Look at That! A New PETT!

Now combined with the title and that hilarious video above, you may think that this blog will be about puppies! But stop right there, mister! If you would just wait a minute and look at that title you would notice it is about a PETT and not a pet. And while having a camp dog at your site can be a nice addition to a trip, this PETT will become a must!

The PETT I am referring to is the Portable Environmental Toilet. It is a portable, lightweight toilet that can be taken with you on almost any outdoor excursion. It folds up and stores nicely in a size and shape similar to that of a briefcase (19”X14”X5”). It folds out to a standard size toilet and sits at that height as well. Which is nice because when you go into a lot of home that have been flipped, contractors will cut corners putting in those tiny toilets. Whenever I see that, I just stop and sadly look at it.

It only ways seven pounds and has three quality legs for solid stability. If you have ever used a similar product you may have had experiences with instability and really don’t want to talk about it.

The PETT utilizes the WAG system. (How cute with their abbreviation process!) WAG stands for Waste Alleviation and Gelling. WAG bags are used by the PETT for doing your business. These bags are designed to be degradable. It will gel waste which helps keep it sanitary and will even reduce odors. It is also spill proof and hygienic, which is important considering what we are talking about here.

Your PETT will come with one set of WAG bags, but you will want to grab a couple more. And for those of us who do not want other outdoors people stopping and pointing and of course making others look at that, there is a privacy policy. That is known as the PUP. The Portable Utility Pop-Up Tent can go up in no time and keep the “neighbors from pointing”. It stands 6’6” tall and requires no assembly. It even has storage pockets on the inside. Would ya look at that?!

Oh and PETT and WAG are made here in America!


Other Nifty Things to Look At!

Propane Fire Ring

Hand Towels

Rainproof Camo

She Outdoor


Healthy Hunter: Holidays

Well, the holidays are officially here. And there is almost no avoiding the weight-gain that accompanies them. But there are plenty of ways to decrease the significance of the weight-gain. Just like most things in life, the better informed you are the better prepared you can be. So below will be a breakdown of some of the most classic holiday fare and how to plan ahead for it!

Slice of Pumpkin Pie

323 Calories

13 grams Total Fat

46 grams Total Carbohydrates

5 grams Protien

Notice: Has a good amount of Vitamin A in it!

Prepare: If you know pie is coming, limit to one slice. Maybe cut back elsewhere in the meal as well. It is heavy in carbs so avoid eating before going to bed.

Cup of Eggnog

343 Calories

19 grams Total Fat

34 grams Total Carbohydrates

10 grams Protien

Notice: This is the “kid’s friendly version”. “Spicing” it up a little, will add more to everything.

Prepare: One and done. But absolutely no reason to avoid completely. In fact, mixing it with a scoop of whey protein will give your body extra protein to consume and be an effective/delicious post-workout mix as your body will process it slower.

Ounce of Turkey

48 Calories

1 grams Total Fat

0 grams Total Carbohydrates

8 grams Protien

Notice: This is for cooked meat (white or dark) without the skin.

Prepare: Load up the plate! Go ahead and have some with the skin, just none of that creepy “skin stealing” stuff which I am guilty of myself. Turkey will keep you full and provide you with delicious protein. Dark meat has been proven to have even more health benefits than white meat, so jump at the offer of a drumstick! No turkey? Ham is also a source of lean-protein, just watch out for the honey-glazing.

Cup of Mashed Potatoes

236 Calories

9 grams Total Fat

35 grams Total Carbohydrates

4 grams Protien

Notice: This information is for them made with whole milk and butter, because we all know we aren’t making it with any sissy-stuff.

Prepare: Enjoy a sensible serving of some. Yes, sweet potatoes may be healthier but not after melted marshmallows make their way to the top. Both kinds of potatoes have certain health benefits to them, that the other ones don’t. Just don’t overdo it.

There are a lot of ways to stay in shape and enjoy the holidays. These only come around once a year, but that is no reason to ruin a well-balanced diet for them. Enjoy but don’t over indulge.


Proper Motivation

Personal Push



Why it Matters: Hiking

Hiking is a subject I have noted upon over the past few months. First about etiquette and then how to take someone else out. But is it really something that important? I think so.

Hiking is good for you, not just physically but mentally. You can go over the health benefits from adding cardiovascular exercise to your health habits all day long, but many won’t even think about how good it is for your brain.

Typically one hears cardio and thinks: stationary bike, elliptical machine or treadmill. Lately there has been an increase in awareness of swimming, using kettle bells and other ways to get your cardio in. But those are all in a gym! Where you probably have your headphones in, dread the machine you are on and are truly noticing how one-sided a news station is because Fox is on the TV right next to the one that is playing MSNBC. It is no wonder people get into a rut at the gym.

But hiking takes you out of this kind of monotony. When you are hiking you could be strolling by a river, going up a mountain, following a wash or all of the above. There is so much beauty and wonder still out there in nature. No matter how many times you take a certain trail that each time it will be different in some way. Maybe the flowers are blooming or families of ducks are now at the pond, who knows?! And you won’t know until you get out there!

  Depending on what you are looking for there is probably a hike out there for you. Lazy Sunday? Grab a friend and go walk the local park. Up for a challenge? Look into an overnight or several day hike. There are others out there like you as well! Look for a club or organization to join. Were you aware of the American Hiking Society?

I think it is very important to get younger people out hiking. Not only can this help instill a healthy activity with some, but it can broaden their horizons and lead them to appreciate the outdoors. It is hard for the youth to see much farther than what is in front of them, and lately that has been technology. There may be a time where kids only know of mountain ranges or sunsets from photos online.  Sure some photos are truly amazing, but you would be surprised at what you can see not far from home!

While you are on that hike, you can even consider yourself an adventurer or detective! You may discover a new species of plant, witness a bird that has never been known in the area or catch someone illegally dumping trash. What you may happen to witness could be extremely important.

Hiking is not just something for one kind of outdoors-person, but for all. Everyone can benefit from having others out enjoying the day (and possibly picking up a piece of trash or two). Just be sure to be respectful of the land and other travelers.



Getting Outdoors

Picking Up




Fry This: Bacon

Notice how often you hear people say “anything tastes good fried”? Glad to see that people are finally get their facts straight. Frying is usually a delicious method, though not always the healthiest, way to cook something up. There has been a “fried” craze in this country for a number of years. From festivals devoted to it to having its own TV shows, fried food is everywhere!

Personally I love tossing something into my trusty old cast iron with some hot oil going. I may be from the Southwest but I can definitely get down on some Southern cooking. Now of course certain items always come to mind with being fried: chicken, fish, potatoes and cheesecake to name a few. But one thing I saw a number of years back, still has my mind and stomach captivated… fried bacon!

That’s right. And where did this godsend come from? Texas. Straight shootin’.

Now to make your own at home just follow the simple steps below:



Fry Oil (Vegetable works great)

Bacon (thick cut is preferred)

3 eggs

½ cup of milk



Mix eggs and milk. Drench bacon in this mixture for half an hour.

Fill a cast iron skillet with fry oil and heat.

Roll bacon into batter and drop into skillet. Thicker strips work better as they are easier to manage and won’t burn as easily as thinner ones.

Watch carefully and remove strips when done. Place on plate with paper towels to help with oil.


Some will transfer the bacon from the frying pan to an oven sheet to help crisp it up. If doing this, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and be sure to line the oven sheet with aluminum foil.


Personally I like to use a beer-batter mix to add a little something extra.  And let us face it, if you are eating fried bacon you are not too concerned with calories so enjoy it with some gravy!


Recipes of Olde








Chicken Chile Verde

Venison Stew

Hunter’s Delight


Super Duper Saturday and Sunday!

That is right ladies and gentlemen; get ready for some amazing opportunities coming up at our store! Like the year before, we will be having our Super Saturday and Super Sunday and our Toys for Tots promotions! We have changed things up a little bit from 2013, so see the details below.

First for our Super Saturday and Super Sunday Event:

It will be November 29th and November 30th. So literally right after Black Friday are we going to keep things rolling with some awesome opportunities for ya’ll. The store will be open for extended hours those two days, so we are open at 8AM and will close at 10PM.

The first 100 customers to visit the stores those days will receive a free giveaway! Saturday it is a sweet folding knife and Sunday it is a radical fishing lure. You must be 21 years or older to claim either door prize. Get here early because once they are gone, they are gone!

We start drawing for the prizes at 10:30AM and will actually pull for two different prizes at each time slot! We will pull every hour after the first one so 11:30AM is the next, then 12:30PM and so on. In total we will draw for 16 prizes each day! Entrants must be 21 years or older, but you do not need to be present to win. All items must be claimed in-store though.

If you didn’t get drawn on Saturday, come back Sunday to enter again for another 16 prizes! Entries used on Super Saturday will not be included in drawings for Super Sunday. Below will be the prizes and their time frames for drawings.

Good luck and we will see you there!

Second for our Toys for Tots Donation:

 Customers who bring a toy donation to our store will receive a coupon good for 1 free SW photo package!  Coupons are redeemable for 7 days only; November 29th -December 5th.  The photo package includes: (2) 6x8, (1) 5x7, (2) 4x6 prints and a digital download! It is one coupon per family to donate, not one coupon per donation. We had a great turnout last year and were able to get a lot of awesome toys to some awesome kids! Toy donations must be unopened and in packaging.



Tie One On: Trilene Knot

This month’s Tie On One blog is going to step away from fly patterns themselves, but look at just as an important of thing to consider when fly fishing: knots! Losing fish (and flies) can be a heartbreaking incident. Not only may that have been your favorite Wooly Bugger, but also your largest brown trout to date! Knowing some simple but strong knots can easily protect you from having “the worst fishing trip ever”.

Now I am a huge fan of the Palomar knot, and have written about it before. While this is a great knot, it will not always be your best bet or even an option. For this reason we are going to go over the Trilene Knot.

The Trilene Knot is excellent for tying your fly to the tippet. This knot is very strong and used in place from the outdated Clinch Knot. (Don’t get me wrong, the Clinch Knot is still a good knot but has been long passed in its effectiveness.) To tie the Trilene Knot:

  1. Pass the end of your tippet through the eye of the hook twice.
  2. Wrap the line around itself five or six times.
  3. Pass the end of the tippet through the eye of the loop next to hook eye and pull tight.
  4. Cut off any excess line.

There you have it. While there may be stronger knots, this one is quick and effective. When the fish are biting, every second counts. The littlest of changes can throw off a school of feeding fish, so getting your fly back into the water as quick as possible is essential. But not so quick as to tie a knot that is only going to break on the first fish or other snag. Learn other knots online at our online Knot Library.


Previous Patterns

Woolly Bugger

Royal Coachman

Pheasant Tail Nymph



Africa’s Big Five: Lion

Jambo! Just kidding. We are not getting that cheesy here. But welcome to another edition of Africa’s Big Five blogs! This is where we take a closer look at some of the animals that make Africa famous and are infamous in their home lands. These are the baddest of the bad when it comes to being hunted. Not only do you run the risk of not collecting a trophy, but of never coming home again. Last month we went over the Cape Buffalo who may be the ugliest of the Big Five. This month I decided to go over (probably) the most recognizable of them, the lion.

Now before anyone wants to argue for the elephant being the most recognizable I will make a stand for my opinion. The Lion King. Once Disney makes a children’s movie that is all about a specific animal, you are kind of set in stone. Now yes, you may argue about Babar but that is more of a Europe thing.

The lion is a member of the large cat family, and is the largest of the two in the Big Five. They have a tawny coat with a recognizable tuft on their tails. The males are easily identifiable by their large manes surrounding their heads and shoulders. Their size typically depends on what area of Africa they are in, as there are variances.

These animals are impressive, ambush hunters. Lions are quite skilled at sneaking up on prey without being noticed. They tend to live in areas with high-grass which helps hide them even more. Because of the habitat they prefer and their unpredictable demeanor, they are extremely dangerous to hunt. Many professional hunters worst fear is having to track down an injured lion. Hunting lions does not require as large of calibers as other species in Africa, but that does not mean they should be considered less dangerous.

Usually when discussing lions, many bring up that the females are the main hunters for the group. Lionesses will work in a group to take down prey for the entire pride. When they return with the meat, the alpha male gets to eat first. This leads many to think of the male as lazy, but this is his privilege. Never lower your guard when it comes to these animals. They are designed to take down animals larger than them in seconds.

Lions are extremely famous in Africa and are seen on currency, flags or other symbols. Many tourists come to Africa just to see them in the wild. They are a huge draw for national parks that have them present. One of the most famous stories about these animals is one of the darkest though.

Back when Europe was fighting over the continent there were huge efforts put towards control of land and materials. One of the most important aspects of this was the railroad. European powers raced to complete railways all over. The British Empire was extremely enthusiastic about their ventures in Africa and wanted their trains to go no matter what. In the area known as Tsavo, the workers faced dangers beyond those that come natural with railway construction. A pair of lions claimed the lives of hundreds of workers. The man overseeing the project, Lt. Col. John Henry Patterson, tried for months to dispatch these killers. The workers conducted strikes and blamed Patterson for the animals’ lust for blood. Not only did he have to fight the lions, but his own workers. He tells the whole story in a fascinating book that any fan of hunting lore should have. (The Man Eaters of Tsavo) The made a movie in the early 1990’s telling the tale, with some additional liberties taken as typical with Hollywood. But for the most part it is all based off of what actually happened. (The Ghost and The Darkness) The fact is that pretty much since lions and humans have shared space in Africa, there have been man-eating lions. While you may say that those lions were from over a hundred years ago, read any of Peter Hathaway Capstick’s books on the subject and you will see it is still a present issue. People will usually only look at “recorded numbers” for facts, but with a land like Africa there is so much that happens that no one knows of or reports.

Now of course people will want to tell the story of the men in England who raised a lion together. Eventually they released the animal back to nature in Africa. Years later the men visited the area where their previous pet was and it recognized them. They all embraced in a way that can bring a tear to a grown man’s eye. Very touching, but not something I would ever want to be a part of.

Lions are officially marked as being “vulnerable” as a species. Due to human population increase and therefore development creating loss of habitat and natural food, lions have seen their once native range diminish. One may still hunt lions, which actually helps protect the species. The money paid for the tag to hunt them and everything else that comes with an African hunting trip (which is a lot) goes back to the local culture and the management groups that oversee the animals. So before you get upset at someone posing in a trophy picture with a lion, understand that they have put forth more money that goes to those animals than most non-profit groups would claim.

No matter how one may feel towards them, they cannot deny that they are fascinating animals. Lions are beautiful creatures, a sign of power and have a roar that can send shivers up just about anyone’s spine.



Simple Steps with Wes: Communication

When I received this month’s Simple Step from Wes I noted how suiting it is. It is all about communication, and that goes along with the holidays to me. This is the time of year when we all reach out or hear from distant relatives and friends that we haven’t heard from in a while. The “Happy Holiday” texts pop up throughout the season. We all kind of relax and get back to what really matters in life and that is to spend good times with good people.

Now Wes isn’t teaching us about how to talk to “Crazy Aunt Millie” or how to handle grandpa on his Thanksgiving meal filibuster. He is focusing on communication and how it can be a huge difference in a life or death situation.

“I've been in a lot of backcountry situations that require communication and having the right communication in place can a life saver, literally. Weighing the pros and cons of a communication system can keep you at your best when things are at their worst.

Cellular Telephone: Always carry a fully charged phone. In a group, carry two phones that use different carriers. You can make cell calls from surprising places. A phone can have useful apps that can be downloaded to the phone and not actually need signal. For communication a text requires less signal strength than an actual voice call which can get a message out in an emergency. 

Citizens Band or CB radio: I don't know how widely channel 9 is monitored these days, but this might be the right choice for some areas, especially if local hunters, jeepers, and other outdoorsman use them. Hand held units runs about $70. The range is vastly increased with a better antenna.  The radio with antenna would weigh about a pound. There are some park services and law enforcement agencies that monitor these radios in remote areas as well and are a great option for weather monitoring channels and traffic alerts when traveling.

Hand Held Radio: Very useful for communicating between groups on the trail and a base camp. If you do have capable operators, consider these radios which you can also send Morse code are much lighter, but you'd better have two good Morse operators! These are line of sight and terrain features and signal power can limit their effectiveness. Stick with higher end brands such as Motorola or Midland quality.

Satellite phone: The most straightforward and the most expensive solution. If you are going a couple of days from the trailhead, seriously consider renting a satphone. Be sure to bring the right phone numbers for emergency response where you are going—911 is not going to work.

SPOT Connect: SPOT makes several satellite tracking/messaging products, but the only one with sufficient flexibility is SPOT Connect. It allows one-way text messaging with GPS location. If you are willing to configure the SPOT Connect and your (fully-charged) smart phone, and train more than one person in your crew to use it, this could be a good option. But remember, it is one-way.

Using Radios

It helps to understand how radio waves work in the terrain you will be traveling through. Most radios need a direct path ("line of sight") between the transmitter and receiver. When both are on the ground, the signal will be blocked by ridges or the curvature of the earth. When one end is a satellite, ridges don't matter. Trees and leaves can block the frequencies used by FRS/GMRS and by satellites. HF radio waves bounce off the ionosphere and are not blocked by ridges or attenuated by foliage, but the best frequency varies from day to night.

Finally, practice. If you want radio to work in an emergency, use it regularly. Also carry a 9 line medevac card in your first aid kit which can help get proper care in an emergency. “

Below is an example of a 9 Line Medevac Card. Feel free to use and share this. Thanks, Wes! Always keep up to date at his site and check out his bio!



Previous Steps



Halloween Edition

Survival Kit

Daylight Estimation

Determining Direction

Eye Protection

Nature Calling

First Aid Kits



Edible Fruit

Search and Rescue



Celestial Navigation



Take Someone: Skeet Shooting

Raise your hand if you have ever asked someone if they have shot guns before and they answer no but have shot shotguns. Now put your hand down, because the people  around you are puzzled at your actions. This brings a couple things up to ponder. One, why does shooting shotguns not constitute shooting guns? And that shooting shotguns seems to be the most common way to introduce someone to shooting.

Back in July of 2013 I wrote about shotguns. It was inspired because I took a poll on our Facebook of the favorite firearms for one to shoot. Shotguns did not make the list, but they took center stage in my blog.

Now mind you, this blog is about taking someone skeet shooting, but I am just using that as an overall term. I am including shooting trap and skeet, blasting clays on your own and shooting action targets with this. Shooting shotguns in this way still covers all the essentials for safety when handling firearms. It also throws in a bit of more fun as the targets are typically moving.

As Wikipedia would explain, shooting skeet is where the shooter “attempt(s) to break clay disks mechanically flung into the air from two fixed stations at high speed from a variety of angles.” This means there are two places for the clay birds to fly from and is usually going across from the shooter. Trap shooting is a little simpler as it utilizes only one station that throws the targets. These targets also are typically flung so they fly away from the shooter. Action targets (also known as sporting clays) come in a variety of different patterns. They typically mimic the natural patterns that game would travel in. So that could range from how dove, quail, duck, geese or even rabbits would enter and exit a hunter’s zone of fire. These are my favorite.

Shooting clays is also more exciting as it can be a group event and tallied up for scoring (and bragging rights). Also when you hit your target you can see a reaction, whereas paper targets tend to just stay there. It is always impressive to watch someone “dust” a clay, where the whole thing pretty much just dissolves right there in the air. Being able to smoke two targets in one shot always puts a certain kind of grin on one’s face.

Skeet is also a recognized Olympic sport. Currently the greatest nation in the world (us… the U.S.) holds the record for number of medals won at the sport.

But so to take someone you will want to cover the basics. Have eye and ear protection, a proper firearm and plenty of ammunition. Luckily shells are a little bit more economical than shooting other kinds of firearms. Once a new shooter gets the hang of things, you will be impressed with how many shells they will go through. Always emphasize safety and proper shooting though. If you do not hold the shotgun in the proper posture it can have quite painful consequences. The worst thing you can do to a new shooter is let them hurt themselves and be turned away from it forever. Using a 20 gauge can be a great starting place for new shooters. Personally I love shooting 20 gauge. It makes one take better aim and can damage less meat on game taken. Of course there is always something to be said about the effectiveness of a good 12 gauge.

Make sure you go over cleaning the shotgun at the end of the trip. This will instill a good mentality into new shooters that they need to care for their firearms. Plus usually all you need to do is run a pull-through down the barrels and pay a little attention to the mechanical parts.

Oh and did you know that there are scholarships available for skeet shooting and other shooting sports? Look into it!


Previous Trips





Santa’s Wonderland: Preview Night 2014

Come join us as we kick of the greatest event we hold all year, Santa’s Wonderland. Hopefully you have already read the Attack Plan blog, if not do so immediately. The previous blog will help you get prepared for the main stretch of our awesome Santa’s Wonderland event, but this blog will about a specific and very special day.

Preview Night is when all the magic truly starts. Santa will arrive, riding in a bass boat (totally awesome) around 5:00PM. Before that we will have carolers, cookies*, hot chocolate*, entry forms for a chance to win several $25 Bass Pro Shop Gift Cards and more!

After Santa arrives he will show off some of his holiday magic by lighting all of the garland and trees in our store! Then he will unveil Santa’s Wonderland for the very first time this season!

At 5:30PM we will draw for the first of the five $25 Bass Pro Shop Gift Cards. We will draw for the rest of them every half hour after that. You must be present to win, and any winners who do not claim their prize by 8:00PM will have their Gift Card re-entered for a re-draw at our Main Tank!

Santa will start taking pictures around 6:00PM and go until 8:00PM. Around that time, our Crafts* will be going as well! They are free and extremely cute. And the first 125 kids who visit Santa’s Wonderland will get a Free Backpack Clip*!

So grab the family and come on down for an awesome opener! And remember to be sharing with others your great experiences and the helpful hints of the Attack Plan blog.

-Giddy-Up (Jingle Horse, Pick Up Your Feet!)

*While Supplies Last


Good Times and Game Meats

I love family get-togethers. Having the whole crew underneath one roof and just catching up is probably one of life’s greatest joys. And what always accompanies get-togethers is one of life’s greatest delights, food.

I love food. No wonder they both go together so well. I am sure that you have thought about not showing up at a holiday party or relative’s home only to remember some delicious treat that you have not stopped thinking about. An item that shows up at a couple of my families’ houses is game meat.

Venison, elk summer sausage, antelope pepperoni sticks, bison stuffing and so much more wind up on my plate during the holiday season. Game meat always provides delicious snacking and of course a conversation piece. Maybe that sausage was from someone’s first hunt or whatever.

Now one of my guiltiest delights is “dipping” snacks. Guacamole, salsa, chip dips, this chicken-enchilada thing that Aunt Traci makes and so on. Pretzels, carrots, chips, cucumbers and so much more fall victim to array of possibilities. So when I saw a certain item online my heart stopped and my jaw dropped.

Hunters Reserve makes Wild Game Cheese Crocks. They have two different 2-packs with some awesome options.

One pack is Pheasant with Smoked Gouda and Venison with Queso Cheddar.

The other is Elk with Roasted Garlic Cheddar and Buffalo with Chipotle Cheddar.

I am trying to come up with a way to replace “while visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads” in The Night Before Christmas but “elk with roasted garlic cheddar” doesn’t lend itself well to poetry.

These items are only available online, so order quickly. It will take a couple weeks to be delivered and I would suggest ordering a couple of each. You know it is going to be good and it might be the first thing to be consumed completely this year. Besides, no matter how much you love your family… game meat infused cheese dips is thicker than blood.



Fishy Facts: Tilapia

Well. Had another brain fart when it came to deciding which fish to do a Fishy Facts blog about. If you remember way back when I did the one about the Dolphinfish, I had a rather extravagant way to break through such things. (Involves throwing a pair of binoculars at options, but at the new office location it is a little frowned upon.) So in a less possibly hazardous form, I just called over and asked the lovely Janine in our Tracker Department for a suggestion.  Not only did it sound like a good option for a blog, but also for lunch. She chose: Tilapia!

What once was an obscure fish; tilapia has now become quite the staple worldwide. Its appeal as a game fish and table fish has made it quite popular. This fish can put up a strong fight and grow to quite impressive sizes (depending on the species). They also lend themselves extremely well to being raised in commercial or individual farms. Tilapia quite commonly finds themselves being utilized by people doing aquaponics or other sustainable processes.

Now tilapia is the common name for over a hundred species of fish, so like I said there are variances. These fish are found naturally in almost everywhere but North America. They prefer warmer freshwater. Tilapia are vulnerable to cold water temperatures, so many who own them have to keep a heater going for them in the winter. Pretty much since they first started arriving in North America, they have made a big splash.

They look very similar to our sunfish and pan fish species only with a more extravagant dorsal fin (almost a sail) and in different colored patterns. Now in some areas they are considered invasive species, so some have a very negative outlook on them. This brings into mind that everyone should be conscious of what they are doing. An organism that does not belong in a habitat can wreak havoc and destroy ecosystems. This seems to be happening more and more as the world becomes more connected. While they may not look or be as menacing as the snakehead fish that have started making themselves present in our waters, they should not be released into public waters.

Tilapia will feed upon algae, which can be a convenience for some. They are commonly being put into golf course ponds to help naturally keep algae at bay. They do not mix well with other fish as they tend to destroy the bottom going after food which can offset other fish species. These fish also breed profoundly and can grow at extraordinary rates. Currently China is the largest producer of farm raised tilapia. Many American backyard enthusiasts are reducing a need for foreign imported fish.

This is of personal interest to me, as getting away from commercially created/cultivated items is healthier overall. So let us talk about raising tilapia. I mentioned aquaponics, which is a topic for a different time, but let us look at basics. First you will need a place to put them. Aquariums work but an in-ground or raised pond can quickly amplify your stock. You need to start with a “breeder stock” where you have several females to one male. Give them food, space and time and then let nature take its course. Of course you will want to keep an eye on water quality as that can have consequences on these animals. Also be sure to look into the legal issues pertaining to this, as some places will require permits for building ponds or prohibit the import of certain species.

So next time you are out fishing and happen to catch one of these fish, feel free to keep it if allowed. Not only will you enjoy the beautiful appearance of these fish but the versatility of preparing this fish as well.



Former Finned-Friends:


Northern Pike

Rainbow Trout

Largemouth Bass

Peacock Bass






Bull Shark


A Fine Nine: FNX 9

So here is a throwback! Who remembers the Fine Nine blogs? Anyone? Well the last one was from back in March of this year, so let’s get this series off again with a bang! That shouldn’t be too hard, considering we are talking about handguns that shoot 9MM. And to kick off the revamp of this series is a gun that is just awesome, the FNX-9.

This firearm is produced by gun manufacturing legend, FN Herstal. This company was founded in 1889 and is still based out of its homeland of Belgium. The FN stands for Fabrique Nationale and Herstal comes from the town in Belgium they hail from. It is a subsidiary of the same company that also owns Browning and Winchester. Currently FN Herstal is the largest exporter of small military arms in Europe.

This company may be a European classic, but it is gaining a following here in America along with a presence. They have two entities here in the U.S.A., FNH USA and FN Manufacturing. The latter company is based out of South Carolina, where they produce many of our military’s most prolific firearms. (The M16, M249 and M240 to name a few.) The firearms of FN are used by over a hundred countries’ military.

One could go on and on about all the different models of firearms this company makes, but we are going to focus on their FNX-9. The FNX-9 is an updated version of their FNP line of handguns. It is a semi-automatic, polymer framed, hammer fired pistol. (This is opposed to their FNS line that is striker-fired.)

What is very nice about the FNX is its versatility. Both in the roles it can play as a firearm and its ambidextrous features. They have magazine releases, safety/decocking levers and slide release levers on both sides of the firearm. As this company usually seeks military contracts, these features lend itself very well for right and left handed users.

Beyond those features, the FNX-9 does have a Picatinny rail (for accessories), fixed three-dot combat sites, and a loaded chamber indicator. I like the little features of a loaded chamber indicator, but also know not to completely rely on it (along with external safeties) as they can malfunction. These firearms also come with three magazines, a hard plastic case and interchangeable back straps.

Compared to the FNS models, the FNX has a much larger external safety. This is nice, as one can easily flip the safety off while drawing the firearm. It also can be shot in both single action and double action. This gun is a full size as it was designed to be a military sidearm. This means it would be more difficult to carry concealed, but because of its size the recoil is minimal. Also to help with the recoil, the barrel and slide travel up to twice the distance of some other semiautomatic pistols, before separating. The spring absorbs more momentum from both the barrel and the slide.

Two issues that one could encounter are the grip and the aftermarket item supply for this firearm. The grip has a rather “aggressive” checkering to it. It is made so to have a more secure grip no matter what conditions you may be in. (The firearm could be dusty, your hands could be cold and so on.) So while those who understand the purpose of the grip can appreciate, others might be left with their hands hurting. An easy way to get around that is to shoot with tactical gloves. There also is not a lot of aftermarket items for the firearm itself as well. It will be a little bit more work finding holsters and other accessories/add-ons. Not necessarily a deal breaker by any means, but still something to be considered.

Also last but not least, field stripping this firearm is quite easy. As having just taught my wife about field stripping handguns, those that are broken up into just several main pieces is something to be appreciated and considered.

So next time you are looking at a full-size 9mm handgun, be sure to check out an FNX-9 as it might just become a member of the household!


Previous Nines:


Glock 19


Beretta 92


Your Attack Plan: Santa’s Wonderland

So every year, we hold our amazing Santa’s Wonderland event at our store. And it is not just our store, but most Bass Pro Shops nationwide! Anyone who has seen it or taken part of it knows how awesome it is. The North Pole literally appears in our store. We have icicles, talking caribou, games, activities and so much more. (Last year’s blog will give you a good indicator of what to expect this year.) Every year we see hundreds if not thousands of happy people and family take part of this event. And every year we see more and more come from the prior years.

The biggest draw is definitely the FREE picture with Santa Claus. Yes, you read that right, FREE PICTURE WITH SANTA!

To my knowledge we are the only major retail company in the world that does this, and we have over at least sixty stores in the company! We are proud and more than happy to be able to give so many people and families this amazing experience and opportunity.

Unfortunately though, we get extremely busy and sometimes cannot accommodate all the visitors to Santa’s Wonderland. Visitors can make the trip to get a free picture only to be informed that they won’t be able to do so that night. Santa Claus does have a curfew after all, and you do not want to see an upset Mrs. Claus! With how much our traffic increases for this, you are going to need a plan. An attack plan (if you will)! That way you will hopefully not be one of the few that cannot be accommodated and stay on Santa’s Nice List instead of becoming a “Grinch”.

Keep up to date:

We will have information on our Store’s Webpage , Facebook and Blog Page. You can also call our store at 602-606-5600 and talk to our Operators to see how busy it is. You know that phrase, better safe than sorry? We will always be happy to take a minute or two to let you know what the likelihood of seeing Santa for the free picture is, before you make the drive to our store (which may be over an hour for many).

Know the Bass Pass:

Our Bass Pass system is a way to reserve a spot in line for a later time to get a picture with Santa. We have Bass Passes for the hour and half hour marks when the picture station in going. (I.E. 6:00 Bass Pass, 6:30 Bass Pass, etc.) Towards the end of the event it always gets busier, and usually one will not get a picture with Santa unless they have a Bass Pass. You can call ahead and see what timeframe the Bass Pass is at, but you cannot reserve one over the phone. Just know that sometimes we will be completely out of Bass Passes for the day by Noon towards to end of the event. You also can come in earlier in the day and get a Bass Pass for a later spot.

So here’s a good strategy: Come in when the store opens, ask for a Bass Pass later that day (say 4:00PM). Spend the day doing other activities, come to the store closer to the timeframe. You will want to be there about an hour before your Bass Pass, that way you can enjoy some of the other activities we have going on. You can also stop by our amazing restraint and enjoy some tasty treats, awesome game meats and a comfy seat to take in all of our saltwater themed splendor!

Watch the Calendar:

Preview Night (the big kick-off) is November 15th and it will go until December 24th! Santa does leave early on Christmas Eve, as after all he has a few stops to make that night!

Our store will have its Holiday Hours going, so you will want to know those.


11/28-Black Friday- 5AM-10PM

11/29 & 11/30- Super Saturday and Super Sunday- 8AM-10PM

12/1 thru 12/23 – 9AM-10PM

12/24- Christmas Eve- 8AM-6PM

12/25- Christmas Day- CLOSED

12/26 thru 12/30- 9AM-9PM

12/31 & 1/1 – New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day – 9AM-6PM

1/2- Resume Normal Business Hours- 9AM-9PM

The biggest draws for our Santa’s Wonderland are definitely the picture with Santa and also our adorable crafts! The crafts are free but it is while supplies last. These crafts also change periodically, so you might get to make a few different ones if you visit us every couple weeks.


Weekdays: 5pm-7pm

Weekends: Noon-5pm

Thanksgiving 11/27: 3pm-5pm

Christmas Eve 12/24: 3pm-5pm


Preview Night 11/15: 5pm-8pm

Sundays 11/16-11/30: Noon-5pm

Sundays 12/7-12/21: 10am-5pm (Including Local Hero Night on 12/14)

Saturdays: 10am-8pm (except Preview Night)

Weekdays 11/17-12/5 (with exceptions): 3pm-8pm

Thanksgiving 11/27: 10am-5pm

Black Friday 11/28: 10am-8pm

Weekdays 12/8-12/23: 10am-8pm

Christmas Eve 12/24: 10am-5pm

Now notice that the hours do get extended after a certain date, but that does not mean you should wait until then. Many people do not think about coming in early during the event when it tends to be slower and are almost guaranteed a photo even without a Bass Pass. Like I said before, the later it gets the busier it gets.

A coworker of mine from a previous job, always comes in early during the event to get the picture taken. He and his wife love it because they don’t feel rushed and are not stressing out like many families who try to make it in at the last minute. They tend to come back a couple times later, but don’t worry about “maybe getting a picture” because it is already taken care of. Also, this family has an ongoing collection of “Crying Baby” pictures with our Santa that are just too cute. I am looking forward to seeing them (and the newest addition!) this year.

Spread the Word:

Many families have been letting others know about our Santa’s Wonderland, and we love it! But go the extra mile and share with them these tips and this blog! They will be forever grateful and appreciative of both informing them of the event and how to rock it!

We hope to see you all there and hope you make note of this plan. We hate possibly disappointing visitors, so take the necessary steps to ensure you won’t be one of them! And remember to call ahead! 602-606-5600.

-Giddy-Up!! (Jingle Horse, Pick up your Feet!)


Top Five Trout Baits- Version 2.00

So you may be looking up top at the title of this blog, noting that it is version 2.00. It gets this little add-on for a couple reasons. Many moons ago when I first starting writing for our Bass Pro Shops in Mesa, AZ this was one of my very first. Not noticing though when it was approved for publishing that a certain reoccurring joke was removed. So now I am republishing in its original and beautiful format. After all, republishing old material is half the fun. And a standby for television writers… gotta love those “flashback” episodes. It also gets the “2.00” because I have come to realize that I have written over 200 blogs for our store. It has been a lot of fun and hope you all have had a laugh or two while learning about something new. So please enjoy the unedited Top Five Trout Baits blog and here’s to another future 200 blogs!



I’ve got a fever, and the only medicine… is more trout. That’s right I am addicted to fishing and have been for quite some time. My mother used to wake up in the wee hours of the morning and find me sitting right in front of the TV. Like the creepy little girl in Poltergeist I would be surrounded by the ominous glow of the electric hearth. And what would be on? Fishing programs.

Make all the puns and jokes you want (“Snagged on fishing” “Reel-y love to fish” “Make my own stink-bait”) but getting hooked into fishing is simply awesome. A great way to get kids into fishing is through one of my favorite species to catch, rainbow trout. These fish are fun, colorful and taste great with black pepper and garlic.

Here in Arizona, getting into some trout can be as easy as going to a local urban lake or an adventure to the Northern part of our state. Half of the fun of fishing is exploring. Going after trout can be as complicated or simple as one chooses. Below are our Top 5 Trout Baits. These can be argued, but from what we have experienced they rock!

  1. Worms – These are a staple in the fishing world. You can catch just about every species available with this classic bait. There are hundreds of ways to rig and fish with them. (And if you have some left over just toss them to the chickens! Little Lawry and Honey-Chipotle sure love it when I do.) Sure they wiggle and squirm, but that’s half the fun.
  2. Corn – A can of corn will set you back for less than $1. You can feed them up a shank hook or load up a treble hook. They are simple and easy to use. Didn’t use them all? Boom! There’s a side for dinner! There’s something just classic about a pot of corn on a green Coleman stove. And cooking outdoors is half the fun.
  3. Dough Baits – This can include home-made or store-bought. Berkely’s PowerBait TurboDough is a staple in my fishing pack. Personal preference is the rainbow pattern. I also make my own bait at home the night before a trip. The stuff is sticky and will get all over your clothes, so bring a towel. But then again, getting messy is half the fun.
  4. Marshmallows – These delicious treats beat out salmon eggs to make it on this list. People do swear by salmon eggs and they are great bait. Personally though, marshmallows are better bait for Arizona trout. They are easier to find in a pinch as well. You can also snack on them while fishing and make delicious smores at the end of the night. And as everybody knows, making smores is half the fun!
  5. Velveeta Cheese – Even though it is not really cheese, but a cheese product. This stuff works like magic for some of the areas I fish. It is easily rolled into a ball to put on a hook. The color also seems to attract the fish. Keep it cool to stick better to the hook, hot Velveeta tends to fall off the hook easier. And here’s a little situation: Fishing one minute, raining the next. Head indoors and warm up with some tasty Velveeta and Shells! Scientific evidence has not been tested but would probably prove that warming up with tasty Velveeta and Shells after getting rained out is half the fun.

Feel free to take a number of these baits with you on your next trip. Trout tend to switch up what they are hungry for, so a plethora of options will serve you well. Giddy on up and go get ya some trout! Yeehaw!


Healthy Hunter: Habits

With getting into the holiday season, many of us get to see long-lost friends and distant relatives. At the same time though, we can see something that does not bring us as much joy. An increase in bodyweight. Now genetically and culturally this happens because we are getting into winter and the temperature is starting to lower. Your body naturally wants to hold onto extra weight to help keep it warm. Culturally we see an increase of higher-calorie intake and seasonal sweets. Think about the big get-together meals or the multiple parties full of food. And like most of the advertising and marketing for the food industry, pumpkin and peppermint flavoring is everywhere!

Now by no means am I saying to stay away from these foods. This is usually the one time of the year when you can enjoy such delicious delights. I personally am an unashamed eggnog fanatic. But binging on these sweets and other fare can be quite dangerous. So the key is to start getting into healthy habits as soon as possible.

Now depending on who you talk to, what you watch or read there are thousands of different opinions on health. You need to always think about what it means to you, and not buy into the always evolving “fitness/health” gimmicks. Like I have said before, that industry are the best at alternating your mindset and getting you to “buy” (literally and figuratively) into whatever they are selling. The three key habits are what I call the Three Double-U’s (WWW).


Keep hydrated! So many health issues can be avoided if you drink enough water. Drinking enough water can help keep you fuller, preventing over-eating. Cold water has also been proven to increase your metabolism. H2O is way too LAME-O? Get an infuser-bottle so you can add different fruits to add flavor and keep out processed items from sodas. And not just water, make sure you intake electrolytes as those play a huge role in your body.



Make it a habit to walk places. Maybe take the stairs instead of the elevator. Got a loved one? I don’t care if it’s a spouse, offspring or canine take them on a walk. Morning, night or both. It is always more enjoyable to do so with someone else. Walking after dinner will help metabolize everything you took in


Just watching what you are in taking and how much of it is going to be the best way to control your eating habits. There are hundreds of different diets or systems (Atkins, Paleo, 40-30-30, etc.) and most of them run into issues with the holiday season. Sure enjoy that slice of pumpkin pie, but not the whole pie or every night. Make sure you are having protein with your meals as well.

The Three Double-U’s can ensure a healthy lifestyle without having to change much about your routine. As we all know, us humans are creatures of habit but when putting our mind to something can accomplish just about anything.


Proper Motivation

Personal Push


Why It Matters: Fishing

It was my first day back at this position and we had our VIP Rewards Night. It was nice coming back and seeing a lot of familiar and favorite faces. Catching up was a lot of fun especially being able to show off my wedding band. It’s not just for ladies! I mean look at it…

Deer Antler. Wood. Turquoise. Tight.

Anyways, I ended up spending a good amount of time talking to a lovely lady. She had some questions about fishing rod combos and I did my best to help out. We went over the basics and the differences between the basics of fishing rod set ups. She was purchasing a spin caster for a friend but was also curious about spinning and bait casting. And fishermen can argue facts and statistics all day long about what is better and why, just like recreational shooters can, but it really comes down to personal preference.

I learned how to fish on a spin caster. Then as I grew up I got into spinning reels. I haven’t fished with a spin caster since then, but will always have a soft spot for them. They are so simple and easy to use, it’s no wonder why many people start there. Zebco played a pivotal role in my life, just like it has for many others before and after me.

The lady I was talking to seemed worried that getting a spin caster may look childish. That is when I went ahead and said that it really doesn’t matter. You know that phrase “Different strokes for different folks”? Pretty much sums up life, don’t it? She then admitted that she didn’t even really care if she catches anything.

She just likes to get out onto the water and relax. There is this weird bond between us humans and water. Catching a fish is just icing on the cake. And that’s why fishing matters. It gets you outside. It lets you connect to the great outdoors. There is something truly amazing about the tugging on a line with a fish on the hook!

The bonds one can make when taking someone else out fishing goes way deeper than just catching a fish. People who fish, like many other outdoor enthusiasts, care for the outdoors. They are the ones you will see picking up trash left along a stream. They are also the ones that know what is really going on with fish populations and water levels. Fishermen can provide biologists and nature departments with extremely important information regarding the health of water ways.

So next time you’re out on the lake and about to toss your lure at a fishy spot, just remember it’s not about landing “the big one”, it’s about more than that. But it would be sweet to land a lunker too!



Getting Outdoors

Picking Up



Holiday or Training Day?

So I’ve been thinking about it. Halloween is like a mini-training day for the zombie apocalypse.


The streets are filled with thousands of people running amok, there is blood (fake) everywhere and you had to prepare yourself for this onslaught of hungry creatures. Sure, the prepping was really just stocking up on candy and maybe putting out a lawn ornament or two but that still is prepping!

So riddle me this scenario:

Its Halloween night. Kids running around. Sweet! That old lady down the street is handing out king-sized bars! Hey, don’t bother at that house because all they have are those weird orange peanuts. Aww! They even dressed up their little pug! How cute!!

BOOM. ZOMBIE OUTBREAK! It spreads quickly as the majority of the population is outside. Sure enough people get bit because they think that guy “in a zombie costume” is just really good at pretending to be one! All of the sudden those creatures at your door are now desiring brains and flesh over Twizzlers and Laffy Taffy! They don’t want Reese’s Pieces, they want Reese in pieces!!!

Keeps me up at night.

So what steps could you take to actually be prepared for a zombie outbreak? Here are my suggestions.

First you need to think about either staying or leaving.

 If you’re leaving, just git! You probably already have your bug-out bags ready and a plan in place. You know what vehicle you are taking to what location. Just go and good luck!

Staying? Time to hold down the fort! Make sure your place is secure and well prepped for such a circumstance.

Start collecting as much water as possible. Fill up sinks, tubs and anything that can hold water. Have yourself a water-filtration system to ensure you are getting good water. (A Life-Straw is a great addition to a bug-out bag or other kit.) Maybe even get some large containers that you can fill up as well.

You’re going to have to eat, so have canned goods or freeze-dried foods on hand. If you have to cook it to eat it, have something in mind and plenty of fuel for it. Be sure to have back-up systems just in case. Know how you are going to ration everything as well. There is incredible information out there to figure out what exactly your body will need to survive.

Protection/Defense. Know what you want to have for that. Every situation is different, but have something that is reliable and you can be comfortable with. Also be sure to practice with whatever you choose so you know what to do in certain circumstances. (Get yourself some Zombie ammo while ya can!)

But according to scientists this should not happen (this year) and the Cardinals look solid. (Just sayin’.)

So have fun this Halloween and remember, don’t be the house with those orange peanuts… or candy corn.



Simple Steps: Trick or Treating

Do you know what you are going to be for Halloween yet? A ghoul? Superman? A Butterfly-Unicorn Princess of the sea?! Well no matter what you dress up as, you should also be one more thing: safe. Halloween is a great time to run around, get free candy and pretend to be whatever or whoever you want for a night. But being safe should also be a priority. Thousands of kids this year will be out running around neighborhoods at night. So paying attention to these Simple Steps can ensure that you have an awesome and safe time out there.

A lot of the costumes that are popular (vampire, ninja, Darth Vader, etc) can be a little dark. This combined with it being nighttime can make it a little hard to see some trick-or-treaters. So besides having a container to store all their sweets, trick-or-treaters should have a flashlight or reflective material on them to help increase their visibility. Wearing a glow-stick can also help keep you safe. Parents and chaperones should also have a headlamp or flashlight to help keep an eye on the little ones.

Parents and chaperones should also have a backpack with them. Here you can hold water, a first-aid kit and have some room to help carry some of the candy for the kids. There is a fee of course for the last service provided which would be a piece of candy, so pick out something good!

Have a designated “house limit”. That means that the trick-or-treaters should know exactly how far ahead (or how many houses) they can be from the chaperones. Also if there are houses with the lights off, it usually means they do not wish to be disturbed and be mindful of that.

Sometimes people can make amazing home-treats to hand out, but these should be avoided. Always choose candy or treats that are individually wrapped. And if candy is found in damaged packaging or already opened, just discard it.

Besides being safe, also be sure to be polite. “Please” and “thank you” are always appreciated and might even get you an extra piece of candy!

 A few suggestions I might make for costumes, that would help one get to dress up and be safe:

Construction Worker- Reflective safety vest

Miner- Headlamp

Electronic Dance Enthusiast- Glow-sticks galore!

Hunter- Blaze Orange Accents

So have fun out there, but please be safe! And if you have an extra “Dots” let me know!


Previous Simple Steps with Wes:



Halloween Edition

Survival Kit

Daylight Estimation

Determining Direction

Eye Protection

Nature Calling

First Aid Kits



Edible Fruit

Search and Rescue



Celestial Navigation



Look at That! SHE Outdoor

So most of the time when a couple goes around Bass Pro Shops together, it’s usually the husband who will just stop and look at something. I mean, just look at it! Sometimes I feel bad for our ladies but then again I’ve done my time in Macy’s. But lately women have been getting into the outdoors in a big way, and there is a product line that can stop a women dead in her tracks and just look at it!

SHE Outdoor has brought an amazing number of products to the market just for ladies. Hunting has been a “man’s game” for a long time so women’s products have been slow to come about. Now however, it’s time for the ladies to shine!

As their page says

“SHE Outdoor offers a full line of hunting clothing specifically tailored for the female body. In times past all women had to choose from was square and bulky men's clothing in smaller sizes that greatly impeded their movement when shouldering firearms, drawing bows, stalking game, climbing treestands, or while doing what hunters do most—walking. Wearing proper fitting clothing allows women to now concentrate solely on the hunt.

SHE Outdoor offers a complete line of hunting clothing ranging from noninsulated shirts and pants for safaris and early season hunts in North America, to insulated and waterproof outerwear for hunting waterfowl, or going after big game in Alaska. No matter where your adventure takes you, SHE Outdoor has you covered. “

Part of the fun of hunting is picking up new gear. We men salivate over reviews from Field & Stream and Outdoor Life and now women can do the same. It really opens it up for husbands to share with their wives, fathers with their daughters and women hunters to their friends a chance to share a passion.

SHE Outdoor also has its own line of professional women hunters that help give insight and a face to connect to for other female hunters. Just like how young athletes have their superstar idols that they aspire to be like, women hunters now have the same. Some of the biggest inspirations for women getting into the outdoors, especially archery, were the female characters from Brave and The Hunger Games.

SHE Outdoor comes in all the standard patterns that any hunter would need. What is nice is that they also didn’t go extremely effeminate with it. I mean there is nothing wrong with some pink and camo, but SHE Outdoor did not go overboard on it. They make good quality gear.

I mean would ya just look at it!


Other Nifty Things to Look At!

Propane Fire Ring

Hand Towels

Rainproof Camo