Happy Trails to You: Etiquette

So one of the many awesome associates at our store, Pauly just took a little hike. On this hike he took his camera and snapped a few pictures. He then sent them to me to share on our store’s Facebook page. And as I posted them I couldn’t help but think how nice it would be to go for a nice hike. (Well right now it’s over 100 degrees outside, so maybe in a few months it would be even better, but still just getting out sounds nice!) Here are some of those pictures.

      

      

But if you’re like me, you have noticed ever increasing foot traffic out on trails. And not just foot traffic, but an increase of bike riding and dogs being taken out on hikes as well. Arizona has some of the most beautiful scenery to go for a hike in and has well maintained trails. Visitors and tourists are attracted to our trail system as it is a fun, fresh and free activity to partake in and gives the opportunity to see native plants and animals.

There are a number of things that set Arizona apart from the rest of the country, and that includes our trail system. A large form of recreation involves horseback riding which includes trail riding. It shocks me that some people do not know how to handle themselves around horses or have even seen one in person! And this can be where issues occur.

With so many people heading out to the trails, including: people new to hiking, people hiking new trails and the possibility for a meeting between day hiker, cyclist, dog-walker and horse ever increasing, let’s go over the basics of Trail Etiquette.

TRAIL ETIQUETTE

-STAY ON THE TRAIL. Leaving designated/marked trails damages plants and may disrupt animals’ homes. Hikers can also find tougher terrain, rattlesnakes and other potential/native Sonoran Desert hazards.

-FOLLOW TRAIL COURTESY. All trail users should yield right-of-way to horses. Cyclists should yield to all other types of users.

-CALMLY APPROACH HORSES. Speak in soft voices to alert any horses and their riders that you are near. Horses can react to sound quite intensely, so yelling like you would in bear countries can be a bad idea.

-NEVER REMOVE ANYTHING. Taking anything can disrupt the habitat of plants and animals. Most rocks and wood provides shelter and shade for tiny plants and animals. In Arizona it is against the law to take away natural and cultural objects from public or private land without permission of the owner. You should make yourself familiar with your state’s laws.  (Also, you can run the chance of lifting up something and finding a snake, spider or scorpion underneath and possibly upset.)

-INFORMATION IS VITAL. Tell someone where you will be hiking and when to expect you back. Also read up on the specific trail for more information. Knowing what the weather is going to be like is an easily accomplished task that can be a real life-saver.

-TAKE A FRIEND. It is extremely safer and more fun to hike with a friend or two. And take water. Water is extremely important and on a hot day in the Arizona desert, it can be your best friend!

If you ever see someone not following Trail Etiquette just simply pull them aside and explain it to them. They may have had no idea that they were doing something wrong and possibly dangerous. They can always then pass that information along to someone they meet down the trail.

So until next time…. Cue up the warbling…. “Happy Traaaaaaaaaaaailssss, to youuuuuuuuu!”

-Giddy-Up!!

PS- Don’t forget to pick up your trash!

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Hunting Story Told Right: Mike’s Safari

So what is cool about this story is that it combines a lot of things I have talked about before and rolls it into one big awesome adventure. This is the story of our very own Mike’s hunting trip to Africa. And he knows how to tell it right!

Mike has been with us for a while now and it seems like he has been talking about this trip ever since he joined us. I’ve had the pleasure to talk with him about where he is going, what he is taking and so on. Well he took that trip, not too long ago, and came back with some awesome trophies!

So let’s go over the basics of his gear. Mike only wanted to take one rifle with him, so the caliber he chose needed to be able to cover all of his bases. And his choices of animals ranged from kudu to warthog and a bunch in between! He went with the .300 Win Mag! (Hey didn’t I write a blog about that caliber? Or two?!) Mike picked out the Winchester Model 70 (a classic) and it served him well! It was the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation anniversary edition. On top of that bad boy, he threw on a Vortex scope. I have spoken before about how awesome these products are and Mike backed that up. His scope only needed three clicks to be dialed back in after all that travel. His Professional Hunter (PH) also said how impressed he is with their scopes are… and that he personally owns four.

Also, get the luck of this guy! He entered in for a chance to receive a case of ammo (your choice of caliber) and WON!!! Seriously!? My best friend and his dad took a trip to Africa and a huge expense was the rounds they needed to practice with before their hunt! Mike used Barnes Triple Shock in 180 grain and they worked like magic. They dropped every animal taken, except one, in one shot where they stood. This is great for the animals because it is humane and it is good for the PH so they don’t have to chase after a wounded animal.

It was a two week trip, four days of which were lost to travel. After landing in South Africa, they spent days at Kruger Park. Here they went over spotting and stalking basics. The PH wanted Mike to know what he was going to be looking for and how to get close to it. This is a simple concept but is something everyone should do! The things you learn at that time can make a huge difference later. Mike also insisted on doing all the hunting in a stalk. There was the option to shoot from the vehicle, but Mike abstained from this. Good for him! Mike also was able to see a lot of the wildlife he was not there to hunt and got a lot of awesome pictures. This is great so he can have something to show people who do not condone hunting. You always want to be mindful and respectful of people’s mindsets. Don’t go showing bloody pictures to anti-hunters because it only makes us more enemies!

From Kruger, Mike hunted in an area west of Kimberly. He took seven animals while there. Most of them were taken at least two hundred yards away. This speaks highly of Mike and his skill and the caliber, firearm and scope he had with him. Below will be pictures of Mike with his animals, the kind of animal, range it was taken (if he could remember) and what it would have scored. Over there, they have their own form of scoring. The Professional Hunters Association of South Africa  (PHASA) has guidelines for each different animal and what it would rank as. Hunting there is extremely different than here as Mike was able to take three animals in one day!

Mike noted that there was a lot of walking involved, and that they found a poacher. This individual was “looking for firewood” but just happened to be carrying around a bow and arrow… and didn’t have any wood… kind of illegal.

Anyways, enough words. Let’s bring on the pictures! Enjoy!

Red Hartebeest (200 yards) Bronze

Black Wildebeest (297 yards) Silver

Springbok (X) Silver

Warthog (500 yards, rested position) Not scored

Gemsbok (200 yards) Didn’t score

Blesbok (240 yards) Bronze

Kudu (200 yards) Didn’t score. It was missing three inches from one horn but would have been a Silver. This is Mike’s favorite trophy because just look how thick its horns are and how cool it looks.

Awesome job, Mike!

-Giddy-Up!!

Enjoy these other pictures too!

 

 

 

 

 

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Look at That! Hand Towels

Well would-ya look at that?! It’s time for another Look at That! And this one just cleans up, as it is some of the niftiest hand towels you ever did see! Just look at them!

People are going to have to use that guest/hall bathroom of yours eventually, so why not make sure there is some cute-rustic charm to greet their freshly washed hands?!

I’m personally a big fan of the “Old Bear and His Honey” one. I mean, just look at it!

And would ya look at that?

The key to doing rustic right, is to keep it simple but be different. There’s a million ways to use mason jars creatively. (Like my craft) Just pop on Pinstagram and you will see for yourself! And it’s kind of cool, because now mason jars are being showcased for their original food storage purpose. I think Cosmo just had something about packing a salad into one. Not that I read Cosmo….

Or eat salads…

Little items, like the towels above, do a great job giving you the flare but not going over the top. They also make great gifts… which is the department you will find them in. Look at that synergy right there. Just look at it!

-Giddy-Up!!

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If It Fits: Ariat Fatbaby- Gator Print

There may be nothing more American for footwear than a good boot! From work boots to cowboy boots, there is something about them that speaks directly to us. Point in fact the first thing my now-wife said to me was that she likes my boots. And you can tell a lot about someone by what kind of boots they wear (if any at all! But that’s a separate topic for another time).

One of my favorite brands of boots just released a new style. I’ve talked about the brand Ariat before and even this exact model of boot before. The Fatbaby has become a quintessential boot for any cowgirl to own. They are tough, comfy and hardworking. (Just like a man should be!) They are also an extremely good looking boot as well. Cleaned up or messed up, they have a style to them that is undeniable.

Now I have what is known as an eye for exotics. If you know boots, you know what I mean. If not, let me explain. Exotics are the kinds of leather used besides your standard kind. Exotics can include, but are not limited to: ostrich, snake, alligator, elephant, lizard and others. Ostrich boots are usually the most easy to identify from the holes where the feathers were. What kind of exotic you would wear can also tell a lot about someone. My buddy’s dad swears by ostrich as it tends to last longer for him.

This latest Ariat Fatbaby has the best of both worlds. It has suede leather but with a gator print. So it gives the eye-catching impression of being an exotic but the ease of care with standard leather.

Like all other Ariats, these boots are built to last! They have a four layered rebound system for comfort and stability. Along with a blown rubber outsole that will stand the test of time. The 1.5” heel is perfect for its original design, riding.

The only bad thing about them… its only for girls. Lame…

But guys, you can still get a pair for your lovely lady. You can take pride in all the compliments she will get from them and be weary should she need to give you a good kick in the rear!

-Giddy-Up!!

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Proper Motivation: Weight Loss

So let’s go ahead and talk about health. Living a healthy life is extremely important. And it is up to an individual to decide what “healthy” means to them. For some people it’s about being able to do 25 pull-ups in a minute. For others it’s simply about having good cholesterol and eating their fruits and veggies. I’m not going to go on a “eat this, not that” rant but let’s face it, weight is a serious health issue.

When I was 16 years old I was pretty much ten pounds away from having diabetes. It took me roughly eight months but I was able to lose 110 pounds. Thanks to watching what I was eating, exercising and that blessed teenage growth spurt there was a new me after freshman year at high school. So for me, this is something I take personally.

Now if you remember way back earlier in the year I did write about a certain eating style that can be very beneficial. I called it the pioneer-paleo path. It took much of the principles of the paleo diet and added some tweaks to it. Now let me go ahead and state that the principles of that eating style are solid but please do not buy “into the scheme”. It’s a great concept but companies have now ruined it by producing and merchandising things as “paleo”. Such items include coffee, protein powders and dog food… yes, dog food. Always remember that the “health and weight loss” industry is great at making one waste money. So for that reason I am not going to endorse any particular product or regimen in this blog.

This blog is about motivation to get to a healthy weight. I personally have packed on one too many pounds since the beginning of this year. I am sure other people are in my same shoes as well, so that is why I am writing this. To help. Everyone can always use some extra. So here you go.

The human mind is an extremely powerful thing. It is essential to get into the right mindset before starting any kind of goal. From running a mile in under five minutes to studying French, you know your mind has to be set on that task. One thing that always helps keep a mind focused is motivation. Why am I studying French? Oh to pass the class and move on!

Now the sad fact is that getting healthier should be good enough motivation, but we are humans and can always use extra motivation. So many people will put some extra incentive on top of any health related issues. This can be done in many ways including taking a vacation, buying new clothes or whatever.

For me personally I am looking to lose 40 pounds. Hmm… 40… I got it! If I lose 40 pounds than I get to buy myself a .40S&W! Cha-ching! The motivation-locomotive is on its way! I do not own one yet and have been thinking more about getting one. I also can go to my local gun club and rent one of many different .40s that I have had my eyes one. And that works great for motivation as well. So once a week I’ll go to the club, rent a new one to help keep my efforts up and help me make my decision.

Now of course, this is my personal motivation. If you are or know a recreational shooter that is looking to shed some weight, do the same! 45 pounds = .45ACP or .45 Long Colt. 35 pounds = .357 Magnum. And so on! Some people only want to lose “that last 10 pounds” (which can be the hardest to lose) so maybe a 9mm? And for you long gunners out there… 30 pounds could be any of the 30 calibers (.308 Win, .30-06 SPRG, etc).

Just think about it. Might not be a bad motivator. I actually shared this “scheme” of mine with one of my fellow associates who said “Now, that aint a bad idea!” While the health rewards for losing weight are endless, at the end of the day we could also use some extra incentive. So if you’re a fan of things that go “BANG” maybe try this method. And maybe I’ll go ahead and post what I am trying to do to get myself to that nice-new full sized .40S&W!

-Giddy-Up!!

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Why It Matters: Picking Up

Ever been walking down the street and seen a piece of trash lying on the ground? Typical. Am I right? Ever been walking down a trail and seen a piece of trash lying on the ground? Unacceptable! I am right.

People are in all sorts of rushes nowadays. You gotta get to this place at this certain time to do this certain thing but that’s before this needs to happen and after that is this and yada-yada-yada. This can be common thinking of people living a busy life. But even when people get out into the great outdoors where things can come into perspective and time slows down, carelessness can still occur.

Take a walk around a park or through a hiking trail or even head out to your “secret spot” and you will probably find some trash along the way. Who knows who left it there or why, but that really doesn’t matter. What matters is that it gets picked up.

Whenever I go out fishing I usually have one, if not two, trash bags with me. And those usually get used each trip. It only takes a second of time to bend over and pick something up and toss it in a bag. This is a point I’ve probably touched base upon several times in previous blogs but now I want to make it a focus.

It’s bad enough we have huge sections of land devoted to dumping garbage and trash into (landfills). But that doesn’t mean that the rest of our precious land needs to end up like it. And I’m not saying that you’re a hero for properly disposing of an empty water bottle, but it is a good thing to do so. And people will notice it too. Some might even do the same next time they are out.

All over the country, certain recreation areas have had to be closed due to the amount of trash people have left there. There was a lovely nature area down here in Arizona that is almost quarantined from the amount of trash left behind from illegal immigrants and drug running cartels. (Yes that is an extreme example, but its true! And yes, that's the example above.)

And I’m not saying that you should get your whole neighborhood to start a recycling project (if you want to that’s tight) but a little help here and there is exactly that- help. So whether you’re a hunter, fisher, bird-watcher, cross-country hiker or whatever take a trash bag or two next time you head out. You may get the most satisfaction of being in the great outdoors by helping keep it great!

Giddy-Up!

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Labor Day Event 2014

We may have just gotten done with our Next Generation Weekend for our Fall Hunting Classic, but that does not mean it is too early to look at our next free and family themed event: Hometown Festival!

We are going to close down the month of August with a bang! On August 30th and 31st we will be having our Hometown Festival here at our store in Mesa, Arizona!

We will have a variety of activities open to everyone this year! From Noon to 5PM, both days, we will have the following:

Pick a Duck Pond- Try your luck at picking a numbered duck! Winners will get a prize!*

Casting Buckets- Show us your casting skills! Participants who can get the casting plug into the target get a prize!*

Face Painting- Add some style to your face!

Craft- Color an Owl Backpack Clip!*

Metal Detector Treasure Hunt- Use a metal detector to search for hidden treasures!

Photo Download- Get your picture taken and see yourself sitting inside our Bass Pro Shops NASCAR race car!

The first 100 Kids to complete the Metal Detector, Casting Bucket and Photo Download activities and get their activity card punched each day, earn an awesome giveaway*!

 

We will also have these seminars on both Saturday and Sunday!

1:30PM- Stoked to Smoke: How to Smoke Meat Right

2:30PM- Backyard Chef- Picking the Right Grill

3:30PM- Going Dutch: Dutch Oven Cooking Made Easy

 

There will be Food Sampling going on both days from Noon-5PM*.

Saturday and Sunday:

Free Hot Dogs from 1PM-4PM*

Free Ice Cream Sampling from 4PM-5PM*

 

What is really cool is that on Saturday we will have some time and special things set aside for our Hometown Heroes. From 2PM-4PM we will be honoring them with Fish Fry Samples* and prize drawings.

 Our Hometown Heroes include:

Veterans

Soldiers

Military Personnel

Police

Fire Fighters

Paramedics

Teachers

Prizes to be drawn:

2PM- $50 Bass Pro Shops Gift Card

3PM- Maui Jim Sunglasses

4PM- YETI Cooler

Please have Valid ID present in order to participate!

So beat the heat and lets close this month down right! Grab the family and head on down for our Hometown Festival! Yee-Haww!!

*While Supplies Last

-Giddy-Up!!

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Check It Out List: Boating (Day Trip)

There are a lot of “happiest” days in one’s life. There was the time in second grade you won a spelling contest. Our in high school when your team made state. Your wedding day! When you hold your first born. And so on.

What are the two happiest days of any boat owner? The one where they buy their boat and the one when they sell it! Just kidding. Kind of.

Buying a boat is no simple or small matter. Think about everything that comes with it: maintenance, repairs, registration, towing, operation and persistent neighbors looking to borrow. But that freedom one gets being out on the water can be well worth it. It’s almost guaranteed to be a good time when out on the water. And a way to ensure that is to have everything in order for a day trip on the boat!

Now depending on the size of the boat, number of visitors and recreation one will partake in could greatly adjust the check-list below. But overall I believe it does a good job covering all the basics. And if you have any personal suggestions, leave them in the comments section below!

Boating Day Trip:

Sun Protection

Personal Floatation Devices

Drinking Water

Towels

First Aid Kit

Identification/Registration

Safety Measures (whistles, flares, etc.)

High Visibility Flags

Small Tool Box

Extra Paddle

Many of these items can be kept together in a water-proof bag of some kind. That will also make it convenient for loading/unloading and secure storage. I hate to say it, but not too long ago I was helping a customer check out and he was loading up on the boating items. I asked him if he just got a boat and he replied that he had gotten robbed. Despite that kind of happening, he knew better than to go out unprepared. And like he said, most of his stuff was older and could have used replacing anyways.

Speaking of that, remember to make sure proper floatation devices are on board. Especially if you have younger kids. Like everything else, they tend to outgrow things quickly so you will have to go through several different life jackets as they grow up. But always better safe than sorry!

Be sure to be up to date on your local boating laws as they may have changed since the last time you went out. States are cracking down more and more on reckless boaters, as they should be. Look to see if you can take an online safety course to learn the basics or get a refresher course.

-Giddy-Up!!

Checked-Lists

Picnics

Gun Cleaning

Game Care

First Aid

Kayaking

Day Pack

Trip Prep

Range Time

Fishing Pack

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Take Someone: Shooting

Everyone tends to have their own passions in life. Usually the best part of a passion, is sharing it with someone else. I mean that is usually how relationships are built. If you meet someone you intend to spend time with in any way, you usually see if your passions match up. And sometimes someone will have never taken part in what you love to do most at which point you offer to introduce them to it.

One of my passions is recreational shooting. I love it. I honestly consider it one of the best forms of stress management, ever. And I believe everyone (no matter how they feel about the subject) should know how to safely handle firearms. You can be the most anti-gun nut out there, but you should still know how to safely handle a firearm and if need be make sure the safety is on and it is unloaded.

One of my sisters was very anti-gun. She couldn’t stand the fact that I owned one. It was a sore subject between us, but I came to find out that she had never shot one before. So here was my chance to introduce one of my own family members to one of my passions. (If you have this similar situation, follow what I did and it should work for you too.) I reasoned with her that she can hate them all she wants, but should still know how to handle one safely. And I enticed with the reward of me taking her out for dinner if she were to come to the range with me and just shoot one bullet. Love it, hate it- didn’t matter- I would take her out to any restaurant she wanted.

So off we went to the club that I belonged to. There you must watch a safety video if it is your first time shooting (smart). This focus on safety above all else helps one get into a proper mindset. One of the most effective ways to teach firearm safety is called TAB+1. It stands for:

T-Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.

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

B-Be aware of your target, what is in front of it and behind it.

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

Also always have eye and ear protection available.

I gave the run down to her and loaded my pistol. The target was probably 10 feet away, and that doesn’t matter. I made sure she was set in every way possible and even put my hand on her back to know I was right there for her. She raised the firearm and fired. She immediately put it down and stepped back. (Looks like this was going to be a short trip to the gun range… Oh well, hope she doesn’t choose anything too expensive…)

She turned around and said “THAT WAS AWESOME!”

From then on we made dozens of trips to the range together. It was a great time for us. And each time we always focused on safety. It got to be where she would notice people being unsafe and could call it out.

Here was a passion shared with someone that took a real hold. And you too can do the same. Shooting can be “one of those topics” but as long as you follow a few, easy steps it can be a shared passion.

SAFETY- Always keep safety in mind. This will help keep you, your companion and everyone else in a good mind frame. Teach the TAB+1 or go over it before you shoot each time. Discuss how safeties and releases and the reloading process works. Keep the amount of different firearms and calibers out to a minimum.

THINK- If you are going to take a smaller framed person shooting, don’t hand them a .44 Magnum. Think about the person(s) you are going to take and what would be a good match for them. Personally I wish I had introduced my sister to shooting with a smaller caliber then .45ACP but it was the only firearm I had at that time.

WATCH- Shooting can cause fatigue. You’ll notice it yourself if you have been at the range for a while. Always watch and see if they show any signs of shooting fatigue. And just watch to be safe!

TALK- Talking going with the whole safety part but beyond that as well. You don’t have to get too technical with new shooters but discuss what is going on. Knowledge is power. Encourage who you are taking shooting in simple ways. They don’t have to hit the bull’s-eye, like many new shooters think they must. They are there and that is the most important thing.

On my last trip to the range, the lane next to us had a younger man introducing (I believe) his mother to shooting. I watched over him as he went through everything that I discussed above. He emphasized safety above all else and kept it as stress free as possible. I waited until she had shot a few times and introduced myself. I asked if it was her first time (it was) and how awesome I thought she was for being there. I am not sure if she has been back since, but I am going to bet that the little encouragement I gave and the training her “instructor” was giving her has made her more prone to the idea of going shooting again.

-Giddy-Up!!

Check out my check list for going shooting for other helpful hints.

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Tie One On: Royal Coachman

This month’s Tie One On has a hint of royalty to it, so be prepared to bow before the pattern that rules the kingdom. This month’s highlighted fly pattern is The Royal Coachman!

Typically when it comes to fly patterns they are designed to be fished as either a dry fly or wet fly. The Royal Coachman is one kind that works well for both styles of fly fishing. The fly is especially effective on trout and grayling. Larger patterns have been adopted for salmon species and work quite well also.

Now usually when people think of royalty it immediately goes to our friends across the Atlantic, the English. I mean immediately the world royalty makes one thinks of fancy balls or knights in armor. The Royal Coachman however is an American classic.

Fly-fishing author, Paul Schullery wrote, “No fly better represents this freewheeling era [late 19th century] in fly tying than the Royal Coachman, which among the general public may be the world's best-known fly. Its name has the right combination of romance and class to appeal even to people who don't fish, and the fly has such a commanding appearance that few fly fisherman can resist having some permutation of the pattern in their fly boxes, even if they never use it. Most of them don't know it, but the Royal Coachman is the first great American fly pattern...”

I would completely agree with what Mr. Schullery stated, including having one in my fly box and never having used it…

The Royal Coachman is known as an attractor/searching pattern as its generalized form makes it possible prey for anything biting. So one may tie one on and use it to probe likely spots holding fish and it has a better chance of getting a strike.

Like most other fly patterns that have proven themselves, this one comes in an assortment of colors and variations. The standard pattern is well recognized for its white wing, portioned body with red in the middle and red-brown/brown hackle coming off the back.

So next time you’re out and need a little help catching something, go ahead and bow down and ask the Royal Coachman for its assistance in the matter.

-Giddy-Up!!

Former Flies

Woolly Bugger

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Simple Steps with Wes: Traps

It’s time once again with one of those ever-helpful Simple Steps with Wes! And for this month’s we can directly quote one of the finest members in the Rebel Alliance’s arsenal: Admiral Ackbar…

Growing up, I cannot tell you how many traps my siblings and I would set in our backyard. Anything from pit-traps to the jankiest Tupperware and string contraption found themselves ready and waiting for anything to come by.

Now that I am older and have a man like Wes ready to help with any possible survival or prepping scenarios, I decided it was time for my trapping knowledge to grow up as well.  Here is the next Simple Step for your arsenal, trapping.

“In a survival situation there is a fine balance of work and reward that must be balanced. Hunting game can cost you precious time and the yield of food may be less than the energy spent hunting it. One way to help with conserving time and energy is by using traps and snares to work for you while you focus efforts on other tasks. First, like business, it is all about location, location, location.  Look for signs of activity such as game trails, water sources, and tracks.  Some simple ideas are:

This reverse angle or bottle neck pit is a great way to catch small game. Mice and rabbits use cover and concealment for protection. As they scurry along and go under the braced cover they fall into the hole. The negative angle of the pit walls prevents them from climbing out. The low clearance between the cover and the top of the hole prevents the animal from jumping out. Another great advantage is you only need items from your environment to construct it. They also yield scorpions, lizards and snakes so use caution when checking your trap. Construct a few of these in areas you see signs of activity for great rewards.

When you have the option of preplanning take advantage of it. Adding a few small traps like these to your survival kit can save time and energy.  They are light weight, compact, and designed to catch small animals. They can help catch small game but don't forget to tie or stake them down when setting them.

A fish corral can isolate fish and make them easier to harvest.  It also keeps the fish alive so the food will last longer.

Putting Mother Nature to work for you instead of against you is key to survival. Remember to work smarter not harder and always try to improve your situation.”

 

Thanks, Wes! My trapping knowledge has come from a young boy that wouldn’t know what end of the screwdriver to use to now a full grown and facial haired man’s man.

Remember, the latest and greatest from Wes is available at his site!

-Giddy-Up!!

Previous Simple 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

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Urban Animal Awareness: Coyotes

So there is this big misconception that one inside an urban environment must travel to great lengths to see wildlife (besides pigeons or in a zoo). Let me be the first to let you know that this is mostly untrue. There are usually dozens of different animals living in our urban environments; you just have to know to look for them.

By nature, animals are adapters and know how to survive. Here in Arizona that is a real case despite all the land development and urbanization of our state over the past few decades. And one animal that many may only know through cartoons as an avid roadrunner hunter/ ACME product purchaser can be found in the heart of some of our cities. That animal being, the coyote.

Coyotes are native to North America and can be found almost all over the continent. They are a predator species that has done quite well compared to others during human expansion. Some would describe their look as being like a small wolf or a scraggly dog. Both would be fair. There are actually over a dozen subspecies of the animal, so depending on the area they can be quite different.

Coyotes tend to travel in packs and be most active at night. They usually work in a group to capture prey but solo animals are pretty good at getting their own meal. Their meals can range from natural prey (birds, small mammals, etc) to household animals (cats, dogs, livestock) and even leftover human food. Coyotes are notorious scavengers, which has helped them survive this long.

The cliché of a coyote howling at the moon actually has some real basis. These animals use a series of yips, howls and barks to communicate. If you have ever heard a pack of coyotes catch a rabbit late at night the noise is something to remember.

When settlers moved West they often feared about the dangerous wild animals, and sought to drive them from the land. Years later, we seem to have opened the doors for them to come right back in. Besides providing them with water sources (urban lakes and ponds) and a steady supply of food (garbage and lapdogs) we have also provided them with a transportation system. Those greenbelts that we love to run and golf courses we love to play make a perfect path for coyotes. Even our canal systems and other infrastructural doings work in the favor of these animals.

The best way to handle living with coyotes is to give them space and to not give them reason to come back. Don’t go trying to pet them or give them scraps because “they look hungry”. Don’t leave your Pomeranian out past dark alone. Trash bags belong in their proper containers. And so forth and so on.

So when you’re thinking about buying that townhome that has the seventh hole right out the backyard, don’t be surprised to see a coyote or two running by every now and then.

Giddy-Up!!

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Crock Pot Cuisine: Venison Stew

I’m a simple guy. Meals tend to have meat and not tofu. (Know what I mean?) And I love to cook. Honestly, it’s a delight in my day to actually prep and make everything for a good meal. But you know how I started this blog? Yeah, sometimes I like to keep my cooking simple as well. That is why no home is complete without a crock pot! Slow cooker… big bowl thing that heats up… device of hunger ender… whatever you call it, you know what I am talking about.

There is something so nice about tossing in a bunch of ingredients, hitting a button or twisting that knob and taking off. You let the crock pot do the work for you. And life is busy, so it’s a great option if you are going to be gone all day and don’t want to worry about the whole cooking process after work or whatever!

And what’s great too… crock pots don’t care what you put in them! I’m sure certain fancy French cookware companies scoff at game meat but not the good ol’ crock pot. So here’s something for all you hunters out there to try, Venison Stew!

Crock Pot Venison Stew

3 carrots
5 potatoes
2 lb. meat, in 1 1/2 inch cubes
1 c. water
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic
1 bay leaf
1 stalk celery
3 onions, quartered
1/2 tsp. pepper
Salt to taste
1 tsp. paprika

 

Put all ingredients into crock pot. Stir to blend spices. Cook on low for 10 to 12 hours or on high for 5 to 6 hours.

"Oh Deer! That looks good!"

 

Don’t have venison but maybe some buffalo? Don’t forget our old friend Rocky and his recipe for Buffalo Chili!

 

Tape Worms A-Tap Dancin’! Giddy-Up!!

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Next Chance for Next Generation

So for those of you who do not know about Next Generation, it is our outreach to get the youth interested in the outdoors. We at Bass Pro know that it is vital to get kids into the outdoors to preserve them. Every year we run several events that are focused towards the Next Generation.

This month, as part of our Fall Hunting Classic, we are having your next chance to get your kids involved in the Next Generation. As usual our events are 100% free! Here are the details below:

 August 9th and 10th

Noon-5PM each day we will have our Daisy BB Shooting Range up and running and our free photo download. Parents/Guardians will have to sign a waiver for children under 18 years of age to participate in the Daisy BB Shooting Range.

Noon-4PM we will have a craft available to be colored both days as well. While supplies last of course, and they are super cute so don’t delay!

The first 100 kids to complete the activity punch cards each day will receive a free giveaway!

There will also be two seminars about “Fall in the Outdoors” held both days at 2PM and 4PM.

What is also awesome is that this weekend we will also host a Women’s Hunting Workshop on Saturday, August 9th at 3PM. I love this. I believe it is essential, just as much with the youth, to get women interested in outdoor sports. The first 25 women to attend the workshop will receive a free giveaway (must be 18 years or older). Attendees will also be able to register for a chance to win a RedHead folding knife or pair of Oculus binoculars. The winners will be drawn at the end of the workshop so don’t be late.

-----Now this goes straight out to the fathers/husbands right now. Guys. Seriously. Take this opportunity! Think about it, you get to go to Bass Pro Shops. You get to hopefully inspire your children and wife to get into your passion. It’s free. They can win stuff! They will be busy for hours, WHICH! gives you enough time to get up to the Hunting Department and snag that firearm that you’ve been wanting without getting busted. (Have blankets in the back of the car to hide it of course!)-----

We hope to see  you there!

-Giddy-Up!!

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Fishy Facts: Catfish

That’s right! Fishy Facts is back. Don’t act like you haven’t missed your monthly posting of more-than-you-ever-needed-to-know-about-a-specific-fish-for-any-reason-besides-being-on-Jeopardy blog! And we’re bringing it back from the dark murkiness of forgotten blogs with a fellow bottom dweller to be this month’s star! The Catfish!

Ah yes, Mr. Whiskers. That hard hitting, semi-unattractive, tastes great fried or blackened, bottom dwelling fish. You ever seen an episode of River Monsters? More than likely it was about some kind of catfish, and for good reason! There are a multitude of different species of catfish found all over the world. Including the largest species (the Mekong giant catfish found in Asia) and the second largest (the Wels catfish found in Eurasia).

These fish literally grow big enough to swallow a human! And there are plenty of stories here in the good ol’ U.S. about swimmers going missing and divers refusing to go into certain lakes after getting a look at the catfish down there!

But for the most part the catfish is like most other fish. It swims and it eats and it makes baby catfish. They get their name for the characteristic whiskers on their face. Urban legend tells you that those whiskers can actually ZAP you, if you touch them! The thing you really need to watch out for are the sharp and hard spines found behind their fins. (Last year at our Fall Fishing Classic a few people learned that the hard way… or should I say the pokey way!)

These fish are notorious for being bottom feeders and are sometimes called the vacuums of the lake. Contrary to this concept of them being slow moving fish just eating away, catfish are well adapted predators. Catfish will strike at prey much more ferociously than one would expect. In fact a new style of fishing for them is to use spoons! I wouldn’t have believed it either until a buddy of mine caught one on a stock pond and then read an article about it three months later.

There are several catfish species found in North America. That includes channel, flathead and blue catfish. Most Bass Pro Shops have examples of them in the large aquariums. Our big ol’ girl is known affectionately as Big Blue!

Typically fishermen go after these kinds of fish during low light times as they seem to be more active. Almost anything can be used as bait for them (worms, cheese, minnows, bread, chicken livers, etc) and most people seem to go with “the smellier, the better” theory.  These fish can be found in almost any kind of water and are not just limited to lakes. Another way people go after these fish is called noodling. This is where one gets into the water and probes around likely hiding spots for catfish using their hands or feet. Once one has located a fish, use whatever means necessary to get the fish to bite onto ones hand and then lift the fish out of the water. Crazy as it sounds there are national contests for the sport (and TV shows).

Now the whole thing with catfish growing huge in certain is that fish are not bound by gravity as we are. Being in water, fish can grow to enormous sizes because the stress of gravity is not pulling them down or as controlling. So if a catfish were to get stuck in the turbine area of a dam, it could possibly grow as big as possible just by floating and eating whatever it comes its way.

And once last thing about the catfish… and definitely not least… is their taste. These fish are delicious! There are many ways to prepare catfish and most of them are always good. These fish are also able to be raised in farms, making them a sustainable source of seafood. That’s another reason why one may be seeing catfish popping up more and more on the table at home and a menu at a restaurant.

Until next time! Alluring Armadillos! Giddy-Up!!

Former Fishy Facts

Northern Pike

Rainbow Trout

Largemouth Bass

Peacock Bass

Walleye

Billfish

Dolphinfish

Crappie

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Look at That! Portable Propane Fire Ring

Would you look at that? Just look at it!

If you don’t get the reference, go ahead and follow this link and watch a short video.

Done watching? You’re welcome! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the latest blog series “Look at That” in which I will be highlighting products just make you stop dead in your tracks and just look at it!

The first of this series caught me completely off guard. It was the Camp Chef Portable Propane Fire Ring. Besides arson-related wild fires I am a sucker for flames and the great outdoors. Small fire for smores? Yes please. Cooking on Coleman stoves? All day! And this beauty of human engineering practically gives us an awesome combo of the two.

So here’s the deal, it’s a 15” diameter fire ring that sits on legs. It comes with lava rocks which you can place directly into the ring. This is a nice feature because it releases you from the duty of gathering sticks and such to burn. It’s got a nifty little forest scene cut into the side of it giving you some rustic flare. The fact that it is propane as well means it will be easier to control. Camp Chef also tosses in two roasting sticks and a carrying case.

Of course you can always splurge and get yourself any of these other awesome fire-roaster options as well!

So go ahead and pick one up, and next time you’re at a campsite using it I am sure you’ll catch the eye of another camper and make them just STOP and look at that!

-Giddy-Up!!

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Tie One On: Woolly Bugger

A long, long time ago my lovely Aunt Susan gave me some of the greatest gifts I ever got for a Christmas. It was 1998, I had caught my first fish and was… pun please… HOOKED! It was at my uncle’s farm pond in Arkansas for Thanksgiving. The whole family was gathered for the holiday and they witnessed a life changing event for me. And so for Christmas my aunt gave me an assortment of fishing related gifts. It included but was not limited to: an entire album of fishing themed Christmas songs, my favorite fishing book and a card game.

That card game: Go Fly Fish. 52 cards with 26 different fly patterns on them. Pretty much the same concept of the game Go Fish but now instead of asking for Jacks or fours you are requesting Prince Nymphs or Marabou Muddlers. So in other words, the best game ever! (Especially when spoken in a Western accent.)

We recently played this game and it has inspired me to start a series I like to call, Tie One On. And to start it off will be one of the most timeless and most fun named flies… the Woolly Bugger!

Open almost any fly box and you should find a woolly bugger in it. Last year I got with one of our fly-guys at the White River Fly Shop about what 5 flies he would fish with for the rest of his life and he said… WOOLLY BUGGER! This fly is known as a wet fly, meaning it is fished under the surface of the water. While it is a simpler looking fly, its versatility makes it deadly!

Bill Hunter, author of The Professionals' Favorite Flies, in fact says this “The Woolly Bugger is so effective, it should be banned from some watersheds. I suspect its effectiveness is due to its resemblance to so many edible creatures in the water--nymphs, leeches, salamanders, or even small sculpins. Its tail undulating behind a fiber, bubble-filled body is just too much for most fish to resist. It just looks like a meal!”

This fly works in rivers, streams, lakes, ponds and just about in any other body of water. Adding to the versatility of the fly is all the assortments of colors one can acquire one in. When extra depth is needed for fishing with one, some have an extra weight close to the eye of the hook to bring the fly down deeper.

So if you’re thinking about getting into fly fishing and also look for chances to make people snicker at funny names just be prepared to have a Woolly Bugger in your arsenal!

Giddy-Up!!

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Why It Matters: Getting Outdoors

You know, people sure do seem to have a lot on their minds nowadays. The everyday hustle and bustle of life can wear one down and if that isn’t enough you have that lovely smart phone constantly buzzing about something or another! All of this makes me step back and think about what really matters and why. Now depending on who you could ask that to, you could get a lot of different answers. But here is something to think about, people are more stressed out nowadays and are spending less times outdoors than ever before! Coincidence? I think not!

I may be overly simple but to me life is about making good choices to spend good times with good people. Now you can go ahead and decipher that however you want, but it works for me. For instance, is having your face four inches away from your iPhone checking your Pinstagram or whatever a better time than actually being with that person you’re “tagging”? I don’t think so.

That why it matters to me to get outdoors. Being out in the open with fresh air can be exactly what someone needs during a rough time. Or at any time for that matter. Getting outside and just enjoying what nature has created is a true blessing. And whether you do that via morning jog, fishing a lake, climbing a mountain or photographing flowers, the main thing is just to do it!

There are so many ways for one to enjoy the great outdoors. There is literally something for everyone! Maybe that is what makes it so great.

By the way, there is a National Get Outdoors Day. (Write your senators, let’s make this an official National holiday!)

Let me tell you something that I think is really cool. My sister and her husband are making it a point to go to every national park in this country. Growing up my family traveled to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons for a few summers. That was some of the best times in my life. I am glad to see my sister is keeping that tradition, as will I with my family.

If you have never taken advantage of our national parks services, don’t wait! Their website has this awesome page that lets you search for parks based on name, location, activity or topic!

So next time somebody posts one of those gorgeous landscape photos, make it a point to get outdoors and see for yourself something similar! (In fact, that picture above is from my honeymoon at Yosemite from earlier this year.)

Giddy-Up!

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Simple Steps With Wes....First Aid Kits

 

I get a lot of questions about making a first aid kit and specifically about aspirin and ibuprofen so here you go.

Aspirin,

 

also known as acetylsalicylic acid, is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. It is used to treat minor body aches and pains, headaches, and reduce fevers. Aspirin has two major side effects. The first is that it can be stomach irritant. It also thins out platelets, the cells responsible for blood clots which can be dangerous. On an upside, the same blood thinning side effect can assist with altitude sickness.

Ibuprofen (commonly branded as Advil or Motrin)

can be better to treat pain from soft tissue injuries and dental pain. Unlike aspirin, it has a very mild blood-thinning effect, so if you have conditions where loss of platelets would be a concern, ibuprofen is a better choice. There have been some concerns that ibuprofen can contribute to kidney damage, so those with kidney concerns you should consult with a health care provider before taking it.

I will say this, prepackaged first aid kits can be a good starting point. You should always customize them with specific items to support you and your group's needs. Add an old pair of your eyeglasses to your kit. Even if it is not the exact prescription it's better than nothing if yours are broken or lost. Also add a couple of days worth of medication that is taken regularly by you or persons in your group especially for those with heart problems or diabetes. Lastly inspect and change items regularly. Bandages dry out, medication expires. Be at your best when things are at their worst

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Time to Circle the Wagons Again!

All right all you little buckaroos! It’s about that to put on your western best and head on down to Bass Pro Shops for our PBR Weekend! If you know what I’m talking about (I’m just as excited!) and if you don’t you better be ready to hold onto them horses!

Every year we do a Professional Bull Riders themed event in our store. Earlier this year our store was picked to hold a special one, that hopefully ya’ll were able to make it to. If you missed it, now is your chance to right that wrong!

It is going to be Saturday, July 26th and Sunday, July 27th! This FREE family event will be held both days from High Noon! (12PM) until 4PM. We will have such rootin’-tootin’ events as: stick-bull riding, roping practice, face painting and the coolest craft this side of the Mississip’!

Apart from that on Saturday from 1PM-2PM we will have a Bull Riding Expert in-store for a meet & greet and some autographing.

And on Sunday we will have a Best Cowboy or Cowgirl Contest! Now is the time to let any young ones live out their fantasy of being a cowboy or cowgirl and let them dress the part! Starting at 2:30PM kids can meet at our Main Fish Tank for the judging to begin! The winner will be selected at 3PM so don’t be late! And besides the honor of being this year’s Bass Pro Best Cowboy or Cowgirl, the winner will go home with a $50 Bass Pro Shops gift card!

Last but not least, the first 100 customers to attend the event both days will receive a cowboy hat key chain with light!

So this aint no time to get a hitch in your giddy-up, make sure you make it down for our PBR Weekend this year! Oh, and catch up on some of your western jargon beforehand!

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