Setting the Hook on Spring Lunkers

While the disappearance of the ice is celebratory, anglers are now met with the challenge of finding bass amongst barren lands. We can blame Old Man Winter for this. In a normal winter, temperatures rise and fall, thus, periodically the snow will melt exposing the ice. This is critical as the absence of snow allows sunlight penetration, which is essential to weed survival. However, from January through March snow only piled up as temperatures failed to get above freezing. As a result, scores of the best weed beds this spring are missing. Many of our lakes are desolate.  

As the weeds disappeared under the ice, the small bluegill, perch, and sunfish, which used these for protection, became exposed. Predators like bass and pike had a feeding bonanza. Because of this, bass fishing across Northern Indiana has been tough this spring, but simultaneously, the quality has been exceptional.

Take, for example, a tournament held on popular Lake Wawasee April 12. Out of 30 teams, only seven managed a five fish limit; just 57 total legal-sized bass were caught. Yet, the winning weight was an astounding 20.92 pounds! Furthermore, ten fish over four pounds also found their way to the scale.                    

The fishing has been tough because with the abundance of easy prey, the bass and can afford to be picky. This is also why they are large. Now more than normal, a natural presentation has become necessary. Few types of bait are more natural than a swim bait, and few are as realistic as the new Bass Pro Shops Speed Shad. Consider the forage on your favorite body of water: if bluegills are abundant, use the Bluegill Flash color scheme. If perch outnumber the bluegill, go with the Male Perch pattern. If you are not sure, Green Pumpkin works everywhere. Match it up with a ¼ ounce Bass Pro Shops Deadly 5 Shad Jig head around sparse vegetation. If you are lucky to locate thicker weeds, lighten up with a 1/8 ounce jig head.

Swim baits are simple to use. Cast it as far as possible and simply reel it in. Keep this in mind: the slower the better. Hold the rod at an 11 o’clock position and make sure a bow exists in your line between the rod tip and where the line enters the water. When a strike occurs, do not set the hook immediately; instead wait until you feel the weight of the fish, then hammer it home. When the fish makes the initial strike, it normally has just the tail in its mouth. Setting the hook too soon pulls it away from the fish.

Do not waste time getting frustrated chasing bass right. Instead, get real, slow down, and stand by for lunkers.


Tips & Tricks for Bow Fishing from the Pro’s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Grandpa's Buck


BY: Dominic Sabatina

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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






Canoe Fishing

Some of the most fun I've ever had fishing is in a canoe. Easy to handle, light weight and a great workout the canoe has provided me with great fishing memories and sore muscles. If you head down Tamiami Trail behind the second and third levy there are small ponds that hold a great deal of big largemouth bass. The trick is they are usually in the middle or on the other side of the pond unreachable by land, but easy to get to by canoe.

I would recommend popper lures and 10 inch worms. The poppers will make for exciting fishing, but be sure to leave the popper in the water for a couple of seconds after you cast before you move it. This will allow the fish in the water to come over and investigate what's on the surface. Most of the fish I’ve caught on poppers will usually hit the lure on the first or second pop because I've allowed time for the fish to come over. The 10 inch worm is good to leave weightless, Texas rigged, with a 5/0 hook. You can twitch the worm on the surface to make it look like a snake on the water or you can let it sink to the bottom and work it slow. Now remember while these lures are exciting to use they also attract alligators.

Another place I've used a canoe has been on Card Sound road heading towards the Florida Keys. Putting a canoe in the water here can make for some exciting fishing since you can get into the small creeks that most boats with motors are unable to reach. With a fishing friend of mine and a fellow Bass Pro Shops associate Mike, we've been able to catch a fair amount of Jack Crevalle. While Jack Crevalle may not be high on an anglers list of fish to catch it makes for a good fight on a canoe. Lures mostly used here are Gulp shrimp on a jig head, weight of the jig head mainly depends on the current.

Certain things to remember to bring with you on a canoe would be: an extra paddle, a life vest, a net, and grips to grab the fish. Don't forget your pliers for taking hooks off the fish and a small cooler with drinks to stay hydrated.  I’ve even put a trolling motor on my canoe a time or two for longer trips.  Whatever you decide to do with your canoe remember to be safe and success will be a hook set away.  

"If you are looking for a very stable sit in kayak that is rigged and ready to fish you can't go wrong with this kayak. It comes with great features that make fishing a blast. Set the hook on a bass like you are in a bass boat and this kayak can take it. Comfortable chair sits up off the floor and is very easy to pass 4 plus hours on the water."

New Ascend™ C156 Canoe with Motor Transom

A fun and versatile canoe for up to 3 paddlers, the C156 Canoe from Ascend gives you an easy paddling canoe that easily accepts an electric trolling motor. With its sturdy, built-in square back transom design that's ideal for electric trolling motors, the C156 gives you the choice of paddle or powered propulsion. Offering plenty of room for family and gear, this canoe features 3 molded-in seats with drink holders and comfortable, supportive seat backs on the fore and aft seats. A built-in cooler and storage compartment in the center seat offers protected storage for gear and food. The C156 also offers paddle holders, integrated carrying handles at the bow and stern for easier carrying, and eyelets fore and aft for tie downs. Length: 15' 6". Weight: 97 lbs. Maximum weight capacity: 800 lbs.



Iowa Youth Turkey Season Around the Corner

by Rod Slings, Retired Iowa DNR Law Enforcement Supervisor
Hunting and Shooting Related Consultants LLC


 Rod SlingsIt’s time to introduce that young hunter to turkey hunting during the Iowa youth spring wild turkey hunting season, which begins April 5, 2014.  The Iowa 2014 youth spring wild turkey hunting license is valid statewide and may be issued to any Iowa resident who is 15 years old or younger on the date the youth purchases the license. The youth license may be paid or may be free to persons eligible for free licenses. If the youth obtains a free landowner/tenant license, it will count as the one free license for which the youth’s family is eligible. 

On March 14, 2014, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed house file 2067, allowing unfilled youth tags to be used during any other wild turkey hunting season until the tag is filled or the seasons end, whichever comes first by the youth hunter. This is in effect for the 2014 spring wild turkey seasons.

An adult who possesses a valid wild turkey spring license must accompany each participating youth hunting license for one of the seasons. The adult must also have a hunting license and have paid the habitat fee (IF the adult is normally required to have a hunting license and to pay the habitat fee to hunt). The accompanying adult must not possess a firearm or bow and must be in the direct company of the youth at all times. A person may obtain only one youth turkey hunting license but may also obtain one archery-only license or one combination shotgun-or-archery license for season 4.

Iowa youth turkey season dates are April 5-13, 2014. The daily and season bag and possession limit is one bearded (or male) wild turkey. The method of take and other regulations allow that wild turkeys may be taken with shotguns, muzzle-loading shotguns with pellets no larger than number 4s or bows.  All other spring wild turkey hunting regulations for residents shall apply.

There had been some brief discussion about the requirement of wearing blaze orange to and from the hunting blind.  This proposed requirement did not become an administrative rule or law. 


Rod Slings is a partner with Hunting and Shooting Related Consultants. He was with the Iowa DNR for 35 years as a supervisor in the DNR's Law Enforcement Bureau. He is an active proponent of hunter safety and education through international leadership, instructional, and speaking opportunities for organizations such as the International Hunter Education Association, the National Wild Turkey Federation, and the United Nations.


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Smarter Trolling Motors

          The spring season is officially upon us, and the cabin fever felt by all from a long, cold, icy winter is coming to an end. And even local lake levels’ staying low is not enough to hold the average boater or the professional angler back! With many already in full throttle to gear up for this season, the latest trolling motor technology is in high demand. And just in time to answer the call is “Motor Guide’s” new release of the “Xi-5” series. This new wireless and GPS capable trolling motor system even rivals the competition, “Minn Kota’s I-pilot”, and has been long awaited!

          The new series of “Motor Guide’s Xi-5” comes in three distinct models that are available in multiple thrust and shaft lengths. 1). The first is just a simple yet efficient wireless version, with a wireless foot pedal and bow mount. 2). The second is the wireless motor with a built in sonar transducer compatible with specific Lowrance units. 3). The third is a wireless motor with a built in transducer, and all the functions of an integrated GPS system. This revolutionary GPS system Motor Guide is calling, the “Pinpoint”, and much like its predecessor and rivals version, the “I-pilot”, this new system offers almost the same features. These features are an anchoring system that at the click of a button hold ones boat in that exact position while compensating for wind and water wake! This system also offers a track recording option that allows the boater to have hands free operation of the boat while running along a specific recorded trail saved previously to the system. With this kind of control over ones trolling motor, vital time is spent casting and fishing, and catching fish while the internal GPS system does all the work. Even if we are just putting in a pontoon and cruising acrossed the lake, or looking for that new lake record, this system from “Motor Guide” promises to hold its ground.  

So where can one go to find out all the details and advantages of such a sophisticated trolling motor system? Why you’re local “Bass Pro Shops” of course! Come visit any of the local stores to find out the latest and greatest trolling motor and sonar/fish-finding technology and knowledge that will give one the cutting edge against all the compotision this season. So drop into your local “Bass Pro Shops”, and let us help your adventure truly begin!




Bowfishing - What is it and Why?

Bowfishing combines the love of bow hunting with fishing, while serving a very useful purpose for our waters. The Bowfishing Association of Iowa was recently at Bass Pro Shops Altoona to answer questions. Billie Summers from the Association is also a member of the PoorBoys Bowfishing Team and on the Pro Staff for AMS Bowfishing.

Summers says they get many questions about bowfishing, such as what can you fish. With the growing popularity of bowfishing around the country, he wants to make sure that people are clear on WHAT can be fished, which can vary from state to state. In Iowa, it's strictly rough fish and the invasive species that do so much damage to our waters.

For more information on bowfishing:

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Bowfishing Association of America

Interested in the US Open Bowfishing Championships May 3-4, 2014? Pre-register at!


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Tips For Boat Beginners!

Summer is not the same without spending time on the water fishing, waterskiing or just cruising. Learning to drive can be scary when you first learn. You’re excited to have the freedom to travel, but a little worried to take over the controls that you are unfamiliar with. Being apprehensive when you first start driving a boat is understandable. There are some tips you can follow to make boating a little easier and safer while you improve your new skills.


Learning from specialists at Bass Pro Shops or an experienced boater can help speed up the process. However, watching other boaters that have boats similar to yours and asking questions is another option. There are many state and national boating education programs offered as well.


Choosing an area with calm water and few boats will give beginners a chance to learn the feel of the boat without added pressure of handling choppy waves. If you choose to learn on Lake Michigan, choose a day with little wind so the water isn’t rough. If getting out of the marina or dock area leads you through rough water, just throttle slow until you find a cove or calm water to practice.


Be aware of the weather reports and watch for unexpected adverse weather that might pop up. Lake Michigan is known for fast weather changes. Being on the water during a rainstorm or heavy winds is dangerous, so don’t wait until the last minute to get off the water


Wear a life jacket, and make sure everyone on the boat does. Nine out of ten drowning happen when no life jacket is being worn.


Basic stuff to have on your boat: U.S. Coast Guard-approved, marine-type fire extinguisher, a visual distress signal if you are on coastal waters, a horn to make sound, a throwable PFD (life ring) first aid kit, back-up plugs, anchor & line and spare keys


Get your boat ready to put in the water by making sure you put the plug in the boat. Your boat should not be in the water without the plug in.

  1. Remove straps and tie-downs on trailers and engines.
  2. Load your gear into the boat while it’s out of the water. It’s easier and safer than lugging coolers, bags, etc. through water or bending down from a dock.
  3. Back your boat down the ramp to get your boat in the water so your engine is in the water and the boat is not floating off the trailer. Be sure everything is working properly before you release the boat from the trailer. Have someone assist you if you still need practice backing up.
  4. Run the blower to make sure there are no fuel vapors in the engine compartment.
  5. Set the kill switch to run.
  6. Start your boat with the drive mechanism in throttle so the propeller is not turning while you’re on the trailer.
  7. Unhook the boat and release the bow hooks that keep the boat on the trailer.
  8. Have the driver slowly pull away to separate the boat and trailer
  9. When pulling out of the dock, check for No Wake signs. When they are present slowly drive forward until you are out of this zone.

Have the right stuff on your boat, learn and observe safety rules and take the time to safely handle your boat.   Then you are ready to make the most of your Water adventure.


Bowfishing- gear up!


With the beautiful weather we’ve been having lately, we’ve been gettin’ the itch to fish. Here are some bow fishing tips and tricks to get you ready for the season.

-Look for large rivers or streams like the Missouri or Mississippi because they'll have more invasive species for you to catch.

-Flooded fields are good places to go bowfishing because the fish will go up there to eat. You can use a boat or walk in waders depending on the depth

-There are three different types of bowfishing. Arial bowfishing is when the fish jump out of the water and you shoot it. Night bowfishing is usually with a boat, using the generator for light. At night fish come up to eat bugs and more active, so a lot of fish can be caught then. Lastly, wade fishing can be done on banks or shallow waters.

Gear you’ll need

-The AMS Kit will get you started bowfishing with great equipment. It is $159.99 and includes a bottle, line, retrieving system, 2 arrows, beginners DVD, Arrow nest and an arrow holder.

-You can use any bow, but it needs a stabilizer attachment.

-If you want a boat, use a Grizzly 1860 Sportsman that has a bow fishing platform. We have one on display right now that is for sale, come on in and check it out.

-You’ll need fiberglass or carbon fiber arrows that run from $15 to $50. Don’t worry about losing them though; they have string attached to them so you can get it back, unless you hit a stump of course.

-The best reel for bowfishing is the Zebco 808 Bowfisher or using the AMS bowfishing kit ($40-80).

To practice:

- To practice arial bowfishing, fill a 2 liter of soda with water. Throw them in the air and shoot to practice hitting your target. Bowfishing in water is a bit tricky. Because of the reflection on the water, you have to get used to shooting at an angle which can be difficult. To compensate, shoot in front of the fish. Use a milk jug or something similar to float in water and practice shooting in front of it.


Our final tips are to make sure you an Ascend dry bag to put your phone and other valuables in to keep them from getting wet. Always ask permission before going in a field (it’s polite), and most importantly, be safe. Bring a buddy to make sure if anything goes wrong, you’re not alone. No special license is needed, just a regular fishing license.

For info on regulations and species you can bowfish for, visit Missouri Department of Conservation's website.


Archery by the Numbers: Does a Faster Bow = More Deer + 3D Tournament Wins?

Do I need a new bow this year?  Will that faster bow help me get my next deer or win my next 3D tournament?

Often I get a customer that comes stating that they have 1 pin on their sight because their bow shoots flat out to 40 yards.  I bite my lip each time because I know Physics just never lies.  Everything falls to the earth at the same rate, it does not matter if it is a bowling ball, a marble, an arrow or even a bullet shot out of a rifle.  The “Acceleration of Gravity Law” states that an object will fall to the ground at a rate of (32 Feet per Second per Second) or in other words the first second an object will travel 16 feet down and it does not matter if it has forward velocity or not.

Let me break it down for you eggheads and naysayers.  Go get your calculators and follow me…..  Oh and by the way…. This is why the Trophy Ridge React Sight DOES work and works perfectly.  The math doesn’t lie.

D=Distance Traveled
T=Time in Seconds
Acceleration of Gravity is D=.5GT² or Distance Traveled = .5 x 32FPS x Time in Seconds Squared

Example 1: Let’s say I want to see how far an egg will drop in 3 seconds if I were to drop it of off a bridge.
D=.5x32x3² or D=.5*32*9 or D= 144 Feet the egg drop in 3 seconds.

Now lets put this in practical terms for my archery friends who have that flat shooting bow that is so fast that their single pin hits the same mark at 10/20/30/40 yards.

We measure arrow drop in inches so we need to change 32 Feet to Inches which is 32*12=384 inches for the G value in our formula.  Now we need to figure out how much time elapses after we shoot an arrow for 10,20,30,40 and 50 yards.  Since we are having a little fun here let us do it for 400, 350, 325, 300, 280 and 250 Feet per second shooting bows.  Keep in mind we are just doing the simple math here without figuring in deceleration of the arrow due to surface tension applied on the arrow shaft by passing air and the drag that our vanes are causing to slow down the arrow.


So let’s say you have one of the quickest bows on the market shooting 350 FPS.  As you can see in the chart above the arrow shot out of that bow will have dropped a total of 22.57 inches at 40 Yards.  Even if you take in to account that your Apex of arrow flight is somewhere between 10 and 20 yards you are still going to have around 18 inches of drop past 20 yards as seen in chart below.  This is not what I would consider “FLAT” out to 40 yards.

I am asked the question often, “Since this bow shoots so fast I bet the deer never has a chance to jump the string?”  Okay, lets put the math to this question as well.  We know that sound travels at around 767 MPH or about 12.78 miles per minute or about .213 miles per second or around 1125 feet per second, the number we need.  So knowing that sound travels 1125 feet per second we can figure out the time it takes sound to travel 10/20/30/40 and 50 yards.  Now this time I have included data with deceleration on a 19/64”-diameter shaft and 3 Blazer Vanes set 120 degrees apart with 3 degrees helical on the arrows.  Speeds in FPS are listed in each column. We also know that a deer has a reaction time of just shy of a ¼ second, I used .22 seconds of reaction time for the chart below.


All values in RED in the chart above show that the arrow will impact the deer before he hears the sound and can react or jump the string.  In ALL cases the sound will get to the deer’s ears before the arrow will.  In other words, the deer will always hear the shot before the arrow impacts him.  This is different with a rifle as most rounds are far above 1125 feet per second.  As so long as the projectile is above 1125 fps the project will hit target before the sound of the report will.  Not true with a bow and arrow, nor will it ever be.

So what does all this mean to a bow hunter?  First if you want to limit the chance of having a deer jump your string during a shot, keep your shots under 25 Yards.  I know many of you will think, “Well I will just aim a little low at distances beyond 25 yards then.”  Okay, but do you really know what that deer is going to do?  Is it going to drop, turn or simply do nothing?  You don’t know.  So if you keep your shots under 25 yards you will eliminate that variable.

Some of the other things you can take from the data might be, “Does a faster bow really gain me much advantage in judging distance or the amount of arrow drop at longer distances?”  If you are just bow hunting and you keep your shots under 25 yards, then, NO, is the answer.  Save your money and maybe look at purchasing some better scent reduction clothing or tools like the Ozonics machine.  Maybe a better use of that money would be better arrows or sights with smaller, easier to adjust and brighter pins.

Most people are shooting bows at around 280 FPS.  If you are an occasional 3D shooter you know that most of your targets are at 40 Yards.  Look at the data a bow shooting 280 FPS drops 1.33” more at 30 yards than a bow shooting 330 FPS.  A bow shooting 280 FPS drops a total from 20 yards to 40 yards only 3.26” farther than a bow shooting 330 FPS.  Is your money better spent on speed or forgiveness?  The choice is yours.  Keep in mind that the way bow manufactures get speed is making the brace height shorter, which causes a higher chance of arm or jacket slap while hunting.  Another way to gain speed is a harder cam.  These are harder to pull over while sitting for hours or at awkward angles in a tree stand.

I am not saying don’t go out and purchase a new bow.  What I am saying, is look at the data, and decide where your HARD EARNED money is best spent.  If it is a new faster hot-rod bow, that’s great.  If you choose a better sight, rest, stabilizer, clothing, blind, scent elimination items, then that’s great too.  We here at Bass Pro Shops can help you in whatever you choose.

Shoot Straight!



Tighter Shot Groups

I purchased a new Bowtech bow and i was shooting pretty good groups but i still think they could have been better . So a friend I was shooting with asked if I was still using my old release. He asked me to try his new release he had just picked up at Bass Pro shops . Groups improved and i went out and got that same release . Something went right got first deer with my new BOW.

Name: charles carter
ProductDescription: Release


Predator Hunting with Electronic or Mouth Calls

All general seasons are officially over and it is leaving hunters with little options to feed their outdoor addictions.  Spring time is getting close and pretty weather is sure to hit the state of Texas shortly.  Texas being a key word in that sentence, as our state has one of the largest population of coyotes nationwide.  For those hunters who are not partial to turkey hunting in the spring, coyote hunting is a sure fire way to cure that adrenaline craze we all seek while hunting wild game. 

            Our electronic calls feature calls by FoxPro, Hunters Specialties, Primos and Western Rivers.  These calls project loud and accurate sounds of wounded rabbits, fawn in distress, distressed mice and howling coyotes etc.  These calls all come preloaded with the essential calling tones used to have success in the field.  We have targeted coyotes in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and have had success using these calls to bring coyotes into range. 

            For the hunters who enjoy a tougher challenge I encourage you to shy away from the electronic calls and go for the mouth and hand calls.  Companies such as Primos, FoxPro and Hunters Specialties have all made very accurate sounding calls to help bring predators in close, even within shotgun or bow range.  Fooling sly coyotes into thinking you are weak and wounded is an accomplishment in itself and proceeding to harvest that animal turns a hunt into a more difficult and primitive way of hunting these wily predators.  Early February we went east and did a few calling sequences and got a response within several seconds of calling.  The coyote used the cover and got to within 40 yards before it spotted us and took off.  Even though we didn’t harvest the coyote we tricked it into believing we were something we were not.  It adds confidence to a hunter when they we realize we can equal the playing field with good calling sequences made by our mouth and hands.         

            We need to have respect for an animal that has no general season, can be baited, hunted at night, hunted with electronic calls, has no bag limit and yet they still thrive and grow in population each year.  We as hunters need to do our part in helping control this population to insure a healthy habitat for the other game animal we chase during general hunting seasons.  Come in to Bass Pro Shops Garland and speak to one of our professionals about getting some of the latest and greatest gear to turn your spring hunting into a new adventure.





Valentine's Gifts...from Bass Pro Shops?

Absolutely! There's something for everyone and it doesn't have to be in camo, although there's a lot of that, too, of course. Valentine's gift buying doesn't have to be stressful...just be creative. 

GSI Nesting Glass

Grab a backpack or tote, throw in a bottle of wine and these sturdy, nesting wine glasses and you're ready for a picnic. Made for easy transport in the outdoors, you can find them in our Camping Department.
For the nature lover, how about a wind spinner or a beautiful red, glass hummingbird feeder?
For the scent lover - there are candles galore, from hazelnut & chocolate to the spicier side of cinnamon or espresso, there is a "flavorful" smell for every nose in the form of candles, like Swan Creek Canisters or Drizzle Melts, or McCall's candles or scented reed diffusers.

Now, if your special someone DOES like camo, or pink camo, you can go load up on gifts! Handbags, wallets, iPad and iPhone covers, tops, lingerie, swimming suits, sunglasses, automobile accessories, compound bows and guns...something for the gal OR guy.

There is a Valentine's Day gift waiting for you and your loved one at our store...sometimes you might just have to think outside the box...a box of fudge that is. Although our fudge would also do the trick.  

Message in a BottleLast, but not least, for the guy searching for a romantic gift but not wanting to get the same old same old - our Message in a Bottle necklace. A petite bottle on a chain holding a piece of paper on which YOU write those special words. Marry me or simply I LOVE YOU - give her your message to carry with her all the time. 

Be sure to include us in your Valentine shopping adventures!


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"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.



Turkey Calling with the Thunder Cut'N® Call

Spring turkey season is still a couple of months away, but now is the time to be practicing with your calls and getting ready for the season!

Bass Pro Shops Altoona Hunting Associate Kip Ireland uses the Thunder Cut'N Turkey call and wants you to know more about it.

"Many people are not familiar with it, because it's not the usual type of call. Turkeys have keen eyesight, and when I tried to cut or use a box call they'd see me. I tried mouth calls, but they weren't for me. So, I bought the flextone Thunder Cut'N® Turkey Call. It has a raspy deep guttural type turkey sound I was wanting." 

 Check out the video for Kip's tips on how to use it and more reasons why it's his favorite turkey call! 

2014 SPRING TURKEY HUNTING - Iowa Season Dates

Combination Gun/Bow Licenses

*Youth Season (Residents Only) April 5 - 13
Season 1 April 14 - 17
Season 2 April 18 - 22
Season 3 April 23 - 29
Season 4 April 30 - May 18

Resident Archery-only Licenses:  April 14 - May 18

Bag Limit:  Daily Bag and Season Possession Limit is one bearded or male wild turkey for each valid license and transportation tag issued to the hunter.

Shooting Hours: 1/2 hour before sunrise to sunset

*License Valid for Youth Season Only

Visit for details.


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Daddy's little mini me

Isn’t it cute when you hear your little one wanting to be just like you? To see them mimic you, from how you do little habits, to how you dress. The greatest thing I know, is to hear from you son and daughter that they want to hunt and fish just like you! For you to know that it will be awesome quality time, a special bonding moment you will forever cherish. We have some ideas to help you and your kids to be the best little mini me! (most of these items that are shown are in boy and girl colors/characters)



Bass Pro Shops® Toy Pump Shotgun for Kids- 

Before they are ready to really go out and shoot, this gun is a great way to look just like dad and have them used to how to load and shoot. / 


Bass Pro Shops® NXT Generation® Rapid Riser Toy Compound Bow for Kids-

This is a pefect way to teach the kids about target practice and to have a steady eye. Right for the bulls eye!



Outdoor Hunter Sports Style Walkie Talkie and Binocular Set for Kids-

What is cuter then seeing the kids pretending to be out in the woods hunting, spotting a deer with the binocular and radio each other on if the other is ready to shoot!



Shakespeare® Disney® Princess Purse Rod and Reel Kit for Kids-

A way to daddy's heart is when his little girl wants to spend time out at the coast with him catching fish. This is a way to get her even more excited plus learn the basic release and reel form.



Shakespeare® Little Princess™ Tackle Box for Kids-

Don't forget the tackle box! To store all her little play worms or other items princess need. Great way to start their fishing advertures!


We are here to help you make those memories and easy to teach them at an early age how to hunt and fish. At the same time have fun and excitment with their equipment.


Bucks and Barn Cats - Lessons at Season's End

By Christie Moe, Apparel Associate
Bass Pro Shops Altoona

As someone who loves to write and tell stories, the hardest part for me has always been where to begin. Many experiences and influences in my life led to my decision to hunt this past fall. My family has always been an active, outdoor- loving family. I was six when I first went camping and canoeing in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Minnesota. I grew up doing a lot of camping, hiking, canoeing, and fishing. For me, that was just what you did in the summer. 

I never really got interested in hunting, even after my mom married my step-father, who is an avid outdoorsman and hunter. I started archery when I was a senior in high school, but never even considered going out hunting with my step-dad. At the time, my mom likely wouldn't have allowed it, since I’m her baby girl. She had a difficult enough time with it this season, even though I’m 23 years old and have been married for over a year. However, between my step-father’s excitement to finally have a hunting buddy (neither of my step-brothers have ever taken an interest), and my own determination to go, my mom reluctantly held back her objections.

I spent weeks preparing for the start of bow season. I practiced as often as I could, focusing on improving my ability to hold my bow drawn for an extended period and keep it steady, and spent countless hours completing the online hunter’s safety course. I bought and borrowed all the accessories I thought I would need (my being hired at Bass Pro Shops in late October was no coincidence!). My mom would say I enjoyed the shopping as much as the hunt and that wouldn't be untrue...I love to shop. I enjoy looking good, even if there’s no one but the squirrels and the birds to see me. My husband, a U.S. Navy sailor deployed in the Atlantic, emailed me more than once about what all I could possibly have spent so much on at Bass Pro. I easily won him over with the promise of deer jerky and by saving extra money the next month. 

View from a blindWhen I decided I wanted to go hunting, I daydreamed a lot about the deer I would get; my heart was set on getting a buck. After all, I needed a trophy to mount on my wall and a pair of antlers seemed like a perfect crown for my achievement. A nice little six-point buck didn't seem like it could be too hard to get, and I was hunting with my step-father who gets at least one deer every bow season. Well, deer season has come and gone, and I don’t even have ground venison to show for all my efforts (sorry hubby, no jerky). The most important lesson I learned about hunting is that you can’t shoot what you don’t see and, after passing up more than one shot early on in the season, I didn't see much at all. I had never realized that just being in the right place at the right time is such a huge part of hunting. You can do all the recon you want with your trail cameras and looking for scrapes and prints; it doesn't guarantee that the deer will be there when you are. 

One of the first things I learned was that I am not a quiet person. People who know me might scoff at that, since I’m more inclined to listen than to do most of the talking in a conversation. However, I fidget, stomp, squeak my chair, rustle around in my pack, sneeze, blow my nose, cough, and occasionally snore. These normally inconsequential and unnoticeable habits seem very loud when you are trying to be as quiet as possible and lie in wait for an animal with incredible hearing. I often wonder if the times that we didn't see any deer were because I wasn't quiet enough. Support Pole grazed by Arrow

On one of my first times out I had a beautiful eight-point buck come walking across my sights.  We were in my step-dad’s ground blind and conditions that day were fairly close to perfect. The sun was shining, it was cool, and the wind was blowing elsewhere, but not in the field's edge where we were crouched. The buck stopped about 25 yards away from us, quartering away from me. I drew my bow and took aim, barely able to keep from shaking with excitement. I kept him in my sights, as he took a few steps more, and gently pulled the trigger on my release. One of the difficulties I had with the release was my tendency to punch the trigger, but this time, my pull was smooth as silk.  Everything about the shot felt perfect and right...for about a half of a heartbeat. Then my broadhead grazed one of the support poles on the blind, and my arrow went flying off into the weeds to the left. As I gazed in shocked dismay, my beautiful buck, that should have been ready to keel over, pranced away after a doe. Three hours later, after nothing else came by, my step-dad and I began our search for my arrow. After about a half an hour, we gave up and I was back to Bass Pro to have new arrows cut. The lesson I learned that trip was to be more aware of my surroundings. I should have realized that the support pole was in my way, but I had tunnel vision and only saw the deer.

During another trip, my step-dad and I had nestled our ground blind in amid some tall grass and a deadfall. We knew the area well and spotted tracks that were fairly fresh; we felt confident we would see something that evening. We saw nothing, but I hung in there even though it was a mere fourteen degrees out. Finally, in the last minutes of shooting time, we heard something. I prepared to draw my bow. Suddenly, we heard a buck behind us. Somehow, the buck managed to sneak around us and came upon our blind from behind. We managed to startle each other and the buck took off. We had placed our blind strategically, so that the deer would take the path in front of us. Lesson learned: Deer don’t always stick to the path. Sometimes, they are unpredictable.

I did the majority of my hunting from my step-dad’s ground blind, but there were a couple of occasions when we went out and did some stalking. Later on in the season, we were hunting down by the river. Being goose season, as well as bow season for deer, the spot we picked was not ideal. As the goose hunters got closer to us, we realized that we wouldn't see anything. The noise from the shotguns had likely scared off all the deer off. So we decided to leave the blind and stalk. I got to know the woods pretty well at that time. Thus, when hunting on my own one day, I thought little of going off and seeing if I could find some deer somewhere other than where I was at. I did just fine for the most part, but then, on my way back, I somehow got turned around. I was lost. The big mistake I had made, though, was that I had left my pack at the blind, including my emergency kit, hunter’s license, and ID.  While nothing happened, and I managed to find my way back (slightly worse for wear and a little dehydrated), I did get a bit of a scare and learned a crucial lesson about not being stupid: never ever leave your emergency supplies.

My step-dad and I made a few hunting trips down to my uncle’s place near Indianola. My uncle has a decent amount of land to hunt on, and he and my cousin both managed to get large bucks early in the season. On our first trip down, I drank a decent amount of coffee, as traveling down there meant we had to get up an hour earlier than normal. Suffice it to say, the lesson I learned here was that a hunter never wants to drink too much coffee before going hunting, especially as it gets colder out.Hunting Cat

The cold is one of the things I do not like about hunting. I might get bored while waiting, but I don’t mind being bored. I hate the cold though. During bow season, I easily went through two large packs of hand warmers and three large packs of toe warmers, not to mention a ton of the large 18-hour body warmers. I like things that keep me warm. My uncle, like most people who live out in the country, has a few outdoor cats. On one particular trip, one of the kittens followed us down to the food plot. My step-dad positioned himself at one end of the field with me at the opposite end.  The little kitten was not inclined to leave us, and we weren't inclined to try and bring her all the way back up to the house, when she would likely just follow us back down again. To make a long story short, the kitten ended up in my coat. To keep her out of the way, I just quickly stuffed her inside and zipped it up. She ended up sitting right on top of my body warmers, and only poked her head out on occasion. She was more than content to stay in my coat and out of the way (for those wondering, no her incredibly loud purring didn't keep the deer away). I learned that sometimes sharing the experience with a friend makes the trip a lot more pleasant. Especially when you don’t get anything.

While I never did get a deer this season, I truly enjoyed the experience and learned a lot. I am continuing my outdoor adventures currently by hunting squirrel and rabbit with pellet gun. I haven’t got anything yet, but hopefully my next hunt will be more successful than my last. The thing I've enjoyed most about hunting is having some bonding time with my step-dad. The whole experience has made me appreciate the outdoors and his knowledge of it even more.  


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The Best Deal in Town!

Have you ever thought of getting a kayak? For many of us we look at the upfront investment, which can hold a pretty hefty tab.  However, swing into your local Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World and check out our selection of select 2013 Ascend Kayaks that have been clearanced out to move. 

The D10 T was one of two kayaks introduced in 2013.  It sold quickly once they were received, due to some awesome qualities; for starters like all Ascend Kayaks, it is Made in America, has adjustable foot braces, includes two scupper plugs, has built in d-ring bow anchors for custiomizable storage, offered in two awesome colors, has multiple drain holes and drain plug and recessed paddle holders, includes an amazingly comfortable deluxe padded seat, is 10' long, holds up to 325 pounds, and is extremely stable at 34" wide.  This year we will be keeping the Red and Black as long as introducing a couple of new colors, however we will be saying Good-bye to the Titanium model.  Which means a $50.00 savings.  The titanium, SKU: 1972956, model only has been clearanced down from $399.99 to $349.77.


Along with the Ascend D10 T titanium, the Ascend FS12T in your choice of Sand for your fishermen or Olive for your duck hunters, America's # 1 selling fishing kayak has been clearanced down from $499.99 to $449.77.  This boat yet again is made in America, is 12', 31" wide, includes one rod holder, small dry storage, large dry storage, and a padded deluxe seat making for extreme comfort, and two flush mount rod holders.  This boat has been redesigned for 2014 to better suit all your fishing needs along with a few neat surprises to  make your next fishing trip an absolute success!

Not into the sit-on top kayaks, more of a sit-in kayak person, well never fear.  The Ascend A10 was one of the orginial line-up released in 2010,  The only two things over the years that has changed with this boat is the color and the seat.  The Ascend A10 Red ONLY is clearanced from $299.99 down to $274.77.  This boat is a 9'10", with a removable chair to sit on the beach and tan, and along with a convient paddle holder. 

Don't wait though, because once these hot deals are gone they are gone. Remeber the early bird catches the worm and that worm could help you catch your nexxt big fish.  So swing into your local Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World and let one of our great camping associates help you find the perfect kayak for your next adventure, whether it be big or small!




The 1860 Grizzly Sportsman for Bowfishing

by Tracker Marine Associate Justin Brown

As an experienced bowfisherman, I'm excited to introduce you to the new, ultimate bowfishing boat from the Tracker Marine Group - the Grizzly 1860 Sportsman! Here are some of the features this boat has to offer:

  • Of course, the first thing you notice will be the raised front platform with the railing.  There are two bike platformseats on it, as well as a bow holder and trap door for the trolling motor.  It's a quick-release platform, so we're not just talking can use it for regular fishing and duck hunting, too!
  • The decking and platform of the boat is covered with durable camo foam matting for comfort, so you can be out on the water all day either bowfishing for the big buffalo or casting a line to land that record bass! 
  • The boat comes with a foot-controlled Minn Kota Power Drive 12V 55lb thrust trolling motor allowing you to have both hands on the bow, but still go where you need to go! 
  • It also comes equipped with six spotlights to allow for plenty of light at night where the excitement is!  Grizzley Sportsman spotlightsNo worries on running the batteries down - it comes standard with a 2000 watt Honda generator that you can hardly hear!
  • You have a slide out drawer to keep all your arrows in, along with a large, hinged compartment to store the bows while in transport.
  • It has a front, aerated live well to keep the day's catch alive. 
  • When it comes to getting across the lake, it’s powered with a Mercury 90ELPT outboard with sponsons on the transom to quick get up on plane! 


I’ve been bowfishing for almost 10 years now and this boat has features I'd like to highlight that the beginner might overlook.  First, the foam flooring. The soft floor makes it a joy to be out on all day!

Next, the spotlights They're out of the way and the raised platform is the right distance to be able to take a nice shot! 

The on-board generator is a huge luxury because you’re able to use the lights without having the fear of your batteries going dead out on the water!

The storage - You have a separate pull-out drawer for the arrows and the storage compartment for the bows.  Slide out drawersAll that being said, you don’t have to give up your live well.

This boat is an all-round great boat for either bowfishing or just going out on the lake to catch some crappie or even to get out and duck hunt, since you can get this boat in a camo paint pattern!  Come on in to Bass Pro Shops Tracker Boat Department here in Altoona, IA, and see the certified sales team for details!


1860 Grizzley Sportsman for Bowfishing - Bass Pro Shops Altoona, Iowa

The 2014 Spring Fishing Classic is coming February 28! Watch for details!

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RedHead under Review: Bayou Boots

So our feet are pretty important. Lieutenant Dan even emphasized taking care of your feet in Forest Gump. Depending on the kind of activity you are participating in can really affect your choice for footwear that day. And as much as I love my cowboy boots, I know that they are not always the most appropriate choice. Like when I went on a little horseback hunt a few months back. I opted to hoof it behind the horses as if I needed to get myself and bow into position, it would be much easier than having to hop off a horse. In fact, what I could have used for that hunt would have been a pair of: RedHead Bone Dry 16” Waterproof Bayou Zip Snake Boots!

Now I know what you are thinking… waterproof for the Arizona desert? Yes! Because the area we were going through followed a stream bed that held water in several areas that we crossed over. The term Bone Dry is appropriate because these boots will keep your feet dry! These boots are even gusseted to keep water and debris out of them.

Usually larger boots can be a pain to put on and pull off, but this pair has a nice zipper to help with that. There is also a nice VELCRO closure that keeps the zipper from jingling and making any noise.

Now in some parts of the country, boots do not need to be snake-proof. Out here and elsewhere, they absolutely need to be. These boots have full grain leather and a rugged nylon upper. Just remember two things about rattlesnakes, you’ll usually hear them if you don’t see them at first and just avoid them as much as possible.

Now this is a review of these boots so here are three recent comments made by people who purchased these boots:

"I bought these early fall and at a great sale price as they fluctuate back and fourth from on sale to not on sale. The boot does feel good for a large snake boot. I have used them over half a dozen times from fall to winter in East Texas. I walk about 6 miles every time I use them and there have been no problems thus far. No break in period either. I had no blisters on feet. I have walked through puddles and some shallow ditches of about 5"-6" with no water intrusion also and I have sprayed them with nothing just bought and went to hunting. I would recommend a pair of tall socks to go with them to prevent the boot rubbing up high."

"I hunt in the desert close to the border of Mexico and Texas. Lot of rattlesnakes, thorns, cacti. This boots are just what is needed in that rough land. And they're extremely comfortable, almost like tennis shoes. Highly recommended."

"Where to start? I hunt in rugged terrain in West Texas. I have experienced temperatures from 19 degrees to well over 100. These boots have done well in it all. Cactus, rocks, mesquite thorns, cedar... you name it, these boots have been through it. I have worn these boots at various times for 12-15 hours and no blisters. Granted after that long, it's going to feel good to take any shoes off... but these are so comfortable and durable that they can take the abuse without your feet paying the price. I like these so much that I just bought a pair in all camo for my hunting buddy that I share the lease with as a birthday present. I got tired of him making me go first everytime we were exploring the property in case there were rattlesnakes. I have not had the honor of putting them through a true snake test, but feel it's only a matter of time before that happens. I am going into my third season with these boots and they still look almost brand new with very little wear on the soles. They are the only thing I wear at the ranch no matter what time of year we are there. Will definitely be purchasing again if I ever wear out the ones I have now."

So something tells me that you would be making a safe and smart choice when purchasing a pair of these.

Scarce as a hen’s teeth! Giddy-Up!!

Previous Reviews:

Toxik XT Bow Package

Arrow Tips

Blackout Ground Blind

8 Tray Dehydrator