Matching the Gear Bag to the Event

One of the best feelings in the world is being able to go to the shooting range and just plink away for a couple hours. The problem is that many times people are not aware of how heavy their equipment is until they are at the range and lugging it from the car. The right equipment is needed for each type of shooting a person could be doing in a day, whether that be testing out the new shotgun or plinking with the old .22 there is always a bag for the job. The right range bag can make all the difference when the activity is shooting.

A day out shooting pistols is definitely a favorite of many shooters. A gear bag that has many compartments for those extra magazines is a must. Also a good gear bag for the day out shooting pistols is going to need a large main compartment where ammo boxes can be stored easily. The last thing a day at the pistol range bag needs is a good storage area for the pistols themselves. A great range bag for the day out at the pistol range is the RangeMaxx® Pistol Range Bag. With its extra pockets and large central compartment this bag has everything a shooter could need for a day at the pistol range, and the bag has a convenient shoulder sling to keep the weight manageable.


When the air starts to warm many people start their routine of taking the shotgun out to the range for a day shooting clays. This day at the range is a little easier to prepare for because there are fewer needed components for the shotgun. So what is really needed in a good shotgun range bag is a large compartment where different boxes of shells can be kept separate from each other, and the spent shells can be carried. A good example of a shotgun range bag is the RangeMaxx® Deluxe 4-Box Carrier. This carrier has the extra pockets needed for those pesky choke tubes and the large central compartment for a few boxes of shells and room enough for the empty shells when the shooter is finished.


After a day of work and running around town isn’t it nice to just grab a few guns and head out to the range. There are gear bags specially designed for these days, where multiple firearms will be used of all different calibers. When the day calls for pistols, shotguns and rifles a gear bag needs a lot of space. The pistols need safe storage as do their magazines. The ammo needs a large area for the different boxes to be stored and there needs to be some extra space for the spent casings after the trip is over. A great bag for this all around shooting day is the RedHead® 1856 Range Bag. This bag has the space needed for the storage of multiple boxes of ammunition as well as side pockets large enough to hold pistols and their magazines, as well as room enough for the spent casings after the day is out.


A day at the range is a great joy for many people. Finding the range bag of choice should not be the hassle that keeps someone from going. Here are some great choices for different kinds of days at the range. As always happy hunting and good luck! 


Why Air Guns?

by Wes Gudenkauf, Hunting Lead, Bass Pro Shops Altoona

Over the past year or so, as we all know, rimfire ammunition has been in short supply. With spring fast approaching, everyone is ready to get outside to do some shooting. An air rifle makes a great alternative to the never-ending search for .22 Long Rifle.

An air gun can come in just about any configuration that a person could want. From the beginner's Daisy Red Ryder to Gamo Whisper Fusion and even on to Pre-Charged Pneumatic (PCP) rifles capable of extreme accuracy, better than their rimfire relatives, at only a fraction of the cost to shoot. Calibers include .177, .20, .22, and .25, just to name the most common. 

  • Multi-pump rifles. These are common just about anywhere that sells air guns, ranging from around $50 to $100. They generally shoot dual ammo, meaning pellets or BBs, in .177 caliber. These are a great option for backyard can plinking or the occasional pigeon hunt at close range. However, the Benjamin 392 is a .22 caliber that I think stands out in this category.  It fires a .22 caliber Rabbit in the crosshairspellet at 950 fps (feet per second) with eight pumps and is extremely accurate at ranges of 20-30 yards. At a price of $189.99, it is at the top of its class. 
  • The next step up will be the single-stroke, spring gun. These are the guns like the Gamo Silent Cat all the way up to their Varmint Hunter. These guns are also usually in .177 or .22 caliber, but do not shoot BBs. They can fire anywhere from 900 all the way up to 1450 fps. Yes, that's faster than a .22 Long Rifle. These are popular for pest control under 40 yards, and can be extremely accurate with the right pellet. 
  • Most manufacturers are developing Nitrogen Piston (NP) guns as well. Contrary to popular belief, some of the spring guns I talked about above are actually quite loud, with decibel readings up over 100 decibels. A .22 Long Rifle operates at 134 decibels with standard 1200 fps ammo. With that being said, even the loudest air gun is still considerably quieter than a .22. Just don't be deceived when an air rifle is advertised to be "quiet." The advantage to a Nitrogen Piston gun over a spring-operated is that the NP guns are about 20% quieter. With a .22 caliber pellet, the Benjamin Trail NP can operate at 950 feet per second -- more than enough energy to dispatch squirrels and other varmints!
  • The final category are the PCP or Pre-Charged Pneumatic. They have an internal reservoir that is filled with either CO2 or High Pressure Air (HPA) from a paintball tank, scuba tank, or high-pressure pump. Once these guns are filled, they provide anywhere from 20 shots in a .25 caliber capable of taking down coyotes less than 50 yards, to 70 shots in .177 caliber, making it easy to fill the rifle up with air for an afternoon of hunting or an hour at the range honing your shooting skills. Prices range anywhere from $120-$500 for commercially available rifles, like the Crosman RepeatAir 1077 with a 12 round rotary mag, and, just like regular firearms, the sky is the limit. Pre-Charged rifles often come with a shrouded barrel, which acts to muffle the report of the rifle. These guns can be so quiet you may wonder if they even went off until you see the target fall. 

Pellets for these rifles usually run about $12-$15 for 500, with more or less expensive varieties available. With that being said, it's about half the cost of .22 long rifle and they're always available. 

One last thing about the air gun - they might be neighbor friendly. Many cities allow the use of air guns within city limits. Please check with your local law enforcement before air gunning in city limits. 

Happy Shooting!


Wes has been shooting and hunting since he was seven and, like most other hunters, his first rifle was a pellet rifle. He always enjoyed airgun hunting and recently became involved with the sport again. Wes is a competitive shooter in trap and skeet, USPSA (United States Pistol Shooters Association) open class, and IDPA (International Defense Pistol Association).



Giving Back

By: Jerry Costabile

On February 8th, I was part of a “Learn to Hunt Rabbits” program that was put on by the Wisconsin DNR, at Richard Bong State Recreation Area in Kansasville, Wisconsin.

The hunt was put on by the Richard Bong Naturalist Association and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. It was held on the park property, which has hundreds of acres of hunting open to the public. I know for a fact that the area we were going to hunt is loaded with rabbits, and I was just as excited as if I were going to hunt! There were five hunters and five mentors. The hunters for the day were Ben, Nathan, Hunter, Annie and Jay. Our Mentors for the day were Adam, Brandon, Michael, my son Kyle and myself.

Being a certified Hunter Education Instructor, I was asked to teach a firearm safety class and a class on hunting rabbits. Along with my classes, there would be classes on state laws and regulations that would be instructed by two state Conservation Wardens, Brandon Smith and Michael Katzenberg. There was a class on the biology of rabbits by Adam Holcomb from the Naturalist Association.

We had a special guest speaker, Mike Corbett, on hunting with beagles. Mike was to bring a really special guest, but because of the snow depth, we didn’t get to meet his dog, Nugget. He still gave a great presentation with a film of an actual rabbit hunt with Beagles.

After a lunch provided by the Naturalist Association, we were ready to hunt! After everyone was given a blaze orange vest, complements of the Naturalist Association, and blaze orange hat, complements of Bass Pro Shops, Gurnee, IL, we were off! I was concerned about the new snow on top of the old snow, and the ability to hunt in a way that we could flush the rabbits to the hunters that were positioned ahead and in safe locations. Well when we got to the first area to be hunted, the snow was deep; I was in snow up to my mid thighs! It was all that we could do to just get thru the drifts and get to the cover. The rabbits were there, lots and lots of tracks and rabbit m&m’s (droppings), but it was very difficult to get into the thickest cover where there was less snow. This is where all of the fresh sign lead to and we were not going to get there, too much snow. The effort was there, but the opportunities were not.

A group decision was made to go back to the classroom for a short break and rehydration and then to head to another location. The snow was already taking its toll on us, we only hunted for about an hour and we looked like we had been at it all day!

When we headed out for round two, I was feeling a little disappointed because with the conditions, I didn’t think our opportunities would be many if any. Upon arriving to our hunting destination, we grouped up and made the walk a few hundred yards back to a heavy brush covered area that had good rabbit sign everywhere. I could see that if we were going to see a rabbit, this was the spot! While everyone was getting into position to start, I could see a very fresh set of tracks that led into the cover we were about to get into. I put Nathan, my hunter, into a good position to see and it was open enough that if Bugs showed himself, he would get a shot. Our “dogs” Kyle and Ben, were just about to the brush that the fresh tracks led into and I told Nathan “Be ready” and sure enough, out he came, the first rabbit of the day! Nathan did a great job getting his gun up and because of the rabbit’s speed, a very ethical decision not to shoot. It just wasn’t a good shot opportunity and because of the deep snow, I knew that the rabbit wouldn’t go far and might give us another chance. As we moved to get ahead of the “dogs”, there was a shot off to our right. It might have been the same rabbit, but we weren’t sure so we kept moving ahead. Once Nathan and I got to an area that gave us a good vantage point and a safe location, we got ready only to see the guys walking up to us and no rabbit ahead of them.

Well we regrouped with the others and found out that Annie got the shot, but the rabbit got away! We made our way to the nature center took some pictures, shook hands and said good buy. I was hoping to demonstrate field dressing and share a couple of recipes, but the rabbits at Bong Recreation Area survived the first “Learn to Hunt Rabbits”.

On the way home, I had some mixed emotions, I was a little disappointed because I am usually successful at rabbit hunting and really wanted the day to be a great memory for our first time hunters. But I was also very proud of the fact that maybe, just maybe, I helped in a small way to keep a tradition alive. I reflected on the introduction to the sport to my boys and the fun we had, even when the rabbits were better than we were. I am now completely into the sportsman stage of my outdoor life, this is where the success is based on the experience, the memories, the friendships and the feelings of satisfaction of just being able to show others why I love what has been created for us all, the great outdoors.

There is something special in giving back to something that has rewarded you with so much. From teaching others, to protecting the resources, I know that for the rest of my days afield, it won’t be about what I harvest, but about what I can do to give back.



A Fine Nine: Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm

Let’s squeeze the trigger and jump right into the next Fine Nine blog! This month I have chosen an American company to cover and the fine 9mm pistol they are producing. Smith & Wesson is a renowned gun manufacturer. Ever since Dirty Harry uttered the famous phrase about his revolver, they have become a part of popular culture. Smith & Wesson was just even voted to be amongst the most patriotic companies in the U.S. and was the only firearms company in that list as well.

The specific handgun I will be covering is the M&P 9mm (Full-size). They do offer this handgun in different calibers and different sizes, but I will just be focusing on this one. The M&P stands for Military and Police, recognizing the companies long history with those groups. This series was introduced in 2005 and has been extremely popular ever since.

It is a polymer-framed pistol and considered very similar to Glocks. Many will state that Smith and Wesson had the chance to look at what Glock had done over the years and make improvements for their platform. They would be correct and ever since they launched the M&P, Smith and Wesson have been slowly converting Glock owners over.

There are several notable differences between the two firearms so we will compare this month’s Fine Nine to last month’s (the Glock 19). One of the biggest differences is the grip. Where the Glock 19 has a boxier grip, the M&P9 has a much more ergonomic grip. It also comes with three different sized back-straps that can be changed out depending on one’s preference.

The M&P9 is larger than the Glock 19. The M&P9 is 7.63 inches long, with a 4.25 inch barrel, 5.5 inches tall, 1.2 inches thick and weighs 24 ounces without the magazine in. The magazine holds 17 rounds of 9mm and can have another round in the chamber at the same time.

Just like the Glock 19, there is no external safety on the standard M&P9. Some models are offered with an external thumb safety if that is something desired. Like discussed last month there is good and bad things about having no external safety on a handgun. The main safety of the M&P9 is the trigger safety.

The M&P9 also comes standard with a Picatinny rail and loaded chamber indicator. Also the M&P9 is ambidextrous and can have the parts that need to  be changed for a left-handed shooter done so quite easily.

Like most polymer-framed handguns, the M&P9 breaks down to several main pieces which makes it very easy to take care of and clean. Consumers and the market definitely took the M&P series quick and so there is a massive amount of information, opinions and products available for the firearms.

So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and hold a Smith and Wesson M&P 9, and if you don’t like how it fits in your hand just remember… you have two more back-straps to try out!

A Slow Draw is a Quick Way to Join the Angels! Giddy-Up!!

Former Fine Nines

Glock 19



More Fish Donation Month

Did You Know?NFWF
  • More Americans fish than play basketball (24.0 million) and football (8.9 million) combined.
  • The number of jobs supported by anglers could employ all attendees of the last seven Super Bowls – TWICE!
  • Fishing as a leisure-time activity ranks higher than playing golf, target shooting, hunting with firearms, backpacking and wilderness camping, baseball, mountain biking and skiing.

(Statistics from the National Fish Habitat Action Plan, 2nd Edition)

During February Bass Pro Shops sponsors the More Fish Donation Campaign. For a $2 donation, your name is entered for a chance to win a $500 Bass Pro Shops gift card. But what IS the More Fish campaign and how is your $2 helping?

The More Fish Campaign monies collected go towards the National Fish Habitat Action Plan.  This nationwide plan was established to protect, restore, and enhance our country's fisheries.  The plan was led by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies around the country, state offices, the Department of Commerce and over 700 federal, state, and non-governmental entities, including Bass Pro Shops. 

The plan established several partnerships around the country based on geographic location, key fish species, or aquatic life.  Iowa is effected by three of the partnerships: the Driftless Area Restoration Initiative, the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership, and the Fishers and Farmers Partnership. These three groups have also come together with three of the other National Plan partnerships to create the Midwest Fish Habitat Partnership. 

Visit the links above and check out the Plan's and various Partnerships' goals, objectives, and some of the projects completed and in progress.

jumping bassStop in to Bass Pro Shops Altoona and make your $2 donation to help keep our streams, rivers, and habitat healthy for fish and keep our next generation fishing!

  •  More freshwater anglers prefer largemouth bass (52%), followed by panfish (28%).
  •  Most fishing tackle purchases include lures (46%), followed by terminal tackle (26%) then fishing line (24%).
(Statistics from the National Fish Habitat Action Plan, 2nd Edition)

Game Changers: Pope and Young Club

So way back in the day most hunting of animals was through projectile weaponry. This includes slings, spears and bows. Archery has been a part of human culture and society for centuries. Bows changed the battlefield and now have changed how we connect with the outdoors. It is an important heritage and sport that must be kept going. Recent films have spurred even more interest in the sport for the youth, and when parents learn about the possibility of archery-scholarships they see another plus to getting their children involved.

Way back in the day of these Game Changers blogs, I covered the Boone and Crockett Club. This club was established to help protect our natural resources, ensure fair chase practice and create a way to score animals taken. Now while we are all hunters and appreciators of the wonderful wilderness we have in this world, there of course are firearm hunters and archery hunters. From this another similar but archery only club was formed, the Pope and Young Club.

The P&Y Club patterned themselves off of the B&C Club and it can be seen in their practices, fundamentals, goals and even logos. P&Y Club was founded in 1961. “The Club advocates and encourages responsible bowhunting by promoting quality, fair chase hunting, and sound conservation practices. Today it fosters and nourishes bowhunting excellence and acts in the best interest of our bowhunting heritage everywhere. The Club promotes and participates in improving sound wildlife conservation and wise use of our natural resources.”

Now the Boone and Crockett Club can easily be figured out who it was named after. And if not, let me give you a hint: Fess Parker portrayed both of these American legends on television and both of their first names begin with “D”. P&Y Club was named after Dr. Saxton Pope and Arthur Young. These two were avid bowhunters in the early 20th century. Their adventures brought this lost sport back to national attention.

The P&Y Club has their own method of scoring animals taken by bow and arrow. They gather this information and after two years release it in their records book. Every time one of these books is released, avid bowhunters pick one up to see the new record animals taken. Usually when scoring animals you will see either a B&C or Y&C score which helps let you know what method of hunting was used to take that animal. Along with seeing the new records set, archers get new inspiration to go out and try and beat the new records! They do a good job breaking down how to reach these records on their site. They also are sure to have two different systems for measuring as there are typical and non-typical antlered animals out there.

Now the club takes a pretty powerful stance on crossbows when it comes to archery. They are completely anti-crossbow and will not score any animal taken in such manner. They believe that crossbows should be restricted to firearm hunting seasons. This has gotten the club some flak, but also appreciation from their members. Archery is a purity kind of pursuit. They also have an incredible Museum of Bowhunting at their headquarters in Minnesota!

So if you are an archer and are not yet a member, you should really look into joining. And even if you don’t hunt and want to help, the Pope and Young Club is heavily involved with programs to help improve our wilderness.

Oh and fun fact, the husband in our store’s Pro Hunting Team (Corky) has the world record for bison!

Like a Kitten Hoppin’ over a Caterpillar! Giddy-Up!!

Previous Game Changers:

Ansel Adams

Teddy Roosevelt

Fred Bear

Boone and Crockett Club


Henry David Thoreau


Ever wished to shoot 22LR ammo with no limit to see which fits best? Here is one result!

Every firearm owner wishes they could shoot and train without limits, but recent ammo prices and availability, range fees, and other economical obstacles continuously affect the opportunity to pursue their passion.   It’s just not as simple as it was years ago, when firearms, whether for sport or hunting purposes, were considered a part of everyday life.  One solution to this is the simple installation of the CMMG AR Conversion kit.  This is a drop-in conversion bolt, with included magazine, that will get you putting .22lr downrange in just minutes!  In the desire to provide information to the consumer on this product, it was tested in a direct-impingement AR15, fitted with a mid-length gas system, free-floated barrel, collapsible stock, and EOTech sight.     


            The kit tested was the Bravo model.  Now, expectations were actually quite low, I’ll admit.  I was prepared for jams, mis-feeds, mis-fires, and failures to eject.  I had a healthy variety of .22lr ammo; everything from budget, target, hunting and the costlier premium ammo from a multitude of manufacturers.  Given my extensive firearms knowledge, I decided the only unbiased way of reviewing the product would be to have someone with a different perspective fire a few hundred rounds, while I observed, and took notes of every comment and reaction…but more importantly, I had the duty of providing plenty of loaded magazines!  With that, I elected my wife to run the actual test, which would give me a great perspective from a female’s point of view, with familiarization of the platform.


            The test was begun by loading 10 rounds of every different type/brand of ammunition on hand into the magazine.  Five rounds would be fired in slow fire, and the last five would be fired in rapid mode.  The test would conclude with a re-shoot of those rounds we found borderline acceptable, or unpleasant, and those we felt were the best performers.


            Federal American Eagle, Winchester Super X, CCI Mini-Mag all performed well, with no jams, or failures to eject.

            CCI LR22, CCI STINGER, CCI LR HP, and Winchester Western all performed exceptionally well! There were many ‘wows,’ and praise as to how smooth it cycled, over and over.  Accuracy also seemed to be slightly better with the CCI brand ammunition.  

            Remington 22 Target, Remington 22 Viper, and Remington Thunderbolt came in as the most unpleasant, in regards to smell, perceived recoil, gas blowback, and particulate that seemed to foul shooter’s face.  Recoil on the Viper was also noted as being the most intense, however, still only a fraction of the recoil of your standard .223/5.56.

            Magazines where then loaded to the max, and fired from different shooting positions, and while moving.  Not one mechanical issue was noted, and there were zero failures one could classify as ‘catastrophic’ in a self-defense, combat, or training situation.


            The overall impression was a very positive one.  The product was very simple to install.  Anyone with a very primitive understanding of the AR system can easily open their rifle, remove the original bolt carrier group, and simply drop the CMMG Conversion Kit right in! No tools are required.  The system is low-noise, low-recoil, and can easily reduce your investment on ammunition.  50 rounds of decent .223/5.56 will run you about $25 on today’s market; while a box of .22LR will set you back five dollars on the average, and weigh significantly less.  The round is already a proven small game load and plinkster, and in addition to the AR’s versatility plus the adaptability to smaller framed shooters, you can count on this add-on being perfect for youth and smaller statured shooters looking to spice up their training with some ‘tactical’ flavor. 

The only downside was the general foul nature of .22lr ammunition.  It does ultimately mean that you will be cleaning more often than usual, but the lower muzzle velocities will prolong the life of any profile barrel, military or commercial.

Lower priced ammunition will only result in positive outcomes; more range time, training, and most importantly; safe fun on the range that any aged and size shooter can appreciate.  The CMMG AR Conversion kit is a great tool seasoned vets can add to their training regiment, as well as instructors, parents, and significant others, who are looking to maintain that edge, teach a new student who has never handled a firearm, or introduce their family member to a lifetime of responsible shooting.

Abelardo Román

Hunting Team Leader


Check It Out List: Range Time

Well I made a little New Year’s Resolution and it was to simply do more. I have truly been blessed with all the amazing people in my life, but unfortunately have not been able to spend much time with them. So 2014 is going to be a year of just doing more. And that of course is going to mean some more trips to the range!

Now a lot of my families own firearms and shoot, but not everyone does. So it will be my pleasure to share this passion of mine with them (and help them relieve stress, which shooting is one of the best ways to do so). Safety will of course be my first priority, but there are a number of other things to consider when it comes to going to the range, which makes it the topic of this month’s Check It Out List blog.

Range-Time Items:


Proper Ammunition

Hearing Protection

Eye Protection



Range-Time Bag

Gun Tool

So let us break that down a little bit more. For the firearms, you should know what kind of shooting you are going to be doing. (Pistol practice, trap and skeet, sighting in a hunting rifle, etc.) That will also dictate the kind of ammo you are going to bring. You really don’t need to bring the shotgun shells when dialing in that new Vortex 4-16x44 on your old Remington 700. Also certain ranges have restrictions on what ammo can be fired there, so it is always best to call before hand and check.


I do not know of a firing range where eye and ear protection is not necessary and would not want to visit one that is lax on this. Always have a few sets of “eyes and ears” in your bag at all times. Also have a variety of styles of protection for people. It is not a bad idea to have both foam plugs and over-the-ear hearing protection. This way people can have their choice or even double up if they have sensitive ears.

A nice range-bag is great as many come with multiple compartments. This is nice for storing and separating items. Always be sure to load the right ammo with the right firearm. A gun tool is nice in case you need to make a quick little fix or such. Also be sure to have a number of targets as they will need to be replaced.

And let me dish a little on a couple pet peeves of my own when it comes to range-time.

First… if you have a number of pistols out that are different calibers; just store the ones not in use at that moment. I personally can’t stand seeing a pile of firearms along with a pile of magazines that is all next to a stack of different ammo. Somewhere you will make a mistake and try and load the wrong ammo or wrong magazine or so on.

Second… if you are taking a new shooter out for their first time: be kind. It is your responsibility as a gun-owner to ensure everyone has a safe and fun time. I was just at the range and heard a group behind me discussing rifles, so I joined the conversation. The adult male in the group was talking about having a younger girl shoot a .270Win or .30-06Sprg at the range. (Mind you this was an indoor range that goes to about 75 feet out, so not really a long-range rifle setup.) Hearing this I assumed she was a seasoned shooter as those calibers can pack a nice punch, but naw this was her first time. She was as lean as a desert grasshopper and even admitted to being intimidated by everything. And “the chaperone” was going to have her shoot a .30-06?! I don’t think so! So I had her join my fiancé and I for a quick little lesson. I took her over importance of eye and ear protection, safe handling of a firearm and proper operation of one. The firearm I had her shoot was a lighter caliber out of a heavy revolver so the kick was minimal. What do ya know? She had a great time and was much less intimidated by everything. This means that she would not be scared of guns and might even come back!

Like most things in life, take the time to plan ahead for the little stuff. There is nothing wrong with double-checking either!

Grinnin’ Like a Possum Eatin’ a Yella Jacket! Giddy-Up!



Gun Cleaning

Game Care

First Aid

Day Pack

Trip Prep


Seasons End, Maintenance Begins

Rod Slings Guest Blog by Rod Slings, Retired Iowa DNR Hunter Education Administrator


As the hunting seasons come to an end, it’s time again to store all your equipment. As always, safety is number one for every hunter and gun owner. Make sure your firearm is pointed in a safe direction, check to make sure it’s unloaded, then it’s ready to be cleaned. Even if you haven’t fired it, it’s important to give it a quick cleaning. Moisture, dirt, and salt from your hands can all have a long-term impact on the condition of your firearms. 

Each year, somewhere, someone forgets to unload his or her muzzleloader. Incidents can happen when you think the muzzleloader is empty and place another “load” on top of the load that was left…last hunting season. It’s never good when you’re expecting a bang and BOOM happens instead. It can cause severe injury or even death by not making sure your muzzleloader is empty before you load it up again. Powder residue will cause corrosion and have a major effect, so make sure you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on proper cleaning.

Gun storage is very much a huge responsibility for all hunters. Make sure you use trigger locks or cable locks, and lock them in a gun cabinet or gun safe. This keeps your firearms from the curious, young and old, or even the burglar that may break into your house. There are all kinds of gun storage products available to help you be a responsible gun owner.

Opinions differ on storing “muzzle up or muzzle down” in your gun safe or locker. After cleaning oil is used in the barrel, with muzzle up the excess could run down into the end of your wood stock and cause the wood fibers to expand.  This is due to the oil saturating and working its way down where the metal meets the stock. This is not an issue with the newer composite stocks or other non-porous stocks. Muzzle down will eliminate this from occurring. No matter what, always make sure you keep the firearms pointed in a safe direction when placing them in or removing them from locked storage. Remember:  Treat every firearm as if it were loaded ALWAYS!

Ammunition should be stored in a locked container separate from the firearms. This safety practice adds another layer to your firearm storage safety protocol.

Don’t forget to remove batteries from trail cameras, range finders, GPS units and other battery-powered hunting equipment. Storage of arrows and archery equipment requires an edge of safety, too!

Until you’re ready to go target practice, shoot some trap or skeet, or are preparing for spring turkey season, these steps will keep you, your family, and others stay safe!

It’s always great to break out your equipment in the fall and have everything ready to be inspected for another Rod Slingsyear…not to have rust, corrosion, or other issues from not practicing due-diligence now. 

Always focus on safe gun handling and, please, hunt SAFE!


Rod Slings is a partner with Hunting and Shooting Related Consultants. He was with the Iowa DNR for 35 years as a supervisor in the DNR's Law Enforcement Bureau. He is an active proponent of hunter safety and education through international leadership, instructional, and speaking opportunities for organizations such as the International Hunter Education Association, the National Wild Turkey Federation, and the United Nations.


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A Fine Nine: Glock 19

So last month I introduced the topic of finding a 9mm handgun for my associate, Katie-Kins. (You can read it real quick by clicking any of the words in between these parentheses.) So for the first of these “Fine Nines” I am choosing what many consider one of the best carry options: the Glock 19.

Now this is one of the most popular carry guns out there. A quick search of “most common ccw gun” gave me to sites that had the Glock 19 in a top 10 list. (Handgun Mag and Human Events) For those of you who do not know what “CCW” is, it stands for: carrying a concealed weapon. Many states require a CCW permit in order to legally carry a concealed weapon. Arizona no longer does, but still many responsible gun owners still attend the class and acquire the permit. (Katie-Kins and my fiancé will be two such responsible gun owners and I suggest everyone else should as well.)

The Glock 19s size makes it a good concealed carry weapon as well as a practice pistol. Now let me clarify that. Many great ccw firearms are not great practice pistols. I just bought my fiancé a Smith and Wesson 642. While it is an awesome concealable firearm it will not be one that we put many rounds through each time we go to the range, whereas the Glock 19 you can shoot comfortably all day. (Heads up I will be using the information for the fourth-generation of these firearms when discussing specifics.)

Glock really revolutionized the firearms industry. The lightness of their polymer frame and the reliability and durability has proved itself for decades now. Many armed forces and police forces alike carry the Glock. It is affectionately called “Gun Tupperware” as while it may not look like much, it gets the job done. In fact they seem to always get the job done. Some firearms tend to feed and shoot specific brands of ammunition. Glocks are notorious for not being picky-eaters and seem to feed any kind of ammo with indifference.

The Glock 19 has a standard magazine that holds 15 rounds. There are options for magazines that hold 17 or even 33 rounds. The firearm is 7.36” long and 4.99” tall. It is 1.88” thick and the barrel’s length is 4.01”. This makes it an accurate firearm in a compact size.

Now for everything that can be considered good with a firearm it seems to also be able to be considered bad. There are no external safeties on the Glock 19. This means there would be one less thing that could snag the firearm while being drawn and one would not find themselves having to work a safety off in a self-defense circumstance. Both of these are positives, but for first time gun owners or even novice owners this can be intimidating. It does have the double-trigger safety though. 

The Glock 19 breaks completely down with relative ease and does not have nearly as many internal parts as say a 1911 model handgun does. Also due to their wide distribution and production, finding parts for one is easier than having a more obscure firearm.

Glocks have what is known as a “trigger reset”. This means after one fires the weapon they can slowly release the trigger to a certain point. The Glock has an audible click that helps let one know when they reach this point. It can then be fired again by squeezing backwards, but it cuts the distance for that trigger pull. I had no idea about this until my uncle showed me. The difference is quite amazing and is also a positive for the Glock.

The grip of the handle is usually what will turn people away from owning a Glock. The reliability, durability, simplicity, functionality and great price point don’t mean much if one does not like holding the thing. Just like I am pointing out all these things and more to Katie-Kins, I hope I am helping others when it comes to a decision like this.

Wise as a Tree Full of Owls! Giddy-Up!!


Hot Shot Shooters

Hot Shot Shooters

By: Katie Cook

Hot Shot Shooters is an all woman’s firearms club that meets at Bass Pro Shops in Gurnee, Illinois. One of our goals is to teach women how to become more proficient shooters and responsible firearm owners.  Our Mission is “To Get More Women Involved!”

Several of our members took an NRA Basic Pistol Class with Bill Worth and wanted to find like minded women to enjoy shooting and learning about firearms. Bill told them to start a group. One of the ladies finally organized our first meeting. Bill sent out an email asking if we were interested in a ladies shooting club. 25-30 women showed up at the first meeting. Our first meeting was basically to ask what we wanted from this group and what we wanted to experience. A few meetings later, we brainstormed over names and voted. Some were very clever and we debated over a few before we decided on Hot Shot Shooters. Our Email list is at 50 women now and constantly growing.

All ladies are welcome and encouraged to attend our meetings and join Hot Shot Shooters. Our next meeting is Tuesday January 21St at 6pm on the 3rd floor of the range at Bass Pro Shop Gurnee.

Also check us out on FaceBook!



Late Muzzle Loader Season

Both muzzle loader and late archery seasons start December 7th. Muzzle loader season runs through to December 22 and late archery season ends on January 2. “These seasons are a great way to extend your deer hunting season and are crucial in managing the state’s deer population,” said Chad Stewart, deer management biologist. In 2009, muzzle loader hunters took 18,553 deer, 80 percent of which were antler-less deer. This accounted for 14 percent of the total deer harvest. Last year, late archery season accounted for 1,598 deer, 1 percent of the total harvest. Eighty-one percent of the late archery season harvest was antler-less deer. Crossbows are legal during late archery season without the use of a disabled permit. Crossbow hunters took 182 deer statewide during last year’s late archery season. A muzzle loader and late archery license allows you to harvest one deer of either sex. If you have already taken an antlered deer, you can only take an antler-less deer. If you purchased a bonus antler-less license during firearms or early archery season and didn’t use it, then you are able to use that license during muzzle loader and late archery season.

To find out more information visit today!


RedHead Blackout Blind Takes Number One, Son!

So everybody likes to get recognized, right? Your child loves having their A+ papers put on the fridge. And you love showing off new business cards with a higher job title, don’t you? Well I was on my way to Florida a month ago and was reading the most recent Field & Stream. They always do a good job with their gear reviews. There are so many options for every piece of the outdoorsman’s arsenal that it is hard to make sure you get something good. Well… apparently we not only make something good in the gear review we made the best!

That’s right! The RedHead Blackout Hub Style Ground Blind took the number one spot for best ground blinds! They had four different hunters that were a range of ages and hunted in different ranges. Out of the four ground blinds tested, the Blackout was one of the two to win 5 stars. (5 Stars = Invisibility Cloak, 4 Stars = Secret Lair, 3 Stars = Hunt House, 2 Stars = Plastic Tarp and 1 Star = Piece of Sheet… pretty clever, Field and Stream. I especially liked the Piece of Sheet one.)

We took the number one slot due to it being “the best combination of value and solid construction” and that “ it was easy to put up and take down”. They also gave nods for the “large window openings” which made one of the testers state "This blind has the best vertical and horizontal range of all." Thanks!

Another tester noted that “the fabric's snug fit over the frame, as well as the interior straps and pockets, which were useful to hang or stow gear.” And a cool feature that I had no idea about came in the color of blaze orange! There are four fold-out blaze patches on the roof to clearly show other hunters where you are and that someone is home! (Nothing wrong with being just a little extra safe.)

Usually when we are off in the woods we are packing a nice little pack. (Sarcasm on little.) So having plenty of room to get in and out of a blind of any kind is always well appreciated. The design of the door makes entrance to this Narnia of a blind really easy.

The blind packs up, case included, and can be carried by a single user. It is big enough though to house a couple. Now I want to clarify that I used the term user and not hunter, because it’s not just those with bows and firearms sitting in these things. Photographers and other nature enthusiasts have learned the extreme useful blinds can provide.

So if you’re looking for a good ground blind for any reason, make sure you go with one that scored the best!

Texas Cakewalk near the Three-Legged Mare! Giddy-Up!!


A Fine Nine: The Basics

So there has been a passion in my life that I have not really blogged that much about. (Well technically there are bunches but I won’t start on about how awesome koi-ponds and water features are right now.) Shooting has become one of my favorite activities in this world. I always had an interest in firearms growing up (watching Westerns and such) but knew I needed to be as safe as possible when it came to this stuff. Luckily a lot of my friends’ dads were able to step in and show me how to be a responsible firearm-enthusiast. Now I am currently getting to do the same for others, and it is truly awesome. Now why the long back story? Because it leads into this…

So the new girl in our department, Katie, has expressed interest in becoming a firearm-owner. She has shot different firearms a number of times, but owning a firearm is way different than operating one. She was thinking about something to use for protection and target-practice, meaning a handgun.

Now when it comes to firearms, there is a whole world of information out there. Everybody and anybody has an opinion, one way or the other. Sometimes it is well thought out, like when considering the quality of parts going into a firearm. Or sometimes not so much… “Those >BLANK< are trash and look ugly too!” (Please cite your sources when submitting such work, thank you.) Just like Ford or Chevy people, take it with a grain of salt.

But! There is some information out there that is actually truthful and should be shared. Such as when considering calibers for handguns. Many people will state that the best caliber of handgun for someone is the largest one that they can shoot comfortably. I agree with this. Anyone can shoot a .22LR very comfortably, but that does not make it a great protection choice. If the same person that can shoot a .22LR well can also handle a .40S&W with the same skill-set, I would suggest going with the .40S&W.

Now for Katie, that puts her in the 9mm crowd. That is the caliber she has stated she wants to own. This is awesome! Just knowing what you want as far as caliber is a great way to get started. Now comes the bad part… there are so many choices out there for a 9mm!!!! This can be extremely intimidating for a first-time firearm buyer. So over the next number of months, I will showcase off a firearm (9mm of course) in what I will be calling: A Fine Nine.

Now then, this blog is about the basics of the blogs themselves but also about the 9MM caliber itself. So let’s see…

A long time ago, in 1901 to be exact, a German designer, Georg Luger to be exact, designed the caliber called 9x19mm Parabellum. (Because it was designed for Luger firearms, it is known as the 9mm Luger. This is separate from the 9mm Browning, which as you can guess was designed for Browning firearms.) It is commonly called 9mm (as I have been doing for most of this blog) as well as: 9x19, 9x19mm or 9mmP (along with 9mm Luger which was listed above). Now the word Parabellum is derived from a term in Latin which means "If you seek peace, prepare for war", which is pretty much spot-on. This caliber has become the most widely used handgun cartridge by individuals and militaries alike. In fact, this caliber is the standard for NATO forces.

The 9mm has a flat trajectory along with what is stated as moderate recoil. (Everybody is different, and I am sure a few of you just made a face at the word “moderate”.) While it was originally designed to be lethal at 50 meters, it is still effective at farther ranges.

Since the 9mm is such a popular cartridge, and does not take as much to make it when compared to say a .45 Long Colt, it remains a cheaper caliber to shoot. This is extremely important as money is a deciding factor when it comes to practicing. The old adage of: “What good is a good gun if you can’t afford the bullets?!” is actually true. Also due to the smaller size of the cartridge, when compared to let’s say a .40S&W, it means a magazine can contain a larger amount of rounds in it.

Now I will not get into ballistics, but in case you were wondering check this site out. They do a much better job than I ever could.

So until next time, Take it Easy! Giddy-Up!!

Oh and side note. So Katie is from Chicago. She asked me if she needed a pistol-license in this state. I laughed (rather hard) and let her know that this was Arizona and we do the 2nd Amendment right here. 


Firearm Cleaning and Maintenance

There are many activities one can do with firearms, from hunting to long distance target shooting. One of the least amusing but essential things one must do with every firearm is to ensure it is properly cleaned after a day at the range and the upkeep and maintenance throughout the year. This will keep the firearm in pristine firing shape. There are some simple steps which can be taken to make cleaning the firearm a little easier.  

The first step is to learn how to field strip the firearm down to its base components in order to clean the firearm most effectively. This is easily done by looking at the owner’s manual. The manual will have simple instructions on how to not only disassemble the firearm but how to reassemble the firearm without damaging any of the components. Once the firearm is disassembled the next step is the messiest.

After the disassembly of the firearm, the owner must proceed to oil and lubricate the necessary parts. This is a step that must be taken for both cleaning and regular maintenance of the firearm. The first thing after disassembly is to clean each individual part. Often times old oil and grease residue with be on the firearm mixed with the powder that didn’t burn during the firing of the weapon. This layer of grime needs to be completely removed before anything else can take place. If the components are not properly cleaned or lubricated, the firearm can grind smaller pieces and be rendered inoperable after a time. Finding the right oil and firearm lubricant is often times a pain. One company that is regularly used because of its great track record of quality products and proven performance is the Hoppe’s. The Hoppe’s Elite Dual Pack Firearm Cleaning Products is a great package to get when looking for both gun oil and lubricant in a single package. By taking a clean cloth and adding a few drops of oil to the cloth you can oil the component parts quickly and easily. Simply run the cloth over the parts until you can see and feel a nice film of oil on the pieces. This will ensure that the pieces do not corrode or get exposed to the elements. The next step is one of the most important.

Now that the components of your firearm are all clean it is necessary to look at the barrel and start to clean it. The first thing any person cleaning a barrel needs to do is run a cloth with a drop or two of bore solvent. This solvent helps remove much of the copper, lead, plastic and powder deposits on the barrel. A great solvent is the Hoppe’s Bench Rest-9 Copper Solvent. After using the solvent running a wire brush through the barrel one to two times will help break the deposits off the walls of the barrel. As soon as the wire brush has been run through the best thing to do is run a bore snake through the barrel in order to force the last bits of the deposits out of the barrel leaving it clean enough for accurate shots.

Hoppe's Cleaning

The cleaning and maintenance of firearms is the most important and important activity associated with firearms. Knowing how to properly clean a firearm could save money with the  maintenance or replacement costs in the future. While at the same time a well cleaned rifle, pistol or even black powder rifle will shoot more accurately making the experience far more enjoyable. Follow the link to see wat Bass Pro Shops offers to keep your firearm clean and well maintaind! As always have fun and happy hunting!



Harvest of the Deer

As firearms season comes to a close and the deer have been harvested and processed, many people wonder what to do with the meat that now fills their freezer.  Why not try sausage?  Italian, brats, summer, breakfast, salami, bologna, the varieties are endless.  With the right tools, making sausage is not as daunting as one might think.  Whether using a hand stuffer or electric grinder, the process is actually quite simple. Add seasoning and ground pork (if desired) to your ground venison and stuff in casings. Casings range in size from snack stick size to bologna size- depending on what kind of sausage you want to make.  You may then choose to smoke your sausage or freeze uncooked until ready to use.


Bass Pro Shops Electric Meat Grinder by LEM Products (Reg $269.99, Sale starting at $239.97)

LEM makes a wide variety of seasonings that I found to be quite good. I am particularly fond of the Sweet Italian mix.  Kits are also available that contain the casings and pre-measured packets of seasoning and cure.  With the holidays approaching, sausage is an easy and great gift for family and friends. What could be better than saying you made it yourself? 


Sausage Kit - $69.99


Come in and visit with our friendly camping associates to gain more knowledge on sausage making and meat processing!    



My Daisy BB Gun From Santa

Santa Mouse and My First GunI was thinking a few days ago about what Christmas movies I needed to watch over the next couple weeks and of course “A Christmas Story” came to mind (just a couple seconds before "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" and "Die Hard"). 

I’ve always been able to identify with Ralphie and his obsession with having a Daisy Red Rider BB gun.  “You’ll put your eye out!” was everyone’s response including the mall Santa because they thought it was just too dangerous for a child to have. Everyone except his father of course. He knew what it meant to get your first gun even if it was only capable of killing cans or putting holes in a few paper targets. He understood that it was a rite of passage and much more than a toy.  Your Red Rider allowed you to imagine hunting Alaska, the Rocky Mountains, or even deepest darkest Africa.  It was capable of handling everything from viscious squirrels to the most dangerous Cape Buffalo and Kodiak Bear.

I still have my first BB gun and it sits alongside all my other firearms in the cabinet just like it should.  I can almost remember when my brother and I got our new guns for Christmas over 35 years ago.  Those gifts were the greatest things ever and I’m quite sure we slept with them the first few nights.  They were much loved and used to the point of near being worn out.  So much so that I’m sure my parents were driven nearly insane from the sound of “Click…..Creeeeeeek… Clack……..Pffft…Ping” of my brother and I shooting in the basement.  We had a miniature shooting range set up down there with boxes semi –full of newspaper for backstops that we could retrieve BB’s from rather than having to replenish our supply every week.  We went through reams of targets while growing up and practicing our shooting skills; and spent hours competing against each other for pretend titles and imaginary trophies.

Those first guns stoked our desire to get into the woods and fields in search of bigger game and greater challenges, while at the same time, teaching us how to take care of our possessions and of course, practice safe gun handling.  Whether it was a BB gun or the high powered rifles that came later, we were taught to treat them with equal care and respect.  We never came close to putting our eyes out (as far as anyone knows…).

The Daisy Red Rider is still on the wish list of many youngsters across the country and I can ‘t think of a better way to bring a smile to the face of a budding outdoorsman.  You might even discover the next Olympic champion shooter in your family.  Just be sure to pick up a healthy supply of BB’s and a lot of targets….You’re going to need them!

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando


Scope it Out: Redfield

So hunting season is ending in some parts of the country and in other areas it is still in full swing. But either way I am sure that you have had an experience or two with some form of optics out there. So that is why this month’s Scope it Out blog may pertain directly towards you.

As we all know, you get what you pay for when it comes to optics. Those who usually start at the lower quality end to save a few bucks find themselves investing even more when finally getting to a good optics brand. This pertains directly to the brand being covered this month, Redfield.

The Redfield optics company has been around for over a century. It was founded back in 1909 by John Hill Redfield. The quality of their product built Redfield a name that was trusted by hunters and shooters alike. My best friend’s dad has an older-than-me model of Redfield scope on a Weatherby, and it is one awesome piece of glass.

Slowly but surely they began creating new products and innovations in the industry. But in 1998 they closed the doors in Denver, CO. It was the end of an era. This was not the end though for the Redfield name. Several companies bought the name and began making products. Unfortunately, none of these companies did the name any form of justice and in fact degraded it to an extent.

That was until 2008, when another great name in optics, Leupold bought the name. Since then, the name of Redfield has been building its reputation back. Also it has secured in bringing Redfield back to the United States. The products for Redfield are made next to their “gold-ring” brothers and sisters. Ask anyone about Redfield scopes and they’ll tell you something like “Its Leupold glass and warranty at a smaller price point”. Ask Leupold themselves and they’ll say something like:

Based in Oregon, the original home of founder John C. Redfield, we’ve rededicated ourselves to his vision: no-nonsense optics for everyone. Focused on that goal, we’ve made top-notch optical equipment accessible to every American hunter. With Redfield, outdoorsmen across this great land can fill their tag without breaking the bank.

What I really like is their statement of “non-nonsense optics”. I would not say their products are simple, because that kind of seems degrading but I would say they are easy to operate. Their scopes have a generous eye-relief. They come in the most common and well utilized powers and sizes.

I personally have a Redfield scope on my Remington 700 and use their binoculars. Not too long ago we had a sale on the binoculars. A good guy who happens to shop here asked me about them and I endorsed them to the fullest as long as he understood that they were “heavier”. On his recent elk hunt he found those Redfield binoculars to outperform a pair of Swarovski binoculars he had on the trip. Just sayin’.

Now I remember reading an article in Field and Stream not too long ago about trends in the firearms industry. I am pretty sure it was by Petzal, because the author was saying what he hates about certain trends and that seems to be a classic Petzal writing. The complaint was about how scopes now have these extremes names like “Eliminator” or “Destructor”. This would give Redfield a lower grade in this man’s eyes as they have names like “Revenge” and “Battlezone”, but who cares what it’s called if they work great?! (Also please note that I am not trying to insult Petzal in any way as the man is well informed and provides us readers with facts and thoughts that can put things into perspective.)

Recently Redfield has been adding a new line of products to their team. These have been directed more for the AR-15 market, but this trend has been seen in many of the other big name optic brands. I would feel safe throwing one of these on top of my AR at home.

One reason for that safety-net feeling is that they stand behind their products. Leupold is famous for its warranty and has extended those same privileges to the Redfield name. You can read the full break down of this warranty at the Support section on their website. Also on their website they have a link that will direct you to any current promotions they are running.

So whether you need a scope for an upcoming deer hunt or want a good pair of binoculars for watching birds or neighbors that may be witches, think about taking a look at and through something from Redfield.

Until next time! Giddy-Up!

Previous Sightings:





Urban Deer Zones

     Urban deer zones give archery hunters opportunities to harvest deer in defined urban deer zones, in addition to statewide bag limits. The urban deer zone season is Sept. 15, 2013 through Jan. 31, 2014. The bag limit for the urban zones is four antlerless deer, or three antlerless and one deer of either sex within an urban zone. Individuals hunting in a designated urban deer zone who are attempting to satisfy the urban deer zone bag limit must harvest an antlerless deer before harvesting an antlered deer (a.k.a. earn-a-buck). The earn-a-buck requirement only applies to the urban deer zone bag limit. The urban deer zone bag limit is in addition to all other bag limits.

     An urban deer zone license has been established to replace previous requirements to possess a regular archery, extra archery or bonus antlerless license. The urban deer zone license allows an individual to harvest one deer per license in a defined urban deer zone. Hunters attempting to satisfy the urban deer zone bag limits must have an urban deer zone, resident youth hunt/trap, lifetime comprehensive hunting, or lifetime comprehensive hunting/fishing license, or meet a license exemption.

     The provision does not override any local ordinances restricting shooting of firearms and bows. Hunters must obtain permission from landowners to hunt on their property. An urban deer zone license is needed for each deer taken. Urban deer zone licenses are already included in the resident youth hunt/trap, lifetime comprehensive hunting, and lifetime comprehensive hunting/fishing licenses. Urban deer zone licenses are not permitted on Division of Fish and Wildlife managed properties.

The urban deer zones are as follows:

  • Indianapolis – all of Marion County, Hendricks County east of State Road 267; southeast portion of Boone County bounded by State Road 267, Interstate 65, State Road 32; and the portion of Hamilton County south of State Road 32.
  • Fort Wayne – the portion of Allen County lying within the bounds of Interstate 69 and Interstate 469.
  • Vanderburgh County.
  • Lafayette – the portion of Tippecanoe County north of State Road 28
  • Lake County.
  • Porter County.
  • Michigan City – the portion of LaPorte County north of Interstate 94.
  • Warsaw – the portion of Kosciusko County within the corporate limits of Warsaw.

            Immediately upon killing a deer, the hunter must complete a temporary tag on paper that states the hunter’s name, address, sex of the deer, and the day and month of the kill. A hunter is not required to place the tag on the deer while dragging it out of the field as long as the hunter has filled out and is carrying the required information. A hunter must maintain immediate custody of and visual contact with the deer carcass unless the completed temporary transportation tag is attached. The tag must be attached to the deer before the hunter leaves the deer or loads the deer in a vehicle.

     The person who takes the deer is responsible for the delivery of the deer to an official deer check station within 48 hours of the kill, or use the CheckIN Game online system to obtain a confirmation number within 48 hours of the kill. The CheckIN Game confirmation number must be written down on the temporary transportation tag and kept with the deer until processing begins.

     The deer head must remain attached to the carcass until the tag is attached and locked at the deer check station. If the deer is taken to a check station, a permanent seal must be attached to the carcass. The permanent seal must remain attached until processing of the deer begins.

     Carcasses of deer and other wild animals that are lawfully taken should not be dumped in streams or other bodies of water or left out in the open for scavengers and others to see. Dumping dead deer and other wild animals in a waterway is considered littering and is a criminal offense punishable by a fine. Rotting carcasses in a waterway can also affect water quality for those downstream.


Tracking Deer

On opening weekend of the Wisconsin archery season, Matt Serwa arrowed a giant whitetail. The hit was fatal, but the blood trail poor. Things got worse when, shortly after dusk, the rain came and lasted all night. Fortunately, Matt knew Kasey Morgan, a member of the United Blood Trackers (, a national organization whose members own dogs trained to find deer just like Serwa’s buck. Serwa described his buck, the hit, and the situation to Morgan on the phone that evening. The pair decided to wait until morning, then take up the trail with Boomer, Morgan’s bloodhound.

Cutting straight to the chase (or, rather, the end of it), Boomer found Serwa’s buck in relatively short order. And, according to Serwa, odds are high that it would have taken a while for him to find the buck on his own. “The rain had wiped out all the blood, and the buck went into this thick, nasty creek bottom,” he said. “We’ve tracked deer down there before, and I know where they usually like to go. But this deer didn’t go to that spot. I think I’d have found the buck eventually, but it would have taken a lot of work and a little luck. Boomer figured out the trail and found the buck in pretty short order.” (Morgan describes the hunt for Serwa’s buck in great detail in the following blog

If you live in one of the 27 states that allow the use of tracking dogs, this story is probably a familiar one. I, however, do not. Minnesota is one of 13 states that completely forbid the use of dogs to find big game (other prominent whitetail states, like Pennsylvania and Kansas, are included in this number). I’m in lock-step with the United Blood Trackers; it’s time for this number to shrink to zero.

This should be pretty simple stuff, folks. We should all strive for close, lethal, and ethical shots on game. But the reality is that, if you deer hunt long enough—whether you shoot a bow, crossbow or firearm—sooner or later you’re going to hit a deer in a spot that makes finding it difficult. And sometimes rain, snow or dense cover can complicate the picture. In situations like these, using a tracking dog is not only logical, there is no more ethical option.

I’ve only witnessed a trained tracking dog in action one time, on a Kentucky bowhunt about 5 years ago. The hunter had made a fatal hit on a fine buck, but the blood trail was sparse and the hot weather made waiting for morning an unappealing option; the meat was almost certain to spoil before we found the deer. Fortunately, a local man had a dachshund trained for such situations, and that little, short-legged wonder found the buck so quickly it was shocking. I’ve been a proponent of tracking dogs ever since, and I hope that one day soon their use will be legal nationwide.

Trailing Shot Deer