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Interior Secretary nominee Deb Haaland faced a series of questions on energy policy during her second day of confirmation hearings. (Deb for Congress/)

In her second and final day of confirmation hearings before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, President Biden’s Interior Secretary nominee Deb Haaland was asked repeatedly about her stance on endangered species management, federal energy policy, and the multiple-use mandate for public lands.

Just as in her first day of testimony, Haaland was circumspect in her answers, defaulting to her mantra that her personal opinions would be secondary to those of Biden should she be confirmed. If confirmed by the full Senate, Haaland would be the first Native American to lead the federal bureaucracy that manages about a fifth of the nation’s real estate, provides trust oversight to Native tribes, oversees the National Park Service, and manages a wide range of fish and wildlife properties and issues.

And just as in yesterday’s hearing, senators pressed Haaland, a first-term Congresswoman from New Mexico, for her perspectives on a number of relatively small and technical issues that no prospective Interior secretary could be expected to fully answer.

Freshman senator Mark Kelly from Arizona, for instance, asked for Haaland’s commitment to prioritize the completion of Indian water settlements, for her support of a bill to ban uranium mining outside Grand Canyon National Park, and for her support of water conservation in the lower Colorado River watershed.

Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski asked Haaland to bless the continuance of oil permitting in the Willow Project, a massive energy development inside Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve. Freshman Kansas senator Roger Marshall asked Haaland to look into water rights on Quivira National Wildlife Refuge in south-central Kansas. And Montana’s Steve Daines repeatedly asked for Haaland’s commitment that she wouldn’t limit traditional hunting, fishing, and especially trapping on federal lands.

Good ski socks will keep you warm by wicking moisture, and give you a good feel of the skis for optimal control. (Pexels/Flo Maderebner/)

It’s what’s underneath that counts. Yes, those expensive plastic ski boots you admire on chairlift rides have a lot to do with your skiing performance—and how warm your feet feel—but your ski socks are the true unsung, and unseen, heroes of comfort beneath all that skiing gear. You need the best ski socks because cold feet will stop you in your tracks.

When searching for the best ski socks—be they the best men’s ski socks, best women’s ski socks, or the best ski socks for cold feet—material matters. Merino wool is top of the heap right now because it naturally resists odors, mitigates moisture and even keeps in heat after it gets wet. But synthetic materials like nylon-polyester can also provide excellent protection. Most ski socks today feature a blend of wool and synthetic, as well as some percentage of Lycra spandex or elastane for cling.

Once you’re matched up with the right composition of yarn and fabric, you need to determine how much of that material you need. Are you a speed chaser who wants an ultrathin, lightweight ski sock that maximizes foot-boot connection? Or do you prefer to sacrifice a few notches of MPH for dialed-up warmth and padding?

If you haven’t delved much into the value of ski socks—perhaps you’re someone who believes that two pairs of ski socks could actually be warmer than one—you’re about to discover that having the right pair can really, well, knock your socks off. The following will help you lay out the path to buying the best ski socks.

Best Ski Socks for Durability: Darn Tough Alpenglow Over-The-Calf LightBest Kids Ski Socks: OutdoorMaster Kids Ski SocksBest Moisture Wicking Ski Socks: Smartwool PhD Ski MediumBest Compression Ski Socks: Dissent Ski GFX CompressionBest Lightweight Ski Socks: Smartwool PhD Ski Ultra LightBest Heated Ski Socks: Lenz Heated Socks 5.0Best Cheap Ski Socks: Fox River Telluride Medium

Features to Consider When Buying Ski Socks

Living up to their name, these Darn Toughs might be the last ski socks you ever have to buy.
With a fun design and functional features, these socks will keep the kids—and their parents—happy.
The PhD Ski is soft and snug and fit to perform.
Beloved by ski touring practitioners, these socks are the perfect match if tight is right.
If you’re looking for an ultralight sock to optimize your performance, these Smartwool socks are your best bet.
Heat your feet with the phone in your hands.
At about half the cost of most ski socks, these offer all the comfort.

The right pair of ski pants will keep you warm, protect you from moisture and be comfortable enough to last a full day on the slopes. (Unsplash/Mads Schmidt Rasmussen/)

If you’ve ever been on a chairlift and started thinking about your pants, you’re probably wearing the wrong pair. The best ski pants are designed to go unnoticed—unless you’ve opted for those Mojito green Spyders.

Ski clothing, and ski pants in particular, are built to keep you comfortable. Waterproofing materials, like Gore-Tex and eVent, are designed to stop the wind and wet from seeping in, while also providing breathability that lets hot air out when you’re working hard on black diamonds or in the backcountry. Waterproofing and breathability ratings are often paired, because, let’s face it, what good is keeping moisture out if your fabric locks sweat in?

Waterproof ratings, expressed in millimeters, measure how tall a column of water would have to be when poured into a 1-inch-by-1-inch tube before starting to leak through the fabric underneath. About 15,000mm is a good rating, and 20,000mm says the fabric will keep you dry in the wettest conditions. Breathability, expressed in grams, measures how much water vapor can move completely through one square meter of fabric in a day. Between 10,000g and 15,000g is a solid range for ski pants. If all of this feels like information overload on fabric moisture, just remember there is little worse than being weighed down by wet, heavy ski pants on the mountain.

Ski gear is also meant to keep you warm. If you prefer hitching a ride to the top, you’ll likely want a pair of snow pants with insulation, so you can stay toasty while you’re sitting still. But if you’re always on the move, skinning your way up, a light unlined ski pant is probably the way to go.

Fit matters, too. Not only do you want to be confident in how you look—in case your turns could use a little finessing—you should also expect your ski pants to optimize those turns. For instance, if your snow pants are too snug in the knees and hips, those bumps on the double black could be especially bruising.

Sturdy on the outside, fleecy on the inside, these snow pants work everywhere on the mountain.
Built to perform and keep you warm, these Helly Hansens also have plenty of flair.
Made from superlight material that repels water and wicks your sweat, these Crafts were built to be worn all day.
The Skyward II Snow Pants thrive during big climbs and epic descents.
These lightweight ski pants offer heavy-duty protection.
Be toasty in even the coldest conditions with these ski pants.
Suit up in this stylish bib to guard against wet snow and deep powder.
The North Face Freedom pants will warm weekend warriors on a budget. The North Face

A personal locator beacon, or PLB, provides peace of mind when you’re exploring remote areas, because you can send an emergency signal via satellite. (Unsplash/Presley Roozenburg/)

A personal locator beacon is an essential piece of emergency survival gear for any serious outdoors person. Commonly referred to as a PLB, a personal locator beacon is a small, portable device that tracks your whereabouts in the backcountry and allows you to send a distress signal via satellite to alert authorities if you get into trouble and need rescuing. Hopefully you will never have to use the emergency alert feature on your personal locator beacon, but as with any survival equipment, it’s always better to be prepared.

You might ask yourself if you really need a personal locator beacon. If you spend any considerable time in remote areas away from other people and out of range cell service, the answer is an easy yes. These are must-have pieces of survival gear for serious outdoor expeditions any time of the year.

Best PLB for Light Packers: Garmin inReach MiniBest PLB for Communication: Spot XBest PLB For Marine Use: ACR ResQLink ViewBest PLB Overall: Garmin inReach Explorer+Best Cheap PLB: Nexus Wireless Spot Gen4

Features To Consider When Shopping For a Personal Locator Beacon

Besides the cost, you want to consider the weight of the personal locator beacon, because you’ll be carrying it with you wherever you go along with the rest of your emergency gear. Some have features such as connectivity and navigation aids. Consider how much weight you’ll be comfortable adding to your pack, and if additional features are worthwhile to you.

Is Weight of Your Outdoor Gear a Crucial Consideration?

The Garmin inReach Mini is a pocket-ready satellite communicator.
The Spot X satellite messenger makes it easy to stay in touch even when you’re in the most remote places.
The ACR ResQLink View offers peace of mind for ocean expeditions.
The Garmin inReach Explorer+ has numerous helpful features.
The Nexus Wireless Spot Gen4 is affordable and effective.

This year's crop of folding knives has a little something for everyone. (Matt Foster/)

What is an EDC knife? Fair question. Really, any folding knife or fixed-blade knife you can carry comfortably in a pocket qualifies. The best EDC knives—which stands for every day carry—can handle any cutting task you encounter. Opening a box, slicing an apple, gutting a deer, or deterring a would-be assailant. The best knife brands understand this and have made cool new knives capable of tackling these chores. We got our hands on a bunch of these new blades, and, in no particular order, here are the best EDC knives of 2021.

Benchmade Adamas

Benchmade Adamas (Matt Foster/)

For many every day tasks, the Benchmade Adamas may be overkill. But then, is overkill really a bad thing? As an EDC knife, the Adamas is large. It’s a full-sized folder with steel liners, olive drab G10 scales and even comes with a molle compatible sheath. Made from CPM-CruWear® stainless steel the 3.78″ drop point blade is .14″ thick and has a cerakote finish. Like many Benchmade knives, the Adamas features their Axis lock, a cross-bolt style mechanism using the shear strength of a pin for lock strength. Designed as a tactical folder with pronounced finger guards front and back of the handle the Adamas would work well as an EDC knife or as a hunting knife. Despite its impressive size, it fits quite well in the pocket with a fairly deep carry-style clip. The left-handed crowd will appreciate that this knife is fully ambidextrous. If the geometry and features of this Benchmade knife are appealing but it seems just a bit large for your taste, the MINI ADAMAS® is its literal ¾ size twin, minus the sheath. MSRP is $280 Specs: blade length 3.78 in.; blade thickness 0.14 in.; overall length 8.89 in.; closed length 5.11 in.; weight 6.45 oz. minus the sheath; MINI ADAMAS MSRP is $250 Specs: blade length 3.25 in.; blade thickness 0.14 in.; overall length 7.62 in.; closed length 4.37 in.; weight 4.6 oz.

Read More: Outdoor Life’s New Line of Camping Knives and Tools

Kershaw Cannonball

Benchmade Adamas
Kershaw Cannonball
Gerber Zilch
CRKT Pillar
Giant Mouse Ace RIV Titanium
Hinderer Knives XM-18 3-inch Skinner
Zero Tolerance 0308BLKTS
Medford Knife and Tool Air Jack
Havalon Knives REDI
Spyderco Endela

The snow finally stopped, and the boy was ready. He knew the rabbits would come out to feed in the sunshine and leave tracks he could easily follow in the fresh powder. He carefully lifted the family single-shot shotgun from the wall pegs. The 12-gauge felt solid in his hands, and off he went in search of dinner.

That scene played out time and again on farms and country homesteads across America in the days when men and boys were tasked with bringing home wild game to feed their families. Money was tight for these folks, and they relied on affordable guns to supplement the food supply. Fancy side-by-sides and autoloaders were for wealthy city folks; country boys relied on a single shot to dispatch the critters they hunted.

Here are some of the most popular guns of a bygone era and a new version built to stand the test of time.

H&R Pardner and Topper

The H&R Pardner—which later became the Topper—was produced in every popular gauge from 10 to 28 and .410 bore. (icollector/)

Gilbert Harrington made history in 1871 with his top-break, shell-ejecting revolver. He needed a partner with a production background to bring it to market and William Richardson fit the bill. They formed H&R in Worcester, Massachusetts, building iconic guns and a loyal following. They built solid revolvers and shotguns, soon becoming the only North American licensee for England’s Anson & Deely boxlock side-by-side shotgun.

The H&R Topper 88 was a basic shotgun, but it did come with a color case-hardened receiver.
It's only fitting that one of America's most iconic gunmakers built a single-shot workhorse.
The Boy's model of Winchester's 37 appeared in 1958.
The Champion was discontinued in 1957.
Henry is known for its lever-action rifles, but make a fine single-shot shotgun as well.

Whitetail bucks are known for their unique qualities. They’re like a fingerprint. While some might appear similar, no two are exactly alike. Still, some deer are so very different that they deserve a closer look. These 10 deer are the weirdest, ugliest, most interesting deer that were photographed last year.

A Bull-Headed Brute

Wisconsin’s Bull-Headed Brute (Josh Honeycutt/)

A young hunter from Jackson County, Wisconsin, shared this photo with Outdoor Life, and while its rack and body appear relatively normal, its head certainly isn’t. While it’s possible infection is the answer, that doesn’t explain the seemingly short nose.

Of course, the hunter who shared the photo wished he’d tagged the buck, but he didn’t.

“I did not kill this deer, unfortunately, but the neighbors did,” he said. “I just have a trail cam pic of it.”

Doofus apparently had a misaligned jaw.
Jason Say puts his weird buck’s age at 6.5.
A freaky buck from Missouri.
The velvet rack of the Pine Cone buck.
Another Missouri freakazoid.
Get those nails clipped!
Drops to die for.
Scraggly Joe from North Carolina.
Robert Campbell rattled up this buck in Canada.

Energy policy will be a key issue for Deb Haaland, President Biden's nominee for Secretary of the Interior. (Deb for Congress/)

The themes that will likely frame public-lands management over the next four years were on full display as U.S. senators began confirmation hearings for President Biden’s pick to run the sprawling Interior Department. In her first appearance before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee today, New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland was asked to reconsider her vocal opposition to fossil-fuel extraction, whether Biden’s “pause” on permits to drill for oil and gas on federal lands would be permanent, and whether she has an expansive or limited view of national monuments.

But if senators expected Haaland, a first-term congresswoman and the first Native American to be nominated as Secretary of the Interior, to give them clear answers about the direction she might take the department, they were probably disappointed.

Her background—as a Native woman, 35th generation New Mexican, single mother, small-business owner, law-school graduate, and one of the first Native women to be elected to Congress—didn’t factor much in today’s hearing.

Instead, Haaland repeatedly told the committee that her personal views on topics as polarizing as national energy policy and endangered-species management would be subjugated to the president’s. When asked about her public record opposing fracking, pipelines, and most fossil-fuel infrastructure, she noted that previous statements “reflected my one small district in New Mexico. My role as secretary would be highly different. I would defer to the president.”

Still, the themes that emerged are bound to be reprised in tomorrow’s second round of questioning and—should she be confirmed by the full Senate—will likely dominate her tenure as head of the agency that controls about a fifth of the real estate of the United States, much of it in the West.

A good hatchet is a classic camping tool, and has numerous applications in both the wilds and the backyard. (Pixabay/)

A hatchet is the one outdoors tool you just can’t live well without. Around camp, it can handle just about any cutting task, whether you need to shave tinder and split kindling for a fire, whittle a tent stake, or even pound cube steak. At home, hand axes and hatchets indispensable as a handy hearthside companion. And with the advent of modern survival hatchets, this is the one tool you don’t want to leave home without. A solid design made of tough, corrosion-resistant materials can ride in a toolbox or storage bin and be close at hand if you need to clear a trail or help someone in danger. To make the best choice, read on to find out about the different kinds of steel used in hatchets and how handle and head designs affect performance. Then learn why a handy hatchet has been among the world’s most useful tools for centuries.

BEST ALL-AROUND GENERAL-USE HATCHET: Husqvarna 13 in. Wooden Handle HatchetBEST STEEL-HANDLED HATCHET: Estwing Sportsman’s Axe - 12″ Camping Hatchet with Forged Steel Construction & Genuine Leather GripBEST HATCHET FOR SPLITTING LOGS: Gransfors Bruks Small Splitting HatchetBEST SURVIVAL HATCHET: SOG Survival HawkBEST CAMP HATCHET: Outdoor Life Camp Axe - 3-inch Satin Finish Stainless Steel Blade with Hammer HeadBEST CHEAP HATCHET: Fiskars 378501-1002 X7 Hatchet

The Most Important Consideration When Shopping for Hatchets

Hatchets may seem similar, but there are numerous differences among them. You’ll want to match the hatchet to the job, whether you are splitting firewood or chopping small branches or pounding in tent stakes. Think about what you’ll be doing most with the hatchet before you buy. There are lots of choices, which means there’s a perfect hatchet for your outdoor adventures.

Do You Just Want an All-Around Hatchet?

Hatchets are so useful, and they’ve been around for so long, that there are lots of styles to choose from, and lots of materials to consider when it comes to handles and heads. Some hatchets are designed to do a better job at splitting wood, or come with a hardened “pommel” that looks like a hammer head on one end, which is designed for pounding. Others have thinner wedge shapes to the cutting head, which do a better job of whacking off limbs and cleanly cutting through smaller pieces of wood for campfire or home hearth firewood.

With a hickory handle and a Swedish steel cutting head, this hand axe looks as great as it performs.
You’ll use a good general-use hatchet everywhere, from camp to home to carrying in your vehicle, so a steel-handled tool is a go-to choice.
A hand-crafted tool that will last for generations, this splitting hatchet is the perfect choice for turning rounds of cut firewood into fuel and kindling for any indoor or outdoor fire.
With special features designed to help you cut your way out of trouble—or rescue someone already in a fix—this survival axe is as much an everyday tool as it is a piece of your outdoor gear kit.
A great camp hatchet has to be a chopper, slicer, hammer, and knife blade all at once.
This hatchet is made to handle abuse, whether that’s from hard pounding or leaving it out in the rain.

The new line of Outdoor Life camping knives and tools. From left: the Camping Folding Knife, the Camping Fixed Blade Knife, the Camping Chef's Knife, the Camping Axe, and the Camping Machete. (Outdoor Life/)

For 123 years we’ve been trying to give our readers an edge with stories on the hottest hunting and fishing tactics and the latest gear. Well, now we’re bringing you an actual cutting edge—a couple of them. Outdoor Life has partnered with Master Cutlery to introduce a new line of camping knives and tools with a set that includes a folder, fixed-blade, chef’s knife, machete, and camp axe. These knives are thoughtfully designed and moderately priced making them a solid option for car campers and weekend adventurers. They can also pull double duty at your hunting camp, ride around in your truck, and even hold their own in the kitchen. Here’s a quick rundown of each blade.

The Outdoor Life folding camp knife isn't a pocket-sized blade, but it's packable and sturdy, with a fixed-blade-like feel. (Outdoor Life/)

Camping Folding Knife

This hefty folding knife has a 3.75-inch 7Cr17MoV stainless steel blade. The nylon-fiber handle is wide enough for even the huskiest bushcrafter to comfortably hold in his hand. The handle also has a carabiner built into it, so you can easily attach it to a pack. It comes with a carrying pouch that you can attach to your belt. The knife is a little big for carrying in a pant pocket—unless you’re still rocking cargo shorts.

OL's fixed-blade knife comes with a sturdy sheath for carrying on your belt. (Outdoor Life/)

Camping Fixed Blade Knife

This full-tang knife has a 4.75-inch 7Cr17MoV stainless steel blade. Just like the folder, it has a nylon-fiber handle. The knife has a nicely shaped drop-point blade that offers a ton of utility. It comes with solid sheath sporting a multi-position clip. The blade locks into the sheath nicely, and won’t shake loose even when jostled around or flipped upside down.

The Outdoor Life folding camp knife isn't a pocket-sized blade, but it's packable and sturdy, with a fixed-blade-like feel.
OL's fixed-blade knife comes with a sturdy sheath for carrying on your belt.
With the included nylon sheath (not pictured), the Outdoor Life Camping Chef's Knife is a perfect option for hunting camp or stashing in a kitchen box.
The packable Outdoor Life Camping Machete comes with a sturdy nylon sheath that includes a belt loop, for easy carrying afield.
The Outdoor Life camping axe features a sharp blade and a protective nylon sheath (not pictured).

Layer up to stay warm. (Andre Furtado/)

A heated vest can seem like a miracle. You slip it on, choose a warming level, and wait a few seconds to feel chill-busting warmth that will keep you working or playing outside even longer. For winter sports, for hunters, for workers who spend long hours on the job, a heated vest can mean the difference between time spent shivering and miserable and time spent being productive and happy. But you have to choose the right heated vest to get the benefits.

Fortunately, there are lots to choose from. Some heated vests are one-size-fits-all, suited more for work crews and situations in which multiple people will wear the vest. Others are designed specifically for men or for women. If you’re looking for peak performance, the best heated vest will be one cut and fit to your body type. That prevents cold air from sneaking into an ill-fitted vest—and warm air from sneaking out. But even affordable heated vests and one-size-fits-all vests can work very well. Look for heating elements placed across your torso front and back, and consider a rechargeable heated vest. Standing there in the cold, with a warm smile on your face, you’ll have the answer to the question: Is a heated vest worth it?

Best rechargeable heated vest: ActionHeat 5V Battery-Heated Vest for MenBest heated vest for work: DEWALT Unisex Heated Reversible VestBest heated vest for hunting and fishing: ActionHeat 5V Battery Heated Insulated Puffer VestBest heated vest for winter sports: ARRIS Heated Vest Size AdjustableBest heated vest for women: ORORO Women’s Lightweight Heated VestBest cheap heated vest: LIFEBEE Heated Vest

Things to consider when shopping for the best heated vest

Keeping your core body temperature warm is the top task for a heated vest, and these convenient, easy-to-use pieces of winter gear should be a part of your essential wardrobe. They’re built to wear under your favorite jacket, or as a smart outer layer. And a rechargeable heated vest can be worn at both work and play. Easily powered with either an internal battery system or a power bank like those used to recharge smartphones, the best heated vests are portable and easily cared for—many can be tossed straight into the washer and dryer. When you’re looking for the best heated vest, we have you covered with choices for hard work on the job site, hard play on the ski slopes, or easy living by the fire.

Heated clothing will turn away the most bitter cold, and keep you active outdoors when everyone else has called it quits. When you’re looking for one of these winter wonders, make sure to check off critical features.

Utilizing high-efficient carbon fiber panels, this vest is built for the long haul.
On the job site, keep a unisex heated vest handy to keep the work rolling smoothly.
Hunters and anglers often sit for long periods of time outdoors. Double up on comfort with a puffy vest for an extra dose of warmth.
This heated vest with multiple heating levels and heating elements will keep you comfortable all day long.
A tailored vest designed specifically for women not only keeps you warmer, but looks great doing it.
This vest is a great option if you have a USB battery pack in hand. Just plug it up, slip it into the battery pocket, and head for the outdoors.

Browning's Maxus II has undergone some serious upgrades. (Joe Weimer Media/)

I can remember goose hunting with a buddy one warm January morning. We set the decoys, climbed in the pit, and he unsheathed an original Browning Maxus. I think we saw one flock of honkers that day, so I spent a majority of the morning staring at his gun. I hadn’t seen the Maxus up close yet. I thought it was odd-looking. That square fore-end. No magazine cap; just some funky little latch you pulled on to field strip the gun.

“How do you put an extension magazine on that for snow goose hunting,” I inquired. “You don’t,” he said.

Smartly, Browning has fixed that problem with the 12-gauge 3 ½-inch Maxus II (Winchester SX4 extension mags can be paired with the new Maxus). Most waterfowlers snow goose hunt or like the idea of snow goose hunting, so they want a gun that accepts a magazine extension. Paying $1,800 and not getting that feature is a hard pill to swallow, and I’m sure it made some hunters pass on the first iteration of the Maxus when it was introduced in 2009. And honestly, it was never a widely sought after gun by waterfowlers or pheasant hunters (probably because the A5 and Citori are so popular). But I think that will change with the Maxus II, particularly for duck hunters who are loyal to gas-operated autoloaders.

“The most noticeable change on this gun is the fore-end cap,” said Browning product manager Tim Frampton. “One of the cardinal rules of gunmaking is to not give the consumer a reason not to buy the gun. And I think we accomplished that with the Maxus II.”

It’s also a much sleeker gun than the original. The old Maxus was blocky and kind of hard to get a comfortable grip on for those with smaller hands. I saw many folks having to hold the underside of the fore-end in the palm of their hand because of its shape. That made the gun a little more difficult to swing than some of its competitors.

The rubber overmolds on the pistol grip and fore-end make the Maxus II feel like it is an extension of you.
The Maxus II is available in this old-school vintage tan camo.
Most Maxus II models come with extended choke tubes.
Browning has made sure that its shotshells pattern beautifully out of its guns.

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There’s big fish magic in the waters of Tennessee’s Cherokee Lake, where yet another astonishing American paddlefish has been caught from the deep, clear reservoir.

Robert Livingston was fishing with a friend on January 23 when he snagged the giant fish and got it to the boat. Livingston estimated it to be 6 feet long and 150 pounds, based on the width of his friend’s boat and because he can lift 150 pounds overhead at the gym. Neither is 100 percent accurate, of course, but when eyeballing the big spoonie it certainly is a giant.

“This one, it just swam by and caught my hook right in the corner of its mouth,” Livingston told WBIR 10 News. “It was barely hooked, just a small portion of its cheek. (Got) it in the boat and I grab it, and the hook actually falls out into the water.”

The Tennessee record is 104 pounds, according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. The world record is 151 pounds, 14.4 ounces caught on Keystone Lake in Oklahoma.

This year was the year we’ve been waiting for at the family deer camp. All summer and fall we pulled trail camera photos of more—and bigger—bucks than had ever been seen on the property. It was a far cry from the early 90s, when the bucks my dad and uncles did spot tended to have a signature narrow spread with tall, skinny tines. Now, nearly 30 years later, we’re finally seeing a caliber of deer we weren’t even sure the property was capable of supporting. It’s taken a lot of intensive habitat improvement and discipline, but it’s working.

Still, there was probably a faster way to get here. It should have taken years, not decades, to improve our whitetail habitat. And there are still things we’re trying to figure out—like how to kill those bucks now that we’ve got them. So, I decided to find out what a lot of whitetail hunters get wrong by talking to some hunters who having been succeeding at the management game for a long time.

You cannot accurately predict the size of a buck's antlers by looking at the antlers of his father. (Neal Lewis / NPS /)

Does Selective Culling Improve Antler Quality?

Typically, a cull buck is one that deer managers have identified as genetically inferior and should be removed from the wild herd. This might be a deer whose antlers are too small or too funky to keep in the gene pool. Studies show that killing these deer solely on the basis of selective harvest (rather than for the traditional reasons of fun, meat, etc.) is ultimately a waste of a good buck tag.

“Many hunters simply believe that you can influence antler quality through genetics in the wild,” says Kip Adams, chief conservation officer of the National Deer Association (formerly QDMA). “We know very clearly that yes, behind a fence—when you can pick which buck is doing the breeding and which doe is doing the breeding—[you] can absolutely can influence the genetics. In the wild, it’s very clear we cannot do that.”

The number of fawns any given buck sires is relatively low, as is fawn recruitment—yet another reason why culling bucks doesn't have any meaningful impact on antler growth.
A trail camera photo of the 4-year-old buck Brent Cearlock passed during the 2020 Illinois bowseason.
A photograph of the buck Cearlock called Will, because he didn't know if he'd have the willpower to pass the 4-year-old buck if he walked out.
Two of the big 8-point bucks Rick Dahl captured on a trail camera survey of the new hunting property.
Dougherty with a mature New York buck, on a property carefully optimized for habitat—and hunting access.

Whether you’re heading out on a backcountry hike or spending the day on a snowy worksite, a good pair of boots is your best friend. (Annie Spratt/)

Don’t get cold feet, get a new pair of boots. A good pair of winter boots will keep your toes dry and warm, while providing enough traction to help you keep your footing in the harshest winter conditions. But not all winter boots are made alike. Nothing’s worse than buying a pair of cruddy winter boots that will leave your toes numb all winter. A high-quality pair of winter boots is an important part of every outdoorsman’s winter clothing arsenal. And in some cases, you may want more than one pair of boots in your chamber.

Winter boots are customized for an array of different outdoors activities. Some are better for spending frigid mornings mucking around swampy areas hunting winter geese, while others are better for strapping into snowshoes and heading deep into the backcountry, and yet others are stylish enough to don before hitting the town. Regardless of what you’re up to this winter, you need winter boots that get the job done. We did the hard part for you—the research. Here is a definitive guide of the best winter boots for men available today, as well as key factors to consider before making your next purchase.

Best men’s winter boots overall: Sorel Men’s Caribou Wool BootBest waterproof boots for men: The Original Muck Boot Company Arctic Sport Extreme-Conditions BootsBest winter hiking boots for men: Salomon Men’s X Ultra Winter CS Waterproof Performance BootBest insulated work boots: Carhartt Men’s 10″ Waterproof Insulated PAC Composite Toe BootBest winter ankle boots for men: Timberland Men’s White Ledge Mid Waterproof Ankle BootBest cheap boots for men: NORTIV 8 Men’s Insulated Warm Winter Snow Boots

Get ready to find your new favorite pair of men’s winter boots

Men’s winter boots should be well-made, warm, waterproof, and durable. Before buying a new pair, you need to consider how much you’re willing to spend, which winter activities you’re planning on using the boots for, and how long you want your boots to last. Below is everything you need to consider when hunting for a new pair of the best winter boots for men.

Want stylish or practical cold weather boots—or both?

Sorel Men's Caribou Wool Boot is stylish and rugged.
The Original Muck Boot Company Arctic Sport Extreme-Conditions Boots for Men live up to their name.
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Resident goose population have become a nuisance in many metro areas. (Dennis Bennett via Pixabay/)

It’s no secret that Canada geese love cities and golf courses. They have water, short grass in spring and summer, and they’re protected from hunting pressure. Sure, kids may run to scare them, as kids do, and a dog or coyote may nab a few goslings before the goose or gander gets riled up. But otherwise, cities are protection zones and geese take full advantage. The problem is that many of these resident geese populations are growing and becoming a nuisance. Can hunting be used as a management tool?

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is looking for answers. They recently completed a three-year study of Canada geese in metro Des Moines and the research will be used to revise the DNR’s goose management plan. The agency worked with Iowa State University to mark 71 urban and rural female Canada geese with GPS GSM transmitters, and then monitored movements from 2018-20.

Read More Waterfowl Hunting Tips.

“Modern urban development, specifically short grass adjacent to open water, is very attractive to geese,” Orrin Jones, state waterfowl biologist with the DNR stated in a press release. “It’s remarkable how geese have learned to exploit habitat in urban areas and how well they move through urban areas from May to August despite being largely flightless for most of that time.”

According to the agency, Canada geese were locally extinct in Iowa from 1907-64. The Iowa Conservation Commission, the agency that preceded the DNR, and other states within the Mississippi Flyway Council worked to restore Iowa’s breeding population. By 1993, at least one nesting pair of Canada geese was in all 99 counties.

The author's close call with a grizzly. (Tyler Freel/)

If there’s one guarantee about encounters with potentially dangerous wildlife, it’s that there are no guarantees. Potential wildlife conflict situations can present themselves in the unlikeliest of places (as illustrated by the recent encounter a woman here in Alaska had with a bear under the seat of her outhouse), and some level of preparedness is always prudent. That preparedness comes in the forms of both knowledge and actual physical tools for dealing with dangerous situations. You don’t have to be miles deep into a wilderness area to have a dangerous wildlife encounter, and often, these encounters seem to happen when people least expect it.

If it does happen to you, you’ll want to have as many options at your disposal as possible. A backup option like a firearm or even bear spray can help you not only by providing a last-ditch defensive tool, but these tools will also give you the confidence to avoid panic and approach the situation thoughtfully.

Every so often, one of these wildlife encounters is captured on video and makes the rounds on the internet (this actually happened to me a few years ago, more on that in a minute). Both of the following videos involving mountain lions popped up last year. The first is an encounter where a hunter scouting for elk in Colorado suddenly noticed a lion staring him down, very close, possibly exhibiting some predatory behavior.

According to the caption, the man drew a handgun and began calmly talking to the big cat and standing his ground. The cat decides to leave, which is the best possible outcome.

The second video (that you’ve likely already seen) is from the phone of a trail runner in Utah, who encountered mountain lion kittens on a trail. The situation that followed may have been avoided had he backed away quietly rather than move toward the kittens. Either way, he quickly found himself being aggressively followed and swiped at for roughly 6 minutes by the agitated mother lion. The runner sees no option but to retreat, shouting frantically at times. He made a good decision by not running away outright, and he eventually picks up a rock and scares the lioness away. But the situation could have just as easily turned deadly.

If you want to have a successful snow goose hunt, avoid making fatal mistakes. (Joe Weimer Media/)

No matter how good of a snow goose hunter you are, there will be times when you fail. It’s part of any hunting pursuit. I know this better than most. When I first started snow goose hunting, I made plenty of blunders. Luckily, since I hunt mostly on my own, very few folks know about them—until now.

Hunting spring snows is hard. It takes a ton of scouting, finding access, setting thousands of decoys, and ideal weather conditions. I’ve spent years battling the spring migration, and though most days I feel like I’m beating my head against a white wall, shooting into those huge tornadoes of geese keeps me coming back. But there are a handful of mistakes you simply can’t make. If you do, there’s zero chance of killing a single bird. Avoid these pitfalls, and you’ll have a fighting chance at stacking up more snows this spring.

1. Terrible Hides

If you’ve spent any time chasing ducks and geese, you know that concealment is king. With snows, multiply that by 10. I’d need a Master’s degree in calculous to add up the number of opportunities wasted by failure to properly cover blinds and conceal gear. Selecting a field with ample grass or stubble is the first step in getting the hide right, but that doesn’t automatically mean you will be hidden. Take the time to brush in blinds, whether you hunt on the ground in layouts or from A-Frames on an edge or hedgerow. If you’re in a pit, make sure the shooting ports are well covered. You can do this with a mix of natural stubble or grasses that extend over the hole (store-bought grassmats work too). Place your full-body decoys—or windsocks on stakes—around the shooting holes as well. Also, cover up the e-caller and tornado machine batteries, and make sure your retriever is well hidden.

2. Dirty Spreads

If you want to get snows in tight, better keep the spread clean.
The author has walked in plenty of snow goose gear. Don't make the same choice.
Snow geese are attracted to the sound of e-callers, but it must be quality sound.
The author's Lab is a well-trained snow goose dog.

The buck with the hairy eyeballs tested positive for EHD. (EHD/)

It sounds like something out of a horror movie: a whitetail buck with hairy eyeballs. No joke. That’s what the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency discovered when a hunter reported a deer on the agency’s “Report Sick Deer” button of its website. The TWRA added the feature so hunters and citizens could report deer acting strangely, in an effort to curtail Chronic Wasting Disease and other diseases.

Lindsay Thomas with the National Deer Association gives a pretty harrowing account of this deer on the NDA site. Blood or weird stuff usually doesn’t bother me, but I have to admit that these photos freaked me out. I’m unsure if Wes Craven or M. Night Shyamalan could come up with this.

Read Next: Weird Deer

The deer was spotted in August 2020 near Farragut, a suburb of Knoxville in east Tennessee.

“The individual stated the deer was circling (in a street), had visible bleeding, lacked awareness of the people around it, and had something on its eyes,” wildlife biologist Sterling Daniels of TWRA said.

A good pair of snowshoes will get you through a steep alpine hike or a snowy family outing. (Pcdazero / Pixabay/)

If you can walk, you can snowshoe. That’s how the saying goes. So it’s possible that finding the best snowshoes for you might actually be more daunting than the powdery terrain you plan to traverse. Sure, if you’re in survival mode out in the woods, you could fashion yourself a nifty pair of emergency shoes for snow and stomp your way to safety. After all, versions of wooden snowshoes have been around for thousands of years for the simple purpose of helping humans displace their weight when traveling through deep snow. But today, no matter if you want family fun or alpine adventure, you need not settle for snowshoes made of sticks or leaves. Whether you’re looking for the best snowshoes for beginners or top backcountry snowshoes, whether kids’ snowshoes or a pair of running snowshoes, we’ve done the legwork for you. Here’s all you need to know when shopping for the best snowshoes, so you can save your energy for your next climb.

Best Snowshoes for Men (Family Outings): Tubbs Flex VRT Snowshoes

Best Snowshoes for Women (Family Outings): MSR Lightning Ascent

Best Kids’ Snowshoes: Tubbs Kids’ Snowflake Snowshoe

Best Snowshoes for Beginners: MSR Revo Trail Hiking Snowshoes

These snowshoes have an ergonomic design, are simple to use, and are equipped for technical climbs. Tubbs
Built for big climbs, these MSRs are also perfect for moms who don’t want to lose a step on leisurely outings with the kids.
If you want to get your youngster excited about winter adventure, these colorful Tubbs are outstanding.
Rugged, durable and with just enough bite, these MSRs will give you confidence as you start your snowshoeing adventures.
At less than 3 pounds a pair, these Northern Lites can carry up to 250 pounds, while still floating above the powder.
Aggressive traction features give you all the bite you need for steep climbs.
The sleek shape and spring-loaded suspension in these Atlas snowshoes provide everything you need to sprint on snow.
If all you need is a set for short walks a few weekends a year, at less than $100, these are the best cheap snowshoes out there.