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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If You Don't Try INSHORE FISHING, You'll Hate Yourself Later

The inshore fishing all along the panhandle seems to get better and better every day.  The wind has been an issue but when the fishing's good, it's good.  The trout and redfish bite is great on the grass flats all the way to the river systems.  Redfish have been trailing the schools of mullet, so throwing a 1/4 oz. flats intruder weedless fold or copper spoon or a soft plastic, such as Gulp! 5" or 6" sardine or camo Jerk shad is a great way to hook into a nice redfish. 

The trout fishing has been great!  The management program has worked so well that the size of trout is just amazing.  It's not uncommon to catch a 3-5 lb. trout on a regular basis.  The common set up for this is an Offshore Angler insure extreme float at about 18-24" depending on the depth you're fishing with 15-20 lb. Offshore Angler fluorocarbon leader with a 1/8 oz. Offshore Angler jig head and a 1/0 Owner mutu light circle hook.  The common rod and reel set up is a 7' medium or medium heavy spinning rod paired with a size 2500-4000 reel, spooled with 10-12 lb. Sufix Elite monofilament or 10-20 lb. Sufix 832 braid. 

FWC regulations on redfish for the panhandle region are 18-27" and two per person.  FWC regulations for speckled trout for the panhandle region are 15-20" and may keep 1 over 20".  A maximum of 5 per person is allowed.  Check www.myfwc.com for updates.  Now get out there and fish!

By Dave Lockett

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Kayaking and Snorkeling in the Bahamas

Just came back from a Carnival cruise to Freeport and Nassau in the Bahamas out of Port Canaveral.  Our first day day in Freeport included a 6-hour trip in the Lucayan National Park, named for the pre-Columbian Indians who inhabited the area.  There we kayaked down a pristine tidal stream through a red mangrove swamp to the ocean.  One item I forgot to bring was a dry bag to keep our towels, cameras, and other necessities dry; however our guide provided everyone in our small party with one.  When I kayak around here, I always bring my Ascend dry bag, a Coghlan's waterproof pouch, or my Pelican water proof case, but didn't want to pack them in my luggage.

Kayaking through the mangrove swamp was both exciting and a bit of a challenge.  In the clear water through the tangled masses of mangrove roots were tiny crabs, young tropical fishes, and other sea critters.  The challenge came as the stream narrowed to a tunnel through the thick mangroves, where we had to disassemble our kayak paddles and use one half as if we were paddling a canoe.  I was glad that I had slathered on the sunscreen and had my hat and polarized sunglasses that I had purchased at Bass Pro Shops.

With the outgoing tide, our little stream picked up considerable current and ripples as it fell over limestone and coral ridges covering the shallow bottom.  We emerged from the mangroves where the stream made a delta into one of the most beautiful beaches I'd ever seen.

A day or two later found us on an 80 foot catamaran motor-sailing out of Nassau to a nearshore reef.  Upon anchoring we donned snorkeling gear and jumped in to the cool Atlantic waters.  While not like the warmer water reefs in the Caribbean, the reefs around the Bahamas held a variety of brightly colored corals and numerous tropical fish.  On both our kayaking and snorkeling adventures, we wore our Worldwide Sportsman water shoes, which proved invaluable while walking over the rocky limestone and keeping our toes and our feet safe while on the boat.  All in all, a most memorable vacation adventure and a great cruise (I didn't even mention the food!).     By Gary Feduccia

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Restoring That Scorched Pot

Ok, so you have scorched your favorite Bass Pro Shops pot and want to get that crusty burnt crud off the bottom.  Scraping it doesn't help much, but there is an easier way.  Simply sprinkle a couple of tablespoons full of Cascade dish washing powder in the bottom of the pan then add an inch or more warm water enough to cover the crusted on food and let the Cascade dissolve.  Set the pot on the stove on low heat and do not let the pot run dry.  After 30 minutes or so of simmering, the burnt food should come off readily.  If not, repeat the process again.  You may need to buff the bottom of the pan after removing the scorched food with some steel wool to bring back the shine.  If the pot is cast iron, you will need to reseason it.  This also works well with crusted up water pans used in smokers.

Gary Feduccia

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Fly Fishing Destin - March 2012

Fly fishing is about to bloom big time on all fronts in March (Gulf, bay, and fresh water).  In addition to the still present Bonito in the surf we are seeing good numbers of Pompano reported with lots of stories of limit catches from the two-hook fishers (even some of the clueless snow birds, bless them)!  Flies tipped with fishbites, pieces of shrimp, or sand fleas are producing well.  Also Clousers double rigged with gummy minnows, Pompers (poppers with bunches of crystal flash or flashabou, or neer hair), and little crab patterns weighted and fished on intermediate lines to keep the surf from animating the flies uncontrollably.  Short strips are best to mimic the sand fleas and coquinas as they bounce off the sand and fall or return to the safety afforded by their burrowing efforts.

Elsewhere in the Gulf the bluefish are storming the jetties and are destroying the gotcha plugs and white jugs.  Catch and release reports of up to forty fish per angler are not uncommon.  The casty fly guy should have similar results with clousers, deceivers, gummies, and hot flash flies.  By the way . . . by popular demand we have brought in the coveted sili skin for tying all your gummy minnows.  We at Destin Bass Pro Shops have a good supply of pre-tied gummies for a quick stop on the way to the venue of choice.  But don't forget the 30-pound shock (or wire trace, which may discourage some strikes) or be prepared to donate lots of flies to the "Pirhanas of the Gulf".  Do not let these guys get their faces anywhere near any body parts you might need in the future . . . they are aggressive and agile at the landing and their razor-sharp teeth have shortened many a fisherman's day.

Some Spanish Macks have already shown up but the onslaught of ravaging hoards will soon decorate many fly lines of those who can bionically retrieve.  More teeth to ravage your tippit require a short trace of wire or some heavy fluorocarbon to preserve your flies.  Sometimes it is best to tuck the rod under an armpit and strip with both hands to have a chance at these boys.  Some of these have been reported as huge; approaching small King sizes of three feet and twelve pounds,  Zing, what a pull on a six-weight.  Once again, "Beware the aids of March".  Band Aids that is.  Apologies to the Bard.

There is still some time for the abundant Sheepshead to be taken on small crab patterns like the rubber-legged flats critter or the several Merkins and small natural colored toads offered in the White River Fly Shop.  But get onto these pretty soon or you'll miss out on some great battles and excellent table fare (as long as you have a chain saw to clean them)!  The most successful techniques involve short casts along the edges of rock formations or pilings with oyster and barnacle encrustations; let the fly sink (sort of a drag-free drift approach in stream fishing), animate with slow tugs, not strips.  The dainty nature of these fish when stealing live shrimp or fiddlers is not experienced with the fly.  They slam it like seven hammers; hook setting is not an option, just hold on for a great ride!  Many times the run is AWAY from the structure rather than some retreat into the rocks and pilings as one might expect.

The flats will begin to repopulate with the reds and specks whose winter preferences are the creeks and shallow reed areas and bayous.  The warmer water and migration of the food sources from these areas to the grassy beds brings the predators along for the banquet.  Use topwaters in the early morning and you'll find some true Gator Trout lurking in the dusky dawn.  Later switch to your clousers and suspending Crafty Shrimp, deceivers, etc.  You might want to rig a dropper two-fly rig with a clouser and a small streamer.  Remember, you'll have to sacrifice your tightest loop casts and widen a little to avoid tangling this configuration, but the results can be astounding.  This is the time when you'll find thick schools of both reds and specks.  When the action starts it will last a while and strike will follow strike before you have to move around very much.  This is one of the most special seasons for fly fishing.

In the fresh water arena things are already warming up in exciting ways.  Local lake and pond fishers are reporting good numbers of panfish and crappie, and the bass have turned on big-time.  The crappie bite should last into April and everyone knows what the April full Moon does for bluegills.  The early start already portends an outstanding season to come, and when the salt water conditions get testy, it's time to turn around and pull out the poppers, sliders, bugs, nymphs, spiders, and other leggy critters and frog patterns and plan a kayak or trolling motor trip to the pond, lake, or river.

Don't forget, the Destin Bass Pro Shops still hosts the Panhandle Fly Tying Club every second Saturday of each month, so come on by and see some true talent and wizardry in action as these artists create their magic.

Remember, catch and release preserves our resources.  Please don't over harvest.

To the Peach of Fly Fishing,

Charles (Buddy) Leach, Fly Guy

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Outfitting a Cub or Boy Scout, Scout Patrol or Whole Troop

So, your son is asking to join a Cub Scout Pack or Boy Scout Troop, or is crossing-over from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts and you are wondering what he will need for proper camping gear.  A Cub Scout normally tent camps with one or both parents only a few times per year, so the tent you already have or a new family camping tent with sufficient space for the sleeping bags and other gear is needed.  Be sure to use a tarp or ground cloth underneath the tent floor.  (See previous Blog on, "Choosing and Using a Family Camping Tent".)

A quality Ascend, Coleman, or other sleeping bag is necessary for the Scout and each camping parent.  Sleeping bags are rated according to the minimum temperature in which a sleeper should remain comfortable.  Mummy style bags are more suited to smaller campers and colder temperatures, whereas rectangular bags are great for general camping.  A padded/insulated Thermarest or Ascend sleeping pad is recommended for additional warmth and comfort especially when sleeping on the ground or tent floor.  Here in northwest Florida, with many hot, muggy nights, campers may prefer to sleep on top of a sleeping bag or pad with just a folded sheet.  A "Cocoon" can be made by folding a sheet in half, lengthwise and sewing up the bottom, just like a small, thin sleeping bag.  A good sleeping bag should last the Cub Scout well through his adventures and into his Boy Scout camping excursions.  Check out the huge selection of sleeping bags at your local Bass Pro Shops.

Depending upon the practices of the Cub Scout Pack, a new Scout may need nothing more in the way of cooking gear than a Coghlan's mess kit and a quality nalgene Ascend or Camelback water bottle or canteen.  He may also need a set of GSI eating utensils or at the very least, a spork.  Cub Scout cooking at Family Camp and other activities is always done group style by the Adults for individual Dens or for the entire Pack, using the Pack's camp ovens, stoves, or other cooking methods to introduce the young Scouts to the joys and challenges of outdoor cooking.  Bass Pro Shops has an extensive inventory of camp ovens, propane stoves, and other accessories used by Packs and Troops to cook for entire Scouting groups.

Once a boy turns 11 years of age, he is eligible to join or crossover from Cub Scouts to a Boy Scout Troop, where he may go camping as much as once every month.  He will no longer be camping in a tent with his parent(s), but he may want to camp by himself or with another Boy Scout for company.  In some cases, Boy Scout Troops provide tents for the Scouts.  Most of the time though, each Scout must provide his own tent.  I would recommend a  2 - 3 person Eureka, Coleman, or Ascend tent to allow the option of sharing with another Scout or for the extra space needed to store clothing and other gear out of the weather.

A Boy Scout will also need a mess kit, eating utensils, and a water bottle or hydration pack.  Cooking is usually done by each Patrol within the Troop, at their individually equipped chuck boxes, with each Scout taking turns as the monthly "GrubMaster", responsible for purchasing, preparing, and cooking the weekend's meals.  The chuck boxes contain everything needed to cook the various meals including a 2-burner stove, pots and pans, utensils, and cleaning materials.  Bass Pro Shops has everything needed to outfit a Patrol chuck box and more!

A good dependable flashlight is a must and I highly recommend a headlamp that leaves both hands available when working or setting up camp in the dark.  The newer LED flashlights and headlamps do not suffer from bulb burnout like lights of the past and have extended battery life.  When selecting an LED headlamp or flashlight consider the number of lumens indicated on the package.  The higher the number of lumens, the brighter and more useful the light.  40 lumens or above is just right for all camping activities.  I also like the lights that use "AA" or "AAA" batteries rather than the $3 each, 123 type batteries.  Check out Bass Pro Shops extensive array of Streamlight, Petzl, Ascend, and other lighting options.

Finally, a Boy Scout may need a quality backpack for hiking to primitive campsites or just to hold his weekend camping gear.  Bass Pro Shops carries a variety of backpacks from North Face, Jansport, Kelty, and Ascend.

Tent repair kits, compression sacks, closed-toed hiking shoes, cold weather clothing and rain gear, insect repellent, and individual first aid kits are just a few of the other camping items available at your nearby Bass Pro Shops.

If in doubt about the suitability or necessity for any camping product, first ask the Scout Leader.  When you come in to make your selection, our expert Bass Pro Associates can guide you towards the proper equipment for your Scout.  Successful and enjoyable Scout camping trips depend upon the proper equipment that is designed to last.  Bass Pro Shops has the right stuff at the right price to outfit an individual Scout or a whole Pack or Troop!  Remember, a Scout is always "Prepared"!

By Gary Feduccia, 11 year current Scouter

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Choosing and Using a Family Camping Tent

Basically there are two types of tent campers:  backpackers who hike into the wilderness with a minimum of weight and equipment and the rest of us weekend family campers who load up our vehicle with enough stuff to outfit an entire cross-country pioneer wagon train.

If you are new to tent camping or quite experienced, you should know that a successful and comfortable camping trip requires the right equipment.  Choosing the right tent to fit your needs should be your top priority, so don't skimp on quality.  Tents are described by the number of "sleepers" they are designed to hold.  A 4-person tent will have floor space for 4 average sized sleeping bags, and little or no additional space.  For family camping always get a larger capacity tent than the number of people who will be sleeping in it.  This will allow some extra room to store clothing and other essentials out of the weather.  Never store food inside a tent since critters may smell it and tear a hole in the wall to get at the food.

If you plan to use air mattresses or cots inside the tent, do some measuring and make sure there is adequate clearance on all sides of the inside of the tent so that nothing comes in contact with the tent walls.  Wall contact will often cause a leak.

Make sure the tent you choose has ample ventilation.  The more doors and windows with "no-see-um" screening, the cooler the tent will be on those muggy nights.  Likewise, make sure the tent has a rainfly of sufficient size to partially shelter the doors and windows from rain or dew. 

Another consideration is tent height.  I like to be able to stand up in my tent, but this is a matter of personal preference.  You can purchase the biggest tent available, but keep in mind that it will be heavy and take up more space in your vehicle.  Virtually all tents can be set up in about 20 to 30 minutes.  Before pitching your tent, make sure to place a tarp or ground cloth of similar size over the area where the tent floor will be.  This will add longevity to the tent and prevent moisture from seeping into the tent.

Finally, make sure to completely dry your tent before packing it away for storage.  If left wet or damp, mildew and mold will grow and destroy the fabric.

Bass Pro Shops carries a variety of backpacking, family camping, truck and SUV tents, as well as canvas outfitter wall tents.

By Gary Feduccia

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Everyone Should Own at Least One Dutch Oven

When I think of dutch ovens I imagine Walter Brennan in the classic John Wayne movie, Red River, crossing Texas on a cattle drive while Brennan cooks up beans and other vittles in his cast iron dutch ovens suspended over a low fire.  The dutch oven was as critical to the settlement of the west as it was to the colonial settlers of the Atlantic seaboard, who allegedly purchased them from Holland traders.

There are two basic types of dutch ovens, both made of durable cast iron.  The typical home use type of dutch oven has a flat bottom and a domed lid and is suitable for use on or inside a stove.  On the other hand, a camp oven, said to be invented by  metalsmith Paul Revere (yep, the same one), features stubby legs on the bottom and a flat, flanged lid designed to be used with wood embers or charcoal. 

Bass Pro Shops carries dutch ovens in 5, 7, and 9 quart sizes and camp ovens from 1 quart through 2, 4, 5, 6, and 8 quart sizes.  Even larger sizes are available.

I have 2 dutch ovens and 2 camp ovens of different sizes that I use at home and on camping trips.  Here at Bass Pro Shops, I use two 12" deep and one 12" regular camp ovens to put on demonstrations cooking cakes, cobblers, stews, and other chuck wagon treats using charcoal.

As Bubba Blue was explaining to Forrest Gump about cooking "S'rimp":  You can sautee, fry, steam, boil, bake, broil . . . the dutch oven can do all these types of cooking and more.  Whenever I am cooking a labor intensive dish like a Jambalaya or a gumbo, I opt for one of my dutch ovens instead of a lessor pot, since scorching of a roux or other ingredients is seldom an issue.  Nothing cooks better or distributes heat more evenly than cast iron.

Bass Pro Shops has a well stocked assortment of cookbooks for dutch ovens and cast iron.  Anyone can master the simplicity of dutch oven cooking and will appreciate that once purchased, at piece of quality cast iron cookware will last a lifetime or more.  There are numerous websites, books, articles, and recipes about and for dutch ovens.

Come see one of the largest collections of new Lodge cast iron cookware and accessories at your nearest Bass Pro Shops.

By Gary Feduccia

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Binoculars and Other Optics Make Great Gifts

A good pair of binoculars from Bass Pro Shops makes a great gift for hunters, birdwatchers, sports fans, beach goers, travelers, and budding astronomers.  Bass Pro Shops offers a wide selection of binoculars for every purpose, but you should understand the optical characteristics in order to get the binocular type that meets your needs.

All binoculars are described, for example, as 7 X 35, 8 X 42, 10X 50, etc.  The first number indicates the magnification.  Binoculars with magnification of 10 or more will usually require some support or a tripod to eliminate shaking.  The second number indicates the diameter of the objective (front) lens.  The larger the diameter, the more light will enter the binoculars and will perform better in low light (dusk and dawn) conditions.

Binocs with objectives of 35mm are good for general daytime use such as birdwatching, daytime sports and hunting, and other daytime activities.  Binocs with objectives of 50mm or more are excellent for low light and for night time astronomy.  One drawback to binocular size is weight.  Just as magnifications above 10 X may require support, holding a heavy binocular may lead to arm fatigue and induce shaking.

Another factor to consider when choosing a binocular is whether or not the lens to air surfaces are coated.  These are chemical treatments applied to each lens surface to reduce reflections and glare and to enhance contrast.  Lenses are made using groups of glass, some separated by air.  Lesser quality binocs will have no coatings.  Lenses that are "coated" will have one lens surface coated.  "Multi-coated" lenses means that two or more lens surfaces are coated.  "Fully multi-coated" means that every lens to air surface is coated, insuring the highest quality of light transmission.

Finally, consider the eye-relief of the eyepieces; the measurement of the distance between the eye and the eyepiece.  A higher measurement of eye-relief will insure comfort and a full field of view for eyeglass users.

Bass Pro Shops carries the Nikon Action, Redhead Ascent, Leupold, Redfield, Steiner, Bushnell, and other brands of quality binoculars.  The same characteristics described above apply equally to spotting scopes.  Check out the several models of Redhead and other spotting scopes at Bass Pro Shops.

By Gary Feduccia



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Disaster Preparedness on the Gulf

Every few years or so, we on the Gulf are subjected to a strong storm or other event that results in long lasting power outages and water shortages.  After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, we also experienced a shortage of gasoline!  There are some steps you can take now to get items that you will need during one of these times and Bass Pro Shops is here to help.

Many of the camping items and equipment you may already have are ideal for enduring the effects of storm outages and hurricanes.  If you don't have a clue as to what you might need during an extended emergency situation, we offer the following suggestions to keep you safe, informed, and comfortable.

During a power outage, you will need flashlights (BPS 2-Pack LED) and will appreciate having a headlamp (Ascend Cree LED) and a battery operated lantern (Coleman Pack-Away).  Also, a good quality battery operated weather radio along with a simple weather indicator/station is recommended.  Bass Pro Shops carries several types from such manufacturers as LaCrosse, Oregon Scientific, Midland, and the Weather Channel.  You can save money on stocking up on our BPS Extreme batteries and it is always a good idea to have plenty of extras on hand.               

For cooking outdoors after a storm has knocked out your power, you can't beat the versatility of a two burner propane camping stove.  Our BPS High Output stove can easily handle most cooking chores and don't forget several Coleman propane canisters to have on hand or the Coghlan's Waterproof Matches.

Bass Pro Shops carries a full line of very tasty Mountain House and Backpacker's Pantry freeze dried entrees with a long storage life.  The GSI Stainless Steel Coffeepot is a must for that cup of joe, but also doubles for boiling water for the freeze dried foods.  For storing potable water prior to a storm, we offer the Reliance Collapsible Water Containers or the Aquatainer Jugs.  We also carry water purification tablets and Katadyn Water Micro-filters.

Lastly, get a good quality first aid kit.  Out BPS Expedition First Aid Kit will meet your needs and last for a long time.

Disaster preparedness can be accomplished as easily as shopping for that next (or first) camping trip.  Stop by Bass Pro Shops and talk with our Camping Associates to get ready for that next storm . . . or to plan that first or next great camping trip.

By Gary Feduccia





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