9 Texas Birds All Texans Should Know

   Birding is one of the fastest-growing outdoor activities in the U.S. With 639 species of birds documented in Texas, things really are bigger and better here in the Lone Star State. Birding in Texas is year-round, thanks to our location and diverse eco-regions, and can be rewarding in every corner of the state. TPWD's wildlife trails make it easier than ever to find the best birding hot spots.

   Learning to identify all our state’s birds can be a daunting task, so here’s a list that’s been trimmed down to some of the more ubiquitous and easily seen species.

   So, armed with this starter list and a helpful birding guidebook and a pair of binoculars, head out to your yard and see how many you can spot and identify. Once you’ve conquered your own little patch of green, try it at a state park. Bring family and friends and turn it into a contest. You’ll find being bird-brained is fun for everyone.



Northern Mockingbird

Such a list, of course, has to begin with the state bird of Texas. This gray and white bird makes up for its drab appearance with a voice that could compete in any singing competition. The Latin name (Mimus polyglottos), which translates loosely to “the many-tongued mimic,” really sums up this songster. Instead of singing its own song, this bird performs like a tribute band playing an original band’s song note for note. A seasoned male mockingbird can sing the songs of dozens of other species found nearby and make a variety of other vocalizations, from frog sounds to car alarms.



Red-Tailed Hawk

Known colloquially as the “chicken hawk,” this large raptor can be seen in just about any open habitat, with numbers reaching their peak in Texas during the cold winter months. Often seen sitting on a commanding perch along our highways, the hawks look as if they’re watching traffic pass by when, in fact, the grassy medians support lots of tasty rodents. This fondness for rodents makes them good neighbors for us. Instead of red, look on the top of the tail for more of a terracotta-orange color. While it’s perched, two of its best features are often visible on many but not all individuals: a dark belly-band across its white underparts and the messy white blotches on an otherwise chocolate-colored back.



Great Blue Heron

More old-timers refer to this species as a “blue crane,” but this heron is not related to cranes. This tall wetland inhabitant will hunt for fish, frogs, crayfish and the like in just about any creek, pond, lake or roadside ditch. With an overall grayish color, this bird does have hints of blue-gray here and there. In flight, the great blue heron might conjure up beliefs that pterodactyls still fly our friendly skies. When waters freeze in winter, don’t expect these birds to chip away at the ice. Instead, watch them switch to dry upland settings in search of rodents. Who knows, maybe a switch from slimy fish to furry rats every now and then breaks the monotony!



Barn Swallow

Some call it the “mud swallow” because it builds open, cup-shaped nests from mud on bridges, culverts, porches and patios. If a nest shows up on your front porch, you might have to deal with occasional dive-bombs from a protective parent and a small pile of poop you’ll have to wash off. These aerial insectivores are good neighbors, though, since they eat a lot of our yard’s pesky insects; in some cultures, it’s a sign of good luck if the nesting birds select your home. Watch for their deeply forked tail and, when the sunlight hits them just right, a beautiful iridescence of dark blue-purple on the head, back and tail. There are two other mud-nesting swallows in Texas, the cliff and cave swallows, but neither has a forked tail. Also, the cliff swallow sets itself apart in terms of architectural design with a gourd-shaped mud nest.


Turkey Vulture

Early American settlers from Europe confused this carrion eater with the “buzzard” back home, but the two aren’t alike. Though the name “buzzard” is used in other parts of the world for hawks, it refuses to be erased from our vocabulary for vultures. When soaring, this vulture has a silvery tinge to the trailing edge of the entire wing. When they’re feasting on roadkill, notice their milk chocolate coloration and, in adults, a red featherless head. Only a mother could love a face like that. There is another species of vulture in Texas: the black vulture. The black vulture sports a gray featherless head and is dark black. During flight, black vultures also have the silvery tinge to their wings but only on the outer tips. If we didn’t have vultures, our roadways would soon be overrun with smelly, unsightly roadkill



How great would it be if every bird were named for its vocalization, like this one? A resounding “kill-dee, kill-dee, kill-dee” can be heard not only in natural settings, but also in ball fields and parking lots. In flight, watch for the fiery orange rump and pointy wings and, when perched, watch for two distinctive black bands across the breast resembling wide necklaces. If you approach one and find it limping away with a drooped wing and loud cries, know that you’re being duped. This action — called feigning — is designed to lure you away from a nearby ground nest or nestlings, so tread lightly.



House Sparrow

This species is not native to the Western Hemisphere. Introduced more than a century ago, it has spread from Alaska to Argentina and all points in between, including Texas. Our state’s first sighting was in Galveston in 1867. If there are a few houses or grain silos around, there will be house sparrows. They’re actually weaver finches; folks who have found their bulky nests constructed of wispy grasses can attest to this. Purple martin landlords who aren’t monitoring their nest boxes can get overrun with these pesky sparrows. The male has a black goatee; the female is very dull and plain, but her pale eyebrow is readily seen. In urban settings, this is the expected sparrow in parking lots, often gathering into huge, noisy roosts each evening.



Eurasian Collared-Dove

This non-native dove first arrived in Texas via Texarkana in 1995 and quickly spread throughout the state. In urban settings, watch for a large pale dove with a black ring around the collar. More importantly, open your ears to the incessant cooing sounds of these doves, as they are prolific singers. A unique vocalization they make as they’re taking flight or about to land is reminiscent of a loud kitty’s meow. If you spot them at the seed feeder, you’ll see that these doves are larger than their native cousins, the white-winged and mourning doves. The collared dove has taken the place of the paler, ringed turtle-dove, another non-native dove, and appears to be calling Texas home for a long time to come.



Cattle Egret

Sometimes referred to as “cow birds” for their fondness of following cattle, these birds are fairly new to Texas, making their debut here in 1955 on Mustang Island. They follow cattle because, while walking or grazing, big bovines flush insects hiding in the grass. Those insects are precisely what the egret desires. The egret is not plucking ticks off the hides of livestock, a common  misbelief. During the breeding season, watch for straw-colored  patches of  feathers on the head, breast and back of these otherwise white birds. These birds seek refuge in numbers. Their communal nesting colonies, called rookeries (or, more correctly, heronries), can be very large, with nests numbering in the thousands and often mixed with other species of egrets, herons, ibises, cormorants and more. There’s great safety in numbers — humans live in similar settings we just call neighborhoods.

You can find hiking and birding supplies by visiting your local Bass Pro Shop in person or online at www.basspro.com.





Look at That! Portable Propane Fire Ring

Would you look at that? Just look at it!

If you don’t get the reference, go ahead and follow this link and watch a short video.

Done watching? You’re welcome! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the latest blog series “Look at That” in which I will be highlighting products just make you stop dead in your tracks and just look at it!

The first of this series caught me completely off guard. It was the Camp Chef Portable Propane Fire Ring. Besides arson-related wild fires I am a sucker for flames and the great outdoors. Small fire for smores? Yes please. Cooking on Coleman stoves? All day! And this beauty of human engineering practically gives us an awesome combo of the two.

So here’s the deal, it’s a 15” diameter fire ring that sits on legs. It comes with lava rocks which you can place directly into the ring. This is a nice feature because it releases you from the duty of gathering sticks and such to burn. It’s got a nifty little forest scene cut into the side of it giving you some rustic flare. The fact that it is propane as well means it will be easier to control. Camp Chef also tosses in two roasting sticks and a carrying case.

Of course you can always splurge and get yourself any of these other awesome fire-roaster options as well!

So go ahead and pick one up, and next time you’re at a campsite using it I am sure you’ll catch the eye of another camper and make them just STOP and look at that!



kanjam Looks Hard, But it isn't

Plan your Beach Bash and Barbeque with KanJam!

Do you remember playing Frisbee? KanJam is fun and exciting twist of Frisbee! It's Frisbee on steroids!

Two teams of 2 players take turns throwing and deflecting the KanJam disc to score points. To win your team must earn 21 points without going over or score an instant win by getting the disc in the front slot. A re-deflection of the disc hitting the can gets 1 point, The thrower hitting the can head on is 2 points, and when the deflector tips the disc into the can you get 3 points. Instant win occurs when the thrower automatically gets the disc into the can slot. The KanJam game set includes 2 easily portable KanJam goals, two official custom flying discs, and instructions. It’s great for those end of the summer barbeques, beach trips, and tailgating! KanJam is a brand new outdoor game that just arrived at Bass Pro Rancho Cucamonga so come check it out! This summer’s outdoor game sensation!

YouTube link:


Don't miss out on some summer fun. This item is the perfect way for families & friends to spend some good old quality time together. So get off the couch, go outside and have some fun in the sun! 






July Outdoor Activity of the Month: Paddling

Paddling: July Outdoor Activity of the Month

Paddling Caddo Lake - Photo Contest WinnerKeep cool this summer and have fun with your family and friends! Go paddling in a state park or along a designated Texas Paddling Trail. 

On the water it’s easier than ever to experience a closer view of wildlife and scenery! Many state parks offer places that will rent you the equipment you need: canoes, kayaks, and life-jackets, as well as teach paddling basics.  


Glide Along Texas Paddling Trails

Over 60 designated Texas Paddling Trails provide well-mapped, accessible day trips in a variety of settings and for all levels of paddling experience. Visit the Paddling Trails website for trail maps and photos, info on canoe/kayak rentals, directions to designated access sites and fishing and wildlife information. Your local Bass Pro also has numerous styles & sizes to purchase. http://www.basspro.com/Kayaks-%26-Canoes/_/S-12225007000

Dallas/Ft. Worth: There are 8 Texas Paddling Trails within an hour of DFW. They include: Dallas Trinity Paddling Trail, Joe Pool Lake and Walnut Creek Paddling Trail (Grand Prairie), Lake Arlington Paddling Trail,  River Legacy Parks Paddling Trail on the Trinity River (Arlington).

Learn to Paddle

How to Paddle Video If you are looking for some paddling tips before you head out: 

Water Conditions and Safety

Open bodies of water (lakes, rivers, bays, bayous, ponds, oceans) are vastly different from neighborhood swimming pools and therefore warrant extra precautions. The key differences are that there are no lifeguards; water conditions can change rapidly; and underwater currents sometimes exist. Before you go paddling, tell a friend or family member where you will be and when you expect to return.

It is recommended that everyone who participates in boating wear a life jacket. In Texas, children under 13 years of age in or on vessels under 26 feet must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved wearable life jacket. All vessels (including canoes and kayaks) must have a sound producing device and at least one Type I, II, III or V life jacket of the proper fit for each person on board.

Remember: The life you save may be your own!  


Born Again

By: Todd Sanders and Rod Slings, Guest Bloggers

Introductory note by Rod Slings, hunting safety expert, retired Iowa DNR law enforcement supervisor, and member of the Central Iowa Longbeards Chapter.

Todd Sanders was a very active outdoorsman who was injured in October 2013, when he fell from his treestand. Todd spent three months in the hospital after his injuries. He is wheelchair bound…for now. Our National Wild Turkey Federation Chapter's Wheelin’ Sportsman hunt took place the Saturday of Easter weekend. Todd has recently faced some major challenges in his personal life, aside from the physical injuries he sustained from his fall. Todd has a strong faith in God; Todd’s story below brought him back from a place that would challenge anyone. We are honored to open the door to the great outdoors for Todd and others with the help of our sponsors, volunteers and the NWTF.

Born Again

By: Todd Sanders

April 19, 2014, was a very special hunt I was invited to by a good friend, Rod Slings, who is a retired law enforcement supervisor with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The hunt was the National Wild Turkey Federation’s Wheelin’ Sportsmen Wild Turkey Hunt put on by the Central Iowa Longbeards Chapter. This was the 7th annual hunt intended for disabled veterans and people that face some disability challenges.

To say that I was excited was an understatement, as Rod and I texted back and forth the final week before this awesome day! After what seemed like a sleepless night, my alarm sounded off at 2:00 a.m. I gathered my gear and Rod met me at my house at 3:30 a.m. to pick me up. 

Butterflies and sweaty palms accompanied me as we drove to Jester Park, where our hunt would be based, smiling like two young kids. I was able to meet all the great people who made this event happen. We gathered for a wonderful breakfast and a prayer to give thanks and asked for safety for the hunt. I was loaded into a Kubota UTV and soon Rod and I, along with my new friend Zach, were dropped off at the site where our blind was set up and ready. Within ten minutes of the park rangers and event volunteers leaving our location, I suddenly heard my favorite sound in the world! There it was - “GOBBLE-GOBBLE-GOBBLE” - about 100 yards away in the timber behind us. 

We all looked at each other with smiles and big wide-open eyes like children in a candy store. As the morning sunrise broke through the timber, we all started calling, nice and easy. This big tom apparently liked what he was hearing.

Rod said, “Breathe, Todd, breathe!” 

I smiled and gripped my bow tighter. Well, as all you turkey hunters know, gobblers are incredibly unpredictable. We heard the gobbler fly down from his roost and then…he went AWAY from us! A sassy hen was answering our calls. As I used the diaphragm call, Zach did the box call, and Rod followed with calls on his slate.

Suddenly, another gobbler, not far away, got very fired up from our calls - we probably sounded like a Sunday choir. This gobbler started responding back, getting closer and closer. Then, the hen passed five yards behind the blind to my left.   Minutes later we heard a very loud "GOBBLE." As I looked over Rod’s left shoulder, the majestic gobbler appeared, all tail feathers fanned out, about 65 yards away in the hardwood timber. 

I whispered, “There he is, I see him over Rod’s left shoulder, he’s looking this way.” 

My heart was pounding as the gobbler disappeared. Now he was circling us, trying to get a visual of those sweetheart hen noises that fired him up.

Zach said, “don’t move there he is!” 

Well, naturally, I moved and looked through the window near Rod. I saw a big blue head weaving through the brRod Slings and Todd Sandersush and briars. 

Zack whispered, “Draw back, draw back!”

As I did, he slipped right past the hunting blind window, my first shooting lane, on a beeline to the Jake decoy. As I regained my composure, Rod and Zach coached me. I did two sharp cuts on my diaphragm call - the gobbler stopped and turned. He was at 22 yards, quartering away, bumping up against the Jake decoy. I steadied my 20-yard pin on my bow sight behind the back of his wing and touched the release to see feathers immediately fly as the big gobbler flipped upside down!

Within seconds, the big tom was up running directly toward our blind wobbling like a drunken old man. 

I yelled, “GET HIM, GET HIM,” as the big bird took off into the timber. Zach desperately tried to open the zipper on the back of the blind by my wheelchair.  Imagine this - I am on the edge of my seat in my wheelchair in the blind,and I am now watching Rod and Zach go running into the timber out of sight. All I could hear were branches breaking and wings beating the dry leaves, but couldn’t see anything!  

I yelled, “Did you get him?” 

"YES!" Zach yelled back.

I screamed and hollered like a crazy man! Rod and Zach came back off the ridge, Zach holding my gobbler by the leg. Zach said, “Man, could you have shot a smaller turkey?” 

I couldn’t believe the size of the big gobbler as it was dropped at my feet. We yelled, hugged, high-fived and thanked Jesus, like we had just won the World Series. Rod called the park rangers and said, “Gobbler down, head this way.”

When the rangers arrived, we took pictures, again slapped high fives and celebrated this awesome hunt. After arriving back to Jester Park, our base for the hunt, we found out that two of the other hunters had also harvested birds. We shared fellowship over lunch, took more pictures, and relived and shared the story of our hunt over and over. 

This hunt was a real blessing to me having just recovered from a bow hunting accident where I fell from my treestand and broke my back leaving me wheelchair bound. This hunt gave me strength, hope and faith that my best days are still ahead of me!  I look forward to next year and thank God daily for this wonderful hunt that will be engraved in our spirits forever!  A very special thanks to Rod Slings who invited me to this event allowing me to harvest my best turkey to date!  25 pounds, 14 ounces with a 10-¾ inch beard and one inch spurs! 


Zach, Todd, and Rod

(Zach, Todd, and Rod)


I Can Jam with KanJam!

Now that summer has officially arrived … It’s time to get out your favorite yard games.

This year the newest game to enter the playing field is KanJam.


KanJam consists of one flying disc and two scoring containers that serve as goals.

The goal of KanJam is to score exactly 21 points before your opponents. The game consists of two teams of two, and points can be scored when:

  • Your partner deflects the disc and hits the goal (1 point)
  • You hit the goal directly with your disc, without the help of your partner (2 points)
  • Your partner deflects the disc into the goal (3 points)
  • You throw the disc directly into the goal with no help from your partner (Instant win)



Wanna watch this game in action??? Click  here  and see just how much KanJam can be. From beach bashes to tailgating, make any gathering more fun with KanJam, the ultimate outdoor game!





Are you living the Salt Life?

Are you always on the water or thinking about your next trip on the water?

Well then you are living the Salt Life! Bass Pro Shops Miami has always carried a wide range of Salt Life products including apparel, towels, cozies, and decals. Now we are caring Salt Life Sunglasses.

Don't miss your next big catch!

The Salt Life Sunglasses have anti-glare optics that help you see through the water even before you cast your line! Salt Life sunglasses have full UV protection so you can enjoy a day in the sun. They use only the best ZEISS lenses, polarized so you can watch the Salt Life in its true color.

About your Salt Life Lenses:

  • Smoke lenses are designed for bright, clear sunny day conditions are and are perfect for everyday use.
  • Smoke Blue Mirror lenses are perfect for open or blue water conditions.
  • Copper lenses enhance contrast in overcast to low light conditions while reducing eye strain.
  • Copper Green Mirror lenses are excellent for shallow water, stream, and flats activities.
  • Copper Blue Mirror lenses provide superior contrast and true color perception at dust and dawn.

If you would like to try on the latest in Salt Life Sunglasses swing on over to our Sunglass Counter or you can visit us anytime at http://www.basspro.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Navigation?storeId=10151&catalogId=10051&langId=-1&searchTerm=salt+life

Have fun and Go Outdoors!




What the Deet?

What exactly is Deet? It is a colorless liquid, faint odor, and does not easily dissolve in water. Deet was developed by the U.S Army in 1946 to protect soldiers in insect infested areas. It has been registered in the United States for use by the general public in 1957, and has been commercially marketed as a personal insect repellent since 1965.

Is Deet harmful? If it makes contact with the eyes it can cause irritation or burning. Prolonged contact with skin can result in a rash or redness/swelling. If this product is swallowed it can cause nausea or in rare cases seizures. As far as material items it can  damage certain rubber, plastic, vinyl, or elastic
materials such as contact lenses, eyeglass frames and lenses, watch crystals,combs, painted and varnished surfaces, and certain synthetic or treated fabrics. But does not seem to have a bad effect on natural materials such as cotton, wool or hemp.

How does it work? Scientists have yet to know precisely how it works, but one theory is that insects detect their target by detecting chemicals in our body or through our breath. Through testing, Deet seems to screen these chemicals, making it harder for insects to detect us.

What percent do I use?  Rarely are high concentrations of Deet necessary . Products with 10% to 35% Deet will provide adequate protection under most conditions, although even lower concentrations may be warranted for children. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that repellents used on children contain no more than 10% deet.


Repel® Sportsmen Max Formula® Aerosol Insect Repellent                                                                  Sprays starting at $6.99

Repel® Sportsmen Max Formula® Lotion                                                                                    Lotions starting at $5.99

There are also many Deet-free options also such as the Bugpatch. At Foxworthy Outdoors The Bugpatch Insect Repellent                                                                                $4.99  it is a natural patch designed for children. Among many other products available. Simply stop by the camping department as Bass Pro Shops and have a friendly associate help you find whats best for your needs, or go to http://basspro.com to view products available. Also see Guide to Bug Repellents or It's Bug time......Again for more information on keeping you protected this season. Now get out there and enjoy The Great Outdoors!



Summer Camp 2014

Join us this year for another exciting time at summer camp at the Bass Pro Shops in Leeds, AL. This year, summer camp kicks off on June 7th and ends on July 13th. We will have FREE workshops and activities every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday from 12pm to 5pm. On Saturday, we will serve FREE homemade icecream samples at 5pm.

Here is a list of our activities:

Saturday and Sunday 2 weekends ONLY: June 7th & 8th, June 14th & 15th

  • Catch and release pond - try your hand at catching a fish from the indoor pond in the fishing area of the store.
  •  Free 4 x 6 photo - you on the cover of a magazine. Take home a photo of you and your family on the cover of the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor Kids magazine.

Satuday, Sunday, Tuesday, & Thursday activities include:

  • Duck shooting arcade - practice your aim using a foam bow & arrow by knocking down plastic ducks in an arcade style game
  • Casting buckets - improve your casting, flipping, and pitching techniques using our bass fishing buckets
  • Make and take crafts - each week on Saturday, we will introduce a new craft to make and take home
    • June 7th, 8th, 10th, & 12th color a wooden ring toss
    • June 14th, 15th, 17th, & 19th create your own rainbow thermometer
    • June 21st, 22nd, 24th, & 26th design a magnifying glass
    • June 28th, 29th and July 1st & 3rd create your own personal camp journal
    • July 5th, 6th, 8th, & 10th color a wooden wiggle fish
    • July 12th & 13th color a wolf track
  • BB range - take a shot at a target inside an inflatable BB range.
  • Archery - shoot a Bear bow & arrow
  • Ice Cream samples on Saturday
  • Workshops - come sit in an educational workshop and learn about the great outdoors
    • Tuesday's workshops:
      • 12 pm Bird Watching
      •  1 pm Fishing
      •  2 pm Archery
      •  3 pm Kayaking
      •  4 pm Backyard Adventure
    • Thursday's workshops:
      • 12 pm Archery
      •  1 pm Shooting & Hunting
      •  2 pm Travel Safety
      •  3 pm Water Safety
      •  4 pm Camping
    • Saturday's workshops:
      • 12 pm Fishing
      •  1 pm Water Safety
      •  2 pm Shooting & Hunting
      •  3 pm Kayaking
      •  4 pm Bird Watching
    • Sunday's workshops:
      • 12 pm Shoothin & Hunting
      •  1 pm Archery
      •  2 pm Travel Safety
      •  3 pm Camping
      •  4 pm Backyard Adventure




Family Summer Camp @ BPS



What was your favorite part of summer vacation?
If it was summer camp you need to check out our Family Summer Camp, June 7- July 13.
This summer we will meet every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday for some good ole fashioned summer camp fun!




FREE Workshops

Noon    Bird Watching
1 pm    Fishing
2 pm    Archery
3 pm    Kayaking
4 pm    Backyard Adventure

Noon    Archery
1 pm    Shooting and Hunting
2 pm    Travel Safety
3 pm    Water Safety
4 pm    Camping and Conservation

Noon    Fishing
1 pm    Water Safety
2 pm    Shooting and Hunting
3 pm    Kayaking
4 pm    Bird Watching

Noon     Shooting and Hunting
1 pm    Archery
2 pm    Travel Safety
3 pm    Camping and Conversation
4 pm    Backyard Adventure

**Receive a lanyard and start collecting your Summer Camp Pins for every workshop you complete !

While supplies last**   





FREE Crafts

Color a Wooden Ring Toss
    June 7, 8 and 10, 12

Create your own Rainbow Thermometer
    June 14, 15 and 17, 19

Design a Magnifying Glass
    June 21, 22 and 24, 25

Create your own Personal Camp Journal
    June 28, 29 and July 1, 3

Color a Wooden Wiggle Fish
    July 5, 6 and 8, 10

Color a Wolf Track
    July 12 and 13

FREE Carousel
    Ride along a wildlife carousel filled with outdoor critters galore while enjoying festive music and lights!

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

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

*****BONUS for the first TWO Weekends ONLY- June 7&8 and 14&15 12-5 pm*******

FREE Photo Download
    You on a cover of Bass Pro Shops Outdoor Kids!
FREE Catch and Release Pond
    Stocked with live fish ready for your kiddos to fish!







 By: Jerry Costabile

At some point in our lives we start to see things in a different way. When we are young and ambitious, we don’t look at our life’s adventures as important. Than we reach a time in our lives we realize that those adventures of our younger days were important. It comes to our attention in many different ways, through our children and family, maybe through a difficult time where life gives us a little more than we expected. No matter how we realize it, it becomes part of our everyday thinking. For me, it comes from the outdoors.

I think it started for me when I had an experience in my life that I wasn’t prepared for and it changed the way I thought about what was important to me.

 I went down to see my friend who is a charter captain on Lake Michigan one afternoon. It was a bad day for me emotionally, but I knew if there was any where I could lose the down and find an up, it was on the lake front. I saw my friend on his boat and stopped by to say hi and we had a conversation that led to me getting an invite to fish with him the next morning, excited was an understatement! The next morning was just like the rest that I have had, no sleep, no energy, and the excitement of fishing was gone. I still went down to the boat and as we boarded our customers, a feeling came over me and I suddenly felt something was changing. We motored out of the harbor and I was busy on the back of the boat getting line ready so I didn’t get to look to the eastern horizon, something I had done for the thousands of times I have headed out on to the great Lake Michigan.

When I finished what I was doing, I took that look to the east and saw a vision that changed me from that day forward, a sun rising over the water. I saw those thousands of sun rises that I had never really looked at and watched the red turn to orange and then the very top of the sun was showing itself. It hit me; all of the issues that I have been battling were not that bad. As I watched the sun lift into full view I reflected on the entire positive I still had in my life. I have had this experience in the fall too while sitting in my tree stand watching the daylight wake up the entire woods, wildlife making their morning calls, searching for food or just reflecting on a new day.

I learned that when I need that time to reflect on what is meaningful in life, I only have to make my way to nature and the outdoors. It was created for so many reasons, but for me it was created to reflect on why I am thankful to be alive.



Simple Steps with Wes: Daylight Estimation

 Yup, it’s that time again! Time for Wes to bless (rhyming rocks) us with another simple step that could really come in handy. And get this, this one involves our handy! Aint that dandy? (Had to.)

Last time Wes let us know how best to handle possible flooding situations. With the seasons changing many of us are heading outdoors on more excursions (hunting seasons are coming up and there is cooler weather during the day) and might run into unforeseen issues. This Simple Step directly relates to seeing as well!

Daylight is precious when outdoors, and knowing when you are close to running out of it is an essential skill to have. Many people will get caught up in their enjoyment of the fresh air and fail to realize how quickly the sun will be set. And if you are miles away from camp or others, this can be quite an issue.

So why not carry a watch? A watch can tell you what time it is, but not when the sun is going to set. These are two different things and as the seasons change so do the sun’s patterns. To easiest way to estimate how much light is left is as simple as lifting ones hand and doing a little math.

Stick your hand out straight in front of you and have the finger on the bottom at the top of the horizon. Then count how many fingers there are between the horizon and the sun. Each width of a finger is roughly fifteen minutes. So if there are four fingers between the horizon and sun, you can factor about an hour’s worth of light being left in the day.

Now what is so great about this method is that it works around the world. It does not matter what the elevation, temperature or any other such thing is. Now these are rough estimates but would help one plan accordingly. This trick could be the deciding factor from getting home on time or spending the night out in the woods. Where you might meet a bear. But that’s no problem for Wes.

 Until next time all you little survivors! Compass Roses and Garden Hoses! Giddy-Up!

Besides commenting below, Wes is always available for your questions at https://www.facebook.com/Cairns.Gear .


Honey...Where's the First Aid Kit?

Mangrove SnapperFlorida is full of things looking to bite, sting, stick, or otherwise hurt you and it’s always a good idea to have a first aid kit available and well stocked with supplies to handle a variety of situations that start out simple, but if left unattended, could cause bigger problems later on down the road.  I’m not talking about trauma-level surgery here, just minor cuts, scrapes, and the like.  You just never know what critter is going to clamp down on your finger and be unwilling to let go no matter how much “persuasion” you use.

Snapper, bluefish, mackerel, gar, sharks, and barracuda are a few of the fish you should watch out for because of their teeth and the resultant cuts or punctures.  Bream and catfish have piercing spines that will cause a great deal of pain, bleeding, and potential infection if left untreated while stingrays are a real hazard and would likely need more than “first aid” but having gauze and tape can suffice until real help is reached. Even the bait can be dangerous if you're using live blue crabs and one gets hold of your finger while trying to fish him out of the livelwell.

Jellyfish season is coming and meat tenderizer should be added to everyone’s kit, and I speak from experience when I say that their sting is HIGHLY painful and any relief would be welcome.  Dramamine, Benadryl, Aspirin, and maybe even epi-pens for people with serious allergies should all be added to your kit and travel with you every time on the water, on a hike, while camping, or hunting.  Sea urchins inhabit much of the southern inshore rock structure and their sting can be a traumatic experience for an inquisitive youngster (or playful adult man for that matter) so be prepared to take action.Backpackers First Aid Kit

Fire ants are one of the most common pests in Florida and their attack can be extremely vicious, leaving the victim with burning welts that will eventually itch like crazy, then burn again if unprepared so keep some after-bite treatment available to fight the itch.  Being prepared for plant related injuries is a good idea as well so don’t become complacent by thinking that everything that’s going to hurt you walks, swims, or slithers.

I almost forgot what's probably the most dangerous creature out there...OURSELVES!  We're using sharp instruments like hooks, gaffs, knives and broadheads while climbing trees, scrabling over rocks, and pitching around on boat decks, so do you think accidents are bound to happen at the worst possible time?  You betcha!  Who can we rely on to give immediate care when needed?  Only ourselves and we all need to be prepared.

There are plenty of reasons to be prepared for minor medical emergencies and very few good excuses for not having some simple items on hand when needed.  Most folks will admit they think help is always available and don’t feel the need to be even moderately self reliant, but imagine the piece of mind a simple thing like a first aid kit can provide in an emergency.  Pick one up, stock it up, and carry it on your outings.  You’ll be thankful you did.

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando


So Close!

By: Jerry Costabile

After a long and tough winter, I knew spring was not too far away. I had just finished teaching my two hunter education classes and the Wisconsin youth turkey hunt was a week away. I was going to be mentor a young lady, Emily, who had graduated from my class last fall, on her first ever hunt. I think I was as excited as she was for April 12 to finally arrive!

With the help of her father, she got a lot of good experience in the fall with a successful deer hunt. I received a terrific picture of Emily and her dad and the beautiful 6 point buck she harvested this past November. It was a truly memorable hunt for the both of them, I’m sure. During the safety class that she attended, she had told me that her dad didn’t hunt turkeys and she would like to hunt them. Well, by the time we finished the class, I told her dad that if he would come with, I would take her in the spring to hunt a gobbler! You see, I know what it is like to see your kid absolutely come apart when a big strutting tom turkey come to within 15 to 20 yards, and I didn’t want him to miss it! So we made plans to go this spring to hunt a favorite spot that my youngest son Kyle and a few other young hunters harvested their first birds. I have a youth 20 gauge that is set up with a good turkey choke tube that is deadly on turkeys out to 30 yards. This was going to be the chosen gun for her and we got together one evening before that Saturday opener, and let her shoot the gun. After she fired the first shot, we went down range and looked at the turkey head target, 27 pellets in the head and neck area at 25 yards. Yep, she was ready!

I met my young lady hunter and her dad at 4:00am and after a quick stop for coffee and doughnuts, we headed west to the rolling hills of Richland County, Wisconsin. There was rain in the forecast for Saturday, but Sunday was going to be clear but cold. I have been successful on rainy days, but I was glad that we only got a little rain to start the day. We set up on a field that the landowner had told me in a phone conversation I had with him on Thursday, was holding a good flock of turkeys with numerous toms that had been starting to strut their stuff for the girls. Perfect! I would set up 6 hen decoys and a lone strutting tom decoy about 20 yards in front of our hiding spot. In hunts past, the birds always came out of the hardwoods and into the field and fed from the left to the right. So I put the hen decoys about 10 yards to our right and 15 yards out with the tom even farther out to the right. This would make the gobblers have to pass our ambush to approach the decoys, with the focus on the plastic girl turkeys; they wouldn’t even know we were there!

We got set up next to the only tree in the middle of this field, a huge white oak that had lots of scrub brush growing around its base. It was the perfect cover for the three of us to get into to fool the sharp eyes of these big birds. Decoys were in place and daylight was just starting to make itself visible, when I used a crow call to try and pinpoint the roosting location of the turkeys. In years past, they always roosted on the back side of the woods in some towering pines. I got nothing in return for my calls; I really wanted my young hunter to hear a tom gobble in the early morning, there is something to be said for a returning gobble to start things out! I had confidence that we would see the birds even though there was no gobbling to be heard. We were settled in and ready, but I wanted some kind of guarantee that the birds were there. I grabbed my slate call and started with some soft clucks and yelps, with the sky getting brighter by the minute, I knew the birds had flown down from their roost and were headed out to the cut corn field for last fall. After about fifteen minutes there were a couple of hens coming out to the field, the toms had to be close behind. We watched the hens, six of them; make their way into the field and in our direction, but no toms. I was getting anxious for this to happen and kept reassuring everyone that there had to be a tom with these hens, but was not too sure. A few minutes later, I spotted movement at the tree line, it was him! I could see the colors of his head as he approached the field with caution, a habit of an experienced old tom. He took about ten steps into the cut corn and when he went into full strut, I hear “That is so cool” from my now excited lady hunter! I said “let’s just stay still and see what he does, he may leave the hens to run off our tom decoy.”

And on cue, the tom came out of strut and left the live hens to claim our hen decoys as part of “his” flock. It took him about ten minutes to make his way across the field to get within about 60 yards of us and then he stopped and went into his best strutting dance that he could do. Again I hear “Cool” from my left, I had to smile because I knew that she was getting a great show from the tom and I could feel the excitement from her words. I had all of the assurance from the bird that he would continue into shooting range and give us the opportunity that we were looking for, but that tom didn’t read the script! He stayed out of range for at least 45 minutes despite my best soft clucks and purrs. He would just strut back and forth and never take another step closer; it was killing me to say the least! On his last turn in his strutting pattern, he turned, put his feathers down and headed back to the live hens. I couldn’t believe it! We were so close to getting that bird, but I reassured that there would be another opportunity and we were by no means done for the day!

After watching the bird for another half an hour, we snuck out of the back side of the cover and headed to a backup area down the road. On our walk back to the truck, I listened at the story this young lady was telling of our near encounter. She was going on about how “dumb” that bird was, I agreed with a smile and keep the fact that the bird was anything but dumb in my thoughts. If we don’t get to try for him again this weekend, we have tags for a May season and will be back.

A quick bite to eat and we went to an area of public land that doesn’t get pressure during the turkey season and always has birds up on the hardwood ridges at mid-day. We hiked up to an area that I have hunted before and set up a couple of hen decoys on the logging road. When the toms come out of the field, they head up the ridge to continue to locate hens and use the roads to strut in.

We called a little and after about an hour we heard scratching in the leaves off to our right and spotted a hen feeding about 40 yards out. I didn’t see any other birds with her, but there could be a tom nearby. I looked at Emily and her dad and they were frozen and focused on that hen, it was a picture I wish I could have taken of them. The hen fed within 5 yards of us and gave the decoys a look as if to say “What are YOU looking at?” She fed past us and we never saw anything else in the area, so we headed to one more set up for the day. It was a pasture that always had birds around and was a good early season location late in the day.

I set up with all of the confidence that we would have the opportunity to see birds, but I was wrong. After an hour and a half we threw in the white towel and headed home. On our way home we stopped and had dinner and talked about the day and what fun it was to get so close to getting to harvest a tom turkey. I was disappointed that we didn’t tag a bird, but I was proud of Emily and her attitude towards the day that she had spent in the outdoors and the fact that she spent it with her dad made it a memory for the both of them. She wasn’t disappointed one bit!

When we got back and we said our goodbyes, I knew that there was a young lady that will be looking forward to her next hunt. Dad was ready to take on turkeys with the enthusiasm he had with deer hunting and was going shopping for decoys and calls. I shook his hand and told him that there are a lot of memories to come for him and his daughter and they will be something he will cherish.

It’s funny how even a hunt where we only got close to filling a tag, we all realized it was a successful hunt because of what we learned. For a young lady of 12 years, it was about learning about a “dumb” bird and how smart they can be. For a dad, it was about learning that his hunting experiences were about to change. And for me, well, it was learning about what I had learned a while back, that if we adults don’t give back to what we love to do, there won’t be anything for our future generations to hunt or a place to hunt. I challenge all of you to get involved in the effort to assure the future of hunting, you won’t regret it.







Mentoring the Next Generation

Autin and First TarponOperating a fly shop has many perks such as having access to some of the latest and greatest equipment, finding out where the fish are biting (even if we don’t get a chance to pursue them ourselves), and meeting some of the celebrities of the sport.  All of these things are great but the one thing that really keeps me coming back day after day is the opportunity to work with aspiring fly fisherman, lending a hand when we can, explaining the intricacies of our sport, and coaching through the hard and lean times.

Working with young anglers that show an interest in a sport even some adults feel too complicated and difficult to be worth the effort is part of the reason Scott and I get such a kick out of coming to work each day.  It has little or nothing to do with the selling aspect of retail, but rather the part of playing teacher when necessary.  Everybody can learn something but the younger folks are more open to the world and have minds capable of soaking up every tidbit and morsel to develop their own opinions and skills.

We’ve been lucky enough to have a great group of customers, and what we would now consider friends, visit us over the years, none of which embody what is good with today’s young anglers more than Austin and Jeff; two young men that came into the shop every once in a while after they got done at the skate park.  They had a budding interest in fly fishing and were willing to listen, learn, practice, and persevere.  They were hooked before they ever got their first fish on fly and their obsession has gotten more intense over the past five or six years.  It’s hard to believe they first came into the shop while in their early teens and now they’re productive members of society with jobs, girlfriends and high aspirations for the future.

We’ve recently had a chance to fish with both of them and it’s wonderful to see the skill they both possess at such a young age, but it is kind of depressing when I look at how late I took to the sport.  I can only imagine how much more skillful I would be had there been someone to start me along the path at their age.  My young friend Tanner is another that shows a great deal of fly angling potential, but he has so many interests that dedicating time to one or the other is tough right now.  Rest assured that he’ll come back to his roots when the time’s right.  Fly fishing stays in your blood forever and everyone comes back eventually, even if it takes nearly a lifetime to realize what you’ve been missing.

We’re not the only ones trying to get kids into fishing and provide a good example.  Anglers for Conservation and their Hook Kids on Fishing Program shows youngsters the joy of angling and gets them outdoors and away from the computer screens.  They understand that living means experiencing, not reading about or watching secondhand.  They also teach ethics and responsible use of the resources which is necessary if the sport is to survive and grow.  We can all do our own little part.

Being employed in a fly shop is about more than selling equipment, stocking shelves, and rigging lines for people.  It’s about mentoring the next generation of fly fishermen.  It’s about celebrating their successes, sharing their failures, and encouraging them towards future angling adventures.  Austin, Jeff, Tanner, and all the others we’ve helped over the years are on the right track and we’re glad to have played a small part.

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando


Tips & Tricks for Bow Fishing from the Pro’s

When shooting larger Carp, always have someone with another bow for a backup shot, or at least a gaff. Most large fish are lost at the boat. Connor Hankinson

Know your bow! Aiming low is a rule of thumb, but for longer shots you will need to compensate for the trajectory of your arrow (how far it drops). This is different for every bow. Jonah Powell - River Bottom Outdoors


When shooting grass carp, aim behind the gills because there is a rock hard plate that covers their head, you have a much better chance of full penetration if you don't shoot this. Tyler Gerber -back country bow fishing

When you go bow fishing, take a friend or someone new to the sport. Your friend can back you up on a second shot if you miss or shoot the second fish. They love to travel together in schools. If you can't get your friend to go, take a person that is curious about the sport. It is a great way to make our sport grow and it is always more fun with others. - Dan Swearingin

You really can't aim low enough, especially if shooting in Deep waters. -- Austin Armstrong, Sand Lake MI

When shooting catfish, the best time is at night in between sunset till about one in the morning. -- Justin Dillon Lexington, SC

If you shoot a fish and it bleeds a lot go back to that spot later and there may be gar or bowfin that were attracted to the scent. - Austin Armstrong, Sand Lake, MI

Make sure you use the right point for the fish you're going after. This was a lesson I learned quickly when I lost a nice size Gar because I was using a Ray point. He spun and released the barbs. - Leo, S. Louisiana

I do a lot of shooting in deep water situations, and I have found that using an arrow point with barbs that fold down very close to the arrow shaft causes the arrow to move straighter in the water for those shots over a foot deep or so. - Brian

When shooting spawning carp, the Females are usually the larger in a small group and the males will chase her, shoot the largest in the group and don’t pull her out of the water. Let it settle down and your partners will shoot the rest of the remaining males because they won’t leave her. --Tyler

Don't bow fish on a very windy day. It’s almost impossible to see fish. - Rod

Do not over fish one spot; it will stay a good spot if you do not over fish it. - Rod

If legal in your area, chum with corn, bread, and dog food as much as possible to keep large amounts of carp in one area. - Rod

At night, walk along irrigation ditches with a spotlight. You'll be surprised at how many fish there are. - Rod


Sometimes a fish can be just a slight discoloration in the water. - Austin, Sand Lake, MI

When fishing freshwater dogfish, just look for their fins. They do the wave. - Austin, Sand Lake, MI

When shooting anything from a boat make sure to use a gaff, easiest way i have found to get fish in the boat. ~ Zach Clausing WI

The best way to fish is at night time. You don't really have to worry about shadows and with a good spotlight you can find the fish more easily than they can find you. - Daniel Ballard

I have found that toward dusk or dawn you get a bad glare on the water and to help with the glare buy a nice pair of polarized sunglasses -- Aaron Black, Onsted MI

When bow fishing Southern Louisiana marshes, bring a big ice chest. --- Matt Weber, N.O., La

When bow fishing for big grass carp or anything big for that matter, DO NOT grab the line when the fish makes the first run. I learned that today....9 stitches going up my finger!!! - Michael

When bow fishing off of a dock or off of the bank, put some corn 3-4 feet out in the water and huge amounts of carp and buffalo will come. -- Chance Tuder

A tip for muddy water carp slayers: When going for buglemouths in mud-bottomed waters, keep a close eye for fins sticking out of the mud, as carp will often bury themselves in it when spooked, only to be revealed with a loud thrashing as you go by them in the boat. -- Andy "Carp Slayer" Waltman, Little Falls, MN

Learn How to make boilies, those carp baits used by carp fisherman. Drop them near a likely carp spot; they're great because most other fish ignore them. They are a carp magnet! - Bill Young

While shooting carp from the bank, move very slowly and look for the top outline of the fish in the water. It helps if you have polarized sunglasses. -Jared McCreary Durant

OK When fishing in deeper water for buffalo and you see the bubbles coming from the bottom where they are feeding. Try waiting for a minute or so before moving on, often he fish will feed for a few minutes and then rise and move over a few feet to a new place to feed. When they rise to move this will offer you a shot on them. Often times the bigger and faster the bubbles rise the bigger the fish will be. -- Mike Tubbs, Mississippi

Put a loaf of bread in a minnow trap and throw it within shooting distance. Tie it in place with a rope so it does not float off. Carp will come up and suck on the minnow trap allowing for an easy shot. (Put a rock in the bottom of the minnow trap so it does not roll around on the bottom) --- Chad

Look in shallow swamps connected to lakes about 5" to 10" of water with fallen trees and cattails I have found carp a month after ice out going to the shallows ---Aaron Black, MI

On hot days when you are not seeing any carp look under logs and brush piles. ----Luke, Minnesota

To get an easy shot on carp, put dog food in a metal minnow bucket (the ones with holes in the sides), and put it in the water. You can either let it drift or tie it to a tree or other cover sticking out of the water. The carp will come up and suck the dog food out of the bucket, allowing for an easy shot. ----Rusty Nace

We will drift from 50 or 60 yards out into the shallows, between two groups of carp while they are rolling. Some of them will get curious and move from one group to the other. Be patient, and watch both sides of the boat. If you miss a shot stay there and wait you will get another shot. I've shot at the same carp three times before connecting. - Jason

Often times when you shoot and miss a carp they will spook, but many times they make a circle and return to the same spot, as if curious as to what caused the commotion. If you do not disturb the shot arrow, your partner will get a shot at the same fish. They are on high alert then, so be ready for a fast shot. — Dick Bassetti

If carp are gathered in a submerged tree and you can't get a clear shot, then throw a few stones several feet away from the tree. Carp are curious and the bigger ones tend to investigate allowing an easier shot! — Timothy Fynn

When bow fishing in creeks or rivers, concentrate your efforts on deadfalls and other obstructions, as carp will consistently gather to feed on what builds up in front of the blockage. — John Alan Caddell


When hunting carp in shallows, keep your shadow off the water. It will spook the fish. — Michael If you put the big fish on a stringer and let them swim alongside the boat, other fish will come and swim next to them, allowing for an easy shot.— Jeff Hogue, Omaha, Ne

When bow fishing for carp, you will usually find them in warm, shallow water around bushes, rocks and any other cover. — Joey

Look for carp in cattails at any time of the year. — Jeff, Stratford, WI

On Lake Michigan, carp will feed on seagull droppings. — Jeff, Stratford, WI

After shooting a large grass carp, don't put pressure on the line. They will sometimes stop after running a short distance, allowing you to get another arrow into it to ensure it doesn't get off. — Jeff, Stratford, WI

When shooting carp in rivers (from the bank) draw your bow before you get to the water allowing you to get a quick shot off before the carp spook off. — Morgan Longshore

After a successful hit on a carp, push the arrow down into the sand (or mud). With one hand on top of the arrow, dip the other hand into the water and grab the bottom of the arrow so your fish won't slide off! This only happened to me as a youngster!-live and learn. — Joe Roe

If you see a decent amount of carp holding in one spot, chances are they feed that area consistently. Even if they don't show themselves the minute you arrive, give it time. Hot spots and patience are the keys to successful bow fishing. — Dominic Coville

When wading for drum in creeks don't be afraid to chase a fish down, They tend to take off fast and slow down just as fast (unlike carp) making it possible to get in close for a shot. — Christian Goodpaster, Southern Indiana Bow fishing

Anytime bow fishing in shallow creeks look for pools; they may be only 3-5 inches deep in some cases, but these "holes" gather fish from shallower water and provide holding areas. — Christian Goodpaster, Southern Indiana Bow fishing

When shooting fish coming directly at you, shoot just below the mouth of the fish and you will hit just behind the head. — Michelle Moskala

When you think you’ve aimed low enough, aim lower and keep one sight pin on your bow for surfacing fish and turtles. .It’s a lot easier. --Wrightson, Christopher

I use a slightly modified quick shot whisker biscuit on my bow fishing rig. I coated the bottom bristles with a spray adhesive to stiffen them up. This allows for quicker shots because I don't have to worry about my arrow falling off. — Cody, Pinckneyville IL

Shoot a bit lower than where you want to hit, since water will make the fish seem higher than it is. — Josh De Guzman

If a fish is quartering towards you, wait for a broadside shot. — Thomas Aim low and let go!!!!!!! — Rick, Stevens Point, WI

When shooting off of large culverts, wait for the fish to get almost inside of the culvert and then shoot, giving you a perfect straight down shot. — Justin Marc Pelzer

Be careful on long shots in lily pads. Your arrow may skip on the lily pads. — Aaron Black

If you lose an arrow in a fish, keep your eyes peeled. My cousin and I lost 3 arrows one day and shot those 3 fish the next day and got our arrows back. — John VanDusen

When bow fishing from shore or boat, don't shoot the first fish you see. Learn the patterns that the fish are swimming if possible before sending that first arrow. Whether you score or miss, you will now know where to look for the next rising fish. Fish are very predictable. Once you find a hotspot, always a hotspot as long as they aren't disturbed. — Dan Swearingin

When fishing for gar, try using a container filled with blood to attract them where legal. -- Susan

When river fishing, look for gator gar in a deep hole by creek inlets.—Jeff, Stratford, WI

When you see a couple of big gar rolling throw four or five dead buffalo or carp around the anchored boat. Be quiet and still. The gar will mosey on up giving you an easy shot. If that does not work (which it will) throw some jug line out with a big chunk of buffalo on it about a foot deep from the jug anchor with a 1oz weight when the gar hooks on follow the gar and take as many shot as you like. Jay -- Palestine, TX

To have a more durable arrow, you can insert a fiberglass arrow into a 2213 aluminum shaft.—Tim, Georgetown, TX

If you lose an arrow in a creek or river bank or brush, come back when the water is low and get your arrow back. If you lose an arrow in the water, don't dive in after it unless it's your last one! It's not worth it, I know from experience. — Tyler Krukar

Keep a marker to throw if your arrow breaks off, it makes them much easier to find. — Kelby Scott

To get rid of the fish smell on your hands, take some toothpaste or a citrus soda like Mountain Dew and clean those smelly hands. It works great.—Tim, Georgetown, TX

When fishing with a trolling motor, set it as low as possible and drift into the school of fish, don't make any sudden movements and wear polarized sunglasses.—Scott

When shooting carp from a boat, make sure you put the plug in the back or it will sink, I speak from experience. —Scott


Take Some Shade


Whether you are going for a picnic in the park with the family, to watch the children play soccer, or taking the dogs to the beach, the BRAND NEW Bass Pro Shops Instant Shade Shelter, is perfect for you and your family. Bass Pro Shelter

It is designed to shelter you from the sun whenever you need it.  Not only does it make a day out for your family super fun and cool, but it has some pretty awesome features that make it easy to use. It's lightweight at only 4 pounds, made of water resistant 190T polyester taffeta with 800 mm PU coating, has UPF 50+ silver UV coating for excellent shade protection, and a large mesh panel to keep you cool. Shock corded fiber glass poles making it easy to assemble, and it comes with a carry bag and stakes so you can store it in the car and take it with you anywhere and everywhere you go.  So swing into your local Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World and let one of our awesome camping associates help you find the perfect shelter to keep your family cool all Summer long!


Everglades National Park

Few places truly embody what nonresidents envision when you mention Florida than the Everglades and The Everglades National Park, and I’ve finally been able to spend some time camping, hiking, and kayaking through the seemingly endless grasslands, the cypress forests, mangrove swamps, and marine grass flats of “The River of Grass.”

Head south through the city of Homestead, Florida that was nearly wiped out by Hurricane Andrew back in 1992, turn onto Highway 9336, and it won’t take long before you’re totally lost in a vast region of nothingness and limited cell signals.  There isn’t a better place to get away from everything and experience natural Florida the way it was when inhabited by only the indigenous tribes.  Just imagine what it was like for the original settlers, the Florida “Crackers,” when they carved their path across the state.  There isn’t much to maintain your ties to civilization after stepping off the concrete ribbon leading from the entrance gate to the Flamingo campgrounds.

The wildlife variety is absolutely amazing and for the bird watchers among us, there can’t be a better location to view a more varied species list.  Wood Stork, Osprey, Black Vulture, Turkey Buzzard, Great Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, Ibis, Limpkin, Swallowtail Kite, all manner of hawks, and water birds abound in the skies, the swamps, and grass fields.  Florida Panther, American Alligator, Crocodile, Whitetail Deer, Raccoon, Otter, Eastern Indigo Snake, and many others hide in plain sight, just off the trail’s edge, so watch your step.  The fishing can be quite spectacular in both the fresh and saltwater sections of the park so be sure to take a couple rods rigged for everything from bass and bluegill to redfish and tarpon.  The plant life including wild orchids is spectacular but much of it takes an adventurous heart to experience since you can’t see everything from a parking lot.


So take a trip south and experience what this state used to be like back in the days before computers, cell towers, high-rise hotels, and strip malls.  Commune with nature for a while and enjoy the peace and quiet of Everglades National Park.

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando


Graduation Decorations for the Outdoor Lover's Party

May brings high school and college graduations. No graduation speeches in this post, just a reminder to the graduates and the parents that this truly IS your time to move forward and, preferably, on a positive path. Graduates, further your education through books and life. Parents, hope about enjoying your freedom and let your grad learn...sometimes the hard way.

Now, let's get down to brass tacks, here. Graduation parties and graduation gifts. Let's start with parties...and we will assume that your graduate is a hunter, fisherman, or any kind of outdoors lover!Camo gift wrapfishing gift wrapBass gift wrapDeer gift wrap paper

*  Outdoor themed gift wrap...for table coverings! Pink and green camo, vintage fishing theme, bass, deer, etc. Actually, I got this idea last year from a mother who was in the store.

*  Need some streamers? How about toilet paper! We have orange and camo toilet paper perfect for lending to the outdoors theme.

Grass mats for the walls or behind the gift table or to hide stuff in the garage where the party is! Raffia blind grass for down the middle of the table or to tie the camo gift wrap paper tablecloths to the table legs...and don't forget the camo duct tape to bring it all together! You could even get camo netting to lay on tables or camo burlap to use for table cloths, too. Camo burlap RedHead Field Grass

Last, but not least, how about a special glass just for the celebrant.

Redneck Glasses






Most importantly of all, no matter where your path takes you as a new graduate or a new graduate's parent, always remember the path to the outdoors!

Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods.

Wash your spirit clean.

~John Muir

Watch for an upcoming blog post on gift suggestions, from one of our own graduates here at Bass Pro Shops Altoona. You can also see some great ideas on our Pinterest page!


Like us @  Bass Pro Shops Altoona
Tweet us @bassproaltoona
Pin us @ pinterest.com/bpsaltoona
View us @ 



Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnmuir393393.html#FjJEpvV55sLkpXx1.99

Grandpa's Buck


BY: Dominic Sabatina

     Every weekend for the first six years of my life was spent with my grandparents. On the weekends that my father’s parents would come to visit I was always excited because I knew that those weekends meant two things; Saturday Fishing at the local pond with Grandpa Max, ice cream following and Church on Sunday followed by our traditional Italian feast! When I was just seven years old my Parents moved from great state of Ohio to “the valley of the sun”, Peoria Arizona.  After moving across the country the traditional weekends went away. Well, at least the fishing and ice cream did. My Father ALWAYS worked hard and did not have the time to be an avid outdoors-man like Grandpa Max was.

     Throughout my childhood and teen aged years I was only able to visit my grandparents twice, once at age 10 and once at the age of 18. During the last trip I found out that my Grandpa Max was a World War Two Veteran of the 244th Field Artillery Battalion in Patton's Third Army. His battalion earned 5 battle participation stars for Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes and Central Europe. He was at the Battle of the Bulge. He was a walking piece of American history!

I was about to start a military career, following in his footsteps, and didn't even know it. This was also probably the last time I would see my grandmother, Elizabeth. She suffered from Alzheimer's disease and unfortunately passed away during my first year in the Navy. When I retired from the Navy I knew it was my time to get back some of what I lost during my younger years. I made regular trips from my home in Illinois to Ohio to visit my grandfather who was still alive at the age of 98.

During my time in the Navy I became a fisherman and developed a true passion for bow hunting. Over the years, when I had time away from the Navy, I would trek out to the woods, climb a tree, hope for the best and I got lucky a few times. I have harvested five black tailed deer in Washington State, A mule deer and antelope in Wyoming and in my new home in Illinois, two white tailed deer. All of these deer have been harvested with arrows that I have built myself and part of the process for me is a sentimental one. Each year I place the initials of the people I care about (family and old hunting buddies) on one of the fletchings on each of the arrows in my quiver. This gives me the feeling that I am not alone, and that I have part of them with me on every hunt. While I am out there alone, braving the elements in hopes of getting the opportunity of a lifetime, I pull an arrow from my quiver and dedicate that hunt to them. Just for old times’ sake.

     The last week of September in 2013 finally came after a long off season of checking camera footage, picking spots and hanging sets. The opener (October 1st) was getting close and my level of excitement was quickly rising. On September 29th I received a phone call from one of my older sisters. Accompanying that call was the worst news I had heard all year. My Beloved Grandpa Max, WWII walking piece of American History and the last of that generation in our family had passed away due to natural causes at the age of 98. I was crushed. My father no longer had living parents and I was not able to get back near the amount of time with my Grandpa as I wanted.

     All of this still fresh in my mind, October 1st came and I was in the stand, but my mind wasn't. My mind was on an upcoming road trip with my father.  Once again, October 3rd came and I was in the stand but my mind was not there. That was my last hunt before the road trip. My Father and I were driving to Ohio to pay respects to the man that, through God, gave us life.

On October 5th 2013, my father's 65th birthday, we said our last “see ya later” and we buried Grandpa Max.

I came home from that trip and I didn't hunt for two weeks. I decided that my next hunt would be the evening of October 24th.

The evening prior, I was preparing for the next day's hunt and talking with my wife Tiffani. I was checking off all of my gear and making sure I had everything ready to go as I was headed to the farm right after work the next day.  Tiffani wished me luck as she always does and said to me, “maybe Grandpa Max will put your big buck in front of you”.

Now, I have been chasing this certain “Big Buck” since he was 4. He is now 7 and boy is he a dandy!  I kind of chuckled at the thought and then it hit me. I looked over at my quiver and noticed that not one of my arrows had initials on them. I looked at Tiffani and said “I know why I have not harvested a deer yet this year”. She asked me why and I said to her, “I forgot to initial my arrows. With everything that has happened here lately, I guess I just wasn't thinking about it”.

I grabbed a sharpie and started from the end. When I got to the number one arrow in my quiver I looked up at Tiffani. She was waiting there to see how long it was going to take me to write my grandpa's initials on an arrow.  I said to her, “My grandpa gets my number arrow this year”.  M.S. (Matthew Sabatina) got placed on the fetching of my number one arrow.

The next day was a great day all around. Everything when smooth, not one ounce of anything negative happened that day. I just didn't know why but it was probably one of the best days I had at work and when work was over I headed to the farm. I made it to the blind, set up my Boss Buck Decoy and settled down in the blind for a good evening of hunting. 

I pulled an old trusty Carbon-Tech Whitetail arrow with a G5 T3 expandable broad head from my quiver and knocked it on the string of my Strother Infinity. I pulled my Flex Tone Bone Collector Series call from my pack and started calling. I am sitting on a Red Head Blackout 360 degree swivel chair leaned back, bow laying against my chest; call in my shooting hand and my other on the bow grip.  I looked out to the sky and said “Grandpa, Please give me a sign that you are watching over me right now, please let me harvest a deer today”.

My cell phone vibrated, so I picked it up with my grip hand and answered the text from a buddy asking if I had seen anything yet.  I finished answering his question with a “no”. I pressed the send button on my phone and when I looked up there was a buck standing 20 yards away from the blind in the biggest shooting lane I had made. He was not the dandy that I was hoping to see but it was the first one of the year.  Time at this point seemed like it was moving in slow motion. The buck was standing there glaring at my Boss Buck Decoy. My phone and Flex Tone (which were still in my hands) slowly and silently found their way to the dirt. Grip hand on the bow, release connected to the D-Loop, I slowly sat up. I remember thinking,”I can't believe he is still just standing there”.

I came to full draw and anchored the string. While looking though the peep and orienting my 20 yard pin over his vitals he put his nose to the ground and started to move down wind of the decoy. Since I practice scent free odor control and invested in “Ever Calm” from Bass Pro Shops, all he was going to smell was another deer. He only took two steps with his nose to the ground and he stopped, picked his head up and glared at my decoy again. My finger was resting on the trigger and with just a little more back tension my release opened. 

The arrow left my bow traveling 288 Feet per second. When it hit the G5 opened up and the arrow made a clean pass through the deer punching a hole directly through the center of the heart. I could not have asked for a better shot. The deer traveled 10 yards and fell over dead right in front of the blind.  I exploded with excitement! I reached for another arrow and as I did I noticed that it was my grandpa's arrow that passed through the deer. My emotions overwhelmed me and all I could do at that point, with tears streaming from eyes, was look up to the sky and say,”I love you! I love you! I love you! Thank you Grandpa for watching over me and giving me a sign that you were here with me!

The first thing I did was call my Father to tell him what happened.  He simply said to me,” Your Grandpa was there with you and he guided that arrow”.

In honor of that experience I decided that I was going to complete an antler mount dedicated to my Grandpa Max. Here it is. Thank You Grandpa for all of the Wonderful memories. You'll never be forgotten.