Let's Talk Hunting!

It’s that time of the year again. Archery season is fast approaching and time to get last minute prep work finished.  Mother Nature has been very nice to us with the abnormally low temperatures this summer. It has been perfect weather to get out in the woods and do a little bit of trimming around your stands or put out some trail cams, mineral or even build a food plot or two. With the increase of big buck sightings on my farms this year, I think it’s going to be a great season for us all. The deer numbers have really bounced back from the die off we had a few years ago. I still don't have the numbers on my north Missouri farm as I did before the event but it has improved dramatically. My farm here in central Missouri has improved even more. It depends on where you hunt, but I think it will be a much improved year. With more rain to come, hopefully we can put the drought behind us for now. Make sure you pick-up a copy of the 2014 Fall Deer & Turkey Booklet here at Bass Pro or visit the Missouri Department of Conservations website for all of the harvest changes here in Missouri. It will mostly affect gun hunters.  It’s still a great idea to grab one and catch up on all the changes so you are not surprised when you go buy your tags this fall.

A few pointers to get your season started: If bow hunting is your passion, my best advice I can give you is to HUNT EARLY!!!!!!!!!!! I used to be really bad at not spending enough time hunting September and early October. I got caught up in watching all the hunting shows of Bucks chasing Doe's all over the place during the rut. So I thought that would be the absolute best time to hunt. I would take my vacation around that time every year. Here in Central and North Missouri, the rut is right around the 1st and 2nd week of November. Don't get me wrong, it is a great time to be in a tree and there are a lot of really big deer harvested every year from trick or treat day (Oct 31st of course) to November 14th. But, and that's a big but, little do most bow hunters know that they have past some of the best hunting of the year in September and early October. Mostly because of the hot temps that are present at that time of the year. But the deer are still there and they have to feed and drink. When archery season starts on September 15th, you can bet that this guy will be in a tree or ground blind overlooking a food source or water hole. The best thing about September that you don't normally have in November is that you can pattern that big ole buck in daylight hours near a food or water source. Sometimes you can set your watch by it. In November that same buck is up on his feet during daylight but he more than likely is running all over God’s green earth looking for that perfect girlfriend. That could take him right off your farm and into someone else's sights. Spending some time now with the help of a few game cams, like Bushnell's Trophy cam ($229.99) or Moultrie's M990i ($199.99) you should be able to get a good idea of when, where and what time those deer are coming through and still have plenty of time before season to get a couple of stands or ground blinds set-up and ready to go. Tips for Game Camera Placement

Ground blinds can be really effective this time of the year because they will help control your scent and cover any movements. Redhead Blackout Hub Blinds are a great choice to help your blend right in ($139.99 - $279.99). There are three different models to accommodate multiple hunters if you decide to share your experience with family or a friend. Also, always try to give yourself options for different wind directions. Early season can be full of surprises. I have seen 3 different winds in 3 days. Always play the wind and brush in those stands and with a little luck your taxidermist will have a little more work this fall. That's all the time I have for now.  From all of us at your local Independence Bass Pro Shops, have a fun and safe hunting season.


Fall Shed Hunting

Fall is the time of year when everything is changing, the leaves are falling, the grass is becoming brittle and the temperature is on the way down. This is the time when deer hunting is at its best. Rifle season and bow hunting is well underway and the deer are on the move. But there is another great sport to engage in that doesn’t need tags or a rifle. Shed hunting, or hunting for a deer’s shed antlers, in the fall is a difficult but often times a rewarding undertaking. To help new shed hunters find sheds in the fall here are some helpful tips and tricks.

Even though deer lose their antlers in the mid-spring the sheds tend to stick around all year. Many times these sheds will be worn down by little critters like squirrels nibbling on the stumps and other animals tromping over them throughout the year. But even though there are some degraded antlers on the ground it is still possible to find great sheds in the fall. The first thing to know is where to look. At this point the sheds in the fields have been destroyed often times by tractors and replanting of crops over the summer so looking instead on the edges of the field at the fence lines and on the tree lines is a good idea. The easiest way to do this is to use a pair of binoculars. A good pair for this job would be the RedHead Rubber Armor Binoculars - Porro Prism, these binoculars are built to be carried around in rough terrain and still work great, so they are perfect for scanning the tree lines and the edges of fields for those elusive fall sheds. Another good set of binoculars for shed hunting is the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Binoculars, these binoculars are perfect for shed hunting because they have such a clear and crisp sight pattern it is easy to spot anomalies on the ground like a little white antler sticking out of the foliage. A great idea to consider in the fall when looking for sheds is that the shed is probably partly buried by debris so looking for an entire shed during the fall is not the way to proceed. Instead look for the tines or points of a shed poking through the brush or from under leaves. This entails looking for white and brown shaded points along the ground or suspended in light brush, this is where a lot of deer tend to lose their antlers as they get stuck in the foliage.


Now that the human aspect of shed hunting is done it is time to get some help from man’s best friend. Having a dog on the hunt for sheds is a great way to increase the number of sheds found and have fun with the family pet. A good way to get a dog ready for the shed hunt is to get them used to the smell of the shed and the shape of the shed. One of the best ways to do this is to get an antler scent and a plastic antler to train with. A good antler scent to use is the DogBone Antler Scent, this scent helps the dog associate the scent of an antler with the sport of finding stuff in the back yard making it fun for both the owner and the dog while actually hunting sheds. Another shed kit to use for this same purpose would be the DogBone Shed Antler Retrieving System. This allows a shed hunter to hide the shed in the backyard with the scent of an actual shed on the plastic antler. The dog then gets to go find the shed in the yard training them to find sheds while having fun in the backyard. This is a great training tool but a potential shed hunter needs to make sure to teach the dog to hold the shed lightly or it might be damaged while the dog is retrieving an actual shed in the field.

dogdog bone

While shed hunting in the fall is fun and a good challenge shed hunting can be done all year long. The skills learned in the fall can be applied to all seasons especially the winter when looking under leaves can be substituted for looking for points in the snow. As always happy hunting and good luck!


A Simple Guide to Bows

The familiar "thwang" of a bow string can set many an archer's mind at ease and relieve stress or tension. Archery is a sport practiced around the world. It is so popular that there have been world archery competitions at least five times a year every year since 2006 according to the World Archery Federation's website, which will be referred to as WAF. Countries all over the world including "China, India, Korea, Japan, Great Britain, Italy, France, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, USA, Mexico, [and] Australia" compete to see who has the best archers. (WAF) They have multiple types of archery competitions: Olympic Games, World Cups, World Championships, Ski Archery, Run Archery, Universiades, World Games, World Master Games, Para-Archery, and much more.

Archery started around the time people started walking, and walked its way through the Shang and Zhou dynasties to eventually make its way through Asia to Europe. There it got into Greek, Egyptian, and Norse Mythology and then Roman soon after that. Diana of the Roman Mythology, Athena of the Greek Pantheon, the Huntress, she hunted with a longbow in the traditional style. Many in the Eurasian cultures had at least one deity that carried a bow of similar fashion as the weapon of choice.

Longbows are as many hands high as their archer and without any bells and whistles or additions to help with aim or draw. According to livestrong.com "longbows are much more difficult to aim than other modern bows and do not have nearly the same velocity as compound or recurve bows. " Yew is the traditional wood but other lighter woods are known to be used to make the bow. (“The Longbow”) More modernly used is the compound bow which is like an assisted or easier to use bow.

"The sleek, uncluttered lines of traditional equipment speak volumes on old-school simplicity and tradition. On the other hand, a compound bow -- with its system of cables and wheels and adorned with accessories like a stabilizer, wrist strap, multiposition arrow rest and fiber-optic bow sight -- screams modern-day technology". -www.sportsmanguide.com

The compound bow is set up on a system of pulleys that make the bows stiffer limbs assume the desired shape. The pulley system allows the archer to manipulate potential and kinetic energy for a swifter and more accurately precise shot.


The recurve bow is an older style usually used by horsemen that has also been modernized so that it comes apart into three pieces for convenience.  The recurve bow "gets its power from the unique curve at the limb tips, a design first developed by Egyptian archers thousands of years ago" per discoverarchery.org. The recurve bow may be suggested as a beginners bow due to affordability.

Bass Pro Shops is a great place to buy traditional, recurve and compound bows. We have a wide selection and a staff that can help anyone pick the right bow for the archer.


"Facts and Figures." World Archery. World Archery Federation, n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2014.

"History of Archery." World Archery. World Archery Federation, n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2014.

"The Longbow." The Longbow. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2014.

Carmichael, Lindsey. "The Recurve Bow – What You Need to Know." Discover Archery. The Easton Foundations, n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2014.

Robb, Bob. "The Modern Compound Bow." Sportsman's Guide. The Sportman's Guide Inc., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2014.

Unger, Kristen. "Four Types of Archery Bows." LIVESTRONG.COM. Demand Media, Inc., 21 Feb. 2014. Web. 16 Apr. 2014.

WAF http://www.worldarchery.org/


Ten Quotes to Ignore About Treestands

Rod SlingsRod Slings, is Founder/CEO of Hunting and Shooting Related Consultants LLC and retired Iowa Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Supervisor.

Over the years of investigating treestand falls and interviewing the victims, their families and evaluating the scenes, a number of quotes come to mind. These are quotes to remember, but never follow. Please learn from these with the “Note” of explanation:


  1. He always said, “Those safety harnesses are way too restrictive. I like my freedom to move around.”

Note: Over one million treestands are sold each year. Each stand includes a safety harness; look for only stands that are Treestand Manufacturer's Association approved, with the logo on it. Do not alter the harness. The harness provided or purchased separately is designed to save you from falling to the ground.  Read all manufacturer's instructions before use. Your goal is to get back on to your stand as quickly as possible if you fall.  See: Dr. Norman Woods’s study on suspension trauma:


  1. “I looked at the treestands in the store and I knew I could build one almost as good.”

Note:  Homemade stands come in all shapes and sizes, everything from old shipping pallets to untreated plywood that are nailed into the tree to hold it up. Your best safety investment is a manufactured stand that will provide you with a safe and secure platform when manufacturer's guidelines are followed. Don’t take a chance with your safety! Your life is worth more than a pile a lumber.Treestand safety

  1. “I don't know who put this stand here or when; I was just checking it out to see if it was still safe.”

Note:  Never trust a stand that you have not helped hang or made yourself familiar with each detail of how it has been secured. The longer a stand is exposed to the elements, the more risks you are taking. The worst thing you could do is climb into an unknown stand in the predawn hours and put yourself at risk, based on someone else’s carelessness.

  1. “I didn't unload my gun before I pulled it up to my treestand because the noise might have spooked a deer.”

Note: Never hoist or lower a loaded firearm from your treestand. Always check and double check your firearm to make sure it’s unloaded. When using a muzzleloader, make sure the cap or ignition system is removed. Use a haul line to raise and lower your hunting implement, including bows, crossbows and all firearms and equipment. Never allow the muzzle of a firearm to be lowered into the dirt, snow or mud.  Remember, attempting to raise or lower any type of equipment in hand or attached to your body may cause risk, which may result in injury or worse.

  1. “I was wearing my harness, but I guess I had a little too much slack in my tether.”

Note:  Make sure you always follow the manufacturer's recommendations when ascending, perched in your stand or descending. When you allow too much slack in your tether, you risk not being able to self-rescue yourself back into your treestand. Your primary focus must be to get back onto your stand as quickly as possible. Your anchor point that you attach your tether to must be above your head when sitting in your stand.

  1. “It just takes too much time to use all that safety stuff; I just wanted to get in my tree quick I as I can.”

Note: If you plan to hunt again, and return home safely after each and every hunt, you will follow all of the safety guidelines and utilize the equipment needed to stay safe in the woods. Planning your hunt means allowing enough time to not only get to your stand, but also secure yourself safely. Use three points of contact when using a ladder. Use a lineman’s belt, a line that you hook your harness into when ascending and descending. Always stay connected to a safety anchor. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones.  One slip and you will change not only your life, but put a great amount of stress and burden on those around you.

  1. “I can’t believe I fell asleep and fell out of my stand.”

Note: It has been said that a hunter in a stand becomes “one” with the woods when hunting from a treestand. There is an almost a hypnotic state of mind that takes place when surrounded by the natural beauty hovering above the forest floor. As this relaxed transition takes place, it is imperative that all safety equipment is in use. Don’t become a statistic!  

  1. “I laid on the ground all night after I fell out of my stand. My legs wouldn’t work, my phone was in my backpack up in the tree, so I couldn’t call for help.”

Note: Always carry a communications device on your person. Make sure you always have service from the location you are hunting. Carry it in a chest pocket, so you can get to it when you need it. File a “hunt plan” with your family or friends, so they know exactly where you are hunting and when you expect to get home.  That way, rescue and law enforcement have a much better chance to find you, if you need help.

  1. “I unhooked for just a second, lost my balance and fell.”

Note:  Always stay connected. Maintaining the same sequence of events each time creates a routine.
“I always do it this way” is a very good method to maintain good safety practices. That one second of disconnect could cost you a lifetime of suffering. Always staying connected to an anchor point protects and insures you and will help you defy a thing called gravity.       

  1.  “I heard there were two kinds of treestand hunters, those that have and those that will.”

Note: Falls from elevated devices result in significantly more injuries than hunting-related shootings. The safety equipment available to keep hunters that hunt from elevated devices safe has increased greatly over the past years. If you talk to those who “have” fallen, you will hear them say, “I didn’t think it would happen to me!”  Learn from the tragedies of others, don’t become a statistic!

Please hunt safe this fall. Remember to acquire the necessary equipment to keep your hunt safe.

You owe it to yourself and your family.


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Get On Target For a Better Bowhunting Season

The days are getting shorter and the mornings are starting to cool off and you can feel Bow season drawing closer.  You have been watching all the hunting DVDs and checking all your equipment and getting your pack ready for the stand, now it time to get some range time in.

Blackout 3-D Deer Target

Blackout 3-D Deer Target

The biggest respect that you can show to any game is to hone your marksmanship so that you can have a quick clean harvest of your game.  There are a number of ways that you can go about this, you can attend 3D shoots on the weekend at your local bow clubs but for those of us that just can get the time to make it there you can always shoot with a couple of buddies in your back yard or wood lot.  We have a number of targets that can help get your skills ready in the pre-season.  We have a large selection of 3-D deer targets that help you understand the arrow placement from different angles and elevations You should check out our Blackout Series of Targets they are built  to last for seasons and help to make you a better bowhunter.

Rhinehart 18-1 Target

Rinehart 18-1 Portable Archery Target

My favorite target for pre-season shooting is the throw-able targets like the Rinehart 18-1 and Field target these help you with judging distance and picking a smaller target that will help you become more accurate. Aim Small/Miss Small. These targets have rope handles and are meant to thrown from spot to spot giving you different shooting angles and distances We play the best shot gets to launch the target and decide the difficulty of the shot. It is a great way to spend an afternoon.

Rinehart Targets Archery Field Target

Rinehart Targets Archery Field Target





Stay Sharp With The Right Broadhead Style For You

Are you thinking about switching broad-heads this year or are you new to bow-hunting?  Well, lets talk broad-heads for a few minutes.  You can break them down into three groups or styles of heads.  Fixed blade, Replaceable blade and Expandable style, each has their Pro’s and Con’s and a situation that they work best in.  I have used all three at one point or another in my archery career and have taken deer with all of them.

I would start out with fixed Blade. That is what I started with and what I am shooting now. I like them because I can touch them up and re-sharpen them with little effort.  I also like that as a whole they are the most rugged of the three since they have no moving parts. Downside if you miss and tear up a blade you have to chuck the whole head.

Blackout Broadhead

Blackout Broadhead

Second would be Replaceable Blade models. These are nice if you are not that great at sharpening  blades or don’t have the time to do it. You just get a set of replacement blades and swap them out before you head for the stand.  And if you miss your mark and break a blade off it is no big deal just swap it out.  The downside to these is they have thinner blades and are not as rugged as the fixed blades.

RedHead Blackout Replacement

RedHead Blackout Replaceable Blade

And the newest to the market is the expandable. The pro’s to these are they have a smaller profile so they fly more like a field point so they take less time to tune them in, as the name states they expand which give you a huge cutting area which can cut down on tracking and recovery.  The Con’s would be the moving parts. If they can move there is always the chance that they won’t or won’t at the right time. Also bows with lower poundage should stay clear of these. It does take a good amount of kinetic energy to get them to work correctly and lower poundage bows usually don’t have that.  With the lower poundage I have always found that 1/3 cut fixed heads work the best.

Blackout SS Gator Expandable Blade

Any other questions feel free to stop by and speak with one of our trained Archery Staff.



The Importance of Practice

Does practice make perfect? That's the theory. It's great weather to be practicing with your bow...tuning up, checking up and preparing your equipment, so you can make a clean harvest and be safe. However, missing a shot is one of those key mental hurdles that newcomers...whether man, woman, or child...have to conquer. Maria Young, from Dressed to Kill TV, is the first to say keep on practicing and don't get discouraged. Everyone has missed at some point, but practice will keep you in the game. Check out her comments and hear about her own personal experiences with "the miss" here in this brief YouTube video:

Pick up that bow, grab a target and start practicing. Get reacquainted with your gear and your form.


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Your Harness is Your Best Friend

By: Mike Reynolds

Hunting season is fast approaching and with it comes a little preparation.  We all go through our gear to see what may need to be replaced.  It seems like every year I get something new whether I need it or not.   The one piece of equipment I’d like you to really think about replacing is your safety harness.  I’m sure everyone uses a safety harness when in their treestand, right?  If you don’t I sure hope you can fly!  Most of the injuries that happen deer hunting happen by falling out of a treestand.  This fact is a shame because it is easily prevented.  The use of some kind of fall restraint should always be used when hunting off the ground.  There are 2 types of fall restraints: the first is a belt type and the second is a full body harness.  Both are better than nothing but the full body is far superior.  The belt will keep you from falling all the way to the ground but it will most likely flip you upside down too.  The top of your body is heavier than the bottom so, gravity being what it is, you will end up with your head facing down.  This will make it very difficult to right yourself and get back into your stand.  Bad things happen when we hang upside down for very long so let’s look at the alternative.

The full body harness will keep you right side up and able to get to your stand easily.  It will also distribute your weight evenly and not be so traumatic on your body.  The harness I started wearing a few years back was the Hunter’s Safety System [HSS].  It is, by far, the easiest harness to put on.  I have found through asking guys who don’t wear a harness that one of the most common reasons was the harness was too complicated to get on especially in the dark.  The HSS is a vest that goes on easily even in the dark.  Its buckles are large enough to secure and hold tight.  It is comfortable to wear and doesn’t restrict the motion of drawing a bow.  This harness doesn’t cost too terribly much, usually around $160.00.  In my opinion this is a small price to pay to make sure you don’t fall. After all, how much is it worth going home to your family after a day in the treestand?

Any kind of fall restraint is better than nothing but the full body harness is the best choice unless of course you can fly. We all want to go home to share our love of the outdoors with our family and not falling is the only way to do that.  When you are checking your gear before this season, please remember to take a look at your harness.  If it looks old or worn or is more than 5 years old, please consider replacing it.  


This Weekend @ Bass Pro Shops Altoona - Local Hunting Tips and Seminars

Our Fall Hunting Classic wraps up this weekend with seminars from our local experts and hunting team. The first 25 people (18 or older) who attend the seminars on Friday and Saturday receive a Fall Hunting Classic tumbler!  The first 25 Sunday seminar attendees (18 or older) receive a free safety whistle. All seminars take place Fall Hunting Classic - Bass Pro Shops Altoonaback by the Hunting Department.


Friday, August 15

Fall Hunting Classic Seminar

  • 7:00 pm. - So You Think You Know How to Bow Hunt - Led by Hunting Lead and bow hunter Nick Aldrich.

Saturday, August 16 and Sunday August 17

  • Fall Hunting Classic Seminars
    • 1:00pm – Autumn Hunt: New Approaches to Fall Success - Find out what's new this year from our Hunting Lead Nick Aldrich.
    • 2:00pm – Tender Venison? It’s Easier Thank You Think - Learn from the experts from the renowned Milo Locker, a favorite of Central Iowans!
    • 3:00pm – Does Camo Pattern Really Matter? With Hunting Lead Nick Aldrich
    • 4:00pm – Why You Should be Hunting Coyote - Presented by Jake Slings from the Iowa DNR
    • 5:00pm – How to Integrate Your Game Camera with Mobile Devices presented by Hunting Manager Shaun Bequeaith


Additional Fun This Weekend

►10 a.m. - 2 p.m. - Test drive a Bad Boy Buggy! Must have driver's license and be 18 or older.

►Our Own Little State Fair Flavors

Saturday, Noon- 4 p.m. - Try a sample of our Flossie's funnel cakes!

Sunday, Noon-4 p.m. - Sample our corn dogs made with Flossie's Corn Dog Mix!

►Saturday, 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. - The Grill Shack is open! All proceeds go to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation!



Labor Day Hometown Festival event the weekend of August 30-31, from Noon – 5pm - All kinds of fun activities for children and families to enjoy!!


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Hunting Story Told Right: Mike’s Safari

So what is cool about this story is that it combines a lot of things I have talked about before and rolls it into one big awesome adventure. This is the story of our very own Mike’s hunting trip to Africa. And he knows how to tell it right!

Mike has been with us for a while now and it seems like he has been talking about this trip ever since he joined us. I’ve had the pleasure to talk with him about where he is going, what he is taking and so on. Well he took that trip, not too long ago, and came back with some awesome trophies!

So let’s go over the basics of his gear. Mike only wanted to take one rifle with him, so the caliber he chose needed to be able to cover all of his bases. And his choices of animals ranged from kudu to warthog and a bunch in between! He went with the .300 Win Mag! (Hey didn’t I write a blog about that caliber? Or two?!) Mike picked out the Winchester Model 70 (a classic) and it served him well! It was the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation anniversary edition. On top of that bad boy, he threw on a Vortex scope. I have spoken before about how awesome these products are and Mike backed that up. His scope only needed three clicks to be dialed back in after all that travel. His Professional Hunter (PH) also said how impressed he is with their scopes are… and that he personally owns four.

Also, get the luck of this guy! He entered in for a chance to receive a case of ammo (your choice of caliber) and WON!!! Seriously!? My best friend and his dad took a trip to Africa and a huge expense was the rounds they needed to practice with before their hunt! Mike used Barnes Triple Shock in 180 grain and they worked like magic. They dropped every animal taken, except one, in one shot where they stood. This is great for the animals because it is humane and it is good for the PH so they don’t have to chase after a wounded animal.

It was a two week trip, four days of which were lost to travel. After landing in South Africa, they spent days at Kruger Park. Here they went over spotting and stalking basics. The PH wanted Mike to know what he was going to be looking for and how to get close to it. This is a simple concept but is something everyone should do! The things you learn at that time can make a huge difference later. Mike also insisted on doing all the hunting in a stalk. There was the option to shoot from the vehicle, but Mike abstained from this. Good for him! Mike also was able to see a lot of the wildlife he was not there to hunt and got a lot of awesome pictures. This is great so he can have something to show people who do not condone hunting. You always want to be mindful and respectful of people’s mindsets. Don’t go showing bloody pictures to anti-hunters because it only makes us more enemies!

From Kruger, Mike hunted in an area west of Kimberly. He took seven animals while there. Most of them were taken at least two hundred yards away. This speaks highly of Mike and his skill and the caliber, firearm and scope he had with him. Below will be pictures of Mike with his animals, the kind of animal, range it was taken (if he could remember) and what it would have scored. Over there, they have their own form of scoring. The Professional Hunters Association of South Africa  (PHASA) has guidelines for each different animal and what it would rank as. Hunting there is extremely different than here as Mike was able to take three animals in one day!

Mike noted that there was a lot of walking involved, and that they found a poacher. This individual was “looking for firewood” but just happened to be carrying around a bow and arrow… and didn’t have any wood… kind of illegal.

Anyways, enough words. Let’s bring on the pictures! Enjoy!

Red Hartebeest (200 yards) Bronze

Black Wildebeest (297 yards) Silver

Springbok (X) Silver

Warthog (500 yards, rested position) Not scored

Gemsbok (200 yards) Didn’t score

Blesbok (240 yards) Bronze

Kudu (200 yards) Didn’t score. It was missing three inches from one horn but would have been a Silver. This is Mike’s favorite trophy because just look how thick its horns are and how cool it looks.

Awesome job, Mike!


Enjoy these other pictures too!







Is Robin Hood a better archer than Bill Jordan?

Were the archers from the Middle Ages better bowman than modern professional hunters like Bill Jordan? Before we answer this question we must look at a brief history of the bow and arrow.

Who invented the bow and arrow? Answering that question is equivalent to answering who invented fire or even the wheel. However, we can look at the history of the bow and find some interesting technologies that we use for hunting and sport today.

A recent discovery in South Africa puts the invention of the bow and arrow about 71,000 years ago.  Arrowheads as well as spear heads were found in Pinnacle Point cave located outside Cape Town, South Africa. This is an important discovery about how sophisticated Homo sapiens (modern humans) early on. The oldest Homo sapiens archeological find dates back a little over 200,000 years ago.



The invention of the bow and arrow can be an important step on why homo sapiens out competed their rival the Neanderthals, who were much more stronger then they. The bow and arrow would allow modern man to attack from a distance instead of battling the Neanderthals up close.

Amazing, we are using the same tool that ancient man had used 71,000 years ago hunt and for warfare. But are we really? How strong were these early bows? How accurate were they?

No one really knows about the earliest bows. All that remains are the broadheads that were made of stone. The bow itself is as long been biodegraded back to dust.



So we need to flash forward to a more modern era to understand the sophistication of early bow and arrow technology. In the England during the middle Ages, the longbow rained supreme - to some historians – is when bow and arrow technology leaped forward.  Warfare in the middle ages long today as more to do with resources than how many soldiers you have. The longbow and its precision and the highly trained archers allowed countries like England to win against countries like France who had an abundance of resources http://www.history.com/topics/british-history/robin-hood/videos/robin-hood-and-the-longbow#

In the middle ages, Archers were able to kill a man from over 200 yards away. They did not have rangefinder nor sight pins. Today modern hunters are lucky to hit a deer from 70 yards.  Longbows from the middle ages had a draw weight of 150lbs or more. Why is there a big difference? What made middle age era archers so much better than modern ones? Are today’s improvements like the compound bow, sights and release inferior to the longbow of the past?


I think the same analogy holds true with firearms like the Kentucky Long Rifle.  American Patriots were able to hit a man size target at 200 and up to 300 yards with open sites. Today a hunter with an inline and a scope can maybe hit consistently that 300 yard mark, and they would never think about going traditional. This same analogy holds true when comparing the archers from today to archers from the middle Ages.


Here is the big difference:

  1. Archers from the middle Ages learned at a very young age.
  2. It was life or death, either in battle or to hunt for food.
  3. It was a way of life. They did it everyday.
  4. They could not afford to miss their target. Arrows were expensive. Although some would argue they are today, but in reality we do not have to make them by scratch. Nor would it cost us two chickens and a goat for the use of the blacksmith.


We may not be as good as they were, but we do not have the time to do it everyday nor do we have the life threatening stimuli to force us to be better.  We do it for FUN! So bring on the advances in technology and the gadgets, we need them.

 Wayman, Erin “Early Bow and Arrows Offer Insight into Origins of Human Intellect.” November 7, 2012 – Online Smithsonian Magazine http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/early-bow-and-arrows-offer-insight-into-origins-of-human-intellect-112922281/?no-ist

Wong, Kate “Oldest Arrowheads Hint at How Modern Humans Overtook Neanderthals” November 7, 2012 -  Online Scientific America  http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2012/11/07/oldest-arrowheads-hint-at-how-modern-humans-overtook-neandertals/

Military History Monthly , “ The Longbow- Medieval Weaponry” Online http://www.military-history.org/articles/medieval/the-longbow.htm

Americas First Freedom- NRA Publication, Online http://www.nrapublications.org/index.php/15308/gun-banners-believe/



Why Should Women Hunt?

The number of women taking up hunting is growing. Healthy, sustainable food sources (you know where it came from!), exercise, conservation, simply the challenge...all are reasons that more women are learning to hunt and especially bow hunting, with its added challenge and the submersion into nature that it demands.

Maria Young is from southern Iowa and a member of the Dressed to Kill TV Pro Staff. She recently spoke at a Women in Hunting workshop at Bass Pro Shops Altoona. She appreciates the world of nature that takes place around her when she's hunting and her enthusiasm for hunting is contagious.

When asked why women should hunt, Young notes right away that "it's not a man's world," it's fun, and ANY woman can do it. However, in this brief YouTube clip, she also adds there are a two other reasons that are especially important for women who are also moms:

For more information on how to get started in bow hunting, visit this post from our own Hunting Associate Alicia Bricker, or stop in at your local Bass Pro Shop!


Find Maria Young on Facebook - www.facebook.com/mariayoungdtk?fref=ts

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Blind Calling for Whitetails

At the recent Bass Pro Shops Altoona Fall Hunting Classic, Bric Steward from Drury Outdoors "Bow Madness" gave some great information about hunting mature whitetails. One technique he calls "amazing" is blind calling or growling for bucks.

Blind calling is just what it says - you're calling when there are no deer in sight. You just take a chance that some mature buck out there is itching to pick a fight, so, it's only done at certain times. Bric explains in this brief YouTube video clip!

Check out another video tip from Bric on the question - Ground Blind versus Tree Stand!


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Ground Blind versus Tree Stand?

The Fall Hunting Classic national pros always bring a wealth of information and experience! Bric Steward, from the Drury Outdoors "Bow Madness" team, led off our speakers recently, visiting with the audience about hunting mature whitetails. From decoys to calling bucks, he walked through the different keys to remember for all whitetail hunting seasons, early through late.

He says one of the best questions he had all weekend was, "What's better to hunt with...tree stand or blind?" Here's his answer in this brief YouTube clip!

Steward also talked about blind calling or using a call when he doesn't see any deer in sight. He would only do this in the pre-rut or rut, when the bucks have their mind on being the "baddest buck in the woods!"


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Trade-In Your Gear and SAVE!


Are you tired of your old hunting gear? Gear up this August, donate your old gear and you get the savings toward the purchase of this seasons newest hunting accessories…..

Applies to prices marked. Limit 1 coupon per new item. Donate all working bows and crossbows August 1-6, working binoculars & rangefinders – August 7-12, working scopes August 13-17 and receive a discount coupon to be used toward the purchase of a new bow or crossbow (August 1-6 only) , new binoculars or rangefinders (August 7-12 only) and new scopes (August 13-17 only). All trade-ins will be inspected to ensure good working order, and then donated to a local youth organization to help with their outdoor education programs.  Check out this seasons best here at your Bass Pro Shops !




Preparing for Your Elk Hunt Part 3

Practice Your Shooting

It really doesn’t matter what you shoot, whether if it’s a rifle, muzzle loader or bow (compound, re-curve, or long bow) you need to shoot year round. I know it gets very expensive to shoot a rifle or muzzle loader all the time but to stay proficient you need to shoot more than just a couple times a year. That’s not really the case with archery, we can shoot our arrows over and over unless you are a beginner and then you ruin a lot of arrows practicing. I can shoot my Carbon Express arrows over and over as long as I don’t miss and jack up an arrow which very rarely happens unless we are getting stupid and trying almost impossible shots.  Another advantage with archery is I can shoot in my back yard and no one cares, but if I started popping off with my 30-06, oh man look out, the cops will be there in a heartbeat with their guns drawn and aiming right at me. For the rifle and muzzle loaders if you can’t shoot a lot during off season you need to at least get out once a month or every other month before season and make sure your gun is still sighted in, plus if your gun is in a gun safe for extended periods of time you might start to have a rusting problem. When you do go shoot you may find something is wrong or broke or something breaks while you are at the range, if it does you can get it fixed before you go on your hunt. I had this happen a few years ago, I hadn’t shot my bow for a couple months because of an injury and when I pulled my bow out of the case and started waxing my string, I noticed that my cable guard slide was broke. I don’t know about you but most of the places I hunt it’s a long drive to a town that may or may not be able to fix the problem. If I wouldn’t have caught that broken slide I would have had a very long drive to find a place that would have one for my bow. The bottom line here is to shoot as much as possible so when that moment of truth comes along you’re ready.

Staying Organized

Keeping all your hunting equipment organized is one of the most import things to do that I can’t stress it enough. A lot of hunters when they get home throw everything in the corner of the garage, clean their gun, put it away in a gun safe and they're done until their next hunting season. Well the next hunting season arrives and you are going through everything trying reorganize and make sense of everything when come to find out, you left a pair of used socks in one of the bags, and the worst part of it all is there’s no laundry detergent made on this earth that’s going to take that smell out of everything you had in with those socks. This may be a little over kill but I think you get the picture.

I’m not much different but when I unload my truck I put everything into three different piles. One pile is all my hunting clothes, another is my regular clothes and then the third pile is all my other hunting stuff like my bow, boots, and that sort of stuff. My hunting clothes go straight into the washer and are washed with Hunter’s Specialties Scent-A-Way Laundry Detergent and then hung out side to dry. When it has all dried completely it is all folded and put back into my Hunter’s Specialties Scent Safe Travel Bags with one Primetime Fresh Earth Scent Wafer in each bag. Now I’m ready for my next hunt. I go as far as all my shirts are in one bag, my pants in another, and my coats in another. Each bag is marked so if I’m looking for a pair of pants I don’t have to go through all the bags to find them. While everything is washing I’m putting all my other stuff away down in the basement where it all has its own place, this way when I go looking for something I know where it is. Now my wife will disagree with this but at least I know where it is.  If something is broke I will fix it right away and if it’s something I can’t do I’ll get it to someone who can. There’s nothing worse than having something broke and forgetting about it and then as you’re getting everything out and ready for your hunt and you find it, well I know the words you’re going to use because it happened to me and it was a good thing there was no kids around when I found it. If you can fix it, fix it, but if it’s one of those items you can’t fix take it to someone and get it fixed right away.

Everything I have talked about organizing so far has been all about when you get home. Don’t forget about staying organized while hunting. I’m just as guilty as the next when it comes to staying organized. When I get back to camp after hunting all day all I can think of is getting something in my stomach and going to bed. Now the next morning comes and I’m scrambling to get a lunch made, make sure my hydration bladder has water in it and off I go with a pop tart in one hand and a soda in the other.  It's really frustrating when you’re about a mile from camp and all of a sudden you hear a bugle and you go to grab your cow call that normally hangs around your neck and it’s not there along with the rest of your calls. Been there, done that, but it only took that one time for me to learn that lesson the hard way.

Check Off Sheet

A check off sheet is something I feel every hunter should have, get one of those generic ones that you find in magazines or at the game and fish department and modify it for you. A rifle hunters check off sheet would be different then a bow hunters as would a muzzle loaders. Some of the items will be the same like your licenses, GPS/Maps/Compass, but a bow hunter doesn’t need blaze orange and a rifle hunter doesn’t need camo. I have my list broke down into categories, day pack, hunting clothing, camp clothing, camp accessories, and camping equipment. Like with my day pack, I have a list of everything I carry in it, my camp clothing is what I wear around camp and it’s broke down as far as how many pair of socks and underwear I bring.  It took me quite a while to come up with my lists, but I started with one of those generic lists a long time ago and went from there. Sometimes I may add to the list or I may remove some thing. Once you start don’t stop unless you feel everything you have is sufficient. I’ve been using these lists for a long time and things are constantly changing as to where I’m adding and subtracting all the time. I even have a needs list and a want list. The needs list is stuff I need before next year’s hunt. My want/wish list is a whole lot longer than all my other lists combined. I don’t think I need to explain what kind of list that is but you know, like a new AR15 to whack a few coyotes. Maybe if I’m real good this year Santa might bring me one.

Hunt Hard & Shoot Straight

Mark Campagnola







Product Spotlight - Save Phace Sport Utility Mask

Save Phace SUMLooking for a way to save face with some of your fall outdoor activities?

Tracker Sales Associate Scott Sickau is a firm believer in the Save Phace SUM (Sports Utility Mask). Here's his thoughts on why this is such a great product.


The Save Phace SUM is a very versatile mask that can be used for a wide range of outdoor activities, including boating and motorcycling, during many parts of the year. If anyone has ever been struck in the face by an insect while motorcycling, you know it can be quite painful, not to mention dangerous. Even a light rain can hurt your face when trying to get back to shore.

They come in a wide range of designs. I found the Save Phace SUM several years ago and purchased the camo version to use during the fall bow hunting season. It's especially nice to use here in the Midwest when the weather turns nasty, while in the deer stand. I have also used it while operating boats in rain storms and even while moving snows in bitterly cold temps.

  • The product is very well made and performs flawlessly time after time.
  • Lightweight
  • Rain and wind is diverted around your face.
  • The seal around the eyes is very tight and does not allow your breath to fog up the lenses, even in -30 windchills.


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Bringing the Hunt to Life

On the Trail Tuesday - Bass Pro ShopsBy Dan Stephany, Receiving Manager

When I was a young boy, I couldn’t wait for the day that I would get to go hunting with my dad and older brother. We hunted on a large, family farm with my relatives in central Wisconsin, and deer were plentiful. I loved going to deer camp and hanging out with the "guys," especially when someone brought back a big buck to hang in the barn. I can remember being in deer camp the day my uncle shot the biggest buck any of us had ever seen, and I got to go with him to the taxidermy studio, where he was going to have it mounted.

Ever since that first encounter with my uncle’s deer, I have had a fascination with taxidermy. I love seeing how a taxidermist can seemingly bring the animal back to life. This was never more true than on a whitetail I harvested several years ago, while hunting with my dad and brother on my dad’s property in Wisconsin. At the time, it was the largest whitetail I had ever harvested and larger than anything my dad or brother had ever taken. I remember walking up on the animal with my brother and him asking me the question, “So, you gonna get it mounted?” Without much hesitation, an excited “YES!” came out.

I took it to a well-known taxidermist and picked out a pose. I was beyond excited to get it back, and when the phone call came telling me it was done, I raced over to the studio to pick it up. Seeing the detail in the eyes and face made it look alive -- it was captivating. At that moment, I began toying with the idea of taking a class and learning how to mount my own deer.

That opportunity became a reality when I was talking with one of the archery specialists here at Bass Pro Shops. It turned out that he was a taxidermist, and offered a class in his studio where I could learn how to mount a single species of my choice. After talking through the details, I signed up for his class and took the plunge. 

My first mount was going to be a deer I had harvested with a bow and was already done as a European mount. The rack could be used simply by cutting it off the skull, but I had to buy a new cape for the deer as I didn’t have the original one. The mount turned out pretty decent, with a great deal learned in the process and made a few mistakes along the way. All things considered, I was pleased with how my first attempt turned out. 

My second effort was a buck I harvested a year ago during late muzzleloader season here in Iowa. We nicknamed him "Goofy" simply because of all his missing hair, scars on his face, and the fact that only one of his tines measured more than Bass Pro Shops Altoona - Bringing the Hunt to Lifesix inches long! I knew it wouldn’t be the prettiest mount ever done, but it would be a great experience continuing to learn the art of taxidermy.

This time around was much smoother. It helps that my friend is an excellent teacher. He was patient with me as I decided on ear position, eye details and everything else that goes into making the deer come back to life the way I remembered him from the hunt. Only the finishing touches are left to make before he is ready to hang with the others on my wall.

I am by no means a professional taxidermist now. However, I can say that, with the help of my friend, I know the process of how to mount a whitetail deer. Since diving behind the scenes, and seeing what artistry goes into a mount, I am more fascinated than ever before and excited to share the knowledge with my young son Micah. I can’t wait to see what this season holds for us as we pursue some mature whitetails and hopefully add another mount to our wall.

Bass Pro Shops Altoona - Eyes set & antlers mountedGoofy right after setting the eyes and mounting the antlers to the form.


                                                             Test fitting the cape to make sure everything lines up - Bass Pro Shops Altoona




Test fitting his cape to make sure everything lines up.



                                        Cape sewn on and first eye set - Bass Pro Shops Altoona

Getting closer to the end! Here Goofy has the cape sewn on and the first eye set before getting tacked down and air-brushed. You can really see how beat up his cape is in this picture.






Ready to go home! Brining the Hunt to Life-Bass Pro Shops Altoona


Goofy is ready for the trip to my house. He turned out great and now hangs next to the other deer at my house.




Thank you to my friend Jackson Tennant, owner of Woods to Walls Taxidermy, for sharing his passion and expertise with me. This dream would not have become a reality without him.


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Fall Hunting Classic



The annual Fall Hunting Classic has returned to Bass Pro Shops - Macon!  "The Greatest Hunting Sale & Show" takes place at all Bass Pro Shops stores, August 1 - 17 (August 1 - 24 in Juneau), and the fantastic sale is accompanied by a ton of activities.

First up is the Bass Pro Shops Hunting University.  This year, our featured Hunting Pros are Ryan Klesko and Walter Parrott.  Ryan is the co-host of the "Hardcore Hunting" television program and will speak on "Big Game and Bow Hunting Tactics."  Walter is one of the original members of the RedHead Pro Hunting Team for Bass Pro Shops as well as a co-host for Bass Pro Shops' "100% Real Hunting" program.  He will give tips on "Whitetail Deer Hunting."

  The second weekend, August 9-10, is our Next Generation activities. This weekend features activities for kids (our "next generation" of hunters), such as the Daisy BB Gun Range, Kids Workshops, Free Crafts and Free Giveaways.  We are even hosting our first Women's Hunting Workshop!

The final weekend, August 15 - 17, is all about our Local Pros. Friday night's workshop takes place at 7:00 p.m.; the workshops on Saturday and Sunday, run from 1 - 6 p.m. Topics include bow hunting, cooking venison, selecting a camo pattern, hunting predators and more.  Click here for the daily schedule.

Other activities include the 2nd Amendment Instant Savings on Guns and Safes (when you use your Bass Pro Shops MasterCard; August 1 - 5 and 13 - 17 only); Bow and Crossbow Trade-In (August 1 - 6); Binocular and Rangefinder Trade-In (August 7 - 12); and Scope Trade-In (August 13 - 17).  We will also have Daily Specials on select dates (while supplies last) and you can register to win a helicopter hunt with "Pigman" Brian Quaca. 

Make sure you plan to join us for this year's Fall Hunting Classic!










Tie One On: Royal Coachman

This month’s Tie One On has a hint of royalty to it, so be prepared to bow before the pattern that rules the kingdom. This month’s highlighted fly pattern is The Royal Coachman!

Typically when it comes to fly patterns they are designed to be fished as either a dry fly or wet fly. The Royal Coachman is one kind that works well for both styles of fly fishing. The fly is especially effective on trout and grayling. Larger patterns have been adopted for salmon species and work quite well also.

Now usually when people think of royalty it immediately goes to our friends across the Atlantic, the English. I mean immediately the world royalty makes one thinks of fancy balls or knights in armor. The Royal Coachman however is an American classic.

Fly-fishing author, Paul Schullery wrote, “No fly better represents this freewheeling era [late 19th century] in fly tying than the Royal Coachman, which among the general public may be the world's best-known fly. Its name has the right combination of romance and class to appeal even to people who don't fish, and the fly has such a commanding appearance that few fly fisherman can resist having some permutation of the pattern in their fly boxes, even if they never use it. Most of them don't know it, but the Royal Coachman is the first great American fly pattern...”

I would completely agree with what Mr. Schullery stated, including having one in my fly box and never having used it…

The Royal Coachman is known as an attractor/searching pattern as its generalized form makes it possible prey for anything biting. So one may tie one on and use it to probe likely spots holding fish and it has a better chance of getting a strike.

Like most other fly patterns that have proven themselves, this one comes in an assortment of colors and variations. The standard pattern is well recognized for its white wing, portioned body with red in the middle and red-brown/brown hackle coming off the back.

So next time you’re out and need a little help catching something, go ahead and bow down and ask the Royal Coachman for its assistance in the matter.


Former Flies

Woolly Bugger