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This Ammo Shortage Can Make You a Better Shot


There's no substitute for sending rounds downrange, but you can become a better shot during this ammo shortage. (NSSF/)

I know you’re sick of hearing about the current ammunition shortage, but unfortunately it’s probably going to continue for months to come. Whether you have a stockpile of ammunition or not, you likely are going to be more cautious when it comes to expending ammo for the foreseeable future. In some ways, there is no substitute for sending rounds downrange. Time behind the trigger improves our shooting, but many of us can’t do that right now with the lack of cartridges available. But there is a silver lining to the ammo shortage: it can actually help improve your shooting.

If you’re used to ripping through ammunition at the range without a care in the world, a scarcity of ammunition can help you focus on each round and improve your accuracy. I don’t want to take the fun out of shooting, but I believe every round I fire now needs to have a purpose, to contribute to the betterment of my skills and confidence in a particular gun.

Shooting practice is only practice if you are getting better, and although it’s good, clean fun, shooting from the hip, burning through magazines as fast as you can, or other casual shooting won’t really help you when it matters most. You’ll just end up with a hot barrel and no ammo—not a great place to be right now.

If you want to improve your accuracy, there are many drills and techniques available. There are drills that don’t require much ammo, and training can often be done with rimfires if you do have the ammo for that. There are also plenty of dry-fire drills that will help develop and improve your fundamental shooting skills. A combination of live fire and dry-run drills can be very helpful and conserve ammo, even if they are simple. Drawing you pistol, target acquisition, transitioning, breathing, and trigger control can all be drilled heavily without using up any brass, and will reveal things like an anticipatory flinch you might not catch while live firing.

Even on the range, it is helpful to employ dry-fire exercises. When I’m going to zero a hunting rifle or check accuracy on handloads, I almost always spend several minutes dry firing at the target before I ever send a bullet downrange. It gives me time to separate myself from whatever else is going on that day, focus on my breathing, lower my heart rate, and cleanly break the trigger. By the time I’m actually shooting, I’m tuned up and able to make the most out of the ammo that I am using. I make it a regular habit to practice drawing and dry firing my concealed-carry handgun as well. There are some things like recoil management that you must shoot to get used to. But many of the components of a smooth draw, proper grip, sight acquisition, and a clean first shot can be drilled without ever firing a shot.


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New York Anglers Catch 81 Muskies In One Season


Katia Rivers with one of the 81 muskies that she and her boyfriend Zach Baker caught in the Finger Lakes region of New York State last year. (Baker Muskie Lures/)

Catching a giant muskie is challenging—they’re called the fish of 10,000 casts because old timers say that’s how many casts it takes to catch one. These freshwater predators are moody, persnickety and can be frustrating to catch for even the most experienced anglers.

Katia Rivers, though, appears to be a muskie whisperer. The 39-year-old phlebotomist and EKG tech from Rochester, New York, and her boyfriend, Zach Baker, caught 81 muskies in 2020. That’s right, 81 muskies, on the Finger Lakes of western New York and some smaller lakes around those well-known waterways. Using the “fish of 10,000 casts” math, that would be 810,000 casts, but who’s counting. They fished on weekends, she told Syracuse.com writer David Figura, and stayed only on the inland lakes despite the allure of the St. Lawrence River’s big muskies.


Rivers and Baker released all the muskies that they caught. (Baker Muskie Lures/)

“I have two secret weapons: Baker Musky Lures and a great net man,” says Rivers. “I’m still kind of processing it. It was an overwhelming, magical experience.”

Baker is the founder of Baker Muskie Lures and the Muskie’s Inc. chapter in Rochester. To say they’re dialed in on the big fish would be accurate. Rivers caught her first muskie six years ago on Lake Chautauqua. Her personal best is 50 1/2 inches, caught on Waneta Lake. She and Baker troll his handmade cedar crankbaits and release the muskies.

Muskies and northerns thrive in the deep water, vegetation, rocky habitat and ample forage of the Finger Lakes and smaller impoundments. Also, a couple of hatcheries managed by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation are located in the area, one on Chautauqua. Biologists in spring collect and fertilize eggs from wild fish, usually Chautauqua, for rearing and release in 14 lakes.

Rivers and Baker released all the muskies that they caught.
Rivers with a fall-bite fish.
A big muskie trolled up with one of Baker’s cedar crankbaits.

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Becoming a Trapper Will Make You a Better Hunter


The author after a successful day on the trapline. (Skye Goode/)

I’ve run into quite a few hunters with preconceived notions about trapping, and their stance against it. Often, their viewpoints on the methods used and the reasons for those methods are born out of ignorance. But I was a lifelong hunter before I became a trapper. I’ve frequently told the story about how I got started in trapping, and I’ll tell it again.

I shot a buck one evening during archery season; when I went to recover the deer in the morning, it had been consumed by coyotes. I took an interest in trying to trap those coyotes in a selfish way—to get revenge—but quickly learned that trapping is an obsession that will keep a person forever striving to achieve perfection. Which is, of course, impossible to do when trapping. Even trappers who have been doing it for more than 50 years make mistakes. But the best trappers are also constantly learning and working to get better. After hunting for so many years, I had plateaued when entering the woods. But trapping lit a new spark. When I was faced with the decision to get in a deer stand or set more traps, I ended up putting hunting on the backburner.

One of the best reasons to take up trapping is that it makes you a much better hunter. This is a humbling thought for those who presume they’re already the world’s greatest outdoorsman. They already know everything there is to know, right? But in my experience, not many hunters can tell the difference between a raccoon track and an otter track, or bobcat scat and coyote scat, or a skunk den and a fox den. These are all important things to know when pursuing game. These predators are after the same prey that you are, whether it’s a whitetail deer or a grouse—and its nest of eggs.

Learning to read the sign in the woods will help you learn animal behavior, and once you understand animal behavior, you will ultimately be a much better hunter than someone who only focuses on knowing one species. I’ve also noticed that becoming a trapper has increased my ability to recover wounded deer with a much higher success rate. Even my shed hunting trips have produced many more antlers. This is because I now know how to study tracks and patterns; I notice every overturned leaf or swaying track that might go unnoticed by the average Joe hunter.

Another reason to take up trapping if you are a hunter is to help manage game species. Most land stewards know predator control can play an important role in wildlife management, especially when combined with habitat work. Game birds and waterfowl, such as turkeys, grouse, and ducks, are constant prey for furbearers such as fox and fisher. All the eggs in a nest can be consumed in one night by critters such as raccoon, opossums, and skunks. Turkey declines have been noted as raccoon populations increase. You can also use trapping on a property to manage beavers, who will chomp down mature oaks in one winter, and otter, who can decimate a stocked pond in one night.


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Stay Comfortable and Safe on the Water with the Best Fishing Life Vest


Life vests for fishing differ in style, sizing, and even how they keep you afloat in case you go overboard. (Spencer Gurley / Pexels/)

It’s a good rule of thumb to use a life vest whenever you’re on a boat. Also known as a PFD (Personal Flotation Device) or life jacket, life vests provide buoyancy that can save your life if you’re thrown overboard. You should wear a life vest whether you’re float fishing the Missouri River or kayaking for bass in central Florida.

While every fisherman should own a good life vest, not every life vest is ideal for fishing. A fishing life vest must allow ease of movement so you can fish, and contain storage compartments so you will have small items at hand. Beyond that, consider the water conditions you’re going to fish. Some life jackets are made to keep you alive in whitewater conditions, while others are better for trolling on lakes. Either way, we’ve got you covered. Below is a thorough guide to the best fishing life vests available today.

Best Inflatable Life Vest: Bluestorm Gear Stratus 35 Inflatable PFD

Best Kayak Fishing Life Vest: NRS Chinook OS Fishing Lifejacket

Best Fishing Life Vest For Float Fishing: Kent Type I Life Jacket

The Bluestorm Gear Stratus 35 Inflatable PFD is an ultralight fishing life vest.
The NRS Chinook OS Fishing Lifejacket is loaded with storage compartments.
The Kent Type I Life Jacket is built for whitewater.
The XPS Deluxe Hinged Life Jacket for Kids is a great option for little anglers.
The XPS Deluxe Fishing Life Vest is a general-purpose, versatile fishing life vest.
The Hardcore Water Sports High Visibility Life Jacket comes in sizes from child to 6x adult.

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Q&A: The President of Black Hills Ammunition on Making Ammo for the Military, Price Gouging, Shortage Conspiracies, and More


Jeff Hoffman, owner of Black Hills Ammunition in South Dakota, said there's no way ammo makers are stockpiling rounds waiting for the price to go up so they can make larger profits. (Black Hills Ammunition/)

In our coverage of the ammo shortage we’ve talked to the folks running the largest ammunition companies in the country. And while these massive ammo producers build much of the ammo that American civilians, military, and law enforcement purchase, there’s also an entire group of smaller, specialty ammo makers hustling to fill orders all across the country. To get a better picture of the challenges these smaller shops are facing during the craziest ammo buying surge in recent history, we caught up with Jeff Hoffman, president of Black Hills Ammunition. His company, based in South Dakota, has a number of contracts for providing specialized match and combat ammo to the military, but it also produces ammo for the civilian commercial market. Hoffman has 37 years of law enforcement experience. He’s known for his no-B.S. attitude, and his company is highly regarded for making excellent, precision rifle ammo. For example, their MK 262 is a well-known precision 5.56 round made for the military, and the civilian version of the round is accuracy tested at .64 MOA maximum in 10 shot groups—if rounds from a lot don’t meet those specifications, the lot doesn’t ship. Here’s Hoffman’s take on doing business during these crazy times.

Outdoor Life: Can you tell us what it’s like producing ammo for the civilian market (where there’s such high demand) vs. the military market? Is there competition between the two?

Jeff Hoffman: The only competition is the natural competition that occurs all the time. It’s no secret that the government is a buyer of ammunition. Patriotic companies support that... The way that I look at it is we’re making sharper swords for our warriors. We’re giving our guys a better capability to come home alive. There is no abuse of that system happening. What you’re seeing with the shortage on the commercial side is the ballistic equivalent of toilet paper, when there’s a run on it, everyone buys more.

Most companies do not produce only for the federal government. That’d be silly. You want to have more than one market to lean on… With Black Hills, we’ve got government business, we’ve got commercial business, we’ve got gun company business, we’ve got law enforcement business. But, the military [orders] have ratings on them which means we have to deliver. We’re not only morally and ethically bound to take care of the military, which I feel we are, but we’re contractually obligated to take care [of those orders]. The military has preferences along the way. So, there is some level of competition over machines with this stuff.

OL: Has anything dramatically changed with the military side of your business?


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Best Men’s Waterproof Boots: Outdoor Gear To Keep You Dry


This is not the place to find out that your boots aren’t waterproof. (StockSnap / Pixabay/)

Dry feet are happy feet. When hunting, hiking, fishing or working takes you into mud, creeks and wet grass, you need boots that will keep your feet dry. A good pair of waterproof boots is an essential piece of outdoor gear. Not all waterproof boots are equally waterproof, and as you read on you’ll realize you may need more than one pair to meet different field conditions and activities—after all, men’s waterproof work boots are different than waterproof, men’s hiking shoes.

What Features Should You Consider When Shopping for the Best Men’s Waterproof Boots?

Waterproof boots keep your feet dry, of course. But “the best waterproof boot” can mean different things to different people.

Rubber boots are 100% waterproof, as long as you don’t punch a hole in them. But if you hike or hunt in rough country, where toughness and ankle support matter, you may need waterproof outdoor boots that are more durable than rubber. Boots made of leather, or a mix of leather and nylon, with a breathable, waterproof inner bootie offer the best combination of waterproofing and support. Think of the waterproof membrane like a waterproof sock inside the boot: it keeps water away from your feet, but it doesn’t do much to protect the boot itself. The outside of such a boot will still need treatment.

If you need heavy, all-leather boots, you can treat them heavily enough with waterproofing and seam sealers to keep water out for a long period of time. But, invariably, you’ll have to retreat your leather boots if you expect them to continue to be water-resistant boots.

Rubber bottoms and neoprene construction make Muck Boots some of the lightest rubber boots around.
Zoned insulation maximizes warmth while minimizing weight.
The LaCrosse Uplander offers good ankle support along with a 100% rubber waterproof lower.
A good value in a waterproof hiker, the Moab 2 is a very comfortable ankle-height boot.
These Canadian-made boots offer no frills, just value.

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Best Soft Shell Jackets: Lightweight Warmth for Cold Weather


The best soft shell jackets keep you comfortable, whatever your outdoor pursuits. (Aatlas / Pixabay/)

A hunter looking for elk sign in the snowy woods. A hiker exploring above the treeline in the whipping wind. A cross-country skier working up a sweat. Different situations for different people, but all will benefit from a soft shell jacket. Such a jacket is an ideal choice for when you need warmth and some protection from wind and precipitation, but don’t want to sacrifice breathability and comfort—which many waterproof shells do. The best soft shell jackets provide all the weather protection you need in most conditions, while also remaining comfortable to wear even during high-exertion activities. Most are stretchy, making them ideal for active pursuits. They’re lightweight, so you won’t feel bogged down. And they can be an excellent choice year-round, from cooler alpine conditions in the summer to truly cold, snowy days when you need full ski apparel. Soft shells range from ultralight wind shells to coats made for extreme cold, so how do you know which one to choose? Our winter clothing guide will point you to some of the best options for a variety of uses and weather conditions.

Best Lightweight Jacket: Mountain Hardwear Kor Preshell Pullover

Best Tactical Soft Shell Jacket: First Lite Catalyst

Best Breathable Soft Shell Jacket: Rab Zephyr

Best Soft Shell Ski Jacket: Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Hybrid

This ultralight wind shell keeps the chill at bay and stuffs into its own pocket for easy packing.
Silent, breathable, and available in camouflage print, this jacket is primed for hunting.
This soft shell protects the shoulders and arms with more water-resistant material, but lets body heat vent easily with breathable fabric everywhere else.
A highly protective jacket that still breathes like a soft shell.
This windproof-on-the-outside, super-soft-on-the-inside soft shell delivers protection and breathability for $55 or less.

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Elk Management in Montana Shows the Blind Spots of Our North American Model of Wildlife Conservation


Elk populations are over objectives on many Montana private lands but there are too few elk on many public hunting grounds. (John Hafner/)

Montana has an elk problem. We have too few of them in the right places, public land where hunters can pursue them with an over-the-counter tag for our full 5-week rifle season. And we have too many elk in the wrong places, large private ranches where public hunting is generally not allowed.

This dynamic has been building, and brewing bad blood between hunters—who want access to more elk—and landowners, who want fewer elk but who also don’t want to open their ranches to public hunting.

Stuck in the middle is Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, which has tried any number of strategies to connect hunters with elk and reduce the number that eat ranchers’ hay and crops and wreck their fences. We have “shoulder seasons” that can start as early as Aug. 15 and run through Feb. 15. We have the Block Management private-land access program. We have special game-damage hunts. We have liberal cows tags in areas that are vastly over population objectives.

And now we have a bill percolating in Montana’s legislature—House Bill 505—that would add incentives to elk management. The bill, introduced last Tuesday in a House committee, would enable landowners to sponsor up to 10 non-resident elk hunters every year, but only if populations in their units came down to what FWP considers sustainable numbers.

The idea is that if landowners are serious about getting those sponsored non-resident hunters, who presumably would pay thousands of dollars for a prime private-land elk hunt, then they must work with resident cow hunters and FWP to aggressively reduce populations in their area.


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Best Hip Boots: Fish and Hunt in Water and Muck


Hip boots are perfect for fishing in areas where you won’t go in water much deeper than above your knees. (Glenn Claire / Unsplash/)

Hip boots are classic hunting and fishing gear. They keep your legs warm and dry in wet conditions, and aren’t as cumbersome–or as expensive—as waders. If you hunt ducks, wade-fish rivers and streams and ponds, or simply spend a lot of time working in muddy and swampy conditions, then you need a solid pair of hip boots in your arsenal.

A hip boot is a cross between a rubber boot and a stocking wader. They keep your legs dry up to just below your crotch. They’re great all-around fishing boots. Obviously, they’re not for use in situations where you need to wade in water that rises about your waist. But they’re easy to get around in, inexpensive, and comfortable.

Best Overall Hip Boots: Lacrosse Men’s Premium Hip Boot

Best Rugged Hip Boots: WeaArco Hip Waders

Best Insulated Hip Boots: Lacrosse Men’s Big Chief

The LaCrosse Men’s Premium Hip Boot is a gold-standard option.
The WeaArco Hip Waders are designed to stand up to tough conditions.
The LaCrosse Men's Big Chief hip boots are warm and waterproof.
The Frogg Toggs Cascade Elite Cleated Hip Waders offer superb traction in mud and mucky stream beds.
'The Ranger 36" Heavy-Duty Hip Boots are for serious workers.' data-has-syndication-rights=1
The Frogg Toggs Men's Rana Hip Wader will keep you dry for little money.

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Black Bear Hunters Set Harvest Records in Multiple States


Black bear records were set in numerous states last fall. (Kevin Phillips/)

If you ever have wanted to start hunting black bears, now is a great time to start. Multiple state harvest records fell during the 2020 season as more hunters hit the woods, seasons were expanded, weather conditions were optimal, and bears were on the move searching for food.

Harvest numbers have climbed in recent years, a trend that doesn’t appear to be slowing anytime soon. Several state harvest records were set just within the last 10 years, most within the last five.

“In addition to an abundant population and the potential of harvesting delicious and nutritious bear meat, larger numbers of bears were harvested due to several factors,” said Forrest Hammond, a bear biologist with Vermont Fish and Wildlife. Vermont hunters tallied a record 914 bears in the 2020 season. “It was a poor year for natural bear foods, and we saw a surge in hunter numbers brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and perhaps a corresponding increase in the number of hunters spending more time in the outdoors hunting than in past years.”

Read Next: The Proposed Bear Hunting Ban in California Is a Threat to All Hunters

New Hampshire hunters killed 1,083 black bears, breaking the record of 1,053 set in 2018. Also in the Northeast, Maine hunters tallied the fifth-highest on record with 3,853 bruins, the most since 2004 (3,921) but not close to its 20-year-old mark of 3,951. Massachusetts also set a record with 325 bears to easily top its mark of 283 set in 2014.


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A Strop is the Best Way To Keep Your Knife Sharp


Using a strop will keep your blade's edge sharper longer. (Tyler Freel/)

Being able to put a sharp edge on a knife and keep it there is one of the most valuable skills for anyone that spends time in the outdoors. In the backcountry, there are few tools that can save your butt like a good knife, yet keeping your blade sharp is not something many hunters have mastered.

There are a tremendous amount of tools and sharpening aids available that make the process easy, but my go-to is a strop. If you’ve ever had a straight-razor shave (or seen one done in the movies) you know what I’m talking about. A barber will take his razor and sharpen the edge by stroking it back-and-forth on a long leather strap. You can do the same with your field knife and broadheads—it will keep their edge sharper longer.

Stropping is simple, and it can take the sharpness of your blades to a different level. The principle of stropping is to hone and polish an edge to both finish the sharpening process, and maintain a polished, fine edge so it makes cutting much easier. Essentially, stropping is just an ultra-fine abrasive that continues what you started on a diamond stone or whatever sharpening method you employ.

The edge of the knife is laid on the surface to match the grind angle, then pulled across, not pushed (to avoid catching). The strop pulls whatever micro-burring still exists out as you work the blade back-and-forth until you’re left with a sharp edge. You may think your new pocketknife is sharp right out of the box, but usually you can get them significantly sharper by stropping the rough factory edge. High-end knives can also benefit from a strop.

The the most common material for strops is leather, but there are better options than dragging a knife across your belt at the edge of a campfire. Leather is good because it’s durable, varies in its abrasiveness, and is great at removing abrasive compounds from your blade. If you want to order a stropping setup, you can get pre-made strops (pieces of leather glued to a sort of wood paddle to provide you a firm and consistent grip).

A strop can keep your boradheads sharp as well.

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This Proposed Sale of Public Land in Arkansas Is All Too Common for Hunters Everywhere


Local hunters and anglers rely on Pine Tree Research Station for access to public ground in their area. Most of Arkansas' three million acres of public land lies on the opposite side of the state. (Courtesy Arkansas Backcountry Hunters and Anglers/)

The current battle over the University of Arkansas’ attempt to sell the Pine Tree Research Station sounds all too familiar: A public institution that’s short on cash but has a valuable asset. Wealthy buyers with an eye toward turning a profit. Devoted locals who stand to lose yet another piece of their community. Whispers of corruption. And a ragtag band fighting for the common folk.

The challenge of maintaining hunting and fishing access on smaller parcels of locally controlled property is a familiar one. When money gets tight, development seems like the only way to make ends meet. And that’s the fate currently facing Pine Tree, a patch of 11,850 publicly accessible acres in northeast Arkansas.

A Public-Land Origin Story

A century ago, the Pine Tree Research Station wasn’t public. The modern property became public by way of the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act of 1937, a Depression-era law designed to reduce marginal farmland. Struggling and starving farmers were paid for their property and relocated to more productive farms. The rehabilitation of that farmland provided badly needed jobs and eventually returned the land to the public.

More than 11 million acres of degraded farmland were purchased via conservation programs like the Bankhead-Jones Act. These Land Utilization Projects, as they came to be called, stretched from Maine to California. Some turned into National Grasslands, now administered by the U.S. Forest Service. Other, smaller parcels were eventually sold or transferred to the cooperative extensions of land-grant universities. Agricultural research, conservation, and recreation were all considered suitable uses for the properties.

The University of Arkansas plans to sell a little more than half of the Pine Tree Research Station—over 6,000 acres—to a private buyer.
Program technician Jody Hedge surveys wind damage in one of the research fields at Pine Tree in eastern Arkansas.

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Are Wolverines Making a Comeback in the Lower 48?


A wolverine was caught on camera in Yellowstone National Park this winter, the first sighting of the species in the park since 2014. (U.S. Forest Service/)

One of the most elusive creatures to roam Yellowstone National Park has been caught on a trail camera for the first time. A wild wolverine was captured bolting through the forest, the first on-camera sighting since the park began to use wildlife cameras in 2014.

Biologists estimate that there are as few as 300 wolverines left in the lower 48, so the chances of spotting this critter are pretty low. The remote trail camera, located outside of the Mammoth Hot Springs area, was originally mounted to observe cougars.

“We put out remote cameras across the northern part of Yellowstone as part of a cougar study,” says Dan Stahler, a wildlife biologist at Yellowstone National Park. “When I first saw the video, just a week after we set up that camera, it gave me goosebumps because...I’ve never seen one in person in my 25 years here.”

The video, which was posted to Yellowstone’s Facebook page last month, shows the animal scurrying through a snow-blanketed, forested area on the morning of Dec. 4.

Wolverines live in extremely low densities and have an average home range of about 500-square miles for an adult male. They travel incredibly large distances, meaning that no one wolverine lives exclusively within the Yellowstone National Park boundaries. Biologists estimate that half a dozen individuals are likely “periodically using Yellowstone.”

This wolverine was caught on a trail camera within Yellowstone National Park.

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The Fall of the .220 Swift


The .220 Swift is the fastest production load ever built, so it's precarious that it never became popular among hunters. (Ron Spomer/)

The .220 Swift is odd. It has world-beating velocity, but never became widely popular among hunters. It is a load we all should have fallen in love with—since it’s the fastest commercial rifle cartridge in the world—but didn’t.

The .220 Swift is a .22-caliber round that fires .224-inch bullets, the same as used atop .223 Remington, .22-250 Remington, .224 Weatherby Magnum, .24 Nosler and similar .22 centerfire cartridges. Winchester created this load, and named it for what it was—swift.

It’s a “hot” round, pushing a 48-grain bullet at 4,100 fps. The .220 Swift was faster than any other commercial cartridge of any other caliber in the world (and still is). Only the .204 Ruger comes close to the .220 in terms of speed. The .223 WSSM could match the .220 in velocity, but that cartridge is now obsolete.

It was built pre-WWII, before fighter jets had been invented or the atom had been split. The next fastest .22-caliber rifle cartridge extant at the time, the .22 Hornet, pushed 40-grain bullets about 1,400 fps slower than the .220. It was so advanced that 86 years later nothing has caught up in terms of speed (the .22 Savage Hi-Power of 1912 drove 70-grain bullets about 2,800 fps, but they were .228 inches).

So why isn’t the .220 a popular load for today’s hunters and target shooters? There are a few different reasons. But first, let’s take a closer look at the history of the .220 Swift, and its ballistic makeup. Then I will delve into why it failed.

Winchester went to the Navy to help build the .220 Swift.
The .22 Hornet and .222 next to the .220 Swift, which was a controversial round when first released.
Here is the ballistic data from a .220 Swift, 40-grain bullet with a muzzle velocity of 4,150 fps.
From left to right: the .223 Rem, .22-250, .220 Swift, and .223 WSSM.
The .220 Swift is one of the best long-range loads for coyotes.
Here is the data from a .223, .22-250, and .220 Swift Nosler 50-grain Ballistic Tip Varmint with a B.C. of .238 on a 4-inch target with a max ordinate of 2 inches.

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Best Mother’s Day Gifts: Celebrate Your Outdoorsy Mom for Under $100


Make Mom’s day. (Larry Crayton / Unsplash/)

How to recognize an outdoor-loving mom: She’s the one bribing her kids with gummy bears to hike just a little bit farther. She sets up the family tent for a backyard campout. She spends her precious “me” time on a walk in the woods. Sound like someone you know? Then coming up with a list of best Mother’s Day gifts is easy. The most meaningful gifts for mom will enable her outdoor experiences, helping her get outside and enjoy the great outdoors even more. We all know outdoor gear can be pricey. So our gift guide features all kinds of thoughtful picks for the outdoorsy woman in your life at $100 or less. And when you’re done shopping, don’t forget to add on the greatest gift of all: Some free time for her to get out there and put your gift to use.

Most Unique Mother’s Day Gifts: Buff Multifunctional Headwear

Most Unique Mother’s Day Gifts, Runner Up: Natural Reflections Camo Knit Sleep Shorts

Most Useful Gifts for Mom: Leatherman Wave Plus

Most Useful Gifts for Mom, Runner Up: Bass Pro Shops Happy Camper Stainless Steel Tumbler

Mom won’t know how she lived without this ultra-functional gaiter/hat/headband.
Hang out at home in a cozy pair of shorts that add a feminine twist to classic camo.
This always-handy tool is small enough to fit in your hand yet powerful enough to tackle any small fix-it job you need.
Keep hot liquids hot and cold liquids cold for 24 hours in this affordable stainless steel cup.
The PocketRocket canister stove packs down tiny but delivers all the camp cooking functions Mom needs.
The classic bean bag toss game gets a patriotic makeover with this easy-to-pack set.
Ultralight, ultra-comfy wicking undies like these are destined to become mom’s new favorite pair.
These medium-cushion hiking socks wick sweat, battle stink, and keep feet happy all day.
This feminine hat makes sun safety look gorgeous.
Mom can swap out her wedding ring for this tough yet beautifully designed silicone ring when she’s on an outdoor adventure.

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The Best Turkey Decoys To Help Fill Your Tag


A call will get a gobbler’s attention—and a good turkey decoy will bring that bird in close enough for a shot. (Shoeib Abolhassani / Unsplash/)

Turkey decoys have changed turkey hunting forever. Under the right circumstances, a turkey decoy can literally bring birds running. You can use a decoy to position a bird in a particular place or for a close shot, which is especially important if you’re using a bow or guiding a new hunter. Knowing how and when to use a decoy, and knowing which types to use, boosts your chances in the woods. There are turkey decoys for every situation, every style of hunting and every budget. You can buy super-realistic hunting decoys as well as collapsible, featherweight models that stuff easily into a vest pocket.

Best Turkey Decoy Pair: Primos Gobbstopper Combo

Best Full Strut Decoy: Avian X HDR Full Body Strutter Decoy

Best Reaping Turkey Decoy: Mojo Shoot-N-Scoot Max

Best Turkey Decoys for Hunting from a Blind: Dave Smith Decoys Turkey Flock

Well-detailed and affordable, this pair of decoys will see you all the way through the season.
Flocked and iridescent feathers make this full strut decoy look real.
A handle, wings spread wide to hide you, and a window make this a user-friendly reaping decoy.
This realistic mini-flock is perfect for setting up outside your shooting window.
You get one upright hen, a lookback hen, and a relaxed jake.

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Best Men’s Socks to Keep Your Feet Warm


Wear cotton socks under waders and you’ll regret it quickly. (Gaspar Zaldo / Pexels/)

Cold feet make any outing miserable. Choosing the best men’s socks can go a long way toward keeping your feet warm in the winter. The first rule is to ditch the cotton socks. They have little insulation value and no ability to transport moisture away from your feet. Wool socks are well known for retaining heat when wet, and for wicking moisture away from your feet—and some synthetic blends are very effective at keeping feet warm and dry, as well. Choosing socks of the right length helps keep you warm, too. Crew socks are fine for shoes or short boots around town, but the added warmth and protection from chafing that taller socks offer can help make the difference between happy feet and frozen toes.

Best Warm Socks for Men: Heat Holders Twist Long Socks for Men

Best Heated Socks: ActionHeat 5V Rechargeable Battery-Heated Wool Socks

Best Moisture Wicking Socks: Darn Tough Hunter Over the Calf Extra Cushion Wool Socks

Best Socks for Waders: Cabela’s Knee-to-Toe Wool Wader Socks for Men

Synthetic socks can be warm, too. Heat Holders
Battery-powered carbon-fiber heating panels ward off the chill on the coldest days.
High-density knitting makes Darn Tough merino wool socks durable and warm.
Stay dry when you’re wading in the water.
Wicking and warmth, without the cost.

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Fly Angler Catches (and Releases) Rare, Massive Trout in Nevada


Quinn Pauly with his monster Lahontan cutthroat trout. (Quinn Pauly/)

Quinn Pauly, a physician in Reno, Nevada, was fly fishing in Pyramid Lake on Valentine’s Day when he hooked and landed this giant Lahontan cutthroat trout. The fish was measured at 39 inches, but not weighed, and Pauly released it. The fishing gods already had bestowed a long life on the monster trout and Pauly didn’t want to offend them by harming the unique fish that was part of a 15-year reintroduction program.

Lahontan cutthroat trout live in the Lahontan basin of northern Nevada, eastern California and southern Oregon, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,. Eleven lake-dwelling and 400 to 600 stream-dwelling populations existed in 1884 spanning more than 3,600 miles of streams. But the populations became fragmented and isolated and the species was listed as Endangered in 1970 and was reclassified to Threatened in 1975.

A restoration program was begun in the early 2000s with hatchery-reared fish. Pauly’s Lahontan trout caught from Pyramid Lake was a Pilot Peak strain fish reared at the hatchery in Gardnerville, Nevada. He could tell based on a fin clipped as an identifying marker. The Lahontan cutthroat historically migrated long distances to spawning sites; USFWS officials say the fish reportedly moved about 120 miles between Pyramid Lake and Lake Tahoe.

Pauly declined a chance to weigh the fish with a friend’s scale, superstitiously believing “it would make the fish gods angry,” he told the Reno Gazette Journal. He took a few photos and a video, measured the fish and then released it. It was his biggest in a decade of fishing at Pyramid.

“Some people said, ‘Why didn’t you kill it?’” Pauly told the newspaper. “I’m like, ‘What are you talking about?’ The fact some people would have killed it just makes me sick to my stomach.”

A reintroduced Lahontan cutthroat trout.

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Best Fishing Vest: Get Out on the Water in This Great Gear


A fishing vest should hold all the gear you want to have at hand, and allow you freedom of movement while fitting snugly. (Greg / Pexels/)

A fishing vest is an iconic piece of fishing apparel for a good reason—you can keep so much gear right at hand. Fishing vests are especially popular among fly anglers, but they needn’t be confined to that niche. A fishing vest is a handy piece of equipment for anglers of all stripes.

A classic fishing vest is a vest that includes easy-to-access pockets that allow you to store and retrieve your essential tackle while you’re on the water. There are a lot of variations on the classic fishing vest, from fishing vest backpacks to PFD and fishing vest combos, which offer different functionalities and styles. No matter your angling style, there’s a fishing vest for you.

Best All-Around Fishing Vest: Orvis Pro Fly Vest

Best Fishing Vest Backpack: Kylebooker Fly Fishing Vest Pack for Men and Women

Best Lightweight Fishing Vest: Orvis Ultralight Vest for Men

The Orvis Pro Fly Vest provides everything you need and more out of a fishing vest.
The Kylebooker Fly Fishing Vest Pack is a solid two-in-one fishing vest pack combo.
The Orvis Ultralight Vest is a no-frills lightweight fishing vest.
The Onyx Kayak Fishing Life Jacket doubles as a fishing vest.
The White River Fly Shop Aventur1 Fly Fishing Vest for Kids is a classic-looking kid-friendly fishing vest.
The Flygo Mens Fishing Vest costs less than many other vests, and still has numerous features.

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Best Headlamp for Campers, Hunters, Anglers, and More


A good headlamp will let you see where you’re going and what you’re doing, while freeing up both of your hands. (Pexels/Simon Migaj/)

Headlamps top the list of outdoor gear. A hands-free light frees you up to do whatever you need to do with your hands when it’s dark, from setting up a tent to tying on a bass popper to dragging a deer out of the woods. The best headlamp to get depends on what you want to do, because of factors such as weight, brightness, battery life, ruggedness, and of course price. We’ve scoped out all the information you need to track down the best headlamp for you.

BEST CAMPING HEADLAMP: BLACK DIAMOND SPOT 350BEST HEADLAMP FOR HUNTING: PETZL TACTIKKA + RGBBEST HEADLAMP FOR FISHING: BESTSUN 2000 LUMENSBEST RUNNING HEADLAMP: BIOLITE HEADLAMP 330BEST HEADLAMP FOR BACKPACKING: NITECORE NU25BEST CHEAP HEADLAMP: PETZL TIKKINA HEADLAMP

Features to Consider When Shopping for the Best Headlamp

While headlamps improve each year—with new iterations boasting brighter outputs, better battery life and greater customization—the essential features you need to look for when shopping for a headlamp remain relevant: Light output, run times, color/dimming settings, weather protection, and comfort.

Light output is measured in lumens, a metric that explains the capacity of total light a lamp can emit. Typically, the higher the lumen count—which for headlamps can range from the low hundreds into the thousands—the brighter the light. But the focus of that light can also determine how bright it appears.

A related element is beam type. Flood beams are wider (allowing you to see the campsite) while spot beams are tighter (allowing you to focus on the trail in the distance). Many headlamps let you toggle between both types of beams.

This Black Diamond headlamp, with several user-friendly features, offers long-lasting light from trailhead to tent spot.
Easily toggle between powerful brightness and night vision with this compact hunting gear essential.
This zoomable headlamp has five modes of LED lighting and 2,000 lumens for less than $30.
This comfortable headlamp stays in place when you’re on the run.
Thru-hikers will appreciate how this headlamp packs in power without racking up the pounds.
For occasional camping trips—or power outages—this budget buy is a bright idea.

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