Hunting and Fishing News & Blog Articles

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

Best Storage Bins: Keep Your Stuff Protected and Organized


Load up your truck with the essentials, and keep them safe, in storage bins. (Amazon/)

Think you have a lot of stuff? You do. The average home in the United States is filled to the brim with things—about 300,000 items, according to experts. And ten percent of Americans keep even more stuff in rented storage units.

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that storing all that stuff means people spend a staggering amount of time searching for lost items in their piles and piles of possessions. The Daily Mail reports that people lose 198,743 items over a lifetime—which works out to nine lost items every single day. That means you’ll spend 153 days (3,680 total hours) of your life just looking for those lost things.

If you have a lot of those “Where is my…?” days (and if you like the outdoors, you probably have a ton of gear, and have those days often) or if you simply feel that you’re surrounded by your stuff, storage bins will make your life vastly better. But what kind of storage bins is best for your stuff and your storage space?

Best Storage Bin for Under Bed: Homz Underbed Storage BinBest Stackable Storage Bins: Sterilite Stacking Storage BinBest Storage Bin for Rough Use: Rubbermaid Locking Storage BinBest Storage Bin with Wheels: Iris Wheeled Storage BinBest Storage Bins for Color-Coding: Storex Project Box

Things to Consider When Shopping for the Best Storage Bins

Storage bins seem like they’re just glorified plastic boxes, but they vary in storage volume, shape, color, stackability, portability, and security. Matching those features to your storage needs is key to effectively organizing your stuff.)

This transparent bin fits under most beds and includes a lid that comes in four colors.
These transparent shoe boxes stack securely and come in bulk sets.
This lockable industrial-strength storage bin withstands harsh temperatures and comes in multiple sizes.
This heavy-duty locking storage bin features rugged wheels and handles for portability.
These tinted storage bins come in five colors or as a rainbow set for color coding.

Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

The Hottest New Crossbows for 2021


The 2021 crossbow lineup is packed with innovations. (Outdoor Life/)

COVID-19 crippled lots of things last year, but it didn’t stop crossbow manufacturers from engineering a litany of new horizontal tack drivers. The fascinating world of crossbows continues to evolve as bows are designed to hit radar-busting speeds and produce jaw-dropping accuracy. As in years past, there are budget bows and flagship models, and most come outfitted as a field-ready package. Whether you’re a veteran crossbow hunter or a newcomer to the world of horizontal bows, give these new products a serious once over. I have no doubt you’ll find something of interest. And watch for our complete vertical bow and crossbow tests coming in a couple of months.

RELATED: The Best New Compound Bows for 2021

Excalibur TwinStrike


Excalibur TwinStrike (Excalibur/)

A first of its kind and a massive leap in horizontal-bow technology, this 358-pound draw-weight crossbow is the Over/Under Rail System, which holds a pair of bolts that shoot through the riser for increased accuracy. With the TwinStrike, a follow-up shot is always at the ready. The DualFire two-trigger platform gives the shooter a pair of ultra-smooth 4-pound, frictionless triggers. The front trigger fires the top rail, and the back trigger fires the bottom rail. CeaseFire Technology boosts safety by ensuring the crossbow will not fire unless a bolt is loaded, and this technology works in concert with Excalibur’s new Rhino Nock to give shooters a positive, audible click to indicate a bolt is properly seated. The TwinStrike has a fighting weight of 7.75 pounds, hits speeds up to 360 fps and has an overall length of 33.4 inches. The crossbow is sold with an impressive package that includes Excalibur’s new Overwatch Illuminated Scope, Rebolt 4-Arrow Quiver, and plenty of other accessories. ($2,222.22; excaliburcrossbow.com)

TenPoint Havoc RS440 XERO

Excalibur TwinStrike
TenPoint Havoc RS440 XERO
TenPoint Siege RS410
Barnett HyperTac Pro 430
PSE Coalition Frontier
Wicked Ridge Blackhawk 360
Wicked Ridge NXT 400
CenterPoint Wrath 430
Bear Archery Impact

Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

The Best New Compound Bows for 2021


Compound manufacturers are offering a big 2021 lineup for bowhunters. (Outdoor Life /)

I’m disappointed that I won’t be sending carbon down the shooting lanes at the Archery Trade Show this year. Like most things, the annual ATA show was canceled due to Covid-19. This January will mark the first in the last 12 years that I haven’t wrapped my hand around the grips of the new-for-the-year bow crop. Yes, I’ve already shot a few new flagship and budget bow models, but haven’t been able to try all of them, and that’s a hard pill to swallow. Especially when creating round ups like these.

Instead, I’ve done the next best thing for bringing you the latest models from the virtual showroom floor, and spoken to the brands’ marketing managers and engineers to get the intel. Honestly, I was shocked. While it’s customary and expected for kingpin bow makers to unveil a new lineup each and every year, I figured the current pandemic would halt things a bit. That’s not the case. Not only did bow manufacturers launch new products, but they’ve launched big ones. Most have produced all-new flagship and budget models. Many have crafted a flagship series or produced multiple flagship models. The emerging theme this year is customization. The new bow models designed specifically for female archers, short-draw archers, long-draw archers and those in between were created. New bow technologies aren’t in short supply for 2021. Here’s a preview, but remember that we’ll be testing these and other new bows shortly for a full wring out.

Mathews Archery V3 27 & V3 31


Mathews Archery V3 (27) (Mathews Archery V3 (27)/)

Archers await Mathews’ annual bow launch with great anticipation, and for good reason. When it comes to providing quality bows teaming with purposeful technologies, Mathews doesn’t disappoint. This year is no different. The new V3 is available in 27- and 31-inch axle-to-axles. Both rigs have a 6-inch brace height and are branded with a rating of 342 fps. The main difference, of course, is the length between the axles. The 27-inch V3 is Mathews’ most compact bow to date, making it ideal for gnarled treestands, ground blinds. and spot-and-stalk missions. The V3 will be a great choice hunters looking to take advantage of new Mathews innovations like the CenterGuard Cable Containment system that’s designed to provide ideal cam timing, and the vibration-robbing Nano 740 damper. Getting a slight facelift, the Extended Bridge Riser on both bows is lighter and provides shooters with Mathews’ longest riser-to-axle-to-axle ratio to date. The V3 27 and V3 31 are offered in 60-, 65-, 70- and 75-pound draw-weight options and are available in an array of finishes, including new-for-2021 First Lite Specter and Under Armour All-Season Forest. $1,199; mathewsinc.com

Mathews Archery Prima & Atlas

Mathews Archery V3 (27)
Mathews Archery Atlas
Mathews Archery Prima
Hoyt Eclipse
Hoyt Torrex
Xpedition X30
Xpedition X33
Bowtech Archery Solution SD
Bowtech Eva Shockey Gen 2
Bowtech Zion
Bowtech Amplify
Elite EnKore
Elite Archery Remedy
The Nexus 2, from Prime.
PSE Xpedite
PSE Drive
PSE Embark
PSE Carbon Air Stealth
Bear Redemption EKO
Bear Whitetail Legend

Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

7 Tips for Catching Big Cold-Weather Bass


Umbrella rigs are excellent baits in colder water. (Jeff Gustafson/)

As an angler who grew up on the shores of Lake of the Woods in Ontario, I get a kick out of hearing some of my fellow Bassmaster Elite Series anglers say, “It’s so cold out”...when the temperatures dip into the 40s. We have ice covering our lakes for half the year up here in my part of the world, and I spend plenty of time fishing through a hole when I’m not out on tour. Here are my best tips for staying warm and catching a few bass when the temperatures plummet.


Dress warm and get after the bass. (Jeff Gustafson/)

1. Dress for success

If you can keep your feet and your hands warm, you’ll be in good shape. Keep them dry with good boots and waterproof gloves. After your appendages, your head is the next most important body part to protect. A warm beanie, over a hat on a sunny day, is the way to go. Add a neck gaiter, which offers surprising warmth. Similar to a sun protector that you see a lot of anglers wearing these days, winter gaiters are thicker fabric that will protect your skin from wind and cold temperatures. We wear them under snowmobile helmets on the ice, but they are also comfortable worn alone. And if you’ve never owned a good pair of technical long johns, it’s time to invest in one. Get a matched set of warm stuff and you’ll be able to stay on the water longer than your buddy. Which brings me to my final bit of clothing advice: Layer up. You can always remove layers if it gets warm but if you get cold, the day will probably not be that enjoyable. I like a plush, fleece-style middle layer, with a wind- and water-repellent outer layer.

Read Next: Solving the Mystery Behind the World-Record Bass of Demopolis, Alabama

2. Pick smart shoes

Dress warm and get after the bass.
Jeff and Shelby Gustafson with a livewell full of big smallmouths.
Just because the snow is flying doesn’t mean that the bass aren’t biting.
Hair jigs are also a great cold-weather bass bait.

Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

How to Call More Coyotes into Shotgun Range


Shooting coyotes in close to the decoy is addictive. (Mojo Outdoors/)

If you’ve been in elk country when the bulls are bugling, love shooting ducks over the decoys, or calling in a strutting spring tom, you know how addictive (and thrilling) it is to take a wild animal at close range. Well, despite the long rifle shots at coyotes you often see on outdoor TV or YouTube (or hear your buddy lie about), many of the opportunities you’ll have to take a coyote come inside of shotgun range (whether you anticipate it or not). There’s no arguing that a reliable 12-gauge is just as deadly, and valuable, as a bolt gun for chasing fur. And you should always carry one—no matter if you’re hunting the deep woods or out West in the big, wide open.

But close shots don’t have to remain incidental. You can also set up to kill more coyotes in close on purpose, so you’re ready to pull the trigger when a song dog sticks his head out from behind a tree at 30 yards. Here are some proven tactics from two predator experts (and one outdoor writer) that will put more coyotes on the fur sled.

1. Sneak into Your Stand


You need to be stealthy when you walk into a stand. (Mojo Outdoors/)

Just like hunting deer from a treestand, you want to be as stealthy as possible when hiking into a coyote set. Terry Denmon, owner of Mojo Outdoors, has killed apex predators across North and South America, and lives by a strict methodology he calls “the pie” when entering a coyote’s range.

“Once you get into a coyote’s area—the pie—you have to monitor the wind even when you’re driving in the truck,” Denmon says. “If possible, I like to drive the truck into the wind, so coyotes don’t smell it. Also, if they get a glimpse of your truck, they are gone, so you have to park in a place they won’t be able to see it.”

You need to be stealthy when you walk into a stand.
Coyotes are going to come in quick, so you need to have your gun at the ready.
You can shoot coyotes close in the West.

Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

Field Test: The New Straight-Pull Savage Impulse Rifle


The author ringing steel with the new Savage Impulse rifle. (Derek McDonald/)

“It’s the hunter’s JOB to kill an animal instantly with the FIRST shot.”

So read the sign hanging in my cabin on the FTW Ranch in Texas, where I’d be spending the next two days testing Savage’s new Impulse rifle, a uniquely American take on the straight-pull design that’s been popular in Europe but, until now, had failed to take hold with American hunters.

This article isn’t about the ethics of long-range hunting, but it is about a very innovative hunting rifle that happens to be capable of the type of long-range precision usually reserved for significantly more expensive rifles, so I hope you’ll forgive me for leading with a reminder—but with great power comes great responsibility.

The long-range shooting trend has exploded over the past decade, making it much easier for hunters to acquire both the equipment and knowledge needed to regularly make shots that, only a decade ago, many would have dismissed out of hand as tall tales. It also makes it more likely that over-confident, under-trained shooters will attempt to make shots they shouldn’t.

As serious shooters know, pros spend more on training than they do on gear. Which, I assume, is at least one of the points Savage Arms wanted to make by inviting me and a few other writers to run their new baby hard under the salty tutelage of FTW’s main instructor, Doug Prichard, a retired 26-year veteran, Navy SEAL, and graduate of the USMC Scout/Sniper school.

Brass in the air and lead on target with the Savage Impulse rifle.
Straight-pulls have been popular in Europe but never really caught on stateside. Savage hopes to change that with the introduction of the Impulse.
Pitting the Impulse against one of the charging dangerous-game targets at FTW Ranch in Texas.
Instructor Doug Prichard demonstrates how to achieve maximum stability.

Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

After Being Barred from the Family Deer Camp, Beginner’s Luck with a 215-Inch Iowa Buck


Brooklynne Rude, with her great 28-point buck. (Brooklynne Rude /)

When you’re a kid growing up in the Midwest, deer hunting is generally part of your life. For Brooklynne Rude of Ankeny, Iowa, this was certainly the case. Her father, Brock, has hunted whitetails as long as she can remember and her brothers Mitchell and Nick both started hunting when they were about 10 years old.

Rude was always excited to see what the guys brought home from deer camp, and helped with processing the deer into steaks and ground venison. But as a young girl she had yet to develop a desire to hunt deer herself. She did, however, appreciate the family tradition and was eager to be a part of the post hunt.

As Rude grew into a teenager, however, she started to get the bug. Almost every Sunday, her family would go to her grandpa’s farm, where they would enjoy a trap-shooting session.

“It was fun to compete against my brother Mitchell, who was very good at trap shooting,” Brooklynne says. “This was the time of my life when I first became really interested in firearms and shooting, which ignited my desire to go deer hunting.”

Unfortunately for Rude, the rules of the deer camp prohibited any “girls” from participating in the hunt. So for the time being, she had to remain an observer of the family tradition of deer hunting. Despite being barred from deer camp, Rude’s desire to hunt whitetails didn’t wane. If anything, her yearning for a chance to hunt deer grew, especially after her dad shot a 16-point in Ringgold County in 2003 that scored 181 4/8-inches.

Rude’s buck back at camp.
Brooklynne’s first buck green-scored 215 inches.
It’s butchering time in Iowa.

Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

Best Bear Spray: Five Things to Consider


Here are some important things to consider if you want to buy bear spray. (Zdeněk Macháček via Unsplash/)

If you’ve ever had the misfortune of touching your eyes (or other mucous membranes) after handling or slicing hot peppers, you know exactly why bear spray is so effective.

Bear spray is a pressurized aerosol containing around 2 percent capsaicinoids—the compounds that gives peppers their characteristic hotness. That intense burning sensation is enough to stop a charging bear. A 2008 study in the Journal of Wildlife Management reported that bear spray stopped brown, black, and polar bears 92 percent of the time. A whopping 98 percent of people who used bear spray in self-defense walked away uninjured.

Those stats are even more impressive when you consider that half the people who use a firearm to defend themselves against grizzly bears suffer injury, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In fact, experts say your odds of sustaining a serious injury are doubled when you face a charging grizzly with a firearm instead of bear spray.

Of course, human injuries are paramount, but aren’t the only valuable measure. Bear spray also protects bears by reducing how many are injured or killed in self-defense. That double-barreled ability to defend humans while not impacting bear populations is why wildlife experts recommend carrying bear spray when you’re in bear country.

Bear spray might remind you of the self-defense pepper spray people carry on their key chains—and it does rely on the same ingredient, those eyeball-burning capsaicinoids—but unlike those everyday carry sprays, bear spray is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This ensures the product is formulated for maximum effectiveness against the target animal while still being humane. Bear spray contains between 1.3 percent and 2 percent capsaicinoids.

A one-second deployment releases 1.84 ounces.
This was tested for 9 years in the Alaskan wild and offers a 9-second continuous spray.
It’ll shoot a capsaicinoid cloud up to 35 feet away.
It has a 4-year shelf life, which reduces the need to buy replacement canisters.
It’s easily carried and can be mounted on a bike.

Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

The Ultimate DIY Guide to Making Wild Game Jerky and Snack Sticks

By late January, the requests start rolling in—from close buddies to that brother-in-law you never hear from but once a year. Make any jerky yet? Got any extra?

Whether you hunt or not, wild game jerky and snack sticks are coveted commodities. Why? Because they taste better (and are far less expensive, especially for your “friends”) than the stuff hanging from the snack rack at Casey’s.

Making jerky is a trick that has been used for centuries to preserve meat. The dehydration process slowly rids meat of its moisture, which can cause it to spoil quickly. Wild game is also lean. It contains far less fat than farm-raised animals. More fat has the potential to oxidize and spoil more rapidly. It’s also very flavorful. Once you get a taste for home-made jerky, Slim Jims hardly compare.

There are some basic guidelines to follow for making jerky. And this do-it-yourself guide will help improve your process, no matter if you’ve been making jerky for years or are just getting started.

1. What Cuts of Meat to Use

It's best to cure your meat with pink salt or celery juice powder before dehydrating it or cooking it on the smoker.
Smoked jerky is considered more flavorful, but using a dehydrator gives you more consistency in the texture of the meat.
A jerky gun is an awesome tool for making snack sticks.
Vacuum sealing your sticks and jerky will increase the time they remain edible.

Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

Are Today’s New Hunting Shotguns Really Worth the Price? Here Are 4 Used (and Cheaper) Models to Consider

In today’s competitive shotgun market, manufacturers have to consistently release new products in order to survive. Gun manufacturers spend their time and money developing new concepts with innovations that are beneficial, and often better, than previous versions. But does that mean old guns become obsolete, and can’t serve the purpose they were intended for? Certainly not. In fact, many old designs are excellent in form and function, and still have a lot of life left in them. Here is a look at shotgun models that aren’t new, but can still be found and purchased at your local gun shop or online. They are all solid alternatives to buying a more expensive, newer shotgun, and will function just as reliably.

1. Winchester Super X Model 1


The Super X4 is the fourth iteration of the original Super X1, which was built from steel and wood. (Winchester/)

Winchester shotguns have a strong pedigree. Several of the most iconic American shotguns came from the Winchester line, including the Model 21 side by side, Model 1897, and Model 12. But the thing that made these guns great was their all-steel-and-wood (walnut) construction. It also made them expensive to manufacture. Winchester modernized their production in 1964 so they could make guns for less money. That didn’t go over so well, thus the “pre-64” Winchester era was born, with those guns still bringing premium prices today.

In 1968, Winchester tasked their top engineers to design “the best auto-loading shotgun in the world,” with a new gas operation system and all parts milled from solid steel. They also directed those engineers to use the Model 12 as a starting point. In 1973, the new shotgun was released to the market. They called it the Super X Model 1; a real beauty of a shotgun crafted in the old school methods of Winchester’s glory days.

Was it a smashing success? As far as producing an ultra-reliable quality 12-gauge semi-auto shotgun goes, yes, it was. It was not a commercial success, however, because the Remington 1100 was already available in every gauge (plus the .410), and the Italians were importing Remington’s guns at a brisk pace. But it was a great gun and those that own and shoot them today sing their praises.

Eddie Nickens, Matt Coffey, and Gregg Powers with Browning Wicked Wing A5s at the ready in an Eastern Washington duck blind.
The Beretta A390 is one of the most reliable 3-inch autoloaders ever made.
Benelli's Super Black Eagle lineup has long been a favorite of duck hunters across the U.S.

Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

Winter Fly Fishing: How to Catch Trout on Streamers this Holiday Season


It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Big browns will eat streamers in winter. (Dave Karczynski/)

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me: a brown trout in a cedar tree.

Translation: my wife signed off on a pre-Christmas streamer trip.

I love winter fly fishing for trout. It’s relaxing in a way that spring and summer trout fishing just isn’t—not for me at least. During prime time there’s just too much going—bites starting up, bites winding down, baitfish migrations—and the stress of getting it just right is almost too much. On a typical day I might do an all-day, big-water streamer float, rush back upriver to fish my favorite evening dry fly water, then stagger back to camp in the dark, where I’ll inspect the spiderwebs near the creek that flows through the property to see what I missed that day. At night I’ll lay in bed and wonder: did I make the right choices?

In the winter, by contrast, life is easy: the creeks are closed, there are no hatches, and the boat launches are deep under snow. By the time the holidays roll around I find myself blessed with the absence of any and all choice. I lace up my boots and fish streamers on foot.

Though it might not seem apparent at first glance, winter conditions are prime for the streamer angler. The trout are post-spawn and looking to recoup lost calories. Clouds are low, the sky is gray, and snowfall creates extra camouflage. Fishing pressure is light to non-existent. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, indeed. Here are a few tips for getting the most out your time between the snowy banks.

There’s nothing quite like the peace and quiet of a winter trout stream.
There won’t be very many hatches to match in the dead of winter. Think streamer fishing.
A white sparkle minnow streamer gets high marks in winter.

Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

When Lessons Learned in the Wild Find Their Way into Regular Life


The author and his son on a bear trail on Admiralty Island. (Chris Miller/)

Editor’s Note: This has been a tough year for everyone. And while we’ve collectively experienced many of the same events, the changes, challenges, and often outright hardships everyone has endured remain deeply personal. We asked six contributors to look back on 2020 and reflect on how the events of this year shaped their lives, in ways both big and small. We will be publishing one essay each day through the end of the year, on topics ranging from subtle differences at deer camp to the enormous task of parenting during a pandemic. You can find all the stories, as they’re published, right here.

A sooty grouse, colloquially called a “hooter” in Southeast Alaska, hooted from a stand of spruce trees on a steep mountainside. I snowshoed toward it, carrying my 15-month-old son on my back, until I was just above the grouse. The bird, puffed up and bobbing as it called, materialized through a maze of branches. I aimed my .22 and, at the crack of my shot, the bird plummeted from its perch. A few minutes later, my boy clutched the grouse to his chest and began chewing on it. He looked up with a mouthful of feathers and said, “Bye-bye, bird.” At the end of the day, with a sleeping boy and a few birds in my backpack, I stared out at snowy mountains stretching in all directions and thought about how this is as good as it gets.

Like a lot of people, 2020 was kicking my family’s ass. Southeast Alaska’s economy is heavily dependent on tourism—around a million visitors come each year, mostly on cruise ships. This sort of tourism can be overwhelming with the added boat and air traffic. So, when it became clear that there wasn’t going to be a cruise season due to COVID-19, many locals looked forward to having our home to ourselves. My main employment consists of guiding wildlife film crews, but nearly every production I’d been scheduled to work on had been canceled due to the pandemic. I hiked down through the shadowy rainforest with my sleeping boy, wondering how I was going to make ends meet.

RELATED:

Since I was unemployed, I decided to make the most of it. I spent a lot of May and June in the field, hunting grouse with my son and watching brown bears. I know that other folks spent more time hunting, fishing, and hiking, too. The mountains saw an unprecedented number of people seeking solace in the adventure and peace they offered. I might have been solitary in the wild places I was going, but I wasn’t alone in my reasons for going there.

Brown bears in Kadashan Bay on Chichagof Island.

Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

I Survived COVID-19, But it Killed My Hunting Season


Coronavirus brought a swift end to the author's hunting season. (John Hafner/)

I was fishing for crappies last April, doing well with a small jig under a bobber. Another angler, who hadn’t caught a fish, walked over and asked what I was using. When I raised the jig, he held it in his hand for a closer look. After he left I squirted the jig with sanitizer.

Was I being paranoid? The coronavirus had recently debuted in our town in northwest Wyoming. I’m well into my golden years. I survived open heart surgery five years ago, and my cardiologist told me to be extra careful. I followed all the Covid guidelines, and my outdoor activities were severely curtailed.

Spring turkey season was the first big disappointment. I cancelled three hunts because governors outlawed nonresident hunting or asked nonresidents to stay away. I hunted turkeys in Wyoming with a buddy, and we drove our own pickups, as I did with my pals every time we went fishing.

General distrust was rampant, not only in the rural West, but in every state and at every level, from municipal to federal. All of us were at the mercy of our governors, who were either aggressive, passive, or somewhere in between regarding how we should live our lives. In one state boating with a gasoline engine was outlawed, but canoes and kayaks were okay. In another state, fishing of any sort from a bank, boat, or pier wasn’t allowed. Illinois closed many of its public lands. The governor of my home state of Wyoming cancelled short-term nonresident fishing licenses, primarily because too many Colorado anglers were coming to Wyoming. Alaska required visitors to have proof that they’d tested negative for Covid within 72 hours of arriving in the state. Canada closed its borders to Americans, and hunting abroad was severely restricted. Hunting and fishing plans were dashed or altered nationwide. Many rule changes made no sense.

As the year progressed, I continued taking extra precautions. When hunting season arrived, I hunted alone. I killed a doe antelope and sprained a ligament in my foot while dragging her up a rock pile. A partner’s help could have made a difference. I was done hunting for two weeks.


Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

The 10 Best Stories of 2020, as Chosen by Our Loud-Mouthed Hunting Buddy


Another big year of storytelling from Outdoor Life. (Natalie Krebs/)

The editors could have rounded up our favorite stories of the year, but that would be like telling everyone how perfect and charming your own children are. So, in the spirit of cutting through the B.S. of an already hard-to-swallow year, we asked the most irreverent bastard we know to tell us what he really thought of our 2020 articles.

Danny Hinton is a bowtest team member, a diehard deer hunter, and a lifelong reader of Outdoor Life. He’s also a west-Kentucky redneck who calls it like he sees it and doesn’t care one lick what anyone else thinks. Hinton re-read more than 60 of our biggest stories this year, then cracked a bottle of whiskey and called me up to explain which ones were worth his time.


The author, with one of his 2020 Kentucky archery bucks. (Danny Hinton/)

So, here are Hinton’s favorite picks, plus some dishonorable mentions. The stories are numbered for easy reading, but they’re not ranked in any particular order. This interview has been condensed and edited for (egregious) profanity. —Natalie Krebs


A Montana mule deer on the tailgate of an old Chevy pickup. (Tom Fowlks/)

1. Vintage Blues

Two Midwestern sons hunt for Montana bucks the way their fathers would have—with vintage rifles and well-worn denim, by Andrew McKean

The author, with one of his 2020 Kentucky archery bucks.
A Montana mule deer on the tailgate of an old Chevy pickup.
Releasing a rainbow trout in Wyoming, which has much stricter stream-access laws compared to Montana.
The weathered old receiver of a restored .410 Excel.
If you unknowingly accept venison from a deer that was killed illegally, it is a violation of the Lacey Act, and you can be prosecuted.
Loading a string of packhorses for the trip home from a public-land elk hunt.
From the left: Cartridges chambered in .260, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5x55 Swede, and Rem. Mag.
Because sitting still is worth the wait.
The missed buck, earlier in the season.
A persistence hunter dashes along a prairie ridge after a herd of antelope.
A hunter retrieves a nutria near Buras, Louisiana.

Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

It’s Time to Redefine What it Means to ‘Do Our Part’ as Hunters


The author's buddy Craig at a public wildlife management area in Georgia. (Durrell Smith/)

Editor’s Note: This has been a tough year for everyone. And while we’ve collectively experienced many of the same events, the changes, challenges, and often outright hardships everyone has endured remain deeply personal. We asked six contributors to look back on 2020 and reflect on how the events of this year shaped their lives, in ways both big and small. We will be publishing one essay each day through the end of the year, on topics ranging from subtle differences at deer camp to the enormous task of parenting during a pandemic. You can find all the stories, as they’re published, right here.

Just before midnight my hunting buddy Craig texted me about a little known public-land area that could be promising for new coveys of quail. Craig is sure enough a bird dog man, and has hunted everything from grouse in Utah to ducks in Arkansas to wild bobwhite quail here in Georgia. So when he texts you about a new hunting spot, you pay attention. We arrived 10 days later, dogs in tow.

At the check station, Craig and I ran into an interesting sign posted by the sign-in sheet. It said there was to be no quail hunting unless hunters were drawn for a quota. This didn’t make sense to us since Craig scoured the 2020-2021 season regulations and nowhere did they state that the general public would not be allowed to hunt the property. So Craig got on the line with the DNR, and after a few phone calls and a little time waiting, we were told that someone had apparently posted the sign as a way to discourage any hunter willing to believe the sign. The DNR gave us the green light and wished us luck.

RELATED: Canadian Hunters who Survived 2020 Rewarded with Another Uncertain Season

We were hungry for new birds, but more importantly, new experiences to share. Craig and I both love to hunt wild birds on public lands. We share waypoints and drop pins to each other, and the partnership has truly made our journeys that much more enjoyable—and successful. But in the four or five times we’ve hunted and trained dogs together this season, never has it been about killing a limit of birds. Frankly, I probably set myself up for failure by choosing to carry a new AYA .410 in the woods to shoot these fast-flushing birds. And I should probably say “shoot at.” We did indeed miss a few that day.

The author and his bird dogs.

Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

The Greatest Day in Minnesota Muskie Fishing History


Ben Knutson smiles over his 56 1/2-inch muskie, the first of his two giant fish of the day. (Ben Knutson/)

In a sport in which size really does matter, Ben Knutson has raised the bar to an almost unbelievable level.

On November 25, 2020, Knutson, of Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, caught two 50-pound muskies from giant Mille Lacs Lake, each of which flirted with Minnesota’s state records. And, as nearly all muskie anglers do, he released both fish.

Most fishermen consider a muskie measuring 50 inches in length and weighing about 30 pounds to be fish of a lifetime. The roll call of those who have caught a muskie weighing 40 pounds is much shorter, and only a select few anglers have ever had an encounter with a 50-pounder, much less actually caught one.

Yet Knutson did it twice. In one day.

No wonder Knutson, 28, became an instant celebrity in the muskie fishing world as the news spread. His twin catches were first featured in newspapers across the country, and now Outdoor Life.

Ben Knutson’s first giant muskie stretches to 56 1/2 inches on a bumpboard.
The “lemontail” Pounder Bull Dawg which Ben Knutson used to catch his two monster muskies.
The second of Ben Knutson’s huge muskies flirted with the Minnesota record of 54 pounds for kept muskies. He chose to release the fish.

Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

Being a Parent (and a Kid) Hasn’t Been Easy in 2020


The author's son and brother hunting doves at the family farm this fall. (Joe Genzel/)

Editor’s Note: This has been a tough year for everyone. And while we’ve collectively experienced many of the same events, the changes, challenges, and often outright hardships everyone has endured remain deeply personal. We asked six contributors to look back on 2020 and reflect on how the events of this year shaped their lives, in ways both big and small. We will be publishing one essay each day through the end of the year, on topics ranging from subtle differences at deer camp to the enormous task of parenting during a pandemic. You can find all the stories, as they’re published, right here.

It was mid-summer and my then 6-year-old son, Donald, was standing on the dock of my parent’s small farm pond in just his underwear and Crocs, reeling in one bluegill after the next. He yelled for me to come help him unhook a fish, and I ended up sitting there on a five-gallon bucket, watching him for the better part of an hour. I took bluegills off the end of his line as he told me how easy this was, and how he should be a professional fisherman.

It reminded me of my last great afternoon of fishing with my own dad, more than 30 years ago. We were on the Chippewa Flowage in northern Wisconsin, and he and my uncle were hooking into crappies while I sat in the front of the boat. Then Dad switched spots with me so I could get on the fish. He cracked a beer, lit a Marlboro Menthol, and watched, smiling as the two of us filled the basket with slabs.

The nostalgia of that Wisconsin afternoon mixed with Don’s excitement, all of it was a welcome break from the stresses of this year. There have been hardships for so many folks during COVID-19, and though my family has been fortunate to stay mostly healthy and employed, the additional parenting challenges have been difficult.

Don is as social a kid as there is, and being stuck at home, away from friends and his extended family, has been immeasurably tough. He will talk to anyone. Before the pandemic, we would take walks down our street. If our neighbors were in their yards or working in the garage he would say, “Daddy, I have to go talk to them.” And he would…often for 15 or 20 minutes.

Donald on his first duck hunt, in 2020.

Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

The Canadian Outfitters Who Survived 2020 Are Rewarded with Another Uncertain Season


Canadian outfitters, who rely heavily on their American clientele to stay in business, were hard-pressed to drum up business this year. (Rachel Ahtila/)

Editor’s Note: This has been a tough year for everyone. And while we’ve collectively experienced many of the same events, the changes, challenges, and often outright hardships everyone has endured remain deeply personal. We asked six contributors to look back on 2020 and reflect on how the events of this year shaped their lives, in ways both big and small. We will be publishing one essay each day through the end of the year, on topics ranging from subtle differences at deer camp to the enormous task of parenting during a pandemic. You can find all the stories, as they’re published, right here.

The weeks leading up to hunting season are normally a joyous time for me. That’s when summer is in full swing, and we’re preparing to host the excited hunters who make our jobs possible. When the familiar faces of past clients and the fresh faces of new ones show up in our basecamps, we ready the horse string and head into the backcountry. Each new excursion is like Christmas morning.

But 2020 was a much different year. Instead of preparing for a camp full of clients, we didn’t know if we would even be allowed to hunt due both to COVID-19 restrictions and the closure of the U.S.-Canadian border.

RELATED: Can You Keep Covid-Vulnerable Hunters Safe and Still Have a Real Deer Camp?

In my home province of British Columbia, I have made a career of guiding clients on Stone’s sheep, moose, mountain goat, bison, black bear, and caribou. And as a guide, a very large percentage of my income stems from working for outfitters. The harsh reality of making ends meet weighed heavy on my mind, and I was also concerned for all my fellow guides and outfitters who were in the same position. How would they pay the lease notes and overhead costs with no clients? Would we all be financially ruined?

Many clients were not able to keep their bookings with Canadian outfitters in 2020. Here, a hunter in BC watches a herd of caribou trickling through the valley bottom.
The author with her dog, Dolly, and a camera and mic strapped to her pack. This year Ahtila had to adapt to a variety of non-traditional duties, including filming hunts.

Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

Can You Keep COVID-Vulnerable Hunters Safe and Have a Real Deer Camp?


The author, hunting solo on his ranch in Montana. (Natalie Krebs/)

Editor’s Note: This has been a tough year for everyone. And while we’ve collectively experienced many of the same events, the changes, challenges, and often outright hardships everyone has endured remain deeply personal. We asked six contributors to look back on 2020 and reflect on how the events of this year shaped their lives, in ways both big and small. We will be publishing one essay each day through the end of the year, on topics ranging from subtle differences at deer camp to the enormous task of parenting during a pandemic. You can find all the stories, as they’re published, right here.

For each of the past dozen years, I’ve given a single gift that requires more of the recipient than of me. It’s the gift of a deer hunt on my own land in eastern Montana.

As a landowner, the state allows me to “sponsor” one non-resident a year to hunt deer on my property. There’s no break on the price; the hunter has to pay full non-resident license costs. But the tag is guaranteed; no applying through the uncertain draw. The recipient can hunt mule deer or whitetails, a buck or a doe, their choice. The catch is that the hunter must stay on my own property; no matter how big the buck—or doe—on the public land just on the other side of my fence.

My sponsored hunter has to get here on their own, and no payment is allowed for the access I provide. But because I consider the invitation as only an initial gesture of friendship, I open my home to these sponsored hunters, and over the years, the opportunity to hunt and live together temporarily has formed fast friendships that have lasted far longer than the hunt. It’s not only the most comfortable deer camp in the world, with running water and real beds, but the opportunity to drink and eat together, and relive the day in the place where it happened gives an extra dimension to the hunt.

Over the years, I’ve hosted ammunition manufacturers, fellow outdoor writers and editors, and childhood neighbors with whom I’ve rekindled friendships after 40 years. This year I invited Howie Steinbeck, the owner of a vineyard in Paso Robles, California, whose land I hunted a few years ago for blacktailed deer. Howie, his grandson Ryan Newkirk, and I got along famously in the course of a week in the vineyards, and when Ryan later asked me if I knew a spot where he could take his grandfather for mule deer, the answer was obvious: my place.

The author (left) leans in for a quick, normal selfie with Howie Steinbeck (center) and his grandson Ryan.

Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags:

Half of a Gun, and a Life Lesson, On Christmas Morning


The .22 caliber Speedmaster was the ultimate Christmas present for a 13-year-old squirrel hunter. (Remington/)

The Christmas of 1984, I wanted a new .22 so bad. The one I had was a single-shot and the stock wasn’t long enough for my 13-year-old frame anymore. A new gun was really the only thing I was asking for. Mom and Dad had just started new jobs that year after moving our family to their hometown. Money didn’t grow on trees, and expensive gifts for children weren’t very common at all. Mom and Dad warned me from the start that it was an out-of-reach request—just too expensive. Still, like many kids, I let my hopes get the best of me.

Christmas Day came, and I opened several presents but none of them looked long enough to be a rifle. Finally, I opened a short tube. Inside was a rifle barrel with iron sights and a wooden fore-end. I was confused. It was only the barrel part.  Where was the rest of the rifle?

Dad said he bought it from a widow whose husband had taken the receiver-end in for a repair before his death only she didn’t know where. Mom and Dad said they thought it would be a good project for me to write letters to all the gun shops in our area and see if I could find the other half of the gun. He explained how much fun it would be, a treasure hunt of sorts. I remember thinking something else in my head.

The partial rifle I had unwrapped was a Remington 241 Speedmaster, which was manufactured by Remington starting in 1935. The rifle was based off a John Browning design. It was a takedown that split into two pieces, the barrel end like the one I had unwrapped, and a receiver end, like the one I was now expected to hunt down.

At the time, we lived in Hubbard, Texas. We were surrounded by other towns in all four directions, each with multiple gun shops. I was going to have to send hand-written letters to every one of them looking for the receiver end.

Wade Hull with both halves of his Remington Speedmaster.

Continue reading

Copyright

© OutdoorLife

Tags: