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!



Firearm Safety

Firearm safety is the most important part of owning or shooting a firearm.  Many places offer Hunting Safety classes for free. Some states even require people born after a certain date to take the class before purchasing a hunting license.

Safety doesn't have an age limit. Even experienced shooters should take all precautions while handling firearms.

Firearm safety should be top priority whether you are in the woods, at the range, or at your home.

The NRA lists firearm safety as:

  • ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
  • ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
  • ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to shoot.

Here are a few more important rules to add:

  • Treat every firearm as if it were loaded.
  • Don't rely on the firearm's "safety".
  • Always be sure of your target and whats beyond it.
  • Never point at anything you don't intend on shooting.
  • Always keep the action open except while actually hunting or preparing to shoot.
  • Never climb a tree or fence with a loaded firearm.
  • Wear eye and ear protection while shooting.
  • Regular cleaning is required to ensure everything can work properly.
  • Do not use alcohol and/or other drugs while handling a firearm.

There are many other safety tips for handling firearms, but always pay attention and follow these basics.


Camping Safety Tips

While camping is an amazing way to relax and enjoy yourself, there are several dangers that can come up. Knowing a few tips and tricks, and being prepared, can go a long way in ensuring everyone’s safety, which makes camping much more enjoyable.

Here, we’ll talk about three dangers that can pop up; Fire Safety, Food Safety, and Wildlife Safety.

Fire Safety

Having a campfire is one of the true joys of camping. A roaring fire is iconic to camping nights, under the stars, warmed by the crackling embers. But there is a lot of danger that comes from having a fire at your campsite.

Most campsites will have a fire ring, or pit, where you can, and should, have your fire. If not, you want to make your own. First off, you want to choose the spot for your fire. This should be a place that isn’t too close to your supplies, like tents or tables, and somewhere on a solid holding. After that, you want to make sure there is some kind of ring around where the fire will go, like a circle made from rocks, or a circular grill grate.

After that you want to make sure you are prepared to put the fire out, before you ever start one. Having a shovel and a large bucket of water is essential is stopping a fire. Dirt and water will douse a large blaze almost immediately. But, even though the fire may be out, that does not mean the danger is gone. A doused fire can still be hot enough to cause serious burns or reignite, so don’t leave your fire until you are sure it is safe and cool.

Food Safety

Preparation of food has always been very important, but when you are camping it becomes even more so. You have far less space for separation than you would at home. You have less ways of keeping foods cool, or keeping foods hot, especially at a small range of temperatures. But, with preparation, keeping your food safe to eat while camping is a breeze.

Having two areas, coolers preferably, for uncooked and cooked food is very important. As long as you can keep the uncooked food away from everything else, and at the proper temperatures, you’ll never have to worry about spoilage. Coolers, large or small, are the perfect way to make sure you can maintain your food’s temperature safely.

A meat thermometer is very important to have while camping. Cooking on open fires, dealing with this direct heat source, is very different than setting your oven to 400 degrees and leaving for 45 minutes. Make sure while using the thermometer that you take the temperature from the center of the meat, and that you clean the thermometer thoroughly after each use. Some meats are safe to eat at different temperatures than others, so make sure you know what temperature range you need.

Wildlife Safety

Wildlife is one of the greatest allures that camping can offer. From squirrels to grizzles, every animal in nature has a mystique and grace that is undeniably beautiful. But with this beauty comes danger. Mostly from the grizzlies, not so much the squirrels. Many campsites will offer protection from bears. Considering the most common reason for a bear to invade a campsite is that they smell food, many campsites offer food canisters, a large metal bin for your food. If one is not available, though, you can always make a Food Hang (or Bear Hang). Basically, you keep your food in a sack or a bin, about 100 feet away from your tent, and hang it from a tree branch. Bears can climb trees, so simply putting it up in a tree won’t work. But hanging it from branch let’s you protect your food while you are away.

The Food Hang is just a method to keep wildlife at a distance. And that is the key to wildlife safety, distance. You must keep in mind that this is their environment. This is their home, and you are visiting. So, you have to be a good guest. In houses that might mean taking off your shoes and using a coaster, but here it’s giving space to these animals, for them and for you.

Keeping safe while camping isn’t a chore by any means. With just a few ideas, tricks, and understandings you keep you and your family safe while camping, so you can enjoy your time without worrying


Going to Bed: Targeting Spawning Fish

By: Andrew Buss

Few things are as frustrating and rewarding as targeting bass on spawning beds. I experienced both May 4 at a tournament on Lake Maxinkuckee in Culver, Indiana. At 10 in the morning, I located a 2.5 pound bass on a bed that would be a big cull. Considering the bite on this day, we knew this fish would make us competitive.

After 45 minutes of pursuit it bit two times, one time even ripping the tail off my BPS Flippin Craw, but never hooked up. So we left it demoralized and frustrated. At 2 in the afternoon, we returned, and on my third cast with a BPS green pumpkin tube, the bass pummeled it. I then landed five keeper sized bass off their beds in the last hour. These fish catapulted us to fourth place and our spirits were renewed.


Bedding fish can be like this. Making constant casts to a fish only to watch it ignore your offerings can drive an angler insane, yet to see the fish inhale your bait creates a rush unparalleled to anything else in fishing. Successful bed fishermen know the nuances to coaxing these fish into biting, and they all come down to two traits: patience and presentation.

Remember why a bass is on its bed: to protect its eggs from predators. They are not there to eat, so when choosing baits, choose what looks the most offensive. I tend to toss a slew of baits with different actions and let the fish’s reaction determine which to throw. This often changes from one fish to the next. After catching the first three fish on Lake Maxinkuckee with the tube, the fourth fish I encountered wanted nothing to do with it. As long as that bait was on the bottom, he was not interested. However, when I switched to a drop shot rigged with a BPS Drop Shot Worm he got aggressive. After three casts he was in the boat.

If a fish leaves the nest upon your arrival, it is unlikely to bite. However if it stays put or returns after a brief moment, it can be caught; it is a matter of time. Admittedly that time period could be 2 minutes, or it could be 2 hours. Some angler’s soak their baits on the nest hoping the fish comes to it. I do not have the patience for this. My philosophy is to upset the fish into biting, so I actually aim each cast at its face. This is guaranteed to get its attention. If after a handful of casts it completely ignores the bait, I switch. Almost always I begin with a tube, and my next option is bait with a tail such as the Flippin Craw or an XPS Skirted Double Tail Grub. If changing baits does not trigger a reaction, change colors. Begin with natural colors and then switch to white or pink.

As was the case on Maxinkuckee, timing is important. The fish likely did not bite in the morning because it was fresh on its bed and wary. It is common for a fish to nip at the bait at this time as it did for me. By afternoon he was more secure of its surroundings and more aggressive to protect the nest.

Boat positioning is critical. An anchoring system such as a Minn Kota Talon will make a tremendous difference in your effectiveness when bed fishing. Ideally, you want to position the boat close enough to see the fish and how it reacts to your bait, but far enough away that you do not scare the fish off. The slightest breeze can glide your boat right over the nest, and the slightest use of the trolling motor can send dirt onto the bed. It is nearly impossible to catch a fish if either of these two mishaps takes place. A Talon offers this security, but if a Talon is out of your budget, purchase a BPS Slip Ring Anchor.

            When encountering bedding fish this spring, stay patient, be diverse, and get ready for the ultimate rush.


New Sights, Smelts, and Experiences

Isn’t food just that?  A common experience, time shared with others, a memory that is tied forever to that food and the events and people which surrounded it?  All things social and familiar involve food (don’t they?)…on some level of course!  Dishes reappearing each year at the holiday’s or for the big game, making their way onto our plates during specific seasons and celebrations, and impressing on our memories the good times we had with those who helped prepare and/or share (…or maybe even catch!) said food…

A chocolate chip cookie (or even the warming aroma of it) can transport one immediately back to Grandma’s kitchen; the sight of a perfectly char grilled steak carrying your thoughts to a night grilling-out with friends in the back yard under a summer night sky; and maybe you’ll be stirred by something in…the plateful of hand-breaded deep fried smelt on your plate at Islamorada Fish Company!  Perhaps if you (or someone you know) were around for the days of “Smelting” on the great Lake Michigan, then it will prompt memories of those times or those people…

A short walk up and over the Dunes (albeit carrying such cargo that it didn’t exactly feel short), bonfires and groups of people lining the shore as far as you could see, “tall” tales amongst the fishermen abound, kids digging and playing in the sand knowing that a beach trip at night is something really special, a chill in the air laced with excitement for the fun to come.  Nets and lanterns, blankets and coolers, buckets and waders (first test of the year to be sure they aren’t leaking!)…and maybe a freshwater feast if the wind was right and your timing was too!

New experiences that we have with food can evoke great memories that we associate with them, and we can’t wait to hear your stories!  If it’s been some time since you had a smelt dinner, if there are good times to look back on and reminiscing to be done…come out and spend some time with us at Islamorada Fish Company inside your Portage Bass Pro Shops.


Got Smelt?  Yes, actually we do.


Spring Hike

Winter’s finally over and spring has sprung, but with it comes the rain. That won’t stop us. In fact it’s a bonus. This means the waterfalls should be putting on quite a show. We love the outdoors. So we fill our packs and head on out to Starved Rock State Park in Illinois.

For our trip the water was flowing in great abundance, but so was the mud. I highly recommend a spare change of clothes and shoes for the return trip home.  For any hike, wearing the right clothes is important. For the rain I recommend The North Face Resolve Jacket. This jacket is waterproof and breathable. It will keep you dry while allowing moisture to escape. The North Face® Resolve Jacket for Men | Bass Pro Shops

Ottawa Canyon is quite a hike, almost 8 miles round trip from the visitor’s center, so the breath-ability of this jacket will help keep you comfortable and dry. The trail from the visitor center to Ottawa falls follows the River and has side trails to see some of the other falls and canyons.  There are park benches occasionally throughout the trail for a muddles place to sit to rest and have a quick snack.  Personally I could have lived without the surprise mud spa, but other than that it was a great day to hike. Even in the rain.



Inflatable PFDs: Maintaining the Device that Can Save Your Life

First, have you read the instructions?   Your inflatable life jacket contains information on how to wear, operate and look after your device.  Familiarizing yourself with theses instructions is very important.

How do you look after your lifejacket?


Check Zippers, buckles, waist belts and all fastening devices for:

  • excessive wear
  • cracking
  •  fraying
  • anything that might indicate that there was possible strength loss

Also Check:

  • that the bobbin or cartridge has been screwed in securely
  • the jacket hasn’t already been activated
  • there is no damage or rust on the cylinder

Cleaning and Storage

If your lifejacket is equipped with automatic inflation, remove the cartridge before washing to avoid accidental inflation.

Rinse – if it has been exposed to salt water rinse thoroughly in fresh water after every use.

Wash – Hand wash with warm soapy water to clean the outer shell.  You can use the same detergents you use in your laundry to help clean greasy or stubborn stains.

Dry – always hang your jacket and allow to completely air dry.  Store only after it has dried thoroughly.

What if your jacket has been deployed?

If your jacket has been deployed, you will need to replace the gas cylinder.  You should always have additional cartridges available in case you need to replace before the end of your outing.  It is recommended that you have your jacket serviced after it is deployed. Most manufacturers have a list of authorized service agents on their websites.  It is recommended that bobbins or cartridges be replaced in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.


Your inflatable life jacket is a life saving device.  Care for it as though one day your life might depend on it.