Winter Recipe-Leg of Lamb

During the holidays there is nothing better than getting together with family for a big family meal no matter the occasion. When cooking for the family finding the dessert is easy as is finding some greens to put on the table, but what of the main dish? A great idea for making a special family meal this time of year is to make a leg of lamb. This meat is tender and juicy while still having a lot of great flavor. Not to mention the drippings from the meat make one of the best gravies for potatoes. Here are some tips and tricks for cooking your leg of lamb.

Before anything is done preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. The first thing that needs to be done with the leg of lamb is to remove any packaging that is on the meat. This includes the little packets of spice that are common in packaged meat (this spice is good sometimes but not for this recipe). The next thing that needs to be done is to pierce the top and sides of the meat with a knife (this should be an inch in depth to 2 inches in depth with a thin bladed knife). Now that the leg of lamb is opened up the meat needs to be rubbed with about a tablespoon of salt and pepper. Once the meat is rubbed with salt and pepper the meat needs to be rubbed down with garlic granules or a garlic marinade. This should be done in the bottom of a broiler pan. A good marinade for this is the Cajun Injector Marinade - Roasted Garlic, the butter and other spices in this marinade are great for pouring over top of a leg of lamb (using a quarter cup to a half a cup of this marinade will be good for most all legs of lamb). Now that the marinade is on the leg of lamb it is a good idea to open the little cuts in the meat from the knife from the earlier step, and allow the marinade or garlic granules to get into the meat. This marinade, salt and pepper should be allowed to soak into the meat and when cooked to glaze the outside of the leg of lamb. After this place the leg of lamb on top of the broiler pan and place in the oven. Let the leg of lamb cook till the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees Fahrenheit for a good rare meat (letting the meat cook a little longer with this internal heat will give a good medium cook, and raising the internal temperature 10 degrees and letting cook a couple extra minutes will give a well done meat). The easiest way to monitor the internal temperature in the oven is to use something like the Bass Pro Shops Digital Wireless Grill Thermometer, this will allow a cook to take the temperature of the meat then take the gauge and walk away from the meat without having to worry the meat will get to cooked while they are gone.

Cajun InjectorBPS Thermometer

Another way to do this recipe for the family that likes a little spice to their meat is to follow the above recipe accept add a little extra to the marinade. A good addition to the marinade for a spiced meat would be to add Bob Timberlake Zesty Honey Habanero Barbecue Sauce. By using a quarter cup of this sauce and a quarter cup of the garlic marinade mixed in a bowl then poured over the leg of lamb and allowed to glaze the lamb as it cooks. This recipe makes a great spiced meat that will impress even those picky relatives.

BBQ Sauce

While the leg of lamb is good a great addition to this recipe is the recipe for the gravy that can be made with the drippings. For this gravy take the top off the broiler pan and pour the meat drippings into a bowl. To start use a whisk to stir in half a teaspoon of pepper from a shaker, and a half a teaspoon of garlic powder into the drippings in the bowl. This gravy is perfect for potatoes, poured over broccoli or asparagus, or even served over mashed rutabaga. Now that the gravy is ready and the meat is on the table it is time for dinner! As always happy hunting and good luck!

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Winter Camping Tips and Tricks

Some of the best times to get out into nature are during the middle of winter. During this time of year many people can finally relax and having a few days in the woods is perfect for this. The problem is that getting equipped for a winter camping trip is often times tricky and problematic. For this reason a winter camping trip is often times neglected, when it should be a priority. There are a few tricks that can make a camping trip a blast no matter the weather or the temperature.

When starting out on a winter camping trip a good sturdy tent is necessary. This tent needs to be able to handle all types of weather from rain to sleet and snow, while still being warm and comfortable at night. For a family a good tent would be the Bass Pro Shops 6-Person Dome Tent with Screen Porch, this tent is great because it not only sleeps a family easily but the screened porch keeps any snow or rain off of boots in the porch. This allows anyone in the morning to put on boots without having to sit in the snow or getting mud in the tent. While having a good tent can help when it rains, snow is a different matter. A good way to keep tent poles from getting stressed by excess weight is to brush off snow in the morning and evening before bed. It is also a good idea to brush off snow before big activities that will take time, this keeps snow accumulation as low as possible and the tent from being stressed. Another good idea concerning the tent is to make sure that ice does not build up on the rain fly. To keep ice from accumulating to greatly simply shake the rainfly after snow is brushed off in order to crack any ice and allow it to fall from the rain fly.

Tent

The next thing that is needed during a winter campout is to build a fire. During the winter this step is usually the hardest, many times because the ground is hard and building a fire pit and ring is a pain. Instead bringing a ready-made fire pit is a much better idea. These might take up a little extra space and be a little heavy but for a winter campout these fire pits are a life saver. A great design for a winter campout is the Landmann USA Northwoods Outdoor Fireplace, this metal fire pit is perfect for cooking over or for hanging wet clothes close to in order to dry. While having a good metal fire pit is great there is usually one big problem and that is snow. During the night snow often times accumulates in any fire pit making them useless. The best way to keep this from happening is to simply stay up all night and keep the fire stoked and burning hot. A far more practical application of this is to get a very dense wood burning low on coals before heading to bed. By adding a three or four logs of a hickory or other hard, dense wood a camper ensures that if the fire is lit when they go to bed the coals will still be hot and ready for a new day in the morning.

Fireplace

Another great idea when out with the family and cooking in the morning and evening needs to be quick is to bring a large camp stove. These camp stoves use propane burners to quickly heat up cast iron or other materials for cooking. A very good camp stove for the price is the Camp Chef Ranger III 3-Burner Stove, this is great because breakfast can be cooking on the first two burners while a pot of coffee is percolating on the last burner. Another handy thing about having a camp stove close by is that boiling water for hot drinks is always a snap, whereas trying to boil water on an open fire is a pain. The only drawback for camp stoves is that they must be kept under cover during winter precipitation. This is because the camp stove unlike the fire pit cannot be left with a small fire burning all night, so wintery precipitation has a tendency to freeze inside the burners making them harder to start.

Stove

A couple of tips for getting dry in the winter while camping can go a long way. The first thing a camper needs is a couple of warm changes of clothes, in case a set or two gets wet. This allows a person to dry out clothes that are wet beside the fire while still remaining warm and comfortable. Clothes drying around a fire should be kept about 5 feet from the fire, while the fire is kept at a steady heat (note a large fire will dry clothes faster but will also damage fibers in many synthetics or burn many natural fibers). A low but hot fire is best for drying out clothes. This is easily done by adding an extra log of cedar, pine or other highly resinous wood. Once the wet clothes are dry, letting the clothes stay hung close to the fire for a minute or two more will allow the clothes to heat up. These fire warmed clothes are great for changing into on a damp evening camping! Now that the family is prepared it is time to pack up and head out on a winter campout! As always happy hunting and good luck!

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Thinsulate vs. Primaloft Insulations

The choice of insulation in a coat, pants and boots is a big decision and needs a lot of consideration before the choice should be made. When it comes to these two types of insulation there is a lot of information on both, so finding the right insulation should be easy for anyone. But using the information that is given to find the right insulation can be a pain. Here are some tips and tricks to finding the right insulation for activities.

When talking about thinsulate the material that is used is a synthetic hollow fiber woven like a sandwich in between two outer layers. The outer and inner layers of this material hold air close to the body. This sandwich design also allows the moisture from the body to pass through the material. At the same time this hollow synthetic fiber holds air away from the body allowing there to be a barrier between the body and outside temperatures. This type of design is very good for a very moist environment where the air temperature is very cold. When looking at activities where the thinsulate should be used in comparison to other brands the differences in the materials make the choice simple. Thinsulate is a material that can be used while working in the cold, or for when a person is doing something where there is a lot of physical activity involved. A great use for something like the LaCrosse® AlphaBurly Pro 18'' Waterproof 800g 3M™ Thinsulate™ Ultra Insulation Hunting Boots, would be a day out hunting where the hunter needs to walk a distance to their stand in tall wet grass. Since the boot in insulated and waterproof the boot will readily keep the hunter’s foot warm while keeping all the water off the skin. Another great use for thinsulate is for yard work. When out in the yard working in the winter having the wind on the face not only causes wind burn but is cold and uncomfortable for anyone. This makes using something like the RedHead Thinsulate Insulated Mask great for using during yard work. During the work the material allows sweat to be wicked away through the material without soaking the thinsulate, while also keeping the workers head warm against wind and biting cold.

RedHead Face MaskLacrosse Hunting Boots

Now talking about primaloft there are a couple major differences when comparing to the thinsulate. Primaloft to begin with is a synthetic down material that mimics the insulation of a down feather on a bird. This material is made up of hollow tubes in small structures that hold air against the body while letting a little air pass through the fibers to allow the wicking away of sweat. This difference appears subtle on paper, but when applied in practice the differences are quite substantial. This material is a little heavier than the thinsulate and also is not as water resistant as thinsulate. That being said when wearing primaloft a person is able to sit for long periods of time in the cold without having to move, while still keeping warm and toasty. Using something like the pair Browning® Hell's Canyon™ PrimaLoft® Bib and Browning Hell's Canyon Primaloft Jacket will allow a hunter to sit in their tree stand with a brisk wind for hours at a time without having to get up and move around. While this is great the single problem with the material being prone to soaking is easily remedied with a thin layer of waterproofing like an Outdry Membrane. The Browning Hell's Canyon PrimaLoft Outdry Gloves, are a great example of the waterproofing in action. The only drawback to this is the gloves are a little less able to breathe and wick away sweat.

GlovesBibsJacket

The choice of insulation in a set of outerwear is a big decision when a person is going to be out in the cold. Thankfully there are two different types of insulation that give great coverage of most every type of activity in the cold. So when sitting in the tree stand all day wearing a little Primaloft is the better choice. When working out in the yard on a cold day the best insulation for the money is thinsulate. As always happy hunting and good luck!

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Winter Bass Fishing

Fishing in the winter can be a very tricky situation if a fisherman is not prepared for all the possible scenarios that can present themselves. While at the same time finding the fish during the winter is far harder since they are moving less and at the same time eating less. This being said knowing what the fish are after and where these fish are hanging out in the cold winter temperatures can increase the chances of bringing in a good catch exponentially. So here are some tips and tricks to catching bass during the winter months.

During the winter the bass in the lakes and streams are in areas where the water is warmer than the air temperature and preferably moving. This means that the bass will be concentrated in the deep water right off of points on the lake. Or these fish will be congregating in small to large clusters in deep water brush piles, these fish could be as shallow as 20 feet or as deep as 50 feet. If a fisherman is using a fish finder and comes upon a school of bass, it is a good idea to look for the fish in the lake at a similar depth and in places resembling the area where the first group was found. A great way to fish these types of deep water fish is to use a drop shot like the Bass Pro Shops Superline Vertical Drop Hooks, paired with Bass Pro Shops Bass Teaser Tube in either puke green pumpkin colors.

Teaser TubeHooks

By employing both of these at the same depth of the bass there should be a good strike on the soft bait when the fish feel the movement and smell the garlic scent on the teaser tube. If the scent on the teaser tube starts to fade using something like the Spike-It™ Scented Dip-n-Glow Fish Attractant in garlic, is a good idea. By dipping the tips of the tail of the tube into the dye-scent, this gives the lure a new look and a very strong scent for the bass to pick up on and strike at.

Garlic

The next area where bass are going to hang out is in moving water on the river. Bass in the river are more likely to be active during the winter simply because they can’t simply suspend in the deep water and conserve energy. If a fisherman is looking for a good fight and strike from a bass during the winter fishing on the river is the place to go. These bass generally hang out in the deep water of river bends and also in the deeper holes in the river along bluffs or behind fallen trees. The great thing about the bass being more active during this time of year is that they are willing to eat just about anything that is thrown in front of them. So using a jig or swimming bait is not out of the question. For this job something like Bass Pro Shops Enticer Pro Series Weedless Football Jigheads, with a Bass Pro Shops River Bug - Garlic Scent trailer in the green pumpkin color. When this is thrown and bounced along the bottom of the river along the deep bottom around bends in the river this combination is great! A good way to entice a good bite out of bass in the deep pockets next to bluffs or in deep holes in the river is to throw something like the Bass Pro Shops XPS Lazer Eye Micro Spin. Let this lure sink a couple feet down into the deep water then start a lurching but steady retrieve. Then the spinner bait is allowed to fall for a second then the retrieve is continued the bass will usually strike as the bait is coming back into motion. These strikes are fast, this being said many people will miss the subtle shift in the water that lets them know there is a bite. When fishing like this if the bait suddenly feels as if it is no longer on the line it is time to set the hook because a bass probably has carried it toward the fisherman.

BugHookSpin

Now that the bass have been found, the gear is packed and the water is open for fishing it is time to hit the water and catch some bass. Make sure to find at what depth the fish are biting on the lake and stay relatively close to this depth when fishing throughout the day. On the river remember that the fish are active but will still tend to be in the warmer parts of the river like the deep wells and along the bluff walls. As always happy hunting and good luck!

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Winter Recipe: Mint Chocolate Cookies

Mint Choc Cookie

Mint Chocolate Cookies

Finding a good recipe for the holidays that everyone in the house will like is usually a challenge. There are a few recipes that tend to make a splash at any family gathering whether there are picky eaters or not. One of these is a very simple recipe for cookies that takes about 45 minutes to complete.

The ingredients for this awesome cookie recipe are fairly simple to remember. What will be needed is 2 sticks of room temperature or softened butter (approximately half a pound of butter), 1 cup of white granulated sugar, 1 cup of brown sugar, 2 whole eggs (any size is usable but the bigger the egg the more cake like the cookies will be), 3 to 4 drops of mint extract (this extract is very strong so using 3 to 4 drops should be plenty), 2 cups of all-purpose flour, and mint chocolate fudge cubed.  A good fudge for this recipe is the Bass Pro Shops Premium Fudge (the best way to do this is to grab the fudge from the Bass Pro Store and then head home to make the cookies).

BPS Fudge

Step 1: Pre-Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2: Whip the half a pound of softened butter in a large mixing bowl (this bowl will be used for all ingredients, so be prepared with a big bowl).

Step 3: Mix in both cups of sugar and continue to mix until all the sugar has clumped with the whipped butter.

Step 4: Crack the eggs into the mixing bowl, dispose of the eggshells, and begin mixing the eggs into the other raw ingredients. Stop mixing once the eggs and other ingredients are thoroughly mixed.

Step 5: Add in 3 to 4 drops of mint extract to the other ingredients and continue to mix lightly.

Step 6: Add 1 cup of flour to the well mixed ingredients, after the first cup of flour is well mixed with the other ingredients, add the other cup of flour.  Mix until the dough is a consistent texture (a note, after the dough is properly mixed do not continue to mix, this will cause the dough to toughen up and make the cookies very hard in consistency)

Step 7: Using a teaspoon, ball the dough.  Place these dough balls approximately 2 inches apart on a cookie tray for baking (there is no need for sprays or release agents for the cookies since they contain a good amount of butter).

Step 8: Place the cookie tray with dough balls into the oven and cook for between 6 and 8 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are browned (cooking the cookies longer creates a crunchier cookie while cooking less makes a chewier cookie).

Step 9: As soon as the cookies come out of the oven place a small square of mint chocolate fudge into the middle of the cookie and let the cookies cool on a cooling rack. The fudge will melt in 2-3 minutes.

This recipe is great for a family gathering or just for a good holiday dessert on the table for the kids. A great companion for this recipe on the table is sliced fruit with Bob Timberlake Caramel Apple Fruit Butter, to dip the slices in. If someone is throwing a party, these cookies are great on a snack table beside something like the Figi's Chocolate Carousel. These cookies make an awesome addition to any family get together or meal. As always happy hunting and good luck!

Apple ButterFiji's

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Creating a Winter Emergency Bag for Your Vehicle

Snow

Beautiful right? Winter not only can bring beautiful scenery but dangerous road conditions.Having an emergency bag for situations in which a survival situation is brought about by natural means is always a good idea. Since there are so many different types of emergency bags and so many types of situations it is good to keep in mind every situation is different and may call for different equipment. Here are some good ideas for an emergency bag that can be kept in the car during the winter.

The first thing needed when talking about an emergency bag is the actual bag. This bag needs to be big enough to hold the emergency supplies while at the same time not taking up the entire trunk of a car. A great measure of the bag is to set it in the floorboards of the car. The bag should lie comfortably in the floorboards without coming over the lip of the seat. A good bag for this specific need is the RedHead Canvas Luggage Collection - Rugged Gear Bag, this gear bag is made to hold gear for a hunting trip or a camping trip giving it the durability to stay in the car for an extended period of time. The size of the bag also allows for a lot of gear to be stored in a relatively small total area being taken up. Another good idea for helping store the gear is to have a water resistant bag similar to the Bass Pro Shops Deluxe Stuff Sacks, these simple storage sacks are great for keeping water off of clothing and other fabrics that will be in the emergency bag.

Deluxe Stuff SacksRedhead Duffle Bag

Next on the list for the gear pack is to take care of the bitter cold when talking about a winter emergency situation. So for an emergency pack the first thing to pack would be a warm blanket or sleeping bag liner like the Bass Pro Shops Fleece Sleeping Bag Liner. This sleeping bag liner is perfect for an emergency bag because it easily compresses to a small size while retaining its integrity and ability to keep a person warm. The next thing on the list for keeping a person warm in an emergency situation would be a good set of gloves. These gloves need to be warm and functional for work that inevitably comes with emergency situations. So something like the RedHead Mammoth GORE-TEX Waterproof/Breathable Gloves for Men, these gloves not only are water resistant but also have great dexterity. It is advisable to have more than one pair of gloves since losing a glove in the middle of an emergency is always a problem. The next bit of clothing that should always find its way into an emergency bag would be a good pair of wool socks. These socks keep feet warm while wicking away sweat and keeping the wearer generally comfortable. A great set is RedHead® Lifetime Guarantee All-Purpose Socks, these socks are great because they compress well into a small size, so keeping a few pairs in the emergency bag is never a problem. Also these socks keep the wearer warm while wicking away sweat and keeping moisture off the wearer’s skin. Lastly, in the winter, an emergency bag needs a jacket or coat in order to keep the person in need from losing to much body heat. This coat or jacket needs to be small and easily compressed for the emergency bag while still being durable and warm. Keeping with this a good jacket is The North Face Chromium Jacket, this jacket keeps wind off the wearer while also being water resistant and giving the wearer the dexterity needed for many emergency situations. Also this jacket is easily compressed into a bag and takes up a lot less space than other jackets with the same capabilities.

RedHead Lifetime socksNorth Face JacketGlovesSleeping Bag Liner

Next on the list of things needed for an emergency situation in the winter would be food and water. Having a case of water just sitting in the back of the car is always a good idea during the winter (the human body uses up to 2 liters of water in a couple hours in the cold). Also having food for an emergency is very much needed in the winter. This food needs to be high in calories while still having protein and some electrolytes. That being said having something like the Bass Pro Shops Uncle Buck's Extra Large Virginia Peanuts, having peanuts in the emergency bag is great because they are relatively light and are packed with vitamins and much needed protein. Another good food for this type of emergency bag would be a jerky of some sorts. This can be beef jerky or pork or even turkey or chicken. A great proportioned beef jerky bag for a car emergency bag would be the Bass Pro Shops Uncle Buck's Premium Beef Jerky, since this jerky comes pre-packaged it is easy to toss in the emergency bag and have ready in case of any situation.

JerkyNuts

Finally the items needed for an emergency bag in the winter are mostly for signaling emergency personnel while stuck on the side of the road. A great easy way to signal emergency personnel from the car, when there is snow, is to use a boating flag stuck to the outside of a car window. One of the best flags is the Bass Pro Shops® Stik-A-Flag™ Skier Down Flag, these flags are perfect for emergency personnel signaling while in snow because the flag is water resistant while still being highly visible even in the worst conditions. The suction cup on the flag allows a person to stick this flag to the outside window of a car to signal emergency personnel in a snowstorm when conditions for standing outside the car are not conducive to signaling. Also the flag will fit perfectly in an emergency bag along the side or on the bottom of the bag without any problems. Another great thing to have in a winter emergency bag would be signaling flares. These flares burn hot while having a highly visible flame that will alert rescuers as to a person’s position. Also these flares are great for starting campfires in case the car is abandoned and a fire is needed for warmth (hazard note, this type of flare should never be used from inside of a car). A good set of signaling flares for this purpose is the Orion® Alert/Locate Signal Kit, this kit comes with aerial flares, roadside flares and smoke signaling flares making this package perfect for signaling any emergency personnel in the area. Another thing that is needed in any emergency bag would be cord of some kind. Recently the most popular has been Paracord since it is light durable and easy to use in an emergency situation. A good length of Paracord for the money is Bass Pro Shops 100' Paracord, using a bright color of this cord will increase the likelihood of being found by emergency personnel in case of an emergency situation. Lastly in the emergency bag is always needed, a pocket knife. The best pocket knife for this job will have a strong durable blade as well as a portion of the blade that is serrated in order to cut through tough material. A good blade for this purpose would be the RedHead Function Skeleton EFX-S Folding Knife, this knife is good for multiple functions from simply cutting cord to stripping bark from twigs for kindling.

Knifeskier down flagParacordflares

Now that all the materials for the emergency bag are gathered and in the car it is time to test out the size of the bag. Usually these bags should be able to fit through the opening to the trunk of a car from the inside. If the pack can’t be easily accessed through the passenger compartment of the car the bag is fairly useless in some circumstances so make sure the bag is easy to move from the trunk of the car to the interior of the car (in trucks and SUVs this is not a problem since the entire vehicle is accessible, though having multiple of everything in the bag is a must when traveling with a group). As always happy hunting and good luck!

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Your Fall Crockpot

fall

The fall season is where turkey and cranberry sauce rule the dinner table. But when the sight of turkey turns the family to a possible mutiny it might be time to spice up the dinner table with a fresh fall dish. A great choice for doing this is to use the crockpot for a full day cook on some different types of meat. The flavors one can get with a crockpot will make the family come back for more every time. So here are some recipes for the fall crockpot after Thanksgiving.

The first thing a lot of people think of when they think of the crockpot is a big bird cooking in the pot for a couple hours and constantly having to baste the bird while keeping a close eye on the temperature. This constant vigilance that is needed for some recipes turns many people off from the crockpot in general. The first step to using a crockpot well is to find the right crockpot. One like, the Elite 8.5-Quart Stainless Steel Slow Cooker can hold a small bird or a large venison roast. A great way to cook a venison roast in this slow cooker is to use the Yard Work Recipe. This is cut up three whole carrots, half a Vidalia onion, three chopped stalks of celery, three cubed red potatoes and a fourth of a cup of broth (you can also use water if necessary, but this cuts down on the taste, with venison using a little extra liquid is needed to get rid of the very gamey texture of the meat). Then put in the venison roast, adding a little flavoring to the meat is often a good idea when cooking like this. A good flavoring that works well when slow cooking is a marinade like the Cajun Injector Marinade - Roasted Garlic. This marinade when drizzled on top of the roast and let cook into the meat enhances the flavor of the meat while also giving a great flavor to the vegetables in the slow cooker. After adding the marinade let the meat simmer for 8 to 10 hours and the meal is ready. So going out and doing yard work while dinner cooks is easy and dinner that night is stress free! The great thing about this recipe is that in the morning the setup for the meal takes about 20 minutes and the cleanup is quick, so for an on the go family who wants a nice sit down meal this recipe is great!

crockpotcajun injector

Another recipe that is great for a quick setup and long cook time is to use the same recipe above accept substitute the venison for a whole chicken, or chicken breasts. For this recipe when using a whole chicken stuffing the insides of the chicken with the vegetables leads to a great spread of taste throughout the entire pallet of food. Also in this recipe using something like a dollop of Three Little Pigs Kansas City Sweet Barbeque Sauce, on top of the chicken instead of the garlic marinade is a great way to get a barbeque flavor with the fall off the bone meat that so many people like. If the family likes a little kick to their chicken adding a little Cherith Valley Gardens Habanero Salsa, to the barbeque sauce can liven up a dish especially when the sauces are allowed to cook into the meat for 8 to 10 hours.
 

salsabbq sauce

These dishes are great for any family that is constantly on the go but would like to set aside time at the end of the day for a good sit down meal. With the wide variety of meats that can be used for this recipe from duck to ham to venison to beef there is sure to be a taste for even the most picky eaters in the family. As always happy hunting and good luck!

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Hanging Stands, Climber Stands, and Ladder Stands

Hunting in a tree stand allows a person to get up off the ground and out of the direct field of vision of game animals on the ground. There are many types of tree stands on the market today so finding the right tree stand for the hunter is a big deal. Here are some of the pros and cons of the three main types of tree stands for hunters.

Let’s start out with the simplest type of tree stand, the hanging stand. This type of stand is strapped to a tree with wide mesh straps or cables a set distance up the tree. A good example of this type of stand is the Big Game Platinum Collection Phoenix Fixed Treestand.

Big Game

A big plus of these types of stands is that they are light and very easy to transport around a property. These stands are also very easy to set up with a simple ladder, this stand also only needs one person to set up with ease. Also the low profile of these stands is a lot less likely to spook game animals when set up closer to the opening day. Hunters in the stand also have a lower profile than other stands making it easier for them to blend into the background of the tree. A good example of this type of tree stand is the Big Game Treestands Platinum Series Bravada Fixed Position, with a low profile and wide footrest for hunters this is a great example of what a hanging tree stand should be.

Big Game Fixed

The cons of this type of stand are fairly straight forward. The mobility of the hunter in this type of stands is severely limited. Also hunting a bow from one of these types of stands is many times harder than in other types of stands because of the limited mobility. This type of stand needs a separate set of straps for the tree when talking about having a safety harness for the hunter. Lastly this stand needs a small ladder to be attached to the tree so a hunter can get into the stand without having to resort to tree climbing. So a lower profile on the stand makes detection harder and ease of setup makes this stand great for the last minute hunter or someone who is hunting more wily game.

Next let’s look at one of the most complex types of tree stands, the climber stand. The stand is strapped around the tree then the footrest and a hand bar are used alternately to scoot the tree stand up the tree from the ground instead of anchoring the tree stand semi-permanently before the season. A good example of this type of tree stand is the API Outdoors Alumi-Tech Crusader Climbing Treestand.

Climber

The pros of this type of tree stand are numerous, first they don’t require a lot of time to set up before they can be hunted from. Another reason they are great is that they can be moved and set up into a new spot without a lot of effort, or the stand can be set up the day of opening season without creating a large amount of disturbance in the local area. These climber stands also have a large seat and area for a hunter to stand without compromising their safety. At the same time many of these types of stands have easy straps to put a safety harness through in order to keep hunters safer while in the stand. A good quality climber stand on the market right now is the Summit The Crush Series Viper SD Ultra Climbing Treestand, with a padded hand rail and easy to tighten fasteners on the stand this is great for the hunter that likes to change positions with ease.

Summit

Some of the cons of this type of stand are quite simple. These types of stands are much heavier than the hanging stands and are often times cumbersome to use for the inexperienced hunter. This of course is easily remedied with a lot of practice before the hunting season and some tips from an expert. Remember to tighten straps when at the appropriate height and check these straps continually throughout the day hunting.

Lastly let’s look at one of the oldest and most used types of tree stands, the ladder stand. These stands are built around a ladder in the base of the stand so getting into the stand is a breeze. A great ladder stand for hunting is the Big Game Treestands The Next Generation Stealth Ladder Stand.

stealth

The pros for this type of stand are many, including the ability to scale up these stands to hold multiple people. Another great feature of this type of stand is added support from the ladder, making the shooting platform all the more stable. This type of stand also has a wraparound bar for stability, this bar is great for stabilizing a rifle for younger hunters. The ability to bring another person like a youth into the stand is also a great advantage of the ladder stand. Also this type of tree stand can easily be converted into a tree blind in which the entire stand is wrapped in canvas or other material making it harder for game animals to see, smell and sense a person in the stand. A great example of this is the Big Game Treestands Venture 2-Person Ladder Stand paired with the Big Game Treestands The Big Buddy Ladder Blind Kit.

BuddyVenture Ladder

This set makes the blind nearly invisible to any game on the ground. There are a few cons when talking about the ladder stand though. The major one is the sheer bulk of the ladder stand makes it hard to set up by a single person, unless they have done this several times. Also the time required to set up the stand is substantial, usually more than half an hour to set up.

Now picking the right stand for a hunter should be a little easier. Pick out the skill level required to set up, the amount of time needed to set up and the features a hunter wants and the type of tree stand becomes a lot easier to choose. For simple, quick setup before opening day a hanging stand is a must. For quick setup on opening day and moving the stand throughout the day a climbing stand is a must. Finally for partner hunting with a youth or first time hunter a 2 seat ladder stand is needed. As always happy hunting and good luck!

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Fall Apparel Must Haves

When the weather starts to change and the leaves begin to fall it is time for some more practical clothes for the new season. As the nights begin to get colder and the days become shorter finding something that is warm and fashionable is always a must. So here are some outfits for the family that will make this fall comfortable and fun!

For the guys, the fall wardrobe is wide open and just about anything that is warm and can stand up to the punishing weather changes is practical. For many guys a nice set of jeans and a flannel button up is the way to go for the fall. Something like the Ascend Denim Jeans for Men paired with the RedHead Fleece-Lined Flannel Shirt for Men, this combo is great for colder weather while still looking great during a night out on the town. The flannel shirt lets guys roll their sleeves during the warmer part of the day then during the colder night roll down the sleeves for a more comfortable evening. These jeans on the other hand are comfortable in almost any weather and in just about any conditions the fall season can throw at you.

RH Mens FleeceAscend Jeans

For the younger boys in the family something like the Bass Pro Shops Camo Cargo Pants for Boys with Carhartt Hunting is My Sport Fleece Hoodie for Boys. This combo keeps boys warm while holding up to the rough and tumble of outdoor play in the fall.

Boys Carhartt HoodieBoys Camo Pants

For the ladies in the fall anything that keeps the body warm and is comfortable enough to walk around the block in works well. So a nice set of jeans with a nice sweater and comfortable undershirt is comfortable and looks great. A good outfit would be the Natural Reflections Contrast Embroidery Slim Bootcut Jeans for Ladies paired with the Ascend Sweater Knit Hoodie for Ladies. The great thing about this outfit is that just about any kind of shoe or boot comfortably fits into a set like this. Just like the guys this light sweater allows the wearer to roll the sleeves during the day while it is warm and then in the evening to roll the sleeves down and button up the sweater for a warmer fit during the evening. Also the pair is comfortable in just about any weather and temperature fall can dish out on any given year. For the younger girls, the must haves are similar to the boys. These clothes need to be comfortable and tough to put up with a lot of running and climbing in the outdoors in the chilly air.

Ascend sweater hoodieNR Slim Bootcut Jeans

Another good option for the ladies would be Natural Reflections Flannel-Lined Jeans paired with Bass Pro Shops Applique Hoodie. This set will keep ladies comfortable and warm while still being able to keep up with everyone outdoors.

BPS HoodieFleece Lined Jeans

There are many different body types and body temperatures. Some people like to wear shorts and a t-shirt through the cold months of fall while others like to keep their heavy coat on all day and night. These are just some ideas on the types of different combinations of warm and rugged clothing that go well with the fall colors and are comfortable enough to wear on an outing without having to worry about the cold. Remember that sweaters for the ladies are always in and for the guys a little flannel can be warmer than a jacket on a chilly evening. As always happy hunting and good luck!

Check out this blog post from last year about apparel for cold weather! http://blogs.basspro.com/blog/bass-pro-shops-springfield-mo/apparel-for-cold-weather

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Blind Hunting With Youth

A hunt with youth is one of the most rewarding things a parent or friend can do with a child. The lessons taught while in the blind or stand help shape a child’s impression of the world and introduce them to the world of conservation and heritage of a good hunt. But blind hunting with a youth is often times more challenging because of their age and level of skill. So finding the right blind for these types of hunts is essential for a successful and rewarding experience. Here are some tips and tricks to finding the right blind for hunting with youth.

The first thing a hunter accompanying a youth needs to take into consideration is the attention span of the youth. If they are younger, then having a bigger blind to allow movement is a necessity. Something like the Primos Blind Luck Ground Blind, with nearly 36 square feet of floor space allows a young hunter the ability to move around in the blind while not compromising the concealment of both hunters. At the same time this blind allows a youth to look in nearly every direction without their view being blocked making the time pass by more easily as they can study the surroundings around the blind. Also having something extra like the Hunter's Specialties H.S. Camo Camo Blind Netting, will allow a hunter to brush in the blind a little more than usual ensuring that a little extra movement from an antsy youth will not compromise the entire hunt.

BlindNetting

Another thing to take into consideration when looking for a blind, for hunting with youth, is the need to have a lot of angles for possible shooting lanes for the youth. The more lanes that are open for the youth to sight a game animal, the better the chance that the youth will be able to harvest something during the hunt. A great way to do allow this is to have a lot of open windows for the youth to hunt from. A good blind with a plethora of sighting windows is the Big Game Treestands Charger Hub Style Ground Blind. This blind is large enough for the youth to comfortably stand while still having windows on each side and corner of the blind so there are ample firing positions in the blind. This is handy especially when a new shooter, be this archery or rifle, needs a little space to set up for a proper and steady shot.

Blind

One last blind type to consider with youth is a permanent blind that can be easily accessed throughout the year. Having access to this kind of blind can get a youth ready for a hunt by letting the youth explore the inside of the blind before opening day of the season. A good blind for this purpose is the Shadow Hunter Octagon Combo Blind, this blind is larger than normal allowing a new youth the ability to move around and get in position for a good shot out of the many windows with either a bow or a rifle. While at the same time this blind keeps the occupants away from the wind and cold that is generally thought of as part of blind hunting. For a youth who is just getting into the swing of hunting this can be a huge factor in whether they choose to come back and hunt next year. Many hunters disregard their comfort for a good hunt but for a new youth their comfort is sometimes the deciding factor in the hunt. If they can stay in the blind for a few more minutes perhaps an opportunity will present itself. For the youth having a sturdy wind resistant shelter for a blind can make all the difference in the hunt.

Combo Blind

Now that the right blind for the youth has been found it is time for the hunt. Remember that bringing the youth out to the blind before opening day to get them used to the area and the space they will be occupying for the hunt. Also bring along a camera for the hunt, a youth and their first harvested deer, turkey or other game is always worth a picture or two! As always happy hunting and good luck!

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Blind Hunting

When hunting being on the ground in the middle of the action is what many hunters are looking for from the hunt. The best way to do this is to be on the ground in the blind near where the deer will be out and about. But hunting from a blind and finding the right blind can be a challenge especially for those new hunters just getting in on the action. Here are some tips and tricks on how to pick the right blind for the area and get the blind ready for this hunting season.

The first step in blind hunting is finding the right blind for the type of hunting that is going to be taking place. For this a hunter needs to look at where the hunting is going to be taking place, what the brush around the blind will be and how many people will be in the blind come opening day. Since blinds come in all shapes and sizes knowing where the hunt will take place is the first step for finding the right blind. For blinds that will be on the periphery of a field a blind that is lightweight and easy to set up a while before the hunting season opens is a good idea. For this a good blind is the RedHead® Enigma™ 5 Ground Blind, this blind is lightweight with straps for brush to be directly attached to the blind without having to add extra weight with extra equipment to tie on brush.

Enigma 5

A different path that can be taken for this area on the tree line of a field would be a more permanent structure. A great blind for this would be the Shadow Hunter Octagon Archery Blind, since this blind has a door and windows that can be locked and sealed, this box blind is perfect for a permanent blind on the tree line. This blind is also great because the size makes it a good fit for not only archery hunters but rifle hunters also.

Shadow Hunter

While having a blind is all well and good, many times these blinds stick out on the ground like a sore thumb. So having a little netting or other camouflage to help break up the outline of the blind is never a bad thing. A great way to do this is to drape a piece of camouflage burlap over top of the blind, this being done bunch up pieces of the burlap randomly and attach them to the blind. These random bulges and flat places in the material will help break up the blind for the curious game that are looking for immediate threats. The next step is to cut the windows of the blind out of the material, since the material is easily movable it is preferred to cut three sides of the material and let the window be covered but still have the ability to be shot out of unhindered. Doing this gives the maximum concealment while still being usable. A good material for doing this is the Hunter's Specialties H.S. Camo Blind Material – Burlap, this material is easy to manipulate and cut while retaining the camouflage very well in all types of weather. For this type of extra concealment to work effectively the blind should be covered and brushed in a couple of weeks prior to the start of the hunting season in which it will be used.

Camo Burlap

Another type of blind hunting will take place in the middle of a field with stubble and hay bales. A new way to use a blind is to mimic a hay bale close to a game trail where an identified group has been seen. Since a hay bale is so innocuous to many animals, and are seen to move so often many times deer and other game species will not notice a new hay bale in a field. So using something like the Redneck Blinds Sportsman Bale Hunting Blind, keeps a hunter concealed and a game animal in the dark as to the fact that they are being hunted. This little extra advantage can be the difference in a successful hunt and a slow day in the blind.

Bale Blind

Finally there is one last thing to look at when hunting in a ground blind. That is gear storage while in the blind. While being on the ground and near the action is fun and exciting, it can be hard on gear if not done properly. This is where gear holders and blind shelves come in handy. Having something like the HME Products Ground Blind Accessory Shelf, hung in a blind helps keep things like game calls and binoculars off the ground and away from moisture in the mornings. Also having something like the HME Products Ground Blind Gun Holder or the HME Ground Blind Bow Holder, will keep everything else in the blind off the ground that could possibly be damaged by dew in the morning, while keeping the gear close at hand for a quick shot.

gunbowshelf

Now that the blind is picked and brushed in, the gear is stowed off the ground and the game is moving it is time for some blind hunting. Remember to brush in the blind before season so the game animals get used to the new object in their area. Then get to the blind very early before the animals start moving for the best concealment. As always happy hunting and good luck!

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Preparing the Right Venison Steak

Hunting for deer is all well and good but it is when the meat comes back and is ready for the cookout that the hunting really becomes fun. Getting all the friends out around the grill or just cooking inside on the stovetop, cooking venison is always a fun experience. But finding the right recipe for venison steaks is always hard. While cooking there is a better way to cook and offset the notoriously tough and stringy meat that is commonly associated with venison. While still bringing out that fresh meat flavor that appeals to many hunters.

The first way to break up the stringy meat that is the venison is to simply use a tenderizer before marinating the meat to cook. There are so many different types of tenderizers out there for meat but some of the best are made specifically for venison. The first is the LEM® Products Hand Meat Tenderizer, this handheld tenderizer is great for piercing a small cut of meat, like a round cut from the back-strap of the dear. The next tenderizer would have to be the LEM® Products Jaccard Super 3 Meat Tenderizer, this tenderizer is great for those larger cuts of meat off the hams or the flank where the meat is cooked in one big piece instead of smaller steaks. The points on the tenderizer penetrate deep into the venison helping the marinades seep into the meat and break up the tough fibers in the deer. One last tenderizer that is great for this job would be the LEM® Products Clamp-On Meat Tenderizer, this simple tenderizer allows the meat processor to run the steaks through the tenderizer before they are marinated for a cookout. Tenderizing the meat with these simple pieces will not only open the meat up to the marinades but will also break down any of the tough connective tissue that permeates many of the wild game meats, especially venison.

Orange TenderizerHand tenderizerTendererizer

Now if using a meat tenderizer takes too much time for a cook there is a much quicker way to get a good tender venison steak. A great way to do this is to put a pat of butter in the pan then turn the stovetop burner to high. When the butter starts to bubble and turn brown add a little two to three tablespoons of a favorite marinade to the pan then spread around with a spoon. A good marinade that works well and has a good flavor for venison is the Cajun Injector® Marinade - Roasted Garlic. The garlic taste helps bring out some of the fresh meat flavors that many hunters are looking for in their venison. Add the steak immediately after and let sit for two minutes, then flip and let sit for a minute or two more. Note this should cook a small quarter inch thick steak to well done, a larger half inch steak will be medium well and a very thick steak will be closer to a rare with this type of cooking. So in order to get the preferred temperature of the steak add a little time or take some time off for the cooking. For the bigger steaks to reach well done it is about 4 to 5 minutes per side of the meat. This type of cooking, hot and fast with a marinade in the pan allows the meat to absorb the marinade and to cook fast enough to break up the proteins and connective tissue in the venison.

Cajun Injector

Now that the steaks are ready to go and cooking it is time to get everyone together for a fall cookout with the fresh venison on the grill or in the kitchen. Getting a venison steak tenderized and ready for a group is the first step in making any party a success. As always happy hunting and good luck!

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Deer Hunting Rifles for Youth

Hunting with the kids is one of the most rewarding experiences in the outdoors. Not only do the kids get to appreciate the outdoors but passing down the craft of hunting is more important than ever. But if a child is scared of the rifle they are shooting it can turn a fun hunt into a scary outing for them. So finding the right rifle that fits the child is important. Here are some tips and tricks for finding the right deer hunting rifle for a youth hunter.

The first thing a hunter going out with youth needs to take into account is the recoil of a rifle will affect the shot taken by a youth hunter. So finding a rifle with lighter recoil is always better when taking out a youth hunter for the first or fifth trip. When looking for a rifle for hunting deer a good sized cartridge is required but choosing the right cartridge for the youth is key to a successful hunt. A good round to use for this is the .243 Winchester. Since this round is compatible with just about every youth hunting rifle, and is a lighter round, it is perfect for a youth hunter. A good rifle in the .243 Winchester is the Remington® Model 700™ SPS™ Youth Rifle. This rifle is lighter and easier to use than other rifles making it great for a youth hunter who is just starting out and needs a light but accurate rifle for the tree stand. Another good rifle for the youth hunter is the Savage 11 FYXP3.243 WIN Youth Rifle with Scope, this scoped rifle is rugged and good for the youth who likes to be out in the thick of the hunting action. The entire rifle was built with youth hunting in mind, from the Accu-Trigger to the scope, everything was meant for the size and use of a youth hunter. There is one last rifle that is good for those younger children that would like to be out hunting, but are on a budget, and that is the Remington® 243 Whitetail Pro® Model 770 Rifle/Scope Youth Combo. This rifle is one of the best for the money, while still being built for a youth hunter and retaining the accuracy of an adult rifle.

Black ScopeBlack Youth RifleCamo Combo

Now once the kids have grown a little there are other rifles that can be used, once they grow out of their youth models. Once the youth has grown a bit they can handle a larger cartridge so the options open up for what type of rifle can be used, and a lot of choosing the hunting rifle goes to preference. This being said here are some good first solo-hunting rifles. The top of the list is the Remington® Model 700™ CDL Rifle, since this rifle comes in the larger .270 and 30-06 it is great for those youth hunters who are a little older but wanting a good rifle that will not only last but is versatile enough for just about every large game hunt imaginable. Another good rifle for the older youth would have to be the Savage® Axis XP Rifle Combo, for a youth wanting to hunt both big and smaller game this rifle is perfect with a wide range of calibers while still being light enough for a youth deer hunter to get into a tree stand with ease.

XP Rifle ComboCDL Rifle

Now that the rifle has been chosen for the youth hunter it is time to get out to the range and sight in the rifle they will be using for deer season. It is important to allow the child that will be hunting to have some say in the sighting in of the rifle and even to shoot the rifle while at the range sighting it in. This will give the youth a feel for the rifle while also giving them a chance to get used to the scope and the recoil. Just letting the youth fire a complete grouping at the paper while at the range before a deer hunt will lead to higher confidence and increase the chances of a successful hunt! As always happy hunting and good luck!

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Choosing the Right Campsite

A campout in the fall can be relaxing and a great way to spend a weekend with the family or out enjoying nature. But not having the right campsite can turn a nice weekend into a nightmare rather quickly. There are a lot of factors that need to be considered when looking for the right campsite. Here are some tips and tricks on finding the right campsite and how to prepare the site for a short stay.

The first thing a weekend camper needs to do is look for the right spot to bed down for the weekend. This requires a camper to find the right area with all the necessary features. The first thing a camper needs to look out for is running water. If there is a lot of running water near the camp it is necessary to move the camp up a hill or embankment in order to keep the camp from flooding in the case of an overnight or daytime storm either on the camp or uphill from the campsite. Another site to stay away from would be a dip in a field or sinkhole. These seem like a good place to keep the camp because it keeps everything somewhat contained in a given area. The problem with these places is that it keeps people centered in an area and collects water even with a little rain, so flooding in these areas is a big problem. The best place for a camp is on a slight rise in the land where the water will readily roll off the rise without washing everything away. So staying on the side of a hill is not the best idea, the water tends to run off the side of the hill and move anything in its way. Also the site being chosen should be rock free or easily have some smaller rocks moved from the site for camping. Lastly the site needs to have an area that can readily be cleared with no overhanging branches so a fire can be built. If there are overhanging branches they can readily catch fire if heated too much so having no branches near the fire is necessary.

Now that the site is picked here are some handy tools that might be needed to clear and get the site ready for a stay. The perfect site would require no preparation for the campers to lay out their tents and start the weekend, but perfect sites are few and far between so here are a couple handy tools. The first is the Ultimate Survival Technologies SaberCut™ Saw, this saw is handy for when there are a few small saplings in the area of the campsite that need to be removed for the safety of the campout. On that note removing a tree that is larger than 4 inches in diameter is not appropriate for any campout. Another handy tool for site preparation is the Texsport® Folding Survival Shovel, this is a small shovel that is very light and is great for getting small rocks out of the ground around the campsite. Another tool that is needed for a campout in which the campsite will be under the canopy of the trees is the Gerber Camp Axe II. This camp ax is good for clearing dead branches near the ground where they could interfere with the tents and safety of the campers in the area. When chopping these dead branches it is necessary for the branch to be cut between 1 inch and 3 inches from the trunk of the tree, so the tree is not harmed when the branch is removed. Another great tool for this job is the Hooyman Ratchet Pruner, these are great for pruning those small annoying branches that tend to poke holes in tents and a rainfly.

AxeSawPrunerShovel

            Now that the campsite has been chosen and cleaned of any hazards to tents and people it is time for that weekend campout. Remember to look for the rises in the land and stay away uphill from running water if at all possible. As always happy hunting and good luck! 

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River Fishing Smallmouth Bass

Fishing on the river is a rewarding way to spend a day with never ending changes in the fishing. With these changes come the challenges of adapting to the new banks and obstacles in the river. This is why having a little bit of information on how the fish tend to move and where they tend to stay is a necessity. So here are some helpful hints on where to find the smallmouth bass in the river.

The first thing a fisherman needs to look for in the river when they are looking to catch smallmouth bass is a good downed tree with a lot of branches in the water. This could be a tree that is out of the water with the branches down in the water touching the bottom of the river. Or a tree totally submerged in the water with branches still attached to the trunk. A good technique for fishing this area is to toss a jig like the Bass Pro Shops® Tourney Best Bass Jig in brown and orange color with something like the Bass Pro Shops® Cajun Trailer on the hook for extra action in the water. Bouncing this jig over the top of the branches and then letting the jig drop over the trunk will often times elicit a big strike from the smallmouth hiding out in the branches.

Cajun Bass Jig

The next area to look for the smallmouth on the river is in the deep holes that pocket the local rivers. These will often times be up against small bluffs or are on the edge of the river with trees leaning over the water. A good way to fish the smallmouth in this area is to throw a spinner bait like the Strike King® Rattlin' Midnight Special® Spinnerbait. This bait gives a great action in the water and creates a good strike when being fished through a deep patch of water with some big rocks in the bottom. The best way to throw this is to throw it across the deep patch and retrieve the spinner bait just above the rocks on the bottom of the river. As the bait drops past the rocks it gets the attention of the smallmouth and getting a good bite is easier.

Spinner

 Now that the easy parts of river fishing have been discussed it is time for one of the harder ways to river fish. This is to fish the rapids and the water just under the rapids. This is done by casting out to the top of the rapids and allowing the bait to slowly make its way down the rapids to where the water runs a little more smoothly. The bait to use for this is the Bass Pro Shops River Bug rigged to be weed less, or to use something like the Bass Pro Shops® Flippin' Craw again rigged to be weed less. These baits are great for the rapids area because they are the habitat of the crawfish that are generally the biggest prey of the smallmouth bass. So when a craw with good action comes flowing down the rapids the smallmouth are very quick to bite on the bait. The problem with fishing in the rapids is that if the fish take the bait they are likely to swim with the current of the rapids, this presents a problem when a fisherman does not know to set the hook till the bait is out of the smallmouths mouth. So a good way to keep the bait in the mouth and land a big fish is to look for the feeling of the bait bouncing across the bottom of the river to disappear. When the minute weight of the bait disappears it is time to set the hook and fight the fish.

bpsbps

Now that the gear is packed and the spots on the river are picked to fish it is time to load up the kayak or the canoe and do some river fishing. Remember to match the bait to the area of the river being fished and to use trailers that have recognizable colors of the immediate food for the smallmouth bass. Doing this will increase the chances of bringing in a big one and make river fishing far more rewarding. As always happy hunting and good luck!

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Fishing With Youth

Fishing with kids

A day out fishing is one of the most relaxing and fun ways to spend a day off from work, but taking the kids out with you can quickly complicate the relaxing part if a fisherman is not careful. The trick for kids is to constantly keep them occupied with something while teaching them how to fish like a sportsman. Here are some tips and tricks on how to keep the kids busy and entertained while teaching them the ins and outs of fishing on the lakes and rivers.

The first step to getting the kids hooked on fishing is to have them experience the thrill of reeling in a fish. A quick way to do this is get them a rod that fits their size, for the really little between 2 and 7 years old a rod like the Shakespeare® Disney Princess® Lighted Fishing Rod and Reel Kit for the girls or the Shakespeare® Spiderman™ Lighted Fishing Rod and Reel Kit for the boys. These colorful rods and reels are small and built for a child’s grip while still being a functional combo for the kids.

SpidermanPrincess

For the kids a little older a great combo for them would be the Zebco® 202® Spincast Rod and Reel Combo, the bigger size lets older kids get the feel of the rod and reel, while still giving the simplicity of the spincast setup. Finally for the kids that have a little experience in fishing a good combo is Bass Pro Shop’s Brawler Spinning Rod and Reel Combo. This rig lets the kids get a feel for the action of a better rod and reel while still having the versatility that is needed for a learning kid.

spinning rodzebco

Now that the rod and reels are all set up and ready it is time for the bait and tackle for the kids. When it comes to fishing with kids a simple rig with bait is the easiest way to do it. For the kids between 2 and 7 a simple rig with a small hook like the Bass Pro Shops® Baitholder Hook, where the hook helps hold the kids bait on the hook so after every cast they don’t have to replace the bait. About 6 inches above the hook putting a float for the little kids is a good idea, a good float for this is the Bass Pro Shops® Round Plastic Float. These floats allow the kids to feel and see when they have a bite and get them actively engaged in the fishing. Now, how should a hook be baited for a kid is the big question for many people teaching kids how to fish. The simple answer is to bait the hook with a live night crawler. This rig will almost always get a strike from the fish around the lake and river, everything from bluegill to bass and everything in between.

floathook

Now that the bait and tackle is all figured out it is time to head out to the lake or river to find the fish. The places to look for fish on the river can be a little trickier than on the lake so finding the kids a good fishing spot is key. The best spots one a river for easy fishing would be in the deep pools in a bend on the river. Having the kids cast out to the far end of the deep hole, then every few seconds reel in the bait just a little till it is in the middle of the open and deep hole. If instead the family is heading to the lake then here are some spots to look for the kids to fish. An area where there are a lot of dead stumps sticking out of the water. Have the kids cast into the middle of the stumps and watch the bobber for a bite. Or if on a deeper lake have the kids instead stand on the dock and drop their bait just over the side. Finally if on a boat and fishing find an area inside a cove where a creek or stream enters the lake and have them cast over top of the entrance of the stream. These spots are great for the kids to get a quick bite and hook them for life on fishing.

The rods are packed, the bait is ready in the cooler and the spot is picked out for the family to go. It is finally time for the kids and the rest of the family to go fishing! As always happy hunting and good luck!
 

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Gear for Cave Exploring

Cave exploring is a guaranteed adventure for almost anyone. While exploring alone is attractive to some taking the whole family on a cave diving adventure is just as fun. Exploring a cathedral room or finding a hidden chamber deep underground is the kind of stuff stories are made of, and in the Ozarks caves are definitely not in short supply. But a cave exploring expedition can become treacherous if the right gear is not on hand to deal with situations that might arise along the way.

First thing any caver is going to need while underground is a good light source. This needs to be not only a steady source of directional light but also a solid design that can take a beating and will not need constant maintenance while in the cave. It is also a good idea to take a few forms of light for exploring underground. A headlamp is the first order of business. For the new caver a simple light that is rugged should be used. The Primos Top Gun LED Headlamp is a good starter headlamp because it has both high and low settings for while in the cave and an easily adjustable head strap to keep the light in place.

LED headlamp

After the headlamp a good idea would be to have a regular flashlight that can be stored in a pocket just in case the headlamp goes out. For this job the Bass Pro Shops® Mini LED Flashlight Combo - 6 Pack, because there are 6 lights in this pack it is easy to put one in a pocket, one in a backpack and hand one to each child in the cave exploring. Also these little lights are very bright and durable making them perfect for the cave!

BPS

Another light source that could be used in an absolute emergency would be a chemical light stick or glow stick. A good choice for glow stick would be the Texsport® Glo Lite Stix™, these glow sticks provide 6 hours of continual low light making them good for an emergency in a cave.

glo

The next stumbling block that many cavers will run into while exploring underground, will be dehydration. While the temperature in the cave might be cool and moist, the physical exertion of climbing over rocks and crawling through narrow passages does tend to cause sweating and dehydration. An easy way to avoid this would be to carry a hydration pack with at least a liter of water in it. This pack will need to be durable enough to make it through the cave without tearing a hole in it and keep the water drinkable for an extended period of time. A good pack for the job is the CamelBak® Rogue™ Hydration Pack, with a coated nylon outer casing this hydration pack is great for the scrapes and bumps a caver is going to run into while exploring. Another pack that is great for the job is the Bass Pro Shops® XPS® 1.5L Hydration Pack, this pack has a low profile and durable polyester coating making it perfect for climbing through tight spaces and over rough surfaces.

xpscamelbak

In a cave, regular clothing tends to be ripped to shreds on the limestone and gravel that is throughout. So finding the right clothes to cover softer underclothes is needed. Styles that tend to work well for the cave are the coveralls and bib overalls. What a caver should look for in coveralls and bib overalls is the durability and wear ability. If the coveralls are going to fall apart after crawling on knees for a few hundred yards then they are not going to be caving material. While at the same time if the overalls ride up or chafe when walking then they will definitely not be usable in the cramped spaces of a cave. Carhartt® Sandstone Bib Overalls are a great set that fits the bill for the rigors of crawling around a cave. The double ply knees make this pair great for being down and dirty while still remaining comfortable in tight situations.

carhartt

Now that the clothing is covered it is time for the boots that will be needed in the cave. These boots need to be tough and most certainly waterproof, while also having the traction needed for walking on the slick limestone and loose gravel of the local caves. A good pair of boots that fits the bill is the Columbia Woodburn Mid Waterproof Camo Hiking Boots. This pair of boots has a solid hard sole made for hiking over rough terrain, and is comfortable enough to wear on a long walk, making these boots great for being in a cave environment. Another good set of boots for this job is the RedHead® Osprey Hiking Boots. These waterproof boots have a good set of removable insoles that keep the feet comfortable while providing the support and stability needed for walking and crawling around in a cave environment.

Columbiaredhead

Now that the gear is gathered and clothing is ready to go it is time to head to the cave and go over a few tips and tricks for being in a cave. Before leaving for the cave, it is a good idea to let a friend or relative know the exact location of the cave that is going to be explored. Also tell them how long the trip will take and to contact the proper authorities if a certain amount of time has passes and they don’t get a confirmation that everyone is alright. Keeping a phone turned off in the car is a good idea, while taking a phone into the cave is also important, if more than one phone is available. Note that some phones are able to work well in certain caves so having a phone can come in handy. Keeping a small stock of chemical stick lights is a good way to assure that even if all electronic lights fail there will still be enough light to find a way out of the cave. Finally keeping a length of cord handy, so kids and adults have something to hold on to while walking and keep from getting split up from the group. Now that the gear and tips are dispensed it is finally time to go into the cave! As always happy hunting and good luck! 

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Fall Walleye Fishing

Fishing for small fish like crappie and sunfish might be fun for the kids but sometimes having a little adult fishing is just what is needed. This is where fishing for walleye comes into play. These fish grow large in the temperate waterways and lakes here locally, and are great fish to fight on a line. But the best thing about walleye is definitely their meat. This firm, white and mild tasting meat is perfect for everything from a fillet to a grilled medallion. Here are some tips and tricks for catching the walleye of the year.

The first thing many people who fish for walleye will notice is their mouth full of teeth, this is due to their place as one of the apex predators in the waters. On the other hand there is another feature of the walleye that fishermen need to look at in order to get a sense of how they hunt. This is the eyes, walleye have big and often times oversized looking eyes. Given this fact walleye are very susceptible to changes in light, particularly increases in light. So when fishing for walleye it is good to time the day around what fish you are looking for. If you are spending the entire day on the water fishing, try out walleye fishing in the early morning, in the evenings, on cloudy days, or days when wind puts chop in the water. During other times of day, or when the conditions are not right it is probably safe to try catching other fish in the area. When the light is right or the conditions are right for walleye fishing it is often a good idea to use a Strike King® Pro-Model® Walleye Crankbait, throwing this bait across an area with a lot of bait fish and cranking it steadily will give the action that the walleye can’t resist giving a rapid strike.

Strike King

Another solution to getting the walleye to bite is to simply go trolling with a specific rig set up for walleye. This is usually a crankbait or a bottom bouncer with a live night crawler or minnow strung through the hooks. A good crankbait for this is the Bass Pro Shops® XPS® Nitro Shad Dancer Crankbait, this lure has the shine of a shad while also having the action of an injured shad. This along with a wiggling minnow or night crawler in the hooks will be irresistible to the walleye in the direct area.

Nitro Shad

If trolling is not the best thing for a fisherman then using the wind to propel the boat through the water is another idea for the new walleye fisherman. While the wind is pushing the boat drop a jig along the bottom for the walleye to get a shot at. One of the jigs of choice would be the ERC Jig-A-Beast Swim Jig, accept remove the minnow attachment on the bottom and replace it by running the hook through a Bass Pro Shops Double-Dipped Tube. This combination is great for getting the action the walleye are looking for in the choppy water during the day.

ERCBPS

Being out on the lake during the fall is always a great experience no matter what the occasion is. Making this experience more fun by adding a fun fishing trip with big fish and a catch that might just bite you back is always a plus. Not to mention that once the walleye are caught they make one of the best meals where fish are concerned. We hope these tips and tricks have been helpful in catching these great fish! MMake sure to check out anothe blog post, "How Weather Patterns Affect Fishing here:http://blogs.basspro.com/blog/bass-pro-shops-springfield-mo/how-weather-patterns-affect-fishing As always happy hunting and good luck! 

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Preparing for the Best Campout Possible

Campouts are a great way to get outdoors and enjoy nature while letting off some of the stress of family and work. Whether the campout be in the backyard or in the middle of the woods, good preparation is key to a successful campout. Where should a tent be placed, what type of tent should be used, what foods are needed, and what to do about a fire can all be taken care of at home.

To start out finding the right campsite is needed when planning a great campout. Let us first look at what is wanted in a good campsite. The first thing any camper needs to figure out about their campsite is do they want to be in an established campsite or is building a campsite more of their speed. Established campsites are great for the beginning campers because they often times have bathroom facilities, running water close to the campsites, and every so often cooking facilities on the property. Whereas building your own campsite requires a camper to build their own facilities and pack in water or water filtering tools. When looking at building a campsite what is needed is often what is not readily seen. This area should be mostly flat with a little of an incline, no more than a few degrees, this allows water to run off of the campsite if there is precipitation. A good campsite should also be near a water source, but should be uphill of running water in case rain causes the river to flood while in camp our out of camp. Also a good campsite should have at least a little shade provided by either trees or an overhang of some kind. This is important in a scenario in which the temperature becomes dangerously high, having shade allows a camper to cool off and keep them from hyperthermia (overheating), and heat stroke.

Now that the campsite is found it is time to figure out what tent is going to be needed for the duration of the campout. The tent that is packed needs to reflect the weather, terrain, and duration that the campout is going to take place. If the weather is going to be sunny and warm, with open terrain on grass, a good tent for a family is the Coleman® Weathermaster™ 10 Ten Person Tent, this tent not only has the durability to stand up to a family going in and out but also has the room to sleep 10 people comfortably.

coleman

For a campout on the move where a heavy tent is just not an option and there are only one or two people hiking a rocky trail a good tent to keep in mind is the Ascend® H2.2V Two-Person Tent, this tent is both light weight and sturdy. This is especially important when hiking because equipment tends to be jostled and banged around inside the backpack so having a tent that can take a beating is a must.

ascend

For an extended stay during the winter where there is going to be large amounts of snow a different type of tent is needed. The best tent for this job would be the Alaska Tent & Tarp Arctic Oven™ 10, this tent is built to be outdoors for extended periods of time while having snow and ice precipitation while still keeping the occupants dry and warm.

extended stay

Once the tents are taken care of it is time to start looking for the right food for the campout. Since every campout is different the food needed for each campout is also different depending on the situation and the campers. If the campout is also a long hike there are some basics for the hike that are needed when it comes to food. These snacks and meals need to be high in calories while not being too rich to make a hiker sick. So finding a good balance is the key. A good way to start this is to look at beef jerky, a good jerky for the trail is the Bass Pro Shops® Uncle Buck's Premium Beef Jerky. This beef jerky is both nutritious and filing while still maintaining a light weight making it perfect for hikers. Another good food for hikers is homemade. Add about a cup and a half of a non-sweetened grain cereal like Cheerios to a gallon zip bag, then add a cup of a chocolate candy like M&Ms, finally add a cup of lightly-salted peanuts like Bass Pro Shops® Uncle Buck's Extra Large Virginia Peanuts. Then shake the bag and carry in the backpack, this mix is great for hiking because it has the sugars to keep energy up while having the salt to replenish sodium lost from sweating. Now if the campout calls for more of a filling sit down meal there are some easy solutions that all come pre-packaged. When camping a great solution for a meal is soup, and one of the best is the Bass Pro Shops® Uncle Buck's® Two Step Tortilla Soup. This soup takes very few steps and is great for a small group that doesn’t want to sit and cook for a couple hours.

soupjerkypeanuts

The last consideration that prospective campers need to consider is will a fire be needed at any time during the campout. Fires are great for not only warmth but cooking and having a gathering point for all the campers. When packing to build a fire the location of the campsite needs to be taken into account. If the campsite is a pre-built campsite there are often times designated fire circles for each campsite, and wood readily available on site, so bringing in wood is not a problem. However for a new campsite building a fire circle is a must, use local stones around where the fire will be and clear the immediate area of brush in order to keep the fire from jumping out of the ring. Also remember when lighting a fire a little kindling is needed to get the fire going. A good source of kindling is drier lint. Take this lint from the drier and place it in a zip bag to keep the lint dry. Now that the kindling is done it is time to find a good fire starter. One of the best fire starters on the market right now is the Ultimate Survival Technologies BlastMatch™, this fire starter is spring driven and allows a person to use one hand to apply sparks to the center of a kindling pile.

blast match

Now that the site is picked for the campout, the tent is in the car, the food is safely packed away, and the fire is as ready is it will ever be, it is time to head out to the great outdoors and camp! Remember while camping to respect the environment and the landowners by picking up all trash on the ground. Leave the campsite better when you leave than it was when you got there! As always happy hunting and good luck! 

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Hiking Trails for Beginners

trail

Hiking on local trails is a great way to see nature and learn about the surroundings while relaxing and having a good workout. For beginners finding the right gear that is suited for the trails and is comfortable is always a struggle. While at the same time finding the right trails for beginners is also a challenge simply because building the stamina that is required for good hikes takes time and a concerted effort on an easy trail.

trail

Gear is one of the most important parts of any outdoor expedition and hiking is no different. The gear a hiker uses has to be top notch or a hike can become a nightmare quickly after it starts with blisters and chaffing becoming a huge problem. When it comes to boots there is a big difference in the type of boot for the terrain that will be traversed. If the trail is a very well kept paved trail having a hiking shoe like the RedHead® Granite Peak Hiking Shoe or the Columbia Helvatia Waterproof Trail Shoe for ladies is good because there is very little ability for a hiker to roll an ankle so the comfort of a shoe is preferred to the support of a bigger boot. If the trail is well kept but still a dust trail then going with a hiking shoe like the Merrell® Yokota Waterproof Mid Hiking Shoe or the RedHead® Gaston 5'' Hiker Shoes for Ladies, is a good idea. This hiking shoe rises a little higher than the other hiking shoes so it is able to offer more ankle support for the trail that may have a little less stability than the paved trail. For a trail that is a little wilder with rocks and tree roots, a bigger more sturdy boot is a must. RedHead® Everest Hikers are a great boot for the job, these boots are built sturdy and are meant for everything from walking around the block to the heaviest of trails. For those heavy trails with many rocks and roots a good boot for the ladies would have to be the RedHead® McKinley Hiking Boot, the boot is lightweight and durable enough for a long hike making these boots great for a long trek through rough terrain.

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The next challenge for the new hiker would have to be the right socks for hiking on any trail. When looking for socks a good pair needs to be made from crew to quarter length so the ankle and at least the lowest part of the calf is covered. This keeps the boot from rubbing any exposed skin raw while walking or hiking. A good sock for this purpose is the Ascend™ Hiker Quarter Socks, these come fitted for both men and women, the socks are made from merino wool which keeps the feet comfortable and wicks away sweat very effectively.

ascend sock

Now that socks are taken care of it is time to address one of the most important components of hiking clothing, chaffing. Chaffing happens when skin is rubbed raw and can be painful for even the most advanced hikers. One of the worst spots for chaffing is the inner thigh. The only blessing is that this is also the one place where chaffing is the easiest to prevent. A good pair of compression or hiking underwear is purpose made to keep chaffing from happening and can make a hike easier for all involved. A good pair for the money is the Under Armour® The Original 9'' Boxerjock® Boxer Briefs, these boxers breathe very well and wick away sweat making them great for reducing or eliminating chaffing.

boxer briefs

Since the clothing is now left in the dust it is time for the fun part of hiking, finding the right trail for the hiker. Here locally there are great examples of all three kinds of trails covered earlier. For the paved hiking trail in Springfield would be the Sequiota Park Trail is a great example of this type of trail. When talking about a dust trail or cedar chip trail a good local example would have to be the Nature Center Trail. This trail is a cedar chip trail that is perfect for a new hiker who wants to break in hiking boots or get a feel for a short hike. For those new hikers that want a challenge there is always a good trail close here in Springfield! Busiek State Park offers several long trails that are perfect for getting used to hiking in the Ozarks!

Now that the hiking boots are bought, the socks fit, the chaffing is dealt with and the trail is picked it is officially time to hit the trail and have some fun out hiking! Don’t forget to enjoy the outdoors and the scenery all around while getting a good workout! For more information about socks, check out our blog, "The Right Sock for the Right Hike":http://blogs.basspro.com/blog/bass-pro-shops-springfield-mo/the-right-sock-for-the-right-hike. As always happy hunting and good luck! 

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