"Extreme Ice Fishing!"

Extreme Ice Fishing!

By: Jerry Costabile

I have been ice fishing the Midwest for around forty years and I have never experienced conditions like there have been this winter.

I was excited that by Christmas, we had cold enough temperatures here in SE Wisconsin to have ice to safely fish most lakes. Than by the New Year, there was fishable ice on all of the lakes I usually have to wait until later in January to get on. It was looking like a great start to the season for all! The local bait shops were getting good sales, the bigger stores had good ice fishing sales, and the interest in the Arctic Cat ATV’s and UTV’s here at TRACKER Boat Center was increasing. All this action and it was early in the season!

Then while watching the weather one night, I hear a new weather term, the polar vortex, also known as a polar cyclone, polar low, or a circumpolar whirl. I will leave it to you to look up the scientific definition for what I call just plain cold! We were getting temps in the negative teens with wind chills in the negative 30’s and 40’s, even had reports of wind chills on -50 degrees! Wow, you talk about ice making weather!

Most ice fishermen would have stayed home in the warmth and comfort of their living rooms, but I am not most ice fishermen. I had a day off and I was going fishing. Wind, cold, snow, I didn’t care, I was going. I am lucky enough to own an insulated Clam shelter and a Buddy Heater, I would be fine right?

The trip started with pre-rigging rods and tying knots in the warmth of home the night before. This was probably the smartest thing I did during this trip. I got up early the next morning with my youngest son Kyle, who always is a challenge to get going at a pace faster than a snail in the morning. The coffee was brewing while we got dressed and got all of the equipment outside. My fishing partner and his grandson were to arrive at 4:15am and it was now about 4 and I was still checking that we had everything to battle the elements and I also had the lunch that I was going to grill, fresh venison steaks with onions on a toasted Kiser bun. There is nothing better than a grilled venison steak sandwich out ice fishing!

I was confident that my Frabil Icearmor suit would keep me warm, after all I hunted the last day of the bow season last year in -25 degree wind chills and it kept me warm. Kyle had his cold weather gear together,  so I think we were ready for whatever mother nature would throw at us. Little did we know how hard she could throw!

We loaded everything into the Dodge and headed north for the 2 hour drive to Lake Winnebago to fish for big perch, whitebass, and walleye. The ride up was quite with the two teenagers both asleep in the back seat . Because of the long ride, we were going to stop at a gas station near the lake to get dressed in our cold weather cloths and head to the lake ready for the day.

When we arrived at the access point to drive onto the lake, we noticed the wind was blowing the snow pretty good. This was going to make setting up interesting! The plowed road out to the fishing area that we wanted to fish, was in good shape so ice travel wasn’t going to be a problem. There were Christmas trees marking the road so even with the blowing snow, we could navigate if my GPS I had in my hand failed. After crossing a steel bridge (these are put over pressure cracks for safe travel) we arrived at our fishing spot about a mile and a half off shore. Now at this point it still looked like a cold, windy day that we have fished in a thousand times before. But when I opened the truck door, I was hit by a blast of cold air that was being pushed by 30 to 40 mile an hour winds that got my attention, it was going to be a one set up day. If the fish didn’t bite here, there was no moving to another spot, this was it!

Setting up my Clam Voyager shelter wasn’t too bad to set up, we used the truck as a wind break  and once the support bars were in place, we were up. The other shelter that was to be occupied by my partner and his grandson, was a hub style shelter. These are very light and tall, so it took a lot to get the shelter up and tied to the truck. The wind and blowing snow had now built up to blizzard like conditions, complete white out! You couldn’t see anything, the shoreline, or the other trucks that were less than a hundred yards away. We finally got settled into our heated shelters and fishing. We fished for an hour without anything to show for our efforts and I decided to step outside. What I saw as I walked around the truck, looking in all directions I still couldn’t see anything. There was a 3 foot snow drift building on the up wind side of my truck, this was not good. I voted to break down the shelters and get off of the lake, but I was over ruled by the grilled venison steak sandwiches I promised to cook. Now, the wind is hurricane force, and the blowing snow put us in less than perfect grilling conditions, but I was expected to have lunch ready for everyone! I went into my shelter put away the fishing equipment and turned it into the camp cook tent. The portable grill was set up and in ten minutes the steaks were sizzling in butter with onions grilling next to them. It took about another ten minute and I had two hungry teenagers looking into the vented door opening saying how good it smells, I have to say that the smell of our lunch was getting to me too! After a quick but hot sandwich, we broke down our gear and headed off of the lake. It was a wise choice because we both agreed that this was the worst weather that we ever fished in and it was getting dangerous out there. Thank god nothing happened to the truck, it could have been bad.

We stopped at the same gas station and undressed out of our heavy clothes, found the hot chili and ate until we were full and warm! The ride home was interesting to say the least. There were cars being blown off of the road and it was all we could do to stay on the road when the wind would gust.

I would like to say that we were successful on our fishing trip, but we didn’t catch a fish. What we did get is a lesson learned that sometimes you just have to stay home and pick a better day.



The Tent just for YOU

Choosing the correct tent for your next hiking or camping trip can be tricky depending on how big of a tent you need, or if it needs to be stuffed into a relatively small hiking backpack.  The tents that we offer here at Bass Pro Shops will give you a good variety to choose from for your needs.

If your looking for a less expensive option for your hiking trip, I would recommend the Hiker Biker Tent because of the lightweight factor, and does a relatively good job at keeping you warm throughout the night. For the more serious hikers in a colder climate, I would recommend the Ascend H2.2 Two-Person or Ascend H2.3V Three-Person, depending on how many people will be on this hiking trip.  While Bass Pro Shops does offer the Ascend H1.1V One Person Tent as well.

As for the more casual campers with a relatively small party size, such as a family of 3-6 people, there are many tents that can be chosen from.  My personal two favorites being the Coleman Sundome Four-Person Tent and the Coleman Evanston Six-Person Tent.  While we also offer a different style of tent that comes equipped with a screen porch, such as the BPS Four-Person Dome Tent.

Coleman tent at nightAnd of course we did not forget about the bigger parties that go camping.  We offer two great cabin tents that come equipped with indoor lighting and fans.  The first one being the Coleman Prairie Breeze Nine-Person that has six windows and only has a carry weight of about 33 pounds.  The second cabin tent that we carry here at Manteca Bass Pro Shops, is the Coleman Vacationer Ten-Person Tent.  This tent comes with two rooms, with the middle wall being removable if needed, two hinged swinging doors on each side of the tent, and 8 large windows.

Feel free to come on in to your local Manteca Bass Pro Shops for any questions regarding any of the tents listed, or any others that you might be interesting in purchasing. Note: all tents listed above are tents regularly sold in the Manteca Bass Pro Store, with many others as well. Not all tents sold online, may be available in store.Tent in the woods

Tim T.

Manteca Bass Pro Shops


Sleeping Bags

For those of you brave enough to scale the high peaks or just enjoy tenting this time of year, a sleeping bag is a must.  The Ascend -40 Mummy Sleeping Bag or the Ascend -20 Mummy Sleeping Bag   is a great idea .  Both bags have a double layer of offset quilted construction with no cold spots.  They are durable with a adjustable contoured hood and chest baffle to lock in body heat.  Both bags also include a compression sack.  The -40 is used for extreme weather while the -20 can be used for cross country ski treks and wintertime adventures.












Need a little extra warmth?  Try the Bass Pro Shop Fleece Sleeping Bag Liner. Made of 100% polyester micro fleece.  Use this as a extra layer or by itself as a lightweight summer bag.








Do you move around alot when sleeping?  Check out the Browning McKinley oversized rectangular sleeping bag.  Large and spacious this sleeping bag allows you to twist and turn  while being durable and warm.












So,  when looking for what fits your need, take your time and ask questions.  We have a knowledgeable staff that will help you make the right decision .

Robin Piedmonte - Events Coordinator  




Have Some Shenanigans with the Hooligan

Let’s take a page from my old playbook: Shenanigans. So much fun. There are a few different definitions of the word, and let me clarify the one I live by: high-spirited or mischievous activity. Not necessarily a bad thing, just slightly mischievous. Like for instance: One day after high-school I jumped onto the side of my buddies truck on the side-step. He then floored it to knock me off and I fell forward and took out his side mirror with my body. Whoopsy! Before you knew it I was taking donations and had a bake sale going on and was able to pay for the repairs. Now I spend every Christmas morning at that family’s house. Now if that aint a case of shenanigans, I don’t know what is.

There are many countless cases of shenanigans amongst my friends and me, which is probably why we all still keep in touch. One of our favorite locations for shenanigans was of course outside. We took countless adventures out in nature. The few times we camped still live in infamy. So why not have yourself some shenanigans? Not sure how to get started? Don’t worry, because you can start with a Hooligan!

That’s right! I am talking about the Hooligan tent from Coleman! This is a wonderful backpacking tent for three to enjoy. Those folks at Coleman must know a thing or two as there needs to be at least three people to have some certified shenanigans. (With two its boredom and one is known as stupidity.)

Now tents are like some of those other things in life that we dread having to set up and take down and would rather just throw away and reuse. (I’m talking to you, Christmas Lights!) But companies have come a long way since those troublesome days of old, and Coleman has been doing a wonderful job. Setup is a breeze due to the simple, color coded two pole design. They also come with continuous pole sleeves. The instructions are sewn into carry bag so you will never lose them!

This 8’x7’ tent breaks down into the carrying bag, mentioned above, and weighs less than 12 pounds! This means it will not be too much of a burden for your friend to carry! (See what I did there? …shenanigans…) The carry bag also has separated areas to keep the poles and stakes separate.

The center height is right at 58”. This is a nice feature along with the 40” vestibule that is right above the entrance to the tent. This gives you a nice little area to store gear and protect it from the elements. Speaking about protecting from the elements, the Hooligan features the patented Weather Tec system to keep you dry. Of course, if the weather is nice and you trust the weatherperson, the rain fly can be removed. It also has wonderful air flow through another patented system which is essential for comfort when out in the woods. You may have to use your imagination on this one, but believe it or not the smells can get pretty fierce with people sharing a tent. You’ll also see that the interior pockets are nice for storing items.

So if you’re not quite sure how to get started in some shenanigans, just pick up a Hooligan and two others that participate in tom-foolery and let the sky-larking roll!

Happifyin’ Hand Runnin’! Giddy-Up!!


Commonly Asked Camping Related Questions

Walking into the camping department, you have an idea of what you're looking for and think it should be just a grab and go item, but when you think you've found what you're looking for you realize there's more to it than you thought. What are Lumens? Btu's? You begin to realize you need some assistance on the knowledge of these products. This blog will cover some of these common questions and try to clarify some things for you to make your next shopping trip a little easier.

What is a Lumen? Simply put it's a measure of total "amount" of visible (to the human eye) light emitted by a source. With LED becoming the primary source, some people still using watts are not sure how the conversion works. Watts (incandescent) to Lumen (LED) rule of thumb for replacement is: 100 watt = 1600 lumens, 75 watt = 1100 lumens, 60 watt = 800 lumens, and 40 watt = 450 lumens. Streamlight® Super Tac® X C4® LED Flashlight

What is a BTU? British Thermal Unit is a traditional unit of energy equivalent to about 1055 joules. It is the amount of energy needed to cool or heat one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. BTU describes heat value of fuels. There is no universal conversion factor for the number of BTU to volume. One standard cubic foot of natural gas yields 1030 BTU (depending on the quality when burned.)Mr. Heater® MH45T Triple Tank Top Propane Heater

What is Candlepower?  (candelas) is an absolute unit expressing luminous intensity in terms of light emitted by candle of specific size and constituents. It is sometimes used to describe the luminous intensity of high powered flashlights and spotlights. Most packages will show both lumens and candlepower. For instance a 2,000,000 candlepower spotlight is also referred to as a 250 lumen spotlight, a 3,500,000 candlepower is equal to 600 lumens. Bass Pro Shops® 2 Million Candlepower Camo Spotlight

What are the dimensions on an air mattress? Twin 39"X75", Full 54"X75", Queen 60"X80", King 76"X80". Now you'll know if it will fit in your tent!Coleman® Double High Air Mattress With 120V QuickPump™ Unit

What is the best pepper spray to get for my loved one? There are many varieties and manufacturers of pepper spray on the shelves today. In all reality all of them have the same amount of pepper (capsaicin) by law 10 %. Even bear sprays have just 10%. The only differences is the container style you choose and how far and with what force the product is dispensed. For instance bear spray can be sprayed from 35 feet away while most pepper sprays for humans spray only about 10 feet. There is also pepper gel. In my opinion i believe this to be a safer and more effective spray. Not only does it "stick" to the perpetrator better, but is safe to use in a closed environment such as an elevator, or around other people without the risk of blow-back onto yourself or  onto someone else nearby    Campus Safety Pepper Gel - Pink                                                                                                 $11.99


For other questions you may have on any subject that was not covered in this article or for more details about this content feel free to ask any of the friendly and knowledgeable staff at Bass Pro Shops. Or go tohttp://basspro.com. Also see Product Spotlight: Pink Pepper Spray  for more information on pepper sprays.


Winterize Your Tent to Keep You Warm

Here Are Seven Tips to Help You Keep Your Tent Warm

Follow these seven tips to keep your tent warm and toasty at night. Whether you are camping during the winter or just for those chilly spring and fall nights, there’s something here that will surely help.


sleeping bag

Warm Tent Tip #1 

Make sure that you have a good quality temperature rated sleeping bag. To reach the maximum warmth, get a sleeping bag that is rated for zero degrees. You can also get a fleece sleeping bag liner to increase the temperature rating of your sleeping bag by about ten degrees. If you are in need of a good sleeping bag, you might want to check out the highest rated sleeping bags.



sleeping pad

Warm Tent Tip #2 

Use a sleeping pad. Sleeping pads offer more insulation than an air mattress does since air mattresses get filled with cold air on cold nights. An air mattress by itself doesn’t offer any insulation between you and the cold air in the air mattress. If you want comfort and warmth, you can put the sleeping pads right on top of your air mattress. Thermarest Sleeping Mattresses are an excellent choice.



coleman blackcat catalytic heater

Warm Tent Tip #3 

Purchase a heater for your tent. The Coleman Blackcat Catalytic Heater is a great option, for the reason that that they are made to use inside of a tent. We do not recommend however letting the heater run all night while you are sleeping. If you use one of these heaters, we suggest that you run it for a while before you go to sleep and when you wake up in the morning.



mylar thermal blankets

Warm Tent Tip #4 -

Use a Mylar Thermal Blanket to reflect the heat from the heater back down at you. Most people just think of these blankets as emergency blankets. Whether you use a catalytic heater or just your own body heat, this tip can really help a lot! Just attach the thermal blanket to the ceiling of your tent with duct tape and it will reflect much of the heat inside the tent back down at you.



knit hat

Warm Tent Tip #5

Wear a knit hat while you sleep. (You should know this one already!) A lot of your body heat is lost through your head so just by wearing a knit hat you can preserve a lot of body heat. Wearing a knit hat is better than putting your head inside of your sleeping bag while you sleep. When you put your head inside of your sleeping bag, your breath creates condensation inside the bag which can ultimately make you colder throughout the night.



warm socks

Warm Tent Tip #6

Make sure that your socks are completely dry. Even slightly damp socks can cause you to loose a lot of heat through your feet. We recommend putting on a clean pair right when you climb into your temperature rated sleeping bag. It’s also important to make sure that you don’t bundle up too much and start sweating. If you get so warm that you start sweating, you can be sure that you will end up cold and damp in the end! If you start to sweat, remove some layers.



warm rocks

Warm Tent Tip #2

Heat up a few 5 – 15 pound rocks by your fire for about an hour or so. After the rocks are hot, pull them away from the fire and let them cool down for a bit. Once they are cool enough to handle (but still very warm), wrap them in towels and put them in the foot of your sleeping bag. They can also be placed in the center of your tent and combined with the mylar thermal blankets on your ceiling. The rocks should keep your tent warm for hours!


* One other tip that is important that most people don’t realize is that you need to keep your tent ventilated at night. This may sound a little strange at first but there’s a good reason for it! The heat from your body and your breath itself inside your tent at night can cause condensation to build up and make everything in your tent slightly damp.


Remember: Dampness = Chillyness!

By keeping your tent ventilated, you can reduce the dampness and condensation, thereby keeping you and the inside of your tent dryer – which keeps you warmer throughout the night. Also equally important is that you keep yourself from sweating. If you wake up and notice that you are sweating, go ahead and remove some layers to keep dry. You don’t want to get too hot inside your tent.

Summary of How To Keep Warm In Your Tent

Wear dry socks and a knit hat. Bundle up in a few layers that you can easily remove if you start to sweat. Use a sleeping bag rated for zero degree weather. Sleep on a sleeping pad. Use a mylar thermal blanket across the top of the inside of your tent. Use a Coleman Catalytic Heater before you go to sleep and when you wake up in the morning. Lastly but also important is keep your tent ventilated.

Follow these tips and you should have a nice toasty night in your tent!

Do you have any other tips that you would like to share with us?

If so leave a comment below, we’d be glad to hear your tips!

Happy Camping, Take Care, and Keep Warm!


More Letters to Santa!

Dear Santa:

My name is Camila. I come from Chile. This Christmas we are celebrating it in Chile, it's going to be fun. Thank you for everything.


I want hunting and fishing and Nerf guns. Pick one item from one of those categories and put them under the tree. Thank you!



For Christmas I would like candy and a baby doll. Even though I am scared of you, you should still get me a lot of presents.
Thank you.
PS:  I have been a fairly good girl.



I've been a good boy. I would like a drum for Christmas. I'll leave a pickle for you.



I love you. I'm trying to be good. I would like a stuffed animal. I'll leave you a snack.


For Christmas I want the Bass Pro Shop fishing game for Wii or a single tent with a tackle box with bait.



I've been a good girl this year. I want a Elf on a Shelf and Tinkerbell fishing pole. Thank you
And pretty, pretty, pretty please can I get those gifts!



I want a toy train for my grandparents house, a Duck Dynasty tractor and most of all  just want my family all together.



Last, but not least:
I've been very good this year! I hope I get a heart transplant soon!
I want a Ryan Gosling coloring book, pack of crayons, birch box stuff, and gift cards! Thank you!


Good luck, Terri - hope you get your wishes soon, too!


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Winter Camping... The New Adventure

If you have never been winter camping, you are missing out on a new adventure! Good planning and packing will make your first winter camping trip safe and comfortable for the entire party.

Planning: Ask yourself a few questions; where would you like to go? How will you get there? What will you do once you get settled? Snowshoeing, skiing and hiking are great activities if you have packed the right equipment. Once you know your location, check out the terrain and weather. Get familiar with the area before you go. It is not hard to get lost in a blanket of snow. Be prepared for things to take twice as long due to the weather.

Caution Alert: Do some research before you go on your trip. Two biggest dangers in winter camping are hypothermia and frostbite. You will need to recognize the symptoms and know what to do.  Remember to pack supplies that will protect you against heat loss. Several changes of clothes (warm, layers and snug fits). Mittens keep your hands warmer then gloves. Protect your head against heat loss too. Wearing a toboggan or balaclava is best. Over half your body heat is lost through your head.  Your boots should be insulated, waterproof and at least a mid height.

Dress Warm: When winter camping, dress warm! Dress in layers so you can easily adjust your clothes to regulate your body temperature. Three types of layers are considered normal: a layer against your skin (longjohns), an insulation layer (fleece) and a water/wind proof outer shell. Polypropylene is a fabric that will wick away moisture and keep you warm. Down, Thinsulate, Microloft and Polarguard are more good choices. Wear polypropylene sock liners underneath your wool socks to add an extra layer of protection.

Shelter: A roomy dome tent is your best choice, only attempt to build an igloo or snow cave with an experienced winter camper. Flatten your surface where your tent will go and pack snow against the bottoms outside to provide extra insulation. Attach 4’ -6’ of cord to each end of your stake out points so you can use rocks or logs if the ground is too frozen. When camping in deep snow you can fill 1 gallon size freezer bags with snow and tie your stake out cords to them for anchors instead of stakes.

Warm at Night: A good sleeping bag will keep you warm at night. Choose a sleeping bag that is rated for a lower temperature than what you will actually be sleeping in. Mummy style bags with hoods are the best. If the bag is too loose or large it will let in cold air. Wear warm clothes even inside the bag. Your body temperature will drop as you sleep. A full length foam or inflatable pad placed underneath your bag will protect you from the snow.

Fuel for the body: When you become cold, your body uses a lot of calories to try to heat you back up again. Eat healthy, hearty meals to keep your energy level up so your body can fight the cold. As a general guideline, your winter camping diet should consist of 50% simple sugars and complex carbs; 20% proteins and 30% fats. Avoid taking fresh foods with you. They freeze easily and are hard to carry. Dried foods, baked goods and freeze dried ingredients are all great choices. Bring enough water for the entire trip, however never ever eat snow.


Winter camping is exciting and rewarding. Plan carefully and have fun!



Let's Have an Adventure!

Take a look at the Adventure play sets we have available for the holiday season - you are bound to find one to suit every child's interests, at your local Bass Pro Shops.

250First up, we have the Deluxe Ford F-250 and Nitro Bass Boat play set. This set features a gleaming Ford F-250 in a custom red finish (exclusive to Bass Pro Shops) and a sparkling white NITRO Bass Boat.  The truck features opening doors, a working tow winch, an opening tailgate and a travel hitch. The NITRO boat includes a storage locker, a depth tracker and moving engines. The set also comes with an action figure, an off-road quad 4-wheeler, a wave runner, a fishing pole, two bass fish and a landing net.bear

If your youngster prefers the open skies, then the Deluxe Boat Plane Bear Adventure Set will fit the bill.  The plane has doors that open to accommodate the the pilot/hunter action figure. This play set also includes an ATV, binoculars, a rifle, a tent, a cooler, a campfire, a cot, one black bear, and one grizzly bear!

We haven't forgotten about your daughters - there is a play set especially for them - the Hummer SUT Deluxe Outdoor Camping Adventure Set. This set features an SUT in a custom white pearl finish, pinkwith opening doors and a working hitch. This set includes a woman action figure, a little girl action figure, an angler raft, two paddles, a pink camo tent, a whitetail deer, a towing trailer, an off-road quad 4-wheeler, a campfire, a stove, an ice cooler, and a dog - 14 pieces in all!

All components are compatible with all Bass Pro Imagination Adventure products.




Friday Featured Fan Spotlight

Bass Pro Shops Altoona Facebook fans are among the most LOYAL fans in the world. They come in all shapes and sizes and from all walks of life. Between pursuing a college degree and part-time employment, time can fly. Enjoying outdoor activities become even more appreciated. Uriah Hanson, a management student at Drake University and labor relations specialist at MidAmerican Energy, is a fan who appreciates all his moments spent outdoors.


How Long have You Enjoyed the Great Outdoors? Forever!

Uriah and dogs

Uriah, like many sportsmen and women, got started at a young age...and like many others, he learned from a family member. It was that experience that gave him the bug for the birds.

"I first remember going fishing with my dad and family when I was four or five years old. It wasn’t until I turned 11, and we started pheasant hunting together, that I really got hooked on the sport. It was my first hunting experience and the game that kick-started my love for the outdoors. There is nothing more exciting than the flush of a rooster right under your toes and seeing good dogs in the field. Training my own dogs and being able to see them work and learn right before my eyes, as we’re hunting, is another reason I love hunting upland birds. Being able to see all my hard work and effort pay off for the dogs and for me is one of the best feelings there is."

Uriah is very involved with the North Polk Pheasants Forever Chapter, which has seen tremendous growth. As a public lands hunter, he Uriah Hansonrelishes being involved with an organization that can do so much good to extend the life of those hunting grounds.

"I really enjoy being a part of the chapter, not only for the great board members that I work with and have become friends with, but also to see all the good that the chapter is able to do. Just in the past year we have spent over $15,000 on local habitat restoration at public hunting areas such as Paul Errington Marsh and Big Creek State Park. I hunt and spend my time almost completely on public grounds, so it's a pleasure to be a part of an organization putting so much time, effort, and money into making those grounds the best they can possibly be. The other aspect I love is being a part of our youth involvement, youth events, and contributions to youth shooting initiatives. Whether it's donating money or supplies to the Ankeny trap team, or sponsoring a mentored youth hunt/education day that we do annually, seeing those kids light up, when they shoot their first clay pigeon or pheasant, is a feeling that you can’t help but be proud of."

What's Your Favorite Outdoor Activity? Hunting

"I try to get outside and do something as often as possible between work and school!  One of my favorite things to do is get outside with Uriah and friends at Drake University stadium!my girlfriend and our dogs. We enjoy taking them for walks and runs on many of the public areas throughout the metro in the evenings. I also enjoy being able to get the dogs out in the fields in the fall and actually hunt with them...it's great being able to watch them grow and learn right before your eyes.

"I am an avid hunter and go after numerous species but my main targets are pheasants, ducks/geese, deer (both gun and archery), and turkeys. Normally, if there is a hunting season going on, I am going to be out after something!  In the off season I fish occasionally, but not a ton. Instead, I normally spend my time outdoors during the summer at the lake or working with the dogs."

Go-To Gear? Knife

"I always have a good knife handy...when I don’t I usually wish that I did. There are tons of times where you’re in the middle of a hunt or climbing into your stand and realize there is a loose cord or string that needs cut, and that’s when you hope that the knife is still in the pack where you last saw it. On top of that, when it comes time to clean the animals after the hunt, it tends to be hard to do without the knife.

Words of Wisdom?  It's not the kill of the hunt, it's the experience.

"Take advantage of every opportunity you have to get outdoors. Whether it’s a walk on a trail or hunting elk out west, it’s not about the kill or achieving something that matters in the end. It’s just the ability to get out, take in the fresh air, and enjoy the surroundings. 

"I think all too often we get so busy in everyday life that we forget to take a step back and enjoy the simple things like a timber in the fall, or a fresh snowfall in the middle of January.  The simple things are sometimes the things that can make life the happiest.

"In September, I had the opportunity to go on a DIY elk hunt in Colorado with a good friend. We spent a week in the mountains, sleeping in a tent and eating granola bars and soup, only to come out a week later with no elk. The trip was still a success. For me to have the ability to see parts of the country and wilderness like that were priceless. It’s trips like that where you really get to see the beauty of the outdoors and understand that hunting isn’t about the killing or harvesting, but rather spending time with good friends and family and seeing nature at its purest form."


the North Polk Pheasants Forever hosts its 25th Annual Banquet in February 2014! 

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Fall Camping

Fall is an excellent season for camping: lower temperatures and fewer bugs make hikes more pleasurable, there are more opportunities for wildlife sightings, the leaves are changing colors, and many campgrounds lower their fees after Labor Day.

Before you begin that fall camping adventure, there are a few things you should consider:l


  • Check the weather before you go.  Depending on where you go, be prepared for a chance of snow, rain, or severe weather.
  • Wear layers- Daytime temperatures may still be warm, but evenings are usually cooler, so you may want to pack thermal underwear, hats, gloves, extra shoes, and a winter jacket.
  • Bring cold weather sleeping gear for lower temperatures than you expect.  You should also bring a mattress pad or foam for an extra layer between you and the cold ground.
  • Invest in a good tent.  Before your trip, set up your tent in your backyard to make sure it is functioning properly- test all zippers, and make sure it has a full rainfly.
  • Arrive early- days are shorter in the fall, so allow yourself plenty of time to set up camp before dark.
  • Bring insect repellent for those lingering bugs.
  • Bring easy to cook foods that don't require a lot of preparation or refrigeration: remember to clean up after eating.

There are also many safety issues that you should consider for fall camping:


  • Be aware of wildlife- animals are always a concern, but they can become even more dangerous in the fall. As their food supply dwindles,they become more determined in their foraging. NEVER feed the wildlife-they continue to come back for more and could become very aggressive when you stop feeding them. It is also dangerous for the animals, because they may be eating something that is not in their diet and could become ill.
  • Seal up any food you may have in airtight containers, or in your car, if possible, to keep from attracting wildlife. 
  • Prepare for rain and snow-bring water tight containers and a tarp in case of rain.
  • Pack extra plastic garbage bags for lining backpacks or protecting other items from water damage.
  • If you use a small propane heater, be sure it has a safety shut-off, and is labeled for indoor use.
  • Be ready  for emergency retreat: bring extra money and be prepared to use it to eat out or stay in town if necessary.
  • If the weather is still warm, bees are still active. Watch for hives and nests, and bring  sting relief ointment, just in case.

As with all camping trips, a little careful planning and preparation can make a fall camping trip one you will remember for years to come.  Before you travel, come visit your local Leeds Bass Pro Shops, or visit  www.basspro.com  and see our great selection of camping gear.


Until next time, stay safe and GO CAMPING!!!



Cold Weather Camping Tips

Camping in the fall and winter can be some of the most fun and scenic times of the year to get out of the house. These scenic views sometimes come with a little bit of a rough time with the weather. The cold fronts in the fall and winter are much harsher and being prepared for any scenario is always a must. While the cold might deter some people, the true outdoorsman can get through a rough night and enjoy the benefits of a nice chilly morning.

The first thing any seasoned or new camper can tell you is that watch the weather before you go on your camping trip. Check the temperatures you might be dealing with and always prepare for the cold you might not be expecting. A great way to do this is to bring a good sleeping bag along with a liner to match. The Ascend 0 degree Mummy bag is a great way to be prepared for the winter or fall cold. Bringing this along with a Bass Pro Shops Fleece Sleeping Bag Liner makes it so you are prepared for anything. If it is cold you can hunker down inside the liner inside the mummy bag, or if it is warmer than you thought you can sleep on top of your mummy bag inside your liner and still have a great nights sleep while being comfortable at any temperature. Another must have on a fall or winter night is a good sleeping pad. Sleeping pads keep your body off the ground and provide comfort while at the same time allowing you to retain precious body heat from being absorbed by the ground. The Ascend Hiker Tapered Air Mat is a great sleeping pad for the job, it is a light but effective pad for a hiker or a regular camper.

While sleeping bags are a big part of fall and winter camping so is finding the right tent and cooking equipment for the season. What is needed in a tent for fall and winter camping is zip up windows, a rainfly, and a tarp or reinforced floor. There are many tents that match this description but a great family tent for the fall and winter is the Bass Pro Shops Eight Person Family Dome Tent. This is great for any family that wants to camp in the winter while still having some space to move around and enjoy the time outdoors. There is only one way to go when talking about cooking in the fall or winter, this is cast-iron. Whether it be a Lodge Cast-Iron Dutch Oven or a Lodge Cast-Iron Skillet, the best way to cook in the winter is to use cast-iron. This material gets hot quickly and stays hot longer than other materials making it ideal for those people looking for a good hearty warm meal on a cold camp-out. While Lodge makes a good cast-iron line for cooking the best thing for camp lighting is hands down Coleman. This company has a huge line of lanterns and flashlights that are useful for any possible camp-out. The Coleman North Star Duel Fuel propane lantern has been a must have to campers and outdoorsman of all walks of life for years. The propane tanks are light and easy to carry while at the same time the price to keep the lantern running is quite low for those who have to camp on a budget.

Camping in the fall and winter is one of the most scenic things a person can do. Preparing for the weather during this time of year though is a must. Bringing a few different types of warm or cold weather clothing is always a good idea while at the same time bringing a few warm or cold weather sleeping bags is a must. There might be a few things you can leave off your winter camping list but food is not one. Bringing a lot of nutritious food that is high in calories will keep your body performing at optimal efficiency even in the bitter cold. While camping in the fall and winter can be a little frightening for some people, with a little help and some good gear it can be very rewarding. Bass Pro has all the gear you will need to make your camping experience comfortable and fun! Check out our gear here: http://www.basspro.com/Camping/_/T-12325000000

Ascend Sleeping Bag




The North Face Expansion

tnfDue to customer demand, Bass Pro Shops - Macon has now have added a section for The North Face-brand items in our Apparel Department!

The North Face is an American outdoor products company specializing in outerwear, such as fleece, coats, shirts, and equipment such as backpacks, tents and sleeping bags.  The company was founded in 1968 and is particularly popular among climbers, skiers, snowboarders and hikers.sweat

The North Face section is located adjacent to our Apparel Department, between the Fishing and Camping Departments.  You can find a variety of items for both men and women in this newly-designated area.  Some of the current offerings, for men and women, include:  the Fav-our-ite Pullover Hoodie, RDT Jackets, Half-Dome Hoodies, Oso Hooded Jackets, Denali Sweater Fleece Jackets and more. 

packWe even have a selection of backpacks to choose from, including the Borealis and the Yavapai models. The shoulder straps, back panel and hip belt help provide extra support and help disperse the load.  The packs feature a padded laptop sleeve as well as a hydration port. Other features include organization sleeves, side water bottle pocket, stash pockets and top carry handle for extra convenience.RDT

Head over to Bass Pro Shops - Macon and check out our new section for The North Face products. The holiday season is just around the corner and these are perfect gift items!




Outdoor Cooking Primer - Venison Ziti

Venison is the main source of red meat at our house...actually it's our ONLY source of red meat. We typically have ample supplies due to my husband's hunting prowess...so, it's a good thing bow season started this week because we're running low!

Not long ago, I was visiting with a customer whose husband was just starting deer hunting. I explained that venison was all we ate for red meat. She seemed surprised and asked what I made with it.

"Everything that you make using beef," I said. 

The easiest dish to start with is Baked Ziti. It's just a simple baked pasta dish and much of it can be done ahead of time. Like lasagna, it can be thrown together and refrigerated, or even frozen, and then cooked later.

I made ziti this past Saturday night for our dinner AND my husband was able to take the leftovers with him as he headed out for hunting season. What better way to get in the deer hunting frame of mind...eat venison!

Before the true pasta lovers and aficionados correct me, I'll warn you that we use "ziti" as a universal term, meaning any short tubular pasta. That's only because our grocery store doesn't always have ziti specifically, however carries every other type of short tubular pasta. So we often use rigatoni or penne, which I actually prefer because they have ridges and hold the sauce better.

You can make your baked ziti as basic or loaded as you desire.

Venison Ziti

Venison Ziti


1 pound venison burger
1 pound venison Italian sausage
1 box ziti or penne pasta
1 jar spaghetti sauce of choice (We sometimes make our own sauce using frozen tomatoes, mixed with one small can tomato paste and diced fresh onions, minced garlic, oregano, and fresh ground mixed peppercorns)
2 cups shredded Italian Cheese Blend
Smoked paprika

Preheat oven to 375. Brown and drain the burger and sausage. Add the jarred sauce to the meat and heat. Do not boil.

Boil the pasta according to directions. Drain the pasta; do not rinse.

Spray a 13 x 9 pan with cooking spray. Put cooked pasta in the pan and distribute evenly. Pour the sauce/meat mixture over the noodles, mixing together in the 13 x 9 pan. Add about 1/2 cup cheese and blend it through. 

Cover top of ziti with the remaining cheese...add more if you really love cheese!

Sprinkle smoked paprika, light garlic powder and oregano on top. 

Cover the dish with aluminum foil (tent the foil to prevent cheese from sticking or spray it with cooking spray). Place in oven and bake for about 30 minutes at 375. Remove cover and raise temp to 400 and bake for another 15 minutes or so until cheese is nicely browned. 


Visiting our National Treasures, right here in Texas

Did you know there is 93 state parks and 13 National Parks in Texas.  These can range from the wild untamed such as Big Bend National Park, the Historic such as the Mission Trail in San Antonio and Lyndon B Johnson National Historical Park, or of course who can forget beaches, and grasslands.   Here is some of the more popular parks in the state. 


Big Bend National Park

Sometimes considered "three parks in one," Big Bend includes mountain, desert, and river environments. An hour's drive can take you from the banks of the Rio Grande to a mountain basin nearly a mile high. Here, you can explore one of the last remaining wild corners of the United States, and experience unmatched sights, sounds, and solitude.

San Antonio Missions National Historical Park

in 1718 Franciscans and Spanish representatives established the first mission. Within 13 years, five were located along the San Antonio River. The missions' purpose? To acculturate and Christianize the native population and make them Spanish citizens. Today, visitors can retrace the footsteps of the mission Indians and friars. And, possibly, meet descendants of those first inhabitants.

Lyndon B Johnson National Historical Park

Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park tells the story of our 36th President beginning with his ancestors until his final resting place on his beloved LBJ Ranch. This entire "circle of life" gives the visitor a unique perspective into one of America's most noteworthy citizens by providing the most complete picture of an American president.

Galveston State Park

Galveston Island State Park is a great place to enjoy the beach, the gulf, and the bay. Many people that visit the park come to spend time on the beach and to camp. While it is obvious to any visitor that the park's 2000 acres are bordered on the east and the west by more developed lands, fewer folks realize that the park is an oasis of undeveloped barrier island habitats. These natural areas are important for conservation

Mustang Island State Park

Families enjoy a serene environment at Mustang Island State Park in tents and RVs. Fishing, bonfires, building sand castles and beachcombing for shells are popular pastimes at this State Park. Along this 5 mile stretch of beach, just south of Port Aransas, visitors not only have convenience with bathrooms and shower facilities, the park store offers souvenirs, ice, firewood and snacks. With some 48 sites at the campgrounds to choose from, with electrical and water hookups, picnic tables and barbecue grills- Mustang Island State Park is a popular weekend retreat to get out and enjoy the outdoors. Other activities include surfing, birdwatching and kayaking.

Perdenales Falls State Park

Many of the activities in Pedernales Falls State Park center around the Pedernales River: swimming, tubing, wading and fishing. The park also has a number of picnic areas and campsites, including some primitive campsites that require a hike of two miles or more to reach. There are also 19.8 miles (31.9 km) of hiking and mountain biking trails, 10 miles of equestrian trails, and 14 miles of backpacking trails.

Local Area Parks:.

Cedar Hill State Park in Cedar Hill, TX is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the Metroplex. Just 10 miles from Dallas, the natural setting of the park's 1,826 acres and the 7,500 acre Joe Pool Lake leave you feeling you have left the city much further behind.

Lake Ray Roberts State Park

Ray Roberts Lake State Park is a beautiful 30,000-acre lake complex complete with boat ramps, camping, fishing, a swimming beaches, numerous hiking trails, equestrian trails, Dorba mountain bike trails, hotel, marina and a park store.


For more information on the National Parks visit  www.nps.gov

For more information on the Texas State Parks visit  www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/




Chilly Weather Calls For A Buddy!

We just got in our newest Buddy....Buddy heater that is.  Take a look below at what we have here in the store, then we'll walk through them one by one.

Let's start with the Mr. Heater Little Buddy. Everybody needs a little buddy...the human form and the warming form. This Little Buddy is only $69.99 and is FULL of great features! Actually ALL of the Buddy Heaters we have in the store have almost the exact same features no matter how big or how small. The only differences are the BTU's and runtime.Talk about convenience.

Little Buddy puts out 3,000 BTU's per hour and heats up to 100 square feet with a runtime of 5 1/2 hours of continuous heat. This heater is great for workshops, tents, campers, etc. because it is indoor safe. How can that be you may be asking me. Let me tell you how; it has low oxygen and accidental tip over shut off features. Runs off of a 1 lb propane cylinder or a 20 lb bulk tank. However, the 20 lb tank MUST stay outside so the fumes can't get to you.

Moving on to the Portable Buddy. The Portable Buddy is priced at $99.99 and like it's smaller counterpart, it's full of those same great features! BTU's are at 4,000 on low and 9,000 on the high setting and you can heat up to 200 square feet for a nice 110 hours. This particular heater has a single control for starting and heat adjustment. Again, this heater will run off of a 1 lb propane cylinder or a 20 lb bulk tank as well. Lighting this baby is easy with a built in Piezo lighter and the fuel connector swivels out for easy access. As always, there's the low oxygen and accidental tip over automatic shut off.

Our newest addition to the Buddy line is the Hunting Buddy. Priced at $129.99 is a great deal especially since it's CAMO! 2 heat settings give you either 6,000 (low) or 12,000 (high) BTU's. Perfectly safe for those small hunting blinds, tents, campers or wherever you want to use it at. There's storage on one side of it for an extra 1 lb cylinder or anything else small enough to go in there. Electronic ignition, heavy duty burner guard and all the fittings are included to take it from a 1 lb propane cylinder to a 20 lb bulk tank. Whatta deal!

Last, but certainly not least is the Big Buddy. The Big Daddy!  This heater gives you so much heat, you won't believe it! 4,000 BTU (low), 9,000 BTU (medium) and 18,000 BTU (high). Heats up to 400 square feet with a continuous runtime of 220 hours. Just like the other heaters, there's the low oxygen and accidental tip over shut off feature. The Big Buddy runs on either 1 lb propane cylinder (or 2 if you prefer) or a 20 lb bulk tank. The big difference between this heater and the others? Big Buddy has a fan that blows the heat.The fan runs off either an AC adapter or 4 D cell batteries (neither of which are included).

Any one of these heaters would be a great addition to your Emergency Preparedness package you may have. During the winter months, who knows if and when or for how long the power will go out.

Come on in here....you know you want to check them out! And I will be super excited to show you each and every one of them myself!


Stay warm and as always, thanks for letting me share my goodies with you!


Deedee Smith
Camping Team Lead
Sevierville Bass Pro Shops


Please, Take a Seat

So you’ve been driving for the past few hours to get to your favorite camping site and you’re sick of the vehicle. Around the bend, there it will be waiting for you like a patient dog to come back home. There are even beams of light showing you the way to sanctuary amongst the wilderness.

You park and start unloading the vehicle. Tents up and the kitchen is set, all right! Now that the drive and work of set-up is over, what is the first thing you are going to do? Take a seat.

While you may have just spent too many miles sitting on the ride up the sitting around at camp is a completely different and enjoyable experience. The air is fresh (and void of stale chips/feet smell) and noises of the outdoors fill your eardrums (as opposed to a well-constructed playlist).

But as much as you love the great outdoors, a bumpy and rocky seat with some lovely pine needles poking you is not your idea for ideal idling. That’s where camp chairs make all the difference.

Now if you’re like me and you want to sit it’s going to be for a spell. Oh and I didn’t take the time to Google this or anything, but I’m pretty sure a spell is any amount of time more than 37 minutes but less than 58 minutes. Mathematically that would look like: (37>spell>58).

Anyways, you’re going to want a serious chair for some serious sitting. Some people don’t like a lot of motion when it comes to their relaxation so a solid and well padded chair like the one below would be great.

If you like your chairs more of an Adventureland ride as opposed to a Fantasyland ride at Disneyland, our rocking camp chair would be perfect. It folds up and out extremely easy and can withstand some serious rocking action.

But how about something in between the two with some real feet-kicking-up-action? BOOM!

Lounger, baby! This zero-gravity chair will take you from many to zero-worries in seconds. Not rustic enough though? DOUBLE BOOM!

Camouflage. #You’reWelcome

So before your next trip to paradise, make sure you have a chair that is up for the task of taking life easy. Come on by and please, take a seat. You’ll be glad you did. Kickin’ Back Koala Bears!!

PS- If you have an overly bossy camp friend, snag them the director’s chair. Kind of a compliment, kind of poking a joke, all with a cup holder and small table attached.


Instant Hot Water

Now that fall is just around the corner, many of you may be thinking of a fall camping trip. You may want to consider purchasing a travel shower to make your trip a little more pleasant.

In our store, we carry the Zodi Instant Travel Shower, which can be used not only for hot showers, but for washing dishes and equipment clean-up.  This shower quickly heats water for hot showers anywhere it is available. Just place the system's 6 volt pump in a lake or other water source, ignite the propane burner with its push-button ignition and enjoy this on-demand self-contained shower system.



  • Portable, self-contained
  • Instant push-button ignition
  • Stainless steel burner
  • Hot water in seconds
  • Includes powerful battery-powered water pump and rugged plastic storage case that doubles as a 4 gallon water container and propane tank base
  • Propane and 4 D cell batteries not included
  • $179.95



  • Storage case holds water for a 10 minute shower
  • Can be connected to a water hose for endless hot water
  • Heats 60 gallons of water between battery and propane refills
  • Adjusts water temperature up to 100 degrees F with a gas valve
  • Easy to use
  • Waterproof battery case with on/off switch
  • 6 volt pump with debris screen for greater water pressure
  • Compact for easy transport and storage
  • 4 ft input hose and 8 foot shower hose with water-saver shower head included

So, whether you plan to spend a few days in a tent, in a sleeping bag under the stars, or you would just like to be prepared in case of an emergency, come visit us at your Leeds Bass Pro Shops or visit  www.basspro.com to purchase your Instant Hot Travel Shower. Your family and friends will thank you for it.

Until next time, stay safe and GO CAMPING!!!






Camping: The Right Tent for the Right Place

There are many options when one is looking into buying a tent. Does the tent have a waterproof bottom? Does it hold the amount of people I am taking camping? And, of course, is it comfortable? These factors are very important in picking a good tent, but perhaps not the best criteria for finding a great tent. Here are some other factors a person might want to take into account when shopping for your next tent or looking at which tent to take out on your next adventure.

A great way to find a tent that is going to be suited for you is to look at the place you are camping and what kind of wear and tear are going to go on with the tent. For example taking a BPS 7x7 Dome Tent with a tarp bottom would be a great tent for an area where the weather is unpredictable. At the same time this tent would be great for campers who are hiking and staying on the trail because of the small profile coupled with its ability to be broken down into separate bundles that each hiker can share around with each other. This tent is also durable enough to be set up on rock surfaces with a simple ground cloth underneath, making it great for climbers who want to hike into a climb.

The BPS Dome Tent might be good for hikers, but taking the whole family camping is not an option with this tent. Instead look for a tent that has as large of an area as possible while being able to be divided into “rooms”. This gives you the ability to have some privacy in the evening or morning while still getting the camping feeling. A great example of a family tent is the Coleman 10-Person Vacationer. This tent comes with small hanging dividers as well as lights built into the frame. This tent is also big enough to walk around in without the need to stoop over. This monster of a tent is big enough to fit even the largest of families comfortably with some room to move.

This room to move is great but not what some people are looking for in a tent. Where the Vacationer is heavy and big for an entire family the Eureka! Solitaire Backcountry Tent and the BPS Hiker/Biker are light and meant for a quick setup in the most remote of locations. These tents are made from a durable material that is meant to take strong winds by flexing under the wind with their low profile. Both of these tents are ideal for back country hikers and hunters who need to have a light pack and the ability to take down camp and move on a moment’s notice.

Choosing the right tent may, for many people, be about finding the best overall tent that can last through anything and can be carried around for a while. For those of us who camp like there is no tomorrow finding the right tent for the right environment is what we live for. While hiking or biking a small easily put up tent that can take a beating from the wind and still go up day and night is what I need. If I am in the forest where the roots of a tree are going to shred my biking tent I look for my tarp floored tent. Finally if I am taking the family on a nice weekend away from the city I am definitely taking the biggest tent I can find. So next time you go out camping remember what you want from your tent and finding a great tent is always in your grasp. Check out the variety of tents we offer at Bass Pro Shops!  http://www.basspro.com/Tents/_/S-12325001000

BPS Tent


When will the new Colorado Springs store open? Begin the media blitz!


We are tentatively planning on opening the Colorado Springs store around the 2013 holiday season.  Check back with us for a more exact date as that time period approaches.

You can also find more information here: http://www.basspro.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CFPage?storeId=10151&catalogId=10051&langId=-1&appID=34&template=news_display.cfm&newsID=386.

Thank you for your question!