Hunting and Fishing News & Blog Articles

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8-Step Strategy for Hunting Fall Turkeys Without Scattering Them

If you're going to hunt the same flock of birds all fall, you might want to take a scatter-free approach. (Federal Ammunition/)

On a spring turkey hunting trip to Tennessee, the very year the first fall turkey hunt was to take place in my native Wisconsin, I asked my hosts for advice on how they hunted turkeys in autumn. They described the classic scatter-and-call-back scenario, whereby a hunter rushes a flock of turkeys to scatter them to all directions of the compass, then sets up and goes to work calling the lonely, discombobulated birds back in to re-group with their flockmates.

Those guys had several long Appalachian ridgelines at their disposal, with multiple turkey flocks roaming the hills. When I thought about the two small farms I had access to for turkey hunting back home, I thought there had to be a different way. Why booger and try to call back, then shoot at, and scare again, the very turkeys that I wanted to hunt all fall?

So I decided to go "scatter-free," as in, hunting turkey flocks as they go about their natural daily business, much like you would whitetails. Here's the eight-step process that I have developed since then.

1. Understand Fall Turkeys

Everywhere fall turkeys are hunted, any bird is legal game. That means adult hens, young-of-the-year males (known as jakes), young-of-the-year hens (often called jennies), and, of course, gobblers.

Fall turkeys are curious and focused on food. Use these things to your advantage.
Figure out how turkeys are getting from food sources to their roost and intercept them in between.
Calling turkeys in the fall is much more forgiving than in the spring.

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26 Hits

A Lever Action .30-30 Winchester is Still One of the Best Deer Hunting Rifles (And Here’s Why)

A Winchester Model 94 Carbine in .30-30 Win. (Winchester/)

Love it or hate it, over its soon-to-be 125-year lifetime, the lever-action .30-30 rifle has arguably killed more whitetail deer than any other single cartridge. And with the cartridge’s popularity still quite high, it’s doubtful it will be unseated in that category any time soon.

Released in 1895, just a year after the popular Model 1894 Winchester lever gun was introduced, the .30-30 Winchester was the first sporting cartridge loaded exclusively with smokeless powder. The original .30-30 Winchester load had a 160-grain round-nosed bullet leaving the muzzle at 1,970 feet per second, a substantial step up from other popular cartridges of the time like the .32-40 Win. (165-grain bullet at 1,450 fps) and .38-55 Win. (255-grain bullet at 1,320 fps).

The cartridge’s speed and power, combined with the lever-action’s capacity and quickness, made it an instant hit as a deer cartridge. Before long, it became a go-to choice for deer hunters.

As major ammunition companies caught on to the .30-30’s popularity, they began manufacturing loads specifically for lever guns—the two most popular were topped with 150-grain and 170-grain round-nosed slugs. The reason for the round nose was obvious—since the gun’s tube magazine held ammunition stacked tip-to-primer, a pointed-nosed bullet denting a primer could lead to an accidental discharge in the magazine. Ironically, that round-tipped ammo led to the cartridge’s fall from grace when longer-range cartridges with pointed tips and superior ballistics hit the market years later.

Yet despite competition from the .308, .30-06, and .270—all fine deer cartridges in their own right—the .30-30 has continued to be popular with many hunters over several generations.

Hornady's LEVERevolution brought new life to the .30-30.
Winchester's Deer Season XP is another high-quality load for today's whitetail hunter.
A Marlin lever gun in .30-30 Winchester.
The Winchester 1984.

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4 Hits

The Forest Service Wants to Open 9.2 Million Roadless Acres to Potential Logging. Here’s Your Chance to Say Something About It

The Tongass National Forest is known as the 'Salmon Forest.' (Ian Allen/)

The Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska is the largest temperate rainforest in the world and the largest national forest in the U.S. At almost 17 million acres, it's a wonderland for hunting and fishing. The U.S. Forest Service announced plans on Tuesday to open up 9.2 million of those acres to potential logging and development. The service would do this by exempting the Tongass from the Clinton-era Roadless Rule, which regulates punching new roads into roadless forest service lands. The public comment period for this plan is now open (you can leave your comment by clicking here).

I spent a week last month hunting, hiking, and fishing the Tongass and, more importantly, hanging out with the folks who make their living off the forest. In this country, mountain goats roam the alpine, Sitka blacktail deer slink through the old growth forests, moose and ducks are scattered throughout costal marshes, and brown and black bears are…everywhere. The fishing is even more robust. The Tongass’ rivers and creeks support more salmon than all other national forests combined, and the fishing and tourism account for more than 25 percent of local jobs in the region. The Tongass produces 28 percent of Alaska’s commercial salmon catch and Tongass salmon fishing generates $1 billion annually, according to Trout Unlimited.

Now, if you think this post is going to devolve into an anti-logging diatribe…not so fast. I’m from the Midwest, where good logging practices generally help the wildlife and the hunting. New growth means habitat and food for deer, grouse, and turkeys. I’ve killed plenty of critters (including one big bull moose in Canada) in old logging cuts, and I like logging at the right place and time. Besides, the trees we print our magazine on don’t knock themselves down.

But Tongass isn’t the Midwest. It’s an old-growth cathedral of evergreen rainforest. Spruce, cedar, and hemlock thrive in steep terrain that’s often many miles from any established road.

And it's important to note that old-growth logging isn't the booming industry that it used to be in Southeast. In fact, reigniting the old-growth logging here would likely require some serious federal subsidies. The Forest Service lost about $600 million through its management of the Tongass National Forest, according to a new report from the Taxpayers for Common Sense. The nonpartisan group calculated the USFS's losses through road-building and timber sales and found that the average net loss was about $30 million annually over the past 20 years.

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10 Things To Consider When Choosing Your First Hunting Blind

The outstanding eyesight of game animals—particularly deer and turkeys—requires successful hunters to be well hidden to get their quarry within range. That’s where a good hunting blind comes into play. By hunting from the right blind placed in the right spot, hunters can greatly increase their deer and turkey hunting success, yielding both more fun and more meat in the freezer. However, the wide variety of hunting blinds on the market, along with all the different features they offer, can make choosing the perfect blind quite a chore. When shopping for your first hunting blind, consider 10 important factors critical to making a good selection.

This hard-sided blind is more of a permanent blind than a run-and-gun one, made to set up in a prime hunting spot and leave there for the season. (Walmart/)

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Hunting blinds typically are available in two basic types—hard-sided permanent blinds or soft-sided portable ground blinds. Permanent blinds are generally quite heavy and are made to set up and leave in one place throughout the season. They are very sturdy, warm during cold weather and often placed on towers for elevated hunting. Soft-sided ground blinds are made for quickly setting up where you want to hunt, then taking down to move them to another hunting spot when you are done. For ground blinds, there are two main types—pop-up blinds and hub blinds. Hub-style blinds are usually a little heavier and harder to transport, but are very easy to set up and take down. Pop-up blinds are light and many have backpack straps on their storage cases for easy transport, but can be very difficult to take down to the size necessary to repack without a good bit of practice and patience.

This hub blind from Rhino Blinds will comfortably hold three people for an extended hunt. (Walmart/)

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The size of the blind you will need will largely depend on several factors. If you'll be hunting by yourself, a fairly small blind will serve you fine. That is, unless you are hunting with a compound bow or recurve, in which case you need a taller blind if you want to stand while shooting and a deeper/wider blind so your elbows aren't hitting the walls when you draw back your bow. If you plan to hunt with another person—or maybe even two—a blind with extra room inside will allow everyone to sit in it more comfortably. For most purposes, the smallest blind you can comfortably hunt out of without feeling cramped and with enough room to ready your weapon for a shot will serve you best, since smaller blinds are easier to conceal and harder for animals to see.

This hub blind from Rhino Blinds will comfortably hold three people for an extended hunt.
This small pop-up blind from Barronett will work fine for deer and is great for run-and-gun turkey hunters who want to put up a blind quickly in a new area.
The shoot-through netting on this blind is made for archery hunting, but can be removed for those hunting with a gun.
This blind’s versatile window configuration allows archery or firearm hunting, either standing or sitting, and features zipperless windows.
The Shadowguard camouflage on this Ameristep blind makes it perfect to set up back in the shadows in hardwood forest areas.
This hub blind’s heavy-duty, waterproof 150D fabric is designed to keep you dry on the wettest of hunts.
This Primos Double Bull blind is designed for ruggedness and stability, giving you a sturdy place to hunt regardless of wind and other weather conditions.
For hunters on the go, blind materials like this from Hunters Specialties allow you to quickly construct a ground blind wherever you choose to set up.
The dark ShadowGuard lining on the inside of this Ameristep blind eliminates shadows and silhouettes, keeping hunters well hidden from their quarry.

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22 Hits

10 Things To Consider When Shopping For A Game Camera

Game cameras have revolutionized deer hunting as much as any other gear advancement, enabling hunters to know what deer are using their hunting area, when they are visiting and other critical information. Place a good-quality game camera in the perfect location and you’ll even alleviate the need to do much on-foot scouting, which can push the buck you are hunting out of your area. All game cameras are not created equal, however. When shopping for a game camera, consider 10 important factors that can lead to more deer hunting success.

This Moultrie game camera boasts still photo resolution of 20 megapixel. (Walmart/)

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When game cameras were first introduced back in the 1980s, they took photos on 35 mm film and hunters had to send the film off for developing and printing before they could view the pictures. My how things have changed! Many of today's game cameras take photos of such high quality that they can be printed in magazines. In cameras, resolution (basically, sharpness) is measured in megapixels (MP). And as a general rule, the more megapixels there are, the sharper an image will be. However, megapixels aren't the end-all for selection, since they mean nothing if a camera has a low-quality lens. If you're not planning on blowing photos up to a very large size and printing them, paying extra for extremely high megapixels likely won't make your scouting efforts any more successful.

This Bushnell trail cam shoots 1080 HD video, complete with audio. (Walmart/)

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Unheard of in the recent past, many trail cameras nowadays shoot video—and some do it quite well. When shopping for a camera that shoots video, strongly consider resolution. 640x640 resolution is widely considered to be standard definition, while 720p or 1080p are high definition. Most high- to medium-end cameras currently available shoot high-definition video. Duration of video is also important, since it will determine how long you get to look at a deer when reviewing videos. In general, video duration ranges from about three seconds to several minutes, but 30-second videos generally give you long enough to get a good look at the animal in question. If you're interested in hearing as well as seeing the game animals that pass by your camera, make sure you find a game cam that also shoots audio, as some models do not.

This Bushnell trail cam shoots 1080 HD video, complete with audio.
This Moultrie game camera has a detection range of 60 feet, as well as a 60-foot flash range.
This game camera by Wild Game Innovations has a trigger speed of less than half a second.
This Spypoint game cam offers an integrated solar panel for potentially unlimited battery life.
This dual-flash Cuddeback model features built-in infrared (low glow) and black (no glow) flash.
This game camera from Wildview features both burst mode and time-lapse mode for maximum versatility.
With this cellular trail camera, you can have images sent to your cell phone rather than making frequent visits to your hunting area.
If your camera doesn’t have a viewing screen, this small SD card reader will allow you to check your game cam photos without dragging your computer to the woods or taking your SD card back to camp.
This 16 GB SD card will work in most trail cams and hold lots of photos and videos.

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31 Hits

10 Things You Might Need To Replace In Your Gear Box Before Duck Season

There are few things more exciting to an avid waterfowl hunter than seeing a big flock of mallards on the horizon, calling them in close and watching them descend, feet down, toward his decoy spread. “Take ’em!” is all that’s left to be said about that. For duck hunters to be successful, however, they need a lot of equipment. The sport is very gear intensive, which makes it even more fun for those who are already gadget inclined. Here are 10 pieces of duck hunting equipment you might need to replace, or add to your gear collection, before duck season opens this year.

This hand-tuned Arkansas style duck call will produce a ringing hail call for faraway ducks, and also produce quiet feeding sounds to help you close the deal on approaching mallards. (Walmart/)

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A duck call is one of the most critical pieces of equipment for success. Most hunters who hunt puddle ducks (dabblers like mallards, teal, pintail, gadwalls and wigeons) use calls that mimic the mallard hen. It's a universal call and will get the attention of, and attract, ducks of all species. If you hunt where there are a lot of teal or wigeons, a whistle-type call might also be a good addition to your collection. If you're not satisfied with last year's results, maybe a new call is what you need. And when you get that new call, remember that practice is just as important to duck calling as to any other skill-based endeavor. Many a duck hunter has perfected his calling skills behind the steering wheel on the dark predawn road to his mallard honey hole.

This hand-braided lanyard features lengthened loops to avoid tangling and holds up to four calls. (Walmart/)

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A duck call without a lanyard is like mashed potatoes without gravy—it'll work, but not as good as it should. If you've ever been on a duck hunt where you spent most of your predawn time digging around for your duck calls instead of setting decoys and getting other things ready, you know how important a good lanyard can be. Make sure whatever lanyard you choose is long enough to keep your calls hanging far enough down that they're out of the way, while still easily accessible. If you carry several calls, find a lanyard that will accommodate all of them instead of wearing multiple lanyards. A lanyard that will hold multiple calls will allow you to easily carry your normal mallard call, a wigeon whistle, a goose call and more, all right where you can find them when you need them.

This hand-braided lanyard features lengthened loops to avoid tangling and holds up to four calls.
The flapping wings on this Mojo motion decoy help it mimic a mallard landing in your spread, coaxing nearby ducks to do the same.
A half-dozen pintail decoys like these, set off to one side of your decoys, can add realism to your spread and help you harvest more ducks.
This camo mesh decoy bag holds a couple dozen duck decoys and features heavy-duty shoulder straps for easy carrying.
This decoy rigging system, which comes in a set of six, offers a tangle-free method for anchoring your decoys.
This base layer top’s poly-spandex fabric blend ensures comfort and wicks moisture away from your skin to keep you warm and dry.
This waterproof, windproof, breathable jacket in Realtree EDGE camouflage also features a zippered chest pocket and zippered hand pockets for added storage when duck hunting.
This 3D fabric in Advantage Max-4 camouflage can be handy for camouflaging anything that might be visible to incoming ducks.
These Hot Hands hand warmers come in a 10-pack, so can keep your hands warm during several cold-weather ducks hunts this season.

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7 Deer Hunting Tactics You’ve Never Tried Before But Should

The author with a great Montana ditch buck. (Michael Hanback/)

Out on the fertile ground of the Milk River in Montana, my friend Eliot Strommen glasses for a whitetail buck crossing a field of alfalfa or wheat, swaggering alone or trailing a doe. He watches where the deer enters the timber, then eases downwind into position as close as he dares. The longbow hunter stands behind a tree, picks up a stick and starts cracking logs and whipping brush. He picks up his right foot and paws one, two, three…then with the left, one, two, three.

“If you watch a buck paw the ground or scrape that’s the sequence they use,” says Strommen, who wraps his routine by pinching his nose and cutting loose a whiny grunt-snort-wheeze with his voice.

The idea is to sound like an inferior buck in the brush, one that is roaming around a mature deer’s space and getting on his nerves. “After making all that racket, I’ve had bucks run up to within 30 yards of me, wild-eyed and hair raised,” he says. “They stamp and snort, it’s pretty wild.”

His tactic might seem odd to some, but the truth is it works. Here are a few more tricks you have probably never tried before, but should this season.

1. Stink Like a Buck

Leaping over deer trails helps you avoid leaving scent.
The author with Jack Atcheson and a still-hunted muley.
A buck interacting with a scent dripper filled with a hunter’s urine.

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5 Hits

10 Things To Know Before You Buy Your First Pair Of Binoculars

A good pair of binoculars can help you harvest more big game animals than nearly any other type of hunting equipment. Binoculars can enable you to locate more animals—and judge the quality of animals you locate—from a distance that would be impossible with your normal vision. But binoculars are also one of the most complicated pieces of hunting equipment you can buy, and there are many nuances you should understand when choosing a pair that is right for you. Here are 10 things to consider before purchasing your first pair of hunting binoculars.

These 12x50 binoculars from Leupold feature 12-power magnification for spotting and evaluating game animals from a great distance. (Walmart/)

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Magnification, or power, is one of the most important considerations in choosing a pair of hunting binoculars, but shouldn't be the only factor you use to make your purchase decision. To understand magnification, note that it is the first number in a binocular description, such as 10x40. In this case, it has a magnification power of 10, meaning that an object you are looking at will appear 10 times closer than it would to your naked eye. So a buck standing 500 yards away will appear 50 yards away through your 10x binoculars. It might seem logical to think the highest power binoculars are the best, but typically the higher the power, the more sensitive binoculars are to small movements. Consequently, very high power binos can be harder to use for some hunters. For most hunting under normal conditions, 8x to 10x should suffice.

This pair of 10x42 Nikons features 42 mm objective lenses for clarity even under low-light conditions. (Walmart/)

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The objective lenses are the large lenses on the front of a pair of binoculars, measured in millimeters. The objective lens is the second number in the description, for example the 42 in a set of 8x42 binos. Typical sizes for objective lenses are 25-28 mm for compacts, about 30 mm for mid-sized units, 40 to 42 mm for full-sized binos and 50 mm and higher for very long-range models. The importance of objective lens size is most related to the amount of light a lens will gather. With larger lenses allowing more light, they are typically more effective in low-light conditions. Does that mean run right out and grab a pair with 50 mm lenses? Not so fast, as the larger the objective lenses, the heavier the binoculars. And as you'll learn later, lens size also relates to other factors yet to be discussed.

This pair of 10x42 Nikons features 42 mm objective lenses for clarity even under low-light conditions.
These high-quality binoculars from Leica feature fully multi-coated lenses for maximum light transmission.
While they won’t yield the image quality of many binoculars with larger objective lenses, this compact pair by Bushnell is light and extremely easy to carry for long distances.
These 10x42 Nikon binoculars have a field of view of 283 feet at 1,000 yards.
These 8x42 binoculars from Carson have an extra-long eye relief so utilizing them while wearing glasses or sunglasses is much more convenient.
A little simple math reveals that the exit pupil on these Bushnell 10x42 binoculars is 4.2 mm.
These 10x42 binoculars from Barska utilize a convenient center focus system with a diopter adjustment on the right eyepiece.
A roof prism system makes it possible for Bushnell to make such a compact set of binoculars as this 8x21 pair.
This digital binocular camera from Vivitar is a budget-minded way to record what you view through your binoculars.

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Fishing for Brown Trout and Steelhead on the High and Mighty Niagara River

A Lake Ontario steelie. (Barry & Cathy Beck/)

Around the time Black Friday shoppers are lining up for “midnight madness” sales, I pull into the empty Seneca travel plaza off I-90 in Victor, New York. Caffeine and tryptophan have been at war in my bloodstream for most of the drive across New York State from my in-laws’ on Long Island, and I need to refill on the former to overcome the latter. Four hours earlier, I’d pushed away from the Thanksgiving dinner table (“No pumpkin pie for me, thanks”) to head for the far western corner of New York. My family was unimpressed but unsurprised, having grown accustomed to my nighttime departures, whether they be midweek hunts for striped bass in June, offshore marathons for tuna in August, or cannonball runs for steelies in the fall and winter months.

This monotonous drive will terminate in Lewiston, New York, a village 30 minutes north of Buffalo, where there are coffee shops, art galleries, and historic hotels, all set along the banks of the Lower Niagara River. Twelve-thousand years ago, Niagara Falls plummeted over the Niagara Escarpment here, but centuries of erosion have moved the 8th Wonder of the World 7 miles upriver. The falls continued retreating 3 to 5 feet closer to Lake Erie each year, until water management over the past century reduced that number to about 1 foot. The hydroelectric plants that divert the water from above the falls and deposit it in the lower river generate one-­quarter of the electricity used in New York and Ontario, Canada. Even with some of its power harnessed, Niagara Falls still pulverizes enough limestone, shale, and sandstone to give an aquamarine cast to the Lower Niagara’s waters.

The river takes the 750,000 gallons of water dumped over the falls each second and funnels it through the Niagara Gorge and into Lake Ontario. Currents in the Lower Niagara have been clocked at 25 miles per hour in the Whirlpool Rapids, though they slow somewhat near Devil’s Hole, the upper limit for the Lund-driving local fishermen. I’m not fishing in a Lund, though. I’ll be looking for lake-run brown trout and steelhead in my waders.

The bottom of the Niagara Gorge at Lewiston, N.Y. (Cosmo Condina North America/Alamy/)

Staking Claims

I reach the Lewiston Art Park around 2:30 a.m. The parking lots at this summer concert venue are close to trails and stairs where anglers can access the river. My dashboard thermometer reads 19 degrees. This is the part I’ve been dreading for the past seven hours—changing into my thermal underwear outside. I take a deep breath, fling open the door, and layer up as fast as possible so I can jump back into my truck and blast the heat to kill the chill before getting out again to wader up.

The bottom of the Niagara Gorge at Lewiston, N.Y.
The author attempts to put the brakes on a Lower Niagara steelhead.
A heavy hook-jawed brown trout in the net.
Joe DiOrio grips-and-grins a steelhead before sending it home.
A brown trout ready for release.
The Lewiston-­Queenston Bridge.
The author takes a break after dropping a nice steelhead.
The author with a late-night laker—unavoidable bycatch on the Lower Niagara.
A downstream view of the Lower Niagara River in late fall.

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8 Bowhunting Tips From a Hunter Who’s Shot More Than 500 Deer

Virginia bowhunter, Taylor Chamberlin has shot over 500 deer. (Taylor Chamberlin/)

Imagine hunting year-round with no bag limit on deer. All those days in the field and the subsequent shot opportunities would undoubtedly make you a better bowhunter. With a flexible work schedule and an overpopulated deer herd, that dream scenario is Taylor Chamberlin’s reality.

Chamberlin hunts and lives in northern Virginia’s suburbs—just a short drive from Washington D.C. Virginia’s regular bow season is only a month, but there is a special antlerless season in areas with overabundant deer that expands the season to seven months. On top of that, Chamberlin helps local farmers who have crop damage permits.

After 11 seasons, he has spent close to 2,000 hunting days in the field and has killed over 500 deer. While Chamberlin shoots a lot of deer, he’s cautious in revealing those numbers because he has the utmost respect for the deer he pursues.

Chamberlin with a nice Virginia buck. (Taylor Chamberlin/)

“I don’t focus on numbers as far as putting a notch in my hat,” he says. “I’m taking an animal’s life and whether that is the first deer of the season or the 120th; I don’t want to be disrespectful to that animal because it only had one life.” Chamberlin hunts to manage the deer herd and provide venison for his family as well as those in need.

Over those 2,000 days in the field, Chamberlin has developed an ability to make accurate shots that result in short recoveries. This skill has been refined by the necessity for short blood trails on small, suburban properties. Here is Chamberlin's system for accurate shooting in these kinds of high-pressure situations. It starts with preparation and ends in a perfect shot.

Chamberlin with a nice Virginia buck.
Successful shots start with bow and arrow setup.
Whether you're in your backyard or a treestand, take every shot seriously to build a consistent routine.
Chamberlin getting ready for a hunt.
Most of Chamberlin's shots are limited to under 20 yards.
Preparation and practice have resulted in consistent recovery.

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25 Hits

This Old-School Duck Slayer is Opening New Hunting Opportunities Around the Globe For American Waterfowlers

Russell slogs through a red gum swamp in Victoria Province, Australia. (Jake Latendresse/)

It’s 5 a.m., and we’re barreling down a dark highway in Obregon, Mexico. Russell, 53, is explaining how it would be easier to sell used cars than the international waterfowl hunts he deals with in his current gig as a booking agent (though he hates that term). I’m pretty sure he’s only half kidding.

“People go in to buy a car, and they know what they want,” he says. “Me, I’ve got to sell the experience.”

Later that morning, a handful of other writers, some reps from Benelli, and I enjoy the most epic pintail shoot I’ll ever be a part of. Drakes in their breeding plumage, long sprigs trailing behind, float out of the clear-blue sky and cup into a decoy spread set along a tidal beach. Tucked into a mangrove blind, my hunting partner and I take turns shooting until we have our limits, then we sit back and watch the spectacle of teal, wigeon, pintails, redheads, and shorebirds whip down the shoreline. By the time we get picked up for lunch, we’re sold on the Ramsey Russell experience.

We’re here on the west coast of Mexico hunting wintering ducks thanks to Russell’s connection to Frank Ruiz, an outfitter who turned his family home into a hunting lodge.

Russell sends his clients to outfitters like Ruiz all over the world. Classic wingshooting destinations such as Mexico and Argentina are entry-level trips for Russell’s hunters. Think more exotic: shelducks in Mongolia, garganey in Azerbaijan, barnacle geese in the Netherlands, red-billed teal in South Africa. Russell hunts all of these destinations before he sends clients to them.

Russell watches a flock of ducks work.
A pink-eared duck in Australia.
Hunting flooded timber for Pacific black ducks and grey teal in the land Down Under.
The author (far right) with Russell and his dog Cooper after a successful hunt in Mexico.
Push-poling through a massive wetland in Azerbaijan.
Waiting for Barrow’s goldeneye in coastal Alaska.
The guide staff, who are servants to a feudal lord, in Pakistan.
Setting up a morning hunt in a wild marsh in northern Argentina.

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28 Hits

What We Can Learn From 3 Back-to-Back Grizzly Attacks on Hunters in Montana

Three Montana hunters will never forget September 16th, 2019. All three were injured (one of the men was badly injured) in the same area and within the span of 11 hours. (Richard Mittleman/Gon2Foto/Alamy/)

Four people have been the victims of grizzly attacks in the same part of Montana this fall. In an unexpected twist, these encounters happened within an eight-mile area and just eight days apart. Even though such situations are rare, this concentration of activity emphasizes the importance of making the right decisions when traveling through bear country. It also reminds us of the importance of reacting correctly when a bear confrontation turns ugly—in Big Sky country or anywhere else.

One Bad Day For Three Hunters

Some questions still remain about the grizzly attacks in the Gravelly Mountains at the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest in Montana. Inside the vast boundaries of this National Forest area (covering 3.36 million acres and stretching across eight counties in southwestern Montana), three hunters were injured on the same day in virtually the same spot on Cottonwood Creek. Aside from wondering what provoked this violent reaction, the most obvious question is whether these men defended themselves against the same animal.

The Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest in Montana. (U.S. Department of Agriculture, Preston Keres/Office of Communications-Photography Services Center/wikimedia commons/)

The First Attack

The first bear attack in this series occurred at about 7:30 a.m. on Monday, September 16, 2019. A grizzly bear charged and attacked two hunters who were heading south on Cottonwood Creek on the west side of the Gravelly Mountains. The bear injured both men, but thankfully, they were carrying bear spray and were able to use it to drive the grizzly away. The men were then able to seek medical care in nearby Ennis, Montana, and were released the same day.

The Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest in Montana.
The Gravelly Mountain range in Montana.
A grizzly bear feeding on a moose carcass. In the fall, bears are focused on getting as many calories as possible.
Unlike grizzly bears, black bears do not have the distinctive hump on their backs. They are also typically smaller.
A can of bear spray on top of a bear-proof food canister. Both are essential tools for camping in bear country.
Stay focused in bear country. Never walk around without bear spray, and never eat or store food in your tent.

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32 Hits

Battle of the Black Bear Cartridges: .308 Win. vs. .338 Federal vs. .45-70 Govt.

(Left to right) .308 Winchester, .338 Federal, .45-70 Government. (Ron Spomer/)

Losing sleep over which black bear cartridge to choose? You have company. Hunters probably fret more over the best black bear cartridge than any other.

And why not? Large canine teeth, claws, and the strength to use both drive most of this concern. It’s one thing to follow up a whitetail in the dark. Tracking a black bear by flashlight is quite another. The smart move is to pick the right cartridge—one that gets the job done with authority, right now, right there.

Obviously we are going to err on the side of more rather than less. More powder, more bullet, more caliber (diameter), more kinetic energy, and more magazine capacity while we’re at it. But not at the expense of “shootability.” You don’t want to fear recoil more than you fear tracking a bear.

Actually, black bears are not as aggressive or hard to put down as many believe. Their vitals are not armor-clad. Hunters have been shooting them not just nearly dead, but really-most-sincerely dead with arrows and .243 Winchesters for decades. A mortally wounded black bear generally dashes off much like a similarly hit whitetail. What’s different is all that hair. And, in autumn, a goodly layer of subcutaneous fat. Both work to block or soak up leaking blood, minimizing an easily followed trail. Add to this the soft pads a bear runs on plus the dense vegetation in much of their preferred living spaces, and you face difficult tracking.

Black bears have thick fur and layers of fat that close up wounds and make blood-trailing difficult. (Ron Spomer/)

What we should want in an effective black bear cartridge is potential for a large exit wound to enhance blood trailing. Anchoring a bear in place is more about where you hit it than what you hit it with. Neck, head, and high shoulder shots anchor because they strike the central nervous system. Otherwise, you wait for hemorrhaging to take effect. And that can be anywhere from a few seconds to too many minutes. The bigger the hole, the better.

Black bears have thick fur and layers of fat that close up wounds and make blood-trailing difficult.
Federal Trophy Bonded in .308 Winchester.
A 180-grain .308 Winchester.
This black bear was taken with a .338 Federal.
A 225-grain .338 Federal.
Federal 300-grain Trophy Bonded Bear Claw in .45-70 Government.
A 405-grain .45-70 Government
In dense, thick woods, a .45-70 may be your best choice.
The author with a large brown color-phase black bear.

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3 Ways to Get a Grip on Game Fish

Grippers aren’t expensive, and can save you from broken lines, lost tackle, and even sliced fingers if you’re chasing toothy predator fish. (Zacx/)

While the cologne of fish slime and a case of bass thumb are certainly time-honored signs of angling prowess, there’s a better way to handle certain species than by hand alone. While obviously not appropriate for a six-inch brook trout or panfish, using a lip gripper is the most secure way to bring in more cantankerous fish quickly and safely under control. In saltwater, where toothsome critters are the norm, a simple lip gripper puts distance between your fingers and the snapping jaws of common brawlers like bluefish, mackerel, and barracuda. Here are a few options to consider.

Plastic Grippers

A fish gripper makes it easier to hand toothy fish with one hand. (Rapala/)

You needn't spend a fortune to enjoy the core benefit of even the most expensive fish gripper, which can run well over a hundred dollars. A plastic version will hold fish just fine. Attached to a lanyard, they are a great lightweight tool that makes handling fish from unstable positions, such as a kayak, much easier.

Integrated Scales

A gripper with an integrated scale means you don’t have to handle a fish you plan to release more than necessary. (Piscifun/)

If you want to bump up the functionality, or if weighing fish is important to your style of angling, look for a steel gripper with an integrated digital scale. Bring the fish under control, weigh it, and get it back in the water (or into a cooler) in the same motion.

A fish gripper makes it easier to hand toothy fish with one hand.
A gripper with an integrated scale means you don’t have to handle a fish you plan to release more than necessary.
If you don’t want to lose your tools in the water, make sure you secure them to a strap around your wrist.

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3 Features You Need in a Camping Canopy

Most canopies are easy to set up and take down and offer great protection from the weather or other elements. (Coleman/)

A portable canopy is useful everywhere from your backyard to the beach and beyond. The ability to pop-up some protection against the sun or rain can save a gathering in inclement conditions. From yard parties and garage sales to camping or the lakefront, a portable shelter is the best way to ensure you won’t get weathered out or sunburnt while enjoying the outdoors. Evaluate these key features when choosing a portable canopy.

Rolling Storage Bag

If a canopy is especially heavy, make sure it has wheels on the back to make transportation easy. (Abccanopy/)

Some outdoor canopies are portable in name only, and so heavy they make dragging them more than a few yards less fun than just enduring the rain or sun. But the fact is, increased weight usually means increased stability, especially in high winds. If a canopy comes in at more than say, 40 pounds, look for a rolling storage bag to make transporting easier.

Easy Set-Up

Some canopies are easier to erect if there are two or more people helping. (Eurmax/)

Realistically, a portable canopy almost always requires a second person to help with the set-up. However, in general, you should be able to erect the structure in under five minutes. Telescoping poles with thumb-operated catches make raising the canopy to the perfect height easy.

If a canopy is especially heavy, make sure it has wheels on the back to make transportation easy.
Some canopies are easier to erect if there are two or more people helping.
A canopy that has tie-down lines will be extra solid in windy conditions.

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3 Key Features You Want in a Marinade Injector

If you’re tired of using only spices or rubs, inject a sauce or marinade directly into the meat. (Grill Beast/)

Dry rubs and marinades only season the outer layers of a cut of meat. In order for any marinade to penetrate deeply, you need a delivery system. That’s where marinade injectors come in. Originally popularized with the advent of Cajun-style turkey fryers decades ago, they are useful for virtually any domestic meat or game preparation, from venison and wild pig to duck and dove. Here’s what to look for in this underutilized tool of the culinary arts.

Food-Grade Stainless Steel

Be sure the injector you choose is made from 304 stainless steel. (Ofargo/)

304 stainless steel is the food-safe standard for meat injectors. That means no leeching of nickel or other metals into food, and a BPA-free delivery system to get all of your secret sauce—and nothing else—deep inside the dish.

Cleaning Tools

You’ll need various needle sizes to work with different types of meat. (Grill Beast/)

Meat injectors usually are sold with a variety of interchangeable tips for different types of meat. Even the large-diameter needles are pretty small, so having a dedicated brush for the injector needles makes clean-up a lot easier. Make sure the unit is dishwasher safe and follow manufacturer's directions to the letter to ensure that no food particles or contaminants are left in the injector needles.

Be sure the injector you choose is made from 304 stainless steel.
You’ll need various needle sizes to work with different types of meat.
Be sure to clean the injector after use to avoid contaminating other meat you inject later.

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3 Features to Consider in Your Next Rolling Patio Cooler

A large capacity rolling cooler is ideal when you need to serve a lot of thirsty mouths. (Clevr/)

Hosting a gathering of family or friends outdoors usually requires a large supply of cold beverages. For those who prefer to entertain in style, a rolling patio-style cooler is the perfect way to keep your guests’ thirst quenched at any outdoor event. Here are a few features to consider.

Dual Lids

Dual lid coolers make it easy to separate and organize beverages. (Clevr/)

A dual lid keeps beverages separate and organized so guests don't have to take an ice bath to find what they want. An integrated bottle opener with a catch bin is a convenient touch that will also keep the party space tidy during large self-serve gatherings.

Rustic Accents

Try to find a cooler that compliments your patio or deck. (Backyard Expressions/)

Serving outdoors doesn't always have to mean plastic coolers and paper plates. A furniture-grade rolling cooler with all the refrigeration capabilities of a standard cooler adds a bit of aesthetic accent to any outdoor entertaining space.

Dual lid coolers make it easy to separate and organize beverages.
Try to find a cooler that compliments your patio or deck.
A shelf under a cooler is great for things like cups, paper plates, or napkins.

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3 Reasons to Always Have an All-Purpose Tarp

A simple tarp is perfect for keeping camp dry when bad weather rolls in. (B-Air/)

A standard utility tarp should be part of every outdoorsman’s gear bag. Aside from its obvious uses for keeping the wood pile dry or stringing a canopy over your campground table, a standard tarp is less expensive than a fancy nylon backpacking tarp and has utility beyond its life as a waterproof barrier against the elements.

Shelter and Ground Cloth

A utility tarp is for general purposes and not meant to be packed into the backcountry as a tent ground cloth. (Dry Top/)

Rigging a tarp as an emergency shelter doesn't have to be a cumbersome affair. Learn a few simple knots like the Taut-Line Hitch, Bowline, and Trucker's Hitch, and you can rig a tarp as a simple A-frame, a lean-to, or any other configuration that makes sense for your circumstances. If you use a tent pole in the center to keep rain from pooling, be sure to soften the contact point with a rag or sock to avoid punctures. Standard tarp sizes such as 5x7 and 8x10 feet will also serve as a ground cloth for most 2- to 4-man family tents. Remember, you are not looking for light weight and efficiency here. A utility tarp is all about economy and versatility.

Boat and Vehicle Cover

You can use a large tarp to protect things that spend a lot of time outside. (Xpose Safety/)

Not everyone has the luxury of covered parking for their boat. But if you have a tarp and a few bungee cords handy, it's easy to rig up a shelter for just about any boat or vehicle in a matter of minutes without investing in a dedicated canvas boat cover.

A utility tarp is for general purposes and not meant to be packed into the backcountry as a tent ground cloth.
You can use a large tarp to protect things that spend a lot of time outside.
Even if a tarp begins to show signs of wear and tear, you can still use it for other tasks.

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Catch Giant Fall Walleyes at Night

The author with a pair of late-night Erie walleyes. (Ross Robertson/)

Fans of early hip-hop acts might remember Whodini. The group’s 1984 hit “Freaks Come Out at Night” has always been a personal favorite, if not something of a mantra for walleye guys who live for sunset in the fall. This time of year, the big fish move shallow after dark for one reason: to gorge on large baitfish before winter sets in. The only problem is, everything is more complicated and takes longer in the dark, which is why only the diehards are willing to brave chilly nights to score. If you want to join their ranks, preparation is the first step. Once you’ve got the boat in night mode, a few tweaks to your daytime program are all it takes to start landing those “freaks.”

Prep Talk

In daylight, clear the boat decks of unneeded items that will catch lines or create tripping hazards. For dark missions, I trade my usual landing net for one that has a shallow bag. If you only have a net with a deep bag, use a zip tie to gather it up and make it shallower. I’ll pull out all the lures I plan to use ahead of time and put them in a separate tackle tray, storing only one in each compartment. Naturally, you’ll need a few light sources on the boat, but put some thought into them. For stationary lights, LEDs provide better coverage while taking less of a toll on the boat’s batteries. Make sure any stationary lights never shine directly into the water, as walleyes are extremely light sensitive and can spook. Headlamps or handheld lights used to aid in netting should have a red filter because it helps the anglers’ eyes stay adjusted to the dark and won’t alert other fish to your presence.

Night Riding

Covering water after dark is just as critical as it is during daylight hours, though simplifying your approach to improve your trolling efficiency pays off. If you prefer trolling with planer boards, be sure to use reels with a line-counter feature. During the day, you can eyeball line length, but at night, having the ability to set your lures at exactly the same distance once you start getting bites is key. Another benefit of planer boards is you can use them to put lures in water too shallow for the boat. I’ll hug contour lines using my GPS but use my planers to get baits to shallows where fish would spook—or, worse, bang up my prop—if I moved in right on top of them. To ensure your boards are exactly where you want them, use tape to affix a glow stick to each one.

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3 Features You Need in Your Next Electric Knife

Electric knives slice through breads and meats, like oven-roasted turkey, with ease. (Hamilton Beach/)

An electric knife should be part of any well-equipped kitchen. Though not a tool for every single cutting task, they make certain jobs, such as carving a turkey or slicing a loaf of home-baked sourdough, a lot easier and more precise. Here are a few things to look for in a modern electric knife.


Rechargeable knives are easy to use, and you don’t have a cord getting in your way. (Cuisinart/)

Electric kitchen knives of old were fairly bulky, with a dedicated cord that could sometimes get in the way. But advances in lithium ion batteries for everything from cordless drills to chainsaws makes going cordless on an electric knife easier than ever. A single charge should get you 20 minutes or so of continuous run time.

Multiple Blades

Try to find a cordless knife with a selection of blades for different purposes. (Black + Decker/)

The great thing about an electric knife is that one knife can serve multiple purposes. Interchangeable cutting edges commonly include a blade for carving meat, a bread knife, and even a perforated blade for slicing sticky items like cheese, vegetables, and fruit.

Rechargeable knives are easy to use, and you don’t have a cord getting in your way.
Try to find a cordless knife with a selection of blades for different purposes.
A case makes it easy to keep the blades, charger, and handle together and not lost amongst other silverware.

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