Hunting and Fishing News & Blog Articles

Stay up-to-date on hunting, fishing and camping products, trends and news.

Best Coffee Maker: How to Choose the Machine That’s Right for You


There’s nothing like that first sip. (Mattheus Bertelli, Pexels/)

Choosing the best coffee maker is not unlike choosing a new hunting dog out of a litter of puppies, because when you bring one home, it’s for the long run…or so you hope. You may love the way the new dog looks, but will it perform well for you? Are the two of you truly compatible? Will it make you happy? That’s why it’s worth doing the research to find the best coffee maker for your lifestyle. And we’ve done a lot of it for you.

Best Single-Serve Coffee Maker: Keurig K-Mini Coffee Maker

Best Hot and Iced Coffee Maker: Keurig K-Elite Coffee Maker

Best Drip Coffee Maker: Cuisinart Stainless Steel Thermal Coffeemaker

Best Specialty Coffee Maker: Ninja CM407 Specialty Coffee Maker

The K-Mini will accommodate and fill a small cup, a travel mug, and anything in between.
An iced-coffee function will automatically brew strong coffee, ready to pour over ice.
The insulated steel carafe keeps coffee piping hot and fresh, eliminating that bitter cooked taste imparted by warming pads on glass-carafe machines.
One cup? Carafe full? Specialty drink? The Ninja can do it all.
Breville’s Barista Express makes espresso in the traditional fashion, but won’t take up a lot of counter space.
Makes a 15-ounce to-go cup of coffee in minutes.

Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

Best Stainless Steel Water Bottle: Stay Hydrated on the Go


Keep drinks cool when it counts, in a vacuum insulated water bottle. (Cottonbro, Pexels/)

On the market for a new water bottle? Consider stainless steel. The best stainless steel water bottles are more durable and environmentally friendly than plastic ones. Steel bottles never contain harmful BPAs or phthalates, they retain heat and cold, and they rarely need to be replaced. They’re also a cinch to clean—just fill the bottle with a one-to-one ratio of baking soda and water and let soak for about 10 minutes to eliminate any odor. If you have a dishwasher, the cleaning process is even easier.

The best stainless steel water bottle for you depends on how hot or cold you want your drink to remain, whether or not you like to sip out of a straw, how active you are, and whether or not you want a filtration system.

Best Straw Lid Bottle: Takeya Actives Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle with Straw Lid

Best Water Bottle with Built-in Filter: LifeStraw Go Stainless Steel Filter Bottle

Best Stainless Bottle Without that Metallic Taste: Purist Mover Vacuum Water Bottle

Comes with an insulated straw lid to prevent spills.
LifeStraw is known for its ultra precise double-filter system.
Bottles with glass or ceramic linings prevent metallic taste..
Keeps your drink cold (or hot) while your hands stay dry.
The signature Hydro Flask in its largest size.
The 34 ounce option rings in at under 20 bucks.

Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

Where’s All the Damn Ammo? Federal Premium’s President Has Some Answers


Ammunition, even in hunting calibers, has been tough to find in the last few months. (Bill Buckley/)

Last week I was riding around South Texas with Jason Vanderbrink, the president of ammunition for Vista Outdoor. In other words, he’s the big boss for Federal Premium Ammunition, CCI, Speer, and now Remington ammunition. This is a pretty wild time to be running an ammo company: There are an estimated 7 million new gun owners in the U.S. this year, consumers have been panic-buying rounds in everything from .22LR to .300 Win. Mag., and retailers are backordered for months; plus, there’s the global pandemic complicating supply chains and workers’ safety.

So, we know the question that’s on the minds of every hunter and shooter: Where’s the ammo?

Frustration over the ammo shortage has created some pretty fun conspiracy theories. These are probably the top three: 1) Companies are stockpiling their product to drive up demand; 2) Ammo plants have shutdown completely; 3) Ammo companies are in cahoots to stop selling to civilians and are now selling only to the military. It’s worth noting that similar conspiracy theories cropped up during the panic buying and ammo shortages of 2014. It’s also worth noting that none of these conspiracies are true.

There’s No Crystal Ball for Ammo Sales

The reality behind the ammo shortage is a lot less provocative. After a few years of tough sledding, ammo companies now simply can’t keep up with the unprecedented demand.


Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

The Best New Shotguns For 2021


Hunters are getting more for their money when it comes to buying break-action shotguns. (Mossberg/)

There’s not much left for gunmakers to innovate when it comes to the operating systems of new shotguns (John Browning and Carl Sjogren did their jobs too damn well). The platforms—whether it be gas, inertia, or pump—have largely remained the same for decades. The focus now is improving the outside and overall functionality of the gun. You’re seeing larger bolt handles and loading ports, lighter triggers, and custom exterior finishes like Cerakote in production autoloaders.

Side-by-sides and over/unders continue to be accessible to the average hunter because more blue-collar gun companies are building them. Mossberg and TriStar are doing a fine job of making break-action guns that look beautiful and are supremely functional. There was a time that the construction of some Turkish-made doubles could be hit or miss. The receivers often wouldn’t seamlessly fit with the barrels at lockup. And you couldn’t count on them to fire reliably. That’s not the case anymore. You’re also getting more for your dollar with break-action guns this year. There are plenty of affordable O/Us and SxSs with gold inlays, checkered stocks and fore-ends, and engraved receivers to be had.

Gunmakers are also catering to specific hunting pursuits. There have long been turkey guns, but they were honestly just duck guns cut down to a 24-inch barrel with a pistol grip fixed to the stock. In the last 15 years, more shotgun receivers have been drilled and tapped or fitted with a Picatinny rail for the infinite number of aftermarket optics at your disposal. And many of the guns include premium chokes that shoot patterns just for killing gobblers. Snow goose hunters are also being catered to with purpose-built guns that have extended magazines already built into them. Mossberg was one of the first to do this with its Yeti, and Stoeger is following suit this year, tweaking the popular M3500 for spring conservation order hunters.

It’s a pretty good time to buy a shotgun right off the shelf, and these are the best 2021 has to offer.

Browning Maxus II

The Maxus II runs off the Power Drive gas system, the same one used in the first generation model.
This is the third generation of Beretta's Silver Pigeon line of shotguns.
Benelli launched the 20-gauge version of its iconic Super Black Eagle. It will also be available in a 3-inch 12-gauge model for the first time ever.
The rotating blot design of the SXP makes it easier to cycle.
Syren continues to fill a much-needed niche with the Julia, a clays gun tailored specifically towards women.
This single barrel break-action is a fine option for beginner trap shooters.
Mossberg over/unders are at home in the field or at the clays range.
The Autumn is Fabarm's first side-by-side.
Stoeger built this inertia gun specifically for spring snow goose hunters.
TriStar is best known for making affordable guns that function.
Retay's first pump shotgun is geared for home defense.
The Renegauge will be available in a race gun platform this year.
The 320 is an extremely affordable option for turkey hunters.
Franchi's Affinity 3 turkey gun is available in 20- and 12-gauge.

Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

5 Best Fly Tying Kits: A Buyer’s Guide to Fly Tying Supplies


Boost your catch with your own fly tying materials. (Kathryn Archibald, Pexels/)

Setting up your own fly shop with an easy-to-learn fly tying kit is a great way to polish your fly fishing skills and jump into the creative world of tying dry flies, streamers, poppers, and other great lures. There are lots of fly tying kits on the market, and many come with all the supplies you need to create the perfect fly box. Pick the best fly tying kit for you, and you’ll be able to set up a fly tying station at home, at a camp or cabin, from the bed of a pickup truck, and even right by the stream. And fly tying kits come in a wide range of prices, so there are budget kits available as well as pro sets that the finest fly makers in the world swear by. One thing is for sure: Once you hone in on your best fly tying kit, you’ll find a new world of options to help you land the fish of a lifetime on a fly that you tied yourself.

Best Fly Tying Kit for Beginners: Colorado Anglers Z797 Wooden Fly Tying Standard Tool Kit

Best Fly Tying Kit for Home Use: Creative Angler Wooden Fly Tying Station with Tools and Materials

Best Fly Tying Tool Kit: Dr. Slick Tyer Pack Tool Set

Best UV Fly Tying Kit: Loon Outdoors UV FLY TYING KIT (1/2 oz), 4 PCS

This kit comes with every fly tying tool you need, with a how-to guide and a sweet wooden carrying case.
This kit has it all—you literally don’t need another item to start tying flies.
A quality set of fly tying tools will help you keep pace with your growing skills, and make more complicated flies a snap to tie.
Using ultraviolet light, a UV Fly Tying Kit lets you make super-realistic hard-bodied flies in no time at all.
This fly tying vise comes with a head that revolves 360 degrees for fast, easy tying.

Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

Where Do We Draw the Line on New Hunting Technology?


Even the author, a diehard bowhunter, uses modern technology to improve his hunting. But, how much is too much? (Roger Kisby/)

Trade show season is here, or what would normally be trade show season. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the hunting consumer is still being bombarded with all the new products for 2021. Each year, technology nudges us a little further, and makes efforts as hunters a little bit more efficient. New cartridges, new guns, new camo, new bows, arrows, broadheads, trail cameras, and just about every other category of hunting gear is evolving. Overall, this innovation is a good thing.

As hunters, I don’t believe we will let technology ruin hunting, and as a whole, we will always restrict ourselves enough to ensure that fair chase hunting has a bright future. With that said, there are certain times when hunters must draw a line when it comes to how far we let technology change the way we hunt. I think that is especially true when it comes to “restricted weapons” seasons also know as “primitive weapons” seasons.

I’m talking about archery and muzzleloader seasons where the basic premise is that by restricting ourselves to less efficient, shorter range hunting weapons, or those that require a higher threshold of skill and discipline, we decrease our odds of success. Because of that we are afforded longer seasons and special opportunities to hunt. It’s also a fair wager that if our success rates begin to threaten the resources we are utilizing, changes will be made, and hunters will lose some opportunity to hunt.

The problem comes when the technology outruns the premise of the seasons, which with the light-speed advancement of new tech, is now an eventuality.

Then there’s the issue of our hunting heritage. Many folks think it’s up to wildlife agencies to protect the tradition of hunting, but that’s not really the case. Wildlife agencies are tasked with protecting public wildlife and resources. They use hunting as a tool for managing wildlife and raising the funds to do so. It’s up to us the hunting community to protect the traditional and ethical elements of the hunt.


Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

10 Uses for Animal Fat in the Wild


Black bear fat can be an invaluable resource, if you know how to use it. (John Whipple/)

In a world of “fat-free” foods, trans-fats, and fad diets designed to cut out fats, we’ve been hoodwinked into believing that all fat is bad, particularly animal fat. This couldn’t be further from the truth of it. Fat is a very valuable resource, and few settings highlight this value and versatility like the wilderness. Here’s why you should use every morsel of animal fat you can acquire in a survival setting, and ten great ways to put this greasy goop to work (during an emergency or a weekend in the woods).

Use Animal Fat For Bait

Since it’s such a valuable food resource in cold weather, animal fat can be the perfect bait for meat-eating game animals. In frigid environments, most scavengers and carnivores will give in to their hunger for calorie-dense fat, even when all their instincts are screaming “No, don’t stick your head into that contraption”. Applied warm to trap trigger mechanisms, the fat can quickly harden in frosty or subfreezing conditions. As the fat naturally hardens, this can make it harder for the animal to lick away the bait, and make it more likely to trigger the trap.

Make Pemmican

Long before frozen PowerBars were breaking the teeth of outdoor enthusiasts, Native people were making a much more chewable (and calorie dense) food for cold weather travel and emergencies. Fats are the densest source of calories, and every calorie can count in emergencies. If your animal fat is still “food grade” (read here: not rancid yet), use it for cooking or simply add a little bit to other foods to enhance their calorie content. Pemmican is a fine example of the importance for fat. This ancient forebear of the modern survival ration, pemmican was originally prepared by North American Indians as a traveling food and cold-weather snack. Traditional pemmican is a blend of dried meat pounded into a powder, then blended with warm animal fat and often supplemented with dried fruits, berries, or foods that provide carbohydrates.


Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

First Look: Benelli’s Super Black Eagle 3 is Now Offered in 20-Gauge and 3-inch, 12-Gauge


Luke Kjos takes aim with the new Benelli Super Black Eagle 3 20-gauge. (Lee Thomas Kjos/Kjos Outdoors/)

After decades of production and three generations of its Super Black Eagle platform, Benelli announced it will be offering its SBE3 in 20-gauge and 3-inch 12-gauge models. The introduction comes at a time when the waterfowling market is hungry for sub-gauge offerings, and hunters are ditching heavy 3½-inch loads for 3-inch non-toxics with just as much knockdown power but not as much recoil.

“There’s always been demand for the 20—people have been asking for it for years and years,” says George Thompson, director of product management for Benelli. “The increase in market share for 20 gauges in the last five years consecutively has been about five percent, and one year it grew 20 percent.”

There are a lot of reasons for that increased demand, which you can read about here, including a rise in quality ammunition.

“The reduced weight is a plus, and if you have the right shell and choke combination it’s absolutely effective,” says Zach Meyer of BOSS Shotshells, who killed his first harlequin with the SBE3 20 last week. We were hunting late-season sea ducks on Adak Island in Alaska, and the 20 performed well and cycled without a hiccup despite the demanding shots and harsh conditions.

The 20-gauge will be chambered for 2¾- and 3-inch shells, and is virtually indistinguishable from the 12-gauge SBE3 when it comes to components and features. As you’d expect, however, the sub-gauge offering is distinctly slimmer, with nimble handling, especially in bulky winter layers. Plus, it’s more than a pound lighter (5.8 pounds) than the 3-inch 12 (6.9).

The 20-gauge is more than a pound lighter than the SBE3 12.

Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

How to Keep Your Hunting Truck Running This Winter (and Stay Safe During Cold Weather Travel)


Be prepared this winter when you're on the road by keeping the right supplies in your truck. (Pixabay/)

The old straight-six engine finally quit turning over shortly after midnight. The battery was sucked of its last cranking amperage by churning that motor over at negative 30 degrees in one hopeless/last attempt to get it to fire. It was no use. I had no cell phone, and it was too far to walk. Fortunately, being out predator calling on the crisp, moon-lit night, I had all my winter clothes on, but when you stop moving, the cold starts to slowly seep through. I was a cheechako (a greenhorn kid in Alaska) at the time, and although I wasn’t in a remote spot, it was far enough away from home that I would get a healthy dose of cold-weather education that night.

My truck’s engine would not start, but I had what I needed to start a fire, and spent the entire night alternating between gathering wood and huddling around the small blaze. It was an exhausting process, but kept me warm (and occupied). After about eight hours, someone happened upon me—luckily with a bottle of HEET—and we were able to jump-start the truck. My short misadventure was over. It was my first real brush with dangerous cold, and it taught me a lesson that I always needed to be prepared.

Living in Fairbanks, Alaska, will give you an education in cold weather. Temperatures sometimes plummet to negative 50 or colder. Hunting, trapping, or adventuring in interior Alaska during the winter is hard on equipment, and anything that can go wrong, will. Hell, just getting your truck started in the morning can be a chore if you don’t take the proper precautions. And winter weather can be deadly if you aren’t ready for it. A simple vehicle breakdown can quickly devolve into a desperate survival situation. In Alaska, you must live in a constant state of preparedness.

If you live anywhere the temperature plummets below freezing, you need to have a winter survival kit in your truck. From staying warm to firing up your engine when there’s no chance help is coming, here is what you need to keep in your cab this winter.

1. Jumper Cable Packs

A jumper pack can generate enough electricity to get your engine started in cold weather.
Iso-HEET will keep moisture out of your fuel tank, preventing breakdowns.
This tool kit from Pangolin is a must have for winter travel.
Maxtrax can dig you out of the deepest snow drift.

Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

Get Inside a Buck’s Core Area Without Spooking It


Aaron Warbritton, co-founder of The Hunting Public, poses with an Iowa buck he tagged during the 2020 deer season. He bumped him from his bed, and then killed him the next day in the same area. (The Hunting Public/)

Few things are more exhilarating than eyeing a mature whitetail, and getting to within bow range. It takes serious skill (or loads of luck), and making it happen consistently demands a meticulous approach.

The Hunting Public guys travel the country every fall in search of mature bucks. Much of their hunting is done on public land, so they must rely on some unconventional tactics in order to have more success. Aaron Warbritton is one of the crew members and seasoned at slipping in tight to unsuspecting whitetails. This skill is an art form.

“It depends on what your goals are, but if it is to shoot mature bucks, one of the most important things is to push in closer to bedding,” says Warbritton. “You can focus on this throughout every phase of the hunting season.”

It’s a year-round process. It isn’t just confined to the hunt itself. There are things to consider, including post-season projects, pre-season preparations, in-season precautions, and what to do when you inevitably mess up and spook that buck.


Killing a deer in its bedroom isn’t easy. It usually takes advanced planning and knowledge of the area. (Josh Honeycutt/)

Post-Season Projects

Killing a deer in its bedroom isn’t easy. It usually takes advanced planning and knowledge of the area.
During the post-season, scout the entire property, determine where deer bed, and how they enter and exit these areas.
Under the right circumstances, water access can be a great, low-impact way to enter and exit stand locations.
It’s nearly impossible to maneuver through thick cover without alerting deer. Wait for wet, windy days to attempt it.
The author poses with a Kentucky deer he killed during the 2020 season right on the edge of the buck's bedding area. He set up within 80 yards of the buck’s bed.

Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

5 Old-School Snow Goose Tactics That Still Work Today


Try running an old-school snow goose rig to fool wary white birds. (John Gordon/)

In the late 1990s and into the early 2000s, Texas’ coastal prairie was THE SPOT to hunt snow geese. For years, I guided hunters from all around the U.S. and Mexico for light geese. Most hunters now target these birds during the spring conservation season, but back then Texas guides still primarily hunted in the fall, armed with mouth calls (not e-callers) and white rags tied to dowels as decoys.

With the change in agriculture practices, you can hardly kill a snow goose in coastal Texas anymore, but some of the old-school methods we used more than 30 years ago still work. Snows are a very adaptive species, and today’s hunters should consider using proven tactics that these smart geese haven’t seen in more than three decades. I’m not saying you can throw a few hundred rags out like we used to back in the day and kill a pile of white every time. But there are some tactics from a bygone era that will work…and put more snows in your decoys.

1. Sit in the Decoys


Tyson Keller with two blue geese after hunting in a traditional socks spread. (John Gordon/)

In the late ’90s, the layout blind changed how goose hunters approached concealment, but snow goose guides on the Texas coast never embraced them. Our way was dawning a white parka and laying on a backboard, which are two flat wooden boards—a long and short piece— screwed together to create a head/backrest. The spread was all white, so what better way to blend in than wearing the same color?

As the spring conservation season gained steam, more hunters embraced the layout blind. They are comfortable and a great way to eliminate hunter movement. The blinds do come with drawbacks. One is they are often cumbersome and a pain in the ass to transport into and out of the field (many farmers will not let hunters drive in this time of year because the fields are so wet). Then there is set-up and take-down time. Add in brushing and possibly digging in to lower the profile of the blind and it all adds up to inconvenience and too much time wasted, especially if you are chasing the birds for a week straight.

Tyson Keller with two blue geese after hunting in a traditional socks spread.
A much younger version of the author after a morning on the coastal prairie of Texas.
Most modern snow goose hunters use a tornado machine like the one seen here.
Guide Jimmy Reel in the rags on a Texas snow goose hunt.

Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

The New 6.8 Western is a Versatile Big-Game Hunting and Long-Range Shooting Cartridge from Browning and Winchester


The new 6.8 Western is being loaded by Browning and Winchester and is being touted as the ultimate big-game hunting cartridge. (John Whipple/)

If you want to introduce a successful new big-game cartridge these days, it’s got to be the fastest, hottest, hardest-hitting, new load ever created, right? Well, actually, no. Browning and Winchester’s new 6.8 Western works off the concept that if you take a long, sleek, heavy bullet and fire it at a reasonable velocity, you’ll get just as good (or better) down-range performance as ultra-fast bullets that are less streamlined. And, you’ll get that performance with less recoil.

So their engineers took a .270 Winchester Short Mag. case and lowered the shoulder to allow for a longer bullet in a short-action rifle. That also meant less propellant loaded into the round.

“The challenge in 6.8 Western was all about balance,” says Kyle Masinelli, director of New Product Development for Olin Winchester. “It was the balance of taking a parent case in .270 WSM and actually taking away powder capacity to make it more powerful down range. It seems counterintuitive, but that was exactly what was accomplished. If we compare it to our top performing 270 WSM cartridge, the 6.8 Western has 10 percent less propellant, but has 12 percent more energy at 500 yards. It seems that we cheated physics somewhat, but we really just used it to our advantage by optimizing case capacity and bullet weight. Less propellant also equates to less muzzle blast.”


The 6.8 Western (left) compared to the .270 WSM and 6.5 Creedmoor. (Browning/)

And there’s no doubt that Browning and Winchester are touting this new cartridge as a long-range hunting and target shooting load to try to capture some of the excitement created by the 6.5 Creedmoor and 6.5 PRC. With the 6.8 Western’s heavier bullets, Winchester says it’s bringing 16 percent more energy than the 6.5 PRC at 500 yards and 67 percent more energy than the 6.5 Creedmoor. Winchester is claiming 24 ft-lb of recoil, which is about the same as a 7mm Rem. Mag. (but again, with more energy at long ranges).

Both Browning and Winchester are offering ammo in this new cartridge and building rifles for it. For starters, Winchester will load 165-Grain Accubond Long Range bullets and Browning will load 175-Grain Sierra Tipped Game King bullets. Eventually they plan to introduce loads with the Winchester Ballistic Silvertip and a Match BTHP. Last fall, Tyler Freel and I both had the opportunity to test the two bullets they’re launching this cartridge with and we got to see real-world performance on a handful of big-game animals. Here’s what we found. —AR

The 6.8 Western (left) compared to the .270 WSM and 6.5 Creedmoor.
Browning will be loading the 6.8 Western in 175-grain Sierra Tipped Game King bullets.
This bull was taken with the 175-grain Sierra bullets in 6.8 Western.
Winchester will be loading the 6.8 Western in 165-grain Accubond Long Range bullets.
Hunting the high country in southeast Alaska with Browning X-Bolt Western Hunter.
Robinson's blacktail buck taken with the 165-grain Accubond Long Range bullet in 6.8 Western.
Alex Robinson's whitetail buck taken with the 165-grain Accubond Long Range bullet in 6.8 Western.
A mushroomed 6.8 Western bullet that was recovered from a whitetail buck.

Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

We Had Rob Roberts Customize a Winchester SX4 into The Ultimate Waterfowl Hunting Shotgun


Testing the SX4 on the pattern board. (Joe Genzel/)

Duck hunters require the most out of their shotguns. We hunt in the toughest and in the soggiest, swampiest places. I’ve seen what a season of hard hunting can do to a brand-new gun, so I wanted an autoloader that I wouldn’t have to worry about functioning properly no matter how harsh the environment. I also wanted a gun I wouldn’t have to strip down for a deep cleaning every time I took it to hunt divers in salt or brackish water, which you must do if your gun is coated in blued steel. The shotgun would also have to shoot better than any I had ever shouldered. This was asking a lot, I know.

You can’t get this kind of functionality and durability from a gun you buy off the shelf, so I asked gunsmith Rob Roberts if he would make the necessary upgrades to a Winchester SX4 and build me a custom duck gun. Here is a detailed look at the upgrades Roberts made.

Why I Chose the SX4


Affordable and functional, the SX4 is a great buy. (Joe Genzel/)

The No. 1 thing I wasn’t willing to budge on for this project was a gas-operated auto-loader. I love Benellis and all the shotguns that fall under that brand, but inertia-driven guns don’t have the versatility I required in an ultimate duck gun. I haven’t had good luck with them cycling light target loads, and since I shoot a lot of skeet in the off-season to stay sharp, there was no way I was buying a gun that functioned off recoil.

I have also found that gas guns cycle better (as long as you keep them clean) on high-volume snow goose hunts. In the past, I’ve hunted snows extensively with the SX3, and the gas system on the SX4 is similar (if not exactly the same). The Super Xs function flawlessly. By comparison, when you are shooting multiple shells through an inertia gun in one volley, they can hang up in the action if the buttstock slips off your shoulder. The inertia guns need you as a backstop to drive the action, and if there is nothing for it to work against, they won’t fire properly. These experiences are based on my personal use and preferences. It’s not an indictment against inertia guns or those companies that manufacture them.

Affordable and functional, the SX4 is a great buy.
Roberts cuts the forcing cone ring inside the bore to create better patterns downrange.
The T3 pairs best with the larger bore diameter of the SX4.
A lighter trigger will make you a faster shot on speedy divers.
The author tested four different shotshells at four different distances at the range.
Putting the SX4 to the test on Texas ducks (please note, the author is left-handed and switched the safety, so the gun is on safe).

Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

The Biggest Antlered Does You’ve Ever Seen—Including a 200-incher


Doug Laird’s antlered doe grossed 200 4/8 inches. (Doug Laird/)

Like albino deer, melanistic whitetails, and the ever-elusive world-record, antlered does are among the rarities that hunters dream of, but generally never see. And if they do, most don’t even realize it. This is the stuff of legends, really, and there are more that biologists who don’t know about the phenomenon, than those who do.

The Science

Does that produce enough testosterone can produce antlers. Most of the time, these are very small, and due to similar body characteristics, might even resemble 1 ½- to 2 ½-year-old bucks with small 2- to 8-point racks. Each case is dictated by hormonal imbalances and reproductive abnormalities.

“It’s testosterone based,” says biologist Grant Woods of Growing Deer TV. “All males and females have testosterone and estrogen. But why does one doe have a larger input of testosterone — or smaller input of estrogen — than most females?”

That’s usually the mystery. But lower levels of testosterone oftentimes lead to smaller, velvet-clad headgear that lasts all year. Does that generate higher levels of testosterone grow sets that shed and go hard-antlered each year. Which category each individual falls into depends on numerous factors.

Approximately 1 in 10,000 does grow racks.
Chuck Rorie shows off his big Kansas doe.
Curtis Russell had his deer on camera, but didn’t know it was a doe.
Curtis Russell’s antlered doe is full of character.
Doug Laird joyfully poses with the world-record antlered doe.
Laird’s antlered doe even had a fawn and an udder full of milk.
No matter how you look at it, this deer is impressive.
The tremendous rack on Laird’s deer.

Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

The Smartest Ways to Trick Late-Season Canada Geese When You Can’t Get on the X


If you can't get access to the field geese are feeding in, you must get under them. (Drew Palmer/Miler North Outdoors/)

Finding the X—the field big geese are feeding in—is easy; getting access to hunt it is not. In the last decade, it’s become increasingly difficult to hunt the agriculture fields waterfowl want to be in. Landowners have become stingy about who they allow on their property, and more and more outfitters are leasing up land, making it difficult for the average guy to get access. So, you have to target fields that geese are flying over, from the roost to the feed, and try to kill them that way.

I’ll caution you, it’s not easy. There’s a reason only 1 million or so hunters are waterfowlers (even fewer chase late-season geese). But there are some tactics that can give you an edge over the honkers. It just takes the right weather, diligent scouting, and a trailer full of gear. Here’s how to target these wary geese when you can’t get on the X.

Don’t Hunt Traditional Locations


Pit hunting traditional goose grounds makes it tough to traffic honkers. (Joe Genzel/)

I grew up field hunting giant Canada geese in the Illinois River Valley from leased pits, so we didn’t have many options to move fields when birds didn’t come our way. That made it impossible to trick honkers into the decoys. I learned real quick that if you can’t get geese over top of you, it’s near impossible to kill them.

In traditional goose hunting locations, it’s not easy to stay on the birds because there’s a pit in every corn or bean field. You’re stuck in a single location unless you have a network of buddies with multiple pits. But that is a rare circumstance. Instead of blowing cash on a leased pit that won’t produce much, spend your hard-earned money on a trailer, more decoys, and different styles of blinds. Then you need to find an area that doesn’t get loads of pressure, which is also tough, but less frustrating than watching birds fly over your neighbor’s pit (not yours) for two straight weeks.

Pit hunting traditional goose grounds makes it tough to traffic honkers.
To kill big, late-season honkers, you need a diverse decoy spread.
This jerk rig goose flag from Banded will get the motion away from goose hunters.
Concealment is a key ingredient to successful late-season goose hunts.
Having open water after a hard freeze will attract geese headed back north.

Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

Right Now is The Best Time to Be a Public-Land Small-Game Hunter

January and February are my two favorite months to be in the public hardwood bottoms along the Illinois River. I spent my youth duck and goose hunting with dad on the banks of this historic waterfowl flyway. But the birds don’t come here in the numbers that they once did, and with those days long behind us, and a new squirrel dog by my side, I’m chasing more foxtails and grays than ever.

I hadn’t squirrel hunted regularly since I was a kid, and forgot all that the woods have to offer this time of year. Depending on your state’s regulations and season lengths, there’s a fantastic opportunity to hunt multiple species on the same piece of property right now. You just have to do a little background on the site you want to hunt. Or, maybe you know a place well and just haven’t yet realized that it’s a damn fine spot to shoot an assortment of critters.

I can’t guarantee you will kill six different types of wild game on the same morning. And late season in the public woods is tough. A lot of hunters have utilized these tracts in the past few months, and that puts a lot of pressure on the animals. But now most of those hunters are gone, and that’s why you should be hunting. Here are some tips that will help you bag more small game this winter.

The Main Targets


Late-season is one of the best times to be in the woods. (Larry Case/)

I’m looking to shoot squirrels and rabbits first during winter hunts. My dog runs out in front with his nose to the ground, trying to tree a foxtail or gray. While he is doing that, any brush piles or thickets I run across get a few swift kicks from my boot. The hope is that a cottontail will spring from cover and I will kill a bonus rabbit while the pup is chasing after squirrels. Sometimes he will scent-track rabbits as well, but he has yet to get on one and run it back to me (rabbits run in a circle pattern when they are chased if you didn’t know).

Small creeks and rivers are an ideal spot to target waterfowl.
The author always shoots non-toxic shot and wears blaze orange when waterfowl and upland seasons are in.
Beat the competition to the first sheds of winter.

Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

Maine’s Mystery Buck: The Obscure Tale of Maine’s 110-Year-Old, Non-Typical Record Whitetail


The Hill Gould buck was taken in 1911 and scored 259 inches by Boone & Crockett (Bass Pro/)

Louie Cataldo grew up in a family of hunters in the remote Grand Lake Stream area of northern Maine, where he would eventually become a registered guide, leading hunters in search of the region’s legendary big-woods whitetails. The bucks were celebrated in no small part due to a giant deer that his grandfather, Hill Gould, killed when he was a teen.

The Hunt

The year was 1910. Hill, his twin brother, Eldon and their friend, Leonard “Kizzie” Kennison, all in their late teens, headed to an old tar paper hunting shack they called the “Bear’s Den.” The blind—as it would be referred to today— was located along the Little River, which flows between West Grand and Big Lake. Gould himself was a guide.

“That’s what everybody did back then,” says Cataldo. “There weren’t a lot of other ways to make money so that’s what most folks around there did—still do.”

With no sports in camp, the boys took some time to hunt for themselves, each heading off in a different direction to stillhunt the big woods. Meat was the main goal back then and hunters were allowed two deer so any deer would do.

The mounted Gould buck.
Will Maine hunters ever take a bigger non-typical?

Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

Best Mosquito Repellent: Find the Right Insect Control for You


Ward off pesky skeeters with these handy repellents. (Pexels/)

Mosquitoes are everywhere. You’ll find them at the equator, at the earth’s temperate zones, and even at the Arctic pestering the caribou, along with whoever and whatever is hunting them.

Mosquitoes can ruin an evening outdoors or even an entire camping trip. And mosquito bites can do more than itch. If you live in or travel to areas plagued by mosquito-borne illnesses such as malaria, dengue fever, or zika virus, getting bit by a mosquito can be downright dangerous.

Knowing how mosquitoes find you and bite you will help you choose the best mosquito repellent for you:

Only female mosquitoes actually bite and drink blood, which they use like a prenatal smoothie filled with the proteins they need to grow a brood of bouncing baby mosquitoes. To do that, they first locate a victim using a suite of sensors on their antennae and mouthparts that pick up chemical signatures from body heat, exhaled carbon dioxide, and volatile fatty acids that waft off your skin. (Those volatile fatty acids differ based on things like your sex and what you eat, and may explain why some of us are barely bothered by mosquitos, while others are basically a mosquito buffet.)

After the female mosquito lands on you, she unsheathes a set of six needles from her mouthparts. One pair of these needles have serrated edges for sawing through your skin. Another pair holds your tissues open while the last pair works together to drool mosquito saliva into the wound—which contains an anticoagulant, to keep your blood from clotting—and suck up a body-full of your blood.

The classic aerosol contains 25 percent DEET and a proprietary powder-dry formula.
This plant-based option is 30 percent oil of lemon eucalyptus and 65 percent PMD.
It deploys a mist of repellent for up to 12 hours of protection.
These coils release mosquito-paralyzing pyrethrins into the air for up to 7 hours.
This zapper draws in mosquitoes with a subtle UV light, then electrocutes them.

Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

The Evolution of Shotgun Coatings: From Blued Barrels to (Mostly) Impervious Firearm Finishes


From left: The Benelli Super Black Eagle 3 with the matte blue BE.S.T. finish; an SBE3 with a camo finish, and a Remington 870 Special Purpose Marine Magnum pump with a nickel-plated finish on the barrel and receiver. (Natalie Krebs/)

My shotgun slid sideways along the mesh wire fence that held the blind together. It was a slow morning, and the Benelli was propped against our makeshift hide of cedar boughs. I reached out to readjust the gun and, instead of setting it upright, clumsily scraped the barrel across six inches of the rusted wire. But when I rubbed my thumb over the scratch, I discovered it wasn’t a scratch at all—just a powdery residue from the fence that disappeared when I touched it.

This was lucky, because it wasn’t my gun. It was a test model —the Super Black Eagle 3, in Benelli’s new BE.S.T. finish—and if I couldn’t test it on birds at the moment, this accident seemed to count. Like some hunters, I’m hard on my gear and I don’t always take care of it the way I should. Like most waterfowlers, I want a low-maintenance shotgun I can shoot in any weather without worrying about rust.

As we waited for late-morning flights, I got to thinking about all the guns I’ve succeeded in scratching (with less effort), dinging, and soaking in the rain. I’m not sure if any coating could stand up to the hot mess that is my hunting season, year after year. So I did a little research and, as expected, it turns out not all shotgun coatings were created equal. But some are much better at withstanding the elements—and hunters—than others.


A Model 12 Winchester with a blued barrel. (Phil Bourjaily/)

Shotgun Coatings 101

Diving into every iteration of every type of coating would be as painful as sitting through a chemistry lecture with a hangover. Instead, let’s run through the CliffsNotes.

A Model 12 Winchester with a blued barrel.
Bourjaily considers the maintenance of hunting with a wood-and-steel shotgun on a snowy day well worth it.
A mixed bag and the BE.S.T.-treated Benelli.
A competitor's barrel showing the damage from 48 hours of saltwater exposure, compared to a Benelli BE.S.T.-treated barrel after three months of saltwater exposure.

Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

Your State-by-State Spring 2021 Turkey Forecast


Don’t look now, but spring turkey seasons will kick off in just a few weeks. Here’s our annual preview of what to expect. (Brian Lovett/)

After enduring the COVID-19 pandemic this last calendar year, we need something to look forward to.

Enter turkey season. With the promise of brilliant spring dawns and thunder in the timber, who could feel downtrodden or depressed? Sure, the woods might be a bit more crowded this spring, as it was in 2020. But look at it this way: Like-minded folks are taking advantage of one of America’s greatest wildlife resources and enjoying an experience available nowhere else. Plus, there’s plenty of room to roam from coast to coast. Pick your poison: Easterns, Merriam’s, Rio Grandes or Osceolas (or all four if you’re going for a grand slam). Just be ready, because the action starts soon.

Here’s a quick guide to plan your spring 2021 hunts.

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

Decoys can help close the deal on shy gobblers.
The author with a late-season tom.
Winter turkey numbers are looking strong in some states.
Red dot scopes are a great way to avoid missing spring birds.
The long walk home is made more pleasant when there’s a longbeard over your shoulder.
Give some thought to your calling strategies. Call more aggressively early in the season and quieter late in the spring.
Missouri’s Steve Stoltz worked his magic on a Show-Me State longbeard.
A mature tom taken in his strut zone.

Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags: