My Pick: First Shotgun

One of my absolute favorite things to witness is someone’s introduction to firearms and shooting. There is so much to learn and experience, but luckily you have a lifetime to try and check it all out. With my blog series about Finding Your Guns Groove (Part One and Part Two), I have broken down some steps that I believe all firearm owners should go through. But part of the underlying concept of those series has been about choosing a handgun. So I decided to start another series to compliment the other, and we are going to look at what I would pick for certain firearms. And we will start things off with looking at shotguns.

Shotguns might be the most utilitarian firearm out there. They can be used for hunting, target practice and home defense. Many people who only own one firearm have a shotgun. They are pretty simple to operate and extremely fun. The inexpensiveness for the ammunition is also a big help. You have basically three kinds of actions for shotguns: semi-auto, break and pump.

Semi-autos feed one round after the other with no manipulation being required of the shooter. Once the first round is racked, you can start shooting. There is a tubular magazine that stores a certain allotted amount of shells for that firearm.

Break actions come in single-shot, side by side or over-under style shotguns. You break the shotgun open at a hinge where you may then load and fire it. As you open it after shooting, the empty cases will be extracted and you can place in new ones.

Pump-actions, work off the same tubular magazine principle that semi-autos do but require the shooter to “rack” the pump action forward and back each time to chamber a round. If you shoot and don’t rack in another round, nothing will happen.

My choice for a first shotgun would be the Mossberg 500 All-Purpose. This is a good gun at a great price point. I believe that your first shotgun should be a pump-action. It teaches shooters shot-control as they can just through shells downrange like with a semi-auto and the follow up shot takes longer with a pump than say an over-under. I like the Mossberg because they have a good reputation and just a good universal firearm.

One of the things I love most about this firearm is the tang-safety. This means the safety is on the grip on the gun, which makes it very easy to operate and visually check. Most shotguns have their safety on or near the trigger guard which makes one twist the gun to get a visual check on it.

I also make the argument for a pump-action as the first, because it is a great home defense gun. Many will tell you that simply the sound of racking a pump-action shotgun is enough to deter intruders.

My theory on purchasing a firearm, especially if it is your first is go with something that handles multiple tasks with the most room for uses. Like I wouldn’t go with a .410 for your first shotgun, as that gauge (caliber actually) is limited in its use. I would honestly suggest a 20 gauge for one’s first shotgun as it is an effective gauge that one can shoot comfortably all day. If you have shot a shotgun before and know how to handle a 12 gauge, then go with that but otherwise I believe a 20 would do someone just fine.

This shotgun is also synthetic, as opposed to wood. I love the look and feel of wood, but the practicality of synthetic is too much to ignore. (You can always pick up a nice, wood shotgun later in life.)

So congratulations to the Mossberg 500 All-Purpose for being my pick for one’s first shotgun. Next time we will take a look at rifles.



Tie One On: Yellow Stimulator

So this month will give us our fifteenth article in the Tie One On blog series. We have covered many of the classics fly patterns, a few knot options to try out and the off-hand fishing lure. This month we will take a look at a pattern that is a must for every trout fisherman’s fly-box, and I’d even put it out there for bass and some panfish as well. It’s big. It’s yellow. It aint Big Bird. It is… the Yellow Stimulator.

The Yellow Stimulator is a dry fly that rides high. It has ample amounts of hackle and hollow hair that keeps it afloat and easy to spot while being fished. The bright yellow coloration also helps a fisherman keep his eye on it. It simulates several prey species for trout, including grasshopper, stonefly or caddis.

It typically ranges between size 6 to 10, but as always there are numerous variations to this. I have seen sometimes where the pattern has rubber legs attached to it. You can tie this pattern in any vibrant color, usually orange as the substitution, but one of the prettiest flies I have seen in a while was one of these tied to replicate the Royal Coachman pattern.

Since this fly rides high and has a little extra heft to it, the yellow stimulator is quite popularly used with a wet fly dropped behind it. But this pattern really shines during golden stonefly hatches.

Until next time.


Woolly Bugger Royal Coachman Pheasant Tail Nymph Crawshrimp Own Creation

Trilene Knot The Adams Dropper Loop Spinner San Juan Worm Elk Hair Caddis Royal Wulff

Blue Winged Olive Purple Haze


RedHead Select Outfitters: Quail Creek Plantation

So when it comes to checking out our RedHead Select Outfitters, the big-game-boys have really been stealing the show. Which is sad, because small game have been keeping us out in the fields for decades! So this month we are going to take a look at an outfitter that focuses on the “little guys”. Let’s see what Quail Creek Plantation has to offer!

Quail Creek Plantation is situated down in Okeechobee, Florida and has a lot to offer. They specialize in bob-white quail, pheasant and Osceola turkey hunting. The quail and pheasant season usually runs from October 1st until mid-March. The turkey season lasts for six weeks after the third Sunday of March. Besides those two seasons, they do have a full clay-shooting center that would delight any shot gunning enthusiast.

The quail hunts are broken down into half days and full days. Half day hunts come with 12 birds and the full day hunts come with 24. They are completely guided as well. They provide drinks and snacks during the hunt, and if you wish to partake in a breakfast or Southern style quail lunch they can be added on for a little extra, but worth it, charge. All of your birds will also be cleaned and packaged. They also have the option to add on extra birds if desired. Please note that hunters must be at least 14 years of age to hunt and they must have completed the hunter safety course prior to the hunt, but a Florida Hunting License is not required.

Their pheasant hunts are a little different, but something that should be on every hunter’s bucket list. They hold what is known as a “continental pheasant tower shoot”, which is where 400 pheasants and 300 wild pigeons are released from an elevated tower. This tower is surrounded by twelve shooting stations, which can hold two shooters. This hunt is held on only a few select days, so if you are serious about this contact them as soon as possible. All of your birds will be cleaned and packaged as well and it includes a gourmet meal.

And for those big ol’ gobblers, a lot is included with their package. The turkey hunts are 100% fair chase. This hunt is set up for three nights which includes: lodging, meals and two and a half days of guided hunting. During the down time you are also allowed to partake in such activities as: fishing, quail hunting, hog hunting and sporting clays. This is an awesome opportunity for any hunter.


Besides the amazing hunting opportunities, the place itself is beautiful! It has all of the characteristics and charm that you would expect out of a world-class Southern hunting plantation. They also have a Décor store on the property that features one-of-a-kind rustic, lodge and western furnishings. Their website is full of a bunch of commonly asked questions and helpful hints to prepare you for an amazing time. Some of my favorite times outdoors have been with good friends watching dogs work the field, this would definitely be a trip of a lifetime.

Hey wait… aren’t the holidays coming up? Hey, hunny!


Other Adventures:

The Basics Mellon Creek Ducks N Bucks Blue River Whitetails Hampton & Hampton  Timbers at Chama


Healthy Hunter: Daily Doses

So interestingly enough, I thought I had covered this month’s Healthy Hunter topic but apparently I haven’t! This part of a healthy lifestyle is a part of your daily routine that only takes a few moments but can add a lifetime of benefits for you. And just like mama used to always say before you started your day, “Don’t forget to take your vitamins!” But with such a saturated market of supplements, vitamins and products it can be intimidating on knowing where to start. And different people need different things. And then depending on if you follow Western or Eastern practices, you get into a whole world of confusion. Which is why today I am going to list out my four essential every-day doses of vitamins and supplements.

Number One- Multivitamin

Now in a perfect world, we would all get the exact amount of vitamins that we need from what we consume. Of course this rarely happens. So adding a multivitamin to your daily regimen can be a big help! These pills cover many of your essential vitamin needs and then some. And many of them come formulated for women, men or children. Some also come formulated for certain age groups. And the greatest break-through in the multivitamin industry over the past couple years… gummy vitamins for adults!

Number Two- Fish/Krill Oil

Some people swear by it, others don’t believe in it. Some say clear research shows how much it helps and others say it hasn’t been studied long enough. The basic gist is that it helps with your skin, joints and heart health. My personal belief on taking this kind of supplement is this: Splurge for the good stuff. Most people don’t like taking fish oil anyways, but buying cheap stuff really isn’t worth it. You’ll want to go with a recommended brand that comes from good sources. That is why many people have switched to krill oil as well. Also a fun trick is to freeze your fish oil pills to help eliminate their “off-putting texture”.

Number Three- Vitamin C

My theory is that enough Vitamin C can cure anything. Some studies have almost proven that to be true. This essential vitamin helps boost your immune system, and considering all the different germs and things you come into contact with adding a few extra of these won’t hurt. I include these on top of what I get from my multivitamin already. You can take it either as a pill or get a dissolving mix for inside water. Just know that too much vitamin c can cause “stomach issues” so don’t overtake it.

Number Four- Probiotics

This may be the newest supplement of the ones to make this list, but it has grown in popularity immensely. A probiotic uses healthy bacteria to help regulate your stomach. (Yes, just like Activia always says.) Your body can use all the help it can get, considering what most of us consume and then where it comes from. Adding a probiotic to your vitamin line-up can be a big help. Just note that most of these need to be kept in a refrigerator. Just like with fish oil, splurge for the good stuff.

Got a certain vitamin or supplement you would add on or take off that list? Share it below and reasons why! Until next time!


APPs Proper Motivation Personal Push Habits Track It Limits Simple Sides Hunt Ready Everyday Switches Willpower Know Your Numbers Rest


Big Game Basics: Kudu

Well it is official, we have pretty much run out of North American big game animals for our Big Game Basics blog series. I’ve been racking my brain to think of another animal on this continent, so we look towards the next great hunting destination: Africa! Now we already did cover the Africa Big Five game animals in a previous blog series, but now we will work to some of the other amazing animals that continent has to offer. And for the first animal I could think of none greater… than the Greater Kudu!

The Greater Kudu represents half of the species of Kudu on the planet, the other being the Lesser Kudu. (From here out we will refer to the animal as simply Kudu, much like it is in its native range.) Kudu live in both Southern and Eastern Africa in mixed scrub woodlands. There are a few subspecies of the Kudu with mostly differences in color, horn length and striping.

These animals are well known for their “twisted” horns that have a distinctive look. They also have distinctive white-vertical stripes that can vary in number along their torso. Kudu also have a white chevron in between their eyes. They are one of the largest species of antelope in the world. Males weigh on average over 500 pounds and can be over 5 feet tall at the shoulder. Their ears are large and round, and remind me of our mule deer out here.

They are a herding animal and tend to stay in one area. They will go to extreme lengths to find water during the dry season, but otherwise they tend to feed/drink at morning and late afternoon. During the day, and heat that goes along with it, Kudu tend to find shade and sit tight. They can however be active for a full day depending on the season. Most of their days are spent foraging.

Most of the major African predators are known to feed on Kudu. This includes: Nile crocodiles, leopards, lions, hyenas, cheetahs and wild dogs. Kudu do have excellent hearing and will alert the rest of the herd if a predator is sensed. Humans have been hunting kudu for as long as the two have inhabited the same area. They are a common quarry for many hunters going on safari. Our very own Mike got one a while a back on his hunting trip using a .300 Win Mag. It is important to understand how hunters play a critical role in paying for the conservation of animals world-wide. The licenses, tags, equipment, personal donations, club memberships and more goes directly to helping wildlife agencies. A bumper sticker that says “Save the Whales” does little more than raise split-second awareness by people driving by you.

Other Big Game Blogs:

Mountain Goat White Tail Deer Moose Caribou Buffalo Bear Dall Sheep Walrus Blacktail Deer Cougar Muskox Red Deer Mule Deer Coues-Deer Pronghorn Antelope Turkey Elk Bighorn Sheep Javelina Roosevelt Elk Lion Cape Buffalo Elephant Rhino Leopard

Other Animals You Might Bump Into

Bobcat Coyote Rattlesnake


Find Your Gun’s Groove: Part Two

In continuation of last month’s blog about picking out a gun, we are going to take a further look into the process. By now you should have the fundamentals of firearm safety and operation pretty well under hand. (Remember that TAB+1 is a great and simple way to know how to handle a firearm safely.) So now it is time to think about what exactly you are looking for in a handgun. I started this blog-series with the intention of focusing on a handgun used for personal defense and target shooting, so we will keep on with that. Let’s get started.

When it comes to handguns there are two types: pistols and revolvers. I will explain the two in very basic fashions. A pistol is a semi-automatic handgun that is fed rounds via a magazine. When a round is fired, the casing is ejected out and the next round feeds up into the chamber. A revolver is either a single-action or double-action handgun that stores its rounds in a cylinder that cycle around after being fired. These are typically referred to as wheel-guns. Since typically single-action (think cowboy guns) are not used in self-defense applications, we will not focus on that action. (But, some people do prefer one and there is nothing wrong with that. They chose their firearm for a reason.)

When it comes to choosing a handgun, there is no real “right” or “wrong” reason. The only “wrong” reason I could see for choosing one would be buying a cheap one due to cost. This is not a purchase to be stingy about. If you try out a handgun and absolutely love it but are off-put by the price, just save up. And luckily most gun manufacturers make good guns at decent prices! And what is the cost of a several hundred dollar handgun compared to your life?

You will notice that people have preferences towards brands/manufacturers but don’t let that be the deciding factor for your choice. You are the one that has to shoot it. There are numerous calibers out there, each with their own benefit/drawback. Just understand that the larger the caliber, the bigger the kick. The heavier the gun, the more recoil absorption it has. So a medium caliber in a heavy gun would be a delight to shoot all day long and a larger caliber in a small gun would hurt after a while.

The most common caliber for a revolver is .357 Magnum. It is a solid and reliable round that has been around for years. Any revolver chambered in this caliber can also shoot .38 Special, which has significantly less kick to it. It is also cheaper, which makes it a good option because target-shooting can get expensive quick. There are less expensive calibers than that to shoot, such as 9mm. A few manufacturer’s offer a double-action revolver in 9mm which might be a great choice for someone’s first firearm. The heavy weight and lighter recoil of that combination, along with the vast improvements in defense rounds and relative cheapness to shoot that caliber all work in the guns favor. (I am referring to the Smith and Wesson 986, pictured above.) The thing that most people have against revolvers is their lower round-carrying capacity and the time it takes to reload.

Pistols come in a wide variety of options. Some are metal and others polymer. There are several common calibers for them (9mm, 380Auto, 40S&W, 45ACP) and once again each have their benefits/drawbacks. This is where people’s “brand loyalty” and “favorites” can become extremely apparent. Just remember to do your own research and try out the gun if possible. In comparison to revolvers, most handguns have much higher carrying-capacities and reloading becomes a quick, almost-reflex activity. Take your time, search for any recalls/common issues with specific firearms you are looking at. See how readily available after-market products are. So forth and so on.

One thing that many people don’t think about when it comes to finding their gun’s groove is what their firearm prefers. Each handgun has its own personality and preferences in some ways. Some guns will feed certain brand ammunition better than the other. The best way to test this is to get value packs of several different manufacturer’s ammo in the caliber for your gun. Pick a distance and shoot at it consistently. Have a note pad and mark down how well it groups, any misfires or jams and so on. I would personally suggest picking up boxes by Remington, Winchester and the Hornady American Gunner. (Especially the last option, Hornady makes great products.) After you figure out what practice-ammo to use, then you can start looking at what defense rounds to go with. This is a rather expensive proposition, so maybe connect with a family-member or friend who is looking to do the same. (My buddy Joe and I are looking to do all this with the HK VP9.) Just like ammo, your gun might prefer certain after-market magazines as well.

While this all might seem intimidating, there is no reason for it to be. People who have passion for the world of firearms, love to share it and pass it along to others. Lessons can be learned from just about any source.



Rustic Recipes: Iowa Cut Pork Chop

If you have noticed with our Rustic Recipe blogs, we have covered some interesting eats. I mean we have looked at ways to cook deer, quail, moose, assorted fish, bacon, rabbit and squirrel! And with how restaurants are going crazy with making “unique dishes” (keep that kale off of my plate and enough with the quinoa and quail egg toppings) sometimes it’s better to go simple. Which is why this Rustic Recipe is not going to focus on some game meat or have too many steps to follow easily. We are going with what I have discovered to be a delicious delight: Iowa Cut Pork Chop.

The Iowa Cut Pork Chop comes from the center part of the loin and is usually cut thick. Sometimes it will contain a T-shaped bone (much like with beef). These factors lead it to having some of the best flavor out of pork (and dare I say it, almost better than bacon) available.

To cook these bad boys simply fire up the grill. Rub them with your favorite brand of seasoning. Cook them evenly until reaching proper/desired level of doneness. Pair with broccoli, rice and maybe a slice of garlic toast.

That’s it.

Like I said above with the restaurant industry going all lavish, it seems like home-cooking is going that way as well. I’ve noticed countless recipes where it calls for some ingredient that you cannot pronounce, let alone find. But aint nothing wrong with some garlic salt and black pepper.


Other Nibbles

Squirrel Rabbit Quail Goose Grouse Crappie Buffalo Chicken Chile Verde Venison Stew

Hunter’s Delight Chicken Fried Bacon Tipsy Little Birds Wait, What? Burgers Catfish Moose

Summer Sausages Deer Moose 2nd Helping of Squirrel Bacon Cornbread Poultry Balls Skirt Steakabobs


Fishy Facts: Striped Bass

One of my absolute favorite things about working here are the fish feedings. We have three large aquatic homes for our fishy friends (I don’t like to use the word tank, unless talking about military history). There is a saltwater exhibit in the Islamorada Fish Company. Our Trout Stream gets fed every day at 1:30, and people can even help feed the fish if they are there early enough. And the big show takes place at our Main Tank, which gets fed Saturdays and Sundays at 2PM and Tuesday at 6PM. One of my favorite fish to watch during the Main Tank feedings is definitely our striped bass. Those guys SLAM whatever we toss into the tank! They are extremely fast and voracious predators, and just look cool. And for that reason they will be the star of this month’s Fishy Facts blog!

My love for the striped bass goes back years before I even entered my first Bass Pro Shops. For some reason, I had always been keen on catching this one. (Sadly, I still have yet to.) I honestly think it is their impressive size and cool coloring that gets me about them. They are a longer, streamlined fish with mostly silver-gray coloring and distinctive black stripes. They use their streamlined body to reach impressive speeds, which always make for an exciting fight.

Striped bass are believed to be able to live over twenty-five years and on average grow up to 40 inches. The largest (scientifically) recorded weight for one is 126lbs! (I put in there scientifically, because I am sure some old-timer somewhere has caught one larger than that.) They are native to the Atlantic coastline of North America, but have been heavily planted elsewhere. They are anadromous fish, which means they live in both salt and fresh water.

Pretty much since there has been a history of people living near these fishes native area, there has been a history of catching them. They were an extremely important food source for early colonials. The love of these fish has grown with us as a nation from the beginning and the striped bass is now recognized as the fresh water state fish for three states and the salt water state fish for four states.

Like most fish, the striped bass has several common names given to it. These names include:  striper, rockfish, rock, linesider and pimpfish.

Striped bass are a prized sport-fish, due their powerful fights and delicious taste. There are numerous ways to fish for these, and is mostly dependent upon the area you are in. I personally love the idea of catching a landlocked striped bass while they slam a boil and then catching one while surf-fishing in the ocean. (A boil is a common term used to explain when a bunch of larger fish start attacking a ball of baitfish towards the surface of the water. With all the activity it looks like the water is boiling. Looking for birds attacking a certain spot on the water is also a good indicator of feeding action.)

Many times with these blogs, we have to cover the current condition and any conservation efforts to protect the fish. Sometimes they are not the most opportunistic. But in this case, we have great news and a perfect example of groups coming together to protect our beloved fish. In 1982 the striped bass population had declined to below 5 million. Thanks to multiple sources of resources, effort and support the population grew back to 56 million striped bass by 2007! This is a clear example of how everyone can work together for something bigger than themselves.


Former Fishy Facts:

Grayling Northern Pike Rainbow Trout Largemouth Bass Peacock Bass Walleye

Billfish Dolphinfish Crappie Catfish Bull Shark Tilapia Smallmouth Bass

Brook Trout Bow Fishing Bowfin Common Snook World Fish Migration Day

Yellow Perch American Paddlefish Cutthroat Trout


Goin’ Rural: Dutch Ovens

There is something so delicious and therapeutic about opening up the lid to a Dutch oven. It’s almost like closing down a session of yoga but with a tasty treat ending. For those of you who don’t know what a Dutch Oven is, it is a cooking device that (I believe by law in 38 states) is a mandatory item for a camping trip or outdoor cookout. There are many different kinds, with all sorts of variations but the basic concept is a heavy duty pot with a lid that is cooked by adding heat to both the bottom and the top of the oven. But that is just the basic concept, which is why we are going to take a closer look at Dutch Ovens in this month’s Goin’ Rural blog!

Now if you clicked that hyperlink above, you can clearly see what I meant with their being all sorts of variations and different kinds. You got small ones, medium ones, large ones, some with legs, some without legs, different handles, lips on the lids and what have you! Like any other possible future passion, I suggest starting in the middle when acquiring your first piece of equipment. Picking out too large of a pot might be a challenge and a smaller pot might limit you on some of your possibilities. Grow your Dutch Oven stash as you grow your skill (and love) for this delicious form of cooking.

Most Dutch Ovens are cast-iron. Which means they are heavy, well-built and give off incredible flavor. Of course you will need to do some “preventative maintenance” on your cast-iron before using. This is known as “seasoning”. Seasoning your cast iron is well worth the work because it will make your items last longer and taste better. First just basically scrub the Dutch Oven clean, using warm water and NO SOAP. Once confident with that, use an oil or solid shortening to coat the inside of the Dutch Oven. Now put the Dutch Oven inside a regular oven that is set at 300 degrees for an hour. This will cause smoke so make sure your doors/windows are open and the smoke alarms are taken out. After that hour, let it cool. Once cooled, the Dutch Oven should be wiped clean of any excess grease. You may have to do this a couple times, but just keep going until your Dutch Oven has a solid black coating on the inside. Viola!

As stated earlier, you actually cook the ingredients that you have inside your Dutch Oven by adding heat to the bottom and the top. You can use wood chips but many use charcoal briquettes as they have a more “standardized” rating to them. Meaning you know about how long a certain amount of certain sized briquettes should burn for, whereas wood chips are wood and can vary quite drastically. Usually you shoot for an inside cooking temperature of 325 degrees. But how many briquettes do you need? Time for some fun math equations!

Take the diameter (D) of the Dutch Oven. Using that number, the bottom number (B) of briquettes should be the diameter minus 3. And the top number (T) of briquettes should the diameter plus 3. So that would look like:

B = D -3 and T = D +3. So as an example a 10” Dutch Oven would be: B = 10-3 and T = 10 +3. You can take it from there.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of recipes out there for Dutch Ovens. Some you can find in a good book and others can be found online (Like on Pinstabook or whatever). There are also plenty of YouTube videos on the subject. Things to remember are that those Dutch Ovens get extremely hot! Have a good set of gloves and a safe area to cook at. This is an outdoor-only thing of course. Got a recipe that you are dying to share or try? Post it in the comment section below. Until next time!


Mason Jars Chickens Bird Feeders Gardening Food Preservation Water Features Stock Tanks



Healthy Hunter: Rest

So I am always amazed when I find some older song that I have never heard before. Several times in my life has this happened. And of course I will bring up this song to others, and they always say “How have you never heard that song before?” And I have a theory that you discover a song, when you need it most. The latest song that this all is stemming from is “I’m In a Hurry” by Alabama. And I believe it works perfectly with this month’s healthy hunter article on rest!

For those of you who don’t know the song you can listen to a live version here. But the lyrics contain the lines:

“I'm in a hurry to get things done
Oh, I rush and rush until life's no fun
All I really gotta do is live and die
But, I'm in a hurry and don't know why”

Which let’s face it, is true. Everyone is rushing from one thing to the next. I love watching people speed around the streets just to get to what else but a red light faster. With everything so hectic, it is extremely important to get yourself enough rest and recovery.

As we all know, we need about 8 hours of sleep a day. Do we get that? Probably not. People will stay up later than they should for several (and sometimes stupid) reasons. Getting enough sleep should always be a daily priority. If others can’t understand that then let them drain their adrenals without you.

When you watch TV what are the most common commercials? Insurance. Cars. Medication. People have to turn to medication to help them get to sleep. I believe this is because of over-stimulation. As soon as you are up it is pretty much go-go-go. That amazing device that can pretty much contain the entire world in your hand, is usually the first thing you pick up. We use smart-phones for everything! And while convenience is nice, maybe it isn’t the best for you.

How often do you use your phone as an alarm? How often do you check it during the day? Have you ever laid in bed just playing on your phone before falling asleep? The continual use of this is draining on the human eyes and mind. I think it is extremely bad for you if you use it right before going to bed. That little light coming from it cannot be the best thing to do before falling asleep.

I am also against medication for sleep, but know that in some cases it is the only option. I always suggest looking for a more natural way to help you get some rest. The makers of Emergen-C now have a sleep aid drink mix, that I have tried and quite enjoy. It does help me stay asleep through the night and is not as powerful as a medication.

Once you start to figure out your sleep patterns and needs, you can plan your day around that. You know not to eat directly before going to bed, so that will help you decide dinner. And going from when you wake up you know when to eat throughout the day. Skipping meals is horrible for you, so plan accordingly.

And if you really need help getting to sleep, put on Last of the Mohicans. Three hours of lush green scenery and fiddles in the background will put you out.


APPs Proper Motivation Personal Push Habits Track It Limits Simple Sides Hunt Ready Everyday Switches Willpower Know Your Numbers


Top That: Ladies’ T-Shirts

A little while back, my wife and I were shopping around for her upcoming camping trip. We got a tent, propane and so forth and so on. But one thing I was concerned about for her was clothing. (Yes, a man caring about clothing.) She was after-all going on this trip with all of her co-workers. And scrubs may be great for work, but not camping. So being the best-husband-in-the-world that I am, walked around with her picking out clothes.

Now she was going to be outdoors so she needed proper clothing. Anyone who has ever been camping knows you’ll probably get a little dirty. She was also going to participate in a ropes course, so she would be extremely active. So what she needed were some cute shirts that were OK to get a little messy. Luckily, Bass Pro had our bases well covered!

They had a ton of cute and fun tops perfect for what we were looking for. Considering that I never check out the Ladies’ Apparel area, I was quite surprised at all of the awesome shirts they had! Below are just a few of some of the ones we found and fell in love with.

They might be a little hard to read, but they have such phrases as:

“I HEART Blind Dates” “Playin’ the Field” “Hunting is my Cardio” “I Fish on the First Date” “I Don’t Wear Bows, I Shoot Them” “Act Like A Lady, Shoot Like A Boss” “This Girl Doesn’t Retreat, She Reloads” “Just a Small Town Fishin’ Girl” and my personal favorite “Hotter than a Campfire”

So no matter what kind of lady you are, we are sure to have a top that will fit you perfectly! (Hey-O! Clothing pun!!!)


Kids Clothing


A Better Boot: Ariat Conquest

So with all the trade-ins going on for our Fall Hunting Classic, it has gotten me thinking about some gear I could use a little upgrade on. One specific item would be boots. And with the hunting-boot trade-in, I decided that this would be the perfect time to find a better boot!

Now when it comes to any kind of footwear, it is all about personal choice. And because of that, one could develop what is known as “brand loyalty”. This is exactly what has happened with me and the company Ariat. I believe they make an incredible boot that is always at a good price. And would you look at that? They just released a new style of hunting boots. I give you…


These are some serious boots for some serious hunting. These things are built out of waterproof full grain leather and water resistant 900D nylon, to keep your feet dry. They also have Duratread™ rubber compound outsoles that are sure to last and preform. These boots also feature an EVA midsole that helps absorb lightweight shock. They also have Ariat’s signature ATS Pro footbed technology, which is something you just need to experience. These boots are also treated with a ScentMask™ odor-fighting treatment to help keep you hidden from your quarry. And they feature a nice wide square toe for extra comfort. There is an insulated pair and a non-insulated pair, depending on which would best suit your purposes.


Hey! Here is a blast from the past! Looks like I wrote a blog about Ariats for women almost exactly one year ago!


RedHead Select Outfitters: The Timbers at Chama

So over the past month or so, most people in Arizona have figured out if they got drawn for any big game hunts this year. Many associates got pulled, or have family/friends that got pulled. It is always an exciting time of the year, and people start to plan their trips, relive old hunts and salivate over the delicious game meat they will hopefully get. Now I didn’t put in this year, my stepbrother got pulled so hopefully I’ll get to go out with them, but as usual I start to daydream about a possible guided hunt. And I know not to look anywhere else but at the RedHead Select Outfitters.  And I caught myself spending a lot of time looking at The Timbers at Chama.

The Timbers at Chama is a full-service guide out of New Mexico. And when I say full-service, I mean it. They offer hunts for bull and cow elk, mule deer and Merriam turkey. They also offer a fishing service for rainbow, brook and brown trout as well. Beyond that they have horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking, ATV riding, wildlife watching/birding and more.

Now being a proud Arizonan and a hunter, I have to maintain the fact that Arizona does produce the best bull elks in the world. BUT! I will admit that there have been some amazing animals to come out of New Mexico. And to be honest, some of the elk that I have seen taken at this place are more than impressive. The quality of the mule deer as well is something to be admired. (Check out their photo gallery!)

As usual with our RedHead Select Outfitters, we include several important tips and a checklist for what to expect on the hunt. The three tips below are exactly what anyone looking to go on a hunt should know.

“In elk country the primary guide to clothing is to dress in layers. You may also want to avoid wearing newly purchased footwear that has not been broken in. Camouflage scent-proof clothing is optimal and strongly recommended.”

The latter part is extremely important, as animals have a keen sense of smell and will pick up the smallest hint of a scent. I have had good success with washing my clothes in this product and then spraying it down with this one. And remember, sometimes it is better to not have a cover scent, but just to be sure to eliminate any.

Ready to book? (So am I!) Remember to book them through our RedHead Select Outfitters because you'll get 5% of your total hunt cost given back to you in Bass Pro Shops Outdoor Rewards points.


Other Adventures:

The Basics Mellon Creek Ducks N Bucks Blue River Whitetails Hampton & Hampton  


Tie One On: Purple Haze

So we have a little tradition here at Bass Pro Shops in Mesa, AZ that not that many people know about. Every day we have a “Fly of the Day” down at the White River Fly Shop. I mean, why not? Some places have a soup of the day but we have a fly of the day! And when you stop by our fly-guys you have to ask them about it. Now over the past few weeks there has been a fly that has been our star a few times. And then earlier this month, inspired by the cutthroat trout blog, I asked them to make the fly of the day a good cutthroat pattern… and would ya just look at that? They chose the pattern once again. That pattern is the Purple Haze!

“Purple haze, all in my brain
Lately things they don't seem the same
Actin' funny, but I don't know why
Excuse me while I try this fly!”

 Now sometimes I don’t know if they are just making up names, but the Purple Haze is a real pattern! It is very similar to the Parachute Adams, but has a purple body. It is an attractor dry fly that has grown immensely in popularity in the west, especially Montana. Many fly fishermen will use this during the fall Blue Winged Olive time.  (Remember that guy from last month?)

One thing I love about this pattern is it shows how creative you can be with fly-tying. And sometimes, creativity leads to catching fish! I mean, just by using a non-typical color for the body of a standard pattern has created a cult-followed of a fly! And the name? Too good.

Until next time!


Woolly Bugger Royal Coachman Pheasant Tail Nymph Crawshrimp Own Creation

Trilene Knot The Adams Dropper Loop Spinner San Juan Worm Elk Hair Caddis Royal Wulff

Blue Winged Olive


Simple Steps with Wes: Snake Bites

So back in June I wrote a blog about rattlesnakes! As per my forte, the article was more about education and entertainment. But what would you do, if you really encountered one? And not just a rattlesnake, but any of the venomous snakes we have in North America? Well lucky for us, Wes is covering that specific subject for this month’s Simple Step blog:

“North America has two kinds of venomous snakes:  The pit vipers (rattlesnakes, water moccasins) and Elapids (coral snakes).  One or more of these snakes can be found almost everywhere in the continental U.S

Many snakes are active at night, especially in warm weather. In the wilderness, it’s important to look where you’re putting your hands and feet.  Be especially careful around areas where snakes might like to hide, such as hollow logs, under rocks, or in old shelters. Wearing heavy gloves would be a reasonable precaution. Be sure to wear good solid high-top boots and long pants when hiking in the wilderness. Walking heavy creates ground vibrations and noise, which will often cause snakes move along.

Not every bite from a venomous snake transfers its poison to the victim; 25-30% of these bites will show no ill effects. Snake bites that cause a burning pain immediately are likely to have venom in them.  Swelling at the site may begin as soon as five minutes afterwards, and may travel up the affected area.  Pit viper bites tend to cause bruising and blisters at the site of the wound.  Numbness may be noted in the area bitten, or perhaps on the lips or face.  Some victims describe a metallic or other strange taste in their mouths.

 With pit vipers, bruising is not uncommon and a serious bite might start to cause spontaneous bleeding from the nose or gums.  Coral snake bites, however, will cause mental and nerve issues such as twitching, confusion and slurred speech.  Later, nerve damage may cause difficulty with swallowing and breathing, followed by total paralysis.

Coral snakes appear very similar to their look-alike, the non-venomous king snake.  They both have red, yellow and black bands and are commonly confused with each other.  The old saying goes: ”red touches yellow, kill a fellow; red touches black, venom it lacks”.  This adage only applies to coral snakes in North America, however.

Coral snakes are not as aggressive as pit vipers and will prefer fleeing to attacking.  Once they bite you, however, they tend to hold on; Pit vipers prefer to bite and let go quickly. Unlike coral snakes, pit vipers may not relinquish their territory to you, so prepare to possibly be bitten again.

A snake doesn’t always slither away after it bites you and it’s likely has more venom that it can inject. If bitten move out of its striking range, which can be twice its body length or mitigate the hazard in any way you can. Killing the snake, however, may not render it harmless: it can reflexively bite for a period of time, even if its head has been severed from its body. Removing the head and bury it 10-12” deep.

The treatment for a venomous snake bite is “Anti-venom”, an animal or human serum with antibodies capable of neutralizing a specific biological toxin. This product will probably be unavailable in a long-term survival situation.

The following wilderness treatment strategy will be useful:

 • Keep the victim calm. Stress increases blood flow, thereby endangering the patient by speeding the venom into the system.

 • Stop all movement of the injured extremity. Movement will move the venom into the circulation faster, so do your best to keep the limb still.

 • Clean the wound thoroughly to remove any venom that isn’t deep in the wound

 • Remove rings and bracelets from an affected extremity as swelling may occur.

 • Position the extremity below the level of the heart; this also slows the transport of venom.

 • Wrap with compression bandages snug but do not restrict blood flow. Begin two to four inches above the bite (towards the heart), winding around and moving up, then back down over the bite and past it towards the hand or foot. Do not use tourniquets.

 • Draw a circle, if possible, around the affected area.  As time progresses, you will see improvement or worsening at the site more clearly. This is a useful strategy to follow any local reaction or infection.

The limb should then be rested, and perhaps immobilized with a splint or sling.  The less movement there is, the better. Keep the patient on bed rest, with the bite site lower than the heart for 24-48 hours. This strategy also works for bites from venomous lizards, like Gila monsters.

It is no longer recommended to make an incision and try to suck out the venom with your mouth.  If done more than 3 minutes after the actual bite, it would remove perhaps 1/1000 of the venom and could cause damage or infection to the bitten area.  A Sawyer Extractor (a syringe with a suction cup) is more modern, but is also fairly ineffective in eliminating more than a small amount of the venom. These methods fail, mostly, due to the speed at which the venom is absorbed.“

Thanks, Wes! Remember, you can always request a subject or topic by emailing it to . Get more of Wes at his Facebook and Webpage.


Previous Steps

Floods Dehydration Halloween Edition Survival Kit Daylight Estimation

Determining Direction Eye Protection Nature Calling First Aid Kits

Epi-Pens Scorpions Edible Fruit Search and Rescue Clouds Traps Celestial Navigation

Footwear Communication Trick or Treating Fire 12 Steps (Reboot) Military Lessons


Fall Hunting Classic 2015- Mesa, AZ

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year. It means that another successful and egg-frying-on-the-sidewalk summer has come to a close. It also means that the holiday season is coming around the corner, which is always a great time. But for those of us who like to pursue game, get mud on our boots, take pride in filling our freezer with our own meat and have just cause for not showering know that Fall means hunting season! And we at Bass Pro Shops always kick this season off with what is one of our best sales and greatest events of the year: The Fall Hunting Classic!

Many of the hunting and outdoor enthusiasts come to our store as part of their hunting preparation. And who can blame them? We get inspired by the taxidermy around the store, can share stories with each other, learn new tips and tricks and find great deals on many essential items. Last year we had a great Fall Hunting Classic, but to be honest this year’s looks even better!


Our bow and crossbow trade in will end on the 16th, but we have a few more going on for our Fall Hunting Classic. We are going to have a Riflescope and (for the first time ever) Game Camera trade-in running from August 21st to the 30th. Bring in any working riflescope or game camera and receive a coupon to save on your purchase of a new one! For each one you bring in you will receive a coupon, but you can only use one coupon per item purchased. See below for a breakdown of the savings!

We will also be having a Hunting Boot trade-in as well! This will also run from August 21st to the 30th, and works basically just like the Riflescope and Game Camera trade-ins. Bring in some old hunting boots and receive a coupon to save on a new pair! The boots that we receive will be donated to Soles4Souls which is an awesome organization! See below for a breakdown of these savings.


Customers who are 21 years or older can enter in for a chance to win a hunting trip in Argentina with Doug Koenig! That is our grand prize, and let me already say how jealous I am of whoever wins that! And at each store there will also be a winner for a Prize Package that includes: 1 Plano Pro-Max Pillar Lock, 1 Leupold 10X25 Rogue Binoculars and 2 Boxes of Hornady American Whitetail Ammo in .308 Winchester!


On August 21st we will have a seminar on year-round Game Camera strategies at 7PM.

On August 22nd we will have four separate seminars:

1PM- Archery Tune-Up

2PM- Scent Control and Scent Products

3PM- Boots 101

4PM- Knives and Tools for Hunting

For the Family:

We will have our Next Generation weekend going on the weekend of August 29th and 30th. It is going to run from 11AM to 4PM both days. There will be youth seminars at 2PM and 4PM, crafts, an archery challenge, BB Gun Shooting Range*, free photo download and giveaways. *All participants under the age of 18 must have a parent/legal guardian sign a waiver.

We will also have an awesome Women’s Hunting Workshop at 3PM on August 29th! This should not be missed by any ladies, looking to get some great tips and tricks!

Overall I am super excited about this and hope you all make visiting the Fall Hunting Classic part of your traditions!



Find Your Gun’s Groove: Part One

Firearm ownership has increased significantly over the past few years. There are several reasons for this. More people are getting interested in hunting and recreational shooting. People are becoming more concerned about personal protection. Others are concerned about the sustainability of the world and are preparing for who-knows-what. No matter what source of inspiration, it is undeniable that we have record numbers of new-shooters/gun owners.

Working here I have had several conversations with people who are about to enter the world of firearms. Let me start off by saying welcome to one of the best and most expensive pastimes in the world, but let me warn you about how overwhelming it all can be. People own firearms for all sorts of reasons. Once you start to figure out why you want one, you can start to narrow down the field.

In this blog series we are going to take a look at what it takes to “find your gun’s groove”, which basically means from the first step of the process to important ideas and concepts. For the main aspect of this development we are going to look at it from the viewpoint of wanting a gun for personal defense and target shooting. (This is after all, one of the largest areas for why people look to buy a firearm.)

First things first, safety. Safety begins and ends with you. Any firearm in your possession is your responsibility. There are several “codes” or “laws” that one should learn when it comes to handling firearms. The one I suggest and go by is TAB+1. (I have mentioned this subject previously numerous times.) TAB+1 is…

T-Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.

A-Always keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction.

B-Be aware of your target and what is beyond it.

+1-Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.

Follow those rules and you are doing your diligence on safety.

Second, education. Learn as much as you can about firearms and everything associated with them. That includes ammunition, accessories and especially laws. Knowing the laws surrounding firearms should be a priority for anyone. Each state and sometimes cities can have their own laws, so you need to know what applies to you. And follow up, because laws do change. Learn what the names are for parts of a gun and how they work. Ask yourself the questions below and see how many you can answer.

What are four parts of a firearm? Can you identify if it is a long gun or hand gun?

What are the parts of a round of ammunition? How do they work?

Where do you look to find out what kind of caliber gun you are holding?

Where you find the serial number for a firearm? Why is that important?

What is an external safety? Do you know how to identify one?

These are just a few questions that any responsible firearm owner should know how to answer and therefore teach someone else. Like I said at the beginning, it can be overwhelming but hopefully through this blog series you will become more comfortable, educated and understanding of everything concerning firearms.



Cutlery Corner: Gerber Suspension Multi-Tool

When it comes to the world of multi-tools it can get a little intense. For a while many manufacturers were insisting upon jamming these things with as many different tools as possible. It was like an “arms race” for the number of tools they could put on the packaging. Unfortunately, the more tools they provided the cheaper they were. Luckily though that trend has ended and we have been getting spoiled with some solid multi-tools lately.

The one I personally use is the Gerber Suspension Multi-Tool. My brother-in-law gave it to me a few years back, and it has been a true delight. I have rarely packed a bag for fishing, hunting, hiking, camping or whatever and not included this tool in there.

This multi-tool comes with several features. It has a spring-loaded needle-nosed pliers (which are very nice), both flat and serrated knives, wire cutter, scissors, saw, both can and bottle openers and several screwdrivers. They fit all this into a solid built and simple structure.

Anybody who knows the Gerber name, knows that they make a great product. And at $40 this multi-tool does not break the bank. I think one of the most important things for people to do is to read reviews. This is a great way to see what other people think about products. This multi-tool has an average rating of 4 ½ stars over 28 reviews on our webpage. We even have “Top Contributors” who are people that have reached an almost elite status for commenting on products. I took a quick scroll through the reviews and found that TWO “Top 25 Contributors” had left favorable reviews on it! There is one “one-star” review, but after reading it the customer seemed mostly upset that he didn’t buy the one he had previously again.

With people looking at being able to do more on their own, having the right tools is essential. This multi-tool would be a perfect fit for just about anyone.



Benchmade North Fork Sharpening Bear Grylls Survival Knife Camp Axes Throwing Knives


Fishy Facts: Cutthroat Trout

I have a deep love for trout. Over the past few years, I have covered them as subjects in my articles a number of times. One of my very first blogs was about them, and they were my 200th blog as well! Already in our Fishy Facts series we have covered the rainbow and brook species. And this time we are going to cover one of my absolute favorite (and on my top “to-catch” list), the cutthroat trout!

Now before you start saying “Yarrgh” and imagining a trout with an eyepatch, peg-fin and an affinity for rum and ransacking stream banks… these fish are not in any way to be associated with pirates despite the name. They get this name due to the distinct red coloring below their jaw.

The cutthroat trout is native to North America, ranging from Pacific coastal tributaries to the Great Basin. Like most trout they prefer cooler waters that are well oxygenated and clear. “Trout don’t live in ugly places”. They prefer gravel bottomed stream/river but are also found in lakes and other bodies of water. There are several subspecies of this fish, some are extinct and others are endangered. Because of this they are raised in hatcheries to help support wild populations.

Not only are these fish one of my favorite, but also are those of several western states. The cutthroat trout (or a subspecies of it*) are the state fish for several places. Those states include: Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, New Mexico*, Utah*, Colorado* and Nevada*.

Cutthroat trout have been known to spawn with rainbow trout, giving us “cutbows”. This along with the fact that many areas have “stocked” cutthroat trout can make it quite a challenge to catch a true wild fish. It may be because of this that these fish hold so much allure for so many people. Many consider fly-fishing the purest form of this sport and therefore catching a wild cutthroat is a triumph.

Like most trout these fish tend to feed on aquatic and terrestrial insects. They are also known to consume smaller fish and smaller aquatic animals (crayfish and such). There is a good population of cutthroat trout that inhabits coastal waters and their diet can be quite diverse because of that.

As mentioned above, there are numerous hatcheries in production and restoration efforts being done to help the cutthroat trout. Due to habitat loss, overfishing and introduction of non-native species that prey on the cutthroat, these fish’s numbers are way down from where they used to be. This has been directly seen and analyzed at one of its most historic ranges, Yellowstone. Before a “catch and release” program was put into place, anglers could harvest dozens of this fish in a day. But towards the end of the 1960’s, wildlife management stepped in and started putting policies into place. All of these efforts and the education of people have been making a positive impact for these fish. That is why when I finally do catch one, I intend to take a picture with it, release him and relive the story over a plate of non-wild trout with my fishing buddies on that trip.


Former Fishy Facts:

Grayling Northern Pike Rainbow Trout Largemouth Bass Peacock Bass Walleye

Billfish Dolphinfish Crappie Catfish Bull Shark Tilapia Smallmouth Bass

Brook Trout Bow Fishing Bowfin Common Snook World Fish Migration Day

Yellow Perch American Paddlefish


Ascend Your Gear: Canoes

Water sports have really grown in popularity over the past number of years. Kayaking, wind-surfing and paddle-boarding have seen a surge of participants and enthusiasts. But what about the original water sport? The one that was a method of exploration and discovery before we started “recreationally” practicing it. You know, canoeing! It is one of the longest running (or shall we say floating) methods of human transportation out there. For centuries, man has taken to the water on a canoe (or similar craft) and made the waterways our own! And while many people are searching for the “latest and greatest” in watersports, it may be time to give kudos to where it all kind of came from.

The first thing you will need is a canoe itself. There are several different companies that produce good quality crafts, but one that sticks out to me is the Ascend line. After finding great success with their kayaks, Ascend started producing canoes a little while ago. Just like their kayaks, they offer a solid product with great features and at an amazing price.

Currently there are two models offered. There is a 14 foot model and a 15 ½ foot model.

The 14 foot model has three seats, each with their own cup holders, and one of which (the center seat) has a built in cooler. It can sit three paddlers quite comfortably and has a max weight load of 765 pounds. The canoe also comes with built in paddle holders and fishing pole holders. It has a beam width of a little over 3 feet and only weighs 84 pounds! One of my favorite features is the built-in carrying handles, which makes hauling them around a breeze.

The 15 ½ model has many of the same features as the smaller one does (3 seats, paddle holders, center seat cooler, built in cup holders and carrying handles). Some major differences are the upgraded seats. This model has seats (front and back one) that have built in back supports. Anyone who has ever been canoeing will tell you how much of a strain it can put on your back. The other awesome additional feature is the motor transom on the back. It is specifically designed to make adding a trolling motor a breeze! It has a larger beam width at 42 inches. It also weighs 13 pounds more than the 14 foot model, but can hold an additional 35 pounds of weight load.

No matter which one you choose, you will be pleased with it. Both are solid canoes and will provide you with years of fun on the water. Just remember to always have life jackets with you, and don’t leave the paddles in the garage.


See all of our great Ascend gear for the water here.

Other Ascend-ings:

3 Piece Backpacking Cooking Set