By Gary Feduccia



October is one of my favorite months.  Somewhat cooler temperatures and less humidity and rain make getting outdoors, whether camping, fishing, hunting, kayaking, or backyard grilling and bar-be-queing a pleasant experience.  Too, with the summer tourists gone and the snowbirds yet to come, we residents and locals can reclaim our favorite restaurants, parks, and beaches and even travel on uncongested roads and highways.

The water temperature in the Gulf may have dropped a degree or two, but swimming and snorkeling will be enjoyable through late November.  The fall fishing migration has begun and we are blessed with a second annual season of great offshore and inshore fishing.  The World famous annual Destin Fishing Rodeo takes place during the entire month of October and brings in anglers from across the country.  Get down to Destin's harbor in the late afternoons to watch the fish weigh-in's and enjoy the beautiful sunsets. Fall fresh water fishing is likewise productive and enjoyable.

Residents and visitors alike, can enjoy one or more or the outdoor events and festivals going on during the month of October.  From the Destin Seafood Festival on the first weekend in October, through numerous Octoberfests celebrating our German friends and neighbors, to musical venues such as AJ's Blues, Brews, and Bar-Be-Oue, the Best of the Best, featuring Emerald Coast cookoff competitions and recognition, the Nationally famous Mullet Festival in Niceville, to numerous Halloween celebrations and activities, there is something for everyone to enjoy this Fall on the emerald coast.

Let Bass Pro Shops outfit you for your fall outdoor adventure, whether fishing, hunting, swimming, boating and kayaking, or backyard cooking and grilling, we have the stuff you need!

By Gary Feduccia



Come join me at Destin's Bass Pro Shops as I demonstrate and provide samples of delicious and easy to make venison (deer) stew.  I will be cooking out on our front sidewalk using Lodge Camp Ovens over charcoal; the way the early settlers cooked similar meals and the way you might want to make it at deer camp.

I will be cooking pots-full of stew on Saturday, October 20th (the weekend before archery season); again on Saturday, November 17th (the weekend before gun season); and a third time on Saturday, November 24th (opening day of gun season).  Free samples should be available (weather permitting) around early afternoon. 

Come get venison cooking tips and my stew recipe as I demonstrate the techniques for successful dutch oven cooking using Bass Pro Shops Lodge Camp Ovens and related equipment.

Let Bass Pro Shops outfit you for your next archery or gun hunting expedition and see our Camping Department for all your outdoor cooking needs!

By Gary Feduccia



One of the most exciting and rewarding things to do while you are at the beach is to collect seashells.  The most common way is to just walk down the beach, particularly after a storm, looking for the perfect shell.  Unfortunately, many other people may have beaten you to that great cache of shells.  A better and more productive way to find great seashells is by snorkeling.  Many of us have a mask and snorkel and perhaps some fins, and we probably have kids with them, as well.  Some of the best seashells are located about 20 feet offshore from the beach, where tides, wave action, and currents create slight valleys in the sand where many shells get deposited.

Don your mask and snorkel and swim out from shore until you see the area where the shells are collecting.  Turn parallel to the shore and dive to collect those great looking shells.  Collecting a large number of shells should be easy to do.  Rather than swimming back to shore each time with an armload or pocketload of shells, use a mesh bag for your collecting.  In some areas with boat traffic, it may be advisable or legally required to have a floating "Diver's Flag".  This is a red flag with a white diagonal set upon a weighted, floating fiberglass pole that is attached by a cord to the snorkeler's arm to indicate to boaters that someone is in in the water.

Be aware of riptides.  These are fast moving currents perpendicular to the beach that drain wave accumulated water back out to the Gulf.  They often occur in a trough through a sandbar and can carry a swimmer out some 20 feet or more.  Don't panic or try to swim against the current toward shore.  Instead, either let the current carry you out to where it will dissipate or try swimming across the current parallel to the beach to get out of the trough where the riptide is flowing.

Bass Pro Shops carries a complete assortment of  swimming and snorkeling gear, with sizes and complete outfits for everyone.  Our Camping Department has mesh bags that are ideal for collecting seashells.  Also in the Destin Bass Pro Shops' Marine Department, we carry the floating Diver's Flag for your safety.

Have fun, good luck, and enjoy your seashells!

By Ryan Cox



Bass Pro Shops of Destin periodically hosts adoption clinics on our front walks provided by the Alaqua Animal Refuge Sanctuary.  Founded in 2007, this private, non-profit organization encompasses a 10 acre farm near Freeport, Florida, where neglected, abused, or homeless animals may run and play in sun-soaked pastures and animal friendly structures on the property.  Visitors to the site can stroll the property consisting of barns, canine buildings, a medical plaza, and Florida cracker style cat houses among lush, green fields.  All types of animals may find a second chance for life and love at the refuge.  There may be over 250 animals in their care at any one time, and over 100 are adopted each month. 

The refuge is open to the public from Noon til 5 pm, everyday except Monday.  Their address is:  Alaqua Animal Refuge Inc., 914 Whitfield Road, Freeport, Fl  32439.  Phone:  (850)-880-6399 or go to:

Again, visitors to the Destin Bass Pro Shops may periodically find a number of animals for adoption out on our front sidewalks.  Destin Bass Pro Shops is proud to be able to assist in these positive efforts.

Gary Feduccia



This method for mouth-watering, juicy ribs won't win a BBQ competition, but it is quite good and handy when you don't have hours and hours to properly slow smoke ribs or when unexpected company shows up.  You can have these tender and smoky ribs on the table, ready-to-eat in less than 2 hours!

Remove the membrane from the bone side of the sparerib slabs (or not!).

Cut slab(s) into serving size portions of about 4 to 5 ribs apiece.

Place rib portions into large pot of lightly salted, boiling water for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Place drained rib portions into large flat cake pan, sprinkle with a little salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Marinate in Italian Dressing for about 30 minutes (if you have time!).

Add soaked Bass Pro Shops' "Western" brand hickory or mesquite chips or try "Jack Daniels" brand of oak chips over lit charcoal fire.  Follow manufacturer's instructions for adding chips to propane grill.

Brown ribs on both sides; about 5 to 10 minutes per side.

Slather tops of ribs with favorite BBQ sauce, turn and slather other side.  Cover for about 3 to 5 minutes, until sauce gets sticky.

Serve and enjoy!

Check out all the great tips and recipes in the various cookbooks available in our Gift and Camping Departments at Bass Pro Shops.  We also carry rubs and sauces and a wide variety of BBQ and grilling accessories.

By Gary Feduccia



Prospects for seeing Venus cross the face of the sun were not very good from my cloudy backyard just north of Choctawhatchee Bay.  About 5:20 a sucker-hole opened in the clouds and I ran inside to grab some binoculars and a white light filter.  I knew there would not be time before the clouds moved back in to set up a telescope with the filter, so I hand held the filter over one uncapped objective of my Ascend 7 X 35 binoculars.  Through the 7 X 35's I almost mistook a prominent sunspot for the black dot that was Venus.

I ran back into the house for my Orion 16 X 80 binocs and with the same setup, the higher magnification brought into resolution some additional sunspot groups and the black dot that was Venus. 

I don't know what it is that makes folks want to look at a black dot moving ever so slowly across the face of the sun.  Perhaps it is because I had never witnessed this before and that it won't happen again until 2117.  Perhaps too, it is the joy of discovery and adding another checkmark to my list.

Astronomy with binoculars is a great and inexpensive way to learn the night sky.  For night time viewing, I would recommend some 7 X 50 mm or larger binoculars.  Find a large assortment of binoculars suitable for daytime viewing or astronomy in the Hunting Department at Bass Pro Shops.

By Gary Feduccia



Here's an easy summer salad recipe that I picked up north of Brandon, Mississippi in a little restaurant in the old settlement of Fannin.  I have made this salad for our cookouts at Bass Pro Shops.

Canned or fresh cut sweet corn kernels (drained)

Fresh diced tomatoes (if not vine picked, I use the plum tomatoes in the produce section for more flavor)

Chopped yellow onions


Salt and pepper

Mix one third corn, one third tomatoes, and one third onions with a dollop of mayonnaise (more or less).  Use more for a larger salad, but keep proportions equal.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Refrigerate for an hour to let flavors mingle.  Enjoy.

By Gary Feduccia



There are several different camouflage patterns and selecting the right one for your hunting needs will depend upon what type of hunting you want to do and your location.  The following is a quick guide to help you select the right camouflage pattern for your next hunting trip.

Realtree AP (all purpose) is the most flexible of camp patterns.  It can be worn during several seasons.

Realtree APG (all purpose green) is also flexible but has added dots of green to be used in Spring and early Fall.

Realtree Max 1 is intended for hunting in open terrain such as sage covered hillsides, mesquite flats, open prairies, deserts, rocky terrain, and croplands.

Realtree Max 4 is intended for open terrain where the foliage is dense.  This pattern is popular for waterfowl hunting.

Realtree APS (all purpose snow) is used for big game and predator hunting in winter landscapes.

Realtree APB (all purpose blaze) is used when blaze is legally required, but additional concealment is wanted.  Please note that this pattern may not meet the blaze requirements in all states.  Check with local authorities to assure compliance.

Mossy Oak Break Up is intended for general purpose woodland hunting.

Mossy Oak Obsession has a lighter background for woodland and non-woodland choices.  This pattern is excellent for Spring and early Fall hunting.

Mossy Oak Duck Blind is specifically for waterfowl hunting.

Mossy Oak Brush is used for open range hunting when natural cover is limited.

Mossy Oak Treestand is intended for whitetail or hog tree stand hunting.

Mossy Oak Break Up Infinity has more depth against any background.  This pattern breaks up your silhouette in any woodland environment.

Mossy Oak Bottomland has dull, flat colors that blend well with the ground and understory of big hardwoods and swampy areas.

Mossy Oak Shadow Branch is used for hunting bare woods and bottomlands in the dead of Winter.

Mossy Oak Break Up Vertigo; also in tan or grey, are used to elevated positions.  The contrast in the patterns helps to prevent the "black blob" effect.

Find all of your camouflage clothing needs and don't forget the Scent-A-Way while at Bass Pro Shops.

By Samantha Whittle, Camo Lead



Destin's Bass Pro Shops is a pro-active supporter of the Boy Scouts of America.  From providing our front walk and gazebo in the spring and fall for CampCard and Popcorn sales, to having the entire month of June designated as Boy Scout Month, Bass Pro Shops is proud of our involvement with our local Packs, Troops, and Venture Crews.

We will be accepting donations to the Boy Scouts throughout the month of June, and a donation will enter you to possibly win a $500, a $250, or a $100 Bass Pro Shops Gift Card.  50% of the funds collected will be distributed within the local Gulf Coast Council Area, while the other 50% will be sent to the National BSA Office.

From June 12th through the middle of July, our BSA trained and approved Bass Pro Shops Associates will be teaching the Fishing and the Rifle Shooting Merit Badges to registered Boy Scouts.  Pre-registration is required and class size is limited.  Call (850) 269-6200 for information.

Each October on the last Saturday before Halloween, the Destin Bass Pro Shops sponsors Scout Fun Day in our parking lot.  Scouting Units from all over the area set up displays, games, and other fun-to-do activities from noon til sunset.  Then, just as it is getting dark, you and your family can be scared out of your wits by going through the mazes in the HAUNTED TENTS, where Scouting Units compete for the scariest theme!

Now, as part of our on-going involvement with the Boy Scouts of America, Destin's Bass Pro Shops invites interested boys and their parents to find a Scouting Unit near you, and it's easier than ever!  Just search BEASCOUT.ORG, click on the appropriate category, and type in your zip code.  All nearby units will be shown on a map of your local area and contact information is provided.


By Gary Feduccia



Although Bass Pro Shops in Destin does not offer concealed weapons classes, they are usually available at any organized gun show.  These are advertised quite in advance and pre-registration may be required.  The Walton County Sheriff's Office, 796 Triple G Road in Defuniak Springs periodically offers concealed weapons classes (850) 834-4159. 

Active orretired military and law enforcement personnel only need to complete the paperwork through an appointment with the Department of Agriculture, 212 Eglin Parkway Ste. A, in Fort Walton Beach (850) 833-9146.

By Gary Feduccia



The art of food preservation by smoking goes back thousands of years.  For today's backyard cooks, smoking provides an easy and fun method of adding additional flavor, tenderness, and succulence to any meat.  Even the cheapest cuts of meat come out tender and juicy with low and slow smoking.  In colonial times and before, the ole wooden smokehouse was commonly used to hang homemade sausage, fish, freshly killed meats, hams, and the like.  This was usually a simple wooden structure with an offset hardwood fire pit with some sort of channeling/flue system to allow the smoke to enter the building without excessive heat.  American Indians arranged wooden frames with fish and thinly sliced meats over low smoky fires to preserve the fish for future use and to make simple jerky out of bison, venison, or whatever was available.

Bass Pro Shops offers a variety of steel constructed smokers from major manufacturers such as Brinkman, Masterbuilt, Weber, Bradley, and others.  The simplest ones use charcoal for the heat source, and although a bit more tricky to master, offer an inexpensive method to enjoy the flavors and benefits of smoking your own meats.  Other units operate either on propane cylinders or electricity, with greatly simplified temperature control.  The Bradley electric units offer full digital control.

The basic tenant of successful smoking is "low and slow."  Temperatures of around 250 - 275 degrees are maintained for many hours to slowly cook and tenderize the meat.  Soaked hardwood chips or chunks are placed directly on the heat source or in a smoker box to provide the smoke.  A water pan is placed above the heat source as well to generate steam that mixes with the smoke and bastes the meat with flavor and moisture to keep it from drying out over the long cooking times.  The water pan is filled nearly full with just water, water and herbs, beer, juices, or other combinations.  Some folks add veggies to the liquids in the water pan to cook along with the meat.  The fat and flavorings added to the meat will drip down into the water pan and add flavor to the vegetables.

Bass Pro Shops carries a large variety of hardwood chips and chunks, including Jack Daniels oak (from their discarded and well seasoned whiskey barrels), Western hickory, mesquite, apple, alder, maple, cherry, and Bradley pecan.  Down here in the south, hickory and pecan are the woods of choice; however, I have used several of the others with good results (for example, apple is good to use with pork, while filling the water pan with apple juice or cider).  Soft, resinous woods such as pine or cedar should never be used as they will taint the meat with a turpentine flavor.  I have heard of some cooks using fresh cut sticks of citrus to add an unusual twang and flavor to fish and other meats.

Many cooks also choose to use one of the scores of dry rubs or one of the dozens of Cajun Injector marinades available between the Camping and Gift Departments at Destin's Bass Pro Shops.  The marinades can also be used as a great and flavorful baste on meats you are grilling.

For over 30 years, I have used Brinkman charcoal smokers and one custom made cast iron unit.  Although I admit that temperature control seems to be much easier to achieve with the propane or electric models, with use one gets used to the temperature varietys of charcoal smoking and one can achieve equally good results as with the other units.  When using charcoal, however, use a charcoal chimney rather than lighter fluid to avoid the kerosene flavor of lighter fluid.

There is nothing better than a smoked turkey at holiday times; nor homemade Bar-B-Que sandwiches made with chopped or pulled smoked pork shoulder or butt or chicken.  A fresh ham (not already smoked) or beef brisquet is also a real treat in the smoker.  I rarely put a smoked ham or other already smoked meats into my smoker for a long time.  Additional smoking can cause the flavor of the meat to be overwhelming and sometimes bitter.

You only need sufficient hardwood chips (a couple of handsful) soaked for 30 minutes to an hour, which provides up to one hour of good smoke.  That should be enough to give the meat a wonderful smoky flavor and provide that "coveted" smoke ring somewhat below the outer layer of meat.  After and hour of smoke, the rest of the cooking should just consist of low heat and steam to thorougly cook and tenderize the meat.  Make sure to check the charcoal (if using some) and keep the water pan rather full.  Never let the water pan run dry!  I cook most meats like turkeys, pork shoulders, etc. for some 7 to 8 hours, including the one hour of good smoke generation.  Doneness should be checked with a meat thermometer; however with practice one can tell if something is done by sight and feel.

Bass Pro Shops also carries a variety of smoker and grilling accessories to meet your needs.  Have fun with your smoker and enjoy the economy and flavorful meals and treats that you can make.  Check out our Gift Department for numerous books and receipes available for smokers.  And finally, call me when it's ready!

By Gary Feduccia






So you have purchased a new Lodge Camp Oven (the cast iron pot with a flanged lid and stubby little legs on the bottom) from Bass Pro Shops and you want to impress your friends and family with baking a great dessert.  Hopefully, you picked up a Charcoal Chimney, a Lid Lifter, and some Tongs at the same time.  Here are the Classified, Top Secret, For Your Eyes Only tricks to get that Camp Oven baking at approximately 350 degrees.

See that number casted into the top of the lid?  That's the size of your oven.  Take that number and double it and that will be the total number of charcoal briquettes you will need to light in the Charcoal Chimney.  Using the tongs, place 3/4 of the almost lit briquettes spaced evenly on the top of the flanged lid (now you know what the flange is for).  Place the other 1/4 of the briquettes spaced evenly below the bottom of the oven (that's the reason for the stubby legs).

For a number 14 Camp Oven, use 28 total briquettes; 21 on top and 7 on the bottom.  For a number 12, use 24 total briquettes; 18 on top, 6 on the bottom.  For a number 10, use 20 total briquettes; 15 on top and 5 on the bottom.  Since heat rises, more briquettes are needed on the top to force more heat down into the oven.

Before the briquettes are fully lit (covered in gray ash) use the tongs to place them accordingly.  If you wait until they are fully lit, you will lose some potential cooking time and may have to add more lit briquettes as they burn out before your dessert is done.  Also, if conditions are windy or cold, you may need to add a few more lit briquettes to the top and bottom.

Make sure to turn the bottom of the oven 1/4 turn every 15 minutes; and using the Lid Lifter, rotate the lid 1/4 turn in the opposite direction every 15 minutes.  This will even out any hot spots and cook the food more evenly.

Otherwise, just follow the directions or the recipe and recommended cooking times for whatever you are baking. 

Check out the numerous Dutch and Camp Oven Cookbooks and accessories available at Bass Pro Shops.  The Lodge Charcoal Table is a great accessory and allows you to cook with 2 or 3 Camp Ovens at a convenient height.  Good luck and call me when it is ready!

By Gary Feduccia



This is one of my favorite camp oven desserts and I am sure it will become one of yours.  What's different about my receipe is that I use Pineapple Cake mix and a small can of crushed pineapple or bits and I utilize the remaining pineapple juice in the batter!  You won't even need ice cream to go with this, although hmmmmn, that does sound good!

Lodge #10 or Lodge #12 Camp Oven

1 or 2 boxes Duncan Hines Pineapple Cake Mix

1 regular can Sliced Pineapple

1 small can Crushed Pineapple or Pineapple Bits

1 small bottle Maraschino Cherries

1 stick butter (not margarine)

1/2 - 1 cup lite or dark Brown Sugar

Charcoal Briquettes

Place Lodge Camp Oven over appropriate number of lit briquettes.*  Melt butter and sugar over low heat, stirring until slightly caramelized.  Cover sugar/butter mixture with single layer of pineapple slices.  Place one maraschino cherry in each pineapple "hole".  Use remaining cherries to fill in gaps between pineapple slices.

Mix batter according to directions using left over pineapple juice as substitute for equal amount of liquid required.  Stir in can of crushed pineapple.  Pour batter over pineapple slices, cover and place appropriate number of briquettes on top.  If briquettes have burned down while caramelizing mixture, add new ones to bottom and top to begin baking.  Rotate bottom and lid of camp oven 1/4 turn in opposite directions every 15 minutes to eliminate hot spots.

Cake is done when toothpick, straw, knife, etc. comes out clean from center of cake (40 minutes or so).

Place inverted plate or platter on top of camp oven.  With help or using Lodge heat resistant Camp Oven gloves, turn entire pot upside down to let cake pop out onto platter.  You can also prepare this receipe in a regular dutch oven, using the top of the stove for the caramelization and placing the whole thing covered with lid in a 350 degree oven for about the same amount of time.

*Note:  For a # 10 Camp Oven, use 15 briquettes on the lid; 5 underneath.  For a # 12 Camp Oven, use 18 on the lid; 6 underneath.

Check out the huge selection of Lodge cast iron skillets, dutch and camp ovens, and accessories at Bass Pro Shops.

By Gary Feduccia