Why it Matters: Rangefinders

Because of the technology today we are getting further and further away from our basic beginnings. Once upon a time your day looked like this: get up, find food, get to shelter and go to bed. Then some centuries later it got a little more advanced and you added farming into the mix. Then going to work got added onto it, but other aspects of life had become easier. And as we advanced, so did our technology which went in hand with making living easier but not simpler. The stresses people put on “keeping up to date” has caused some serious physiological issues. And as a society we have gotten farther from our awesome outdoors. And going along with that is the loss of certain skills.

Skills like gardening, fishing, tracking, making fires and others are vanishing completely from people’s ability. A huge thing we have lost track of is distance. Years ago to get the distance to somewhere you would have to bust out a map, nowadays it takes mere seconds on a smart-phone. Global communication has also shrunk our world with international calling being a daily occurrence for some people.

I have also noticed that judging simple distances is getting harder for people. This can be a huge problem, especially when it comes to hunting. Being able to judge and know distances is extremely important because it concerns so many aspects of hunting.

How far away is that next ridge? How many miles will it be back to campsite? When will the sun be setting past those mountains? Where exactly is that deer in relation to me? Will my arrow/bullet be able to reach it? What will happen if my bullet passes through and keeps going? All of these could possibly be a life-changing judgment call.

Luckily GPS has our back when it comes to several of those questions. There is no doubt that this has saved numerous lives. But what happens if the batteries die? Well if you kept track of your direction and landmarks you might just be able to make it back safely and before dark. But what about the second half of questions? Knowing the distance to your trophy/meal is extremely important. If you are out on a big-game hunt you should have taken the time to practice with your weapon. Whether it is bow or firearm you should know the limitations of the tool, the projectile and yourself well. The easiest way to know the distance: a rangefinder.

Many consider this just another gadget to have in the field, but it can be a complete game changer. Let’s say you overestimated your shot and the bullet goes over and carries on for a distance longer. Depending on the caliber and the load that distance can be quite longer. But if you know that the animal is close to 100 yards away you know where to hold to get a good, clean ethical shot.

And that is another reason why a rangefinder matters. The worst thing possible is to have a bad shot. Every hunter knows that the best way to honor the animal you are about to harvest is to take it as humanely as possible. You do not want the animal to suffer, and knowing the distance and therefore how to place your projectile is a must. Archers know this extremely well as distance and angle play a huge part in making a shot. Luckily many rangefinders have built in compensators for when shooting on an angle. Also being able to see just how far away that farmhouse and any possible inhabitants can save you from jail time.

When I went on my first big-game hunt a couple years ago I did not have a rangefinder. Luckily my uncle had an extra one for me to borrow. This made a huge difference. Thanks to it, I was able to humanely harvest an animal. Watching a deer drop right where it stood was one of the greatest visuals of my life. Not only knowing that I wasn’t going to have to track it down but that the animal was not put through pain was something to take pride in. I hope the rest of my hunting trips go like this. I know they probably won’t but you can bet that I will be getting a rangefinder before I go out again.

It may add to the cost of your trip and gear but they are well worth it. Over the past years, rangefinders have become increasingly more accurate, dependable, efficient and cost-friendly. Make sure to check into company-backed warranties on them before purchasing. Many big-name optics companies have some kind of warranty or guarantee on their products.



Getting Outdoors

Picking Up






Spring Fishing Classic


 February 6th -15th

It is that time again, Spring Fishing Classic! Sales, Sales and more Sales that go on at Bass Pro Shops around this time! If you are an avid fishermen(and women!) or wanting to pick up the sport and learn what is the best tricks, advise and products, make sure that you come to our event!

Here is the schedule and times of all the different events that will be taking place:

Rod and Reel Trade in

 February 6th –February 15th

New season new equipment? We think so! Bring in your old rod and reel during our “Trade in Promotion” and walk out feeling ready to conquer the water with your new rod and reel!

Line Spooling

February 11th – February 15th

Instant Rebate up to $100

February 6th – February 15th

On selected products, get instant rebates! See ad for details

Fried Fish Sampling

Saturday February 7th 2pm-5pm

Come up to our Camping Department and try out some FREE Fried Fish Sampling! You get to see how it is made with all the products that are used. To make it even better, all the products that are used are sold in stores. Talk about convenient!

Local Pro Seminars

Local Pro Seminars


First 25 customers to attend a workshop will receive a mug at the aquarium

Feb 13th-Will be held in the Marine Department by the Marine Associates.

7pm- Electronics Essentials: Effective use for Saltwater Success.


Feb 14 and 15th- Front of the aquarium.

11am- The Baitfish Connection- Understanding seasonal movements will help you catch more fish

2pm- Cutting- Edge offshore Gear- A guide to the Latest Advances on Tech and Tackle

2:30pm-KIDS SEMINAR- Kids will receive certificate of completing a workshop there at the aquarium!!

3pm- ONLY SATURDAY FEB 14TH-Women’s Workshop- Fishing and Outdoor cooking tips.

4pm- Surf Fishing: Beach and Wading strategies that work.

4:30pm-KIDS SEMINAR- Kids will receive certificate of completing a workshop there at the aquarium!! 


Women’s Workshop

February 14th at 3pm in front of the aquarium

Ladies, have you been curious about learning how to fish? Nice relaxing getaway sport. Perk of learn is to gloat to your husband how is better (all fun)! We will be hosting a FREE Workshop that will include some great tips, demos and products of best outwear. To make it even better, for the first 25 ladies to attend will be receiving a FREE tumbler!

Local Fishing Tips and Seminars by Local Pros

Friday February 13 -7pm

Saturday and Sunday- February 14 & 15 - 11am, 2pm and 4pm

Avid fishermen and women or beginners! Come get some tips and watch some product demos right from our aquarium! All given by our on Local Pro! For the first 25 customers (18 and older) to attend these seminars will receive and FREE tumbler!


Kid’s Next Generation Weekend

February 14 and 15 – Noon-5pm

Don’t think we forgot about the kids! We will have some fun fishing activities from:

Casting Challenge- Learning how to cast a fishing pole. (Fish Shaped water bottle for kids who complete the Casting Challenge (while supplies last)

Crafts- Color Wood fish stand-up and coloring sheets

Free 4x6 download - receive a free photo download 


Kids’ Workshop/Seminar

Saturday &Sunday during the Next Generation Event

February 14 & 15- 2pm & 4pm both days

Subjects to include:

-Discuss how we can learn to catch fish by thinking like they do

- Have a few items for kids to view and have “hands-on” experience

(First 25 kids to attend workshop/seminar will receive certificates and lanyard)  




As you can tell it is going to be a busy 2 weeks that you cannot miss! So remember February 6-15 – Bass Pro Shops Spring Fishing Classic!! 


Introduction to Matt Scotch, Kayak specific-Pro-staffer

The 2014 fishing year revealed many interesting trends, but none could be more obvious than the soaring popularity of kayak angling. My name is Dean Brown, and I proudly work and write for several organizations, including Bass Pro Shops (Grapevine, Texas). Having spent the last six years in the seat of a kayak, and a lifetime chasing trophy bass, it was only a natural step for me to incorporate these specific skills and interests into my work life. Last year we began discussing the idea of adding a kayak angler to our sponsor-level pro staff, and after a few meetings and proposals, I was tasked with creating our very own kayak fishing team. Announcing the project and launching an application process was simple, but sifting through a plethora of high-caliber resumes was a daunting experience. The response, literally, was overwhelming. Our new team would consist of only two anglers: I would serve as team captain and manage the operation, and our new pro staffer would represent Bass Pro Shops in varied capacity. While this certainly made for a difficult decision, one applicant stood out among the rest. His tournament history was impeccable, and after interviewing him both in the office and on the water, I knew we had found the right person for the job. I could spend an entire day writing about his accomplishments, but I rather like the idea of giving our new addition the opportunity to speak for himself. We are proud and excited to introduce Matthew Scotch, our very first kayak-specific pro staffer.


Matt, first of all, welcome to the Bass Pro Shops family. If you would, tell our readers a little bit about your tournament history. What are some of the highlights?


Thank you Dean for the introduction, I couldn’t be happier than I am to be joining the team at Bass Pro Shops.

My tournament history and highlights have a very modest beginning. When I bought my first kayak (Hobie Pro Angler  14) I did it just because I enjoyed fishing and I viewed it as a way to get on the water more often. One evening, a few years back now, one of my neighbors noticed me hauling my kayak and decided to follow me home. I didn’t know it, but this unexpected meeting would change fishing, especially out of a kayak, for the rest of my life. My neighbor’s name is Mike Whitacre, and if you don’t know, he’s a pretty sensational kayak fisherman and video editor. That evening Mike told me about kayak “tournaments” and suggested that I tag along if I ever had time and give one a try. It took a few months but I finally came around to the idea and joined Mike for my first kayak tournament: a North Texas Kayak Bass Fishing (NTKBF) tournament at Purtis Creek State Park. That morning started off all kinds of wrong with me “turtling” flipping my kayak and gear into the lake, but I got it together and managed to catch some fish before flipping my kayak a second time; reaching out to secure a nice fish that was wrapped around a piece of timber. I ended up finishing 4th out of 25 anglers and tied for Big Bass. I didn’t take home any money or prizes

that day but I did come away with a love for a new sport: kayak bass fishing. Since that tournament at Purtis Creek, I’ve now fished 25 kayak tournaments to date. I’ve come in 1st or 2nd 11 times and finished in the top five in 16 of those events.

This new project will afford us the opportunity to conduct a number of clinics and demonstrations. As far as kayak angling is concerned, what topic or topics are important to you? What other key points will you cover in your presentations?

I primarily plan on talking about black bass and crappie fishing and how to do it effectively year around from a kayak in North Texas waters. I also look forward to discussing boat positioning, tournament strategy, and various tricks of the trade that I use to help people catch more fish.

I grew up fishing with my Father and Grandfather, and I know your story couldn't be more congruent. Tell us about your formative years, and briefly touch on one or two of your most cherished memories.

I was fortunate to grow up in a family that embraced hunting, fishing, and the outdoors.  My father and both grandfathers spent a lot of time teaching me how to fish when I was a young man. It really comes as no surprise that those are some of my most vivid memories when I reflect on my early years. I spent my summers divided between my grandparent’s houses. My Mom’s parents lived on a farm with five stocked tanks in Whitesboro, where I beat the banks around the ponds from sun-up to sun-down. Dad’s parents lived 30 minutes away on the banks of Lake Texoma where we chased Striped Bass, Smallmouth, and just about anything that would bite our hooks. When I wasn’t at my grandparents in the summer I spent a lot of time fishing with my Dad at our bay house in East Matagorda. I can remember many nights where my dad and I caught speckled trout until the sun came up. I really was fortunate to have such great role models growing up.

What Bass Pro Shops products have you had a chance to explore thus far? Specifically, how are you using them to put fish in your kayak?

I’ve had a lot of success recently throwing the Bass Pro Shops Stick-O wacky rigged for Black Bass. Bass Pro offers Stick-O’s in three different sizes with the 5 ¾” and the 4 1’4” being my two favorite sizes. I’m using a Gamakatsu Size 1 weedless worm hook, 12lb line, and a Med- Heavy Fast-tip rod. I like to add an Owner Flashy Accent small willow leaf blade to my weightless Stick-O (this is a secret of mine). I find that the flash helps attract strikes from fish that wouldn’t otherwise bite.  I’ve also had a lot of success recently with the Bass Pro 2” Baby Shad (Firecracker and Chartreuse flash). I’m rigging the jig body on a 1/32 oz. Bass Pro jig head, 6lb mono, and a 6’ UL rod.  The tactic that has been working the best for suspended

crappies lately is to find bait and fish in standing timber with the electronics. Once I locate the fish I pitch the jig anywhere from 4-8’ past the target and let the lure swing back to me through the strike zone. The crappies are biting the bait very aggressively on the fall.

What other products have you been using recently (other than Bass Pro Shops merchandise)?

This almost comes off as a trick question because I have so many rod and reel set-ups and bait/lure combinations. Over the past year I’ve been working on my finesse fishing technique a lot. I’ve been doing a lot of drop-shot and shaky-head fishing. It’s amazing how many days with tough conditions we face here in North Texas and how pulling out the “Fairy-wand” when the conditions get this way can make the difference between catching and not. When it comes to drop shot it’s my Dobyns Champion Extreme 702 SF paired with a Shimano Cl4, 20lb Power Pro Braid, 12lb Seaguar Fluorocarbon,  Gamakatsu size 1 wide gap hook, 1/8oz weight, and a Reins Bubbling Shaker. This combination puts fish in the boat just about every time. For shaky-head I’m using the same set-up I describe above with a Missile Baits jig-head and a Grande Bass Rattlesnake in Chartreuse Pepper. I don’t think there is a better way to catch spawning bass than with this combination

What are some of your favorite lakes in Texas to launch your kayak?

We are very fortunate to live in an area of the country with many bodies of water many of which are great for kayak fishing. My top places to launch a kayak would have to be Amon Carter Lake, Lady Bird Lake, Mineral Wells State Park, Lake Athens, and Lake Texoma.

Here at Bass Pro Shops, we have a strong commitment to children. Specifically, we strive to foster a healthy relationship between our youth and the outdoors. What advice would you give to a young boy or girl eager to catch their first fish?

If it’s just about catching fish I would advise any young angler to grab some crickets, grasshoppers, night crawlers, a Zebco 33, bobber, hook, and get out to the nearest body of water you can find, be it a local pond or small lake. This is how I started fishing many years ago. You will grow from the basics, and it doesn’t get any more basic than that.

For me, the physical aspect of kayak angling is the cornerstone of my obsession. It's a difficult phenomenon to describe, but from the seat of my kayak, I feel more like a hunter in the truest sense of the word than any other medium. Of course, diet plays a big role in fueling this type of sport. What are some foods and or snacks that drive your typical excursion?

This might come as a surprise but I typically don’t eat much when I’m out on the water. I try to get a meal in before I start and when I’m done. When I do take snacks, its granola, sunflower seeds, and beef jerky that I turn to. I typically have a Gatorade, energy drink, and several bottles of water with me at all times to keep hydrated.

We all live downstream. This phrase is interpreted differently from one person to the next, but what does it mean to you?

To me it’s about leaving a minimal carbon footprint and taking care of the resources we have; leaving our parks, rivers, lakes, and streams cleaner than we found them for future generations to enjoy.

In the world of fishing, we talk a lot about colors. We all know that green pumpkin is a staple, but in your opinion, what is the most underrated color? Feel free to elaborate.

To me the most underrated color in bass fishing is anything with purple. Some of my favorite color combinations have purple flake or purple hue to them. I think purple is a really good shad imitating color and since most anglers aren’t throwing it the fish haven’t necessarily seen that exact bait before. The Yamamoto Senko in Smoke Holo/Blue Pearl Silver produces fish trip in trip out for me especially in clear water.

Anglers and hunters watch the weather with a keen eye. Historically, I have a horrible habit of giving the extremities an opportunity to get under my skin. That is to say, I can't help but launch under post-frontal conditions with a negative attitude. Do you let a north wind shake you up, or do you power forward with confidence?

Fishing in North Texas we tend to face adverse weather conditions seemingly all the time. I tend not to get negative about the conditions because I can’t control them, but I do temper my expectations when the weather isn’t cooperating. A lot of times I won’t go out on a bad weather day. Instead I’ll work on tackle organization, tying jigs, or do some fishing related research for the more favorable days.

What are some of your goals for the 2015 season?

My goals for 2015 are pretty simple. I need to catch fish and win some tournaments, fulfill contractual obligations with my main sponsor Bass Pro Shops, and last but not least enjoy the ride. I’m very excited and looking forward to seeing what this next year holds in store.

About the author: Dean Brown is a Fishing Team Lead for Bass Pro Shops and a freelance outdoor writer. His personal website, Up Down Bass, has been nominated for several awards and featured in a variety of outdoor publications. You can easily navigate to his website here: http://updownbass.com


New Year, New Explorations

It's a new year and a perfect time to think about new places you might like to explore. I'm going to throw some ideas out to you...places and events you can work into your calendar...and invite you to come explore the great state of Iowa!

Let's start with:

January in Iowa

Winter can be cold in Iowa, just like right now! But, one of my favorite things to do in winter, especially on a sunny day, is to visit Lake Red Rock in south central Iowa and check out the eagles. These majestic birds are also very prevalent along the Mississippi River this time of year, so many locations there, and along other major rivers, host eagle days and festivals. I often think how GREAT it is that I can drive down Interstate 80 between Bass Pro Shops Altoona and my home, 25 miles to the east, and spot a resident eagle or two roosting along the Skunk River or feeding out in the corn field year round.

I'm most familiar with Lake Red Rock, my stomping grounds. Located between Knoxville and Pella, Iowa, Red Rock is an Army Corps of Engineers property, with state and county property bordering it. It is an outdoor lovers mecca. From boating, to fishing, to camping, to hiking, to paddling the water trails, there is something for everyone.

For the eagles, go below the Red Rock dam by Howell Station Campground for the best viewing. What remains of the old Horns Ferry Bridge has been turned into a viewing platform for the eagles, hundreds of which nest in the area over the open water this time of year. The bridge is from the late 1800s and was the first river crossing for the Des Moines River in Marion County. If the water is low enough you can go walk below the bridge along the shore for another interesting perspective.

Just a little walk up the riverbank sidewalk, towards the dam, is a full bridge across the river. It's part of the Volksweg Trail around the area. Hop onto the Eagles' Lair Loop, a 1/2 mile dirt path nature trail just after you cross the bridge. This is named for the eagles perched above you as you walk through the woods, part of the Gladys Black Bad Eagle Refuge. The bridge, and the west side to which it takes you, provides additional and different perspectives for eagle viewing and the dam.

As you leave the Horns Ferry area, go back up to the stop sign, turn left and then turn right at the next stop sign back on to T15. Follow this highway to the next stop which is County Road G28. This road takes you around the north side of the Lake and to Roberts Creek County Park. You will see eagles nesting near the small ponds along this road and when you arrive at the Roberts Creek boat ramps, you will have another grand viewing area along the south side of the bridge, facing the Lake. Renovations have created actual trail space here and you can't stop along the bridge any more, so make sure to park in the new parking lot on the west end of the bridge. On the north side of the bridge is Roberts Creek. You'll no doubt see some ice anglers out sharing space with some eagles.

The next crystal clear sunny day during January and February, head out to view the eagles. 

Throw on some warm clothes, grab your binoculars and camera (don't forget the zoom lens) and enjoy the feeling you'll have watching these symbols of freedom.

Eagle Viewing Events on the Mississippi

Eagle Festivals Around the Country


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Why It Matters: Camping

Every now and then we humans need to hit the reset button on ourselves. Many people have different methods of doing so but one of the longest standing traditional ways to do so is camping. Camping gets us back where we belong; in fresh air and our beautiful wilderness. It is only natural that we feel at piece in nature. Ever since societies have been developing there have always been those that turn towards the wilderness. And while you might not be able to be like those people in that TV show “Live Free or Die” you can still always get away for a weekend and be outside.

To many different people camping can mean several things. Some think of smores, lightning bugs, star-gazing or late night chats that lead into way too early morning wakeups. Others think about getting caught in storms, being eaten alive by mosquitos or possibly bear attacks. While the latter thought-process can be true, don’t be such a negative Nancy! You don’t know what will actually happen until you get out there!

You can always count on fresher air and a change of scenery at least. Not feeling a tent? There are plenty of campsites with permanent structures to go to. And if people want to stay inside a toy-hauler RV, let them. At least they are getting outside.

That really is what camping is about, getting outside and spending some quality time there. Whether that be a week or just a few days, it will always help get life back into perspective.

Speaking about perspective, if you work at a computer for extended periods of time check this out. Every 20 minutes of looking at the computer screen you should look away at an object that is 20 feet from you for at least 20 seconds. This will help you relieve eye-stress and more. And that is just in the office. Imagine you are out on a trail after breakfast and you take the time to look at a beautiful mountain range for half an hour. If that doesn’t put life back into perspective than nothing will.

Camping is also a good way to get the youth into the outdoors. There are so many activities that you can do, depending on your location and season. You can go fishing, hiking, bird-watching and so much more. It doesn’t take much to get the imagination rolling but that nice little “push” of being away from a tablet may be what you need.

And while there is nothing wrong with having cell-service where you are, especially for safety or emergency reasons, do not spend the whole time on an electronic. Unless it is a GPS and you are geocaching or something.



Getting Outdoors

Picking Up





Last Minute Shopping

Are you a last minute shopper?  Well we have you covered.  Stop on down to Bass Pro Shop and let us take the stress out of your holiday.

For the hunter in your life or someone who enjoys watching what happens when they are sleeping at night.  Consider buying them the Moultrie Game Spy M880 Digital Infrared Game Camera.   The 8.0 megapixel image and low glow infrared flash will give you bright clear images up to 100 feet at night.

Now if you have a fisherman or someone who enjoys clams, lobster, or salt potatoes, consider the Bass Pro Shop Stainless Steel 3 in 1 Combo Cooler.    Easy to clean and powerful, this cooker will fry, steam, or boil.  You get a 30qt stainless steel pot with lid.  There is a copper spigot for easy oil or water removal, a safety timer, strainer, steamer basket, steamer grid, and a stainless steel turkey hook and stand.  Why this combo even throws in a fry thermometer and marinade injector.   Great Gift!

Not sure if you want all the oil?  Consider the Butterball Oil Free Electric Turkey Fryer.  Get fried turkey without frying.  This fryer will use injectable marinades or seasoned rubs.  The fryer has a adjustable temperature control, a basket and a wood chip tray for smoking foods.  With a removeable drip pan it makes for easy cleanup.  This fryer will cook up to a 18 pound bird.


A perfect holiday gift for anyone is the Masterbuilt Extra Wide Propane Smoker.  A large capacity smoker with adjustible gas control and thermometer.  This smoker is made of heavy duty construction.  Push ignition makes it easy to start.  A smoker like this will be used for years to come.

Someone who enjoys time outside or just purchased a new home, will love the Landmann USA Patio Light Fire Pit.    Good construction,  this is great to enjoy a fire when your nights are a little cold.  Cook smores or hotdogs.  Cut out bears and bear paws adorn the outside giving it a rustic look.

Add a bit of unique flair to your outside with the Wind Chimes Fishbone.  


Someone in your family always traveling?  How about that college graduate?  Something that everyone needs is luggage.

  Bob Timberlake has a beautiful and durable line of luggage.  I think once you see how first class this luggage is you will truly be impressed.  The Bob Timberlake Luggage Collection can be wheeled upright.  It is cotton canvas with a paraffin weather proof coating and US oiled leather with brass zippers.  There are also magnets for quick closure.  Anyone would feel extremely special to get such a nice piece of luggage like this


To add to the luggage is the Bob Timberlake First Class Leather Collection-Shaving Kit.    A large main compartment, zip pocket, mesh organizer, with a drop down bottom storage gives you all the room you need and more.

For the person on your list that enjoys birds and lives with a hunter, consider the GSI Outdoors Shot Shell Mesh Bird Feeder.  This feeder is perfect for nuthatches, finches, or chickadees.  It will hold up to 32oz of birdseed.  Easy to hang, clean, and refill.

For the coffee lover in the family, take a look at the Bass Pro Shop Gun Mug in pink or black.  This will bring a smile to their face every morning.

If you know of someone who loves to find money, or little treasures, the Bounty Hunter Camo LS Metal Detector will pinpoint that target.  It is waterproof and it has a touchpad.  Perfect for someone who needs more exercise and who loves to treasure hunt.  Think of all the historic places right around where they live.

Last but not least do not forget that best friend.  The Premier Pet Products Chuckle Dog Toy  is perfect for that dog who is a strong chewer.  Natural rubber,  this toy will randomly disperse treats.  This will reward them for chewing the right toy and not your furniture.

We hope this takes some of the stress out of the holidays for you.  Merry Christmas

Robin Piedmonte - Events Coordinator



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!