BASS PRO SHOPS SUPPORTS WOUNDED WARRIORS

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 (www.LiveoakLanding.rvcoutdoors.com) 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 www.woundedwarriorfishing.net.

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

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IMPROVING THE ORION COOKER???

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

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FALL IS IN THE AIR, SO GET OUTDOORS!

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

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EVER TRIED HEARTY AND DELICIOUS VENISON STEW?

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

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SHELLING ALONG THE EMERALD COAST

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

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BASS PRO SHOPS SUPPORTS THE ALAQUA ANIMAL REFUGE

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:  www.AlaquaAnimalRefuge.org.

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

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QUICK AND EASY SPARERIBS

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

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THE JUNE TRANSIT OF VENUS

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

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EASY AND DELICIOUS SUMMER SALAD - SOMETHING DIFFERENT

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

Mayonnaise

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

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BASS PRO SHOPS CAMO PATTERN GUIDE

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
 

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CUB SCOUTS, BOY SCOUTS, VENTURING, AND ADULT VOLUNTEERS

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.

JOIN SCOUTING TODAY . . . BE PREPARED FOR LIFE!

By Gary Feduccia

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CONCEALED WEAPONS PERMITS

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

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SMOKER TIPS AND TECHNIQUES

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

 

 

 

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SECRETS TO CAMP OVEN BAKING

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

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GARY'S FAVORITE CAMP OVEN PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE

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

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AFFORDABLE WEATHER STATIONS FOR YOUR HOME

Be prepared for whatever the weather brings with one of our weather stations featured in the Gift Department at Bass Pro Shops.  We carry a complete line of weather instruments from simple thermometers and weather radios to sophisticated, state-of-the-art units capable of multi-function readouts.  We have units from major manufacturers such as Bass Pro Shops, Oregon Scientific, LaCrosse Technology, the Weather Channel, Accurite, Eton, and Midland.

I have had an Oregon Scientific unit for several years with a separate hygrometer mounted on my back porch that sends the relative humidity to the main unit inside.  Another remote unit includes an anemometer and a wind vane that sends wind speed and direction to the inside unit.  This device is mounted on top of a 4 X 4 fence pole away from the house and other obstructions.  It did have to be mounted pointing to the north, so that the wind direction would be correct.  The main unit in the kitchen indicates the inside and outside temperature, dewpoint, wind speed and direction, barometric pressure and trends, atomic time and date, moon phases, and the forecast.  All three units operate for a long time on standard AA batteries.

Some of our units come with a remote rain gage, but I can tell approximately how much rain we've gotten by judging the water level that has risen in my pool or the birdbath.

Weather is fascinating and here in Florida it tends to change frequently.  Keep tabs on the trends with a full featured and affordable weather station from Bass Pro Shops.  If not for yourself, they also make great gifts.

By Gary Feduccia

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"NIP IT IN THE BUD" WITH OUR TASTY FUDGE

Sooth that sweet tooth and savor one of Barney Fife's favorite snacks when he'd go over to Thelma Lou's house on Tuesday nights for some of her peanut butter fudge.  Two of our top sellers, peanut butter or chocolate peanut butter fudge are sure to become your favorites, too!

The selection in our  Bass Pro Shops' Fudge Shoppe sounds like the menu from the Mayberry Drug Store's soda fountain where Ellie May served up wonderful concoctions.  Here, you'll find chocolate mint, heath bar, cookies and cream, butter pecan, chocolate walnut, rocky road, vanilla, dark chocolate, and many more flavors to choose from.  Even little Opie would have a hard time choosing.

Make a "Citizen's Arrest" today, and stop yourself long enough by our Bass Pro Shops' Fudge Shoppe to try some of our delicious, always fresh fudge.  You might be tempted to say, "Shazaam"!

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INVASIVE SPECIES THREATENS LOCAL REEFS/FISHERIES

A species of fish native to the Indo-Pacific region and popular with aquarists has invaded the Atlantic Coast from Cape Hatteras through the Carribbean and into the Gulf of Mexico.  It has been reported off the Louisiana coast and has shown up in ever increasing numbers inhabiting Florida's offshore artificial reefs.  The Genus, "Pterois", better known as Lionfish, is a venomous marine fish identified by red, white, and black bands and venomous spikes.  Lionfish have few predators, except perhaps shark and grouper.  They reproduce rapidly, are aggressive and territorial with other fish, and tend to overpopulate reef ecosystems.  Although not considered fatal to humans, they are dangerous to divers and spear fishermen, and their stings can be quite painful and result in nausea, sweating, and difficulty of breathing, lasting up to several days.

Lionfish are known to consume some 56 species of fish, invertebrates, and mollusks including small red snapper, grouper, and triggerfish, consuming them at unsustainable rates.  Each female Pterois can produce up to 2 million eggs per year.  Since its invasiveness is such a serious threat to our Atlantic, Carrabbean, and Gulf ecosystems, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration has gotten involved in monitoring the situation and conducting studies into how to control the Lionfish's explosive growth.

Pterois's dispersal may be attributed to Hurricane Andrew's destruction of a public aquarium attraction in southern Florida and to home aquarists unkowingly letting them free.  Since the 1990's they have become a significant invasive species along the east coast and now pose a major threat to reef systems in the Gulf.  Ocean currents and ships' ballast may have contributed to the larval dispersion in the Gulf of Mexico.

In 2010, licenses were awarded to divers to kill and harvest Lionfish in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.  There is no closed season on the taking of Pterois.  Numerous organizations are mobilizing to slow the explosive growth of the Lionfish population through educational events and tournaments.  One positive note is that fillets of Lionfish are considered delicious and NOAA states that it is delicately flavored and similar in texture to grouper.  By encouraging the consumption of Lionfish by divers and spear fishermen, population density may be reduced and an alternative "good eating" fish may take some pressure off grouper, snapper, and others.

The Emerald Coast Reef Association is hosting a Lionfish Round-up and Fishing Tournament on July 14th at Harborwalk Marina in Destin.  Public awareness and education seminars as well as Lionfish workshops will be conducted the day of the tournament to teach safe kill and handling techniques and proper methods of fish cleaning.

Bass Pro Shops supports these and other efforts to keep invasive species out of our native habitats.  You may find a variety of snorkeling and spear fishing gear at the Destin Bass Pro Shops store.

For more information, go to the Emerald Coast Reef Association at www.ecreef.org or call (850) 729-7619.

By Gary Feduccia 

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ABOUT THE DESTIN SALTWATER AQUARIUM

The Destin Bass Pro Shops Aquarium holds some 10,000 gallons of water . . . about as much as a backyard swimming pool . . . or about as much water used in one month by a typical 3 bedroom, 2 bath home, containing one teenager.  The water is kept a a constant 74.3 degrees and between 500 and 1,000 gallons of water are changed out every week.  For every 750 gallons changed, some 180 pounds of sea salt mix are required.

The tempered glass surrounding the aquarium is 3 1/2 inches thick to hold the enormous pressure of the water.  At the bottom of the tank, that 10,000 gallons of water weighs some 83,500 pounds . . . more than is legal for a fully-loaded tractor-trailer rig on Florida's highways.

We feed our fish 4 times each week; on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 1:30 in the afternoons.  Usually, between 2 and 3 pounds of small fish and shrimp are fed to the fish on these days.  Like any home aquarium, introducing too much food can cause the water quality to suffer.  About once a week, a dry-suited diver enters the tank to vacuum and scrub algae and debris from the structures and the glass.

The largest fish we have in our aquarium is also our newest.  The approximately 85 pound Goliath grouper came to us in August, 2010 from a Bass Pro Shops' tank in Missouri.  Considered a critically endangered species, Goliath groupers are found in waters off the Florida Keys, the Bahamas, the Carribbean, down the coast to Brazil and toward west Africa.  Goliath Groupers can grow to some 8 feet and weigh over 800 pounds.

Our Red Fish or Red Drum is our second largest fish and ranges in habitat from Massachusettes to the Gulf of Mexico.  Red Fish feed in shallow water around grassflats and structures, eating small fish, crustaceans, and mollusks and can grow up to 90 pounds.  Fishing for red fish is very popular along the Gulf of Mexico and in the numerous bays.

Our three Jack Crevalle are often on the move, swimming together around and around our aquarium.  Jack Crevalle are preditory fish and inhabit tropical and temperate waters in the Atlantic and as far away as the Mediterranian.  They can be found migrating to warmer waters in the fall and winter.  Not considered to be a good eating fish, they are harvested commercially for fish oil and high protein fish meal.

Our Mutton Snapper, the one with the yellow fins, is found from the waters of North Carolina through the Carribbean to South America.  It prefers reef structures, is quite delicious, and is a favorite of spear fishermen.

Lastly, we have our Gag Grouper.  Considered a vulnerable species, they inhabit hard substrate, including reefs, ledges, and rocks in tropical waters.  Gag Groupers average 10 to 20 pounds and are considered delicious eating.

Destin Bass Pro Shops hopes you will join us for our fish feedings and trust you will have a pleasurable shopping experience today and every day you spend with us.

By Gary Feduccia

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AIRGUNS - AN ALTERNATIVE TO RIMFIRE

One of my fondest memories of childhood was having my own Daisy BB gun and plinking at tin cans and "other opportunities" in my backyard.  As I grew and became older, I enjoyed plinking and hunting with rimfire and centerfire rifles, revolvers, and shotguns.  Before I became aquainted with perfume and gasoline, there was nothing better than the smell of fresh fired gunpowder (including fireworks)!  Off to college and pursuing a career, I lost touch with the joys of hunting and shooting.  But not long ago, living in an area not condusive to using a rimfire rifle or pistol, I rediscovered airguns and took up plinking and target shooting again!

The oldest existing airgun dates from1580 and is displayed in a museum in Stockholm, Sweden.  In the 1600's airguns of .30 - .51 caliber were used for both hunting and warfare, since their accuracy, relative quietness, and lack of telltale smoke were a great advantage over the crude matchlocks of the time.  Lewis and Clark took an 800 psi, .46 caliber airgun with them on their exploratory trip to the west at the turn of the 19th century.

Today's airguns come in a wide variety of types, styles, uses, and power.  From the same reliable Daisy BB guns to the powerful and supersonic pellet rifles used for plinking, hunting, and competitive target shooting and the soft air and paintball guns used for mock combat, there is an airgun suited to most any purpose.  Air guns are operated with a spring piston, single or multi-stroke pump, or cylinders of compressed carbon dioxide. 

For simple target shooting or plinking fun, I like to get out my Crosman CO2 BB repeater pistol, but get more power and accuracy using my Crosman CO2 .177 caliber "357" pellet revolver.  Both use cylinders of carbon dioxide that are fitted within the pistol's grips and both attain a velocity of around 400+ ft. per second, with the .177 lead pellet having more mass than the .177 copper BB and thus more knockdown power.

For more punch, I opt for my Crosman "American Classic" .177 caliber pellet pistol or my Crosman "760" .177 caliber pellet rifle, both multi-stroke pumps with velocities in excess of 600 ft. per second.  A multi-stroke pump means that the more times the gun is pumped, the more pressure is provided and the higher velocity of the round.

For small game hunting, varmit and pest control, or target annihilation, I use a Gamo .177 "Big Cat", break barrel - spring piston rifle with a scope.  With special Gamo pellets, this rifle can reach supersonic velocities of over 1,250 ft. per second, making a loud "crack" like a .22 rimfire.  However, unlike a .22 rimfire, the smaller sized .177 pellet does not have the mass or the knockdown power of the rimfire, yet it is considerable.

For even more knockdown power, I turn to my Beeman RS2 break barrel - spring piston rifle that shoots a .22 caliber pellet at some 830 ft. per second. 

No airgun, including BB guns, air soft, paintball or pellet rifles should be considered a toy!  Each should be treated with safety in mind, just as any other firearm.  Municipal Codes may prohibit the firing of an airgun within their area of jurisdiction.  Check with your local Authorities beforehand.  Although eye protection if a must, hearing protection may only be necessary when shooting at supersonic velocities.  It should be noted that pellets shot at supersonic speeds suffer from instability when encountering the shock wave produced at the speed of sound and are somewhat less accurate at longer ranges than a sub-sonic round.

Many more people today, are taking to hunting and competitive shooting with airguns, Besides being just plain fun, they can be just as durable, accurate, and powerful as small caliber rimfires and yet may have a lower overall operating cost.  The rising sport of air soft and paintball mock combat meets attests to the airgun's versitility.  Airguns are a great tool for teaching youth the safety aspects, proper shooting techniques, and the proper handling of firearms.  Many Boy Scouts have earned their Rifle Shooting Merit Badge with air guns.

Bass Pro Shops stocks a variety of airguns with BB or pellet pistols and pellet rifles from Daisy, Crosman, Winchester, Beeman, Gamo and Benjamin.  Soft air and paintball guns are represented by major manufacturers such as Franchi, JT, Crosman, Tippman, and Spyder.  In addition to BB's, we offer a wide selection of .177 and .22 pellets in different configurations especially for plinking, target shooting, or hunting.  Air soft BB's, paintballs, cleaning kits, safety glasses, hearing protection, and a variety of targets are stocked for all your airgun needs.

By Gary Feduccia

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