Why it Matters: Proper Physical Preparation

When it comes to going on an outdoor adventure, there will always be the need for some kind of preparation. Whether you are just going out to walk around the local community pond you will at least need proper footwear and water. If you are going to Africa on an eight-day buffalo hunt, there is going to be a lot of preparing to do. And it goes beyond any checklist of gear or practice at whatever you are going to be doing. A crucial aspect that is sometimes missed is proper physical preparation.

Now I believe the outdoors should be able to be enjoyed by everyone. It is one of the very few things that anyone from any walk of life can appreciate. Knowing that there are organizations like Outdoor Experience 4 All who work hard to bring kids with terminal illnesses out hunting or fishing really shows that we aren’t completely messed up as a society. Now should nature trails in the National Parks start being paved? Eh, that is a different discussion to be had. But no matter what, people should know what is going to be expected of them and if they can handle it.

People spend years training to climb certain mountains. They know what will be needed from their bodies in order to make it up and down in one piece. This can sometimes be missed when it comes to hunting trips. On certain hunts you may have to cover several miles through harsh terrain carrying a heavy pack. And after all that you’ll need to be able to hit the animal you are after!

One of the best pieces of advice I got was this: “Go to the range with your hunting rifle. Set out your target at least 100 yards out. Do twenty five pushups, twenty five body squats, twenty five crunches and twenty five jumping jacks. As soon as you finish, fire three shots at the target and see where you end up.” While you won’t be having to do a micro-Cross Fit workout on a hunt, you will be needing to rely on your own strength and how well you can control your weapon after exuding yourself. And think about this, you didn’t have on all that heavy bulky hunting gear when you were practicing!

Practicing with the gear that you will be using is essential to a successful trip. Whether it be fishing, hiking or hunting. You need to know how the stuff will work. And always try using your gear with gloves on. Because one day you may need to be able to unscrew your water bottle with thick gloves on or unzip your backpack or fire your bow and so on!

Do you need a six pack to catch a marlin or hunt an elk? No. But should have been doing cardio and perhaps weight-training leading up to the trip before? Yea. Especially since you never know when a normal trip could turn into something much more serious.

-Giddy-Up!!

Previously:

Getting Outdoors

Picking Up

Hunting

Fishing

Hiking

Camping

Rangefinders

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Check it Out List: Reloading

This month’s Check it Out List is about a topic that I find fascinating, as do many others. I am also interested in getting into it now more-than-ever, as are many others. With the ammo shortages, the slow but steadily rise in prices and ever-changing policies over the past few years one can never know if or when they might be able to acquire rounds. Now the ammo-craze that we were in a couple years ago definitely has calmed down, but it is harder to get certain calibers. 22 ammo will probably never be something you can just grab off the shelves “because it is always there” ever again, but other calibers are not always completely wiped out. But with the possibility of that craze coming back and people looking to be more self-sufficient, the amount of people reloading has definitely increased!

Basically reloading is the act of making your own ammunition. There are different levels of reloading and all sorts of ways to do it. Some people collect spent cases from their own/others use at a gun range and others purchase them factory new. Some people make their own bullets for fun and others to save money. Some calibers are so uncommon that you may have to learn to reload in order to actually shoot it. (Ever seen .280 Ackley commercially made?) Others try to figure out how to get the most performance out of their firearm by loading their ammo to certain specifications. Some people learn because to them it is an essential skill. No matter what though, you’ll need some supplies to get started. Shall we?

Reloading

Press

Dies

Shell Holder/Plate

Powder Measuring/Dispensing Device

Scale

Case Trimmer

Case Tumbler

Dial Caliper

Bullet Puller

Loading Block

Data/Information

 

Now to get started all you really need are the first three items and the last one. Probably more so than any other item you need to have Data/Information. This is something that you cannot start on just a whim. Safety needs to be your primary focus all the time with reloading. You’ll want to have a safe place to load and store your materials. You’ll definitely want to know how to load safely. And you’ll want to keep your loads to the data out there first. You can experiment with different loads later, stick to the basics at the beginning. Get yourself books on the subject and join an online club. Do everything at your disposal to have a safe and solid understanding of reloading before you start.

The press is going to be the main workhorse of your operation. You can start off with a simple single-press or go all the way to a multi-stage set. Both kinds have their own advantages, but I always suggest starting with the basics. (It is also cheaper.) Your dies will be specific to whatever caliber you are loading. You can’t use a .30 caliber die for reloading .45ACP and so on. The shell plate will be what holds the casing as you load. Also caliber specific. This would be where consolidating calibers that you own can be a big help.

Things like a tumbler, bullet puller, case trimmer, dial caliper or a scale are extras, which over time can prove to be extremely important.  A loading block is a device that holds numerous cases in to help with reloading. These can be purchased or made at home. Just as a heads up, you probably won’t find any cute ideas for them on Pintrest.

The little history I had with reloading was back in high school. My buddy’s grandfather owned an auto shop. He is also a vendor for the huge machine gun shoots we hold in Arizona every year. He has anything and everything, ranging from G36K’s to .50cals. With the amount they shoot up there, reloading is the only option to afford the ammo. I needed some brake work done, so we swapped labor for labor. I paid for the parts and built ammo belts for M249s for the work on my truck. Solid trade.

Now please note that this blog is more about what you will need to get into reloading as opposed to how to reload. For that, you need to do your research. Like I said earlier, having a safe and solid understanding of the process is extremely important.

-Giddy-Up!!

Checked-Lists

Picnics Gun Cleaning Game Care First Aid Kayaking Day Pack Trip Prep Range Time

Fishing Pack Boating Day Trip Camp Cooking  Dove Hunting Upland Hunting Tactical Clothing

Winter Camping

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Tie One On: Spinner

I was taught a long time ago that there is one specific lure that no tackle box should be without. And as a young boy and beginning fisherman I may have taken it a little too much to heart. And I probably didn’t understand that fishermen told as tall of tales or were as opinionated as The View at that time as well. But what my uncle told me on the banks of the Snake River in Wyoming stuck, and he even proved the lure a few times that night. He also proved that he wasn’t as great of a fisherman as he boasted since he didn’t know the difference between a sucker and a whitefish (which is well known as the most delicious fish in the area). Just sayin’. But the magic lure was none other than the Mepps Agila Spinner Gold 2.

Ever since that trip, sure enough, I have had one in my tackle box. Whether I am taking out the big ol’ Plano or just a small box for the river, that lure sits proud in its place. Has it caught me fish? Yes. Does it work every time? No. But rarely is ever anything a sure bet when it comes to fishing, and that is half the fun. But while my uncle (now excommunicated) made too much of a boast with that specific of a lure, he was correct in stating that no tackle box is complete without a spinner.

The spinner is one of the simplest and most effective lures. It will work on a wide range of game fish as it does a great job mimicking prey. Basically it is a lure that has a trailing hook and a blade that spins around as it is pulled through the water. These lures come in a huge selection of colors, sizes and weights. Some have tails covering their treble hooks where others are bare. The blades also come in a huge variety of sizes, colors and styles. There are Colorado style blades, leaf shaped blades and more. Sometimes the blades will match the body of the lure and other times they will contrast.

The basic operation of using a spinner is this: cast the lure out, retrieve the bait back and hope to catch a fish. Or at least that is how I learned. Of course there are several ways that one can retrieve it: slow and steady, extremely fast, stop and go and so on. The blade gives off vibrations in the water as it spins which helps attract fish. Using different color blades can help fish spot the lure quicker in murky water. Because they are simpler bait they are a great choice for younger fishermen. We all know how boring it can be for kids to sit and watch a bobber but if they are continually casting and retrieving it keep them busy. Wait a second…. So that’s what my ex-uncle was going for. Well played.

One of the nicest things about these baits is their cost. Compared to some other lures, spinners have a rather low cost and the fact that they can target such a wide range of fish is excellent. I personally have caught bass, trout and panfish on spinners. Some muskie fishermen wouldn’t even consider going out with a big one ready to be tossed out. And back to the youth fishing scenario. Not only would using a spinner keep the kid active, but it would provide the best chance for catching any fish that may be biting and wouldn’t break the bank when it gets broken off. Which we all know is going to happen.

So next time you are getting ready for a trip, be sure to have a couple spinners in-store. And if nothing is really biting, try tying one on.

-Giddy-Up!!

Woolly Bugger

Royal Coachman

Pheasant Tail Nymph

Crawshrimp

Trilene Knot

The Adams

Dropper Loop

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Lake Havasu Fishing Tournament and Outdoor Festival – 2015

We are going to be holding our third Lake Havasu Fishing Tournament and Outdoor Festival this year. If you have never heard of it, you will want to. And if you have never been to it, you need to! It is an awesome adventure that the whole family can take part in. We have anything and everything there to delight our attendants, big and small. It is actually a joint venture by several Bass Pro Shop stores in the West. It is put on by us, the Manteca store, the Rancho Cucamonga store and the Las Vegas store.

Each time we host this event it gets bigger and better. One really cool thing about this year’s event is that you can sign up for the fishing tournament and enter in by paying at any of the Bass Pro Shops listed above! All you need is to provide the SKU 2081735 to our Customer Service Department. And like all die-hard Bass Pro Shoppers would expect, you will earn Outdoor Rewards Points when doing this!

We have several ways to keep you up-to-date on what is going on with this event. We have our Facebook Page, be sure to like us! There are also two websites to check out, one being our HavasuOpen.com and the other is our BassProShopsOutdoorFestival.com. You will want to constantly be checking these all for updates and new information.

Our official Press Release is below and does a great job of explaining the event. It cannot be described though as it is too much fun to explain. The best way to understand it is to experience it. Whether that be fishing in the tournament or bringing the whole family for some catch-and-release pond fun or demo rides on the water!

“Official Press Release:

Looking for a great family event full of outdoor fun? Head to Lake Havasu, AZ for Bass Pro Shops Outdoor Festival for the West – March 28th & 29th. This exciting, event-filled extravaganza incorporates fishing tournaments, Boat & ATV Show with ride and drive demos, kids’ activities and mobile exhibits into a lively weekend festival that promises to be fun for everyone. It all takes place at Windsor State Park, Lot #4, Lake Havasu, AZ – March 28th & 29th.

Hands-on interactive booths will give families the opportunity to touch, feel, and learn how to use the products and services on display by great outdoor companies like Arctic Cat®, Ascend® Kayaks, Lowrance®, Rigid Industries®, Lobina Lures®, Archenemy® Bowfishing and others.

Free Boat & ATV Show with ‘Ride and Drive’ Demos will be available Saturday March 28th and Sunday March 29th from 9am to 5pm. You’ll be able to test drive the full line of Tracker Marine Boats – aluminum bass boats, Nitro Z’s, Sun Tracker Pontoons and Tahoe Run About boats.

Bass Pro Shops knows that kids are the anglers and conservationists of the future so they’re also offering a free Catch & Release Pond for them to practice their skills. Additional kids’ activities include Daisy BB Gun Shooting Gallery, Yard Games, and Inflatable Casting Challenge - Souvenirs and Prizes awarded for participation.

Lake Havasu Open bass tournament presented by Protect the Harvest and Lucas Oil® will bring anglers from CA, NV and AZ to one of the best fisheries in the West. The tournament is set for March 28th and 29th at Windsor State Park, Lot #4 and is open to 2-person teams at a cost of $300 per boat (All-Inclusive) The Grand Prize awarded by raffle to one of the Top 10 finishers is a Nitro Z7 Boat Package powered by a Mercury 150hp motor. ($29,000 value)

Other sponsors of the fishing tournament include Nitro®, Mercury Marine®, Rigid Industries®, and A&M Graphics®. Angler Registration will be held Friday, March 27th at the same location. Please check out www.havasuopen.com or your local Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World for more information.

Enjoy the beautiful Arizona weather at the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor Festival for the West, March 28th & 29th. There’s plenty of fishing and fun for the whole family.

Fishing Tournaments, Free Boat & ATV Show with ‘Ride and Drive’ Demos, Vendor booths, Kid’s Catch & Release Pond and other family activities – www.BassProShopsOutdoorFestival.com

 

We hope to see you there!

-Giddy-Up!!

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Look at That! Traeger Pellet Grills/Smokers

So usually when I do a Look at That blog it is about a product that can’t help but catch your eye. This time though, your nose would be the first to alert you if the product was in use. And there are few better smells (to me) in this world than that of a smoker. Not a tobacco-user, but the meat-cooking kind. Simply knowing that some cut of animal has been slowly cooking for possibly hours makes my mouth water.

My stepdad is quite the avid meat-cooker. The grill was usually fired up for any and every family event or get-together. A couple years ago though the angels of meat-heaven brought him a Traeger smoker. And then there was light! That smoker has created some of the best tasting meals, and memories, that you could ever imagine. And would you look at that? We are carrying them at our store!

There are several different forms of smoking food. There are pellets, bisquettes, wood chips, wood pieces, charcoal and some others. The Traeger uses pellets which you load into the feeder. Once you set the temperature the electronic feeder will take it from there. You can literally set it and forget it. Of course you will want to check on it occasionally just to be safe but more so to marvel at the process.

There are several different sizes that can meet almost any need. There is the Lil’ Texas Pro, Tailgater and Texas Pro. I believe my stepdad started with the Tailgater but worked his way up to the Texas Pro as well. That is literally how amazing these things are, he has two!

This past Thanksgiving we had a couple special visitors to our table. Neither one I had met yet at the home. One was Uncle Andy from the South, who knew a thing or two about cookin’. The other was a Tur-Duck-Hen, or however you spell it. All I know is that it was home-made, wrapped in bacon, stuffed with home-made Cajun style stuffing (including Andouille sausage) and had been on the Traeger for hours. It was amazing!

What is really nice is that Traeger really reaches out to you for all of your needs. Their website has a section devoted to delicious and proven recipes. They also have a section about why you should choose them, that isn’t all statistics heavy. I don’t know about you but when a company starts spurting out random numbers and stuff I don’t care. When I see delicious food and smiling faces, I’m interested.

-Giddy-Up!!

Other Nifty Things to Look At!

Propane Fire Ring

Hand Towels

Rainproof Camo

She Outdoor

PETT

BPS Extreme Qualifier Tackle Bag

RedHead Gun Rack

Chicken on a Stick

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Goin’ Rural: Bird Feeders

OK so maybe you read January’s Goin’ Rural blog and liked the idea of having chickens, but the practicality of raising them won’t work out. Sad day, but there is a way to get move avian friends to your backyard so you can enjoy them! In fact, attracting birds to be viewed has been going on for years. What is the most common way to get birds to stop by? Well as Mary Poppins would tell you, it is to feed the birds! So this month we are going to look at bird feeders!

Any good birdwatcher will tell you that birds are looking for pretty much just three things: water, shelter and food. The more basic the approach the wider variety of birds you might attract. Using specific seeds or setups can attract specific birds. Some people will go to great lengths at getting perfect ratios of seeds to get certain birds that may be in their area for a season.

Now you don’t just want to throw out a bunch of seeds on the ground. You will want some kind of container to protect it. Just tossing seeds and grains out can attract unwanted guests. Rats, bugs and other nuisance animals will make themselves at home. I know in some areas, squirrels are a huge problem. Many products are now built to be squirrel proof.

Did you know that there are over 10000 species of birds out there? That is part of the huge allure of bird watching is that you never know what might stop by. There have been some pretty amazing cases of birds that normally live in an area thousands of miles away show up in unexpected places. Reporting these kinds of events is extremely important. With nature always changing and human impact still growing, little changes could have big consequences.

Growing up we had a long back porch with big windows. A strong mesquite tree sat right outside and we hung bird feeders from it. We loved watching all the different birds come by. We also put down a quail block right below. We could get dozens of birds at a time with several species. And then we got a cat…

One fun practice is to make your own birdfeeder. I remember doing this with milk cartons. Thanks to DIY sites and Pinstagram there are hundreds of examples of homemade bird feeders. If you really want to increase your avian traffic, look at having a bird bath and bird house outside as well.

     

There are a lot of online resources for learning what bird species are in your area and what to do to attract them. One fun thing would to make a bird-watching bingo game for you and the family. Figure out the local species and a few seasonal ones and set them up like a bingo board. The first to connect a line of them wins!

-Giddy-Up!!

Mason Jars Chickens

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Healthy Hunter: Simple Sides

When it comes to planning out meals for a weight-loss eating program I find the hardest part is choosing a side. I mean the basics are simple. Make sure your meals have a lean protein and a green (or bean). Picking out a vegetable to accompany your meat can be a difficult part and harder to prepare for.

It is pretty common knowledge and practice to have your meals for the day ready to go the night before. Reusable containers are easy to pick up and many are dishwasher safe, microwave safe and free of harmful chemicals. Investing in a good set of these will be well worth it, not just for weight-loss goals. The cheapest way to buy meat is in bulk. Cook up some, portion it out and freeze the rest. You can cook up a whole pan of chicken breast and easily divide it up for several meals. Or get some nice steak and cut it up into specific sized portions. What is nice is that you can prepare and cook meat in so many ways without needing to add calorie-rich additives to it. A little bit of olive oil, minced garlic and salt and pepper go a long way.

But then you have to look at what is going with your meat. Commonly veggies are the go to for sides. Beans though offer some great health benefits and can be supplemented as a side. Personally some grilled chicken and black beans is a mighty fine meal. But beans are much denser in calories and carbohydrates, which can be a concern. Many people will point you towards green veggies as a great option. Green beans, spinach, broccoli and such are low-calorie options where you can use a bunch for the side. This mentally helps as you see a bigger amount of food than what can usually be seen on a plate.

A big suggestion I will put out there are frozen veggies. This is a great option as far as cost-effective, ease of cooking and storage ability goes. While it is true that they are not nearly as nutritious as fresh veggies, they have the other benefits going for them. Bulky veggies can take up some prime real-estate in the fridge and can spoil. Frozen veggies will happily stay in your freezer for months at a time. And fresh veggies can be difficult to cook. Have you ever tried to sauté spinach? After you end up with what was three bags of spinach and now a brown burnt coal thing you will curse the garden gods. And above all they are easier on the wallet. No diet can be strictly adhered to if you can’t afford the food.

I have become a huge fan of the Green Giant brand Steamers selection. They offer over a dozen different options that even have Weight Watchers information on them, which is very nice if you are partaking in that program. It is basically calorie counting, which these also have all their nutritional information on the packaging. So you know just about exactly how many calories is in a serving, unlike having to measure out fresh veggies. I have rarely ever spent over a dollar on these products, which is very nice on the budget. And being able to toss them in the microwave and have them ready in minutes is a huge help.

No matter, keeping your meals simple is going to be your biggest friend. You may be able to make a spaghetti meatless dish using kale, squash and tofu but do you really want to eat that? Naw. But a nice piece of rib eye on top of some green beans, of course!  

Giddy-Up!!

Proper Motivation

Personal Push

Habits

Track It

Limits

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Cutlery Corner: Camp Axes

If you have never seen the movie Tucker and Dale vs. Evil , look into it! This comedy spoof of the old slasher films is hilarious! Now mind you it is rather gory and should not be viewed by some audiences, but it is seriously funny. The basic concept is that two rednecks buy a rundown cabin in the woods where some college kids are partying in. What is normal day affair (such as holding a scythe at a gas station) to the rednecks is scary to the college kids. What ensues is a huge case of mistaken identity/circumstances mixed in with some death. Actually a lot of it. But whatever.

What really got me about this film is the fact that how a certain way of life which is normal for some people can appear completely insane and even evil to others. One thing that can do this in an everyday occurrence is having a camp axe in the back of your pickup. To you it is the handy tool that you would never leave home without, to others…. Well…

But truth be told, I don’t have one and so that got me looking into what we have at our store. And to me there were three camp axes that stood out. (We will go with alphabetical order on this blog.)

The first one is Browning’s Outdoorsman’s Axe . This durable bad-boy is built to last the rugged use one would put it through over the years. This is an easy-to-use and pretty basic axe that keeps camp chores simple. Browning looked at the common issues certain axes fall victim to and stepped up their game. The one piece axe head features an integrated tang that extends down into handle. This is a no-frills, no-fuss tool that would make any outdoorsman proud.

The second is the Gerber Camp Axe II . Another trusted name by outdoorsmen, Gerber knows a thing or two about making quality blades. This is the longest handled single-handed axes they offer. The axe is right under 17.5” long and weighs a little over 34 ounces. Behind the axe blade it also has an edge that is perfect for pounding in tent stakes. This means it has a little extra to it, compared to the Browning above but is still easy to operate.

Last but not least is the fully loaded Zippo Woodsman 4-in-1 Axe . While the previous two axes had a simplicity that is always enjoyable, this thing has a bunch of awesome and extra features. This tool has an axe blade, saw blade, mallet and stake puller element to it. The saw blade is 15” long and can cut up to 4” thick logs. The axe blade is 5” long, making it the longest of these three products. And the mallet and stake puller make all those little chores that much easier when setting up and breaking down your site.

Now please note all of these do come with a sheath. You will want to take care of your product to help extend its life over the years. So depending on the exact kind of camping you expect to do, or the kind of camper you are, these three options provide any one with a solid choice to get the job done!

-Giddy-Up!!

Benchmade North Fork

Sharpening

Bear Grylls Survival Knife

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Bass Pro Bites: Summer Sausage

There are certain foods and snacks that are a must when I go on an outdoor adventure. The cooler can play just as big of a part on the “success” of a trip as any other piece of equipment. When I would wrangle up the boys in high school to go hit the river you could always bet on Chewy Chips Ahoy cookies, glass bottled Cokes and Gardetto’s. If the fish weren’t biting, at least we had some tasty treats to enjoy the outdoors with. My stepdad usually had a couple oat bars, cracker type snacks, cream soda and my favorite a preserved meat. Whether it was jerky or summer sausage, it was usually the first snack to be consumed.

While we have around a dozen different kinds of jerkies and several summer sausages at Bass Pro Shops, there are a couple meat-treats that stand out. Those being the Roadkill and Fender Blend summer sausages. Both of these heavenly meat-logs are packed with different kinds of game inside and made in the USA!

The original of the two was the Hunters Reserve Original Roadkill Summer Sausage. This delicious product has been on our shelves for a few years at least and has been intriguing and delighting customers ever since. At first I didn’t even know about it until my best friend told me. There are a few things that he and I get truly excited over. Jurassic Park, James Bond movies, eggnog being back in stores and preserved game meats. So once he started raving about this culinary concoction that would send PETA into a seizure, of course I knew it was going to be good! This sausage is made up of: rabbit, venison, elk, rabbit, antelope, beef and wild boar. It pairs quite nicely with a white cheddar cheese and good company.

The newest one is the Pearson Ranch Fender Blend Roadside Summer Sausage. I have seen it on our shelves for maybe a few months, but it has grown a steady following. Much like the Roadkill it combines multiple meats together in one delicious form.  This sausage uses a couple different meats though. It includes: bison, elk, rabbit, venison, boar and alligator. I would personally serve this with a nice smoked gouda and a John Wayne western on the TV.

Now many might scoff at such creations, but you never know until you try. Think about all the foods you once never considered but now have a longing for at times. Also since these sausages are loaded with game meats, you get a great serving of protein. Just be sure to portion it out. It is too easy to go through an entire one… or two… of these in one sitting.

-Giddy-Up!!

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

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Take Someone: Camping

OK, so last month you read the checklist blog for winter camping right? Well if not, click on that hyperlink and get caught up. Because like many of you, it got me inspired to do a little bit of camping myself! And so that will be the focus for this month’s Take Someone blog, camping.

Luckily for you, we have talked about camping several times so there is a plethora of information out there. I mean we have that checklist above about gear, one about camp cooking, why camping is important and more. Not only have I tried to provide a solid resource for people, but there are dozens of others doing the same. You can find videos, books, online articles and so much more to help make your camping adventure fun and safe. And both of those things will be a huge priority when taking a first-timer.

We all remember the fear of going camping. There might be bugs… or bears… and a tree might fall down on you… or bears. What if it rains? Is there any truth behind the local legend of the one-legged psychotic ex-dog groomer who river-dances their victims to death?! (Which would be an extraordinary act of balance on their part.) The key for all of these things and more is to be prepared.

Have plenty of water and food for everyone. Make sensible choices as to where and when you go camping. Be bear aware. And think about the little things. Maybe bring an extra set of clothes, in case the first-timers get dirty. Find out their favorite drink or snack and secretly bring some with you. Ask about any allergies, including foods, and plan accordingly. Literally minutes of talking about stuff like this can prevent hours of dread.

Also, make the first trip an easy site. Don’t make them hike three miles back over canyons, just to go to “your spot”. Find an area that has amenities nearby and is easy to pack-up and git in case you need to make a quick trip home. Be sure to teach the practice of picking up after yourselves. Even if your friend doesn’t become an avid camper, I bet they’ll be sure to get their gum-wrapper into a trash can.

Have some activities planned out as well. Fishing is fun, but might be a little much for a first-time camper. Don’t have “Get Firewood” on list of activities, because that is a chore. (If you make it fun and engaging then OK.) Bringing games for the campsite can be a huge benefit.

So besides the normal preparation you would go through on a camping trip, it takes just a few simple steps to ensure a first-timer to have a great time. Just be sure you know where the closest Denny’s is, just to be safe.

-Giddy-Up!!

Previous Trips

Fishing Shooting Hiking Clay Shooting Boating Prospecting

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Arizona Fishing 2015

In a world where information is power, knowing where to go is essential. When it comes to information on the outdoors, sources can be questionable at times. When it comes to fishing in Arizona, it can even be hard to get good information. When it comes to sharing secret spots or working tackle, one can get a cold shoulder. But at Bass Pro Shops we love sharing our passion and recent adventures with those that come to our store. (Just remember that when we bump into each other at the lake.)

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has stepped up though as far as getting information out to the public. And after they restructured their licenses it has never been easier to get out!

Slight Rant:

I have said this before and I will say it again, the best move they made with the restructuring was making Youth Licenses $5. That is for both resident and non-resident. It is also a combo license so it includes hunting and fishing. Which means that kids who maybe only fished before can now trying small-game hunting and not have to buy an extra license. The key is to simply get the kids into the outdoors and they will become lifetime enthusiasts. And with the majority of funding for the outdoors coming from licenses and other fees, it will be important to keep generations of outdoorsmen going otherwise who knows what will happen.

End Slight End.

With easier-to-understand and ultimately more cost-friendly licenses, we are seeing more and more new people getting into hunting and fishing. But a major issue is knowing where to start, or even how. That is where having information is essential.

Going to Game and Fish’s website and visiting their Fishing section is a great start. They have a link to let you purchase a license online, a fishing report section and more. The really nice thing about their fishing report is that it comes from all different sources. Some of it is from department officials and some is from people like us. They also include other pertinent information, besides just how the fishing is, like water level, water flow, recent stockings, closures and more. Also their reports are backlogged, so you can read what was going on before. This can be a great help as a lure or tactic that made it on an older report but not a newer one might just be the trick when you go out.

They already have the 2015-2016 Regulations out, and look at who made the cover! Matt Shura! He is one of our local pros and is on the NITRO Fishing Team. The second Tuesday of the month these guys hold an awesome seminar at our store. It starts at 6:30PM and is completely free! Be sure to bring some paper and a pen!

Online they also have the sport fish species of Arizona, our state records, stocking schedules , consumption advisories and more. All of these will help increase your odds and catching fish and might even save your life! Speaking of state records a number of them have been broken in the last couple of years. And speaking of stocking schedules here is a little note on that subject from one of the weekly reports:

“A quick note on our stocking schedules. It's possible we'll release a stocking schedule in the near future that would indicate exactly what water has just been stocked. As it is, our stocking schedules are just that -- schedules (not certainties). A water is subject to missing a stocking for a variety of reasons, including poor water quality.”

Boom! Drop the mic!

Now another big change to Arizona’s fishing is that of the Community Fishing Program. When I was growing up and fished the lakes in the suburban areas it was called “Urban Lakes”. There was like 16 of them that received stockings of fish and so on. When they restructured the licenses they also restructured this. Now called the Community Fishing Program, there are over 30 lakes included now. They all receive different levels of attention, but are all open to fishing! This means it has literally never been easier to go fishing.

It is definitely worth checking out their website for more information! I learned recently that the lake at a park just down the street from me is included in the program. It also received a stocking of trout, one of my favorite target species, not long ago. Do I know what I am doing on my days off from now on? Well besides after the chores and any honey-do’s…

So be sure to check out all of the information Game and Fish has to offer. And if you are completely new to sport fishing, check out their education course or come on down to our store. We’d love to get you set up and hopefully catching some awesome memories.

-Giddy-Up!!

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Cool Calibers: 7mm-08 Remington

When you look at a lot of things in the world, it seems like one thing should work for everyone. Hats say “One size fits all” and products might state that “every household needs one”. One area though that is definitely not “one size fits all” is firearms. When you begin to look at all the different types, models, calibers, sizes and materials in the firearm world it can be quite overwhelming. There is single action, bolt action, pump action, smooth bore, big-bore, wood stock, synthetic stock and so much more to consider. Luckily when you begin to look at the purpose of why you want a firearm the field begins to get narrowed down. You aren’t going to buy a long gun to keep on your night stand for home protection and you wouldn’t even consider going out to hunt Alaskan brown bear with a single action rim-fire revolver.

While there may be some pretty standard calibers out there, we are always looking and working on new rounds with better velocities or knockdown power. And so to break from the mundane of “standard calibers” we are going to be look at some of the less common ones. And to begin we are going to start with a rifle caliber that has intrigued me since I first heard about, the 7mm-08 Remington.

The 7mm-08 Remington got its start back in 1958. Originally it was a wildcat cartridge known as the 7mm/308. Decades later Remington began to produce rifles in this caliber commercially and attached their name to it, hence giving us the 7mm-08 Remington. It is a center fire rifle cartridge that has been growing in popularity.

Going back real quick, a wildcat cartridge is where a commercially produced cartridge is modified to get better certain performance characteristics. These characteristics could include velocity, efficiency, size or knockdown power. Sometimes a wildcat cartridge goes mainstream while many others find themselves a very small but loyal following. Always consider availability of ammunition before purchasing any kind of caliber, as you may have to take up the art of reloading in order to actually shoot.

Back to the cartridge. The 7mm-08 is basically a .308 Winchester case that is necked down to fit a 7mm bullet. This round lends itself to several different kinds of shooting including: long range, silhouettes, varmint hunting and some game-hunting. It is growing in popularity for hunting African plains game as well. It has a trajectory similar to that of a .270 Winchester. It does fly flatter than the more popular .308Win and .30-06 Springfield.

It is a good choice for younger, older and female shooters as it has less recoil than the .308. Now please do not take any offense at that statement as I am none of those and am interested in this round. It is a great caliber to hunt the medium-sized game here in North America and is even an acceptable round to hunt moose with in Europe.

Most major rifle manufacturers do offer a couple options of products in the 7mm-08 caliber. Hornady, Remington and some other ammunition manufacturers also produce the caliber commercially. Of course the best way to figure out if this would be a good caliber for you, is to test it out. Talk to your friends or get online to a forum and just ask around. Because it has been increasing in popularity, chances are you might just be able to get your hands on one to test. Either way, the 7mm-08 is definitely a cool caliber.

Giddy-Up!!

Other Caliber Related Blogs:

What We Would Take

Gunnin’ for Moose

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Kickin’ It Kiddie Style!

This past holiday season I was fortunate enough to have a lot of my family in town. Including my older brother, his wife and their young son. It what actually the first Christmas our family spent together in a long time, which was really nice. So of course I needed to get my nephew a little something. Especially since his parents named his middle name after me. Even though for months leading up to his birth my brother swore the child’s name was going to be Bruce Wayne. I’ll be honest; I was more upset at not having Batman as a nephew more than I was honored to have my name involved. But to each their own.

So when it came to getting my nephew a gift I went through several ideas, which luckily better judgment and my wife talked me out of. That’s not to say that he won’t eventually get a chainsaw and a .22 lever action, but we’ll wait until he can talk.... I guess. But I found myself strolling through our Gifts Section and found a huge selection of rather cute kid’s shirts. After finding out what size my nephew was, I made a solid choice.

Boom. You like that? Blaze orange and camo! And since they live in Virginia or one of those states he will fit right in! And he gave me the gift of knowledge in return, as he taught me that babies enjoy wrapping paper much more than the gifts themselves.

But now a few months later I have noticed a whole new slew of cute and clever clothes for our youngsters. And remember, this is one of the few times in their lives when we can get away with making them wear this kind of stuff! Enjoy!

-Giddy-Up!!

 

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Fishy Facts: Bow Fishing

So this month we will be taking a different approach to our Fishy Facts blogs. Instead of focusing directly on a fish itself, we will take an in-depth look at a certain way to catch fish. And if you read last month’s Tracker Time blog you would know exactly what kind of fishing we are talking about: bow fishing!

Using specialized equipment, bow fishing allows fishers/archers the opportunity to take fish. I am not sure what you would be classified out of those two (fisher or archer) exactly but you definitely get the best of both worlds. The main differences between regular archery and bow fishing is that the bow will have a line holder that holds the line attached to your arrow. Your arrow does not have any kind of fledging as it not necessary in water. What is necessary though is understanding how your arrow will react when in hits water. Also the arrowhead used will usually be a barbed one that will hopefully keep your fish from getting away. After a fish is pierced it is reeled back and taken.

Typically bow fishing takes place on a boat, as you need to be rather close to the fish to get one and they spook quite easily so be prepared to cover some water. The most common species harvested are bottom feeders including carp but also alligator gar are common targets. In saltwater though, things get kicked up a notch and sharks are a targeted species along with rays. Bow fishing also typically takes place at night when fish are slightly more active and using bright lights are easy to spot.

Of course you will want to look at your local rules and regulations concerning bow fishing. Because not only could you be fishing in the wrong place but now “discharging a weapon” as well if you find yourself in real trouble. Bow fishing has increased significantly over the past few years. What once was a smaller niche market is now proving to be a huge game-changer. Not only in sporting good stores but also ecosystems.

Unfortunately invasive species have done a good job and making a mess of our waterways. One of the most prolific is the Asian Carp. You know, that fish that jumps out of the water when disturbed and have caused serious damage to ecosystems and people that they have hit. Huge efforts to eliminate these fish have been undertaken, and bow fishing allows people the change to specifically target them and remove them much quicker and safer than other methods.

The son of the founder/owner of Bass Pro Shops is huge outdoor enthusiast. Bow fishing has become a huge passion of his, and he loves to show it on his YouTube channel. Our stores now carry a wide variety of bow fishing products as well. Bass Pro Shops also started its own Bow Fishing Championship! It is pretty awesome and definitely deserves a checking out!

While the new products and advancing technologies definitely have a lot of people drooling, it is cool to think about how this sport has evolved from its once simple and survival-importance ways. Our ancestors had to learn to bow fish in order to get the food they so desperately needed.

So do your homework and look into what it would take to get into bow fishing. It may provide that niche sport to get your fisher into archery or your archer into fishing. Either way it is a great way to get outdoors and make some awesome memories on the water. And that is what it is all about.

-Giddy-Up!!

Former Finned-Friends:

Grayling

Northern Pike

Rainbow Trout

Largemouth Bass

Peacock Bass

Walleye

Billfish

Dolphinfish

Crappie

Catfish

Bull Shark

Tilapia

Smallmouth Bass

Brook Trout

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Chicken on a Stick

Like many outdoorsmen I find myself continually thinking about my next adventure. Whether it be a fishing, camping, hunting or whatever trip. It is a passion that runs deep and brings us all to a better place. What is really awesome is the fact that there are so many resources for us out there nowadays. We have websites, blogs, magazines, radio shows, YouTube channels, online stores, brick-n-mortar stores, relatives, friends, DVDs and TV to help get our fix.

 The outdoor industry has been blowing up lately, especially on television. From what once was only a few TV shows on certain subjects, there are now whole channels devoted to outdoor programing. It is awesome! In one hour you can watch and feel a part of an adventure going from marlin fishing to bow hunting moose.

Of course though we still have to deal with commercials. Now mind you, watching an ad for a crossbow is way better than one for the next Kids Bop CD, but still it is a commercial. But one popped on a while ago that had me so intrigued I needed to know more. Because let’s be honest when you hear an announcer talking about “Primos’ new Chicken on a Stick” your curiosity gets peaked.

BOOM! Primos Chicken on a Stick, ladies and gentlemen.

Now why they call a turkey a chicken, I don’t know but it is dang good marketing! Literally say the words “Chicken on a stick”. It’s catchy. That’s probably why those “Chicken in a Biscuit” crackers are still in stores.

Any-who, this turkey decoy is pretty legit. The quality of the product and the realism of the decoy is exactly what you would expect from Primos. This company has been doing an awesome job and making amazing products for years now. They are a name that people trust and look for. While the decoy might actually look like a normal one, how Primos wants this product utilized is a little different.

Typically in turkey hunting a decoy is set up and the hunter is a little ways from it. The hunter then calls the turkey in hoping to get the bird even closer once it sees the decoy. The decoy usually enrages the turkey and sets them into attack mode. Don’t believe me? Watch a video online, or the full documentary “When Turkeys Attack!” It’s real. I watched it. With my family.

But with the Chicken on a Stick a hunter literally sets up right behind the decoy. There is a versatile 2 piece stake that features a built-in gun rest and hand grip that the hunter uses. Keeping hidden behind the decoy and fan, the hunter can shoot the rushing turkey. And be quick, because those things are like raptors!

All joking aside, this is a really nice product and would definitely take your next gobbler hunt to the next level.

-Giddy-Up!!

Other Nifty Things to Look At!

Propane Fire Ring

Hand Towels

Rainproof Camo

She Outdoor

PETT

BPS Extreme Qualifier Tackle Bag

RedHead Gun Rack

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Africa’s Big Five: Leopard

We have finally reached the end of our Africa’s Big Five blog series. It has been quite the safari of knowledge and hopefully you have found it interesting and informative. While discussing animals on the other side of the planet and their fate as a species and game animal, can seem quite distant it actually reflects rather well on our wilderness here in North America. Issues that had major impacts on habitats and species have been key educational instances for us. Seeing how unregulated hunting and development eliminated entire ecosystems, we have set up laws and regulations to protect our precious natural resources. And while our understanding of nature and our impact has changed over the years, let’s get to the star of this blog who has never changed its spots: the leopard.

The leopard is a member of the big-cat family but is the smallest. It is nearly half the size of the other big-cat in Africa’s Big Five, the lion. This does not make them any less difficult or dangerous to hunt. Leopards are a primarily nocturnal animal, and sightings in the day are extremely rare. They are most active during sunrise and sunset.

Leopards have a tawny hide and are known for their characteristic spots. Like the old adage says, they can’t change their spots. Well fun fact, their spots are actually called rosettes. They are very similar to those of the jaguar. The rosettes of a leopard are smaller and closer together than compared to the larger jaguar. The anomaly of either of these cats being completely black is known as being “melanistic”.

The leopard has strong short legs and a long tail that it uses for balance. These cats are commonly found in trees where they have drug their captured prey. This leads to the most common form of hunting leopards, baiting. Once the tracks (or spoor) of a leopard are found a bait animal is hung up and a blind is built. Then the hunter will wait in the blind until the leopard comes, if at all. These animals have amazing senses and are extremely wary. Acquiring a license/permit to hunt one is rather difficult and costly.

The solitary habits of these animals also lead to the low number of sightings as they will not commonly be found in large groups. Usually the largest group of leopards will be that of a mother and any cubs. What is truly amazing about these animals is their adaptability and strength. Leopards will prey on just about anything in order to survive. They have been documented catching prey as small as beetles all the way up to the large eland. They have proven themselves quite the predator of domestic animals introduced in their native areas.

Of course to make the Africa Big Five an animal must be dangerous to hunt. Leopards definitely fit the build. They are extremely silent predators, with many not knowing they are present until too late. There have been numerous documented cases of man-eating by leopards, and some so prolific that professional hunters were hired to eliminate the animal. One leopard was reported to have claimed over 100 human lives during its life. (Pictured above.)

One really interesting aspect that comes up with any kind of hunting, but especially that involving big cats is cognition. This is a condition where human traits are given to animals. Think of it like, well in that cartoon the cricket played the fiddle so bugs must enjoy music too. This is of course an over-simplification of the theory but gets the point across. People believe that animals can have the same thought-process or mix of emotions that we humans do. This is extremely strong in the case of big-cats. People find themselves extremely attached to or “feel more” towards large felines more than other species. That is why there is usually a big upset when a large-cat is hunted. Ask any of the many hunters to have felt the backlash of society when they post a trophy photo on social media. What is crazy though is that people in certain areas live in fear of the all-possible event of being eaten by a large cat.

No matter what, these animals are truly amazing. There is something about their eyes that can just peer into your soul, and even give you goose bumps. It will be interesting to watch what happens to the leopard. Hopefully between the big bucks spent for trophy permits and the little that actually comes from some “conservation” groups, we can keep these animals around for future generations to be fascinated with… and fear.

Giddy-Up!!

Other Members of the Big Five

Lion

Cape Buffalo

Elephant

Rhino

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Spring Fishing Classic 2015 - Mesa AZ

Well it is that time of the year again! Time for the best and catch-more-than-the-rest Spring Fishing Classic! It is going to be ten days of sheer awesome savings and other activities that the whole family should come down for! We will kick it off on February 6th this year and it will run until February 15th! And many people who know about this event are well aware of our rod/reel trade-in special. But this year we are doing some a little extra awesome concerning that!

We will be running the rod and reel trade in for the entire length of the Spring Fishing Classic! What, what?! That’s right, no more date specific for this promotion at our store! It will run the full ten days of the event. I believe I also heard something about line spooling from February 11th to the 15th?

On Saturday February 7th we are going to have fried fish sampling from 2PM-5PM, while supplies last.

On Tuesday February 10th we will start our new promotion, The Next Great Angler! This thing is so cool and secret that I can’t even tell you all about it! All I do know is that you have to register in order to participate and that pre-registration is online. We will be filming contestants in 60 second segments, and that will start at 5PM.

There is going to be a lot going on the last weekend of the event, so be sure to have it marked down in your calendars!

February 13th-15th we will have some local pros giving seminars on local fishing tips.

Friday the seminar will be at 7PM. Topic: Proven Spring Bass Patterns

Saturday and Sunday the Seminars will be at 11AM, 2PM and 4PM. The first 25 attendees to each seminar will receive a free giveaway.

11am:   Unlock the Secrets of Electronics to Improve your Fishing Success

2pm:     The Baitfish Connections: Understanding Seasonal Movements will Help you Catch More Fish

4pm:     Stealth Fishing: Successful Kayak Strategies

February 14th at 3PM we will have a Women’s Fishing and Outdoor Cooking Tips seminar. The first 25 women to attend will receive a free giveaway!

And of course, no Bass Pro event is complete without something for the next generation of outdoor lovers! The kids! We will have several fun and free activities for the youth to participate in on February 14th and 15th!

Casting Challenge- Noon to 5PM. Free giveaway for kids who hit the target. While supplies last.

Free Photo Download- Noon to 5PM

Crafts and Coloring Sheets – Noon to 5PM. While supplies last.

Kid’s Fishing Seminars- 2:30PM and 4:30PM. Free giveaway for first 25 kids to attend each seminar.

We hope you all can come down and take part in our awesome Spring Fishing Classic. Last year’s Fall Fishing Classic was a lot of fun, and this should be even better!

-Giddy-Up!!

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Goin’ Rural: Chickens

Right before 2014 ended, I wrote the Redneck Resolution blog. It was full of possibilities and options to look into for making this year one of your best. And if you paid close attention to the very last suggestion then you would know what this month’s Goin’ Rural blog is all about: chickens! Ahh yea, where my peeps at?

Chickens are awesome. Those who own them know the joy and benefits from having them provides. And those who are looking to start their first flock quickly learn. A quick rundown of why owning chickens are awesome would be:

One, chickens provide two forms of sustenance (eggs and meat).

Two, chickens are an all-natural pesticide and will gobble up weeds and bugs happily.

Three, their poo is great fertilizer.

Four, they are just the coolest things to watch.

To understand chickens you must learn some of the basics. There are typically three different “types” of chickens. Laying, meat and ornamental. Laying birds are breeds that are good egg producers. Meat birds are those raised for their meat. Ornamental birds are those crazy and cool looking birds that one always goes “that’s a chicken!?” at. Most breeds of chickens fall into these three categories and can be the main deciding factor when picking out a future flock. There is a great online resource for chicken owners called BackyardChickens.com and just like those old educational cartoons taught us, when it comes to owning chickens “KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!”

There has been a huge increase in demand for eggs not commercially produced. There are free-range eggs, cage-free eggs, no-hormone eggs, certified organic eggs and more. But what could possibly be better than eggs straight from your own backyard?! Nothing! I would know, I have owned a couple different flocks. My main concern has always been for eggs. I want chickens that will produce medium to large eggs several times a week. So I have owned several breeds that had those characteristics. I tend to skip the ornamental kinds as they tend not to produce many eggs and don’t provide much meat after they stopped laying.

Hens will produce more eggs if there is a rooster around, but you will want to check your local regulations to see if there are any limitations. Currently there are no roosters in my flock as it is illegal to own them in the area that I live. It is important to be consistent about taking the eggs at the same time every day, which will prevent any little chickens from developing. Also be sure to never allow your chickens to eat an egg as once they get a taste for it, they might just eat all the eggs before you can!

As stated above chickens are great at removing unwanted visitors from your yard. They will consume weeds and insects, preventing you from having to use toxic-methods (which is good for everyone). Chickens will also gladly gobble up scorpions and other such insects that many would never want to bump into. Just remember that when you let your birds “free-range” they are more susceptible to being eaten by predators. That is why having a coop and protected area for them to roam is extremely important. There are tons of resources online to either find a plan or buy a kit from when it comes to coops. What is really cool is that coops are no longer boring structures, but can be the main focus of a yard.

Honestly owning chickens has become quite the craze. This is nice as now there are more resources and support for first-time owners. You will learn quickly if you are meant to be a chicken-owner or not. And while many find that they are not, this lets one perhaps “adopt” a fully grown chicken. This is much easier than if you were to raise them from babies.

And like I said their poo is amazing fertilizer. Just be sure to stay on top of it as they make a lot of it. It can become a health concern for both your family and the flock if it is not well maintained. Also chicken-poo has quite the “dissolving” capabilities so take this into consideration when choosing materials for the flooring of your coop.

And last but not least, they really are the coolest things to watch. The way that they scratch and peck at the ground is adorable. My personal favorite is when one chicken gets a hold of something and runs around as the other chickens chase it trying to get whatever it is. We tossed a couple marshmallows to our chickens a while back and it was the cutest thing watching a young Barred Rock run around with it. I think it was Popeye who had it, but I can’t be sure… it might have been Church’s. Definitely wasn’t Nando’s Peri-Peri Sauce.

Just remember to do your research before you jump into this world. There is a lot to consider, but the information is out there.

-Giddy-Up!!

Mason Jars

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Why it Matters: Rangefinders

Because of the technology today we are getting further and further away from our basic beginnings. Once upon a time your day looked like this: get up, find food, get to shelter and go to bed. Then some centuries later it got a little more advanced and you added farming into the mix. Then going to work got added onto it, but other aspects of life had become easier. And as we advanced, so did our technology which went in hand with making living easier but not simpler. The stresses people put on “keeping up to date” has caused some serious physiological issues. And as a society we have gotten farther from our awesome outdoors. And going along with that is the loss of certain skills.

Skills like gardening, fishing, tracking, making fires and others are vanishing completely from people’s ability. A huge thing we have lost track of is distance. Years ago to get the distance to somewhere you would have to bust out a map, nowadays it takes mere seconds on a smart-phone. Global communication has also shrunk our world with international calling being a daily occurrence for some people.

I have also noticed that judging simple distances is getting harder for people. This can be a huge problem, especially when it comes to hunting. Being able to judge and know distances is extremely important because it concerns so many aspects of hunting.

How far away is that next ridge? How many miles will it be back to campsite? When will the sun be setting past those mountains? Where exactly is that deer in relation to me? Will my arrow/bullet be able to reach it? What will happen if my bullet passes through and keeps going? All of these could possibly be a life-changing judgment call.

Luckily GPS has our back when it comes to several of those questions. There is no doubt that this has saved numerous lives. But what happens if the batteries die? Well if you kept track of your direction and landmarks you might just be able to make it back safely and before dark. But what about the second half of questions? Knowing the distance to your trophy/meal is extremely important. If you are out on a big-game hunt you should have taken the time to practice with your weapon. Whether it is bow or firearm you should know the limitations of the tool, the projectile and yourself well. The easiest way to know the distance: a rangefinder.

Many consider this just another gadget to have in the field, but it can be a complete game changer. Let’s say you overestimated your shot and the bullet goes over and carries on for a distance longer. Depending on the caliber and the load that distance can be quite longer. But if you know that the animal is close to 100 yards away you know where to hold to get a good, clean ethical shot.

And that is another reason why a rangefinder matters. The worst thing possible is to have a bad shot. Every hunter knows that the best way to honor the animal you are about to harvest is to take it as humanely as possible. You do not want the animal to suffer, and knowing the distance and therefore how to place your projectile is a must. Archers know this extremely well as distance and angle play a huge part in making a shot. Luckily many rangefinders have built in compensators for when shooting on an angle. Also being able to see just how far away that farmhouse and any possible inhabitants can save you from jail time.

When I went on my first big-game hunt a couple years ago I did not have a rangefinder. Luckily my uncle had an extra one for me to borrow. This made a huge difference. Thanks to it, I was able to humanely harvest an animal. Watching a deer drop right where it stood was one of the greatest visuals of my life. Not only knowing that I wasn’t going to have to track it down but that the animal was not put through pain was something to take pride in. I hope the rest of my hunting trips go like this. I know they probably won’t but you can bet that I will be getting a rangefinder before I go out again.

It may add to the cost of your trip and gear but they are well worth it. Over the past years, rangefinders have become increasingly more accurate, dependable, efficient and cost-friendly. Make sure to check into company-backed warranties on them before purchasing. Many big-name optics companies have some kind of warranty or guarantee on their products.

Giddy-Up!!

Previously:

Getting Outdoors

Picking Up

Hunting

Fishing

Hiking

Camping

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Simple Steps with Wes: 12 Steps Reboot

Undoubtedly, the Simple Steps blogs have been one of the longest running articles we produce. We have gone over numerous subjects since we first started these years ago. It is truly awesome that Wes keeps helping us with these, and providing us with extremely useful information. Last year, we started off with a 12-Step program that was loaded with skills to learn. Wes hoped it gave a guideline and some direction for those of us seeking more knowledge. And like any other “New Year’s Resolution” kind of deal, I am sure many put it on the back burner after a while.

That is why we are going to bring it back to start this year’s round of Simple Steps. You’ll notice that some of the subjects, we have already covered and some new ones still remain. We hope it gets you back into the mindset to make this year one of your most resilient! Enjoy!

A Survival Twelve Step Program

Some people may look at me and say to themselves “Man that guy as got a problem, he should get some help”.  Well the first step to step to recovery from any problem is admitting you have one.  Well the last place to have a problem is out in the wilderness and off the beaten path so I’m here to help and the best time to turn over a new leaf is at the New Year.  To get your year started out right make a promise to yourself to learn a new skill every month this year that will help make you a better, more efficient, and a self reliant survivalist.

 Here is a list of suggestions that might get the wheels turning.  Some may take a little more time than others and some may be skills you already have.  There is no order they should be done so plan around your own lifestyle and replace proficient skills on the list with ones you want to learn.  Remember knowledge is power, but you cannot replace real life practice with just reading it in a book so get out and get your hands dirty.

  1. Land Navigation:  I would break this down into two categories, GPS & Map and Compass.  GPS units can be extremely helpful and most units are user friendly but getting the most from your GPS unit takes skill.  Learn how to set waypoints, understand what GPS coordinates are, and if you have one, update the map programs as needed.  Even though GPS is great technology fails and if your luck is like mine it will fail when you need it most.  Buy a good Compass and get some area maps of wilderness locations that you frequent.  Learn to ready the topographic maps and understand how to plot courses.  This skill will be worth its weight in gold if you ever run out of batteries in your GPS or “Smart Phone”.
  2. Fire Starting:  I cannot stress it enough how important being able to start a fire is for survival.  Fire covers all spectrums of survival from signaling rescue, to protection from elements and predators, to water purification to food preparation.  It is also a psychological booster in a time of despair.  I like to practice different fire starting methods every time I use my BBQ grill.  I pay attention to my technique and the environmental conditions, especially when it does not work.  The last thing I want to do is use a method in a situation that is not optimal and waist valuable energy and time.
  3. Identifying Wild Edibles: Living off the land is the key to survival.  Knowing what nature has provided is a skill that has to be practiced and photos in a book do not always properly represent the vegetation in your area so get out and see it firsthand.  Knowing what is poisonous is also just as important.
  4. Make a Survival Kit: Investing in a survival kit is like buying car insurance, you hope you don’t need it but it’s better to have it and not need it, than not have it and wish you did.  Keep it small and light weight.  To do this, select items that are multifunctional and cover more than one of the priorities of Survival (Protection, Rescue, Water, and Fire).  In Previous Simple Steps we have covered some great suggestions for survival kit items.  It does not have to be expensive but it does have to be reliable.
  5. Health and Fitness: It is common knowledge that being physically fit will expand your chances of survival.  You are already taking a step in the right direction by being active, getting out and going on a hike.  Start small and make simple changes to your lifestyle.  A very simple three step rule to follow is to never go three days without exercise, workout at least three days a week, and never miss a Monday.  You will be amazed at how effective this is.
  6. Water Treatment and Purification: If you have not already, purchase a water purification system.  I love the Lifestraw, but there are many other systems out there as well.  I also carry a bulk water purification system and tablets.  I would also practice making water still and a rain catch as well.  Water is top priority and without it nothing else matters.
  7. Snares and Traps: Once you have established a water source food is important.  Hunting takes a lot of time and energy you may not have.  If you are alone, there are a lot of tasks that need to be completes so having passive systems set up to catch small game and fish while you attend to other needs is a great skill to know.  The more you can set the better your chances to bag a meal will be.
  8. First Aid: Wilderness first aid, CPR, and any other medical skill training you can get help you and anyone else you may come across.  Having a first aid kit is not enough.  You need to know how to use it.  Take a class from the Red Cross, or another accredited source. This is not a wilderness survival skill this is a LIFE survival skill.
  9. Shelter Building: Shelters keep you safe from the environmental conditions and predators alike.  Identifying shelters nature has provided and having the ability to use materials you find to improve upon those shelters will not only help you from expending unneeded energy but will help you preserve what energy you do have.  Practice making basic shelters that are time and energy efficient.
  10. Search and Rescue: Knowing how search and rescue works and searches will help you understand how to make yourself easier to find.  Having equipment on hand to help signal for help can shorten your time in the wild and raise your chances of survivability.  Getting things such as a whistle, signal mirror and flares are a must have if you want out as quickly as possible.
  11. Communications: Most people today have cell phones but they are not always reliable in backcountry areas.  Carrying a hand held radio or CB (Citizen Ban Radio) are a great asset. Most off road vehicle clubs and hiking clubs use these and by scanning you may be able to contact someone in your area for help.  It is also good to have in case your group gets separated to link back up again.
  12. Weather prediction: Knowing how to read cloud formations and environmental conditions is a great skill to help keep you using Mother Nature to help you survive.  Seeing when a storm may be near can help plain when to set up rain catches, take shelter, and when to make fire and which method would be best.  

I hope that this list shows you that there is a lot more to hiking in the back country than just lacing up some boots, throwing on a pack and taking off.  Plan to be at your best when things are at your worst.  See you on the trails.    “

What subjects are you most interested in? Tell us in the comments section below! We are always looking to provide the most pertinent and sought after information to our audiences. You can always get more Wes by liking his Facebook, viewing his YouTube or visiting his site. Until next month!

-Giddy-Up!!

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

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