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Polaris Just Announced a New Full-Size Electric Ranger—and Hunters Should Pay Attention


Polaris just teased it's new electric Ranger. Hunters should be excited. (Polaris/)

Today Polaris teased its plans to launch a full-size electric UTV under its popular Ranger line. This will be the first electric vehicle Polaris developed through its partnership with Zero Motorcycles, an American manufacturer of electric street bikes and dirt bikes. The new EV Ranger is expected to debut in December, according to a Polaris press release. Check out the video teasing the launch here.

Who should be most excited about this new EV? Nope, not hippies or electric vehicle nerds, it should be hardcore deer hunters. A UTV or ATV can be immensely useful on a deer property. But if you’re not careful, ripping around on a quad can also make it immensely difficult to kill mature bucks. Big bucks pattern hunters’ movements just as well as we pattern theirs. In pressured hunting areas it doesn’t take long for deer to learn that the roar of a four-wheeler is a dead giveaway that a hunter is in the woods.

Some of the best private-land deer hunters I know never use four-wheelers during the actual hunting season, unless it’s to haul out a deer. They’re convinced that mature bucks avoid them. The late Craig Dougherty, one of the wisest and cagiest old deer hunters I’ve ever met, drove an electric golf cart around his deer hunting property and killed a cabin full of mature bucks in Upstate New York, of all places.

Now it seems Polaris is set to introduce a vehicle to make those electric carts obsolete.

“As our top-selling off-road vehicle brand, RANGER has continually set the benchmark as the hardest working, smoothest riding UTV, leading the market in rider-inspired innovation,” Steve Menneto, president of Polaris Off Road said in a press release. “The new electric powertrain will elevate the RANGER platform to a whole new level of capability, durability, and performance.”


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Our Newest National Park Allows Hunting? How Locals Are Keeping the New River Gorge’s Sporting Traditions Intact While Boosting Tourism


The New River Gorge National Park and Preserve managed to uphold the hunting and fishing traditions of the region while also getting top billing as a tourist destination. (Nick Kelley /)

The last time I visited the New River, it was deserted. My buddies and I had planned a multi-day fishing trip, and we set off without bumping into anyone at the put-in. We camped where we wanted, brought a duck dog, and caught a mess of fall smallmouth. So when I heard the New River George had been designated as our 63rd National Park in the latest spate of National Park Service changes, I wasn’t exactly thrilled. I wondered about dog bans, a permit system for non-commercial boaters, and the end of hunting on the roughly 70,000 acres public land surrounding the gorge.

Happily, none of that seems to be the case.

Credit for this victory goes to the West Virginians who worked hard to turn their favorite place into a national park—without compromising the sporting and paddling traditions that make it so special. But how, exactly, do you turn a piece of public land into a national park? And better yet, why would you want one in your backyard?

Meet Our Newest National Park

If you didn’t realize we added yet another national park to our ranks, you’re forgiven. The bipartisan proposal from three West Virginia lawmakers was included in the massive 2020 year-end coronavirus relief package. Once former President Trump signed the bill into law, the New River Gorge’s promotion from National River to National Park and Preserve came and went on Sunday Dec. 27, 2020, during that hazy time between Christmas and New Year’s when no one’s paying much attention to anything.

Besides the New River Gorge, the only other combination national park and preserve in the Lower 48 is Great Sand Dunes, in Colorado.
An outtake from the author's 2019 fishing trip through the New River Gorge National River, now the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve.
Archambault running a rapid in the heart of the New River Gorge, now the New River Gorge National Park, in 2019.
A fat bronzeback, pulled from the rapids of the New River and released back into its waters.

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How to Zero a Suppressed Rifle


Your point of impact will change once you add a suppressor to your rifle. (Tyler Freel/)

Suppressors are more popular than ever for hunting (where legal) in the U.S. They tame the volume from the blast of rifles, making guns safe to shoot without hearing protection. They also reduce recoil. There is a fantastic variety of suppressors and attachment systems on the market, with options for just about every caliber imaginable. For a new user, there is one key thing to understand before heading afield, and that is that a suppressor will change your rifle’s point of impact. If you attach your new suppressor and head afield to hunt, you stand a good chance of missing or wounding the animal you are after.

The POI may only be slightly different with a suppressor, but it can also have a dramatic impact on bullet trajectory. The suppressor’s weight, rigidity, and diameter, as well as the material of your barrel, can all affect where the cartridge impacts. With some rifle-suppressor combinations, this might be just an inch or two. But on hunting rifles, it’s common to see your POI move several inches at only 100 yards.

Attaching a suppressor adds a downward leveraging force to your barrel. It will alter the harmonics and change how your barrel can move during the shot. With some combinations, you may see as much as a 10- to 12-inch difference in impact at 100 yards between suppressed and unsuppressed rifles.

The act of passing through a suppressor can change a bullet’s POI as well. You will often see slight changes in velocity when you add a suppressor and take it off. Sometimes, you will see a difference in POI between the first round fired through a suppressor and subsequent rounds when the suppressor heats up and still contains warm gasses. This seems to be more pronounced with some rimfire suppressors than high-power rifles, but there can still be some variation.

If you plan on hunting exclusively with a suppressor on your rifle, this doesn’t really affect you too much, aside from needing to re-zero your rifle once you attach the suppresser. You want to check your velocity if you are using a dial turret, but for most practical hunting purposes, sight-in your rifle just as you would without the suppressor. Once zeroed, let your bore and suppressor cool completely, and allow all the gas to dissipate from inside the can. Shoot again to check the POI for a cold bore/cold suppressor, and adjust your zero if necessary.


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The 10 Best New Rifles for 2021

This is a strange year for new rifle introductions. Most gun manufactures are hustling to fill back orders. Many consumers rightly wonder, Why would I buy a new gun when I can’t get ammo for it? And yet, guns of all types continue to fly off the shelves. Even amid the chaos, there are some exciting new hunting rifle introductions this year. We have an American-made straight pull rifle and an iconic gun maker introducing its first bolt-action rifle. These 10 best new rifles, which are not listed in any particular order, deserve a look even during a very odd year.


Browning is pushing its venerable X-Bolt into semi-custom territory with the new Mountain Pro editions, in Tungsten (pictured) and Burnt Bronze finishes. (Browning/)

1. Browning X-Bolt Mountain Pro Tungsten/Burnt Bronze

Browning is pushing its venerable X-Bolt into semi-custom territory with the new Mountain Pro editions, in Tungsten and Burnt Bronze finishes. This top end of their production X-Bolt rifle is packed with features that push it right up to what you’d expect to see on a custom rifle. Averaging about 6 pounds depending on chambering, they’ve been able to shave nearly a quarter pound compared to previous models, and the rifle features a foam-filled carbon fiber stock and Cerakote finish. It also features a threaded, spiral fluted barrel using a new lapping process designed to enhance accuracy and reduce fouling and break-in time, as well as a fluted bolt, and oversized, fluted bolt knob. You’ll immediately notice Browning’s new Recoil Hawg muzzle brake, a more effective option than the classic radial brakes, and especially handy in some of the larger chamberings. The Mountain Pro chamberings run the gamut from 6.5 Creedmoor to 28 and 30 Nosler, 300 PRC, and 300 RUM, including the new 6.8 Western. MSRP: $2,399 to $2,459


The Kimber Hunter Pro Desolve Blak is a great option for a hunter who wants a lightweight, controlled-feed action rifle without paying flagship price. (Kimber/)

2. Kimber Hunter Pro Desolve Blak

At about 5 ½ lbs, the Hunter Pro Desolve Blak is a great option for someone who wants to get into a lightweight, controlled-feed action hunting rifle without paying flagship prices. This extension of the Hunter line uses the same stainless steel Kimber 84M action that many hunters and custom rifle builders love. It features the classic Mauser-style extractor, almost universally trusted for feeding dependability. It’s notable that the Hunter Pro uses a detachable box magazine rather than internal magazine, making for quick and easy loading and unloading. The stainless steel barrel comes with a radial muzzle brake, and sits inside a fiber-reinforced, laminate stock with the Desolve Blak camo pattern. Overall, this is a lot of rifle for the money, and available in .308, 6.5 Creedmoor, and .280 AI. MSRP: $992

The Kimber Hunter Pro Desolve Blak is a great option for a hunter who wants a lightweight, controlled-feed action rifle without paying flagship price.
An attainable pistol caliber carbine for most budgets, the Ruger 9mm PC Carbine wears many hats.
Franchi’s relatively new Momentum line of big game rifles, pictured in Optifade camo, is embracing the 350 Legend.
The new Highlander model from Bergara fits between their Mountain and Approach models, weighing between 7.3 and 7.8 lbs depending on chambering.
A corrosion-resistant finish is a big deal when it comes to beating the brush, and this new model from Henry is a welcome sight.
The Mossberg Patriot LR Hunter brings some features that will aid in accuracy and longer-range consistency in the field.
The Waypoint is a truly new rifle, and Springfield’s contemporary entrance into the bolt rifle market.
The Long Range MB model from Winchester provides a comfortable, stable, long-range target and hunting platform that isn’t too heavy.
The Savage Impulse is an American-made and designed straight-pull bolt action centerfire.

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The 8 Coolest Hybrid Ducks and Geese You’ve Ever Seen

Waterfowl hunting is one of the most species-driven pursuits in the hunting community. From mallard purists to pit blind honker hunters, our favorite bird species often dictates our hunting style. But every type of waterfowler wants to shoot a hybrid.

A hybrid bird is the result of two different duck (or goose) species mating. This results in a combination of different characteristics from the two species. The most common duck to mate with other species is the mallard. Greenheads will often breed with pintails, black ducks, wigeon, and teal.

But as cool as it is to shoot a “pintallard,” hybridization does pose a threat to waterfowl populations. When two different species mate, it typically results in infertile offspring. Waterfowl crossbreed more than any other bird—more than 400 combinations of hybrid waterfowl have been recorded. The mallard/pintail is the most common.

There are few (if any) game laws that pertain to hybrids. I spoke with multiple game wardens and put in a request into the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for comment, but could not get a definitive answer on how hybrids contribute to a hunter’s daily limit. It’s ultimately at the discretion of the local warden to decide if you are operating within the law. So, if you already have your mallard limit and shoot a mallard/pintail cross, it’s possible that if you are checked, you could be fined for shooting over the mallard limit. And if you are hunting during the spring conservation order and shoot a snow/specklebelly hybrid, a warden may determine that you have shot a bird that is out of season.

With so many different hybridizations possible it’s tough to catalog them all, but here are eight unique waterfowl hybrids that have been taken across North America.

The body of this hybrid resembles a gadwall, while the color of the head and bill have the characteristics of a wigeon.
Target the Atlantic Flyway to have your best chance at a mallard/black duck hybrid.
Be on the lookout for hybrids in big flocks of snows and specklebellies.
The mallard/green-wing hybrid is truly unique.
No duck hunter would pass on this spoonie.
This hybrids easily stands out in a group of honkers.
Cinnamon teal are a coveted waterfowl species, but this hybrid is even more rare.

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Best Fly Rod: Catch Any Fish on a Fly


Fly fishing is graceful and artistic—and a very effective method of catching fish. (Glen Rushton via Unsplash/)

Fly fishing is often considered an art as well as a sport. From the moment Brad Pitt cast a line over the Gallatin River in the cinema version of Norman McLain’s famous A River Runs Through It, fly fishing has been likened to a dance on the water. But it can also be frustrating, confusing, befuddling and just plain difficult. Even choosing the best fly fishing rod and fly fishing gear is tough, because new fly rods are coming out all the time. What is the best fly rod length? What is the best all-around fly rod weight? How much should I spend on a fly rod?

Those are all common questions, and we will break it all down for you. We’ll also explain the mystery behind the Spey rod and tenkara rod. It doesn’t matter if you’re freshwater fishing or you want a saltwater fly rod, we have the best fly rod for you.

Scroll through, find what fits you best, and head out to the water.

BEST SALTWATER FLY ROD: Sage Salt HD Fly RodBEST ALL AROUND TROUT FLY ROD: Orvis Helios 3F 5-Weight 8′6″ Fly RodBEST SPEY ROD: Echo Full Spey Two Handed Fly Rod (13ft 8wt)BEST FLY ROD FOR BEGINNERS: Tenkara USA Sato RodBEST BUDGET FLY ROD: Redington VICE Fly Fishing Rod with Tube

Features to consider when shopping for a fly rod

Before even looking for a fly rod, the first thing you need to decide is where you’ll use it. That will help determine the size of the fish you’ll be going after, and hence the length, weight, and strength of the fly rod. If you’re just starting out, there’s a good choice for that too.

This saltwater fly rod won’t let you down, no matter where you end up and no matter what species you’re targeting.
This Orvis freshwater fishing rod is ideal for fishing most any trout stream.
This Echo Full Spey Two Handed Fly Rod casts fare and can handle big fish.
This tenkara fly rod is size-adjustable so you can pick the best length for the water you’re fishing.
The Redington is a well-made fly rod that’s easy to cast.

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Wisconsin Hunters Take 216 Wolves and Exceed Harvest Quota in Controversial Hunt That Closed After Just Three Days


The Wisconsin wolf hunt was called off early as hunters quickly exceeded the harvest quota. (John Hafner/)

Wolf hunters in Wisconsin exceeded the state’s harvest quota just three days into their first wolf hunt since 2014. The hunt was supposed to last a week, but it was called early because of the fast and furious harvest. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said non-native hunters had checked in 182 wolves as of 3 p.m. Wednesday when the state closed the season. The quota for non-native hunters was 119 wolves; native Ojibwe Tribes were also allocated 81 tags, in accordance with treaty rights ceded to the United States in the 1800s. The total number of harvested wolves stood at 216 (in non-native zones) as of noon on Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

Gray wolves were removed from Endangered Species Act protections in January, and the Wisconsin DNR estimated in April 2020 that the state had about 1,195 wolves. Its management goal is 350 wolves on non-tribal reservation land. Proponents of the hunt and state management say the high population of wolves — more than triple the management goal — is a clear sign of recovery, and they also point to declines in game animals due to wolf predation.

Despite the healthy wolf population in the state, the harvest goal of 200 wolves is not supposed to be met if the tribal hunters do not meet their harvest quota. There are no requirements to fill a tag. Native hunters have expressed disdain for the late-winter hunt, citing it as “especially wasteful and disrespectful,” the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission said in a statement to the Wisconsin State Journal.

DNR spokeswoman Sarah Hoye told the State Journal that the quota was set with a goal of keeping the population stable.

“The wolf population in Wisconsin is healthy, capable of sustaining harvest, and remains well connected to neighboring wolf populations in Michigan and Minnesota,” she said.


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Best Camping Gifts: Birthday Gift Ideas for Outdoorsy People


Get your favorite camper something they’ll use for years to come. (Unsplash/Dominik Jirovsky/)

Campers may be more familiar with gear and gadgets than any other type of outdoorsy people. It’s a hobby that requires tents, jackets, sleeping bags, and a whole other boatload of gear. We cover great camping gear regularly, but this top 10 list is chock-full of unique and fun ideas tailored to specific types of campers and adventurers. As an avid outdoor enthusiast myself, I handpicked each one of these products. Keep reading to find the best camping gifts around.

Unique camping gifts: Mini Plastic Spice JarsBest camping gifts for her: REI Trailbreak Sleeping BagBest camping gifts for him: Klymit Static SL Sleeping PadCool camping gifts: Camping Mess Kit Personalized camping gifts: YETI Rambler 14oz Custom MugBest camping chairs: Bass Pro Shops Eclipse Magnum ChairBest camping tents: REI Trail Hut 2-Person TentBest gifts for campers who love hiking: TrailBuddy Trekking PolesGift ideas for backpackers: Jetboil Zip Cooking SystemBest camping gear under $20: Alpine Start Instant Coffee

Get the Best Gifts for the Campers in Your Life

The best gifts for campers are things they’ll use over and over again. I kept that in mind while making these picks, from cooking gear to hiking accessories, these are the best camping gifts.

Unique Camping Gifts: Mini Plastic Spice Jars


Make better meals in the backcountry with spices from home (Cornucopia Brands/)

Many campers leave the best spices at home when they venture out into the woods. With these mini plastic jars, you can plan out your meals and fill up the jars with the necessary spices. They’re lightweight and barely take up any room in the pack. It’s an easy and simple way to make backcountry meals tastier. This set is a 12-pack of 1 fluid ounce containers and is a great, unique gift for campers. Throw as many as you need into your backpack and look forward to your next camp meal.

Make better meals in the backcountry with spices from home
Stay warm and comfortable with this insulated sleeping bag for women. REI
Enjoy an uninterrupted night’s sleep with this extremely comfortable sleeping pad.
Aluminum camping cookset for all your backwoods meals.
Enjoy a cup of hot coffee in a personalized mug.
The best chair at the campsite.
Get out of the elements and in a cozy and sturdy tent.
Long hikes to the camp are made easier with a good pair of trekking poles.
Lightweight jetboil stove for easy meals and hot drinks.
Tasty coffee for those crisp early mornings in the tent.

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Best Gifts for Outdoorsmen: Foolproof Birthday Gift Ideas


Help your favorite outdoorsman do more of what he loves most. (Unsplash/Kalen Elmsley/)

Outdoorsmen love new gear and gadgets to help them out in the field and on the water. Even if it means the slightest advantage to catch one more fish or stay out in the cold for one more hour.

As an avid outdoorsman myself, I always look for products that are useful, durable, and versatile. I want to make sure everything I bring on a hunt, hike, or fishing trip has a use. There’s never room for extra dead weight on your back. I need my gear to be durable and be able to withstand harsh conditions. Finally, I like my gear to be as versatile as possible. Some things only serve one purpose and that’s okay. But finding a gift your favorite outdoorsman can use in multiple situations is a bonus.

Outdoor maniacs always look for ways to be more efficient and effective in whatever their pursuit may be. I’ve got some great ideas for outdoor gifts—things I would love to receive myself. Check out some of the best gifts for outdoorsmen, here!

Best classic gift for outdoorsmen: Leatherman Wave Plus Multi-ToolBest adventure gifts for outdoorsmen: GoPro Hero 9Best gifts for hunters: Browning trail cam with SD cardBest gifts for camping: Coleman LED LanternBest gifts for fishermen: Buff Solar GloveBest gifts for hikers: Permethrin Tick RepellentBest gifts for backpackers: Icebreaker Collingwood JacketBest outdoor gifts for boys: Columbia Youth Hiking ShoeBest gifts for outdoorsmen—under $100: TETON Sports Explorer BackpackBest gifts for outdoorsmen—under $50: Waterproof Speaker

Your guide to getting the best gifts for outdoorsmen

I chose these picks to cover a wide range of outdoor activities. You will find various gear and ideas that I find useful when I’m in the woods or on the water that I think make good gifts for hunters, gifts for fishermen, birthday presents, and more.

Be prepared for any situation with the Leatherman wave plus.
Record all of your outdoor efforts in 5K ultra HD video.
Know what is walking by your stand when you aren’t there.
Reliable lantern for your favorite camper.
Keep your hands protected and comfortable with gloves.
Protect against ticks and other insects while on the trail.
Cold weather jacket for winter backpackers.
Comfortable and supportive hiking shoes for kids.
A pack to take on all of your hiking, camping, and backpacking expeditions.
A waterproof speaker outdoorsmen will love.

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8 Wild Game and Fish Parts That Will Fertilize Your Garden

Every savvy survival gardener knows that the key to better produce is in the dirt. Plant based compost is a great addition to most garden soils and an obvious amendment that most folks know. But some of the best natural fertilizer comes from the parts of fish and wild game anglers and hunters don’t eat. If you want to build a better garden there are a variety of leftovers from the fish you catch and critters you kill to utilize. Here are eight items you might otherwise discard that will make your garden grow.

1. Find a New Use For Fur


Fur, hair and hide scraps are more valuable than you think. (TIM MACWELCH/)

Nitrogen is necessary for healthy greenery, like leaves and stems. Phosphorus is required for flower and fruit growth. Potassium is one of the keys to a plant’s vigorous root growth. When you buy fertilizer at the garden center, the label will provide an NPK number. This shows the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, in that order. A common commercial product might be something like a 10-10-10 fertilizer. This provides equal and generous amounts of the three main plant nutrients. You can also get a large dose of slow-releasing phosphorus from hair and fur. These animal materials can still be on the hide, or they can be loose. You might have loose animal hair as a result of scraping hides for “hair off” tanning, or you may soak hides in a bucket of water for a few days until the hair falls out naturally. When blended and buried into garden soil, animal hair will break down slowly over a period of years. This offers your vegetables a prime nutrient for flower growth, which leads to fruit growth. I know you’re trying to grow food in a survival garden, not pretty flowers, but the fruit can’t form if the flower isn’t there to be pollenated. To be a successful food grower, you need to become both a dirt and a flower grower.

2. Pluck a Bird


Similar in nutrient profile to hair and fur, feathers can also be buried in the garden or tossed into the compost pile. (TIM MACWELCH/)

Killing a spring gobbler can be beneficial for your garden. Feathers are very similar in composition to hair. These can be plucked from the bird (a quick dip in scalding water will help significantly), or you can skin the bird. Bury whole skins in strategic garden spots, like under new fruit trees. Loose feathers can be dampened and tilled into the garden soil (don’t try to run the tiller over dry feathers, as they’ll all blow away). However you get them into the ground, feathers will slowly decompose and enrich the dirt. Like hair, feathers provide phosphorus and a few other trace minerals (like magnesium).

Similar in nutrient profile to hair and fur, feathers can also be buried in the garden or tossed into the compost pile.
Buried shells can bring sweeter fruits.
Save fish heads and guts for your garden..

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Best Birthday Gifts for Dad: Unique Gift Ideas for Dads Who Love the Outdoors


Show him you love him back with the perfect gift. (Unsplash/Juliane Liebermann/)

Are you looking for unique gifts for dads who the outdoors? There are so many different pursuits and hobbies to choose from that it can become overwhelming. But all it takes is that one gift to stand out from the rest and make his day. As an avid outdoorsman myself, I chose these ideas and products based on usefulness, practicality, and effectiveness.

Whether you’re starting your shopping early or looking for that last minute gift for dad—this guide has the answer. It’s filled with a variety of options and choices for all the fathers out there. From hunting and fishing gifts for dad, to barbecuing and camping gear—I think this gift guide has the right ideas.

Cool gifts for dad: Car Phone MountBest last minute birthday gifts for dad: Portable ChargerPersonalized gifts for dad: Customized YETI Rambler Can InsulatorUnique gifts for dad: Carhartt Seat CoversBest tech gifts for dad: Fossil Hybrid Smart WatchBest useful gifts for dad: Meat ThermometerBest hunting gifts for dad: onX Hunt SubscriptionBest fishing gifts for dad: Simms Rain JacketBest gifts for dads who love barbecuing: Charcoal SmokerBest camping gifts for dad: Reusable Water Bottle

Get the best birthday gifts for Dad this year!

The following picks offer a wide range of interests and hobbies. Many fathers spend their time outside fishing, camping, and barbecuing—but I realize not all do. So I included some unique and fun ideas that are useful indoors, outdoors, or wherever he might be. Check out the full list of the best birthday gifts for dad below!

Cool Gifts for Dad: Car Phone Mount

Stay safe when looking at your phone for directions with this car phone mount.
Keep your devices charged on the go with this portable charger.
Make your can insulator personal with different customizations and designs.
Custom seat covers to protect the interior of your car from dirt, debris, and moisture.
A classic-looking watch with the modern features of a smartwatch.
Know exactly when to turn off the grill or over with this cooking thermometer.
Hunt smarter with onX hunting maps at your fingertips.
Stay on the water longer with this durable fishing rain jacket.
Take your barbecue game to the next level with a charcoal smoker.
A good water bottle is an essential aspect of every camping trip.

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Best Ice Fishing Shelter: How to Find Your Winter Home on the Ice


A properly sized shelter will retain heat and provide protection from the wind while you fish and monitor tip-ups. (Unsplash/)

Once bulky and challenging to transport, contemporary ice fishing shelters are light, portable and extremely functional, keeping anglers and their equipment in the game and on fish—even when the snow flies, the winds howl, and the temperature plummets.

Pop-up ice fishing shelters are often referred to as hub shelters. These are generally lightweight, portable shelters that fold down into a compact package and fit into a convenient transport and storage bag. A framework of poles inserted into rigid hubs provide rigidity to the structure. Once inside, anglers enjoy access to considerably more fishable area than might be available in a flip-over shanty or ice fishing tent.

The best ice fishing shelters have a durable, waterproof exterior to keep the cold, snow, and sleet at bay, and often a quilted, insulated interior to retain heat. A quality ice fishing hub shelter has abundant ventilation to allow moisture to escape and allow anglers to safely use portable propane-powered heaters. On the outside, large flaps that extend away from the shelter allow anglers to bank snow along the sides, while robust anchoring systems prevent the shelter from being carried away by a strong gust of wind. Abundant creature comforts on the interior, including coat hangers, rod holders, lights, and even insulated floors make it easy to fish while remaining warm and dry.

Best Basic Ice Fishing Shelter: Eskimo Quickfish2Best Ice Fishing Shelter for Two People: Frabill Fortress 260Best Ice Fishing Shelter for Four People: Eskimo Outbreak 450iBest Ice Fishing Shelter for a Big Group: Clam C890 Thermal ShelterBest Hybrid Ice Fishing Shelter: Eskimo Evo SeriesBest Cheap Ice Fishing Shelter: Frabill HQ 200

Are you looking for a basic ice fishing shelter?

A basic ice fishing shelter should have a waterproof finish on the outside and provide sufficient ventilation to remain comfortable and safe on the inside. Many basic ice fishing shelters won’t be insulated, but that makes them lighter and easier to carry by one person. Typically, these shelters will have a smaller footprint, accommodating two to perhaps three anglers. Look for windows on all four sides of the shelter to provide good natural light and help you monitor tip-ups while inside. It should come with a storage bag and the tools needed to anchor it to the ice.

The Eskimo Quickfish2  is a good choice for the angler who wants an easily transportable shelter with essential features but no frills.
The Frabill Fortress 260 is a well-designed, feature-rich ice fishing shelter for two anglers.
The Eskimo Outbreak 450i will keep you and your buddies warm and dry all day on the ice.
The Clam C890 is a full-thermal pop up ice fishing shelter that is perfect for large groups.
The Eskimo Evo Series is for anglers that want the convenience of a sled-based flip over and the space provided by a pop up shelter.
Frabill has a long history in the ice fishing industry, and the HQ 200 packs Frabill quality into a budget-friendly price point.

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Best Bird Seed: Draw the Birds You Want to Your Backyard


Careful choice of bird seed will bring specific species to your feeder. (Unsplash/)Best Winter Bird Seed: Wagner’s Black Oil Sunflower SeedsBest Bird Seed for Finches: Nyjer Seed 10-Pound BagBest Bird Seed for Cardinals: Safflower Seed Wild Bird FoodBest Bird Feed for Woodpeckers: Health Outdoor Suet CakesBest All-Around Bird Seed Mix: Deluxe Wild Bird BlendBest Cheap Bird Seed: Classic Blend Wild Bird Feed

Features to consider when shopping for the best bird seed

Shopping for bird seed can be confusing, especially if you are new to the world of feeding backyard birds. That’s because there are a wide variety of bird species, and each has its own dietary wants and needs. Learn what your favorite birds like, and you can draw more of them to your backyard feeder for both their and your enjoyment.

Do you want to draw a variety of birds to a winter bird feeder?

If you were going to select one kind of bird seed and feed it exclusively to birds in your backyard in winter, black oil sunflower bird seeds are the ones to choose. High in both protein and fat, they are readily available and loved by nearly every kind of bird that will visit your yard. Compared to striped sunflower seeds, black oil seeds are meatier and have a higher oil content, giving birds more nutrition and calories in every bite. They also have thinner shells, making them easier for small birds to crack.

That said, many birds like a variety of seeds in their diet, especially during the winter months when bugs, worms and other small creatures aren’t readily available. Interestingly, some prefer tiny seeds like thistle, and others love seeds as large as shelled peanuts. And some that have great appetites will eat any and all of the above!

These thin-shelled seeds are high in oil content and are easy for small-beaked birds to crack open.
This Nyjer seed is ideal for use in finch feeders that have smaller holes and tiny perches.
This safflower seed is a favorite of cardinals and typically shunned by squirrels, leaving more for the birds.
These suet cakes won’t melt when the weather warms up and provide a high-energy treat to woodpeckers and songbirds alike.
This blend will attract cardinals, chickadees and finches as well as other indigenous backyard visitors.
This budget bird seed blend contains millet, milo, cracked corn and sunflower seeds for a wide range of wild birds to enjoy.

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How to Degrease Your Rifle So It Fires in Freezing-Cold Temperatures


Wipe down your bolt and spray it with brake cleaner to ensure it runs properly in the cold. (Tyler Freel/)

With advancements in coatings and corrosion-resistant components, our hunting rifles are better-equipped now more than ever to hold up in foul conditions. But there are still steps you need to take to keep a bolt gun or semiauto working reliably, particularly in cold weather. Modern rifles often require a little less TLC, but being subjected to the abuse—moisture, saltwater, and other natural contaminants—that come with hunting inclement conditions can plant the seeds for problems down the road.

We lubricate our guns after the hunt to prevent corrosion, and keep them in good working order. But in extreme cold, that gun oil can turn to syrup and cause your rifle to malfunction.

There’s no exact temperature that can cause a “wet” rifle to gum up, but many hunters venturing out in below-freezing or subzero temps have run into a myriad of rifle issues. The most common is a misfire, or a soft firing pin strike when the trigger is pulled. Even from the factory, the firing pin and firing pin spring are typically coated in a healthy dose of oil, and accumulate more as a shooter oils and cleans the rifle.

As the temperature drops, this oil becomes thicker and stickier. Rather than lubricate as intended, the cold can cause the oil to impede the firing pin, slowing it down to the point that it sometimes won’t ignite the primer. Any dust or fouling that has accumulated around the firing pin and spring can make matters worse. I learned this the hard way hunting coyotes as a kid with a dirty, oily 10/22, losing several coyotes because I was cycling the bolt furiously trying to get one of the cartridges to go off.

Every year on a local winter caribou hunt here in Alaska, I hear of rifles misfiring, bolts that feel like they’re stuck in molasses, magazine catches that won’t engage, and other similar issues. I’ve even heard of a hunter who had his rifle fail to fire, opened the bolt, and pulled it completely free of the rifle while trying to chamber another round. Apparently, the bolt release had been accidentally depressed, and it had enough viscous oil in the mechanism to prevent the spring from returning it to its correct position.

Shooting a rifle dry a few times will not cause any added wear and tear to the gun.

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Massive Fish and Wildlife Kills in the Wake of Southern Ice Storm

While we know the Arctic blast that crippled much of the Southwest and Southeast last week caused unprecedented damage to cities and homes, the full extent of its impact on wild game and fish populations remains unclear. State wildlife officials are still conducting surveys to assess the situation.

Mortality is expected in big and small game and non-game animals, game birds, songbirds, and fish due to the storm itself, as well as continued freezing temperatures, ice, snow, and frozen waterways. Quail in Texas and Oklahoma likely took a hit, and other reports note dead songbirds, including purple martins, Eastern phoebe, and wrens, and shorebirds like pelicans and cormorants.

We’re receiving reports of large bat fatalities under bridges due to winter storm. To help us track this, please share your observations on or iNaturalist project at https://t.co/zmMNFvllQY. Please include photo and estimate of fatalities.

⚠️Never handle bats, dead or alive. pic.twitter.com/xK8HgyZNHb

— TX Parks & Wildlife (@TPWDnews) February 24, 2021

Exotic and unusual species, such as nutria in Louisiana and blackbuck, axis deer, and others on ranches in Texas, could take a hit, state officials say. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department doesn’t manage or regulate exotic species such as axis or blackbuck, but the agency is gathering information about how they fared during the storm.

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Wisconsin’s Deer Season Decline: When Hunting Tradition Threatens Hunting’s Future


The author and his grandpa after a successful Wisconsin deer hunt. (Alex Robinson/)

Wisconsin deer hunters are traditionalists. I know this because I am one, and I’ve written about it proudly. I’ve hunted the state’s 9-day gun season every year since I was 12. In the Robinson family, opening day is our favorite holiday (Christmas is a distant second). And still, I know that some traditions need to evolve in order to be preserved. It seems that many of my fellow cheeseheads disagree.

In a survey last spring, the majority of Wisconsin residents opposed making changes to major hunting regulations, like expanding the 9-day gun season to increase hunter participation. A majority also opposed enacting a state-wide ban on baiting to help prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease.

“Wisconsin’s sporting community are traditionalists,” Larry Bonde, chair of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress told the Wisconsin State Journal. “They want that traditional nine-day Thanksgiving deer season, and they’re not going to let go.”

This dedication to tradition would be fine, if deer hunting in Wisconsin was thriving. But it’s not.

Wisconsin hunters took 188,712 whitetails during the 2020 9-day gun season, which is up 12 percent from the previous year. But that harvest is down nine percent from the state’s 10-year average, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.


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Best Cross Country Skis: The Best Skis for Any Snow Situation


Cross country skiing enables you to go outside in winter, get some excellent exercise, and see some spectacular scenery. (Unsplash/Phillip Belena/)

Cross country skiing is not only a great way to stay in shape during those long winter months, it’s also an ideal way to enjoy quiet mountain forests, peaceful river banks, and snow-covered wonderlands.

Cross country skiing—also called Nordic skiing—is accessible for anyone living near snow with a desire to learn. Ski equipment from boots to skis to poles have improved enormously in the past couple decades, let alone centuries, making it easier than ever to do it. And cross country skiing is fun, with all kinds of levels, from intro to Olympic. Buying skis can be intimidating, though. What are the right types and equipment? How do you know the difference between, say, skate skis and classic skis? How do you know what you might want? We break it all down for you, offering advice on the best skis for nearly any situation. After that, all you need is a sense of adventure.

BEST CROSS COUNTRY SKIS FOR BEGINNERS: Fischer Affinity EF Crown My StyleBEST CLASSIC CROSS COUNTRY SKIS: Fischer RCS Classic Plus Race SkiBEST CROSS COUNTRY SKATE SKIS: Rossignol X-Ium Skating Premium IFPBEST CROSS COUNTRY SKIS FOR ANY CONDITION: Fischer Twin Skin Pro IFP Medium XC Skis Mens

How to Determine the Best Cross Country Skis for You

The cross country skis you want to buy depend on your experience level, what you hope to achieve, and what conditions you’ll likely encounter. Most major brands, such as Fischer and Rossignol have great cross country skis, so you won’t go wrong choosing one of those brands.

Are You Just Getting Started?

If you’re just getting started, these skis are affordable and include bindings to make it even easier to begin.
No matter your weight or experience, these skis won’t let you down.
Whether you plan to start ski racing or not, this is the best cross-country ski for going fast.
These skis allow you to hop out of your car, click into the bindings and start kicking without fussing with the perfect wax.

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3 Perfect Fly Ties For This Spring’s Cicada Swarmageddon


The Brood X cicada hatch is expected to begin in May. These 3 patterns will help you catch more fish once the onslaught begins. (James DeMers/)

Beginning in May, the periodic cicada known as Brood X will descend upon large swathes of the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic, much to the delight anything that swims. The abundance of hefty, easy meals represented by this fat bug’s emergence means that trout, bass, carp, and more will be keenly attuned to the surface for several weeks following this behemoth’s arrival, and that’s where you’ll want to focus your fishing efforts.

When fishing any surface bug, there are a few important rules to keep in mind. The first is that less is more, less is more, less is more. The surface is where fish are at their most vulnerable, so it’s better to keep fly manipulation minimal, lest those piscine alarm bells start to ring. A good rule of thumb is to move your bug and wait for the rings to settle. Then drink a soda. Then eat a sandwich. Then pop or wiggle again. This is only a slight exaggeration.

The second thing to keep in mind is that the intensity of any manipulation should be a function of both depth of water and proximity of quarry. Shallow water calls for small pops, medium and deep water for medium pops. Additionally, a fish closing in on a surface bugs needs no further cajoling. The closer the fish gets to your bug, the less you should move it.

Bug patterns fall into two basic categories: heavy-bodied “louder” patterns and soft-landing “quiet” patterns. Below I’ve included two very basic styles—and one wildcard. Don’t worry about having exact materials—oftentimes it’s the substitute material that becomes a superstar. Even more importantly, don’t worry about tying perfect flies—I’d rather fish an ugly, buggy fly than a prim and proper specimen 8 days out of the week.

Read Next: Cicada Hatch Might Bring Best Topwater Bite in 17 Years

The only out-of-the-ordinary components you’ll need for this fly is a bit of red or orange foam and a pair of tweezers—if you choose the optional step of adding eyes. Here I’ve got a 1/8-inch foam cylinder cut to bits, but you can do the same by trimming a small circle of out sheet foam. Only got white foam? Get a marker and color your eyes up.
Place a size 10 Tiemco 8089 (or other cicada-sized, wide-gapped hook) in your vise, get a thread base going, and tie in a short, thick clump of marabou in at the hook bend. In terms of silhouette, the marabou will continue the taper produced by the foam popper head, but the real reason it’s here is to ensure the fly has some passive movement while you’re dead drifting it. Because you’ll be doing a lot of dead drifting with cicada patterns. Don’t think of this fly as a “popper” so much as a “sitter”.
This is the first of several optional steps. I like a bit of wound saddle hackle here to suggest legs and convey a general sense of bugginess.
Now it’s time to junk up the hook shank a bit to give the glue something to grab onto. Here I’ve cross-hatched some wire and dubbed a bit of scrap marabou around the hook shank, but really any scraps that add texture will work. Whip finish and cut your thread as you prepare to glue on the popper head.
Put a nice goop of super glue (I like Loctite “Liquid Control” Super Glue but any waterproof super glue will do) around the front of the hook shank, then push the popper head onto the shank butt-first till it’s snug against the hackle. Depending on the popper head you’re using, you may need to prepare the head by stabbing it through with a bodkin. I’m using a medium Rainy’s popper head here, but just about any black foam popper head will do.
Time for eyes! Do you need eyes? No, you don’t, but they are fun to apply and make the fly come alive. Don’t even try using your fingers for these, however. Instead, pick them with a pair of tweezers, dab them into a puddle of glue, and make sure you get your placement right the first time.
Now it’s time for legs. Do cicadas have long orange legs? No, they do not. They also don’t have big hooks jutting out of their abdomen. The legs will add more passive moment to this impressionistic bug. If you’ve got a tool for legs (I love my Zuddy’s Leg Puller), great. If not, you can use a razor to cut a shallow trench across the bellow of the popper, floss your legs into the groove, and seal the wound with glue.
And there you have it—you’re done! This fly is ready to fish. Right now. But if you’re the type you can’t leave well enough alone…
You can add a Krystal Flash wing (gray, pearl, purple of blue all work fine) tied in with orange thread wrapped around the popper head itself. Drop extra glue at the connections for reinforcement. This bug’s ready to hunt and then some.
Prepare for this pattern by cutting a longish paddle shape in a piece of 2mm black foam. For reference, I’ve got this piece of foam laying alongside a standard spool of thread. As you can see, it’s about a thread spool-and-a-half long. While that’s longer than a cicada, remember that you’ll be doubling part of the foam over to form the head of this bug. Your final pattern will be shorter, in other words.
Next lay a base of orange chenille, orange yarn, or orange dubbing around the hook shank. Wind up almost to the eye, then back the thread off about a quarter of an inch.
Lay the foam forward and lash it once more to the hook. Hit it with super glue again here.
Tie in a clump of EP fibers to imitate the wing and aid in visibility.
Now double the remainder foam back over itself and tie it in directly in line with the previous tie-in point.
Still at the same time in point, add rubber legs, whip finish, and reinforce with super glue as desired.
A look at the underside.
For fishing stained water, you can add some glitz with a sparkly chenille, and/or Krystal Flash for the wing.
To prepare for the chop-shop cicada, grab a handful of orange and black popper heads of the same size. Start your experimenting by cutting your black popper head into thirds and your orange head into thinner slices. If you’re using a free razor, be exceedingly careful.
Take the rear-most piece of foam from the black head and slide it onto a hook that’s been prepped with a thread base and glue.
Next, slide on your smallest, thinnest slice of orange foam. Glue it to the black foam behind it—not the hook shank.
To create the illusion of legs, wrap some saddle hackle or schlappen around the hook shank. Whip finish, tie off, and prepare to add the next segment.
Repeat the process until the hook is full. Add eyes if you’re feeling crafty.
Experiment with other chop-shop variations.

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Best Ice Fishing Bibs: Stay Warm on the Hard Water


One of these two ice anglers is going to get cold—very cold. (Pexels/)

If you’re ice fishing, it’s cold. It has to be. That’s why many ice anglers gravitate toward the comfort of a warm, dry shelter, ranging anywhere from a compact, portable hub to a tandem axle wheel house equipped with satellite TV and sleeping space for a crew. However, experience has taught us that shelter-bound anglers invariably catch fewer fish than those who spend their time outside, searching for fish rather than waiting for fish to find them. That means mobility in extreme cold. Modern fishing clothing has become a key component of the contemporary ice angler’s arsenal, keeping mobile hole-hoppers safe, warm and dry while exposed to the elements. And of all ice fishing clothing, nothing is more essential than a quality set of ice fishing bibs.

Ice fishing bibs serve as the foundation for a technical apparel system designed to keep anglers comfortable and safe. At the most fundamental level, all ice fishing bibs must keep anglers warm and dry. Because many intrepid anglers go out in temperatures well below zero, keeping warm is not merely optional – it’s vital! Insulated ice fishing bibs must be both efficient and effective at trapping heat, while at the same time being lightweight so that anglers retain their mobility and agility. In addition, ice fishing bibs must keep anglers dry, from both the outside and the inside. Obviously, waterproof ice fishing bibs must have a durable, impermeable shell – guarding against water, ice and snow from the outside – while also being breathable, so that perspiration and moisture created while walking, drilling, and setting the hook can easily escape.

The best ice fishing bibs incorporate additional features to enhance the hardwater experience. Early- and late-ice anglers appreciate the peace of mind provided by floating ice fishing bibs, should thin ice lead to an unexpected swim in frigid water. Contemporary fishing apparel also accounts for differences in body shapes, sizes, and genders. Creature comforts including well-placed pockets for hands and cell phones, and handy attachment points for tools, line cutters, and other ice fishing essentials elevate ice fishing bibs from simple pieces of clothing to essential ice fishing gear.

Best Basic Ice Fishing Bibs: IceArmor by Clam Rise Bibs

Best Ice Fishing Bibs for Extreme Cold: Striker Ice Climate Bibs

Ice Armor by Clam Rise bibs are a quality set of ice fishing bibs for the beginner or casual ice angler.
Striker Ice Climate bibs keep you safe, warm and dry – no matter the conditions.
Lightweight, durable, ultra-warm and waterproof, choose Simms Challenger Insulated bibs for premium cold-weather fishing comfort.
StrikeMaster Allie bibs are feature-rich ice fishing bibs designed specifically for women.
Striker Predator Youth bibs are the perfect way to grow the love of ice fishing in a young angler by keeping them warm, dry, and comfortable on the ice.
Carhartt knows how to handle the cold, and their Quilt-Lined bibs offer a way to get decent ice fishing bibs on a budget.

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Video: Mountain Lion Attacks Deer in Woman’s Backyard

Jessie Davis of Hermosa, Colorado, got the surprise of her life when she looked through her blinds to see a mountain lion attacking a young mule deer that had been hanging around her home for several months.

“It was an amazing thing to get to experience,” says Davis, who then watched the cougar drag the deer 100 yards to a neighbor’s property. Over the next few days, she spied the lion feeding on the deer. She recorded the video above on her phone as the lion dragged the dead mule deer through the snow. Davis and her husband later tracked the attack through prints in the snow and found lion strides as far as 20 feet apart.

Joe Lewandowski, spokesman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, told the Durango Herald that Southwest Colorado has a healthy population of mountain lions, which rarely attack humans.

“As this video shows, deer are the favored prey of mountain lions,” Lewandowski said. “They do most of their hunting from dusk to dawn. And groups of animals, such as deer or turkeys provide an invitation to mountain lions ... Those with hobby livestock should also make sure the animals are in fully enclosed pens or buildings. Lions have been known to jump 8-foot-high fences.”

Based on the athletic ability of the cat in this video, it seems like an 8-foot fence would be an easy obstacle for a mountain lion to clear.

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