Grades are In and the Grade is a Z8!

By: Andrew D. Buss

Every moment on the water, and before every cast, I assess the potential for success in regards to water depth, clarity, structure, lure selection, and countless other factors. On top of being a competitive angler, my day job is to teach middle school students reading and writing. Again, assessment is my job. A theme in the classroom is I do not give grades, rather, students earn grades. Today I have a grade to share with you: the 2014 Nitro Z8 earns an A+.

She arrived Memorial Day weekend with a number of accessories: Mercury Pro XS 250, Humminbird 1199, Humminbird 999, Minn Kota Fortrex 112, a pair of 12 foot Minn Kota Talons, Hot Foot, and a Loc-R-Bar. During these short months, I have put it all to the test by beating the snot out of it. Wear and tear from small Northern Indiana inland lakes is admittedly minimal, but throw in several hundred miles on Lake Michigan, two weeks on Minnesota’s 112,000 acre Leech Lake, and a week on New York’s 254,000 acre Lake Champlain has officially broken her in.


One look at the EL20A color scheme and one must admit she brings sexy to bass boats. It took only a few weeks to lose count on how many comments I received from non-fishermen: thumbs up from passersby, admirers at convenience stores, even people at stop lights rolling down their window to express their admiration. The artists at Nitro earned their paycheck.

My previous boat was a 20 foot Skeeter. Before that, I owned a 19 foot Triton. Admittedly, I was skeptical about the Z8’s performance compared with the Skeeter, but I was wrong. My first time on the water was with fellow angler Steve Prange, who is a long time Ranger owner. He had ample experience in my Skeeter and a 2013 Ranger. As we broke the motor in, he was the first to exclaim the Z8’s ride, hole shot, top speed, and ease of performance surpasses any boat he has ridden. On top of that, his admiration of the sheer size - seating and casting space - was equally as flattering.

The first real test came on southern Lake Michigan in early June. Weather forecasters had predicted five mile per hour winds out of the south. They were wrong. Instead flags were flat as a pancake with winds out of the north. This did not stop me from venturing out, and after a few miles, waves between 6-8 feet high battered the Z8 and I. Spray saturated me and dropping down several feet between waves jolted my body, but the boat was not impressed. She rode through the waves with ease.


During the Lake Michigan Big Bass Bash in late June, fish were hard to come by. As a result I ran nearly 120 miles across the lake in search of cooperating fish. My persistence paid off with a top 5 finish, but the success belongs to the Z8. Never before was running that kind of mileage an option for me. At the end of the day, the 68 gallon tank was only half empty.

Immediately from this tournament I headed to Leech Lake in northern Minnesota for vacation. Out of character for June, we were bombarded with stiff winds for nearly our entire stay. Not a problem. Despite consistent four and five foot waves, we were able to navigate safely across the entire lake. We drifted for walleye amongst the waves and ran 20 miles to protected bays to chase musky and bass.

Finally, participating in the B.A.S.S. Northern Open on Lake Champlain is a daunting and intimidating experience. Champlain is ranked #10 as the roughest body of water in America by Bassmaster Magazine. The sheer size is astonishing, but add persistent strong winds and waves ranging from four to eight feet in height, well, now it’s not just a matter of catching fish, but survival. Thanks to the Z8, neither were ever concerns. The Humminbird electronics and Fortrex trolling motor allowed me to locate schools of smallmouth bass to finish 23 out of a field of 180, while the Mercury was reliable, and the boat kept me in control and safe. During day one of competition, over 20 teams returned late due to the waves, but not me.

If you are serious about your boating or fishing, line yourself up with the best. Line yourself up with Nitro.


Uh-Oh Damaged Propellers!


Prop Damage Can Be Costly If Not Corrected

Even if you haven’t used your boat much this season, you may know that damage to a boat’s propeller is as common as, say, running out of gas while fishing.  It’s not shameful to admit that props get dinged, dented, scraped and damaged beyond repair. While frustrating, it is a fact of boating.

What Damages Boat Propellers?

Any number of unseen hazards can damage the best prop, whether it’s made of sturdy stainless steel or aluminum. The team at Power Pro’s can attest to that. A prop can be damaged by chains, ropes, hidden logs and rocks. Propellers can also be subject to debris, mainly driftwood, plants and trash. Rocks and churning sand can also diminish your prop quality

When does prop damage need repairs or replacement?

A quick checklist may help you decide if you need to replace your prop:

1. Do you notice a drop in performance? If your acceleration, cornering or general overall handling of your boat drops significantly, check your prop it may be time for a replacement or repair.

2. Feel a vibration? That is a bad sign. A vibration can damage other parts of your boat that you don’t want to have to replace, namely your motor!  This can cause uneven wear on the gears which could become a high dollar repair that won’t be covered by your warranty.

3. Are you in the RPM range? Variations can result in poor fuel economy and other damage to your motor.  Gas isn’t cheap these days and the cost of fueling your boat can add up quickly.

4. What’s the thickness of your blade? Know your baseline and watch this detail because it can affect performance.

5. Cracks in the blades? No question, time for a replacement.

6. When in doubt, get a boat mechanic’s advice. He’ll probably err on the side of caution, but who wants to be left stranded when your prop or motor stops working?

Rules of Thumb on Prop Maintenance

If you’ve run into hazards with your prop, it’s best to inspect the propeller as soon as the suspected damage has occurred. If you heard something or felt a jolt, it’s likely that damage has happened. Props can be repaired, so it’s worth considering a repair versus a replacement if the damage is caught in time. The Power Pro’s can advise whether saving the prop is a worthwhile option.  In many cases, it could be just as cost effective to replace a prop rather than pay for piecemeal repair or welding. If you haven’t experienced a bump while boating, then inspecting your prop regularly should be enough to keep it in good, working order.


Which Waders are the Best Choice for Me?

Fishing can be an exciting outdoor activity, especially when the fish are biting! Those who bank fish may be at a disadvantage if the fish that are biting are in deeper water. A simple solution to this problem is fishing waders. Whether you’re fishing for Salmon, Trout or Bass, waders can give you a competitive edge.

It is important to pick the correct wader for the depth of the water you’ll be fishing as well as the weather you’re in. There are several types of waders to choose from. Chest waders are most versatile in their design, allowing fishermen to wade into deep water because they provide maximum coverage.  The suspenders and lightweight baggy material keeps the waders securely on your body while leaving room for your body and layered clothing.

Waist-high waders are mid height wader option. Waist waders don’t provide as much coverage as chest waders. Designed much like a baggy pair of pants, they are meant for water no deeper than mid-thigh and are equipped with belt loops to hold them in place. These waders are nice in that they provide more coverage than a hip wader, but don’t restrict movement as much as a chest wader would. These are a nice warm weather option because of their light weight, medium coverage design.

Hip waders are a minimal coverage option meant for water no higher than the knee. These are a great warm weather option due to their light weight. These are often used for fishing in shallow waters.

There are options for either insulated or uninsulated waders as well. Insulated waders are used for both colder water and colder weather. These often consist of baggy material to allow for layered clothing. Uninsulated waders are a great option for fishing in summer months as they are more breathable.

There are options for boot-foot waders, wading soles, and stocking foot bottomed waders. Boot-foot waders allow you to purchase both boot and wader in one, which make them convenient and affordable. Wading soles come in a variety of materials such as felt, rubber, hiking, and studded soles, for different underwater terrain. Stocking foot waders are meant to be paired with a waterproof wading boot. It is up to the fisherman which option is best suited for their preferred type of fishing.

Waders are meant to enhance your fishing experience while keeping you dry and comfortable, not hinder it. It is important to find the right wader for the conditions in which you’ll be fishing. It is also important to rinse (especially if you fish in salt or brackish water) and hang dry your waders after each use to insure they don’t mildew.  Make sure to store waders that are completely dry, in a cool, dry space free of direct sunlight.


Now is the Time Ladies!

Hooray, the time has finally arrived for our sale and clearance on our spring and summer ladies apparel. Have you had your eye on that Bob Timberlake embellished tank top,or that Natural Reflections striped layered henley that goes so well the seamed bermuda short?

Select items of our brands of Ascend, Bob Timberlake and Natural Reflections are either on sale or clearance along with Columbia and The North Face for 25 to 33% off the regular price.

Shop our stores or shop our website but do it quickly while colors and sizes are at their prime.  While you are shopping don't forget to check out our Fall selections. Our Natural Reflections Zip Fleece Jacket at only $19.99 comes in six rich colors and pairs beautifully our Natural Reflections 3/4 sleeve striped knit shirt.




Firearm Ownership Heritage

During the last few decades the focus of firearm ownership has been surrounded mainly in the social political spectrum. Firearm rights and the right to protect oneself have taken center stage. However, there is an additional attribute that compliments the importance of firearm ownership- heritage. We have had a long history of sporting firearms which has been overshadowed by the modern media. However, it is still alive today and the staff at Bass Pro Shops in Portage, Indiana can help guide and teach you.


The following is a film titled “Making of a Shooter”. You must understand the significance of the film;

  1. the film is from 1946,
  2. it is sponsored by the top firearm and ammunition companies,
  3. it is color which is a big deal from a film from 1946,
  4. it is big on firearms safety,
  5. it is family orientated,
  6. overall for the time period the quality is superb


The video contains shooting sports and bird hunting. There is not any deer hunting due to the fact that in 1946 deer were not plentiful and very scarce.

In the firearms department at Bass Pro in Portage, Indiana, we strive to keep this heritage alive.  Our staff is made up of individuals of different backgrounds and knowledge. Some of our staff is from past generations when skeet and trap shooting was at its peak in popularity. Other members are more from current generations when deer hunting, modern sporting rifles, and duck hunting is the popular choice (thanks to the boys at Duck Commander).


We have a wide selection for firearms for all your sporting needs past and present. Come on in and bring the whole family.  Many are on sale now for the fall classic.



Is Robin Hood a better archer than Bill Jordan?

Were the archers from the Middle Ages better bowman than modern professional hunters like Bill Jordan? Before we answer this question we must look at a brief history of the bow and arrow.

Who invented the bow and arrow? Answering that question is equivalent to answering who invented fire or even the wheel. However, we can look at the history of the bow and find some interesting technologies that we use for hunting and sport today.

A recent discovery in South Africa puts the invention of the bow and arrow about 71,000 years ago.  Arrowheads as well as spear heads were found in Pinnacle Point cave located outside Cape Town, South Africa. This is an important discovery about how sophisticated Homo sapiens (modern humans) early on. The oldest Homo sapiens archeological find dates back a little over 200,000 years ago.



The invention of the bow and arrow can be an important step on why homo sapiens out competed their rival the Neanderthals, who were much more stronger then they. The bow and arrow would allow modern man to attack from a distance instead of battling the Neanderthals up close.

Amazing, we are using the same tool that ancient man had used 71,000 years ago hunt and for warfare. But are we really? How strong were these early bows? How accurate were they?

No one really knows about the earliest bows. All that remains are the broadheads that were made of stone. The bow itself is as long been biodegraded back to dust.



So we need to flash forward to a more modern era to understand the sophistication of early bow and arrow technology. In the England during the middle Ages, the longbow rained supreme - to some historians – is when bow and arrow technology leaped forward.  Warfare in the middle ages long today as more to do with resources than how many soldiers you have. The longbow and its precision and the highly trained archers allowed countries like England to win against countries like France who had an abundance of resources

In the middle ages, Archers were able to kill a man from over 200 yards away. They did not have rangefinder nor sight pins. Today modern hunters are lucky to hit a deer from 70 yards.  Longbows from the middle ages had a draw weight of 150lbs or more. Why is there a big difference? What made middle age era archers so much better than modern ones? Are today’s improvements like the compound bow, sights and release inferior to the longbow of the past?


I think the same analogy holds true with firearms like the Kentucky Long Rifle.  American Patriots were able to hit a man size target at 200 and up to 300 yards with open sites. Today a hunter with an inline and a scope can maybe hit consistently that 300 yard mark, and they would never think about going traditional. This same analogy holds true when comparing the archers from today to archers from the middle Ages.


Here is the big difference:

  1. Archers from the middle Ages learned at a very young age.
  2. It was life or death, either in battle or to hunt for food.
  3. It was a way of life. They did it everyday.
  4. They could not afford to miss their target. Arrows were expensive. Although some would argue they are today, but in reality we do not have to make them by scratch. Nor would it cost us two chickens and a goat for the use of the blacksmith.


We may not be as good as they were, but we do not have the time to do it everyday nor do we have the life threatening stimuli to force us to be better.  We do it for FUN! So bring on the advances in technology and the gadgets, we need them.

 Wayman, Erin “Early Bow and Arrows Offer Insight into Origins of Human Intellect.” November 7, 2012 – Online Smithsonian Magazine

Wong, Kate “Oldest Arrowheads Hint at How Modern Humans Overtook Neanderthals” November 7, 2012 -  Online Scientific America

Military History Monthly , “ The Longbow- Medieval Weaponry” Online

Americas First Freedom- NRA Publication, Online



Hunting Safety

Hunting safety during any season is very important. There are extra steps to take during deer season in which many hunters use tree stands. Safety harnesses are a necessity and not and ancillary option. Even OSHA requires the use of a 5-point body harness at work on heights far less than many tree stands.

In November of 2013, Tim Bowers of Indiana fell from a tree stand and was severely paralyzed. The news spread nationwide. This story made the news because, although he was alive, Tim Bowers was only alive because of life support. He decided, himself, to be taken off support and die.

Is your hunting trip and saving less than 150 dollars more important than your own life?

 Out of the 182 accidents the Indiana DNR reported in the past 5 years, 100 involved falls from a tree stand. Hunting is our passion and we want to be able to tell our friends and family our stories. It would be hard to tell from a hospital bed or wheelchair.

Bass Pro Shops as a variety of safety harnesses that will fit any budget and any size person.

Even after you purchase you should know the following safety tips:

  1. Know your equipment; read the directions and understand all points of your Full Body Harness (FBH)
  2. Inspect your FBH every time you use it. It will only take a few minutes and you are a hunter so patience is a virtue.
  3. Practice using your FBH in daylight, because many of us go into our stands under the cover of darkness.
  4. While you are in the tree double check your FBH more than once the entire time you are in your tree stand. It will help you pass the time until that big buck comes your way.

What Tent is Best for My Family?

    Well it’s that time of year and you’re excited to take your family camping for the first time.  There are lots of things that you need to consider bringing on your camping trip and one of the most important will be a tent.  Shopping for a tent can seem a bit overwhelming.  There are so many sizes and shapes, features and benefits.  Here are a few tips to consider when shopping for the perfect tent for you and your family.




Tents are measured in how many people they sleep and this doesn’t mean comfortably.  For instance, if you’re a family of 4 you will actually want to get a tent that’s rated for 6 people.  Also, take into account that if you have extra gear you will be storing in the tent you will need more space.



                         Cabin and dome are the two basic styles of family camping tents.


Dome tents are taller in the center which gives you enough room to stand up but taper down which takes away from livable space.  This style of tent is easier to set up since they normally just have two poles.


Cabin tents offer the most livable space because the walls are vertical.  Usually this style of tent comes with room dividers and can even be rated as large as a 10 person tent.  A down side however is that they are more difficult to set up.



Storage and extra space to put your belongings is important.  Some tents offer gear lofts which hang from the ceiling of the tent or pockets that hang from the walls.  My favorite storage area on a tent is one that has a vestibule.  This area is built onto the rain fly and can be staked into the ground so that the area is enclosed.  You can keep extra gear, muddy shoes or even your dog in there!

Doors:  All tents will have at least one door but some of the larger model cabin tents come with two.  An extra door is nice so you don’t have to step over campers while they are sleeping.

Ventilation:   Make sure your tent is well ventilated.  Especially if you will be doing a lot of your camping in hot weather larger mesh windows will come in handy.   Check out the windows and doors of the tent before you make your purchase.  A nice benefit to have is to not only have screen windows but also the option of being able to close them.

A few helpful hints

  1. Make sure to set your tent up before you take it out on your trip.  If you just purchased it don’t trust that everything is there or that there are no manufacture defects.  This almost never happens but nothing could ruin a camping trip out with the family more than a missing tent pole.  If you’re using a borrowed tent or one that you purchased in previous years a part of your tent could have easily not made its way back in the bag from the last time it was taken down.  This will also give you practice setting it up!  Who wants to waste extra time setting up the tent when you arrive at the camp site anyways?
  2. Waterproof your tent before your trip.  The perfect time to do this is when you set your tent up before your trip to make sure all the pieces are there. Yes it’s true, all tents are fully waterproof but spraying your tent especially along the seams will provide extra rain protection.
  3. Bringing a tarp or ground cloth for underneath your tent is always a good idea.  This will provide extra protection for your tent floor against rocks and rough ground conditions.  It’s important to get a tarp that is the same size or even a little smaller then the tent floor.  If it rains and you have excess material hanging out over your tent the water will collect underneath the floor and possibly leak through.


Hopefully these tips will help you in making your tent purchase for your perfect family camping trip.  Whether you’re camping in your backyard, state park or campground you want these moments to be enjoyable and unforgettable.  Make sure to take your time and do your research on which tent will fit your families needs.




Columbia Hiking Pants

When hiking, you never know where the trail will take you. It’s an adventure, to explore, discover and learn. A few weekends ago my family and I met some friends for a weekend of hiking.  My friends live in Iowa and we live in Indiana so we met in the middle. Illinois, Starved Rock State Park, to be exact.  There has been a lot of rain this summer, so the waterfalls are flowing nicely. Surprisingly it wasn’t very muddy. No matter, I think my daypack contained anything I could have possible needed including spare socks. Any experienced hiker knows even a great trail can be ruined if you don’t have the proper gear. Our hiking group was made up of four adults, one teen, two ten-year old girls, and one infant.  With this group, you need to be prepared for anything. Other than a hot day and tired kids, the day was pretty uneventful. We put in a nice day of hiking and had a picnic lunch when we returned to the visitor’s center.

 The real adventure began the next morning. I took the advice of one of the rangers at Starved Rock and checked into a smaller state park in the area, Matthiessen State park.  My boyfriend and I hit the trails, while our friends hit a nearby waterpark with the kids. We only had an hour so we grabbed our daypacks and hit the trails. We quickly discovered rushing was a mistake. We did not change into hiking boots or grab our trekking poles. We had figured that with only an hour to hike, we would not really get that much in and would not need the gear. WRONG! 

What we discovered was amazing. The tails were well marked and beautiful.  The terrain took you across bridges with breathtaking valleys and beautiful waterfalls. Inside the valley walkways across the river were made of down branches, large rocks or in some spots man made concrete stepping stones.  We found caves and rock carvings, and a park that we can’t wait to visit again.  Although our shoes and socks were soaked there was one piece of gear I was thankful to have on. My Columbia Global adventure pants. I had chosen them for comfort on the long drive home. But they were my saving grace on the trails. The long pants protected my legs from brush on the trails and mud in the caves. The material is thin and cool which allowed me to be comfortable even on the hot summer day. They also roll into Capri’s which was great when crossing the river. The durability of these pants made them a must have in my closet and the reason I as happy to find that they are still available.

This pair I have had for four year and countless miles of hiking and they still look brand new. Our next trip to Matthiessen State park, I will definitely be wearing these pants and some waterproof hiking boots.


Odor Blockers

Finding the proper odor blocking clothing and accessories to fit your needs is important. Some of the brands out there offer the odor blocking technology ie. Red Head, Under Armour, and Scent-Lok. These will assist and cover your scent while you are on a hunt.

Scent-Lok’s new carbon alloy scent control technology combines its proven activated carbon and new components to increase the ability to absorb human specific odors even more. Scent-Lok offers a triple odor system with an activated carbon, an odor absorber zeolite, which has the ability to absorb smaller odor molecules and treated carbon that can absorb up to 300% more targeted odors than untreated carbon alone.

Under Armour offers a quiet & comfortable scent control technology that traps & suppresses the growth of odor causing bacteria. The duel-action technology fuses odor trapping zeolites with the anti-microbial silver. It holds up 10 times longer than carbon and reactivates during a normal wash cycle.

Red Head has AXE anti-odor technology which uses pure silver to control odor, keeping your odor to a minimum despite days on the field. It has a 4-way stretch fabric that wicks away moisture for it to dry quick and to help manage sweat.


Summer Learning

It's that time of year. Summer Vacation.

Just because it is vacation time, doesn’t mean it is time to stop learning.

There are many fun ways to learn and the gift department at Bass Pro Shops has many different areas of educational and entertaining products for any child.

An outdoor activity indoors has never been more fun with the Campfire Kids Deluxe Camping Play Set. Enjoy the ultimate campfire experience. What child would not love to set up camp with a campfire that is safe, has a flickering flame and is the center of your play adventure. The lantern casts animal shadows on your walls and brings your campsite to life with the sounds of wolves, owls and frogs. Prepare a camp side feast of hot dogs, marshmallows, bacon, and eggs with the roasting sticks and breakfast skillet.



When the last of the S’mores are eaten, time to crawl into the tent.

Get the young outdoors lover in your life a tent of his own with the Bass Pro Shops Camo Tent. This fun tent features a polyester fly and mesh roof panels for ventilation. Lightweight, shock-corded fiberglass poles slide easily through exterior sleeves for a quick and easy setup. The zip closure, D-style door provides quick and easy access to the tent.



The Gift Department offers a great selection of puzzles, children’s books, board games and adventure sets for girls and boys. Keep minds busy all summer long.


Visit for a closer look at all the amazing items offered.




I often have customers that express they are thinking about going out bow fishing on a boat with a spot light at night, looking for Gar. They often ask the following questions: What are some rules and regulations on the fish? What type can you shoot? When are the best times to go and so forth?


           The end of May is one of the best times (if you like daytime) because Carp are rolling/spawning. I prefer going at night because boat traffic is down at night, the wind usually settles down and you have the lake almost all to yourself. Plus you can see Bluegill beds that you can come back to and fish in the daylight. Gar are ok to shoot but I prefer Carp. Gar have an extremely boney body which doesn't help your line at all. Carp also put up a great fight. Like Trapper Dave said, "Carp are about in every lake". If money is an object you can cut a pop can and put it on the back side of a Coleman Lantern globe to keep the light facing away from you. Mount a board to the front of your boat and clamp the lantern handle to the board. Grab your bow and you are set. Remember aim low.



                Bowfishing is allowed in all waters of Indiana unless stated in an ordinance at specific state-owned or privately owned waters. Bowfishing is also not allowed within city limits that have city ordinances that prohibited the firing of a weapon.



• White River: from the Wabash River upstream

to the junction of East and West forks

• West Fork of White River: upstream to the

dam below Harding Street in Indianapolis

• East Fork of White River: upstream to the

dam at the south edge of Columbus

• The Wabash River: upstream to State Road

13 at the town of Wabash

• The Tippecanoe River: upstream to one-half

mile below its confluence with Big Creek

(Carroll County)

• The Maumee River: upstream to the

Anthony Boulevard Bridge in Fort Wayne

• The Kankakee River: upstream to State

Road 55 bridge

• The St. Joseph River: upstream from Twin

Branch dam in St. Joseph and Elkhart Counties

EQUIPMENT: Fish spear, gig, spear gun, bow

and arrow, underwater spear.

TIME: All year, day or night.



Any and all streams or partial streams not

listed above.

EQUIPMENT: Bow and arrow only.

TIME: All year, sunrise to sunset.



(including lakes, ponds and reservoirs)

EQUIPMENT: Fish spear, gig, spear gun, underwater

spear, and bow and arrow.

TIME: All year, day or night.


Tips for Boat Beginners



Summer is not the same without spending time on the water fishing, waterskiing or just cruising. Learning to drive can be scary when you first learn. You’re excited to have the freedom to travel, but a little worried to take over the controls that you are unfamiliar with. Being apprehensive when you first start driving a boat is understandable. There are some tips you can follow to make boating a little easier and safer while you improve your new skills.


Learning from specialists at Bass Pro Shops or an experienced boater can help speed up the process. However, watching other boaters that have boats similar to yours and asking questions is another option. There are many state and national boating education programs offered as well.


Choosing an area with calm water and few boats will give beginners a chance to learn the feel of the boat without added pressure of handling choppy waves. If you choose to learn on Lake Michigan, choose a day with little wind so the water isn’t rough. If getting out of the marina or dock area leads you through rough water, just throttle slow until you find a cove or calm water to practice.


Be aware of the weather reports and watch for unexpected adverse weather that might pop up. Lake Michigan is known for fast weather changes. Being on the water during a rainstorm or heavy winds is dangerous, so don’t wait until the last minute to get off the water


Wear a life jacket, and make sure everyone on the boat does. Nine out of ten drowning happen when no life jacket is being worn.


Basic stuff to have on your boat: U.S. Coast Guard-approved, marine-type fire extinguisher, a visual distress signal if you are on coastal waters, a horn to make sound, a throw-able PFD (life ring) first aid kit, back-up plugs, anchor & line and spare keys


Get your boat ready to put in the water by making sure you put the plug in the boat. Your boat should not be in the water without the plug in.

  • Remove straps and tie-downs on trailers and engines.
  • Load your gear into the boat while it’s out of the water. It’s easier and safer than lugging coolers, bags, etc. through water or bending down from a dock.
  • Back your boat down the ramp to get your boat in the water so your engine is in the water and the boat is not floating off the trailer. Be sure everything is working properly before you release the boat from the trailer. Have someone assist you if you still need practice backing up.
  • Run the blower to make sure there are no fuel vapors in the engine compartment.
  • Set the kill switch to run.
  • Start your boat with the drive mechanism in throttle so the propeller is not turning while you’re on the trailer.
  • Unhook the boat and release the bow hooks that keep the boat on the trailer.
  • Have the driver slowly pull away to separate the boat and trailer
  • When pulling out of the dock, check for No Wake signs. When they are present slowly drive forward until you are out of this zone.

Have the right stuff on your boat, learn and observe safety rules and take the time to safely handle your boat.   Then you are ready to make the most of your Water adventure!


How to Choose the Right Headlamp


When I first started out backpacking I had no idea there were so many things to consider when picking out a headlamp.  I was going on my first overnight backpacking trip and purchased a $10 light, the thought of spending $50 or more just seemed crazy to me.  Well little did I realize at the time that the extra benefits and features would make a world of a difference on my little camping excursions.  Here are a few quick tips to help determine which light is best for you.

When choosing a headlamp there are 4 things that I like to take into consideration; brightness, beam distance, run time, and size.

Brightness or Lumens.  Lumens (light output) are how powerful the light radiates from its source.  Basically the higher the lumens, the brighter the light will be.  This information is usually found on the front of the manufactures packaging.  Headlamps also have different settings from low to high, strobe, and red light option.

Beam Distance.  Headlamps are tested to determine how far (in meters) they can project usable light, defined as the light cast from a full moon on a clear night.

Run Time:  The run time is measured in hours and is determined by fully charged batteries.  If you look at the picture above depending on which setting you have your headlamp, it will determine how many hours of run time you will get.

Size and Weight.  Headlamps are weighed in grams or ounces.  Most lights will be about the same size but there are some models that are more bulky then others.  It’s important to try on a headlamp if possible before you purchase one, comfort is also an important factor to consider since you may be wearing it for long periods at a time.



Key Headlamp Priorities

Running/trail running



Weight, run time, beam distance, multiple modes


Weight, high-intensity beam, beam distance


High-intensity beam, beam distance, run time


Water resistance, high-intensity beam

Snow camping

Water resistance, run time

Travel, home emergency kits

Size, run time, flood (wide) beam for general usage


The advantage of using a headlamp is that they are hands-free.  I also realized that I not only use my headlamps for camping but I keep one in my car in case of an emergency, which has come in handy when needing to change a flat tire in the middle of the night.  If this is an item you will be using on more than one occasion I highly suggest investing in one that will fit your needs best.  Spending the little extra money will benefit you greatly in the long run.


Girl Power

Although many believe that women and the sport of shooting is a new trend, it is quite old. Before WWII women and young girls were not only involved in shooting sports but other sports as well. This was due to many state laws that required girls to complete all 4 years of high school and boys were only required to finish 2 and had a choice to go to work or go to technical school. Since many high schools had rifle clubs and girls made up the majority of the junior and senior classes, they had seniority of such clubs. The few boys that remained in high school belonged to clubs that had to do with military service.

During WWII, these clubs were converted into Victory Corps. It was a seamless transition.

Below Rifle Club and Victory Corps- Roosevelt High School Los Angeles. Library of Congress- Office of War Information



From recreation to actual competition, women have been involved starting before the turn of the 20th Century.  For example, Marie Grant from 1928-1941 earned 9 Grand American Trophies- including the lady’s Title in 1928 and the 1941 Clay Target Championship.

The Bass Pro Shop’s hunting department has a vast array of products for the women shooter at any age. Moreover, older shotgun gauges like the 28 are making a comeback. Popular in the 40’s and 50’s, this gauge is small, light, but its ballistics are superior to the .410 and close to an equal to the 20 gauge. Ammo availability has not been an issue. The 28 is a perfect gauge for young girls and women of any age, size or skill.


Packing For Rainy Weather


Rainy weather may not be the most inviting environment to hunt in, but with the right gear you can still have a successful hunt. Inclement weather doesn’t normally keep game from moving through their habitats. If you are equipped with the right gear, rain shouldn’t affect your hunt.

If you expect rain at some point during your hunt, it is important to have lightweight, packable rain gear. Light weight rain wear makes your pack lighter and more comfortable.

The features your rain wear offer can make all the difference when it comes to comfort. Choose clothes that fit well, but allow movement so as not to impede your shot. Great rain wear will be waterproof, windproof, and breathable to protect you against the elements. It is also important to have a quiet, polyester outer shell so you can move without being heard. A hood with an extended visor and pull strings add both length and keep it closer to your face. In a cold rain, an insulated, hand warming pocket and elastic cuffs on the jacket and pants help to keep both rain and wind at bay.

Having the right gear can make all the difference on your hunt, especially during inclement weather. Choosing gear with these features can keep you comfortable and make weather a non-factor in your decision to hunt.


Wakeboarding Tips

Wakeboarding is a surface water sport (a younger brother of waterskiing) that is becoming increasingly popular every year.  It involves riding a wakeboard over the surface of the water.  It was developed using a combination of water skiing, snowboarding and surfing techniques that began in the 1980s and really only began to see widespread interest  during the 90’s.



The rider is usually towed behind a motorboat, typically at speeds of 18-25 mph, depending on the board size, rider's weight, type of tricks, and rider's comfort. This speed could also depend on the year, make, and model of the boat because some boats, which are not designed for wakeboarding, create a different size wake which may make the rider feel uncomfortable.




                                         The Deepwater Start… The easiest way to stand up.

Learning the deepwater start is the key to getting started on a wakeboard. Until you master this, you are still a beginner.  Face your body towards the boat, with the board perpendicular and the toe of the board peeking out of the water. Extend your arms either side of your front knee as you grip the handle. Bring your ankles close together and pull your knees up to your chest, so you’re essentially squatting. As the boat begins to pull you from the water, lean roughly 60 percent of your weight onto your front foot and 40 per cent on the back. Hold the squatting position until you’re up and balanced. Stand up slowly, and shift your weight to the back foot.


                   The Grip… how to avoid common mistakes when grabbing the tow handle.

After you’ve become good at pulling off a deepwater start on your wakeboard, start to focus on your grip. The tow handle should be held parallel to the water with your palms facing down, your knuckles facing up and your fingers gripped tightly around the handle. Additionally, you should keep the handle in a low position and close to your leading hip at all times. A common mistake made by inexperienced wakeboarders is to hold the tow handle perpendicular to the water.



Generate maximum pop and open yourself up to a whole new world of wakeboarding tricks.      

Once you know how to carve and turn, a great way to really enhance your technique is to master the progressive heel side edge. Progressive edging involves slowly building your edge so that your speed and line tension are at their highest as you reach the wake. Start by moving about 10 feet outside the wake on your heel edge. Stand straight and wait for the boat to naturally bring you back to the wake. Then, when the boat pulls you in lean back, and place pressure on your heels.  Distribute your weight evenly on both feet and keep the handle low and tight to your body. Apply more pressure to your heels by leaning back even further, and as you approach the top of the wake, stand tall and keep the line tight in order to get some good air.


Don’t give up and with some practice and fortitude you will most likely enjoy wakeboarding as much as I do.  Have a great summer!


How to Make A Campfire From Scratch

Camping is a lot of fun. It allows us to connect with nature and we can experience what our ancestors lived like. It has many chores associated with it as well. These can add to the excitement and make the experience even better.

One such chore is the making a campfire and it needs a bit of skill and the right tools to be successful. You can incorporate some of the old as well as new techniques to make the fire and use it for seeking heat, cooking or anything else that you feel like.



                               Here are some simple rules to follow when making a fire from scratch:


  Build A Site:

  •  The first thing that you will need is a site where you can create a campfire. Make a circle from stones of small and medium size. Make sure that the soil here is without moisture. This will help you later on when you have created a fire and want to make it into a big one.


 Source of Ignition:

  • You will need a source of ignition such as a match box or a lighter. Taking the route in which these tools are missing, you can be up for a long wait as well as a lot of friction burns on your hands. Another good option is a magnifying glass as it can also help in focusing the sun’s light and energy to cause a flame.


   Burnable Material:

  • You must have some burnable materials that can be used for making the fire. Obviously an ignition is not enough unless there is something to transfer fire on. Pieces of paper or some dry grass can be useful in this regard. Make sure that this process takes place in the site that you earlier built.
  • Once they start catching the fire, you can add larger pieces of paper of more grass to make the fire bigger and stronger so that it can last.


  Add the Burnable Material:

  • Now you can start adding sticks to the fire. Start off with thin ones so that the fire can gain strength. As it grows bigger, you can throw in larger and thicker sticks. After sometime, it should be large enough for you. You can put in some logs of wood as well when it has gotten pretty big. Make sure though that you stay at a safe distance from the fire.


   Now your campfire should be a warm blaze and ready to enjoy!



Casual Elegance

                                                              Do You Like Compliments?

Who doesn't like compliments on what they are wearing?  I get comments all the time when I am wearing an outfit bought at Bass Pro Shops.  Yes ladies we sell more than fishing rods and hunting apparel.  You will find comfortable clothing and technical active wear from our own brands like Bob Timberlake, Ascend, World Wide Sportsman, and Natural Reflections.  We also have the bestselling brands such as The North Face, Columbia, and Under Armour.  All our clothing lines are inspired by the beauty of the outdoors.  Much thought is put into every collection.  You will be amazed at the eye for every detail that is thought out.  Delicate pin tucks, button tab sleeves, eye catching prints, smocking details, this is just a sample of what you can encounter with our clothing.  To put it into perspective two words come to mind.  Casual elegance.  Everything is in the details to make your look pop.

So ladies come check us out the next time your husband tells you he is going shopping at Bass Pro Shops. If you don’t want to wait for your next trip to Bass Pro Shops, many of our styles are available online as well. Be prepared to be amazed and get ready for those compliments.  With such one of a kind fashions it's almost like shopping at an exclusive boutique.  Nobody will be wearing what you have on unless of course you tell them!



How to Keep Cool While Camping

Every year we always look forward to that big, annual family camping trip!  Setting up the tent, sleeping outside, roasting marshmallows…it’s usually a great time- except we can’t control the weather.  The biggest challenge camping in the summer months is staying cool.

Here are some helpful tips on how to stay cool while camping in hot weather…

  • Choose a spot to set up camp that is shady and breezy.
  • Choose a tent that is well ventilated.  Leave the windows and vents open to provide air circulation through the tent to avoid a buildup of heat inside.  Shade shelters are good to set up as well, you can use this as your seating area to get out of the hot sun.
  • Wear loose fitting, light colored clothing. A moisture wicking material will keep you from feeling sticky. Some of these fabrics have built in SPF protection from the sun. Soak a bandana in ice cold water to keep on your head or around your neck.
  • Stay hydrated.  Make sure you drink plenty of water, especially if you’re doing strenuous, physical activities.  Most people need a ½  gallon of water per day.  An easy way to stay hydrated is by carrying a hydration pack.
  • If camping near water, swim as much as possible.
  • Wear sunscreen, reapply often.  Nothing’s worse than an awful sunburn. Wear an SPF of 15 or higher.

Camping in hot weather doesn’t have to be uncomfortable.  By following these guidelines you can have a safe and enjoyable camping experience.  So pack up the kids and head out this weekend!