Cool Calibers: 16 Gauge

With the third installment of our Cool Calibers blog I will be successful at focusing on a more-obscure and less appreciated caliber in rifle, handgun and now shotgun. I am hoping to continue this pattern for the following installments, but I might just run out of shotgun calibers to focus on. Which actually let me apologize for my incorrectness concerning this. Shotguns are measured in gauges, not calibers. Gauge refers to the diameter of the barrel. There is more to it but that is not our focus today, what is will be the 16 gauge shotgun!

The two most popular shotgun gauges are the 12Ga and 20Ga. The 16Ga sits right in between them. It was originally known as a “gentlemen’s gun” with the 12Ga being marketed and used more heavily by rural people. It is also considered a European firearm, as it originated there and has retained popularity. The gauge is perfect for upland bird which is the majority of its use.

Once conservation and wildlife agencies got their acts together in early America, bag limits and seasons were set to protect animals. This significantly reduced the number of birds hunted and protected many species from extinction. But what is a shot gunner supposed to shoot at if not birds?! That is where skeet came into play. Such shooting activities as skeet and trap provided shooters a recreational way to keep firing. Unfortunately the rules were written to not include 16Ga in them.

Because of this and the majority of shooting turning to sporting instead of sustenance, manufactures produced more of the 12Ga and 20Ga. And so slowly the 16Ga disappeared from American fields. Manufacturers of 16Ga products tried to step up their game with the quality and diversity of the gauges possibilities. Unfortunately all was too little too late and further pushed the 16Ga from American minds and gun cabinets.

I remember growing up and the 16Ga was mentioned as if it was a legend. When I learned that my best friend’s Belgian grandfather had a side-by-side 16Ga (still in Europe) I knew to look upon it would have been like finding the Holy Grail. For years I grew up listening to my friend’s father talk about the firearm, and I will tell you what: It was beautiful!

This adds to the majesty of the round. The “gentlemen’s gun” was given high praise and often handed down through generations. The nicer guns always survived adding to the “nobility” of the gauge.

A couple years back though I noticed something interesting on the shotgun ammo shelves. It was a box of 16Ga. And then I noticed some more. Yes, there has been new life breathed into this classic firearm. Manufacturers and shooters are bringing it back into the public’s conscious. The fact that you can shoot the 16Ga a hundred times and not be sore, and carry it all day and also not be fatigued makes it a great upland bird gauge.

-Giddy-Up!!

Other Caliber Related Blogs:

7mm-08 Remington - 357 Sig

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Healthy Hunter: APP-Etite Help

So a few months back I focused on tracking goals, meals and workouts for a certain health/fitness goal. I was very old school with this article. I mean I suggested using pen and paper for goodness sakes! And I was suggesting generalized tracking, not so specifics. In this day and age with smartphones and whatnot, how could I offer up something so retro?! Well simple actually, I hadn’t found an app that was good enough to do what I needed done. I remember downloading a couple workout apps a few years back and they were absolutely horrible. The worst.

But fast forward a few years and thousands of people are trying to get healthier and hundreds of companies are looking to help/make a buck or two. Nutrition and exercise applications for smart-devices have never been better. There are hundreds of options to choose from. Just remember to think about what you are looking to get out of it.

If you are more concerned with nutrition, then find an app that focuses on that. Make sure it has a weight-tracking feature, a way to add food into a daily diet log and other helpful information. Some apps have the ability for you to plug out your desired macronutrients. This is where you specify what percentage of your daily diet you want in the form of carbs, proteins or fats. I would look for an app that feature a calorie tracker up top, so you can always quick reference it and know where you are at and if you should have that second slice of pizza. Any app that you look at should have a huge database or way to upload a quick-food. You’ll want a large database of food to be able to plug in because smart-devices are designed to store infinite amounts of information that we could not hold onto. I don’t know about you but I can’t give you the complete nutritional content for 2/3 cup of green beans in a second, but an app can and should.

Maybe your diet is solid but you’re having trouble at the gym. Look for an app that has hundreds of exercises pre-loaded (because there are that many) that you can modify to enter. You should be able to specify number of sets, reps and the weight/resistance used. Most workout-apps are also sure to feature a cardio tracker. Most of us listen to music while at the gym, and it’s usually on a smart-device. Being able to update your app with previous set information, while resting and listening to tunes is a huge help. I’m bad about resting between sets, so giving myself something to do helps a lot. Plus this way you aren’t trying to write awkwardly around machines and weights. And its private. Sometimes people will try and “peak at your notes” if you are writing down weight-lifting information. I’ll yell at people to “do their own work” or tell them that “I’ll let the teacher know!” just to embarrass them. It’s fun.

As far as I go, I have been using the “MyFitnessPal” app for a few months now. It is actually a solid combination of both nutrition and exercise app. It has all those little features that I mentioned above and even more. One feature that I love is being able to scan a barcode for a food product and then have it uploaded into my phone. And while the app doesn’t feature all the exercises that I do, I have the ability to create my own.

Be sure to do your own research as you will have your own specific needs and wants.

-Giddy-Up!!

Proper Motivation Personal Push Habits Track It Limits Simple Sides Hunt Ready

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.22’s Catch .22

Think back to the first gun you ever shot. What was it? Dad’s first rifle? Or perhaps your great-uncle’s squirrel gun? Well more than likely it was a .22 of some kind. There are several variations of .22 which includes Short, Long, Long Rifle and Magnum. It is the most commonly owned caliber in the world. This is usually the first firearm one shoots as it is a step above from a BB gun but not nearly as powerful as a center fire rifle cartridge. They use this caliber in the Boy Scouts and for Hunter’s Education purposes.

That is not to say that .22’s are kids play. Far from it. I have heard from several retired officers that it is the most common cartridge used in crimes. There are also countless stories/rumors of it being the “assassin’s choice” for handgun. Which may or may not be true but let’s not put any faith into that. You can put faith though into the fact that .22’s are lethal out to far ranges and should be treated with all the seriousness as any other firearm. It may not kick as much but it can still cause serious damage.

A few years ago you could walk into almost any sporting goods store and pick up a box of .22. It was no harder to find .22 ammo at a sporting goods store than it was to find bread at a grocery store. Nowadays though, good luck. Finding .22 ammo on the shelf is like successfully hunting a unicorn. OK, maybe not that bad but it is a rare sight. At our store, the most common phone call from a customer is about the status of .22 ammo. I am sure this is the same for other Bass Pro Shops and other sporting goods stores nationwide.

It all started with the usual fear of gun-bans. There had been some prolific mass-shootings that took place and even some legislation proposed though our government. This caused a rush on the market and people began buying up everything. Handguns, long guns (especially AR-15 style platforms), high-capacity magazines, accessories and ammo were being bought up by the truckload. Certain calibers like 9mm, 45ACP, 223Rem, 308Win and of course .22’s of all kinds were the most sought after.

For months after the initial scare you could come to our store and see a line of people waiting to get in as soon as we opened to see what we had on our shelves. Talking to people at other stores, this was the same state-wide and more than likely nationwide.

But so what’s the deal? As people will say “it’s only .22” and you begin to wonder why you can’t find it. It’s not like they aren’t producing it anymore. On the contrary! Ammunition manufacturers saw what calibers consumers most wanted and started just focusing on those. More obscure rounds have stopped being produced commercially as those machines are now needed for your common calibers. So where are they all going?

I have heard some people say it’s the government, that they are buying it all up so the youth can’t get into shooting. Like we said earlier, it is the most common caliber for kids to learn to shoot. Really the next step up is .223Rem which honestly has enough kick to be reserved for kids ten years of age or older. Remember if kids don’t enjoy shooting when they are young and get bruised up by too large of calibers, they probably won’t be lifetime shooters or gun owners.

Others point towards the “preppers” as they are stockpiling food, water, supplies and ammo. These certain types of people are misunderstood by many who do not know what they do. It is understandable though. Most people who are preparing for some kind of catastrophe are considered “weird” or “crazy” by others. That is until a disaster strikes and your family doesn’t have any can-goods because you didn’t even think about what may happen in this crazy thing called life. TV shows that document preppers and their lifestyles point out how they store products like alcohol, ammo or medical supplies to be used as a bartering system after money has no value.

Then you also have the people who purposely buy it all up just to sell on the internet for a profit. Don’t think people would actually do that? Think again. People were paying for magazines and firearms at way above decent mark-up on products. An AR-15 magazine for $60? Yea and people paid it. So if you haven’t been able to buy any .22 in-stores for a year or two but find some online at a higher price, you know you probably would pay it.

And outside of government conspiracies, people profiting like pirates and those crazy preppers you had your normal gun enthusiasts who want to get their hands on .22 ammo. People who own several firearms in their home and more than likely a .22 or two. You yourself may be such a person, and until recently you never thought about stockpiling up thousands of rounds of ammo. But now with how scarce it is, you buy up as much as you can when you get the chance. You’re not trying to gouge people online or are concerned with zombie-tornadoes, but you don’t want to not have any .22 either.

Because of all of this, you have .22’s very own Catch 22. People who weren’t stockpiling it before are now. Preppers hear about these government buy-outs and are now more determined to acquire as much .22 as possible. And shoppers/shooters like me and you who now pick up an extra box or two of the ammo when we don’t need it are making it scarcer. No one wins. And to boot, unlike 9mm or 308Win that you can reload .22 is almost impossible to. There are ways to do it, but none of them are very practical or safe so it is best to avoid that altogether.

Will this Catch 22 ever end? I honestly don’t know. All I do know is that if you ever have the chance to teach a kid how to shoot that it is not the time to be stingy with your stockpile.

-Giddy-Up!!

Other Caliber Related Blogs:

7mm-08 Remington - 357 Sig 16 Gauge

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Look at That! RedHead 11” Wellington Boots

Ever wonder where certain names or types of things come from? Me too. I am curious little critter and always like to know more about anything. One name I have seen thrown around a lot lately is Wellington, most specifically for Wellington Boots. It’s not a brand-name specific product, like Kleenex or Jacuzzi, but a style that many different footwear companies produce. So where does this term come from? I must know! And of course when we unveil a brand new RedHead 11” Wellington Boots my thirst for knowledge increases ten-fold.

Well believe it or not, the term Wellington Boots comes from royalty. Arthur Wellesley, the 1st Duke of Wellington, was the first to wear these boots and made them extremely popular. They were a leather boot that he used while hunting and participating in other outdoor sports. Most paintings of him are sure to show him wearing these boots and in short time they were the standard for the British aristocracy.

It is said that Wellesley was very much involved with the original design of the boots. His shoemaker was given specific directions to match up to the Duke’s high standards. But slowly over time these boots would change time and time again. After the process of vulcanizing rubber was invented, they went from being made of leather to rubber. This made them extremely popular with farmers and other outdoor workers who had previously been doomed to wet feet from wooden clogs. They went through several changes during the two World Wars, which forever endeared them to wearers.

After the wars these boots found themselves being worn all over the world by all kinds of people. To this day they are one of the most popular forms of work wear. They are truly an international icon and have been incorporated into sports, dances and song. The rubber Wellington Boots can be found in some way connected to just about every single industry.

The new Wellington Boots from RedHead keep the same spirit of hard-work, durability and comfort that probably millions of workers have experienced with Wellington Boots. Not only will these boots work hard but they will look good doing it!

-Giddy-Up!!

Other Nifty Things to Look At!

Propane Fire Ring Hand Towels Rainproof Camo She Outdoor PETT

BPS Extreme Qualifier Tackle Bag RedHead Gun Rack Chicken on a Stick

Traeger Smoker/Grills Casio Pathfinder

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RangeMaxx Firearm Cleaning Seminars

What surprises me is how many times I have seen customers purchase a firearm and not also pick up a cleaning kit for it. And I know that many avid-shooters have a multi-caliber/gauge cleaning kit of some kind, but many don’t! Gun cleaning and care is an extremely important aspect of being a responsible firearm owner. Just like everything else, you have to take care of it for it to stay functional.

One of my first Check it Out List blogs was about firearm cleaning kits. And while it covered many aspects of what you need to clean your firearms, it did not cover how to. For me, this is one task that is better to be learned hands-on or visually. There are hundreds of YouTube videos on how to clean and maintain firearms. Google the firearm you own and how to clean, and there will probably be a video for that exact one! But alas, even the mighty internet is not the best source for learning this practice. So what is?

Well here at Bass Pro Shops-Mesa AZ we are going to have a day with a few seminars on Basic Firearm Cleaning and Care. This event is sponsored by RangeMaxx, who makes some excellent firearm products.

I picked up one of their range-bags a couple years back and absolutely love it! I have had no issues at all, with nothing breaking or tearing. And when I load up for the range it usually entails three to four handguns, eye and ear protection and several boxes of ammo… in other words it’s pretty loaded. (Side note, isn’t weird how much lighter a range bag is after an hour or so?!)

So here are the details:

Sunday, May 3rd

Stop by our store and come upstairs to the Conference Room where we will be holding three separate seminars on Basic Firearm Cleaning and Care. We will cover cleaning and care items for pistols, rifles and shotguns. Attendees do not need to bring anything. Please note, this is not a chance for a free gun-cleaning.

Seminars will be at 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30.

 1:30– Pistols/Revolvers

2:30– Shotguns

3:30– Rifles/MSRs

After each seminar a raffle will be held for those who attended. There will be a different prize for each seminar.

We hope to see you there!

-Giddy-Up!!

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Rustic Recipes: Squirrel

So when it came to Anchorman 2 I was rather disappointed.  I was in high school when the first came out, and just like any young man at that time absolutely loved it. You couldn’t go a day without quoting it. Sometimes only an hour. Anchorman 2, not so much. But by far the best part of that movie was when they were getting the group back together and Champ had his own fried-chicken shop. He let it slip that he actually used bats instead of chicken for the food. He referred to them as “Chicken of the caves”. And then later referred to cats as “chicken of the railroad”. But this month’s recipe will actually feature the “chicken of the trees” the honorable squirrel.

Country-fied Squirrel

2 cups of Water

2 squirrels

6 Tablespoons of Vegetable Oil

Flour

Salt and Pepper to taste

Start heating the oil in a skillet, make sure you have a lid for that skillet.

After cutting the squirrels up into small bites, add salt and pepper to taste. Then roll these bites in flour.

Toss the squirrel into the skillet and fry until golden.

Remove the squirrel and drain the oil from the skillet.

Return the squirrel to the skillet and add the water. Cover and lower heat. Let cook for an hour.

And enjoy!

 I might suggest not telling your guests what it is until they comment on how good it is!

-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

From Our Restaurant

Grouper Sandwich Appetizers Clam strips Mussels Trout Gator Wahoo Wrap Shore Lunch

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Goin’ Rural: Food Preservation

You know what is a great old idiom? Waste not, want not. And you know what is a great word? Idiom. But seriously, in a world where so many things aren’t built to last, are one-use only and people would rather discard something broken than fix it, people should seriously think about that old adage. One of the biggest wastes that people toss out is food. I think I heard that the average family tosses out hundreds of dollars of food a year. Think about how much you could have saved if you had properly preserved it some of that! Now I am not saying to hold onto every last scrap of food like it was the end of the world, but there’s also no reason to be overly wasteful. And that is why the topic for this month’s Goin’ Rural blog will be about food preservation.

We are going to be looking at several different ways to preserve food and another completely different thought process on buying groceries. But we will start off with the most common way people make their food last longer, freezing it.

Many people buy their meat in bulk because it is cheaper to do so. And many people will put seal them up in bags or wrap them in paper before putting them into the freezer. But no matter what, you usually end up tossing out what could have been a great day on the grill because of freezer burn. A great way to prevent freezer burn or at least stretch your food out longer is by vacuum sealing up food. The sealer itself may cost more than “freezer bags” but if you use it right it will help save money. You can seal up all kinds of foods, and there are plenty of websites that offer tips and tricks to get more out of your products and food. Luckily many are being more cost-conscious and so resources are out there for things like this more than ever before.

The next method would be dehydrating. You can dehydrate all kinds of foods, not just beef jerkies. While dehydrating meats into snack sticks or jerky is extremely popular many are giving new life to fruits and veggies as well. The fun thing about dehydrating is all the experimenting you can do. Remember in Friends when Chandler had the crazy roommate that dehydrated fruit? Well you could be that guy now! But in a good way. Be sure to read reviews on products before purchasing them. This is not something you want to cheap out on.

Then you have canning. The first Goin’ Rural blog was all about mason jars and the many things people are finding to do with them. But canning is not reserved just for jams or preserves. People can whole meals, veggies, meats and much more. People are giving homemade goods as gifts a lot nowadays. Try making your own salsa. The famous mason-jar manufacturer Ball has a great website going over all things canning.

The last way to stretch your food budget and not waste so much is to shop every other day. When you go to the store and bulk-buy items for the week you can end up with stuff you don’t need and spend more money than necessary. Planning out meals can prevent that. Or eating fresher can as well. The less processed foods you eat the better. So let’s say you have some chicken to cook, but no side, go to the store and get some veggies to go with it. Sure you may make a few extra trips a week, but isn’t your health worth it? And maybe start walking or riding your bike to the store. That’s even better. Check out farmers markets for really local and fresh stuff. You don’t have to use reusable grocery bags and go dreadlocks to take part of this lifestyle. In other words you don’t have to go completely green in order to save some.  

-Giddy-Up!!

Mason Jars Chickens Bird Feeders Gardening

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Capturers of the Outdoors: Disney Nature

So here is a topic that you never thought would be discussed by an outdoor-store blogger, Disney. Talk to any hunter and mention Disney and usually a “huff and gruff” about “Bambi’s mom this” or “Bambi’s mom that”. There is a lot of stigmata about how Disney ruined a generation of would-be hunters by portraying animals with human-like qualities. Well that is a discussion for a completely different time and really point the blame at the CBS documentary “The Guns of Autumn”. Just sayin’. No, Disney has had a long history of making shorts and documentaries about nature. And for that reason they will be the subject of this month’s Capturers of the Outdoors blog.

Walt Disney had always been interested in natural science. Being the filmmaker and storyteller he was, it only came natural that he would make documentaries about nature. Many of his animated shorts focused on animal characters, and certain live-action works had footage of nature. Think about the shots in the old Davy Crockett TV series where he fights the alligator in the swamp.

It wasn’t until the release of Seal Island though that Disney produced its first full nature-focused documentary. The film focused on the seasonal habits of seals, a basic concept nowadays but almost revolutionary at that time. Seal Island even won an Academy Award. It started a wave of nature-focused documentaries.

There were two main documentary series that the Disney Company produced following the success of Seal Island. There was the “True-Life Adventures” series that focused on nature. The second was “People and Places” that centered on destinations and their inhabitants.

True-Life Adventures ran from 1948 to 1960, in which time twelve shorts/features were produced. (Roughly one a year, except for 1952 with two and 1953 with three.) They brought the beauty and mystique to countless viewers. Their topics ranged from specific animals, such as the Olympic Elk to whole ecosystems including the desert. From these features came countless documentaries, where footage was cut and edited to create educational tools. As film and television was growing more common as teaching tools at this time, these Disney documentaries made themselves an important tool for many.

People and Places ran from 1953 to 1960. Seventeen films were produced for this series. The locations ranged from the exotic to domestic. Ironically the first of this series was about the Alaskan Eskimo, which was what one of the first “documentaries” ever was about (Nanook of the North, 1922). This series never found itself as popular or educational when compared to the True-Life Adventures series. But none-the-less it did capture a side of the world that many never got to see.

Most recently Disney has refocused its nature-themed energies to its DisneyNature. This subsidiary of the Disney empire has currently produced 8 features focusing on animals and nature. Once again they are bringing the world of the outdoors onto the big screen and into the hearts and minds of countless viewers. This all came to be right around when documentary series Planet Earth and such were at their highest popularities. I think it is highly possible that the creators of those such series were inspired years earlier by the works of Disney, and after they made their masterpieces Disney found it time to start producing their own nature-focused material again.

No matter what one may think about Disney, whether it be a malicious conglomerate or a happy family-friendly and dream-encouraging company, you cannot deny the fact at what part they played in capturing the outdoors for generations to come.

-Giddy-Up!!

Previous Capturers

Zane Grey

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Tie One On: Elk Hair Caddis

This month’s Tie One On blog actually focuses on one of my favorite patterns. It is a dry fly that can be fished with success almost all around the world. It is considered the standard caddis fly here in the western United States. I have come to realize that I have not really discussed the stages of aquatic insects hatching in these blogs, so I will do so in this one. But overall this article will focus on the Elk Hair Caddis, or EHC for short.

Basically an aquatic insect (we are focusing on the mayfly) will start off as underwater eggs. They then grow into small creatures known as larva. Then they become a pupa which is the last stage before they become the fully winged adult insect. This is a basic breakdown and there are variations of the life cycle. Please see below the first picture of the life cycle for a more in-depth look at the process. It will also help you understand why certain patterns are called certain things.

Now those life cycles are for the mayfly but the caddis is something different. When a mayfly hatches they are pretty vulnerable to being eaten. This is not the case with caddis and they usually live longer. This means that the EHC can be fished pretty much year-round when a hatch is going on. Fly-fishermen know how quickly a hatch can turn off and therefore stop the fish from biting. Being able to leave on fly tied on through the length of a hatch is a huge time-saver.

Typically the pattern is tied in brown, tan and other drab colors. It gets the Elk Hair part of its name from the material used for the wings. There are of course other variations of the pattern that are gaining in popularity. Some are tying the body of the flies with a bright or fluorescent color to also work as a strike indicator.

There are not a lot of special ways to fish the pattern, just add a floatant and cast out. Many tend to trim the hackle unless fishing in rough water. Rough water necessitates the need for the extra hackle. I forget where I read it in my impressionable youth but I remember seeing that trout like to hang out by the banks or overcuts in a stream. Tossing a fly towards these areas “would usually produce a big brown trout” as whatever I was reading said. This is actually a great way to fish this fly. Because caddis live longer they are more likely to fall into a river. Usually vegetation finds itself near the water’s edge so a situation of a bug falling off a plant and into the river is very likely. The EHC is a perfect pattern to mimic this occurrence.

Until next time, wishing you tight lines and fish on!

-Giddy-Up!!

Woolly Bugger Royal Coachman Pheasant Tail Nymph Crawshrimp

Trilene Knot The Adams Dropper Loop Spinner San Juan Worm

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Are You a Workender?

This year we have been kicking up our in-store events by a notch (or two)! Previously we held our Dog Days Event for the first time. After the great success we had here in Arizona, and likewise all over the country at other stores, I am sure it will be back next year! And that is half the fun of working here! We hold so many different events for all kinds of people, it is awesome. We just had the Easter Event as well and many people who had never been to our store before coming in for Santa’s Wonderland were back again! But new for 2015 will be the first time we roll out our newest event, The Workender!

What is a Workender? Well, it could be one of many different things. Maybe it is someone who works all week and looks forward to getting outside on the weekend. Perhaps it is an individual who ends their week not on a couch, but out in nature! And it could possibly be that person at work who is always sharing awesome stories about amazing adventures they had! No matter how you define them it is clear that a Workender can’t wait and loves to just get outdoors!

There has been a big upswing in this trend within the millennial age group. Outdoor activities such as hiking, camping and kayaking have been exploding lately! And who can blame them? There is nothing better than having some fun in the fresh air! We here at Bass Pro Shops have always encouraged people to get outdoors, it is what we are all about!

But here’s the skinny on this event. It is going to be April 24th and April 25th.

On April 24th from 6PM-8PM and April 25th from Noon-5PM we are going to have a number of awesome and informative product demonstrations going on! Topics and products will include:

Cooking Down and Dirty- Learn about the simplicity and tastiness of backcountry cooking.

Slumber by Number- Useful tips and tricks for staying comfortable and warm in sleeping bags.

Pack Right- How to properly set up your pack for optimal comfort and load distribution.

Beat the Bugs- Keep bite-free in the backcountry with awesome information on bug repellents.

Pick Out and Get Out- Learn the differences of kayaks and how to pick out the best one for you.

Streamline Your Kayak- Optimize your kayak for fishing and all the gear needed for it.

And if all that isn’t getting you fired up then how does a 20/20 Social Hour sound? On April 25th from 6PM-7PM we will set aside some room for you to meet other outdoor enthusiasts and learn awesome tips and share amazing information. The first 100 customers to attend this 20/20 Social Hour will receive a free giveaway!

I’m sure by now you are itching to bust out of your seat, grab some water and a pack and just get outside…. BUT HOLD ON! While getting outside is a reward in its own right, we are taking it one step further. That’s right we are talking about A CHALLENGE! The 20/20 Challenge to be exact! This is where you pledge to get out and log either 20 hours or 20 miles of outdoor activities. If you sign up to take the 20/20 Challenge, you will be entered in for a chance to win the Workender Prize Package. You can sign up online on April 25th and 26th or in-store on April 25th from 6PM-8PM. Share the fun and post photos to basspro.com/Workender.

We hope to see you there!

-Giddy-Up!!

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RedHead Select Outfitters: Mellon Creek Outfitters

Early last month we took a look at the RedHead Select Outfitters network. This is a group of hunting outfitters that our professional hunting staff have used and given the seal of approval to. Many hunters can only afford to go on a big-game hunt every so often, so using a guide or outfitting service will definitely increase your odds. The people, who work in these outfits, literally live for the outdoors. It is not just their profession, but their passion. And this month we are going to focus on one specific outfitter that made it to our list, Mellon Creek Outfitters.

This outfitter is located in South Texas and has a ranch that is over 100,000 acres large. The game found on this ranch range from birds to bucks and everything in between. They are a free-range hunt service and they claim to be “simply the best hunting in Texas.” That is one bold statement if I ever heard one.

The nice thing about using an outfitter in Texas is the fact that it is in Texas. While many have dream hunts for species in foreign lands, certain Texas ranches offer the chance to hunt these animals here. Getting to Texas is easy, so you don’t have to worry about international travel with firearms which can be a nightmare. But also Texas is like its own country so you get a little bit of that sensation when traveling there.

Mellon Creek Outfitters does not have exotics available at their ranch, but they have several desirable species to hunt. The species available include: whitetail deer, wild hog, predators and birds. They offer hunts for coyote and bobcat for predators and their birds include turkey, dove and duck. So there is literally something for every kind of hunter, which is very nice. It doesn’t matter if your family is big on deer or your best friend and you are duck-crazy, Mellon Creek Outfitters offers a place to hunt just about anything!

They have been in the business for at least ten years so they know a thing or two. One thing they truly know is how to handle the downtime between hunts. This would include having a grand lodge on property with a huge dining area. Their kitchen will cook 3 home-cooked meals a day and provide snacks as well in between main meals. And if you know anything about Texas home-cooking, it’s that it is good!

One thing I really like about their set-up is attention to game management. They know to carefully manage their resources in order to preserve this lifestyle for future generations. There are female and youth specific hunts to help increase the number of hunters in these areas. Mellon Creek Outfitters will even let the guardian or significant other stay for free. They even offer a cull-deer hunt, where you can hunt animals that are not bettering the gene-pool. To me this is a win-win. You get to hunt, help the herd and save a little extra money.

You can contact them by calling at: 361-484-2398 or checking out their website. Remember if you book with them through our site you will get 5% back of your total hunt cost in Bass Pro Shops Outdoor Rewards Points.

-Giddy-Up!!

The Basics

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Big Game Basics: Cougar

So a number of months back I had done blogs on hunting the African Big Five animals. Two of them happen to be members of the large-cat family. I knew it would be a touchy subject as people are very protective of their “kitties”. So far my house still stands and my faithful Suburban still running, so the backlash was nothing crazy. With how the media is nowadays, I figured to be strung from the highest pole in the town square. But then again media is coming around a little bit. With more reports of defensive use of firearms and more pro-patriotic themed movies from Hollywood, public opinion is slightly swaying. I am sure we will see a new understanding for those who have served from the powerful message of American Sniper. But let’s get to this month’s animal blog which will be about an American big-cat, the cougar.

The cougar has several names including: mountain lion, puma, panther and American lion. Look into western jargon and you could find several more. But all of these names belong specifically to the same animal. The cougar is actually only found in the Western hemisphere, and at one time had the widest natural range for a mammal in this hemisphere. Their range has diminished from what it was once from encroachment and eradication. Many settlers feared these impressive animals, and for good reason, and shot them on sight. The cougar was a threat to a settler’s family and livestock.

With their range and numbers significantly decreased, sightings and interactions are much less common. They still do occur though. With humans building more and more it is only too predictable to have interactions happen. Some are harmless, some are not. But the key thing to remember is that these animals are to be respected. I personally would never want to bump into one.

The cougar is an impressive hunter. As adults they average six to eight feet in length. They also weigh 100 to 150 pounds on average. These are just averages though. They have a very thick yet soft coat which makes them a desirable trophy. Cougars tend to be a solitary animal that only come together during the mating season. Beyond that, they live alone and the males can be extremely territorial. In fact their home ranges are usually an average 30 square miles.

Cougars tend to eat deer as their main diet. They will eat animals as large as elk and as small as rodents though to survive. Cougars found are domestic animals, like sheep, very easy pickings which is part of the reason people hated them so much. They have excellent eyesight as well as good hearing and smell. Because of this they usually know where you are before you know where they are.

They are extremely athletic animals and well balanced. Their leaping and pouncing capabilities are amazing and they can swim. Cougars are well known for their snarl. These animals can purr, hiss and snarl but not roar.

Hunting cougars is legal in certain states and usually requires a tag. The most popular to hunt cougars is by use of dogs. This is very controversial to some and legislation looking to ban this practice comes up frequently. Simply stated it is the most effective way to hunt them though. Famous outdoor writer Zane Grey wrote an article about this practice, which is considered one of his best pieces.

No matter how one feels about these animals it cannot be denied that they are extremely impressive creatures and should be respected.

-Giddy-Up!!

Other Big Game Blogs:

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

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

Lion Cape Buffalo Elephant Rhino Leopard

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Cutlery Corner: Throwing Knives

So here is a phase that just about all young men go through, throwing knives. I am sure the guys who just read that statement are shaking their heads in agreement and any parents of those guys are shaking theirs in disapproval. Like it or not, it is a common phase boys will go through. Along with fire, riding bikes/scooters down large hills and MacGuyver-ing things. It’s a real verb. But this phase does not necessarily have to be a “dark page” in one’s childhood if it is handled seriously and safely.

The basics of throwing knives, is just that… throwing a knife to hopefully have it hit and stick into the desired target. Your job as parents/caretakers/participants is to be sure you have proper gear. A couple big-name manufacturers make knives specifically for this purpose. They are crafted, designed and balanced specifically to be thrown into the air and stick safely into a target. Sure you could learn and practice with a kitchen-knife but that is unsafe and you’ll probably upset the cook in the family.

Browning makes a Black Label Stick-It Throwing Knife Set. This comes with three knives and a sheath to keep them in. They are 4” long and non-serrated. If your knife hits and sticks to its mark you want to be able to pull it out easily and not ruin the blade. Also it makes sharpening that much easier, which will become a common after practice job.

Smith and Wesson has their Bullseye Throwing Knife Set. They have a little bit more variety when compared to the Browning set. You can get them in either 8” or 10” and in sets of three or six. All of them do come with a sheath as well. They are also non-serrated blades.

Last but not least is the SOG Throwing Knives and Spirit Combo. This is a Bass Pro Shops Exclusive! Notice that the Browning blades and Smith and Wesson knives are both basically the same design. SOG’s offering steps away from that. It includes three standard throwing knives and one Spirit spear-tip throwing point. You can use the spear-tip as just that. By unscrewing the bottom you can twist it onto a standard threaded pole, think your kitchen mop. The knives are also designed in such a way that you could use them in other aspects.

Now of course safety should be a top concern. Take all the same precautions when setting up a target as you would with archery or shooting. Make sure nothing and no one is in the life of fire, or in the case throw, both before and after the target. Start large to maximize your odds of getting hits and then work your way down. Once you know your length of toss and speed of throw you can practice until precision.

For some extra fun, get a group of buddies to join you in this sport. They can help watch and coach you while practicing. They’ll notice if you adjust your stance or do something different between throws. Then like with archery, set out some different animal targets and play a game of HORSE with your throwing knives. Just remember to always take this seriously and safely.

-Giddy-Up!!

Benchmade North Fork Sharpening Bear Grylls Survival Knife Camp Axes

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Take Someone: Tailgating

You know, to some a blog about tailgating coming out in April would be a number of months too early. To others it’s never too early to start thinking or planning for this year’s tailgating season. Personally, I’d rather be on the side of the people who are looking forward to a season that is full of great friends, good food and fun times. And for some it requires a few months of preparation to get everything in order. Tailgating has exploded over the past few years and some people go to sports venues just for that part of it. Let’s face it, not everyone is a football fanatic but most people would enjoy hanging out and chowing down with a group of friends.

The most common sport people tailgate for is football. It is hard to watch any part of a televised pre-game that does not show some footage of people dressed in their teams colors hanging out in the parking lot. This is the same for college and professional games. People are usually playing games, enjoying beverages and snacking on grub. Rivalries between teams can be quite intense, but rivalries between tailgating groups can be dangerous!

So let’s say you’re taking your friend out to their first tailgate. Maybe they don’t care so much about the sport or team itself, but want to hang out more in your group. Your first order of business is to make sure they have on some kind of game-day attire. It doesn’t have to scream “Go State!” but should have one of the major colors present. Make sure they have on closed-toe and comfortable shoes, as they will be standing a lot and can expect the occasional beverage being spilled. Having a hat and sunglasses is a must as well and be sure to check the weather in case of rain.

You’ll want to make sure that they bring something with them as well. Tailgating is a community event and there is always room in the cooler for more drinks or a spot on the table for another snack. My suggestion is to bring both. I’ll have a recipe for you below that is the perfect solution. Banishment from a tailgating group is a criminal offense in some families and social groups so don’t let this happen to you or your friend.

Beyond that having plenty of water and sunscreen can be a lifesaver. Sure many groups have some kind of canopy up, but that won’t fit everyone. Plus it gets hot by the grill, and if you know your etiquette the cook should always be the most comfortable.

If you think your friend might not enjoy themselves be prepared to head home early. You don’t want to make them sit there for hours unhappy and you did bring them. Be sure to prepare them in case anyone at your tailgate is especially good at bags or doesn’t like a certain team. Forewarned is forearmed. Other than that, have fun! People feed off of each other so if you’re having fun so will your friend.

The Perfect Tailgate Pair:

Drunken Meatballs

You will need a 16 pack of beer, a bottle of ketchup and a couple bags of frozen meatballs. Place the meatballs into a crockpot. Pour a beer or two in there as well as the entire thing of ketchup. Cook on High and in less than a couple hours you have an easy to eat and delicious treat. The rest of the 16 pack comes with you for the cooler. This way you bring food and drink and the meatballs are so easy that you can’t mess them up!

-Giddy-Up!!

Previous Trips

Fishing Shooting Hiking Clay Shooting Boating Prospecting Camping Scouting

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Simply Sweet Fishing Backpack

The title of this blog pretty much gives it all away. This article will be about another new fishing product from those bad boys of Browning. A couple months back it was about their Rod Cabinet, which is an awesome way to store your gear at home. But what good is gear at home if you’re not out there using it?! And to get your gear to the water you want an effective system for transporting it. I have been a longtime fan of using backpacks for fishing, and in fact the third blog I ever wrote was about that! But when I saw the Browning Fishing Backpack Tackle Bag (or BFBTB) I had to check it out!

This thing is simply sweet. It gives you all of the features you want and need and nothing extra that would get in the way. Sometimes when companies design backpacks for the outdoors there is so much excess stuff going on that you can’t even pack anything into it! This is not the case with the BFBTB.

It can fit four of the 360 utility boxes that can be modified for any fishing need. It also has two large side pockets, accessory pocket and an upper-insulated storage compartment. This upper area can be used to keep stuff cool, so let’s say a couple water bottles and a sandwich perhaps. If you are lucky enough to be within a bike’s ride to a fishing spot you could load this pack up and head out quick.

The pack is padded where it touches your body and actually has a chest-buckle to help keep it secure. The rest of the pack is made of a durable and water resistant material that should stand up to years of hard fishing. If you look back to my third blog ever above you will see that I simply put my fishing rod into the back of my pack. The BFBTB has a hook and loop set-up so you can strap a rod tube to the side. This is very nice and much more secure than what I was doing beforehand.

Another very nice feature about this backpack is its price point. It is roughly $50, which is way less than other options that are not nearly as nice. This pack would surely prove itself worth the investment fishing trip after fishing trip.

-Giddy-Up!!

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Check it Out List: Minor Maintenance

Over the past few years there has been a lot of talk about “bags”. Go-to bags, bug-out bags, A to B bags, emergency weather bags and so on are becoming common place for many. We have realized that there are many things beyond our control that may put us into extreme situations. And any form of preparing is better than none at all. And for the non-extreme situations to test us, we have everyday life. Think about all the instances in life that can necessitate the need for some simple object to fix a problem.

Don’t overthink it though otherwise you might start thinking way beyond what could happen and that leads to over packing. Having a simple pack that can easily fit in your car, work bag, travel luggage or other area is well worth its space and weight. And that is one thing to think about, space and weight. So below will be a little list of some of the items I suggest you keep in a pack of some kind for that little thing called life and helping fix some of its problems.

Minor Maintenance

Sturdy and zippered Bag/Pack

Knife

Para cord

Lighter

Multi-Tool

Duct Tape

Flashlight and Batteries

Small First-Aid Kit

Multi-Function Screwdriver

Assorted sized nails, screws and safety-pins

First pick a bag that can contain your items and be secure. What good are your tools if they are spilled all over your back seat? Nothing too fancy, but it doesn’t have to be a bland bag either. I like small electrician tool bags for this. Make sure to write your name and phone number on it as well.

The knife should be one good enough to handle most jobs but also not be so valuable that you would mourn the loss of it or any damage done. The knife is a tool that needs to do its job, but don’t just use a piece of junk either.

Para cord comes in all sorts of colors, so you can have whatever you want. Maybe tie a little onto the handles of your bags to distinguish whose bag is whose.

A lighter will prove itself very useful as will a multi-tool. Once again like the knife, don’t use junk but don’t put your favorite/most expensive in the bag. A flashlight is essential for nighttime issues, but make sure you have extra batteries. A dead flashlight is cliché.

The duct tape, assorted fasteners and the para cord can all be used to secure items or offer quick fixes to a problem. The first aid-kit should be the smallest one possible that still contains useful items.

Now note that I put both a multi-tool and a multi-function screwdriver. These are two different items and all bags should have both. The multi-tool has features different than the screwdriver and vice-versa. I believe that having a full functioning screwdriver is worth the weight and space. And by multi-function I mean a screwdriver that can use multiple size/style tips. Honestly just think about how many times you could have used a screwdriver for something, and not had to awkwardly work the one on a multi-tool.

I am sure many would have other ideas and opinions on these things. And please share them in the comments section below.

-Giddy-Up!!

Checked-Lists

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

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

Winter Camping Reloading Bowfishing

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Well Look-E Here, Virgil!

It’s that there Bass Pro Shops, Professional Bull Riders event! I sure do reckon that it be a heck of a time to go on down and have a good time!  OK, enough of the whole western-jargon (or at least for now). That is right, we are going to having our PBR Event on the weekend of April 11th and 12th. And if you missed it last year, make sure to be here this time!

Actually funny fact, the blog about last year’s event was the first one I wrote when I came back to this position. And now look where we are! This will actually be the most covered event I have written about, with this being the 3rd time.

So here is the lowdown for the event. It is FREE. It is FUN. And it is FAMILY FRIENDLY.

Both days we will have several activities running from Noon-4PM. While Supplies Last.

We will have our Stick-Bull Riding/Races. A true hoot and holler last year.

Practice Roping for ya’ll to test out your skills with a lasso.

Face Painting to get your Cowboy Clown on!

Crafts. Where you will color and make a bull-puzzle, we do suggest coloring it before building it.

And of course, our PBR event would not be complete without a place for all the young buckaroos to strut their stuff. On Sunday, 4/12, we will have our Best Dressed Cowboy/Cowgirl Contest.They will want to be at our Main Tank at 2:30PM when judging will begin. The winner will be announced at 3:00PM. The winner will receive a $50 Bass Pro Shops Gift Card.

Full event details available here.

-Giddy-Up!!

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Fishy Facts: Common Snook

In the effort to break up the alliteration of Fishy Fact blogs starting with the letter B (brook trout, bowfishing, billfish, bowfin, bull shark) we are going to the letter that follows it! We are also getting out of the freshwater realm for the first time in a number of months. April is a month for change right? Sure. Any who, let’s take a closer look at the common snook!

First off, you would be surprised at how many times I have used the “Add to Dictionary” feature on “misspelled” words according to Microsoft Word. Maybe they should get some more fishermen and hunters involved for their next platform, because it’s getting ridiculous.

Second any who for this blog, a record, the common snook is a prized saltwater game fish. It is also called robalo and the sergeant fish. There are several species of snook, and this one is one of the largest. They can grow to over four and a half feet but are more commonly found at three feet shorter than that.

I remember hearing that the uglier the fish (or at least the less colorful) the better it tastes. Now I am not calling the common snook ugly, but its coloring is quite drab. It has a grayish-silver color to most of its body, except the long black line that runs lengthwise on its body. During the spawning season though, some of its fins will turn a bright yellow.

If that rumor is to be believed about taste and appearance, it holds true for the common snook. It is a delicious fish but special preparation must be taken. Remove the skin before cooking otherwise an unpleasant taste will occur.

Beyond their desirability for taste, these fish put up a great fight! My best friend’s dad caught some down in Florida and loved every second of it. He loved it so much; he bought car-magnets of the fish and added them to his ride.

These fish tend to spawn from April to October. The common snook will move out of the open-ocean and into near-shore waters with high salinity. After the young are born they mature into juveniles and move towards more brackish water. Slowly but surely they eventually move out into the open ocean and continue the circle of life.

Snook are predators. They will opportunistically take on prey, but what is cool is that their prey changes with them. As snook grow larger they will actually start pursuing larger prey. They simply want to pursue prey that will provide them the most nutrition. Any reports of cannibalism with these fish are few and far between.

These fish are preyed upon by larger fish and other marine predators. Once of their biggest killers though is weather. These fish are very susceptible to changes in temperature. In 2010 there was a large cold snap in the snooks’ native range. In one area of Florida it was estimated that close to 97% of the snook population died because of it. Luckily a ban on commercial snook fishing took place and fishermen began to strictly practice catch-and-release fishing on them. This helped the population grow and has allowed the ban to be lifted. There will be another study done on their population this year.

People love their snook and will do what it takes to keep them around. This should be an example for all sportsmen. Conservation must come first, as without it we won’t have anything left.

-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

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Look at That! Casio Pathfinder

It is my firm belief that there are three products that a man should be the only one to buy for himself. Those being wallets, watches and sunglasses. These three items are not just accessories but tools that serve a purpose. Important purposes. Sunglasses protect your eyes from all the possible harmful rays of the Sun, and styles can look great or not so much depending on the guy’s face. Wallets hold cash, cards and other important items. Some men prefer big honkers with dozens of photos and loyalty cards crammed into it and others prefer a simple money clip with the basics. And watches tell the time and come with certain features. Some watches are a little more advanced than others and that is why today we are going to talk about one in particular: Casio’s Pathfinder.

Casio has been a trusted name for decades. They have a strong and loyal customer base that will purchase nothing but their products. The Pathfinder is not a new watch by any means, but always continues to impress those that check it out. Please note this watch is not intended for those that just want one that can tell time and maybe has a backlight feature. This thing is fully loaded.

To be honest, it probably has more computing power than my Suburban. It has two forms of energy, one is a high-capacity battery and the other is solar. That’s right. Solar. And not some dinky cheap solar feature but a strong and sturdy setup. These watches are built tough because Casio expects you to put it through a lot of stuff throughout the years of use.

My good buddy was a mechanic in the Air Force. He did a tour overseas a couple years back and had a Pathfinder. Between all the standard wear and tear, add on sandstorms, workouts, being knocked around inside jet engines and more. This watch is still working to this day.

The watch of course tells time, in both 12 and 24 hour modes, and has a backlight feature. It also has an hourly time signal, the option to have five daily alarms set, water and temperature resistance, a stopwatch and what they call a Triple Sensor. This sensor is set up for the weather and direction. It gives you the features of a thermometer, altimeter/barometer and a compass. All of this can help you anticipate weather and adjust course if needed.

Another buddy had a watch with a similar weather warning feature. It would give off a distinctive beep when the air pressure changed. It usually meant that a storm was moving in. This was an extremely helpful thing when we would be out off-roading or such.

So like I said before this watch is not meant for everyone. But for those that are looking for such a feature-loaded and heavy-duty wrist-wear they should look no further than to the Casio Pathfinder.

-Giddy-Up!!

Other Nifty Things to Look At!

Propane Fire Ring Hand Towels Rainproof Camo She Outdoor PETT

BPS Extreme Qualifier Tackle Bag RedHead Gun Rack Chicken on a Stick

Traeger Smoker/Grills

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Take Someone: Scouting

An ever important part of a hunt is scouting. You want to be successful so you’ll want to know where the animals will be. Thanks to resources like DU’s Duck Map or Field and Stream Rut Reporters, there is a lot of information to be found online. Trail cameras help us watch areas 24/7 and now can even send images via text to your phone! Looking at weather forecasts will also pay off, but there is something about getting out into the field and scouting on foot that beats all the rest.

When you have someone that is interested in going hunting, one of the best places to get them started is scouting. You can look over maps and pictures all you want, but you really can understand terrain and the animals that live in it by being out there. Anyone who is interested in any kind of hunting should learn this practice. It is also a great way to measure how truly interested they might be in going hunting, and if you want to take them out with you.

Hunting can be hard work. All the extra efforts that you put forward usually helps to pay off in the end. In the West it is common practice to scout your area well in advanced. Since we have miles of open terrain to cover, it is a big help. Hunters in the Midwest or South might not have miles of open terrain but still game trails to watch.

You’ll want to get dressed up somewhat in your gear when you go scouting. Perhaps not head-to-toe camo but at least some. You can teach your accomplice the importance of using scent-elimination products, not smoking in your gear and other things that can tip of your location. Have them wear a pack with some of the gear so they get a feel for what it would be like when it comes to the real thing. Let them pack some food and drinks to take out with you. They will learn quick if they should have had an electrolyte filled drink over a soda or some kind of energy bar over potato chips quickly.

A big part of scouting is of course optics. Our human eyes are quite excellent, but having some form of optic with you will be a big help. Have a couple different optics with you. Bring a pair (or two) of binoculars, a rangefinder and a spotting scope. From what I have seen, newcomers prefer using binoculars because they are probably most familiar with it. Having a rangefinder will be a great tool to help them learn distancing and be able to use it on a hunt. Spotting scopes are an amazing tool and can provide an eagle-eye perspective on things. These can be intimidating though to newcomers. Especially if you have the whole tripod with weight setup. Limit the time spent on spotting scopes if using one. Also don’t give the newcomer some beat-up old junker set of optics. If they can’t see anything they won’t appreciate the usefulness of having a good pair. It might be expensive but it is well worth it. Plus this way you can “gift” your old pair to your friend and get yourself that new pair you have your sights set on. Yup. That was a pun.

Be sure to point out little things and teach them to your newcomer. Stuff like looking for tracks, scat or other markings. Teach them how to step quietly around objects. Definitely point out things to avoid like snakes, bugs or plants. And you don’t have to be 100% technical/scientifically accurate on things. There’s a bush out here that we call the “waitaminute” bush. It has a bunch of little thorns and claws on it that snag onto you and catch you causing you to “wait a minute”. What its proper name is, I couldn’t tell ya. Little stuff like that will be what they take with them and remember.

The goal with all of this is to be safe, have fun and inspire a new hunter into what can become a lifelong hunter. And one day they might just do the same for another newcomer, like you did for them.

Previous Trips

Fishing Shooting Hiking Clay Shooting Boating Prospecting Camping

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