Blog

Bear hunting in Idaho’s Selway requires glassing with powerful optics from high perches. (Toby Walrath/)You could start a fight in most taverns by naming the nation’s single-best deer unit. But throw out the same hyperbole about black bear destinations, and you probably won’t get much of an argument. In part, that’s because bear hunters are a reticent bunch. They’re not out to publicize or defend prime spots, largely because they don’t want other hunters knowing about them.Sure, some die-hards will claim North Carolina or even New Jersey has bigger bears, and Alaska may have more. But for sheer numbers, liberal hunting regulations, and public land to spare, I maintain that nowhere beats Idaho’s Selway Zone.Consider the real estate. The Selway has 1.6 million acres of it, nearly all public, with abundant access. You have the option to bait bears with whatever putrid recipe you can conjure up, and its mix of mountainous terrain and grass-covered hillsides lends it to long-distance glassing.Enough outfitters operate here to service hunters who don’t have the knowledge or gear to go on their own, but there’s not enough hunting pressure to depress the resource. The best evidence of the huntable surplus is that Idaho issues two over-the-­counter bear permits to any hunter in the Selway, regardless of residency, for less than $300 total. Bear season extends for 138 days in spring and fall. And about 70 percent of spring bears are taken over bait.Idaho's Selway Zone is mountainous and remote, and it's nearly all public land. (Outdoor Life/)The Selway Zone comprises units 16A, 17, 19, and 20, generally south of U.S. Highway 12, and is squeezed by the Montana border to the east and the forks of the Clearwater River to the west. That huge swath of country produced just 117 bears for hunters, according to the latest harvest survey. That relatively low harvest indicates the vast scale of the country, with few hunters stabbing into its interior.
  1.   Thursday, 02 April 2020
  2.   OutdoorLife
  3. Comments
You have to be prepared to process all the meat from spring snow goose shoots. (Brad Fenson/)Snow goose populations have grown to the point they provide more hunting opportunities than ever before. A good day afield during the spring conservation season can end with upwards of 200 dead birds. Filling the truck bed with white geese won’t happen every hunt, but with the right conditions it can.Like any migratory gamebird, wanton waste, which means to intentionally waste, neglect, or use inappropriately, comes into play. The job of cleaning hundreds of birds can be daunting, but a production line of hunters can make short work of a mountain of snow goose meat. Few people pluck snows, and the birds are typically breasted. The legs and thighs are some of the best eating, so make sure to include them in the processing line. Hundreds of pounds of meat can accumulate, and here is the best way to process and prepare snows.Use Sorting TotesUse sorting totes to separate clean meat from shot up breasts. (Brad Fenson/)Sort the meat, making a meat tote for breasts with no shot holes. These will provide top-grade meat for unique recipes where whole breasts are required. Breasts with shot holes go into a second tote and can be dissected to remove feathers, shot, blood clots, and bruising. The second tote is for ground meat, so do not worry if there are smaller pieces, as they will all add up to clean ground protein in the end. A third meat tote can collect legs and thighs. Take the legs and thighs in good condition (in some states it is illegal not to process them), as they are versatile and delicious.Using a brine on waterfowl helps to draw blood from the muscle, allowing you to see the difference in the color of meat before and after. Giving the harvested meat a short brine on cleaning day will allow them to go directly into a pot or onto the grill when it is time to put them to use. A salt and cold water bath for 20 to 30 minutes before rinsing and packaging, or further processing, will have the meat in good shape. Mix a quarter cup of salt for a gallon of ice-cold water to make the perfect short brine.
  1.   Thursday, 02 April 2020
  2.   OutdoorLife
  3. Comments
Henry Garden Gun (Bill Buckley/)This new rimfire lever action is the perfect gun for pests. I’m thinking not only of the type that raids your vegetable garden or slithers out from under the porch, but also that more persistent, pernicious, and annoying variety—namely, the youngster who keeps begging for their first real gun.I know this species of irritant all too well, for I was that very kid, pleading with my parents to upgrade my Crossman 760 BB gun, which lacked the stopping power I required while stalking the wilds of my suburban backyard and surrounding woods.Eventually, I did purchase a Marlin Model 60 with my own money. I don’t recall when I first dropped a rimfire shotshell down the tubular magazine of that rifle, but I vividly remember the effect that swarm of tiny pellets had on dragonflies, wasps, and grasshoppers. I had never heard the term, but that’s when I became a wingshooter.I didn’t have a clue about this at the time, but my proto-shotgunning was hindered by a significant design issue—the rifling in my .22’s barrel.As you probably know, when a shotshell is fired down a rifled barrel, the pattern opens rapidly, cutting the effective range of the pellets. At 15 feet, a 12-gauge shell will spray bird shot over a 4-foot area when fired through a rifled slug barrel, versus the tidy 10-inch pattern you’d get when running the same shell down a cylinder-choked smoothbore.
  1.   Wednesday, 01 April 2020
  2.   OutdoorLife
  3. Comments
Looking for something to do while you’re stuck at home during the COVID-19 quarantine? Planning ahead for the day that the food pantry is bare? Gardening is a great activity in the springtime and anyone can grow food, even if you’re stuck in an apartment. You’ll just need a spot with ample sunlight, some dirt and water, something to start growing, and a generous amount of patience. Whether you’re gardening just as a pastime or doing it as a food security strategy, you might be surprised how rewarding it can be.The Modern “Victory Garden” Now is the perfect time to plant a survival garden. (National Park Service/)During World War I and II, Americans at home responded to the call to plant “Victory Gardens” in their back yards and in public spaces across the nation. The main goal of the movement was to increase the public food supply and allow more commercially produced crops to be funneled toward the war effort. This activity was also a powerful morale booster for the citizenry, allowing people of all ages and abilities to feel empowered by their self-reliance and feel proud of their contribution to the war effort. In 1943, there were at least 20 million "war gardens" growing, which yielded a staggering 8 million tons of food in the United States. This was nearly half of the food consumed that year in the country. Jump forward to 2020. With self-quarantine recommended across the nation, you can do your part to limit your interaction with others and avoid some unnecessary trips to the grocery store. Plant a “Victory Garden” and stay the hell home. The sooner we all get serious, the sooner we can stamp out the COVID-19 pandemic.Be Patient and Manage Your Expectations If you’ve never tried gardening before, it’s a great exercise in patience and expectation management. You don’t plant seeds so you can eat today; you plant seeds so you can eat next month (or next year). A survival garden, just like any other garden, will require you to be patient. Nothing good grows overnight. It will be a month or two before the simplest and most low calorie vegetables (lettuce and radishes) are ready to harvest (if you took good care of the plants, and no diseases or pests struck your crop). Patience is a virtue that is valuable in many situations, gardening especially. In addition to being patient, it’s also important to manage your expectations. Not every seed will sprout and not every plant will make it to harvest. I remember more than a few “old timers” telling me to plant three times as much as we needed. That would give us one for the deer (even when we are trying to keep them away), one for the bugs (even with pest control) and one for the dinner table. Gardening is a lot like dodgeball. There’s a lot of running around, but if you aim low, stay reactive to threats and don’t expect too much, you might just win.
  1.   Tuesday, 31 March 2020
  2.   OutdoorLife
  3. Comments
Outdoor Life doesn't have any blog post yet.
Unable to load tooltip content.