This Weekend @ Bass Pro Shops Altoona - Freedom & Family

The NRA Freedom Days Event is here! Join us for workshops and special sales!

On Saturday & Sunday, July 23 & 24 - Sign up in the store to be an NRA member and receive a $25 Bass Pro Shops Gift card!

Free Seminars - Bass Pro Shops logo mug to first 20 seminar attendees each day

Saturday, July 23
Altoona Police Dept.
11AM Gun Safety
2PM Dress Your MSR
3PM Conceal Carry Basics - Hosted by our own Altoona Police Department! Come learn from our officers the right way and the wrong way of how to carry, act, and react...and give them a big thank you, while you're here!

Sunday, July 24

2PM Conceal Carry Basics - Hosted by our own Altoona Police Department! Come learn from our officers the right way and the wrong way of how to carry, act and react...and give them a big thank you, while you're here!
3PM Shooting Range Accessories

2nd Amendment Instant Savings on Guns | July 15-31 - Up to $150 - Equal to the value of your sales tax!

Last Chance for Family Summer Camp!

It's the last weekend for Family Summer Camp. Don't let your kids (and YOU!) miss out on this fun, yet educational, free family opportunity! Beat the heat with our free workshops and indoor activities, like the casting buckets, archery range and Daisy BB gun range.

Family Summer Camp Workshops

All workshops are approximately 20-30 minutes in length. Kids will receive a free lanyard (while supplies last) at their first workshop and earn a pin for every workshop they complete.

Saturday - July 23

Noon - Fishing
1pm - Water Safety
2pm - Hunting
3pm - Hiking & Backpacking
4pm - Bird Watching

Sunday, July 24Wooden Camp Photo Frame

Noon - Hunting
1pm - Outdoor Gardening
2pm - Archery
3pm - Camping
4pm - Backyard Adventure

 

Free Craft - Wooden Camp Photo Frame!
July 23 & 23 - Noon-2 p.m.

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This Weekend @ Bass Pro Shops Altoona - Don't Let Your Kids Miss Family Summer Camp!

There are only TWO weekends left for Family Summer Camp! Don't let your kids (and YOU!) miss out on this fun, yet educational, free family opportunity! Beat the heat with our free workshops and indoor activities, like the casting buckets, archery range and Daisy BB gun range.

Family Summer Camp Workshops

All workshops are approximately 20-30 minutes in length. Kids will receive a free lanyard (while supplies last) Family Summer Camp Fun!at their first workshop and earn a pin for every workshop they complete.

Saturday - July 16

Noon - Fishing
1pm - Water Safety
2pm - Hunting
3pm - Hiking & Backpacking
4pm - Bird Watching

Sunday, July 17

Noon - Hunting
1pm - Outdoor Gardening
2pm - Archery
3pm - Camping
4pm - Backyard Adventure

Tuesday, July 19

Noon - Bird Watching
1pm - Fishing
2pm - Archery
3pm - Hiking & Backpacking
4pm - Backyard Adventure

Thursday, July 21owl

Noon - Archery
1pm - Outdoor Gardening
2pm - Hunting
3pm - Water Safety
4pm - Camping

Free Craft
Noon-2 p.m., on Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday!Photo frame

July 16, 17 - A HOOT of an Owl Door Hanger!

July 19, 21 - A very Cool Camp Frame!

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Concealed Carry Means Carrying Concealed

FLORIDA GUN LAW Armed and Educated 2016 EditionI'd read more than a few articles about carrying a concealed firearm long before I chose to obtain a permit and walk out of the house with a handgun strapped to my hip, and have written a few more since then.  They've dealt with everything from gun and caliber choice to dry-fire practice, holster choice, and hitting the range.  Rarely are outdoorsmen at a loss for words or topics since our everyday lives provide plenty of subject matter and all we have to do is drive around the neighborhood to come up with the next blog or newsletter column.

A few weeks ago I was passed on the interstate by a man aboard a motorcycle who had decided the rest of the traffic was too slow for his liking.  Although this isn’t an abnormal occurrence on the roads of central Florida, the pistol sticking out of his waist band caught my attention.  He must have known that his weapon was continually being revealed because he kept trying to pull down his T-shirt tail to cover it, only to have the wind lift it right back up again.  I watched this show repeated three or four times before he got out of sight.  I couldn’t help wonder what caliber the gun was and what the hell was he thinking with his choice of concealing clothing.

Wondering what the law was in this instance, I picked up a copy “Florida Gun Law Armed and Educated” by David S. Katz and James D. Phillips, Jr. to see what the legal eagles said and to read it in simple terms I could understand.  As it turns out accidental or unintentionally revealing your weapon isn’t necessarily illegal in the state of Florida.

  • Florida Statute 790.10 Improper exhibition of dangerous weapons or firearms.—If any person having or carrying any dirk, sword, sword cane, firearm, electric weapon or device, or other weapon shall, in the presence of one or more persons, exhibit the same in a rude, careless, angry, or threatening manner, not in necessary self-defense, the person so offending shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
  • Florida Statute 790.053 Open carrying of weapons.—(1) Except as otherwise provided by law and in subsection (2), it is unlawful for any person to openly carry on or about his or her person any firearm or electric weapon or device. It is not a violation of this section for a person licensed to carry a concealed firearm as provided in s. 790.06(1), and who is lawfully carrying a firearm in a concealed manner, to briefly and openly display the firearm to the ordinary sight of another person, unless the firearm is intentionally displayed in an angry or threatening manner, not in necessary self-defense.

So to put it in simple terms:  It is currently illegal to openly carry a firearm (with some exceptions like hunting and fishing) but accidentally or briefly displaying said weapon isn’t illegal as long as it was not done in a rude, careless, angry, or threatening manner.  So what about our motorcyclist that repeatedly displayed his weapon?  I have to believe that he made a terrible choice in cover clothing and should have placed his gun in a backpack, waist pack, or saddlebag while riding from point A to point B.  He was knowingly flashing the weapon and walking a very fine line between legal and illegal.  In my book, he was openly carrying the gun because his attempts to conceal it failed miserably.

The point of all this is to stress the idea that we must choose our clothing and our method of carry so they are appropriate for the seasons, activity level, and the size of our firearm.  Many people have summer or dress wardrobes and weapons that differ from their winter or casual choices and they practice and are proficient with each of them.  I’ve chosen to carry the same gun but I’ll change holsters and cover clothing based on the factors I mentioned.  We tend to buy shirts that are one size larger than I normally wear to adequately cover either an inside the waistband or outside the waistband holster, and I always wear a belt designed to support the weight of a handgun.  My wife carries the same gun but has multiple purses by Coronado Leather which fit different wardrobe choices.

“Open” and/or “concealed” are two distinct routes to the same self-protection goal, and each has laws defining what’s legal and acceptable.  Be sure you know the difference and make every effort to remain on the right side of the law.

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

   

 

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This Weekend @Bass Pro Shops Altoona - Family Summer Camp Continues

Beat the heat with inside with our free workshops and indoor activities, like the casting buckets, archery range and Daisy BB gun range.

Family Summer Camp Workshops

All workshops are approximately 20-30 minutes in length. Kids will receive a free lanyard (while supplies last) Famiy Summer Campat their first workshop and earn a pin for every workshop they complete.

Saturday - July 9

Noon -  Fishing
1pm - Water Safety
2pm - Hunting
3pm - Hiking & Backpacking
4pm - Bird Watching

Sunday, July 10

Noon - Hunting
1pm - Outdoor Gardening
2pm - Archery
3pm - Camping
4pm - Backyard Adventure

Tuesday, July 12

Noon - Bird Watching
1pm - Fishing
2pm - Archery
3pm - Hiking & Backpacking
4pm - Backyard Adventure

Thursday, July 14

Noon - Archery
1pm - Outdoor Gardening
2pm - Hunting
3pm - Water Safety
4pm - CampingBear Track Magnet

Free Craft
Noon-2 p.m., on Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday!owl

July 9 & 10 - It's a Bear Track Magnet!

July 12, 14 - Owl Door Hanger!

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This Weekend @Bass Pro Shops Altoona - Family Summer Camp Fourth

It's a Bass Pro Shops Altoona Fourth of July, Family Summer Camp style- and it all happens indoors

Along with our free workshops and indoor activities, like the casting buckets, archery range and Daisy BB gun range, we also have the free indoor Catch and Release Pond back on July 2 & 3!Catch and Release pond

July 2 & 3

Catch and Release pond - Noon-5 p.m. We supply the poles and the kids try to catch a fish!

Then kids can choose a butterfly or turtle to magically appear in their photo at the free photo download, noon-5 p.m.

Family Summer Camp Workshops

All workshops are approximately 20-30 minutes in length. Kids will receive a free lanyard (while supplies last) Famiy Summer Campat their first workshop and earn a pin for every workshop they complete.

Saturday - July 2

Noon -  Fishing
1pm - Water Safety
2pm - Hunting
3pm - Hiking & Backpacking
4pm - Bird Watching

Sunday, July 3

Noon - Hunting
1pm - Outdoor Gardening
2pm - Archery
3pm - Camping
4pm - Backyard Adventure

Tuesday, July 5

Noon - Bird Watching
1pm - Fishing
2pm - Archery
3pm - Hiking & Backpacking
4pm - Backyard Adventure

Thursday, July 7

Noon - ArcheryPatriotic Bandana
1pm - Outdoor Gardening
2pm - Hunting
3pm - Water Safety
4pm - Camping

Free Craft
Noon-2 p.m., on Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday!

Bear Track MagnetJune July 2 & 3 - it's a Patriotic Bandana!

July 5, 7, 9, & 10 - It's a Bear Track Magnet!

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Family Summer Camp is BACK!!!

 

 

What was your favorite part of summer vacation???

If it was summer camp you need to check out our Family Summer Camp- June 25- July 24!!!

This summer we will meet every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday for good ole fashioned summer camp fun all right here at your Bass Pro Shop in Sevierville, TN!

FREE Workshops!

Tuesdays

  • 12 pm Bird Watching
  •  1 pm Fishing
  •  2 pm Archery
  •  3 pm Hiking & Backpacking
  •  4 pm Backyard Adventure

 

Thursdays

  • 12 pm Archery
  •  1 pm Outdoor Gardening
  •  2 pm Hunting
  •  3 pm Water Safety
  •  4 pm Camping

 

Saturdays

  • 12 pm Fishing
  •  1 pm Water Safety
  •  2 pm Hunting
  •  3 pm Hiking & Backpacking
  • 4 pm  Bird Watching

 

Sundays

  • 12 pm Hunting
  •  1 pm Outdoor Gardening
  •  2 pm Archery
  •  3 pm Camping
  •  4 pm Backyard Adventure

**earn a FREE pin for every workshop you complete!!

 

Free Kids’ Activities:  12-5 pm Every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday

FREE Carousel

Ride along on our wildlife carousel filled with outdoor critters galore!

FREE Shooting Arcade

Take aim at the shooting arcade and compete against others to see who hits the most targets!

FREE Daisy BB Gun Range

Try out our Bass Pro Shops/Daisy BB Shooting Range. A great activity to enjoy after attending the Shooting and Hunting Workshop

FREE Casting Challenge

Test your skills using a rod and reel at our target casting area. Challenge your family to see who can hit the most while improving your aim!

 

FREE Crafts!!   12-2 pm

June 25 & 26                  Flower Pot with Seeds

June 28, 30 July 2&3     Patriotic Bandana

July 5, 7, 9 &10               Bear Track Magnet

July 12, 14, 16&17         Door Hanger

July 19, 21, 23 & 24       Wooden Camp Photo Frame

FREE Catch and Release Pond and Photo Download for the weekend only of July 2 & 3, 12-5 pm!

        

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Alone In The Wild

inReach SEParents worrying is a fact of life even when their children become older, move out of the house, and go about their daily lives without checking in every once in a while.  It doesn't seem to get any easier even if they're local and can't go without talking to their mother on the phone a couple times each day, since there's always a period when we don't know what's going on.  Now imagine being a mother whose son moved across the country, and then spends hours upon hours exploring unfamiliar and remote waters in search of wild trout, all by himself!  I can assure you that there would be some sleepless nights in my house if this was a regular occurrence.

My Father's Day post had a photo of my father and I before heading out to do some muzzleloading for whitetails and some squirrel shooting in a section of Pennsylvania Game Land 143 which is close to home.  The picture leads you to believe we're having a great time, and we did, right up to the point when I became hopelessly lost and was looking for a place to spend a very cold and lonely night.  The sun eventually peeked through the cloud cover late in the afternoon, allowing me to get my bearings and stumble my way to a road and eventually to the vehicle.  The point is, things could have gone terribly wrong and this moment in my life was very sobering with respect to Pennsylvania forests and wild areas.

Technology has come a long way in my lifetime, considering I saw the unveiling of the Casio Calculator Watch, learned BASIC computer programming in high school on a WANG, and had to navigate using a compass and topographical map (which I didn't have with me that day in the woods).  Nowadays, our phones can do more than most of the machines 15 years into the computer revolution, and we can navigate by handheld GPS Units rather than relying on the sun for directional help.  But what happens if you're lost and you don't have a cell signal, or injured to the point where you can't reach safety on your own.

Personal Locator Beacon or PLB bridge the gap and allow your loved ones to have peace of mind when you hit the woods or the water.  They aren't GPS units in the traditional sense, but rather a communication link using satellites, allowing the user to post updates on their location to social media or to programs like Google Maps. 

Pennsylvania Game Land 143

Some units can send text messages, or best of all, you can hit the SOS button immediately alerting monitors to your emergency and start a process leading to you're eventual rescue or extraction.  ACR, DeLorme, and SPOT are three common brands that are definitely worth a look when heading out to the middle of no-where.  And cost is negligible when you consider the alternative.  Each one has features that may be attractive for one reason or another such as being designed to be used on the water while others are ruggedized and better suited to land events.  Regardless of the unit, you're sure to set everyone's minds at ease when they receive a location update and they'll also know help will quickly be dispatched if you need it.

Being alone in the wilderness is something that many people enjoy but few are truly prepared for some sort of emergency event.  They think their cell phones will be effective enough, and in many cases they will, but there are a lot of gaps in cell phone coverage and I can tell you that those holes happen to be where the most adventurous people want to be.  Campers, hikers, hunters, and fishermen could all benefit from adding a PLB to their pack list along with the GPS, paper maps, compass, First Aid Kit and other survival equipment.  A couple of these items will help you get where you're going, and the others might save your life in an emergency.   

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando 

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This Week @ Bass Pro Shops Altoona - Family Summer Camp Returns!

Beat the heat and bring your kids to our annual favorite - Family Summer Camp 2016!Family Summer Camp

An opportunity for you and your kids to have fun learning about the outdoors INDOORS with free crafts, free fun workshops, the Daisy BB Gun Shooting Range and the Archery Range.Family Summer Camp

We've moved everything indoors because we want everyone to have a cool time! From the old favorites of archery, hunting/shooting, fishing, backyard adventures (bugs, bees, and trees!), water safety, camping, hiking,and bird watching to the new workshop Outdoor Gardening, we have something for child's interests! Kids receive a lanyard at the first workshop and then a pin for each workshop afterwards!

Here is the schedule for June 25-June 30. The complete Family Summer Camp schedule can be found at http://bit.ly/28JkSq9.

A different craft activity each summer camp day, noon- 2 p.m., while supplies last. Our craft for this week is:

Family Summer Camp crafts

 

 

 

 

Free Workshops start at Noon!

Saturday - June 25

Noon -  Fishing

1pm - Water Safety

2pm - Hunting

3pm - Hiking & Backpacking

4pm - Bird Watching

 

Sunday, June 26

Noon - Hunting

1pm - Outdoor Gardening

2pm - Archery

3pm - Camping

4pm - Backyard Adventure

 

Tuesday, June 28

Noon - Bird Watching

1pm - Fishing

2pm - Archery

3pm - Hiking & Backpacking

4pm - Backyard Adventure

 

Thursday, June 30

Noon - Archery

1pm - Outdoor Gardening

2pm - Hunting

3pm - Water Safety

4pm - Camping

________________________________

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Measuring Up

FEd and Brian Eastmanather's Day is right around the corner and it’s this time of year that I look back at my life and the time I spent with my father before he left this earth.  I reflect on our home life, and the lessons he taught me about how to be a man, the lesson of honesty, honor, commitment, love, hard work, and many, many more important things that make me the person I am today.

 

Last night, I watched one of my absolute favorite movies “Men of Honor” with Robert De Niro and Cuba Gooding Jr.  The movie, based on a true story is about the military life of Carl Brashear as he worked to become a Navy Diver and ultimately a Master Diver despite being severely injured and eventually having his left leg amputated.  Robert De Niro plays an old salt of a Master Chief who makes it quite tough on Brashear but ultimately becomes one of his biggest supporters.  The underlying theme is Brashear spending most of his life trying to make his father proud by proving that he made something of himself.  A.S.N.F.  – A Son Never Forgets.

 

I can only hope that I’ve lived up to my father’s expectations with regards to work, family and even our outdoor pursuits.  We were always slightly competitive with our fishing or hunting trips so by the end of the day, we’d count fish, rabbits, grouse, or squirrels to see who had the best luck or who was the best shot of the day.  He always won and coming close to his skill level was something we always tried to reach right up to the point when we left home.  Our trips afield grew less and less frequent and now I head out with him on my mind and in my heart, especially when hitting the trout streams because that was one place I never even came close to matching his ability.  Better eyes, more skill, better equipment, greater experience level, more patience, he always seemed to catch more fish than my brother and I ever could.  But I think I’ve finally reached a point where I’d have given him a run for his money.  Forty plus years of experience and the lessons he drilled into us along with all the little things I’ve picked up in his absence have brought me to a point that I think he’d be pleased with.

 

“Buck” wasn’t a man of many words and he wasn’t overly emotional but you could tell he had a passion for his family, especially for his grandchildren, and for unfailingly doing the job he was paid to do.  But even with all that, I don’t think anyone really knew him until they spent a few hours following him around the woods, fields, streams, or lakes of Northwest Pennsylvania.  Even the local wildlife officers came to recognize his truck when it was parked on some lonely and deserted forest road.  They knew he was out there keeping watch and getting some exercise.  Even in the dead of winter you’d find him hanging wood duck boxes along the shore of some isolated beaver dam.  I tried to hang with him over the years but I never would quite match his energy level or stamina.  A lot of ducks owe their existence to him and many outdoorsmen can attribute their continued passion for hunting and fishing to early forays afield with my father.  You’d have gotten the impression that half the hunters and fishermen in the region knew and respected him based on the steady parade of camo and plaid clad men attending the viewing and subsequent funeral.

 

Many years have passed since our days with him and I hope I’ve done a decent job of carrying on in his memory, whether it’s through actions or written words.  Sharing our common passion wasn’t something I ever set out to do, but all the many forks in the road have eventually led to this point.  I guess, like any other man whose father was sometimes bigger than life, I just hope to measure up to his expectations and be half the man he was.

 

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

 

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Kids, Camping, and Bugs

When I was little our family camped all the time. "Real" camping, some would call it. A large tent that slept 10, good old Coleman sleeping bags, two metal cots that my parents got to sleep on, and air mattresses for the rest of us...the kind you pump up with your foot. Camp stove, pots and pans, along with the tent and all other gear, were loaded into a homemade trailer pulled behind our stick-shift wagon.

I loved camping and those 2-3 week family camping trips gave me memories I will always have and cherish. the tent was our hotel and nature was our view. But, even a nice hotel can have bugs and when you camp there are bugs! My dad tried to assure me that they wouldn't bother or hurt me. I grew tolerant of them outside, but not when they're inside!

Talking about bugs is just one of the many workshops I help with at Family Summer Camp and I think most kids are secretly fascinated by them. We talk about good bugs and bad and the how vitally important some insects, such as pollinators, are to our habitat and food sources. http://www.basspro.com/Home-Gifts-Toys-Games/Type-Kids-Nature/_/N-1z0usrdZ1z0v0sw?ddnv=FlyOHG_NatCtr_KdNtr

A coworker mentioned that her granddaughter loves the Bug Vacuum we sell in our Kids' Nature Department. She loves to go camping, too, and explore. Kids, camping, and bugs, just go hand-in-hand.

Bass Pro Shops has a large assortment of insect-related products, especially from the Backyard Safari line, that you can bring along on that next family camping trip and let your kids be nature explorers. From the previously mentioned Bug Vacuum with laser light, to cargo vests, to binoculars, compasses, mini pop-up habitats and more, there is something to spark an interest in just about every child when it comes to bugs, butterflies, and even birds.

Watch for the details on Family Summer Camp at your local Bass Pro Shops and get your kids started on some backyard & outdoor adventures with bugs.

Maybe when they go camping, they won't be scared of the daddy longlegs creeping up the wall.

_______________________________________

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Outdoor Cooking Primer - Slow Cooker Pumpkin Chili

I just heard a loud "Ew!" from the people reading this title. However, I promise you it is excellent and my husband would agree - and he was one of those who questioned it's taste when hearing about it.Slow Cooker Pumpkin Chili

Being an "you only eat chili when it's cold" purist, I know there are very few chili consumption days left. So, in researching heart healthy venison recipes, I found this on the This Mama Cooks web site and gave it a whirl. If you don't have venison you can us ground turkey, chicken or lean beef. Since we have to watch our salt, I removed the salt. Use enough spices and you won't need salt. I also left out the chili powder because the only one I had contained salt.

Healthy Slow Cooker Pumpkin and Bean Chili

    1 medium  yellow onion, chopped
    1 red bell pepper, chopped
    1 lb ground venison
    3 cloves garlic, minced
   1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
    1 tsp oregano
    1 1/2 tsp cumin
    2 1/2 C no salt or low sodium beef stock - you can also use no salt beef bullion packets and make broth.
    1 15 oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed (calls for 2, but only used 1 because - you guessed it -  that's all I had in the cupboard!)
    1 15 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
    1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
    1 quart bag of frozen tomatoes (it calls for a 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, with juice - use no salt added)
 

Directions

    Cook the ground meat until cooked through. Put in the slow cooker and then add all the rest of the ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Cook on low for 5-6 hours.

_____________________

The original recipe actually called for cooking the veggies with the venison before putting in the slow cooker. I just threw it all together and it was fine. Very tasty and almost creamy - make it now while there is still "cool" time, then save it for next fall!

Enjoy!

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Smoking-It's not inhaled, it's devoured!

Spring is in the air and smoker season for some is a year round passion, but for others it’s a fair weather thing. We see it as a year round passion and there’s never a bad time to dig into some amazing smoked meat. So we are going to give you some tips on how to smoke amazing meat all year long! I will also throw in some of my own lessons learned from when I first started smoking to how we do it now at our house. First things first, the smoker, which type of smoker is best for you?

There are several types of smokers on the market and we have most types here in the store so you can come in and see them. The first question I always ask anyone shopping for a smoker is where are you going to use your smoker? Reason why is the first smoker I bought was an electric one, thinking oh I won’t have to buy big wood or pellets, I can use it in the garage or out on my back deck and it will be great! A few things I did really like about the electric smoker were the programmable thermostat, and meat probe. I found the window wasn’t a necessity or more than pretty right out of the box. I thought I would like the window, and I could sit on the deck and enjoy a beer watching the meat smoke. I couldn’t sit still long enough for that. Once you use your smoker the glass gets coated and yes you can clean it constantly, but I wanted to keep that entire seasoned flavor in my smoker. What I forgot to think about was where my outdoor electrical outlets were, right next to the back door. So every time I walked in and out of the house while I was smoking, the smoke came right in the house. To remedy the problem I decided to run an extension cord across the deck, well that was great until it snowed, not only did I now have an wet extension cord, but I almost broke my nose, tripping over the cord hidden in the snow and falling on the deck. Also I never thought about when the power goes out and your 2 hours into a 6 hour smoke? It only happened once, and I did toss the meat in my gas oven to finish cooking it but it wasn’t the same.

So it was time to try and different smoker, propane. This would be the perfect one. I chose the 2 door model, so every time I needed to add chips or water I wasn’t opening the whole smoker and losing all my heat and smoke, which would happen occasionally on my electric smoker. Being propane, I no longer had to worry about tripping over a cord and I could move it anywhere I wanted. This became a great advantage. I didn’t realize all my friends were also getting into the smoking craze and when we decided to have a smoke out challenge, I was portable. I liked that the smoker didn’t use as much propane as my gas grill, which I thought at first may be a down side. But it did great. I did miss the electric thermostat and meat probe timer, but found the smoker held its temperature really well as long as it wasn’t too windy outside. They now make wireless meat probes, so is a great add on if you decide propane is the right type for you and it does not have a probe included. So I’m happy with my propane smoker cooking 3-4 times a month. I started thinking I was getting the hang of this and I need to start smoking more than chicken, ribs, and tenderloin. So it was time to tackle brisket. I soon realized that my cute little 2 door smoker wasn’t quit big enough for a full size brisket. I had to section it and cook it over 2 racks, which worked, but it got me dreaming of a bigger smoker. I was then introduced to the Giudice family smoker, and oh my gosh, my mind went crazy!        

So I’m now dreaming of a bigger smoker, but how do I choose? These new pellet smokers had just hit the market and my best friend bought one up right away. A Traeger!  Since I was spending all of my time at her house, we were having some fun and amazing meals on this thing. I could not believe how much smoke flavor we could get into our meat! Not to mention, we could bake pizza in it as well. My best friend being Italian could make some great pizza, and great pizza we were enjoining at least once a week. I thought this smoker was the best. It could smoke, it could grill and it could bake. We grilled a ton of great steaks, burgers, and brats. I loved that you could just fill up the hopper with whatever flavor pellets that caught our fancy and start it up and go. It had meat probes, thermostats, and an extra rack for potatoes, veggies or bread. This thing was great; no longer needed a gas grill. This thing did it all. We loved this thing so much we were grilling in thing rain and snow. Only down side was again, where is the electrical outlet? At her house it was right outside the glass patio door and there wasn’t enough cord to not need an extension cord. Again, I tripped a few times and if the power goes out, your smoker is down. We did have some die hard smoking friends who would bring their pellet grills to our smoke out challenge along with their generators, so it can be done. But hence I read a Myron Mixon book after I started my job at Bass Pro Shops and my desire for a full on steel smoker was came to pass.

Hence I’m now the proud owner of a ¼’ solid steel Horizon smoker Horizon Smokers , proudly made in OK, my home state, and readily available in your local Bass Pro Shops store. We did not carry the 20” classic smoker when I first started working here so I bought the 16” classic smoker. Craziest thing was we were living in a second story apartment, busy shopping for a house, but loved the idea of this amazing smoker in our new yet to be found back yard. So being impatient, we bought it and put in in my brother in laws back yard for a few months. This didn’t keep us from cooking up a storm. The cookouts were at the brother in-laws until it made its final destination to our back yard. We could cook full size brisket. We could smoke not only full racks of ribs but 4-8 full racks at one time. All of our holiday turkeys were now smoked and we could do a turkey and a ham at the same time. Best part we don’t need electricity or propane. We can move it all over the patio, so if the wind isn’t in our favor we just roll it to the other side of the patio. We use mostly charcoal, big pieces of oak and hickory log wood for staples. We can get these in bulk and keep all our specialty woods like peach, apple, maple, or orange wood in smaller quantities in chunks that we also sell here at the store. Of course you have to keep the fire going but this steel smoker holds heat like nothing I’ve used before. The hot box stays warm for days, literally. My first 12 hour smoking day, left hot coals for 2 days after in the box. I’m not too worried about someone trying to take off with it out of my backyard either. At a hefty 425 lbs. it takes 3 or 4 hefty guys to pick this thing up. It does have full steel wheels so it is easy to roll but only on a flat hard surface.

My quest for a thermostat and meat probe was also taken care of with our Bass Pro Shops wireless programmable digital probe. I love this thing. You put in the desired internal temperature you want, set it and forget it. I leave the base on the outside shelf of the smoker with the probe attached and put the handheld unit in my pocket. I can move all around the house, sit on the patio and have a cold one, or work on my car out front or just veg out on the coach and the thermostat will beep at me to let me know the meat is done. Hog heaven of smoking has come together and this smoker gets used at least once a week.

Now that I’m an old hand at this smoking thing, the fun has been perfecting recipes. Bass Pro has a full line of rubs and seasonings that keep the options open and taste buds tingling. Nothing pairs better than a marinated brisket rubbed in Jack Daniels steak seasoning, smoked with Jack Daniels wood chunks. Or for our holiday favorite turkey, brine overnight, rub down in Tony Chachere's Spicy seasoning, pack the inside cavity with oranges or clementines and smoke with orange wood. Another favorite is a pork shoulder, marinated and injected in apple juice based marinade/injection, rubbed down in a brown sugar based rub, smoked with apple wood, and then finished off with an apple jelly glaze. Our most often cooked delight is Beer Can Chicken. We use the ceramic sittin chicken accessory, fill it with our favorite brew, rub a whole chicken inside and out, and cook. Amazing!! These are just a few of our favorites at our house. I've added a link I found online Smoker Basics to give some extra tip and suggestions. What I love most about smoking is you can be creative! We'd like to hear feedback and ideas on how you smoke at your house, so what is your favorite smoker or recipe? Be sure to stop by our store or stop by online to find all the great items for smoking. http://www.basspro.com

Electric Smoker

Masterbuilt Propane SmokerTrager Lil Tex

Traeger PelletsBass Pro Thermometer

Family Smoker

My Horizon 16" SmokerBass Pro Seasoning 3 packJAck JD Wiskey Barrel ChipsTony Chachere's Assorted Wood FlavorsTurkey BrineSittin' ChickenSmokin Book

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Cleaning Up After Range Time

                               Gun Takedown

Spending time at the range is part a big part of our family weekend plans, so guess what needs to be done once all the shooting is over and the last piece of brass has hit the floor.  Cleaning up all those weapons generally falls on my shoulders and even though my wife will take care of her own, I get the rest.  An AR, two pistols, and one revolver can take a bit of time and a good amount of cleaning materials but it has to be done if we want the guns to perform every time we pull the trigger. 

Being a little obsessive compulsive can be both a blessing and a curse when it comes to cleaning guns but everyone reaches a point during the job when they have to say enough is enough.  My father kept his hunting guns spotless when they were put away in the cabinet and I've tried to live up to his expectations after all these years.  Even today, all of our guns get a thorough cleaning ever time they hit the range or the field and get a complete wipe down after being handled.

Watch any military film that includes scenes from Marine Corps or Army boot camp and you'll surely see drill instructors reinforcing (in not so friendly terms) the need for keeping the recruit's weapon spotless, and it's not just idle talk intended to degrade a young person's family lineage.  It could ultimately be a matter of life and death for that young soldier or Marine during a time of intense battle because dirty weapons are more prone to failure than those that have been faithfully maintained. It's no less important for those of us that carry on a daily basis for personal protection or folks that have firearms for home protection.  Here are a couple more reasons for keeping your favorite firearm clean:

  • Clean and properly lubricated weapons function efficiently and as designed.  Conversely, dirty and/or dry working mechanisms slow down and work harder because of added friction.  Firearm springs and other mechanical parts are designed to work within a certain set of tolerances, sometimes with very little room for error, so excessive dirt or grime may cause malfunctions like failures to extract, eject, go into battery, or even worse.  
  • Well cleaned and preserved weapons endure harsh environmental conditions better.  Extreme cold, heat, or humidity can cause dirty mechanisms to become gummy and sticky which could potentially cause them to lock up.
  • Clean and properly lubricated weapons maintain their appearance better and hold more resale value.  Human finger prints and perspiration can cause unprotected steel to rust with exceptional speed, marring the visual appearance and decreasing the guns value.
  • It's easier to spot broken or damaged parts when the gun and its mechanisms are clean and clear of carbon, lead, brass, or copper deposits.

​So, as you can see, there are multiple reasons why you should include a cleaning kit, solvent, lubricants, and rags to your range bag or bugout bag along with your favorite firearm.  Every gun manufacturer has it's own "Best Practices" and you should follow them to the greatest extent possible but you'll soon find out that they're all about the same.  A clean gun will function properly for many years to come and you shouldn't have to worry about preventable malfunctions.

Get out there and shoot as much as possible and enjoy yourself.  Just be sure to take care of your investment once you get home, and remember that a clean gun is a gun that will perform when you need it whether in a defensive situation or I the field.

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando 

 

 

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Meet the Hunting Pro Staff - Maria Young

Meet Maria Young - one of our two new Hunting Pro Staff members!

Maria is an avid hunter. From whitetail hunter, to turkey every spring, coyote hunting, and even raccoon. Personally, and as a member of the Dressed to Kill TV show, she has hunted in New York, North Carolina, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri and Iowa, as well as Canada for black bear and, of course, taking some time out for fishing! She's a busy mom to three young women, businesswoman, wife, and hunter, but she took some time out to talk to us about her passion of hunting!


How did you get started hunting?

My father, grandfather and uncles all hunted while I was a child, but I started out competition shooting at the age of 8 in New York state. It wasn't until I met my husband, Tim, that I started to hunt while we were dating in the late 90s. Tim is the one responsible for teaching me all of my hunting skills. His obsession turned into our passion not only as a couple, but now also as a family!
 

What is your favorite hunting method and why?

My favorite style is archery, by far! I think it's the most challenging and the most rewarding. You have to practice every day and make sure that you are precise with your shots, as you do not want to wound an animal.
 

Three tips or techniques that you think everyone should practice:

  1. Learn to judge yardage, since you never know when the time will come that you won't be able to grab that rangefinder. Even if you range a few spots from your stand each time you get in there, this will give you a better idea of how far your target is, just in case you can't grab the range finder.
  2.  Always wear, or bring, an additional layer along with you, no matter the temperature. You can always take a layer off, but if you get cold and didn't wear/bring an extra one, this might ruin your sit.
  3. As an archery hunter, have a back up release in your bag at all times! You never know when yours will break, or you might drop one out of the stand after you have been up there a bit!


What are three items you NEVER leave home without when you go hunting?

 My phone, my protein chews and my bow!


Who has been the biggest influence on you when it comes to the outdoors? Tell us about it.

My husband Tim has, by far, been the biggest influence on me when it come to the outdoors. He has taught me how the moon phases work, to watch not only the temperature, but the barometric pressure, the wind direction and its changes throughout the day, thermals, sunrise/sunset, as well as how to hang stands - where and why, how to plant food plots, and so much more! Without Tim, I would not be the huntress I am today!

Maria's passion is hunting and her mission, as a Pro Staff member, is to pass that passion along to others, especially those groups two demographics who may need some extra encouragement - women and children.

"I want to teach more women and children about the outdoors, give them the encouragement that anyone can hunt and enjoy time with friends/family/loved ones in nature and assist as many men, women and children, as possible, to become hunters everywhere, safely and ethically!"

Follow Maria on social media - she is always open to answering questions. Look for her to be at Bass Pro Shops Altoona for seminars, etc!

www.facebook.com/mariayoungdtk/-
Twitter/Instagram/Periscope/Pinterest @MariaYoungDTK

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Snipe Season 2015

     

Snipe season is here and there are a bunch of wingshooters just waiting to hear if the birds have arrived in our region, but just because the little winged rockets choose to stop in for a little rest and relaxation while on their way south, doesn't mean our hunters will be able to hit anything other than sky and marsh grass.  I'm here to tell you there isn't another upland game species capable of making a skilled shooter look like it's the first time he/she has touched a shotgun.  Snipe can humble even the best shooters and I'm not going to tell you my shots per bird ratio.  Let's just say my shell bag gets decidedly lighter even though the game bag takes a bit of time to fill.  Their flight after flushing is fast, erratic, and very close to the ground making them difficult to get a bead on let alone a load of pellets, hence the rationale behind carrying lots and lots of shells.  They also have a habit of flushing at exceedingly long distances after having been chased around the bog for a few weeks, and to make matters worse, they'll gather other birds into a small group as they scream across the grasslands well out of range.  The hunter is left to watch the spiraling flock in dismay as it searches for a safer place to set down.

SnipeHunter.com is a website dedicated solely to the pursuit of this wonderful little bird and there's even a section about what to do with your game once you get home.  We've tried a bunch of different ways and have been pleasantly surprised each and every time.  My favorite is wrapping the breast in a slice of bacon along with a slice of jalapeno or garlic for some extra flavor.  Done simply, the meat is a little strong, so adding something with a little zip make all the difference if serving it to folks that aren't used to wild game.  We tend to use them as appetizers rather than trying to make an entire meal of them, so not having a whole bunch isn't a real problem.  Just be on the lookout for a stray BB or two.Wilsons Snipe

I've written about snipe hunting in previous seasons  and just like other hunting or fishing endeavors, each year is a bit different than any other.  We started hunting  a little late compared to other years, mostly due to the high water levels and air temperatures we've been experiencing locally, but there are some serious cold fronts on their way and they should push a new flight of birds south.  The Audubon Field Guide has some interesting information about snipe that might help hunters and bird watchers alike if they seek to hit the field in pursuit of sport or in the spirit of discovery.  Snipe are a marvel of migration, have interesting mating habits, and astounding growth rates, making them a birder's dream if you get a chance to locate one sitting still, which isn't very often.

Grab your shotguns and a whole bunch of shells a few months before the season really takes off, then hit the trap or sporting clays fields because there's no replacement for practice when it comes to making the most of your time afield.  Try to put an emphasis on low-going away, and hard left-to-right and right-to-left crossing targets since those are most likely what you'll see in the field, but expect to miss your fair share no matter how many shells you expend on clay birds. 

So, search out some sniping grounds if you find yourself in need of some sport.  There's nothing to compare when it comes to a challenging target, but make sure you've got enough shells to last a while.  You're sure to miss a few.

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Take a Couple Hours: Quail Hunting

So months ago I wanted to start up a new blog series about getting in some good outdoor activities with only a few hours to do it in. I started it with an urban fishing trip but unfortunately have not been able to follow it up. Until now! Or should I say this past weekend? A group of buddies and I set some time aside to take part in one of my absolute favorite outdoor activities, quail hunting! We all needed a little break and a lot of fresh air, and this trip did just that! Let’s begin…

Well, first things first let us look at the gear. There were five of us going, and this was going to be the first trip for my buddy’s father’s bird-dog. He had to bring all sorts of other gear that, luckily, I didn’t need to hassle with. The rest of us needed: a hunting license, shotgun, ammo, appropriate clothing, snacks and water.

Don’t have an Arizona Hunting License yet? Pick one up at Game and Fish’s website. You do not need a Migratory Bird stamp to hunt quail, but of course read over the rules and regulations before you head out. (Limit is 15 birds a day this year… good luck filling that though!)

When I talk about appropriate gear, you need to consider where you will be hunting and when. What is the weather going to be like? Is it snake season? (It was cold out so we didn’t have to worry so much about those, but I was still looking where I was stepping.) Dress in layers so you can add on or take off clothes accordingly. Make sure to have some sort of blaze on you (hat, shirt, vest, etc.) so you are easier to spot by your own group and others. Bring a bird/shell vest! Only two of us had bird-vests, so we were doomed to be the pack-mules. I picked up the Browning Upland Strap Vest a year or two ago. Just like the new bird-dog, this was her maiden voyage as well. And I absolutely loved it! Fit nice and secure. Everything was able to be adjusted to me. Held plenty of shells and miscellaneous gear, including water bottles and snacks in the back pouch.

And wear good boots! The areas we hunted had a whole mix of landscapes and ground. Soft sand, hard rock and everything in between. And everything up and down! We went over too many hills to count. Having on my good boots made a world of difference that day… and the ones that followed.

We had a few 12 gauges and a couple 20’s between us. We made sure to keep the two kinds of shells separate, as everyone should! Don’t just rely on the concept that “yellow shells = 20 and red shells = 12”, always double-check! Most of us were shooting size 8, but I had a couple random 7.5s to shoot through as well. Good ol’ Dori the Citori will pretty much eat anything I toss down her!

We pulled off to our first location, and after squelching a minor political discussion we were engaged in, my buddy’s father started the hunt off with a safety meeting. Everyone should do this every time. We talked about watching line-of-fire, when to load/unload, who was going to be where and so on.

Also to not shoot his dog. (There is a special level downstairs for those who break this commandment. Somewhere between lawyers and people who leave shopping carts all caddy-wampus in cart corrals.) This meant no aiming at ground birds, no matter the circumstance, so the plot thickened.

And then to make sure we kept our line consistent. You should always be able to see the person to either side of you and them like-wise. This is where wearing blaze comes in handy. Only two of us were in blaze and with all the hills, washes and whatnot it was easy to lose sight of one another.

The hunt began literally with a BANG! Not more than fifteen yards from the truck, I flushed a couple quail and showed the rest of the group how good I am at shooting under flying birds! We kept moving. It is always a delight watching a bird dog work, and she was no different. This was her first time though, so she was rather timid and not used to the terrain. She had been trained by a professional and graduated top of her class, but the real world is different.

As we made our way, we bumped into something quite large that was just as startled by us. It was a small herd of wild horses! They wanted nothing to do with us and quickly scurried up a hill. One hung out long enough for me to get a picture. He probably knew that I worked for Bass Pro and would include him in a blog. We also bumped into an owl a little ways down the area.

We kept on the flurry-sound of a covey of quail that proved to everyone how hard those little guys are to hunt. They led us all the way to the border of state land, where all we could do is watch as they lounged about in the safety of their new home for the next short while.

We worked our way back towards the trucks and kicked up a few more birds, but no one was able to connect. One bird might have a sore rump though! At the trucks, we caught our breath, rested our feet, hydrated, snacked and started the next game plan. The bird-dog had had quite enough and was done for the day (ground birds are good-to-go!) but had well-earned her rest! She, and a few of us, would have some sore feet the next day.  She may not have gotten on point, but the experience from this trip and those to follow was important for her to gain.

Our next destination wasn’t that far up the way, but did give us plenty of time to talk guns and country music. We came to the revelation that the song Parking Lot Party is more or less the sequel to Redneck Yacht Club, because the people who were partying on the lake weren’t ready to go home yet and just moved it to some asphalt. This probably also gave ample time for my buddy and his dad to discuss such important topics like marriage and what arguments they let us think we win, because the one buddy has his wedding in a couple months.

At the new spot we hopped out and loaded up. We chose a hill in the distance and worked our way towards it. Those on the right side of the line took a few steps before bumping into a mule deer doe, which is pretty neat. I bumped into a rock.

Nothing was really moving until we had gotten over a few more hills and then it was a flurry of excitement. I noticed a nice sized covey moving along in front of us and something caught my peripheral. A couple mule deer does gave me the “See ya!” by bounding away, white rumps shown proudly. Watching the wonders of nature always makes me smile, but we were on a mission! With targets in sight, we closed in on them but came just about as close as the last place.

Clouds moved in and rain started trickling down. It was time to start heading back. In one area, I bumped a few and was able to put down a quail and recover. My buddy’s dad got one in the same area, but couldn’t recover it. One of the guys got himself a nice sized jackrabbit as well! He didn’t have a vest, so being the sport he is, the other of us two pack-mules hoofed it out for him. On the final leg of the trip back, my buddy got a bird and recovered it. And he found a nice little deer shed! Not a bad way to end the day.

We cleaned the animals and headed back towards town. After some grub I had to rush home. The missus wanted to take Christmas card photos, and I was definitely not going to be allowed to have bloody jeans in them! But before I took off, we all were able to take a second and breathe while appreciating what an awesome day we had. And make some verbal semi-contracts to get out next weekend!

-Giddy-Up!

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I've Created A Monster

Ron's Monster BrownThere are few types of fishing I enjoy more than standing in a stream while swinging a hand-tied egg sucking leach to a aggressive and powerful steelhead, and I really enjoy sharing this experience with other fishermen and friends.  But....there's one guy I introduced to the sport of steelheading on my home waters who continues to explore them while catching all kinds of monster fish, including the beautiful lake-run brown shown in the picture.  To make it even better, he loves to send me pictures from streamside while he displays his superb catch and a Cheshire-Cat grin that seems more than a little spooky.

Ron and I started fishing together not all that long ago when he and I made a trip to Ohio to fish the Lake Erie tributaries for spring steelhead, and even though the catching was less than spectacular due to high temperatures and low water conditions, he discovered a new part of the fly fishing journey that needed further exploration.  I knew he had a terminal case when a gorgeous silver rocket blasted out from underneath a logjam running the length of the most beautiful blue pool either of us had ever seen.  Being a trout fisherman at heart, Ron fished this awesome looking spot like he would on any other trout stream but because there weren't any fish in evidence, I hadn't given it more than a passing glance.  He actually taught me a thing or two that trip even though the fight with that fish was over as quickly as it began.  He never got the line tight, nor the hook firmly in place, and he knew it.  Despite failing to land the fish or get a photo to commemorate the occasion, the look of absolute shock and momentary fear is what I'll remember for the rest of my days.

We've since made a trip to Michigan where I got lucky enough to land a few fish while Ron worked very hard but was unable to remain connected more than a few minutes.  He always had his chin up and was looking forward to the next curve, the next river, the next 1000 casts, whether they panned out or not.  He was out there to have a good time.  He's taken many other trips to the region with greater levels of success while never failing to send me a picture or two of him busting chrome while I'm stuck behind the counter, resigned to watching live webcam feeds of my home waters.  He's not rubbing it in, but rather sharing the experience while still in the moment.Ron in the woods

Ron truly deserves to be on the water as much as possible after working hard his whole life, raising a family, and volunteering his time with a variety charitable organizations and causes.  He's always been willing to lend a hand and has never asked for anything in return so taking a few days out of my schedule to spark a new passion in someone like him wasn't even a question.  I knew he'd respect and appreciate the opportunity and the fish for the rest of his life, but I surely didn't expect to get pictures on a regular basis.  I love seeing them but there is a touch of jealousy when I reply "GREAT FISH!  CONGRATULATIONS!"  Being there with him would have made it all that much better.

I'm glad to have been able to share my passion with a great fishing partner who I hope to spend a lot more time on the water with.  I only hope he's willing to share some of his secret spots when I get the chance to return home to water I grew up on.  He probably knows how to fish them better than I ever did at this point.

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando 

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Spy Drone You Can Be Proud Of

See The World Through a Spy Drone! Spy drones are todays newest and most interesting tech toy to experience! World Tech Toys Striker Spy Drone Remote Control Quadcopter is a fun and inexpensive starter drone. It has a plastic, lightweight body and has indoor/outdoor functionality. The gyro stability helicopter has 4 propellers and the ability to flip and fly upside down! Use the remote control to perform hover conversions and tricks. The Striker Spy Drone also features an on board camera that captures and records color video and photos up to 100 feet high away from the 2.4 GHz transmitter. Record up to 30 minutes of video during your flight. LED lights enable flying in dark area inside or outside.

The Drone comes with a 2 GB memory card, USB charging cable, and spare blades. Here is a video demonstrating its maneuvers and capabilities: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbQxJKrSKwo If you are looking for a smaller or more compact drone there is also the micro-size quadro copter, the Envision Spy Drone. It also features an onboard camera that shoots both video and photos.

 

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It's Time To Drop The Puck

Orlando Solar BearsIt's hockey time everyone and even though we live in Florida there's plenty of ice action to watch and my family is right there front and center when the puck drops here in Orlando.  Our two seats rarely go unused especially since they're just three rows up from the glass and we get to witness every bone-crushing hit, acrobatic save, and laser-fast slap shot first hand.  There's no way to adequately describe the emotion and energy that comes from the crowd when a good goal is scored or a member of the home team "Defends The Den."

My wife and I started going to hockey games way back in the days when Mario Lemieux, Ron Francis, and Kevin Stevens ruled center ice and Tom Barrasso protected the goal with a steel curtain.  They went on to win the first of two back-to-back Stanley Cups.  It was a great time to be from western Pennsylvania.  Our love of the sport took a bit of a break when we first moved south but once the Solar Bears came out of hibernation three seasons ago, we can't wait for the season to begin again.  Our girls think all the players are the hottest men on earth (even though their significant others are sitting right next to them in the stands).  I'm not so sure about the cute factor but I sure can appreciate the skill levels.

Florida may not traditionally be known as a hockey state but once you consider the huge number of people who've relocated from up north, it's pretty darn obvious how we can support multiple professional teams.  The Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning play in the NHL while the Orlando Solar Bears and Florida Everblades play in the ECHL.  There's a whole lot of talent down here in the "Sunshine State" and a lot of fans that love watching them play.  We're a Penguins family at heart so don't come in wearing a Flyers jersey. 

Tarting them earlyHockey isn't just about the fights and violence contrary to what most people think.  It's about skill, teamwork, and a love of the game.  Most of these guys grew up playing pond hockey during the winter which meant that their parents worried about broken bones and numerous bumps, bruises, and countless dollars spent on replacing equipment.  Hockey families sacrifice quite a bit more than other sports.  Just ask any mother that had to drive her son to practice at the crack of dawn.

Orlando puts on a very family-friendly show by ensuring that the kids are up on the big screen, dancing, making faces, and generally showing off to  friends while the play on the ice is thrilling from end board to end board.  The price of admission is pretty reasonable given the quality of the play and the love of the game exhibited be every player.  It only takes a few games to figure out the basic rules since you only need to determine who the crowd is yelling at to grasp whether a penalty is in our favor or against us.  Look no further than a local hockey franchise if you're thirsting for an exciting evening.

Hockey gets in your blood once you've experienced the game up close and personal so don't wait another minute before checking out a local team.  The players may be on young side but they'll never be short on heart and desire.

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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Finding the Right Balance

Casting a fly rod is a pretty simple matter of physics once you get the hang of things and know what a well presented fly and line looks like in the air and on the water, but it can be a physical workout if you’re not used to the exercise or have equipment that isn’t moderately light or well-balanced in the hand.  We strive very hard to come up with outfits that “just feel right” the moment you pick it up and anglers definitely appreciate the extra effort once he/she is on the water swinging it back and forth a couple hundred times in a morning.  But what makes a well-balanced combination?

 I’m first going to compare throwing a fly rod to shooting a shotgun on the trap or skeet range and shooting geese, as opposed to a field gun for grouse and quail.  I know it may seem a bit strange to look at it this way but you’ll get the connection if you hang in there for a few paragraphs.  Shooting shotguns is all about acquiring the target, mounting the gun smoothly, starting and maintaining a smooth swing while pulling the trigger and passing through the target without pause.  Any hitch in that process will cause problems for sure.  So what does a gun’s balance have to do with that process and how is that compared to Browning Citori 725 Fielda fly rod?

Browning Citori 725 Pro Trap 

 

 

Trap shooters and goose hunters traditionally shoot long barrel shotguns (up to 32 inches) because maintaining a smooth swing through the target during the shot is more important than overall gun weight.  A longer barrel can make the gun feel a bit front heavy but that ensures that the gun remains in motion once the swing has started. Conversely, a true field gun will have somewhat shorter barrels (26 to 28 inches) and lighter stocks because the quickness (the amount of time needed to acquire the target and mount the gun) needs to be emphasized more than maintaining a lengthy swing on birds or targets flying a somewhat predictable path at a steady speed.  Flushing birds need to be acquired quickly and shot before getting out of range or ducking behind cover, thus requiring a light, fast-pointing shotgun.

Fly rod balance can be equally important to the angler but it’s more a matter of angler “feel” and how hard it is to control the rod’s path through the air once in motion.  Front heavy or butt heavy rods can cause fatigue, unnecessary torqueing or twisting, and a sluggish or listless sensation for the angler.  A perfectly balanced rod and reel combo feels light in the hand, accurate, responsive, and is generally a pleasure to throw all day.

Sage TCX 9" 6wt and Orvis Access

So how do you put together a properly balanced outfit?  Thankfully, the reel manufacturers think about this issue when they develop their products and a recent test session wherein I weighed a large number of our most popular reels in six and eight weight models, proved that they’re all pretty similar given the specific line weight they were designed for.  There was only a .5 to 1.0 ounce difference between fifteen different 5/6 weight models.  There was a much greater variation in fourteen 7/8 weight models with the lightest being 5.5 oz. and the heaviest being 10.0 oz.  Much of that difference can be attributed to drag design or the fact that the reel was intended to cover three different rod sizes (7/8/9) instead of the usual two (7/8).  I guess this means that balancing a number six rod is easier, given the similarities in reel weights, than a number eight.      

The rods themselves can vary greatly in physical weight but many times it’s a question of how the weight is distributed rather than the actual total.  Some rods are tip heavy and would require a heavier reel to balance out properly, while others are butt heavy and would benefit from a lighter reel to avoid feeling like you’ve got a brick hanging from the handle.  You just have to test fit a variety of reels to find the one that gives the proper balance for your needs.

Keep in mind also that the rod’s length will affect its balance as will the addition of backing and line.  Short rods have a center of gravity different than standard or long ones so there are instances we’d sell the customer a reel one size smaller than normal to keep the proper balance.  Of course we have to watch the amount of backing going on the reel at this point, but that’s not normally a problem given the rod’s intended purpose.  Short bass rods and ultralight outfits are the most obvious examples of combinations where we need to ensure a compatible match up.

The rod and reel combination pictured above is one of my personal favorites and it fits my hand so well that it seems like Sage called for my input before designing it .  The balance is exactly where I like it and because of that, I can cast all day, put the fly right where I want it, and easily become "one" with the rod.  There's nothing like having a piece of equipment that matches you perfectly so spend a little time building your next outfit.  Pay attention to the balance and how it's going to affect your fishing performance and how much you enjoy waving that stick around.  You'll be glad you did.

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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