Hunting and Fishing News & Blog Articles

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Best Microfiber Cleaning Cloth: Cleaning Supplies that Work on Anything


When you really need to see what’s going on, clean those sunglasses with microfiber cleaning cloths. (Unsplash/)

Microfiber cleaning cloths are arguably the most efficient way to deep clean. To understand why, you’ll need a quick and dirty deep dive into the science of scrubbing.

Even if you’re using fancy formulations and cleaning supplies, old-school deep cleaning comes down to a bucket of soapy water and a rag. The key is the soap, which scientists call a surfactant. If you could zoom in and view the molecular structure of that soap, you’d see long molecules that look somewhat like a tadpole with a head on one end and a tail on the other. The head end loves water while the tail end loves grease. Together, those ends act like magnets. One end pulls grease from the dirty surface, and the other end pushes the liberated grease away from the surface with water.

Microfiber is different. This high-tech textile doesn’t rely on soap at all. Instead, its cleaning power is due to the structure of the microfiber itself. Microfiber is plastic, and the surface fibers are split to each be the size of 1/100th of a single human hair. That means a microfiber cleaning cloth isn’t a smooth surface; it’s covered in millions or billions of grippy microscopic fibers. These seriously amp up the surface area of the cloth, and each of those minuscule fiber fingers can reach into tiny crevices a smooth cloth would miss. That means if you’re cleaning your computer keyboard, your cloth doesn’t just wipe over the surface of the keys; it reaches into the spaces around each key. And those fibers carry a subtle charge called van der Waals forces (one of the forces that hold molecules together) so, as those fingers reach into the depression around your spacebar, they actually lift dust and microbes out of those crevices and hang onto them until you rinse the cloth in the sink.

And they do all that without soap or detergent, which leave behind residue.

BEST LENS MICROFIBER CLEANING CLOTH: MAGICFIBER MICROFIBER CLEANING CLOTHS

These are designed for cleaning lenses, and remove dust, oil, smudges, fingerprints, and dirt.
This microfiber cloth comes in a set of four colors so you can have dedicated bathroom and kitchen cleaning towels.
This microfiber mop is specialized for floors and has a triangular pivoting head for reaching into corners and under furniture.
This option is a pack of 20 super-thin microfiber cloths optimized for cleaning electronics.
This two-pack includes a waffle-weave scrubbing microfiber cloth and a polishing cloth for tackling 99 percent of bacteria on glass.
These large microfiber towels come in packs of 3, 6, or 10 so you always have cleaning tools ready.
These cleaning cloths come in a pack of 3 colors with a different texture on each side.

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Here’s What It’s Like Competing in One of the Toughest Long-Range Rifle Matches in the Country

I might have known that my road to the PRS Finale was going to be rough when the day before I was supposed to leave on the two-and-a-half week, 3,000-mile road trip, I tore the handle off the inside of the driver’s side door of my truck.

I’ll admit, I was a little angry when it happened. I mean before it happened—which might explain why it happened.

I was at the range, ready to fire-form 120 rounds of brass that I needed to reload for the match, when I realized I had left my firing pin at my workshop. You’re supposed to make boneheaded moves like that only once—kind of like forgetting to put the drain plug in your first boat before launching it at the ramp.

But I’d be lying if I told you I hadn’t pulled this stunt before.


The author practicing off a homemade barricade prior to the PRS Finale. (Tanner Denton/)

In case you’re wondering why my firing pin was not secured to the bolt of my GA Precision competition rifle, that’s simple. I had been testing my resized brass to make sure I had just the right amount of shoulder bump on my cases, and to do that you need to be able to feel how easily the brass chambers in your rifle. Any binding or resistance on the bolt close is a bad deal for PRS type shooting. And you can’t get a feel for that with the firing pin in the bolt.

The author prepping hundreds of pieces of brass to reload for the PRS Finale.
The author shooting off a series of rocks at the PRS Finale.
The weather turned rough on day two of the PRS Finale feature.
The 6mm GAP GT was designed for long-range shooting competitions.

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It’s Time to Stop Hunting Ducks So Damn Much


This late-season hunt was a success because the author and his buddies picked off mallards coming in to a flooded field early afternoon, killing greenheads in singles and pairs and educating very few ducks. (Ryan Askren/)

More than any other group of hunters, waterfowlers wear the number of days they hunt each season like a badge of honor.

“I hunted every day of duck season last year.”

I hear that phrase proudly uttered each summer at the public blind draw, in duck camps during the fall, and from almost every ol’ southern boy I’ve ever shared a sundowner with.

One fella with the “illness” put it to me like this: “Think if your wife only had 60 days to shop at Macy’s. She’d be in the sumbitch every morning.”

As enlightening as that exchange was, it’s the absolute wrong way to approach duck hunting. Why? Because ducks hate pressure.

To have success hunting pressured ducks, you have to let them rest.
This graph shows duck harvest data in the U.S. broken down by flyway from 1961 to 2019.
This is what most days hunting ducks look like, though social media would have you believe otherwise.
Fewer days afield is the answer to better duck hunts.

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5 of the Best Bullets for Handgun Hunters

There are a number of suitable handgun cartridges for big-game hunting, but to obtain the best performance you need the right bullet—a lesson I learned the hard way on my first handgun hunt. When I was a teenager, I wanted to take up the mantle of handgun hunting and chose a suitable weapon—a Ruger Redhawk in .44 Magnum—that I could shoot accurately to 50 yards. When a whitetail doe came within range I fired, but there was no visible reaction from the deer. I fired again and the deer started moving, and by the third shot the deer was at a full run. I was certain that I had somehow missed the shot.

But I hadn’t missed. The bullets I was using weren’t holding up. Even though the doe died within 100 yards I could have (and should have) ended it much more quickly. The right bullet would have done the job, and after that first experience, I’m more particular about my handgun hunting bullets.

Selecting the proper handgun bullet can be daunting, but there are several good options available today that will dispatch game quickly and effectively. Here are five cartridges hunters can depend on.

1. Federal Fusion


Federal's Fusion bullets have a molecularly-bonded lead core. (Federal Premium Ammunition/)

It’s not uncommon for centerfire bullet technology to cross over to handguns, and that’s the case with Fusion. Federal’s Fusion bullets are popular because they offer a molecularly-bonded lead core and copper jacket that ensures maximum weight retention and reliable expansion. Fusion bullets have skives in their jackets, and those skives initiate expansion even at low velocities. This combination of low velocity expansion and bonded bullet toughness make Fusion bullets a versatile choice for handgun hunters. What’s more, Fusion ammunition is relatively affordable for quality handgun hunting ammunition: the 10mm load shown here is a new addition to the line and cost $28 per 20. That load drives a 200-grain Fusion bullet at a velocity of 1,200 fps and generates plenty of punch for deer-sized game.

MonoFlex bullets create large wound channels and impart tremendous hydrostatic shock.
Swift A-frame's proved a level of consistency few cartridges can match.
Partition Gold is no longer in the Winchester lineup, but you can still find the ammo through select vendors.
The author tested Barnes’s .454 Casull load (250-grain XPB bullet at 1,700 feet from the muzzle) and found it to be exceptionally accurate.

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Best Backcountry Skis For Exploring This Winter


Explore the unbeaten slopes with a good pair of backcountry skis. (Kyle Frost / Unsplash/)

Backcountry skiing is an adventure, and can delve into the extreme. Some backcountry skiers jump out of helicopters in the deep recesses of Alaska, or launch off mountainsides in the wilds of Wyoming. And if that’s what you want to do, we have a pair of skis listed here you should consider. But if you’re just getting started, or if you were borrowing your friend’s skis and want to invest in your own, we can help break down some of the complicated features of the best backcountry skis.

BEST ALL MOUNTAIN SKIS: Atomic Backland 78 + Hybrid Skin 78 Backcountry Skis

BEST LIGHTWEIGHT BACKCOUNTRY SKIS: Blizzard Men’s Zero G 95 Backcountry Touring Skis

BEST WOMEN’S SKIS: Blizzard Women’s Black Pearl 88 All-Mountain Lightweight Skis

BEST HIGH PERFORMANCE BACKCOUNTRY SKIS: DPS Skis Wailer A110 C2 Ski

The Atomic Backland 78 gives you good control in tough conditions.
It’s one of the lightest backcountry skis in its price range.
These women’s backcountry skis that have been tested, redesigned and tested again.
These DPS skis will give you control and speed.
When you want to try backcountry, but you’re not ready for the biggest mountains and runs, these Traverse Atlas skis are a good choice.

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The Spiny Water Flea Could Wreak Havoc on the Most Pristine Waters in the Upper Midwest. Boaters and Anglers are the Only Ones Who Can Stop It


The spiny water flea is invading the Upper Midwest. (Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center/)

It seems that the next troublesome invasive species in the Upper Midwest is a tiny one. The spiny water flea has been latching onto fishing equipment, traveling the Great Lakes for decades, but now they are being transported to some of the most pristine waters in the Upper Midwest. The spiny water flea is about half an inch long. It’s a creepy little critter, with a single, distinctive black eyespot at the head of one to four spines. A barbed tail juts out of its backside, making up about 70 percent of its length. The translucent hitchhiker hooks onto watercraft, fishing lines—essentially everything and anything that touches the water—and then gets transported to new waters.

“Most water fleas eat algae, but a few of them, like spiny water fleas, also eat other water fleas. It’s kind of like wolves eating coyotes or foxes,” says Dr. Valerie Brady, Aquatic Ecologist at the University of Minnesota.

While they present no danger to humans or domestic animals, spiny water fleas rattle ecosystems that support game fish. Spiny water fleas feed on other smaller, native water fleas, which are a vital food sources for small fish and keep algae in check. When plankton populations crash, that sinks small fish numbers, which in turn decreases game fish numbers.

“It’s not just another addition to the food web, it disrupts the food web and makes it harder for small or young fish to feed. That has potential implications for the whole food web,” Brady says.

The spiny water flea is being studied and monitored in Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park and Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. As more new anglers and boaters hit the water last year during COVID—and could be back out this spring—it’s even more critical to get the word out about this invader.

The aquatic hitchhikers are about the size of a fingernail.

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Best Ice Auger: How to Choose an Ice Fishing Essential


A trustworthy auger is an ice angler’s best friend. (Fiske58KL / Pixabay/)

An ice auger is a must-have piece of ice fishing gear, because the very first thing every angler needs to do is drill a fishing hole. And that’s not always easy.

An ice auger is basically a massive drill bit that creates holes in the ice that enable you to drop a line down into the water, and are large enough to haul fish out. There are several different types of augers. Some are operated by hand; others are gas powered augers. Each type of auger has advantages in different ice fishing conditions.

Best Hand Auger: Strike Master Ice Augers Lazer Hand Auger

Best Gas Powered Auger: Eskimo Quantum Auger

Best Propane Ice Auger: Eskimo HC40Q8 High Compression 40cc

The Strike Master Ice Augers Lazer Hand Auger is simple, customizable, and powerful.
The Eskimo Quantum Auger is a dependable and powerful gas auger.
Drill holes quickly with the Eskimo Propane Auger.
The StrikeMaster Lithium 40V Ice Auger is the gold-standard of electric ice augers.
The K-Drill Ice Auger weighs only 5 pounds.
The handle on the Mora adjusts from 48 to 57 inches.

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Work Horse Flannels for Town and Country


A good flannel shirt is a solid choice for all kinds of cool-weather activities, indoor and out. (Kelly Sikkeman on Unsplash/)

A well-loved, heavy-duty flannel shirt is that one item in the closet that you’ll reach for time and again. The soft feel of brushed cotton provides the most comfortable warmth, and the generous cut of most flannel shirts helps you stay active for hours. And modern apparel makers have updated flannel shirt fabrics and designs to keep them current with the times. Many of these shirts can travel from the backyard to the corner bar, with snazzy patterns and fashionable design touches. Here’s your guide to best new twists on a timeless favorite.


With a corduroy-lined collar and matching cuffs, this beefy top goes from the outdoors to the neighborhood bar with ease. (Amazon/)

You’ll likely wear a favorite flannel shirt three seasons in the year, so consider investing in a top-notch design with buttoned pockets, adjustable cuffs, and a fit made for active wear.


It has two secure pockets and a spread collar, and the 8-ounce fabric is the perfect weight for all-day wear. (Amazon/)

When choosing a flannel shirt, be aware that they are made in a wide variety of materials. A 100 percent cotton shirt is best for durability and breathability, and take a close look at the weight of the flannel. A lighter flannel shirt is great for indoor wear. But for active outdoor use, consider a shirt made of 10-ounce flannel or heavier.


Yarn-dyed cotton fabric and extra touches at the collar and cuffs add a touch of class. (Amazon/)

Flannel shirts are often worn when mobility is at a premium—hiking and playing outdoors, working in the yard, maybe chopping firewood for the home woodstove. Look for pleated backs and a generous cut in the sleeves so you won’t bind while working, or playing, hard.

With a corduroy-lined collar and matching cuffs, this beefy top goes from the outdoors to the neighborhood bar with ease.
It has two secure pockets and a spread collar, and the 8-ounce fabric is the perfect weight for all-day wear.
Yarn-dyed cotton fabric and extra touches at the collar and cuffs add a touch of class.

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The Downfall of the California Bear Hunting Ban Proves That Hunters Can Make a Difference When We Stick Together


An attempt to ban bear hunting in California was quickly struck down thanks to push back from dedicated hunters. (John Hafner/)

Hunters recently scored a big win in California when legislation that would ban all bear hunting in the state was withdrawn before it even had a chance to gain momentum. It’s a victory that overcame what many hunters felt was a hopeless situation, in a state where so many battles have already been lost. The situation demonstrated the power that we can bring to the table as hunters when we stand up together.

The bill was withdrawn thanks to an overwhelming amount of feedback from both individuals and organizations such as Sportsmen’s Alliance and the California chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. Even the national BHA chapter—which seemingly avoids taking a stance on predators or species-specific issues— voiced opposition to this bill. The effort was almost instantaneous, and unified across a wide spectrum of hunters, many of whom weren’t from California. That was something those pushing this anti-hunting agenda likely weren’t expecting. It demonstrated that even when the odds are against us, we can still make a difference in the preservation of our hunting rights and heritage. But, it takes all of us.

Defeating this bill in such a quick manner was a big victory, but bills and proposals such as this are sure to crop up again. We need to remember that standing up for the rights and interests of other hunters, trappers, and outdoorsmen is critical if we wish to maintain our own. Make no mistake, those who want to stop you from hunting know that their best bet is to divide the hunting community. They will manipulate the public and their perception of hunters, as well as the hunting community itself.

In early 2021, Hakai Magazine published a story, Trophy Hunters Could Threaten the Social Acceptability of Hunting. It set the table to pit those who hunt for meat against “trophy” hunters. Even within the hunting community, terms like “trophy hunter” and “meat hunter” are thrown around carelessly, and hunters are often defined by these terms in a narrative perpetuated by those who have no vested interest in the future of hunting. This is often done without any consideration for context or room for individual circumstance. The article itself does not carry the weight of legislation. But it cues us in to what I believe is one of many strategies to slowly eliminate hunting altogether. It shared much of the reasoning behind the California ban, as well as the successful grizzly hunting ban in British Columbia years ago.

This strategy is to embolden an exceptionalism-type mentality of a “food hunter,” who hunts for meat and no other reason. In addition to falsely reducing the hunting experience to a single motivation—food—this sets the “food hunter” up as morally superior to the “trophy hunter,” who only hunts for ego and bragging rights (also false). Because much of the general public finds it acceptable to hunt for food, it’s suggested that “food hunters” should distance themselves from “trophy hunters,” which is very quickly interpreted to include those who hunt predators, like bears and mountain lions (even though we’re usually eating those critters). In fact, it’s suggested that meat salvage requirements for some predators is only an indication that people are hunting them for the thrill and nothing more. This misguided logic could lead to getting rid of all predator hunting. In this mode of thinking, science and population management don’t matter, only good PR.


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A Professional Coyote Hunter’s 7 Best Tips and Tactics


The author doubled up on this evening set. (Abner Druckenmiller/)

Coyotes, foxes, and bobcats are all cautious critters, and that caution only increases when they are hunted hard (if you have ever pursued any of these predators when they have been pressured, you know how difficult it can be). But predators have this stigma for being ultra-tough to kill, and that’s often not the case...if you understand how to hunt them. It’s critical you know the right places to hunt, how to approach a stand, what time of day to hunt them, calling strategies, and how to setup the e-caller so you can take an optimal shot. Put all these elements together and you’re bound to pile more pelts on the sled. You just have to remember to stick to a few simple tactics, and avoid costly mistakes. Employ these strategies, and your success rate will skyrocket.

1. Scouting For Stands


Cattle pastures are an ideal to place to ambush coyotes out West. (Abner Druckenmiller/)

Having multiple places to call predators is the main ingredient for better hunting, so you have to scout and secure places to make more stands. I’ll hunt public land but like to focus on private tracts, if possible, because the pressure on coyotes is usually lower there. OnX Maps is a great tool for e-scouting. Look for timber-lined areas around agriculture fields, chicken and turkey farms, or if you are out West, focus on large parcels of land that may have cattle feed yards and/or pastures. These are all places where I’ve killed a lot of coyotes. Also, gather as much intel from landowners as you can. Ask them where they have seen coyotes. It will give you the best chance to call in a predator.

2. Where You Sit Matters

Before you go bombing into one of these locations, pay attention to wind direction and try to sit some place with a good vantage point where the wind is blowing in your face. A small rise in the landscape that gets you elevated to better see coyotes coming in will do nicely. If you’re sitting in a low spot, it’s less likely you will see the coyote before he sees you. Also, find cover as well, or a backdrop that will breakup your outline.

Cattle pastures are an ideal to place to ambush coyotes out West.
Placing the e-caller in an open area where a predator can find it will make your shot easier.
Typically the darker it is the better your chances are of taking a coyote.

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Best Mosquito Repellent Bracelet: Slip-On Bug Control


Keep the little bloodsuckers off of you with a quality mosquito repellent bracelet. (Anuj / Pexels/)

It’s the most dangerous animal on earth. It’s less than a quarter inch in size, buzzes around your backyard or campsite, and drinks your blood. And is there anyone on earth who has never gotten attacked by a mosquito?

Only female mosquitoes drink blood. Males enjoy an all-nectar diet. When it’s time to lay eggs, females tank up on blood to develop their brood. That mosquito knows you’re there way before you know she is, thanks to a suite of receptors on her antennas and mouthparts that sense things like the heat and chemicals your body gives off, and the carbon dioxide you breathe out. She lightly lands on you, searching for a blood vessel close to the surface of your skin. When she finds it, she pierces your skin and then uses mouthparts like drill bits to saw through your flesh, while another portion of her mouth acts like a surgeon’s retractor to hold the wound open. Then the mosquito drools specialized saliva into the wound to keep your blood from clotting, and begins to suck. As she takes that blood meal, she concentrates it inside her body, separating the water from the blood cells and dribbling that water out of her rear end.

The site then becomes inflamed, and it itches. It’s a most common annoyance in summer for just about anyone who’s outside, but can be more than that. Viruses can hitch a ride with mosquitoes and enter your bloodstream through the mosquito’s saliva. Some of those viruses cause deadly diseases like malaria, yellow fever, and various types of encephalitis. Mosquitoes are so deadly they kill hundreds of thousands of people worldwide every single year. Wolves and sharks each kill about 10.

The Centers for Disease Control recommend using a mosquito repellent registered by the Environmental Protection Agency, since these are tested and proven effective against mosquitoes. These repellents include DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), and 2-undecanone.

BEST MOSQUITO BRACELET OVERALL: BUGABLES MOSQUITO REPELLENT BAND

This adjustable band uses a citronella blend tested by an entomologist.
This reusable band uses pellets that last for 15 days.
This DEET-free bracelet relies on citronella and geraniol oils for waterproof mosquito control.
This ultrasonic bracelet is USB-charged and has three modes for tailoring the signal to your environment.
These small coiling bands use citronella, geraniol, and lemongrass to keep mosquitoes away.
This budget band promises 350 hours of mosquito control for 48 cents a pop.

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Best Snow Pants for Winter Sports and Activities


A good pair of snow pants are essential for any activity that puts you into contact with the white stuff. (Unsplash/)

Puffers and parkas may get the lion’s share of winter gear attention, but snow pants are an essential item for keeping comfortable in cold weather—particularly when any form of precipitation is present. But pants can look like...pants, and at a glance it’s harder to intuit which pair may be your best choice. For instance, what’s the difference between snow pants and ski pants? Snowboard pants? Insulated pants? Are all snow pants waterproof, and does it matter?

We did the research to make your purchase choice easy. Here’s what you need to know to find the best snow pants for you.

Best Waterproof Snow Pants: Flylow Foxy Bibs Ski and Snowboard Pants

Best Insulated Snow Pants: The North Face Freedom Insulated Snow Pants

Best Ski Pants: Flylow Cage Ski and Snowboard Pants

Attention to detail makes these snow bibs standouts.
Neither baggy or tight, with built-in venting and quality waterproofing, these insulated snow pants will keep you warm in extreme cold.
High-quality fabrics, put together smartly, make these Flylow snow pants a standout.
Everything you need in snowboard pants, without bulk.
These Carhartts have a tough Cordura nylon exterior, double knees, and hip-high leg zippers.
These Burton snow pants are warm, waterproof, and durable—perfect for everyday wear.
These snow pants hit the mark on durability, protection from the elements, cut, and style.
This bunting suit is easy to put on, and will keep your young one warm and comfortable.
They’ll keep the elements at bay without a large investment.

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How to Spear the Biggest Pike of your Life


This pike was lured to the spear with a brightly-colored perch decoy. (Richard P. Smith/)

I first attempted to spear northern pike through the ice with a buddy of mine who had a touch more familiarity with the winter sport than I did. He had been out once or twice in a shack with a spear, both of which were borrowed from a friend. It was neat having a fish-tank-like window into what was happening underwater by way of the large hole we laboriously chopped through the ice, and it was exciting when a large pike swam into that hole.

Truth be known, my buddy missed the pike; not once, but three times. Whenever he worked the decoy after retrieving the trident, the pike came back. Talk about thrilling action. That experience whet my appetite for more. Since then, I’ve learned that some of the largest pike ever taken in Michigan were speared from the Great Lakes waters of the Wolverine State.


A near-surface pike fell for the flash of this decoy’s fins. (Richard P. Smith/)

Michigan’s Giants

The official state record northern pike for Michigan is a huge fish that was 51.5 inches in length and weighed 39 pounds. It was speared through the ice on Dodge Lake in the Upper Peninsula’s Schoolcraft County during the winter of 1961. The unofficial state record is a monster 49-pounder of unknown length that was skewered on Lake Superior’s Huron Bay during the winter of 1955 by father and son Ben and Don Pickard from L’anse. The Pickards speared two more enormous pike from Huron Bay that same year, one of which equaled the weight of the current state record. The other was a pound lighter.

Huron Bay and other protected waters of the Great Lakes are still home to eye-popping pike. Most, if not all, bays, harbors, and marinas of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, and Erie harbor northerns, some of which would rank as the biggest ever for many spearers.

A near-surface pike fell for the flash of this decoy’s fins.
Ben (left) and Don Pickard from L’anse with a trio of monster pike they speared from Lake Superior’s Huron Bay in 1955. The biggest was 49 pounds and the other two weighed 39 and 38 pounds.
Mike Holmes looking for northern pike in the clear waters of Lake Michigan, with his spear ready for action. He spends many hours like that every winter.
Mike Holmes holds up pike he speared from Lake Michigan waters.
Mike Holmes drags a sled with a speared pike from his spearing shack, with spear in hand.
Mike Holmes proudly displays his favorite pike spear.
Smelt decoy with eye on the side to produce erratic action. The eyes on most decoys are on the top of the back.
The 46-inch, 21.6-pound northern pike Mike Holmes speared on Lake Michigan in 2019. It’s his biggest pike ever.

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5 Pump Shotguns That Could Replace the Remington 870


The first Remington 870s rolled off the production line in 1950. (Mathew Every/)

In 1950 Remington debuted what would become the most popular pump shotgun ever made (11 million 870s have been produced in the last 70 years). You can find them in the mud rooms of duck clubs, on the trap field, in the turkey woods, and they even serve as capable home-defense shotguns (many police forces still utilize them as well). In short, the 870 is one of the most versatile guns a sportsman can own.

Remington has endured some long-standing financial troubles. The more than 200-year-old company entered bankruptcy and was sold off in blocks in 2020. Ruger now owns Marlin, Vista Outdoor has the ammunition, and a little-known entity, the Roundhill Group, bought two factories in New York and Tennessee. It’s rumored Roundhill will start production on 870s again as early as the spring of 2021. Time will only tell if the company is capable of bringing the vaunted pump gun back.

Meantime, the iconic 870 is ripe to be replaced by a modern pump shotgun. The 870 Wingmaster and Express are both still fine pumps, but with Remington in limbo, there’s an opening for another manufacturer to dominate the pump gun market. Here are some of the best pumps that could take the crown from the 870.

1. Mossberg 500


The design for the Mossberg 500 was based off the Remington Model 31. (Mossberg/)

The 500 has the best chance to eclipse the 870. It’s been around for a half-century and more than 10 million have been sold. There are multiple configurations of this pump gun that include turkey, waterfowl, upland, deer, and home defense in 20- and 12-gauge, plus .410. Mossberg also smartly designed the 500 Flex series, which allows shooters to switch out recoil pads, stocks, fore-ends, and barrels without any tools. It’s a fabulous system to start a young shooter on because the gun can grow right along with your boy or girl (and the gun’s typically cost under $500). But even if the 500 supplants the 870, Remington will still be king in a roundabout way. The design of the 500 was based off the Remington 31, which was one of Big Green’s most well-built shotguns. It was just too expensive to produce, and thus the 870 was born.

The design for the Mossberg 500 was based off the Remington Model 31.
More than 40 years old, the BPS is one tough shotgun.
Benelli's affordable Nova has a one piece stock/receiver.
The SXP has a recoil-driven fore-end that makes it easier for shooters to operate the pump gun.
The Cobra III is a blue-collar workhorse.

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Best Lever Gun Cartridge Showdown: The .300 Savage vs. .30/.30 Winchester vs. .45/70


A Marlin lever gun chambered in .30/30 Winchester. (Marlin/)

The .30/30 Winchester, it is often claimed, has hung more venison from meat poles than any other cartridge in history. But does that mean the .30/30 lever-action is the best deer rifle ever created? Maybe not. It depends on how you define “best.”

The challenge with judging things based on their popularity is that it doesn’t take into account human nature. Those weird, inexplicable, sometimes incomprehensible tastes and behaviors we suffer often make no sense. For instance, at this moment, the 6.5 Creedmoor is popular with hunters and shooters, but ballistically, the .260 or 6.5x55 Swede are both better options.

Similarly, the .30/.30 is thought of as the ultimate lever gun load. But is it? Only the ballistic data will tell. So, let’s do it. Here are how the .30/30, .45/70, and .300 Savage stack up against one another.

Lever-Action Rifles


This Winchester Model 1886 made in 1891 was restored in 1980 by Turnbull Restoration. One of the original chamberings for this gun was in .45/70. (Turnb/)

The lever gun was invented for simplicity sake. A lever that opened the rifle breech to expose its chamber, a convenient device easily integrated into what had been muzzleloaders. The firing hand pushed the lever down to open the breach, the cartridge was inserted, and the lever closed. By 1860 B.Tyler Henry had concocted a mechanism to feed cartridges from a tube onto a loading ramp also activated by the lever. And the race was on: Winchester, Marlin…Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley. The all-American lever-action became THE rifle to own.

This Winchester Model 1886 made in 1891 was restored in 1980 by Turnbull Restoration. One of the original chamberings for this gun was in .45/70.
The .45/70s power comes from mass not speed.
When Hornady introduced the LEVERevolution ammo, it was just the shot in the arm the .30/30 needed. The Evolution bullets delivered a substantially higher ballistic coefficient and retained more downrange energy than the old stuff.
Outdoor Life shooting editor John B. Snow with his Savage 99 chambered in .300 Savage.
You can see from this ballistic data that the .300 Savage is the superior load.
The .300 Savage has never been an ultra-popular load, but it should be if you shoot a lever gun.

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The Story of Black Duck Revival: “I Never Found a Place I Belong, So I’m Making One”


The author, navigating the flooded Arkansas timber. (Courtesy Jonathan Wilkins/)

I have lived most of my life looking for a place that I belong.

When my wife and I purchased a derelict building in Brinkley, Arkansas, in the spring of 2017, I was just looking for a place in town where I could sleep and keep a few supplies during duck season. It was a practical way to be closer to the areas where I hunt, and a place to relax after a long morning of hard work and cold temperatures.

I started to realize, though, that this building could be more than a bunkhouse for me and maybe some friends. As I peeled back the musty layers of other folks’ jackleg repairs made with scrounged materials, I began to want this place to be more.

In its lifetime, the building had been used for many purposes: a home, place of worship, parsonage, and corner store. In its most recent incarnation, the place was a small, old-style Southern church. Coupled with Brinkley’s steady population decline and the aging-out of its few remaining members, the Heartline Christian Fellowship could no longer sustain services, and closed its doors in 2014. Why couldn’t it be a duck camp in its next life?


The old Heartline Christen Fellowship building, as it looked when the author purchased it in 2017. (Jonathan Wilkins/)
The old church in Brinkley, and the same room stripped down for renovations. (Jonathan Wilkins/)

The idea of creating a purpose-built facility for duck hunters formed quickly. With access to some of the best public waterfowl hunting in the world just a stone’s throw away, I figured I could recoup some of my renovation costs by offering the spot as a weekend rental to out-of-state hunters. A beautiful floor plan and recreation area took shape as I gutted the old church and transformed it into a modern hunting lodge for the do-it-yourself hunter. I learned to frame walls, and cleaned 100-year-old cypress beams. I made costly mistakes, took apart my work, and re-did many jobs many times over.

The old Heartline Christen Fellowship building, as it looked when the author purchased it in 2017.
The old church in Brinkley, and the same room stripped down for renovations.
The author's duck dog, Ammo, inside the partially-renovated church.
The author, calling mallards in Arkansas' flooded timber.
The author with a limit of specklebelly geese; demonstrating how to wax-pluck waterfowl to new waterfowlers at his lodge in Brinkley.
The dining area inside the finished hunting lodge, using a pair of original church pews as benches.

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A Cure for the Coronavirus Blues: Kids Need to Spend Time in the Wilderness


New and exciting challenges that crop up during outdoor pursuits—like carrying a canoe—build confidence and skills in kids of all ages. (Courtesy Northern Lakes Girl Scout Council /)

With school closures and state shutdowns, human connection has become nauseatingly virtual. Zoom calls seem to run together; weeks of indoor isolation blends into an unmemorable mush. Loneliness levels were already on a steady incline before the past year and have compounded since, exacerbating anxiety, depression, and other mental health crises.

Some people have found an unlikely cure to their isolation gloom: more solitude. An isolated trip in the wilderness may be just the fix for what’s ailing us. It’s an opportunity to look inward, to better connect with ourselves, our families, and the great outdoors. And it’s often possible in our own backyard.

Pre-pandemic, kids went on 15 percent fewer outdoor outings in 2018 than they did in 2012, according to the Outdoor Industry Association.


Fishing license sales are up during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy Ely Outfitters/)

Since then, hunting license sales in Wisconsin have risen 10 percent in 2020; in Vermont, sales of fishing licenses have increased by 50 percent. In a recent survey on how behaviors are changing because of the virus, 18 percent of respondents say they are spending more time outdoors, where transmission rates of Covid-19 are believed to be lower.

Read Next: Being a Parent, and a Kid, Hasn’t Been Easy This Year

Fishing license sales are up during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Studies show spending time outside improves attention, memory recall, and more.
Paddling trips are one way Girl Scouts in Minnesota and Wisconsin are introducing kids to the benefits of spending time outdoors.
Canoe trips help girls tackle new challenges and improve their relationship with nature.
A student tackling the high ropes course offered by Outward Bound in California.
A group prepares to tackle the high ropes course.

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The Best Handguns for Big-Game Hunters


If you want to challenge yourself, try hunting big game with a handgun. (Brad Fitzpatrick/)

The challenge of hunting with a handgun is what draws a small—but loyal—cadre of handgun hunters to the sport. Hunting with a handgun requires you to get close enough to an animal that it can hear, smell, or see you if you make a mistake. Handgun hunting also requires keen marksmanship and a level of familiarity with your firearm that hunting with other weapons don’t.

I wasn’t particularly keen on handgun hunting until I killed a deer with a Ruger .44 Magnum revolver, and since then I’ve looked for opportunities to use a handgun while hunting big game. I’m not a strict disciple of the pursuit, but I do understand what compels hunters to carry a handgun in search of game. If you have never hunted deer, hogs, bear or other big game with a handgun, it’s time to try.

You need to choose your weapon carefully. There are a variety of platforms and calibers at your disposal. Here are 10 of the best hunting handguns on the market right now.

1. Ruger New Model Super Blackhawk


Ruger's Blackhawk line was first released in 1955. (Ruger/)

Bill Ruger’s groundbreaking single-action Blackhawk was released in 1955 and a year later it was available in.44 Magnum. A modern take on the classic single-action revolver, today’s Super Blackhawk revolvers feature machined scope bases, stainless steel construction, and your choice for a traditional or Bisley-style grip contour. The Blackhawk’s action is extremely robust and accuracy is very good. MSRP: $959

Ruger's Blackhawk line was first released in 1955.
The author has shot deer out to 65 yards with this handgun.
The Ranging Hunter is available in .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, and .454 Casull.
If you like more magazine capacity, this is your handgun.
This .44 is available with either a 4- or 6-inch precision hammer-forged 416R stainless barrel with a ventilated barrel shroud.
American-made, this revolver is for serious handgun hunters.
This unique bolt-action platform allows shooters to get more distance out of their hunting handgun.
The GOS is relatively light for a hunting handgun.
Chambered in .223 and .308, this handgun is capable of hunting a wide variety of game.
The X-Frame revolvers are for experienced handgun shooters.

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There’s More to Texas Hunting Than Expensive, High-Fence Ranches. Here’s Why a Texas Hunt Should Be on Your Bucket List


Texas has long been a top 10 B&C whitetail state. (Joe Genzel/)

A buddy of mine, who doesn’t hunt, moved to Texas in September some years ago. He pulled off the interstate to fill up at a Buc-ees, which are massive 60-pump gas stations where you can buy everything from fuel to deer feeders. There were dozens of people walking to their jacked-up trucks, arms full of ice and cases of beer. He went inside to pick up his own 24-pack of Lone Star, but all the coolers were near empty. Only a few Bud Light Lime tall boys remained.

He asked the closest person next to him, “what the hell is the deal? Is there a beer shortage in Texas?”

The old man was wearing a Stetson cowboy hat, had a huge handle-bar mustache, and wore a belt buckle the size of a Buick. He looked my buddy up-and-down, glared at his knitted winter stocking cap, thick-framed glasses, and painted-on skinny jeans: “It’s the dove opener ya god-damned yuppie,” and walked away.

My friend called and told me this story. I informed him that the first day of dove season is like a state holiday in Texas. You skip work, shoot birds, barbecue, and drink the wells dry. If you’re from Texas, you hunt (unless you’re an Austin hipster like my buddy).

But Texas actually gets a bad rap from non-resident hunters. They think it’s a private-land state that only the wealthy can afford to hunt. Not true. Texas has an incredible amount of opportunities for the everyday, blue-collar hunter, and that’s reflected in the state’s flourishing hunting culture. Many states have seen a decline in hunter numbers, but from 1966 to 2017, the number of hunters in Texas doubled, from 644,000 to 1.25 million (not all of those folks can be millionaires hunting zebras behind a 12-foot high fence). According to Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) data, more than 1 million of the licenses purchased each year from 2012 to 2020 were bought by residents. The reason for that? The state cares a great deal about hunting. TPWD has created all kinds of public access opportunities (there are more public acres in Texas than 25 other states), from pronghorn draws in west Texas to gator hunts on the coast. And there are affordable private-land hunts sprinkled in between.

There's more than 1 million acres of public land in Texas.
Two pronghorn bucks on the grasslands at Rita Blanca.
Deer hunting reigns supreme in the Panhandle.
Aoudad hunting continues to grow in West Texas.
The Piney Woods of East Texas resemble the southeastern U.S. more than the rest of Texas.
Hill Country is know for its Rios.
Hunting redheads on the Texas coast is a long-standing tradition.
Private-land dove hunts can be done for a nominal fee.

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Wild Game Populations Are Thriving in Big Cities


Many wild game species, including waterfowl, are thriving in urban settings. (Robert Patrick Doyle/Splash/)

I was walking across campus one morning when I got a text from my dad. It was an image of a dead woodcock lying on the street in New York City. The message read, “Found another one on my way to work today.” This wasn’t the first time my father had come across a timberdoodle that met its fate by flying into an NYC skyscraper.

As someone who grew up 30 minutes outside the city, I never thought wild game would inhabit any part of the Five Boroughs. Seeing deer, coyotes, ducks, and other kinds of critters was common here in the wilderness areas and waters near my home in Long Island, but on the streets of New York? Our city centers continue to expand with development and urban sprawl, which means human infringement on animal habitat continues. So it’s not surprising that humans are encountering these animals within city limits more and more.

Residents of Houston’s suburbs are now capturing videos of coyotes on home security cameras. Some videos show coyotes walking through driveways, right under basketball hoops. In the summer of 2020, in West Milford, New Jersey, an 82 year-old man was attacked by a black bear in his garage. Ronald Jelinek received more than 30 stitches to his face after the bear took a swipe at him. The bear was later captured and euthanized by the state.

Woodcock and other migratory birds are flying into the windows of tall buildings, deer are well-established in the suburbs, coyotes roam city streets, and mallards are spending their days on man-made ponds within neighborhoods and apartment complexes. So how are these wild animals adapting—and thriving—in such places? Is it good for them? And what does it mean for the folks living in those communities? I talked to the experts to find out.

The Big Cats of L.A.

A collared mountain lion in the Santa Monica Mountains outside L.A.
Whitetails have overrun many urban communities.
Coyotes have been thriving on the streets of Chicago for decades.
A Canada goose protects its nest in the median of a parking lot.

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