Outdoor Cooking Primer - Breakfast Casserole for the Hunt!

Our Inventory Control Specialist Alyssa shared this recipe with us. She was talking about it at work and then was gracious enough to make it again, take a photo, AND let me have a bite. I can't wait to make it myself and it is a perfect holiday breakfast, hunters breakfast, or anytime you just want something warm and "comforting" to eat!

Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole

6 eggs
2 packages of 10 oz. sausage links  (I say use your own broken up venison patties or venison sausage links!)
1 cup milk
16 oz. tater tots
2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Green pepper - optional
Onion - optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 casserole dish. Brown sausage according to package directions and cut into bite size pieces. Spread cooked and cut sausage onto greased casserole dish. In a large bowl, beat together milk, eggs, salt, and pepper. Cover sausage in the casserole dish with the egg mixture. Cover with one cup of cheese.

(If you will be serving this the next morning, like I did, cover and refrigerate at this point. You will be performing the next steps in the morning.)

Spread 16 oz. tater tots on top of the cheese. Add remainder of the cheese on top. Bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees. (Mine took close to an hour to cook, just watch to make sure the eggs aren't runny.)

(I know that Alyssa added green pepper and onion the second time she made it, which was what she shared with me. Even better tasting!)




Binoculars - Fun - Practical - Gift

Now that Deer season is in full swing, your hunter is out utilizing all their equipment.  How are their binoculars?  Do they still have the same pair as when they were young?  Perhaps it is time to treat yourself or leave some hints for love ones to pick you up the pair you want.

Here are a few questions you may want to ask:

What is your budget?

What will they/you be using them for?

The binoculars that we sell here at Bass Pro Shop are not just for hunters.  People use binoculars for all different reasons.  Hunting, Bird Watching, Hiking, Sporting Events, Sightseeing, Boating, Concerts, Star Gazing, and more.

Did you know that with a basic pair of binoculars, you can see up to 3000 stars?  When you decide to stop in and look at the binouclars, ask any one of our associates in the hunting department to direct you to the right one to fit your need and wallet.

Perhaps you are looking for binoculars for the first time hunter.  The Bass Pro Shop Rubber Armor Binoculor-Porro Prism is a great gift idea.  Durable with rubber armor finish, a wide angle design these are great for outdoor activities.  Priced around $40 makes them the perfect first pair of binoculars for your young hunter, boy scout, or hiker.









A little more expensive around $100 is the Leupold Rogue Binoculars.  These binoculars have a easy focus with a oversized focus knob for anyone who may have a little arthritis.  A great price for waterproof, lightweight and compact binoculars, their field of view is 1000 yards.

















The Redfield Rebel 10x42 Binoculars, are well balanced, and easy to handle.  A great value at around $170, their clarity and brightness will impress you. 





















As you spend more, you will see the image get crisper and cleaner farther out.  At approx. $300 the Nikon Monarch 5 Binoculars are rugged, clear, lightweight and are waterproof as well as fog proof.  Extra low dispersion glass lenses and multilayer prism coating makes these binoculars worth every penny.  Along the same line are the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Binoculars.    Great focus, clear, slim lightweight but able to take on any toughness you give it.  Waterproof and fogproof.  A great price for what you get.




















The Vortex Viper HD Binoculars are high density with extra low dispersion glass.  Anti reflective coatings and 100% waterproof and fogproof.  Roof prisms and a Armor Tek Coating these are a great value at around $560.


















The prices go up depending on what you are looking for.  Follow the steps of knowing your budget and what are the binoculars being used for.  Then, stop on in and ask questions as well as try them out.  Even $40 is alot so make sure you are comfortable with what you are buying.  Why you may even check them out and stop on back once you have thought things through.  Here at Bass Pro Shop it is not about the sale.  We want you happy with what you are buying.  If you are happy we know you will stop on back to see us again.

Robin Piedmonte - Events Coordinator















I have listened to plenty of hunters express a general level of frustration when it comes to hunting areas with heavily used walking trails. Discouraged at the sight of “extreme” outdoor enthusiasts power walking past a heavily beat up deer run that we were banking on for some hunting success. Although these everyday humans are trampling our suburban hunting paradise, when approached at the correct angle they actual pose a huge advantage.

Suburban and urban deer have a certain level of tolerance for human traffic in their woods. That all steaming from the fascinating process of classic conditioning, the subject at the fundamental core of my book ‘The Urban Deer Complex’. Whitetail’s recognize and process the difference between threatening and non-threatening human behavior.

That being said, plenty of us have experienced witnessed deer from a treestand watch the “extreme” outdoor enthusiasts walk by with just a casual alertness to their presence. I have written a lot on the topic of walking trails, as a method of modern still hunting, urban camouflage and in the series ‘The Science of Fear- Flight Distances’. What I care to concern ourselves in this article is using walking trails as a non-invasive method of treestand access.

There are a couple things to consider with using heavily used walking trails for treestand access. The first major advantage is wind direction, or more lack a lack of having to worry about wind directions during walks to and from stand locations. Whitetail deer, (even mature bucks) have come to expect that scent blowing off the walking trail maybe a 100 yards off their bedding sanctuary. In fact, they take a level of comfort in knowing where we are.

I try to position my treestand with least amount of invasive assess to “virgin” ground. That virgin ground is the soil one step off the walking trail, where our behavior (in the eyes of a Whitetail) turns from “extreme” outdoor enthusiast to predator. If I have to walk an extra half mile around walking trails- so be it. At that point all we are to a Whitetail is the next spandex wearing circus for entertainment while chewing on some acorns.

The second thing to remember with these heavily used walking trails is how much they actually do not impact a Whitetails movement. Yes, they will stop to the let the human walk by, and stay still from detection, but they will still in fact cross the trail and continue on their way.

As a bow hunter, more than once the people walking on trails have made it possible for me to draw back on my prey. That distraction is one more unique weapon in the arsenal of the suburban hunter, one that can in fact make the difference between harvesting our buck of a lifetime.

Although we all understand the slight frustration from people on walking trails breaking the silence of a calm wilderness, remember outside ruining that serene moment there are benefits to these walking trails. We need to consider them an advantage with treestand setups, distractions for drawing our bows, and as mentioned in my book and other articles, a vicious cover for aggressive still hunting tactics.


- A.J. DeRosa





Outdoor Kids Night at Mesa, Arizona

So every week we do something really awesome here at our store. Every Tuesday night we have our Outdoor Kids Night! It is a totally free and awesome way to get your kids interested in the outdoors. And for here in Arizona, it is a great place to beat the heat and give your kids something to do!

We start it at 5:00PM and it runs until 8:00PM.

Our laser arcade upstairs in Camping is turned to free! Young shooters can blast away at our interactive and amusing shooting gallery. If you have never checked it out, be sure to! Hitting certain targets will get specific reactions which truly are a hoot and a holler!

Down by Fudge we have coloring pages and a craft or other kind of activity. Rocky the squirrel (of the world famous Rustic-Esque Recipe blogs) is always there hanging out on the cart. Sometimes we are coloring backpack clips or playing Wildlife Bingo! We always have a great time, no matter the theme or activity! And with plenty of free and delicious popcorn available, there is something for everyone!

One of the best parts is our Main Tank Fish Feeding. If you have never been in-store for one of these, make a point to come watch! We kick it off at 6:00PM. Our main tank is full of different pan-fish, bass and bottom feeding fish. We toss them a number of tasty treats (including gross night crawler worms… ewwww!) that is sure to delight any watcher! But be sure to be there on time as these fish are hungry and it doesn’t last long!

After the fish feeding, the Archery Range opens up for some target practice and basic archery lessons. It does not matter the age, any youngster is more than welcome to try it out. A waiver does need to be filled out though for anyone going on the range so be sure to have a parent or legal guardian present.

We have been having a lot of fun with specialty themed months for our Kids Nights. In July we had Christmas in July. Santa Claus was even able to come by the final Kids Night to help out! Then August was Animal Appreciation Month.

Please note all items are subject to change and availability. You can always call our store at 602-606-5600 for more details!



Take Someone: Fishing

One of my absolute favorite ways to spend some time outdoors is fishing. Just like with taking someone shooting, I love to take people fishing. During high school the posse and I would spend countless hours out at the river in the morning or at an urban lake in the afternoon. Our parents loved it to, because it got us out of their houses and away from their pantries.

To take someone fishing you only need a few items:

Fishing Poles

Bait/ Lures


Little bit of terminal tackle (extra hooks, sinkers, etc)

You can also read my checklist of a fishing pack for some other pointers/useful items.

-Fishing poles can be a tricky proposition when it comes to taking someone out. If it is their first time, be prepared to teach them how to use one and avoid bringing a bait-caster. Simpler the better, but that doesn’t mean you have to start them on a spin-caster.

-Bait/Lures will always depend on the kind of fish you are pursuing and the kind of water you are at. Teaching them to watch a bobber above some bait is an important task, but also boring. Be prepared to have them try a couple different styles of fishing to keep them engaged.

-Licenses are important. This can also be where some people may drop out because of the cost. Most states offer one-day licenses though. Also some states hold fishing days so one would not need a license, just be prepared for the rush of others. My suggestion is say that if they buy the license, you will take care of everything else… including lunch.

-Since you are a seasoned fisher, you know what else you need. And like I said above, my checklist for a fishing pack can offer some personal tips, tricks and suggestions.

There are a few keys things to also consider, like getting them to catch something. Fishing is awesome, in my mind. But it is fishing, not catching. New time fishers could lose interest if they don’t catch something in the first trip or two. So your best bet is to take them to your best spot. Now this can be intimidating as it is your best spot, but just explain the “fisherman’s code” and they should understand not to blab about the spot to just anyone.

The group, Take Me Fishing is an awesome organization that can help people out when it comes to getting into fishing. Their website is loaded with awesome features. Including a page on the Top 100 Family Friendly Fishing & Boating Spots.

Another tip is to take a camera of some kind with you. Most phones have a camera function, but just be sure to have one. If you are out and get someone onto their first fish, you are going to want to capture the moment.



9/11 What the day means to me…

Picture taken by Thomas E. Franklin


On September 11, 2001, I was more than 850 miles away from the events that would change my country and my profession forever. This event claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 innocent citizens of the United States of America, including 343 of my brother firefighters.

I never meet any of the firefighters who perished that day, but my emotional experience of those horrific events came mostly through the countless news stories we watched at Fire Station 13 in Suwanee, GA that day. September 11, 2001 started the same way for many firefighters that were on duty that day. We reported to work, inspected our apparatus and then sat down for a shift meeting, but suddenly something happened that would change this firefighter’s life forever.  The phone rang, “Do you have the TV on?” our Battalion Chief asked. “No sir, what’s going on?” I said. Battalion Chief stated, “Get the TV on and lock the station down, I will have more information coming soon!” Just as I turned on the TV the second plane hit the World Trade Center, our nation was under attack!

Fast forwarded to 2014… Now Firefighter training is different: 2 in 2 out is the rule, situational awareness is a new key word, and fire stations are locked up. On the job training includes more of the terrorist kind of activities. Firefighters are now training to focus on dirty bombs and terrorist activity that we never really focused on before.

Suddenly heroes aren't the ones hitting home runs or starring in movies. A hero to me is someone who has courage, strength, and also has respect for citizens. Thank you to all the firefighters, police officers, EMT’s and Paramedic’s for your service to the community every day.


We will never forget 9-11-01



About the author:

Tom Branch, Jr. is a freelance outdoor writer and prostaffer for Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World in Lawrenceville, GA. He retired as a Lieutenant/Paramedic/Firefighter with Gwinnett County Fire, GA after 29 years of service in 2013. He is currently a contracted employee with NAVICO/Lowrance working as the College Fishing Recruiter. He has been working in the Outdoor Industry for over 20 years. He and his beautiful wife, Kim live north of Atlanta near Braselton, GA with their lab Jake. They volunteer with Operation One Voice (501c3) (www.operationonevoice.org)


Why it Matters: Hunting

So this month we are running our huge Fall Hunting Classic event/sale at Bass Pro. It’s a great time to stock up on gear and information. It’s awesome having people come in to get outfitted for their big hunt this year. Out here in Arizona we have some of the best big game available and work on a lottery system for most tags. Getting drawn is a huge thing, and somehow a good number of our associates got tags. So now I get to watch my coworkers and customers get hooked up for their hunts.

There is always a certain sparkle to someone who is going on a hunt. Lord knows I had it a couple years back for my first big game hunt. Every lunch break was spent asking hundreds of questions to my buddies in the Hunting Department. And now I can even pass on my limited knowledge to people.

And you know what, that is something that matters. Hunting is an important tradition for many reasons. And for that I am making it the focus of this month’s Why It Matters blog.

Hunting has always been an important aspect of human life. Our ancestors needed to hunt in order to survive. Nowadays we have been able to ranch or raise livestock to fill dinner plates worldwide.  But still, every year people continue to go outside to harvest animals for food. Some would ask why? There are many ways to answer that.

One, because it’s in our nature. We would not have survived this world without hunting for previous generations. Just like they say there is a wolf inside all domestic dogs, there is a hunter in every human. No matter how far we are removed from the outdoors by cell phones or whatever, it is still instinctual. Just like we fear what is lurking in the dark.

 Two, because unlike buying meat in a grocery store that came from some commercial farm somewhere you are getting your meat from nature. Deer are not being pumped full of hormones to speed up their development. Elk are not on a conveyor belt never seeing the outdoors. Pheasants’ feet are allowed to touch the ground and roam freely. The health reasons for eating grass fed or cage free meats are even more indicators for why we should be eating game meats.

Three, it helps keep the balance of things. This is for nature itself and us humans. We can get back to our roots and take a break from the over-stimulation of everyday life when out in the field. We can actually focus on something that matters, like getting meat on the table for winter as opposed to “shooting off that really important email”! Humans have had a huge impact on nature, both good and bad, and our role in it is still being figured out. In areas where we have removed the natural apex predator we must hunt animals to prevent over population and diseases that are possible. In places where the predators outnumber the prey, we need to reestablish the healthy balance between the two. Arizona’s antelope population gets hit hard by coyotes and in these areas there is a concentration of predator hunting to help the antelope.

Four, it pays. Not only does a hunting trip pay off in a memory, a great time and hopefully food to consume but it helps fund outdoor conservation. It’s the money paid in fees, tags, licenses, firearms, ammunition and other hunting equipment that funds the federal and state agencies that handle our outdoors. If you think PETA is out there helping clean up the outdoors or watch over populations of animals, you are wrong. It is the kinds of people like volunteers of local hunting clubs that put forth the efforts that matter. And whether you are a meat hunter or are just looking for a trophy to hang, it’s the license they buy and the trips that they take that do the most for animal conservation. Without hunters, a huge income of the monetary needs that is required would be lost.

Now one could keep on going with this list, but that’s enough for one blog. I’ll let it all simmer for you, and maybe share it with someone. If you have a strong opinion on why it matters, comment below! We’d love to hear from ya. Remember, United We Stand!



Getting Outdoors

Picking Up


Hangin' Around

It is that time of the year again where the kids are in school, the weather is cooling off enough that we actually want to be outdoors all day and the sun isn't beating down on you. Where that cat nap in the sun isn't going to burn your skin and you don't need a pool to cool down in. Ahh, the lazy days of fall. Where some people spend their evenings and weekends watching football, I prefer to spend it outside listening to the birds chirp, hearing the locust buzzing, watching the tree leaves swirl down around you and swaying in the gentle breeze with my legs kicked up and my favorite book in my hands.

Hammocks make spending time outdoors more enjoyable. Whether its used for camping, relaxation or spending time with a loved one. My mother used to take us outdoors and snuggle us kids in a hammock and read to us, the gentle swaying would ease us into naps. I would spend time by my self reading school books and napping as I got older. Dad napping after barbecuing for the family, snoring while we ate dessert. I had quite a few fond memories of spending time with family and friends in our back yard and the hammocks we owned so I got my own when I bought my first house. We only had one tree, but hammock stands are easy to set up and work with almost every type of hammock available. I really enjoy being able to relax while trying to take a quiet nap, smoking meat or watching the kids play.

I went camping with friends who had hammock tents. They had bug nets, rain flies and all! I was in awe. That was a great idea and fit so well into a backpack! That same night we had a huge storm. It stood up to it, while my tent tried to fly away. I was doubly impressed and decided to look into those my self. They were comfortable and could be used at home, for over night camping and were super easy to bring on day hikes and picnics. The straps to hang them were easy to use and you just needed to find two trees.

Hammocks run anywhere between $19.99 to $100. There are all kinds of different types you can find from the pocket hammock to home use for relaxation to the backpackers delight. They are comfortable and give us a chance to enjoy being outside.



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!



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!  


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! 






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 .