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



A Lesson Learned About Firearms

This is a true story about firearm complacency and safety by our own Jim Young (Hunting Associate)

When I was about 10 years old I received my first firearm on a chilly Christmas morning. It was a brand new J.C. Higgins .22 single shot bolt action rifle from Sears and Roebuck. It was the kind that you had to load each cartridge one at a time then pull the plunger back to cock the rifle when you were ready to fire. it could shoot .22 shorts, longs and the powerful, venerable supersonic long rifle cartridge.

I really liked this little rifle but my propensity to get into trouble would urge me on to expand my creative talents for getting myself into a lot of hot water and to do more stupid things that normally charted the course taken by a young adolescent male just prior to discovering girls. in fact, as i look back, my propensity for doing stupid things did not diminish after i discovered girls. It was possibly exacerbated even more so, but i digress.

Of course, recalling my previous Red Ryder BB gun days, my mother, father, and older brother would increasingly preach to me about gun safety, gun safety and more GUN SAFETY!!! So much so that I had gun safety coming out of my ears and I was sick of it. i knew good and well that i was well practiced and highly skilled 11 year old rifle marksmen and no one could tell me what to do. i knew it all.

I really enjoyed cleaning and taking care of my rifle. Late one Saturday evening while watching a western on T.V. while everyone else had gone to bed, i had just finished cleaning my rifle. Having been bored by the movie i picked up the rifle , checked to make sure it was unloaded, started taking aim at things around the room and pulling the trigger. After a while i started to practice loading and unloading the rifle with a long rifle hollow point. Still leaving the round in the rifle i set it down and went back to watching the movie. Again boredom set in and i picked the now loaded rifle up .... see where i am going with this. Once more i began taking aim at inanimate objects around the room. Instead of squeezing the trigger and giving my customary "blam" or "pow" a real supersonic crack of the rifle witch to me became the shot heard round the world or at least the shot heard round the house. As i stared in disbelief i just knew my mother, father, and brother would soon be at my location having been known as incredible light sleepers. I sat glued to the couch and listen for the coming doom that would befall on me but i was not able to hear anything over the ringing in my ears, how was i to know that such a little gun could make such a loud noise, i had no idea that a little .22 could be so dang loud let alone make such a huge cloud of blue smoke. I just knew Winchester had packed that particular cartridge with the powder charge normally reserved for artillery shells, and did so just to turn what was left of my young life into a living hell!

After what seemed like hours i finally got up the courage to leave the couch and inspect the damage to my target. Sure enough there it was a nice neat little hole centered perfectly in the brass door knob that went to the closet that housed our heavy coats. the shell itself went through the door knob and the door but was not able to find the shell or its fragments. Taking inventory of the closet and its contents i was not able to find any more damage. At this point i was able to take a breath of relief even though the room was still filled with the smoke from the round.I thought i just might be able to survive the night and not be staked outside over a pit of fire ants or some other horrible torture that i was sure i would be in for because of my careless action. I think around this time i started to go though what  you could describe as "damage control" since no one had showed up to reprimand me. Many days passed then years and still no word I finally told my parents once i was grown and suffered through their consternation. Even though they were impressed i was able to change out the door knob with a replacement we had in our tool shed as well as put puddy and paint over the hole with out them ever knowing. I was as my mother called "damned lucky" and she was right. There are two morals to take from this story number ONE is gun safety, gun safety and did i mention gun safety. Don't ever allow your self to become complacent  with a firearm complacency kills. I was very lucky i didn't hurt myself or anyone in my family from a direct shot or from a ricochet bullet. Be sure to always treat you gun with the assumption it is loaded. Never take anyone's word that a gun is unloaded and safe not even your own double check triple check its always better to be safe than sorry.

The second thing to take away from this is sometimes God does smile on you when you do stupid things, thank God it was lesson learned and never repeated.

One last thing- I always wished i had kept the door knob because it would have made one heck of a show and tell piece!


Don’t let your Gun Case Rust your Rifle

By Stan Godlewski

Modern firearm storage cases are excellent in protecting the firearm from damage.  However, the novice gun owner needs to be cautious when using one of the cases for long term firearm storage.  The other day I spoke with a fellow hunter about the pending deer season.  He was in the store to get a new hunting rifle.  He was not very happy that his favorite hunting rifle rusted in the gun case.  We briefly spoke about how and when he stored his gun.

As the story goes, he was hunting in upstate Pennsylvania.  He spent all day in the woods when it was very cold.  As a safe hunter he emptied his firearm prior to placing it in the hard gun case.  Since he was leaving to head home the next morning, he opted to leave the cased unloaded firearm in his vehicle overnight.  Again, it was very cold.  Driving home to Maryland, he cranked up the heater in his vehicle.  When he got home he put a padlock on the gun case and stored the locked rifle and case away in his storage closet.

This is where the problem arose.  The gun metal was cold while hunting.  It stayed cold while stored in the vehicle overnight. The metal sweat when the gun and case were placed in a warm environment.  Most modern gun cases protect the firearm from impact with foam.  Foam is porous like a sponge and can wick and retain moisture.  So what the gentleman had was a fine hunting rifle sit on a wet sponge for an extended period of time.  Old time cloth gun cases did not have this problem since the moisture was able to breathe out through the case.

How do you prevent this from happening?  To prevent rust forming on your rifle from storage in a hard or plastic gun case, remove the firearm from the case to allow the metal warm up.  Open the gun case and allow the foam to breath for several hours.  Remove the foam from the case and wipe any moisture from the plastic or metal walls of the gun case.  Ensure the firearm has a light coat of gun oil to protect it.  After both the firearm and the case had a chance to come to room temperature and evaporate any moisture it then would be safe to store the fire arm in the case.  I recommend that at least once every 3 months the owner removes it from the case inspect it, re-coat it with gun oil and again store it.  This process can provide you with a confidence that your favorite hunting rifle will be ready for next year’s hunting season.


Protecting Your Percussion Muzzle Loading Rifle from Storage Problems

By Stan Godlewski

The days are getting shorter and the night’s cooler, besides making those scouting treks into the woods to locate that big buck, you probably have pulled “Old Betsy” out of the gun safe and have taken her to range.  Just as last year, you ran a clean patch down her barrel and made sure she was clean and unloaded.  After placing your target down range and dropping your powder charge and projectile in the barrel, you place a cap on the rifles nipple, took aim at the target, and squeeze the trigger and the hammer fell on the cap.  All you got was a “POP” not the familiar “BANG.’  Okay, you kept the muzzle of your rifle pointed down range for three minutes.  The dreaded “misfire.”  You placed a fresh cap on the nipple. Brought the hammer to full cock, took aim, and squeeze the trigger again and another “POP.”  You asked yourself, what is going on here.  Again you went through the same ritual with no “BANG.”  Now you have a loaded firearm and no way to discharge it.  You cleared the charge by pouring water down the bore of the rifle to wet the gunpowder and make the piece safe to pull the projectile from the chamber.  After all is said and done, your local gunsmith informs you that the problem was a buildup of varnish in the flash hole.  You ask yourself “Varnish” how did that get in there!  The simple answer is, you put there.

Most novice black powder shooters coat their muzzle loaders bore with a layer of oil to prevent rust during storage.  Bass Pro Shops carries some excellent gun protections oils.  Rem Oil is just one of our many fine gun protection products that will not varnish.                                       

You probably stored the rifle muzzle up in your gun safe.  Now that is where the problem starts.  Over a period of time, standard gun oil can turn into a gummy like substance.  It can even cure to a solid.  To prevent this from occurring, old time muzzle loader shooters stored their rifles muzzle down in their storage lockers or gun safes.  They place some newspaper or paper towels down at the muzzle to absorb any excess oils. 

When you get to the range snap a few caps prior to loading the rifle.  You may ask, “what does that have to do with the price of tea in China.”  Well nothing, but It ensures that the shooter has a safe firearm to load.  The process goes like this.  Point the muzzle of the muzzle loading rifle in a safe direction (down range).  Point it toward the ground down range.  Pick out a tree leaf or a blade of grass.  Take the hammer to ½ cock, place a cap on the nipple, take the hammer to full cock.  Place the muzzle of the rifle near the objects and pull the trigger.  The cap should fire and cause the leaf to move or the blade of grass to dance.  Do this two more times for a total of three snapped caps.  The first snapped cap lets you know the nipple, flash hole and the rifle bore are clear.  The second fired cap burns off any excess oil from the bore and the third makes the bore nice and dry.  This process will give you confidence to load your charge and let you know your rifle is safe and will shoot.

Another problem some shooters have is a weak hammer spring “Not enough energy for the hammer to fire the cap.”  This problem is usually the result of storing the rifle with the hammer drawn to full cock.  Likewise, dry firing the gun without a cap on the nipple can deform the nipple to the point that it may not accept or hold a cap properly.  

The following links provides you with excellent muzzle loader cleaning and maintenance products.


What? Protect Your Hearing!

With hunting season here, and the increased interest in shooting sports, it's time to review hearing protection. National Protect Your Hearing Month!

RedHead Foam Shooting Plugs

Did you know that people who don't wear hearing protection devices (HPD) while shooting can have hearing loss with as little as one shot? In the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) Audiology Information Series, Michael Stewart, PhD, CCC-A, Professor of Audiology, Central Michigan University, says, "Audiologists see this often, especially during hunting season when hunters and bystanders may be exposed to rapid fire from big bore rifles, shotguns, or pistols."

RedHead® Electronic Sport 2-Microphone Earmuff

Sounds louder than 85 decibels can cause permanent hearing loss. The destructive noise can come from one loud blast or explosion or prolonged exposure to high noise levels. For example, according to the National Rifle Association (NRA) , at 140+ dBs, a firearm blast has a higher noise level than a jackhammer and even a jet engine!

150 dB = fireworks at 3 feet
140 dB = firearms, jet engine
130 dB = jackhammer
120 dB = jet plane takeoff, siren

Extremely Loud
110 dB = maximum output of some MP3 players, model airplane, chain saw
106 dB = gas lawn mower, snowblower
100 dB = hand drill, pneumatic drill
90 dB = subway, passing motorcycle

Hearing protection should be an automatic accessory for anyone using firearms. There are so many options that there's no excuse to not have some kind of hearing protection, depending on your budget and needs. There are options for youth and adults, and even pink ear muffs for the ladies! There are inexpensive malleable foam plugs up to hi-tech electronic protection.
The key measurement to note when purchasing hearing protection is the NRR (Noise Reduction Rating). This EPA rating is a measurement of a hearing protection device's potential noise reduction. The highest NRR rating for earplugs is 33, and the highest available NRR rating for ear muffs is 31.
As an example, Bass Pro Shops' foam ear plugs have an NRR rating of 31. The Howard Leight Leightning L3 High Attenuation Hearing Protection Earmuffs provides an NRR of 30.
Take a tip from the ASHA and take time to protect your ears in some never know what you might miss many years from now!
Tips To Protect Your Hearing
  • Always use some type of hearing protection  any time you fire a gun.
  • Always have disposable HPDs handy - make them part of your gear.
  • Double-protect your ears, like putting muffs over plugs, when shooting big-bore firearms.
  • Choose smaller caliber firearms for target practice and hunting.
  • Choose single-shot firearms instead of lever action, pump, or semi-automatic guns.
  • Avoid shooting in groups or in reverberant environments.
  • Use electronic or nonlinear HPDs for hunting.


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Yes, I Hunt Like a Girl!

By: Katie Cook

Hello everyone! My name is Katie and I work the hunting department at Bass Pro Shops in Gurnee. One of the first questions I am asked when a customer approaches the gun counter is “Do you shoot?” or “Do you hunt?” My answer to them is “Yes! I don’t just work at a gun counter because it’s fun” and then I tell people that I have been shooting for 20 years.

I started hunting around the age of 12. I took hunters safety and was ready to go! I hunted a few years before things got busy with high school and my part time job. When I was hired at Bass Pro Shops in 2005, I started as a cashier. I had originally applied for the hunting department but I was too young to work with handguns. The week of my 21st birthday I filled out my paperwork to transfer to hunting. A week later I was training in the department. Working around hunting and firearms really got me into buck fever! I was working two jobs and going to school so a hunting trip was out of the question. In 2011 I couldn’t stand it anymore and I took the time off for the Wisconsin gun season. I took hunter’s safety again and was glad I did because there were a lot of things I had forgotten about. Under the care of my uncles and my grandpa, they set me up in my dad’s treestand. First light on opening day it sounded like the 4th of July all around me in the woods. I couldn’t have been happier. I didn’t see a single deer all day. My uncles joked that I feel asleep in my stand because I was too excited for hunting that I didn’t sleep the night before. I saw a few deer over the next few days but none that were in safe shooting distance. Sad but determined to shoot my first deer I started to plan for 2012 deer season. Sitting in my same treestand as the year before, I hear shots at first light. Saw a few but nothing with a clear shot. It was really warm for November in Wisconsin last year and it seemed like the deer were more active. About 10:15 I saw 2 deer grazing on the property line. One was farther off and wasn’t on our property. The closer one was bigger and I watched her for about 10 or 15 min before I had a clean shot. My whole body started to shake and my heart was racing. I slowly squeezed the trigger and I just instantly calmed. She was down in one shot! My grandpa comes over the radio asking who shot. I said “I got her!” and my uncles and grandpa told me good job. My dad said he was on his way to my stand and to just stay there until he got there. On closer examination, I didn’t shoot a large doe, I shot a button buck. I got a lot of grief from my uncles about not letting him get a big rack before I shot him. My grandpa said it was alright because they had all done that once or twice or five times in their lives. Needless to say I have had buck fever even worse now than before.

Me with my trophy (I’m trying to tell my dad how to use an iPhone.)





Scholastic Shooting Sports Programs in Iowa

Youth shooting sports programs and teams are becoming more popular in Iowa. This past June over 1,000 students took part in the High School State Championships in Cedar Falls.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources Shooting Sports Program  encompasses Archery in the Schools and the Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP). The SCTP allows youth from grade school up to high school to learn team-based clay target shooting in an organized manner. Of course, they also learn lifelong skills, such as firearm safety, leadership and focus. There were 89 high school and other program teams registered in 2013 and they're projecting 105 teams in 2014, with an estimated 2,640 participants expected.
Uriah Hansen has seen the increase in growth, too. Hansen is on the board of the North Polk Pheasants Forever Chapter, which works closely to support the Ankeny, Iowa, trap team. He says the Ankeny team is bursting at the seams with kids wanting to be a part of the team.
"I think we are seeing a huge growth in programs like this as people begin to get more curious about the shooting time goes on and more people begin to get involved, I think we are going to see this continued growth in scholastic teams and interest in them."
Iowa Scholastic Clay Target Program, Inc. is a non-profit organization that assists in providing financial support to the teams and their coaches. Hansen says that is also their Pheasant Forever Chapter's main support for the Ankeny team, which is where they feel it will benefit them the most. 
"Our main support is monetary support for the club and the kids. As you know, shooting is not a cheap sport, and it gets more expensive the better you get. It may cost a shooter $25 a week in just shells to get five rounds of trap in, plus an equal cost for clay targets. That doesn't take into account the cost of a gun, often times which may come close to $1,000 or more to shoot, the vests, and other safety protection required just to step on the range. You take those kind of numbers and spread them across 100+ kids and you're talking $2500 in just shells, if they practice one night a week."

SWCC Shooting Spartans

Shooting sports teams are popping up on the collegiate level, too. Southwestern Community College in Creston, Iowa, is new to the shooting sports program arena, and they actually have a school-supported team. The SWCC Spartans came in strong in their first competition on September 21, landing fourth in a field of nine teams, which included the University of Iowa and Iowa State University.  They  have 25 team members, including three female and travel with 15 members to away shoots. Head Coach Charlie Mundy says the idea of having a team picked up a little steam about a year ago.
"The college was looking for a niche to help keep our current students engaged or attract new students. We had done a little research and realized that there were not many places for a shooting athlete to continue after 4-H and high school. SWCC recognizes our shooting athletes the same as our other sport athletes, whether baseball, basketball, track, etc. Most of the college and university teams around here are considered club sports, which basically means that the athletes are funding their own way. SWCC is supporting our shooting team in the same manner as any other sport here at SWCC."
There are typically challenges in organizing any new student group. However, Mundy says the shooting sports team offers a unique set of challenges, including public perception.
"The political environment is one of the toughest things that we deal with. Most people try to say that we carry weapons. We consider our guns SWCCto be a piece of athletic equipment that is no different than a basketball or a baseball bat...we consider our athletes to be exactly that, athletes. A shooter has to be in good shape and extremely mentally able to focus. Shooting sports are very mental. We also had to find a gun club that was willing to partner with us. We are very lucky to have the High Lakes Outdoor Alliance in Afton (Iowa) as our partners. We have to have a place to store our ammo, guns, etc., and they have been very accommodating. None of these items are allowed on campus. They help to facilitate our practices and home shoots."
Mundy is positive about the future of shooting sports at the collegiate level, much like the high school level. 
"Iowa high school shooting sports have seen their numbers grow by the hundreds in the past couple of years and even since the beginning of our team I have heard some rumblings of other colleges following us in the pursuit of a shooting team."
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Pre Season Preparation

By: Jerry Costabile

Wisconsin Hunter Education Instructor

With the fall hunting season approaching fast, it’s time to get ourselves and our equipment ready.

Being a hunter education instructor, I have heard of stories from my students of great preparation and not so great preparation. Waiting until the week before the season to get your list of “to do’s” done is not good preparation. Prepare well in advance. Following a well prepared plan and make your season successful.

We all define success in different ways, I measure my success based on many things from time I spend in the field, the people I spend time with in the field, to the game I get to put in my freezer. It all falls into how well I have planned my hunt.

Let’s start with preparing ourselves for a long and safe hunting season. Being at the age of 50, I have had to admit I can’t do the things I want the way I used to. My mind says that I can still get to where I want to hunt and hunt the way I have always hunted, but my body says I have to do it different. This means that I have to prepare myself physically for the upcoming season. A good diet and regular exercise helps tremendously. Walking on a regular basis is a great activity to help get fit and you can add to your exercise routine by walking on the type of terrain that you plan to hunt. If you are planning a trip out west and will be hunting in a lot of steep terrain, don’t take walks in the flat areas.  Get out and hike the hills or get on a treadmill that has incline features. To be physically prepared, you must try to match what you will be doing on your hunt.  For a bird hunter, long walks across different terrain are helpful.  Big game hunters should with a weighted pack matching your hunting conditions.  Try to get in a routine of wearing the footwear that you will be wearing in the field, especially if it’s new footwear. Nothing is worse than ending your hunt due to blisters!

If you don’t have your own land, you should have already secured your location to hunt. Make sure that if you are going to obtain permission to hunt on a landowners property, you do it way in advance. Don’t try to get the permission on the day of the hunt. Sometimes the landowners are busy or need time to think about giving you the permission that you want. BE RESPECTFUL at all costs. If the land owner says no, thank him or her, and ask if it is ok to return another at a later time. Sometimes it takes several visits to finally get the opportunity to hunt private land. It is such a privilege to be able to hunt another’s land. If you do get permission, thank them and ask for any and all instructions that the land owner might have. Parking, gates, driving into a field to retrieve game, tree stands are just some of the questions to ask. Remember to always leave their property better that you found it. Giving a gift of the game you harvest or something the owner might like could get you a permanent location to hunt.

All of your equipment should be gone over to make sure it is safe and ready for the season. Your firearms should be cleaned and fired to make sure at the time of the shot, all is good. Big game hunters should go to a range and fire their favorite guns to make sure sights and scopes are zeroed in. We owe it to the game we pursue to be good marksmen so we can make a clean and humane kill. Also have you knives sharp. It is true what is said about how a dull knife is a dangerous knife. When your knife is dull, you have to force it to cut. A sharp knife will cut cleanly and safely.

Tree stands should be inspected from top to bottom, looking for anything that might be broken, loose, or bent. It is so important to make sure that if you intend to hunt from an elevated stand, it is 100% safe. Look for cracked or broken welds, missing or loose nuts or bolts, and check the straps that you will be securing the stand to the tree with for wear or tears. This is important if you leave your stands in the woods year around, squirrels love to chew on straps!  And you should be wearing a safety harness every time you leave the ground so make sure it also is in 100% working condition.

Take the time to go over all of your equipment  that you plan on using during your hunting season making sure first that its safe, and then making sure that you have everything you will need to have a safe and enjoyable hunt.

Obtain a map of the location you plan on hunting. This helps you plan your strategies and stand locations. If you are hunting upland game, you can plan out your drivers and standers or blockers. If you are hunting in stand locations, you can find the narrow funneling areas that deer use to travel to and from feeding areas. It also helps you understand the lay of the land for your navigation needs. It can be used to mark the area you are going to hunt so that others know in case of an emergency.

As the season gets closer, get out and scout from a distance to see actual game movement. You can obtain a great amount of knowledge on where and when the game is moving. Deer, pheasant, waterfowl, and predator hunters will benefit from preseason scouting!

If you take the time to make a plan and stick to it, you will have an enjoyable time in the field and you will have hopefully considered it a success.







Magpul PMAGS are in stock!

PMAG 30Now in stock at Bass Pro Shops is your magazines for your .223rem/5.56mm AR-15! These aren't just any regular magazines either, they PMAGs by Magpul. These magazines set the standard for reliability and durability. You will not find another magazine that is stronger than a Magpul PMAG.  Used by Military, Law Enforcement and civilians, PMAGs have been put to the test since their release in 2007 and have performed flawlessly.








There are different variations of the PMAG and here at Bass Pro Shop we have the following in stock:

PMAG 30 Gen M2

  • The PMAG 30 AR/M4 GEN M2 MOE is a 30-round 5.56x45 NATO (.223 Remington) AR15/M4 compatible magazine. No dust cover. $17.99


PMAG 30 Gen M3

  • The next-generation PMAG 30 GEN M3 is a 30-round 5.56x45 NATO (.223 Remington) polymer magazine for AR15/M4 compatible firearms.
  • Stainless Steel spring, dust cover. $19.99


PMAG 20 Gen M3

  • The next-generation PMAG 20 GEN M3 is a 20-round 5.56x45 NATO (.223 Remington) polymer magazine for AR15/M4 compatible firearms.
  • Stainless Steel spring, dust cover. $19.99






Not only are these magazine the best in the industry the most impressive thing about them is that they are MADE IN THE U.S.A!!  Magpul Industries is based out of Boulder, Colorado and their products are made in Colorado.


Come by hunting department in Bass Pro Shop and check out all of our Magpul accessories for your AR-15. Also be sure to check out Magpul's website for their full line. Their products and the quality of them are very impressive!
















Game Changers: Fred Bear

So the past two Game Changer blogs focused on the conservation efforts of Theodore Roosevelt and The Boone and Crockett Club. This time I am going to step away from strict conservation recognition but acknowledge someone who was a real game changer in the way we go after game: Fred Bear.

Besides running animals off of a cliff, archery has been one of the longest forms of hunting. It was also a common use in warfare. In fact it was because of war that a number of advances were made in the world of bows and arrows. From the English creating their infamous longbows to the Mongol warriors of Genghis Khan needing more power in a shorter bow (first forms of recurve bows) warfare influenced bow technology immensely.

Once the advances of gun powder and firearms really took hold, both hunters and warriors seemed to step away from the bow. By the time Fred Bear was done with his 86 years on this planet, he would change all that. His name has become synonymous with archery, especially when concerning hunting.

Bear did not get into archery right away nor did he master the discipline right away. Most say that he did not pick up bow hunting until he was almost 30. As any bow hunter knows, it takes years of practice to master. He was originally inspired by a documentary about another important figure of bow hunting history, Art Young.

He began working and creating his own bows shortly after. As his skill at crafting grew, so did his skill at archery. He was able to take the Michigan state archery championship three times. Despite all of this, the man was still extremely grounded. He had what many call a “grassroots kindness” and was willing to talk to everyone and anyone about bow hunting.

His hunts and adventures took him all over the world and inspired a whole new generation of hunters. His collection was so extensive that he opened a museum which included many ancient artifacts. When the museum closed in 2003, Bass Pro Shops was more than happy to step in and acquire these timeless treasurers. At our headquarter store in Springfield, MO there is an awesome display of these items and more. (There is a nice little write-up of the area, here.)

Beyond just the trophies, Bear captured a lot more on his adventures. He was extremely successful in using film and television to bring his passion to the world. Videos of Bear taking animals ranged from deer to more exotics. Bear was even successful in taking down an elephant on a trip to Africa.

By the time he was done; Bear was a successful bow hunter, bow manufacturer, author and television host. He was a popular contributor to Outdoor Life and Archery Magazine. His company, Bear Archery is still in full swing and making what are considered by many some of the best bows out there. He was still active into his last days and it is for that reason that his name will always be remembered. When a passion like that is so strong, others can’t help but notice.

So thanks, Fred Bear. You pioneered a way of life that lets many connect to their basic roots and enjoy the outdoors in a completely different way. Your inspiration has kept the sport you love alive and has added countless people to take up a bow and the effort to protect the wilderness and animals they appreciate so much.


Bass Pro Shops is for the Birds!

The South Texas hunting season is fast approaching. Bass Pro Shops is now selling the 2013-2014 hunting and fishing license. Temporary and year round permits are available. It is important to note that the lines for license renewal grow longer as the season grows nearer. Our great customer service associates Elizabeth, Liza, Deana, Ryan and Arnold are ready to assist you in your choice of the available Texas licenses.

The south zone special white-wing season runs September 01, 02, 07, and 08 of 2013. The daily bag limit is 15 white-wing, morning, or white fronted doves in the aggregate to include no more than 2 morning dove and 2 white fronted dove. The regular dove season runs from September 20 – October 23, 2013 and December 20 – January 15, 2014.



 Due to our extended and prolonged drought, the population of birds has decreased. Limits will still be attainable with some great tips in our hunting department. Adrian, Stanley, and Jerry are just some of our hunting buddies to help you out. They can assist you in the right selection of ammo and firearms for the best hunt of your life. Currently Bass Pro Shops is running super pricing on shotgun shells and accessories. We have the largest selection of camouflage clothing, snake boots, hunting vests, and ice chests in the Rio Grande Valley. We even carry the complete line of Yeti coolers.

Our associates at the Bass Pro Shops Harlingen are friendly, knowledgeable, and always ready to assist you the minute you walk in. Make us your first and last stop for all your hunting needs.


Mike Frazier



On Point with RedHead Arrow Tips

So one of the first blogs I ever did was about getting into archery. In it I discussed the basics that you would need to start this life-long passion that more and more people are showing interest in. (I also showed how to get these basics for under $650, before tax.)

 Since then I have realized I should have included a few other items to snag at the initial purchase, such as a case. Just like a firearm, you want to protect your gear. But the blog was about just simply getting into it for fun. What usually happens though is that the simple fun factor is replaced by a passion for more.

I have heard more times that I can count how hunters who switch to archery rarely go back to firearms. Here in Arizona, we work off a lottery system for our big game hunts. Some people never get drawn and others seem to get to go every year! Archery provides Arizona hunters with the ability to harvest an animal each year with over-the-counter tags. So if one is not too lucky at drawing a number maybe it’s time to switch to drawing back a bow!

If you picked up the basics I listed out you are almost all ready to go for gear. Of course you are going to need proper clothing, scent control and the knowledge of hunting regulations and such but there is one obvious addition that you are going to need to make. You need some tips.

Tips in two ways actually! (Learning from others is an essential practice for having successful hunts but I’m talking about arrow tips.) So I strolled over to the Archery Department and looked for some tips on tips. They pointed me straight to the RedHead selection.

Now when it comes to tips for hunting there are the typical two that people go to. There are broadheads and mechanicals. Both styles come in multiple forms but the gist is that broadheads are fixed blades and mechanicals use folding/working blades. Now just like everything else in archery, this is all personal choice.

Some insist that broadheads are the way to go since you know those blades are good to go whereas the mechanicals need to deploy for full effectiveness. You hear that and then three yards to your left someone lets you know that failures with mechanicals deploying has pretty much been eliminated.

So I decided to do a little more research before spending some dough. I popped online to check out the tips. We have two broadheads: Blackout Fixed Blade and Blackout FXD Cut-On-Contact. We also have two mechanicals: Blackout Expandable and Blackout Gator Expandable. Fun Fact #248: All four of these had an average of at least 4 out of 5 stars.

Now I was told that mechanicals fly closer to what your bow does when using practice tips, so you have a better idea where your arrow is going to end up. So I was kind of leaning towards mechanical. Then when I saw the word Gator I knew I was in.

(Favorite football game was when the Florida Gators smoked the Ohio State Buckeyes for the BCS Championship and I love Swamp People. May have played Swamp People in a hotel room once and pretended a body pillow was an alligator.)

When I checked out the reviews on the Gator Expandable tips I saw that there was over 110! A number of reviews even included pictures of how well they functioned! (You can see them for yourself online; I don’t want to upset anyone with graphic images.)

I’m hoping to see just how well these will work on a nice 4X4 mule deer I have spotted a few times this year. I’ll keep ya posted.

So no matter what flavor of tip you like it looks like you won’t be disappointed with any of the choices RedHead has for you. Just remember to practice, practice and practice. Armadillo Archers! Giddy-Up!


Quail and Chukar Hunting Seminars - hunting seasons opening soon!!

Hunting for quail and chukar can be a multi-faceted process...especially if you are just getting started or newer to the sport.  Let Bass Pro and outdoor enthusiast Jim Matthews break it down for you!!

Jim is an accomplished outdoorsman and you know his name from his regular publication Outdoor News Service or from his writings in Western Birds, the Wingshooter's Newsletters.  Jim knows a ton on the topic and is ready to share all at his upcoming seminars at Bass Pro Shops.

Sign up directly with Jim by contacting him via phone (see flyer).  You'll be glad you did...he gives a very comprehensive presentation and you will walk away feeling well informed!

Bass Pro Shops can help with all the gear you need...firearms, ammo, calls, camoflage apparel...with knowledgeable associates to assist that have real experience with bird hunting!!

Call Jim for more details at the same phone number!




Local Dove, Quail & Chukar Hunting Opportunities

Eurasian Collard Doves 

 Dove Hunting in California Sept 1 - Sept 15

September 1 Dove season opener is probably the most attended hunting event in SoCal. Mass migrations of dove hunters pour into the Imperial and Colorado River Valley bringing much needed economy to many farming towns. Generation after generation of dove hunters have hunted this vast area every year and are always welcome by the locals.

Weather is typically smoking Hot with the occasional thunder storm. Mosquito repellent is the standard deodorant of the day. This year is a little bit different. Starting Sept 1st in Imperial county the Eurasian collard dove’s bag limit is now unlimited and year round hunting.  With the season fast approaching you need to get all of your gear together. You can get everything you need from the firearm all the way down to the right boots, right here at The Bass Pro Shops!

We’ve included this webpage link below so all of you hunters can Identify the Eurasian collard doves from the other doves.


  • Eurasian Collared Dove
  • The Eurasian Collared Dove most often simply called the Collared Dove, also sometimes hyphenated as Eurasian Collared-dove is a species of dove native to Asia and Europe, and also recently introduced in North America. Wikipedia
    Scientific name: Streptopelia decaocto
    Rank: Species
    Also be sure to check out our Public Land Quail & Chukar Hunting Seminars! This is a comprehensive seminar by Jim Matthews.




NEXT Generation On-Target Challenge!!!

Don’t miss the last weekend of the Fall Hunting Classic!!

MORE Daily Specials on Friday and Saturday, Binocular and Rangefinder Trade-In Days (August 14-18) and our NEXT Generation Weekend!!!

What is NEXT Generation??? It is the way Bass Pro engages our youth to get involved in the outdoors.

It includes a TV show on The Outdoor Channel that shows our youth the fun and challenges of hunting and fishing. Children are our future and establishing a healthy love for being outdoors is extremely important to us.

Our On-Target Challenge Events this weekend will include; archery, BB guns Range, crafts, downloadable photo, and seminars - all absolutely free!!! All activities will be noon-5 pm both Saturday and Sunday, August 17-18.

Try out our new BB shooting range (12-5 pm) and learn 10 Safety Tips with firearms - presented in cooperation with Daisy. Seminars will be held both Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 PM, 3 PM and 4:30 PM.

What better way to safely introduce your child to firearms???


next generation

Get ready for the fall hunting season with our turkey or deer ornament craft.

Kids get a FREE 4x6 photo download and On-Target Certificate for completing the BB Shooting Range and Archery activities.

Plus the first 100 kids to complete all activities each day get a FREE collapsible water bottle!!


Next Generation, This Weekend

For those families that missed our Family Summer Camp, be sure to stop by this weekend (August 17th and 18th) for our Next Generation Weekend!

What is Next Generation? It is our way to engage the youth into the great outdoors. It includes a TV show that covers fishing and hunting for youngsters. Children are our future and establishing a healthy love for being outside in any way is extremely important.

These events will run from Noon until 5:00PM both Saturday and Sunday. Activities will include: kids’ archery, craft, BB gun shooting range, photo download and seminars. They are all absolutely free!

Kids will need a parent or legal guardian to sign a waiver to participate in both the archery and BB gun shooting activities. The first 100 kids to complete these two activities will earn a free collapsible water bottle.

The craft will be the choice of either a darling deer or a terrific turkey.

The BB gun range and the seminars are presented in cooperation with Daisy. The seminars will be on 10 Safety Tips with firearms. This is a great way to learn the basics or get refreshed on safe handling. They will be held at 1:30PM, 3:00PM and 4:30PM both days.

Parents, we all know when a child gets into something there is no way to keep them away from it. So if your child has expressed interest in firearms, why not get them a little experience in a fun, free and safety-orientated way?

Go ahead, load the wagons and head down to come spend the day with us! Giddy Up!


Family Firearm Safety Course

Brocks Gap Training Center is hosting a Family Firearms Safety Course to teach the whole family how to handle, use and safely operate a firearm. This will be a two part course that will last about four hours. The two parts consist of classroom training as well as hands on training. This course is designed for beginning shooters and young shooters, but parents are welcome to take the class as well. This course is designed to teach:

  • Proper firearm safety techniques
  • Types of firearms
  • Shooting fundamentals
  • Target shooting
  • How to select, clean and store a firearm
  • Preventing firearm accidents on the range and at home

The course dates are one a Month until the end of the year:

  1. September 12, Thursday. 5:00P.M. - 8:45P.M.
  2. October 10th, Thursday. 5:00P.M. - 8:45P.M.
  3. November 7th, Thursday. 5:00P.M. - 8:45P.M.
  4. December 12th, Thursday. 5:00P.M. - 8:45P.M.

This training course is going to be a fun learning experience for everyone and will promote a happy and safe future of shooting sports. For pricing and registration please contact certified NRA Instructor Jim Reichard. I am going to post his contact information as well as Brocks Gap at the bottom of this blog.

Contact Information:

Certified NRA Instructor Jim Reichard


Brock's Gap Training Center, Inc.

3721 South Shades Crest Road

Birmingham, Al 35244


Thank you and safe shooting,

Grayson Barnes


Leaving A Lasting Legacy

Traditional Archery

A Lifestyle and Camaraderie.Fred Bear Hunting Photo

If you’re a traditionalist, like me, and like to do things “old school,” it doesn’t get any better than traditional archery. The bow and arrow have been around for thousands of years. This tool has served men as a way of providing food, protection, and recreation since its creation. Ishi, Saxon Pope, Art Young, Howard Hill and Fred Bear are just a sample of the great names associated with Traditional Archery. Since these legends have passed on to the happier hunting grounds, there have been many advances in the field of archery: compound bows, sights, rangefinders, etc. These may be more “efficient” ways of using the bow and arrow, but not everyone agrees they are better. Whether you’re at the 3D target range or stalking the woods for game, many prefer archery in its more traditional form. For many, the appeal of “Hunting The Hard Way,” as their ancestors did, is simply too much to resist.

I got my first longbow at age five and have been hooked ever since. I learned early on the “Howard Hill” style of shooting a bow and have passed this style on to many friends and family. My father and I have been making traditional archery equipment for over 20 years and prefer to bow hunt exclusively.

If you’ve ever felt drawn to embrace your inner archer and want to “become the arrow”, here are a few basics on traditional archery that you will need to follow.


Longbow RecurveThe Bow - There are two main types of bows in traditional archery: the longbow and the recurve bow. Both have variations among themselves, but the basics are pretty standard. The longbow is a straighter bow with one curve from end to end, looking like a “D” when strung. The longbow has more of a “cast” to it and is more forgiving than the recurve. The recurve bow has more than one curve, as the name suggests, and this causes added spring-like quality in the bow when it is pulled back, giving additional speed to the bow.

Arrows The Arrow – This is the most important piece of the setup. If you do not have a proper arrow, it matters little what bow it is shot from. If it is not capable of correct flight, the archer will never hit the bull’s eye or the vitals of his prey. The arrow consists of a straight shaft of wood (many archers today use carbon or aluminum shafts for cost and consistency considerations), a nock that allows the arrow to rest on the string of the bow, fletching to stabilize the flight of the arrow (most commonly primary wing feathers, usually from a turkey) and, foremost, the attached broached, blunt or target tip, depending on the intended use of the arrow.

QuiversThe Quiver – Holding extra arrows is the primary function of the quiver. However, if sharp hunting broadheads are being used, the quiver will also function as a guard against the archer injuring himself on an arrow not in use. Quivers come in the form of back quivers worn much like a single-strap backpack, side quivers that hang at the archer’s side, and bow quivers that attach to the bow itself, as well as several other formats.

Arm GaurdThe ArmguardArmguards protect the forearm of the archer from the string of the bow as it is released. Not all archers find this necessary, but may still use them for the purpose of restricting the clothing of the forearm from coming into contact with the string and throwing off the shot of the arrow.

Shooting Golve




The Shooting Glove or Tab – In traditional archery a mechanical release is not used. Instead, to relieve the pressure of the string on the archer’s fingers he will use a shooting glove or a tab. These also help in releasing the string smoothly so as to make the most accurate release of the arrow.


Those are the basic and most common components in traditional archery. There are many variations of each and they come in all levels of quality from basic, functioning items to works of art which leather and wood craftsmen have invested many hours into creating.


Traditional vs. Modern: Knowing and Understanding the Differences

CompoundTraditional Archery

Shooting traditional archery is not better or worse than modern compound shooting, it’s just different. There is nothing wrong with cams, releases, stabilizers, etc. Instead of using those aids in shooting, however, traditional archers prefer to shoot instinctively. The difference is this: When an archer shoots with modern bows he will most always be using sights. He must either have an incredible ability to judge distances accurately or use an electronic range-finder. This is because the sight pins on his modern bow represent different distances in yardage and the proper pin must be aligned with the target to be accurate, and the bow must be held at an angle perpendicular with the ground.

The traditional archer, on the other hand, shoots instinctively; the bow can be held at any angle (called canting), and his brain makes the calculations as to what angle to hold the bow in order for his arrow to reach its mark. This sounds more complicated than it is. The process is much akin to a quarterback throwing a football to a receiver; he doesn’t need to know the exact distance (though in football we know the yardage is in fact there for him to see) because his brain calculates how hard he must throw the ball at a particular angle to get it to his teammate.

Also, compound bows provide what is known as let-off. Once the bow has been drawn it requires very little effort to keep it at “full draw.” Traditional archery bows do not have let-off. The amount of pressure on the string needed to draw it back is the same needed to keep it at full draw. No prolonged period of holding at full draw for the traditional archer. For many this is a much more rewarding method.


If an archer is not a hunter, but shoots solely for competition and recreation, there is plenty for him to participate in. There are many traditional archery clubs across the world that have regular competitions and events to get involved with, and contact information for these clubs can be found in the links provided below.

If an archer is a hunter he also has the opportunity to test his woodsmanship to the extreme. It’s comparatively easy to shoot an animal from tens, if not hundreds, of yards with a scoped rifle, than it is to step into the home of the wild creatures, get within a handful of yards without being detected by them, and release an arrow that will put them down in an ethical and efficient manner. Again, there’s nothing wrong (or inherently easy) with hunting with firearms, it is just different.


“If asked to sketch a mental picture of the typical archer I would be hard put. They seem to come in all shapes, sizes, color and backgrounds. Inwardly, they seem to have in common a love for the outdoors, a reverence for wildlife and a close tie with history. There is nothing they enjoy more than telling tall tales around a campfire and talking about archery to others. It would be difficult to find a more interesting group of people.” –Fred Bear


Traditional Archery – An Extensive CommunityBear Archery

The community that exists for traditional archery is astoundingly extensive. There are literally tens of thousands of traditional archers around the world. Many of them gather at 3D Shoots, rendezvous and club events throughout the year. Any type of folk you can imagine can be found at these gatherings. A budding archer may find himself in the company of the many older men that will share their knowledge and experience with him. Because of the nature of traditional archery many archers are enriched with the wisdom of primitive skills and a plethora of outdoor treats. One never knows what he will learn from a generous soul.

Getting Started

If you are interested in getting involved with traditional archery you should check out the Bass Pro Shops website and the Bass Pro Shop Outdoor World in Oklahoma City. Ok.

We look forward to seeing you in our store and as always, thank you for shopping Bass Pro Shops. Happy Hunting!


Ladies, Take a Walk on the Wild Side

I love the outdoors...camping, gardening, hiking, cooking wild game, and enjoying wildlife photography and wildlife in general. I don't hunt, nor do I fish very super outdoorsman husband does plenty of that. This may be the fall that I actually go out in the blind with him...we'll see. I don't know if I can sit still that long!

But, does being an outdoors woman simply mean that you know how to hunt and fish? Although that might be a big part of it, to me being an outdoors woman means being semi-knowledgeable, at the very least, about a variety of outdoors skills, their challenges, nature's challenges and respecting it, and respecting the equipment. To me, you don't have to be an expert...just have a basic working knowledge, appreciation and enjoyment. It means taking the time and effort to learn...and having someone to teach you.

Sometimes it's nice to learn with other women who are in the same boat...and two great opportunities for women to do that exist right here in Iowa and other locations around the world.  

So, grab your girlfriends, daughters, moms, or just come by yourself, explore the outdoors, learn new skills, do some networking of a different kind, and become a wild outdoor woman!

Becoming an Outdoors Woman Iowa logo - courtesy Iowa DNR

Becoming an Outdoors Woman

Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW) is an international program. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources sponsors a BOW weekend in September. Anyone 18 years or older (it's geared towards women) can take advantage of this great chance to learn outdoor skills and activities, whether they've tried them before or are completely new to the experience, and they learn with people who are in the same mind set..."what is this, how do I do it,  will I make a fool of myself?" (Okay, that last one is what would be going through MY mind.)

Photo courtesy of Iowa DNRThis year's Becoming an Outdoors Woman workshop is September 20-22 at Springbrook State Park. Lodging is available in dormitories with eight-person's not required, but that's part of the fun and camaraderie!  The line-up of workshops over the course of the weekend includes Introduction to Firearms, Basic Shooting, Wild Edibles, Wild Game Cooking, Dutch Oven Cooking, Basic Motor Boat, Fly Fishing, Bow 5k - courtesy of Iowa DNRRiver Fishing, Archery, Survival Skills, Geocaching, Bird Watching, Stand Up Paddling, and so much more.  Of course, you HAVE to have a campfire at night, too! The first night includes an optional, relaxing 5k run/walk through the woods and around the lake...a great way to meet other participants and the instructors.

For more information on registration costs and deadlines for the Becoming an Outdoors Woman program in Iowa,  visit There are BOW programs around the world and you can get more information on other locations at

Wild Women of the WoodsWild Women of the Woods

New this year is the Wild Women of the Woods program sponsored by the Story County Conservation Office. Story County Conservation Naturalist Emily Herring says this year's event is October 4-5 at Hickory Grove Park . While it's the first year for Story County, she's confident from past experiences it will be a hit.

"As a naturalist, I have coordinated other several events in different counties. It is always a good time and women come back year after year.  It truly is a comfortable learning atmosphere and a great place to meet new friends."

She says there will be free camping for the event, with bathrooms nearby and showers available at the campground. She says if you want to bring a camper or have electricity, that's'll camp in the main campground, but WILL have to pay for the campsite. You can also just do the Saturday event, if you're not able to stay Friday night.

Herring says they plan on having different session each year and if a session is really popular and fills fast this year, they will try to offer it again the following year. A diverse program will be offered for women of all different interests - this year's offerings include: Wild Edibles, Kayaking, Silk Painting, Fly Fishing, Archery, Nature Photography, "Leave no Trace", Tree Identification and Ecology Hike, Rock Climbing, Bike Maintenance, Nature Drawing, Fire Building, Yoga, and Fossil Hunting.

Since the sessions fill up on a first come, first serve basis, Herring encourages those interested to sign up as early as possible!

For more information and to register for Wild Women of the Woods, visit!


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Scope it Out: Nikon

Hear ye, hear ye! Gather the townspeople to the village square! It is time for the second scroll of Scope it Out to be unveiled! And this time we will delve into the realm of optics that hails from the land of Nikon!

OK, enough of the olden time nonsense, let’s talk about some optics. And yes, that’s right… Nikon makes a whole line of sporting optics! Just like the first company we went over (Leupold), Nikon offers many different scopes, binoculars, rangefinders and more.

Nikon was founded in 1917 in Tokyo, Japan. They have been operating for close to a century now, and have built up a good reputation. Most people know them for their photography line, which is quite impressive. They even made movie-cameras for a while, which were considered top of the line during the time.

From their experience making cameras and lenses, they were able to apply their skill and quality to sporting optics. Just like the cameras, their sporting optics are considered to be a good value at the price point. Many of the Hunting Department associates have had good success with the Monarch line of rifle scopes.

They may have read my previous blog which included how Leupold had a nice display set up at our store. We just received a similar display for Nikon scopes. This allows you the chance to feel and see how their optics work on actual firearms.

Most of their optics comes with a manufacturer’s lifetime warranty. It is essential to consider how a company will stand behind their product when it comes to sporting optics. You never know what might happen in the field and a commitment from the company is nice.

They really have been pioneering specific rifle scopes for specific rifles. They have whole lines of scopes devoted to crossbows, muzzleloaders, handguns, rimfires and shotguns. Where they have been making a huge splash has been with scopes specifically designed for the AR platform firearms. They have scopes that work for specific calibers. This includes: .233Rem, .308Win and .300Blackout. This makes Nikon an easy choice for people purchasing an AR that want to throw an optic up top.

They also excel with their ballistic matching technology. This is a great way to get a good idea of what is going to be going on internally when you squeeze that trigger. Nikon has also down a good job developing mounts for their scopes specifically. Someone once told me that you want a new set of mounts for a scope, so why not kill two birds from the same company?

So next time the significant other is thinking about buying themselves a new camera offer that if they get a new Nikon, so do you! Mountain Goat Glassin’! Giddy-Up!

If you missed the first blog about Leupold, check it out here.