Fishy Facts: Striped Bass

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Giddy-Up!!

Former Fishy Facts:

Grayling Northern Pike Rainbow Trout Largemouth Bass Peacock Bass Walleye

Billfish Dolphinfish Crappie Catfish Bull Shark Tilapia Smallmouth Bass

Brook Trout Bow Fishing Bowfin Common Snook World Fish Migration Day

Yellow Perch American Paddlefish Cutthroat Trout

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Goin’ Rural: Dutch Ovens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Giddy-Up!!

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

Aquaponics

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Healthy Hunter: Rest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Giddy-Up!!

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

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Top That: Ladies’ T-Shirts

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Giddy-Up!!

Kids Clothing

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A Better Boot: Ariat Conquest

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

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

THE ARIAT CONQUEST!

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

-Giddy-Up!!

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

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RedHead Select Outfitters: The Timbers at Chama

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Giddy-Up!!

Other Adventures:

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

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Tie One On: Purple Haze

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

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

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

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

Until next time!

-Giddy-Up!!

Woolly Bugger Royal Coachman Pheasant Tail Nymph Crawshrimp Own Creation

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

Blue Winged Olive

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Simple Steps with Wes: Snake Bites

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The following wilderness treatment strategy will be useful:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-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 12 Steps (Reboot) Military Lessons

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Fall Hunting Classic 2015- Mesa, AZ

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

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

Trade-Ins:

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

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

Sweepstakes:

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

Seminars:

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

On August 22nd we will have four separate seminars:

1PM- Archery Tune-Up

2PM- Scent Control and Scent Products

3PM- Boots 101

4PM- Knives and Tools for Hunting

For the Family:

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

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

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

-Giddy-Up!!

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Find Your Gun’s Groove: Part One

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

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

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

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

T-Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Giddy-Up!!

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Cutlery Corner: Gerber Suspension Multi-Tool

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

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

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

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

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

-Giddy-Up!!

Related:

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

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Fishy Facts: Cutthroat Trout

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Giddy-Up!!

Former Fishy Facts:

Grayling Northern Pike Rainbow Trout Largemouth Bass Peacock Bass Walleye

Billfish Dolphinfish Crappie Catfish Bull Shark Tilapia Smallmouth Bass

Brook Trout Bow Fishing Bowfin Common Snook World Fish Migration Day

Yellow Perch American Paddlefish

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Ascend Your Gear: Canoes

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Giddy-Up!!

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

Other Ascend-ings:

3 Piece Backpacking Cooking Set

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Big Game Basics: Red Deer

I am a huge James Bond fan. And let’s be honest, Skyfall was awesome. It had a little bit of everything and a lot of what us die-hard fans desire. One of the most iconic images from the movie, would have to be as 007 drives onto his family’s old estate in the DB5 and he passes the large animal statues. Now for any hunter, our hunts jump immediately at the sight of their animal. It may be the longest hunted big-game animals, when it comes to form of sport over sustenance. And that animal is the Red Deer.

The Red Deer is one of the largest members of the deer family, and probably has the widest range. They are found all over Europe, parts of Asia and are even the only true deer to inhabit Africa. They have been introduced all over the world, and have done well at thriving in most locations.

The males are called a stag or hart and the females are called a doe or hind. They are very similar to elk, which leads to them being confused for the other. Like with most other game species, there are subspecies of the red deer but it mostly breaks down to physical differences in antlers and overall size. As mentioned above, they are one of the largest members of the deer family. (Moose, elk and sambar deer are the three largest.) The males weigh on average around 440 pounds and the females weigh on average around 315 pounds.

Like most deer family members, only the males grow antlers which go through the typical annual growth process. These animals also grow a much thicker coat to help with the oncoming colder weather during Autumn. They have their prolific red color during the warmer seasons and usually dull down to grays in the winter time with their coats.

These animals have long been sought for a food source and sporting source. Red deer are known to be farmed/ranched for their meat, antlers and coats. Many exotic game ranches have red deer as a quarry for hunters. But while they are commonly raised, they are still the largest non-domesticated animal living in some certain parts of Europe.

As stated above, these animals have been successfully transplanted to various parts of the world. One of the first examples of this goes all the way back to 1851 when a pair was sent to New Zealand. New Zealand is now considered one of the best places to hunt red stag. (But from what I understand, Spain doesn’t have trophy fees so it’s probably a little cheaper to go there. Just sayin’.) But in some areas that they have been introduced, they have changed ecosystems as they competed with native animals.

Natural predators of these animals include: bear, wolves, leopards, lynxes and even wild boars are known to feed on young animals.

These animals have always seemed to capture our attention. Ancient cave drawings even depicted red deer. They have always played an important part in mythology and folklore, and for a while were reserved for royalty. But now everyone can enjoy these magnificent animals.

-Giddy-Up!!

Other Big Game Blogs:

Mountain Goat White Tail Deer Moose Caribou Buffalo Bear Dall Sheep Walrus Blacktail Deer Cougar Muskox

Mule Deer Coues-Deer Pronghorn Antelope Turkey Elk Bighorn Sheep Javelina Roosevelt Elk

Lion Cape Buffalo Elephant Rhino Leopard

Other Animals You Might Bump Into

Bobcat Coyote Rattlesnake

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Trade ‘Em On In: Bows 2015

Several times throughout the year we hold a trade-in for items. This is a great chance to bring us something old and get some savings on something new! We have done trade-ins for bows, optics, fishing poles, video games and I am sure more.  (Last one we did was for our Gone Fishing Event.) With our Fall Hunting Classic starting off, we are unveiling this year’s bow trade-in.

The bow trade-in works quite simply. You bring us an old bow/crossbow and trade it in for a coupon. That coupon will save you money on a new bow/crossbow. You pick out what you want and the coupon will take off a certain amount on your purchase. See below for exact details. Bada-boom!

But what if you don’t have an older bow to trade in? You can purchase a cheaper one at the store and use that for your trade-in! The thing to remember is that these bows do get donated to local youth-groups or non-profits. So this equipment that gets traded in does go to good use and may in fact inspire the next generation of archers!

The trade-in will run from August 3rd until August 16th! This trade-in does exclude long bows and recurve bows.

Now parents, I am sure that many of you are getting requests from your kids to get into archery. And that is awesome! It is a great way for kids to learn several important skill-sets and keeps them from staying indoors all the time. There are also numerous scholarships for archery that go unclaimed! My suggestion for you would be to encourage your kids to get into archery and look at a “grow with you” bow. These are bows are specifically designed to grow and match your child’s development through many years. (That Bear Cruzer package is a pretty sweet option.)

So what are you waiting for?! Now is the time to get something prime!

We've got some great archery deals online, too! www.basspro.com/Hunting/_/T-12425000000

-Giddy-Up!!

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Rustic Recipes: Moose-loaf

So one of my favorite foods is meatloaf. And one of my favorite meats is moose. So when I discovered this delicious recipe that combined those two things together, I decided it had to be the next focus on our Rustic Recipe blog series. For those of you, who don’t know the flavor of moose, get on that! This meat is delicious and extremely healthy. It is usually a special occasion kind of meat, unless you happen to have a freezer full of it (in which case, call me), so making the most out of it is important.

Anyone who has ever tried to introduce people to game-meat, know that this can be a touchy and delicate situation. Hence why people usually get their first taste of game-meat via a chili or burger. I could think of no better way to be inducted into the word of moose than with this recipe. Enjoy!

Dry Ingredients:

2 tablespoons of parsley

1 teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon of ground sage

½ cup of bread crumbs

Wet Ingredients:

1.5 pounds of ground moose meat

½ medium sized onion- finely chopped

2 eggs

¾ cup of skim milk

Sauce Ingredients:

¼ Ketchup

2 tablespoons of brown sugar

1 teaspoon dry mustard

In a mixing bowl, combine all dry and wet ingredients. Mix together well and then put into desired cooking tray. (Typically a loaf pan.)

Bake in oven for 50 minutes at 350 degrees. You will want an internal temperature of about 150 degrees.

While that is going, mix together all the sauce ingredients. After you hit the 50 minute mark, put the sauce on top and continue cooking for 10 more minutes.

And bada-bing bada-boom, you have a delicious treat full of nutritious meat.

-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 Catfish

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

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Ascend Your Gear: 3 Piece Backpack Cooking Set

I have noticed that outdoor enthusiasts seem to go through trends. And I am not talking about people pursuing the newest or hottest upcoming outdoor activities. I mean like how they like to enjoy the outdoors. Decades ago, you went camping and it was basically you and the tent. You had your base camp and it was into the woods for entertainment. Then toy-trailers and RV’s hit the scene, and this became the “norm” for camping for a while. Your base camp started to include several multi-wheeled items and cable TV. Now though, people tend to be going for a mix of the two.

Another trend I have seen is in gear. First you start with big, bulky and numerous items for a trip. Then you whittle it down to lightweight and multi-purpose gear. Then you work some of the older and proven pieces into the space age. But no matter what part of that trend you are in, quality gear has always been something well appreciated. Which is why I bring you “Ascend Your Gear” where we take a look at awesome equipment that will help you ascend to the next level.

Now one of my favorite things to do outdoors is cook. And I have gone through the trend of starting with several large pieces of equipment to working down to a blender bottle with a scoop of protein. And I knew there had to be a middle-ground. And that is exactly what I found with the Ascend 3-Piece Backpack Cooking Set.

This backpack cooking set comes with two pots and a lid (that will fit both). One pot holds .7 liters and the larger one holds 1.5 liters. They both come with collapsible (or huggable) handles. I use the term huggable, because when the handles are closed around the pot, that’s what they look like they are doing.

Both are also coated with the Quantum 2 system, which resists sticking and abrasion. The total weight for everything is only 12.7 ounces! And it also includes a mesh bag to help you carry it. With space being a big importance for people going outdoors, the fact that these will stack neatly inside each other is a great help. There is even enough room to put an isobutene fuel canister inside as well.

Immediately I think about using this set to prepare a nice cup of soup or maybe some hot cocoa. Also just using it to boil natural water to help kill any hidden bacteria is a nice bonus. Plus the teal accents… who doesn’t love teal accents?

-Giddy-Up!!

Previous Reviews:

Toxik XT Bow Package Arrow Tips Blackout Ground Blind 8 Tray Dehydrator Propane Fire Ring Hand Towels Rainproof Camo She Outdoor PETT BPS Extreme Qualifier Tackle Bag  RedHead Gun Rack Chicken on a Stick Traeger Smoker/Grills Casio Pathfinder RedHead Wellington Boots  Weather Vanes

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RedHead Select Outfitters: Hampton & Hampton Guide Service

So far in our RedHead Select Outfitters blog series, we have been giving a lot of focus on whitetail deer guides. To be honest though, this has been one of the most popular kinds of services available for years now. But for this month, I felt we should take a look at a more tropical location. For a couple reasons: One- my brother-in-law is back in Florida right now and I miss him. Two- I just remembered how awesome Swamp People is! So we are going to take a look, from a safe distance, at a world class American Alligator guide service: Hampton & Hampton Guide Service.

Hampton & Hampton (to be known as H&H from hence forth) has been in the business for over twenty years. They are based out of Melbourne, Florida and alligator hunting is what they do. Many guides and outfitters will offer a variety of game to go after, but these guys are strictly all about the gator. Which is good, because having competent and confident guides is essential when going out after these mighty animals.

Not only are they well noted and made it to the top-notch list of being a RedHead Select Outfitter, but they have been getting attention and coverage for years now. They have been featured in writings for books and magazines, one article was written by world famous hunter Jim Shockey. They have also been featured on over two dozen television shows. Oh yea, that article written by Shockey was about a SCI record 12 foot alligator taken by muzzleloader.

All this recognition and publicity has not gone to their head though. Safety is their biggest concern and they know where issues might occur. Their guides are well-equipped and prepared for any emergency situation. They have also maintained a magnificent relationship with outdoor conservation groups. H&H work very closely with groups like SCI to help protect and educate people. They also help educate local Law Enforcement on how to handle alligators and alligator hunting. H&H has donated numerous hunts for fundraisers and has participated in programs like “Hunt of a Life Time”.

When hunting with H&H you can opt for a rifle hunt during the day or a bow/harpoon hunt at night. Swamps really come alive at night, and while TV might do a decent job at capturing what it’s like, there can be nothing else like firsthand experience. H&H has everything you will need for any kind of hunt.

Along with having a safe hunt, they want you to have a memorable hunt. And from just one bit of writing they used, I can tell without a doubt that hunting with them would be a good time. “Each of our hunts are performed on private lakes and canals. These gators were not previously trapped and released before it was time to hunt. Rather, they are 100% free range, tail slapping, mouth snapping, boat biting gators with an all-around bad attitude. (They have a worse attitude than your mother-in-law did the night she showed up at your bachelor party).”

So next time you are thinking about an awesome trip, think Florida and Hampton & Hampton Guide Service. (Plus if you have to bring the family, think about all the other places they can go while you hunt!)

-Giddy-Up!!

Other Adventures:

The Basics Mellon Creek Ducks N Bucks Blue River Whitetails

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Goin’ Rural: Aquaponics

You know what I love? When a “new idea” comes out and it totally blows everyone away… And then to only find out that the concept has been around for years. Like the movie Avatar. That film pretty much could have saved the entire United States economy if the federal government had invested in James Cameron. Visually the movie is as stunning and engaging as anything else out there. But the plot was pretty much Dances with Wolves moves to Ferngully and adds in tiger-striped pterodactyls. In our world where goin’ rural has become the new in-thing we have seen many older concepts reemerge as popular sensations. From people raising backyard chickens or repurposing pallets, all of these trends come from older wisdoms. And nowhere is that more apparent than in aquaponics.

What is aquaponics? Basically it is a form of farming that involves a sustainable ecosystem with minimal impact on the area it is being practiced in. There are three major components to it: plants, fish and water. It is then broken up into sections but basically it flows like this:

The fish are in the water, where they eat and then do what we all do after we eat.

The water from there is brought up to another area, where the plants are located in some form of laying material. The plants are not kept in soil, but more often than not some form of porous rock/gravel.

The water, full of the “good stuff”, flows through the roots/laying material which fertilizes and feeds the plants. This causes the plants to grow.

As that water passes through this area, it is purified and oxygenated as it makes its way back to the water with the fish in it.

So that is basically it. It has also revolutionized the “green-scene” and urban farming. Because there is no soil or chemicals involved it is much safer on the environment. Also because the water is continually circulated you do not have to use gratuitous amounts to “water” the crops like you would normal farming. And wouldn’t you know it, but many people use fish species that reproduce and mature rapidly. This then gives you a replenishing supply of new fish as you are able to harvest your older fish after a while.  So you get your greens and protein in a one-stop shop!

Now, you can see aquaponics popping up everywhere. To match the growing trend, numerous states now have their own specialized aquaponics stores. Online there are dozens of sites (this one is pretty good) and numerous YouTube videos dedicated to this subject.

But back before the Internet, yes that was an actual time, aquaponics was in practice thousands of years ago. Evidence of this farming practice has been seen in ancient civilizations such as the Aztecs and in areas like Southern China, Indonesia and Thailand.

Now this practice can be seen on both the individual and the industrial scale. Commercial farmers are finding great success with this practice, as are the backyard enthusiasts. A month back I found a little 3-gallon table-top aquaponics set on clearance at a local retailer. I have been fascinated with this concept and decided to give it a try. It came with: the tank, rocks for the bottom, a small pump with tubing, laying tray, porous rocks, seeds and rock and water treatments.

 It took me about thirty minutes to set up. I purchased additional rocks and a structure for my little fishy friend that would inhabit the tank. The manufacturer recommended a beta fish for the tank. I picked up a nice healthy blue one, and being inspired by Jurassic World I named him Blue… he’s the beta… who is the alpha? You’re looking at him kid.

The kit came with seeds for wheat grass and radish sprouts. It took only about eight days from set-up to being able to harvest my first crop! That was then fed to my chickens. And they loved it! Looks like it is time to start setting up a full-scale effort in the backyard. I give it about a week before the missus notices anything.

Giddy-Up!!

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

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Cool Calibers: 5.7x28

I don’t know about you, but to me there is one firearm manufacturer that always seems to just come up with the coolest stuff. It is one of the oldest and most recognizable names in the industry as well. That being FN Herstal. (Commonly called FNH or just FN.) They make some of the most recognizable firearms for military, police and civilian shooters. They have also played a major impact on the development of new calibers. And today, we are going to take a look at one of their finest and most controversial creations: the 5.7X28mm.

You know the phrase “One size fits all”? Well it doesn’t. And this is extremely obvious when it comes to the world of firearms. Not everyone likes .45ACP and other rounds leave “more to be wanted”. Whenever an army or agency standardizes something, it is always met with praise or despite. NATO has its standard calibers, and they went with the 9mm for their side arms. Of course, people being people, there are many who dislike this caliber and want something better. NATO put out the request for a replacement cartridge to be created and FNH stepped up with the 5.7.

The 5.7 is a smaller-caliber round that has quite impressive velocities. Testing of the 5.7 started in the early 2000’s and was put up against the 4.6X30mm (which was designed by Heckler and Koch). The 5.7 got much higher marks for superior performance during the testing process. Shortly after it began being adopted by numerous militaries and agencies in close to four dozen different countries.

Originally NATO wanted a caliber that would outperform the 9mm in several aspects. They wanted the new caliber to have better accuracy, range and terminal performance. Just to spice it up, they also requested that the new caliber be able to penetrate body armor, which the 5.7 does along with all other requests by NATO. To fire the round, FN designed two firearms specifically for it. They made the P90 (a shoulder-fired personal defense weapon) and the Five-Seven (a semi-automatic pistol). Because of the smaller nature of the cartridge both of these weapons would be considered “high-capacity” due to the number of rounds they are able to carry.

All of these aspects that make the caliber and its carriers so impressive, also adds to the controversy. It did not take long after the development and revealing of these products to militaries for the public to want the same. And while what civilians get are not nearly as “impactful” as their military counterparts, it has been extremely dramatic. Many anti-gun groups immediately sought to ban these firearms from civilian use. If there are two things we can learn from whenever anti-gun groups make public cries against something they are: sales will immediately increase dramatically and no matter what those who would look to use such products illegally will still be able to get access to them. It is just that simple.

Sales of the Five-Seven has been astronomical, and actually seeing one inside of a store is considered a rarity. All of the things that make them so desirable to militaries are also what a defensive-carrier looks for as well. This firearm does have a “stained history” with it being used in prolific mass-shootings. The P90 has not come under such high scrutiny, but in fact finds itself being used exponentially more and more in film and television. The P90 is a fascinating firearm that probably will get its own blog one day, but later perhaps. And yes that is MacGyver with one below.

For certain users, this caliber may have the perfect application purposes you are looking for. Just know that you will be continually looking for the ammunition or firearm to shoot it with. It is able to be found every now and then, but usually gets wiped off the shelves when it is in-store.

-Giddy-Up!!

Other Caliber Related Blogs:

7mm-08 Remington - 357 Sig - 16 Gauge - .22’s Catch 22204 Ruger10mm Auto

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