Hunting and Fishing News & Blog Articles

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How to Keep Your Hunting Truck Running This Winter (and Stay Safe During Cold Weather Travel)

Be prepared this winter when you're on the road by keeping the right supplies in your truck. (Pixabay/)

The old straight-six engine finally quit turning over shortly after midnight. The battery was sucked of its last cranking amperage by churning that motor over at negative 30 degrees in one hopeless/last attempt to get it to fire. It was no use. I had no cell phone, and it was too far to walk. Fortunately, being out predator calling on the crisp, moon-lit night, I had all my winter clothes on, but when you stop moving, the cold starts to slowly seep through. I was a cheechako (a greenhorn kid in Alaska) at the time, and although I wasn’t in a remote spot, it was far enough away from home that I would get a healthy dose of cold-weather education that night.

My truck’s engine would not start, but I had what I needed to start a fire, and spent the entire night alternating between gathering wood and huddling around the small blaze. It was an exhausting process, but kept me warm (and occupied). After about eight hours, someone happened upon me—luckily with a bottle of HEET—and we were able to jump-start the truck. My short misadventure was over. It was my first real brush with dangerous cold, and it taught me a lesson that I always needed to be prepared.

Living in Fairbanks, Alaska, will give you an education in cold weather. Temperatures sometimes plummet to negative 50 or colder. Hunting, trapping, or adventuring in interior Alaska during the winter is hard on equipment, and anything that can go wrong, will. Hell, just getting your truck started in the morning can be a chore if you don’t take the proper precautions. And winter weather can be deadly if you aren’t ready for it. A simple vehicle breakdown can quickly devolve into a desperate survival situation. In Alaska, you must live in a constant state of preparedness.

If you live anywhere the temperature plummets below freezing, you need to have a winter survival kit in your truck. From staying warm to firing up your engine when there’s no chance help is coming, here is what you need to keep in your cab this winter.

1. Jumper Cable Packs

A jumper pack can generate enough electricity to get your engine started in cold weather.
Iso-HEET will keep moisture out of your fuel tank, preventing breakdowns.
This tool kit from Pangolin is a must have for winter travel.
Maxtrax can dig you out of the deepest snow drift.

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Get Inside a Buck’s Core Area Without Spooking It

Aaron Warbritton, co-founder of The Hunting Public, poses with an Iowa buck he tagged during the 2020 deer season. He bumped him from his bed, and then killed him the next day in the same area. (The Hunting Public/)

Few things are more exhilarating than eyeing a mature whitetail, and getting to within bow range. It takes serious skill (or loads of luck), and making it happen consistently demands a meticulous approach.

The Hunting Public guys travel the country every fall in search of mature bucks. Much of their hunting is done on public land, so they must rely on some unconventional tactics in order to have more success. Aaron Warbritton is one of the crew members and seasoned at slipping in tight to unsuspecting whitetails. This skill is an art form.

“It depends on what your goals are, but if it is to shoot mature bucks, one of the most important things is to push in closer to bedding,” says Warbritton. “You can focus on this throughout every phase of the hunting season.”

It’s a year-round process. It isn’t just confined to the hunt itself. There are things to consider, including post-season projects, pre-season preparations, in-season precautions, and what to do when you inevitably mess up and spook that buck.

Killing a deer in its bedroom isn’t easy. It usually takes advanced planning and knowledge of the area. (Josh Honeycutt/)

Post-Season Projects

Killing a deer in its bedroom isn’t easy. It usually takes advanced planning and knowledge of the area.
During the post-season, scout the entire property, determine where deer bed, and how they enter and exit these areas.
Under the right circumstances, water access can be a great, low-impact way to enter and exit stand locations.
It’s nearly impossible to maneuver through thick cover without alerting deer. Wait for wet, windy days to attempt it.
The author poses with a Kentucky deer he killed during the 2020 season right on the edge of the buck's bedding area. He set up within 80 yards of the buck’s bed.

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5 Old-School Snow Goose Tactics That Still Work Today

Try running an old-school snow goose rig to fool wary white birds. (John Gordon/)

In the late 1990s and into the early 2000s, Texas’ coastal prairie was THE SPOT to hunt snow geese. For years, I guided hunters from all around the U.S. and Mexico for light geese. Most hunters now target these birds during the spring conservation season, but back then Texas guides still primarily hunted in the fall, armed with mouth calls (not e-callers) and white rags tied to dowels as decoys.

With the change in agriculture practices, you can hardly kill a snow goose in coastal Texas anymore, but some of the old-school methods we used more than 30 years ago still work. Snows are a very adaptive species, and today’s hunters should consider using proven tactics that these smart geese haven’t seen in more than three decades. I’m not saying you can throw a few hundred rags out like we used to back in the day and kill a pile of white every time. But there are some tactics from a bygone era that will work…and put more snows in your decoys.

1. Sit in the Decoys

Tyson Keller with two blue geese after hunting in a traditional socks spread. (John Gordon/)

In the late ’90s, the layout blind changed how goose hunters approached concealment, but snow goose guides on the Texas coast never embraced them. Our way was dawning a white parka and laying on a backboard, which are two flat wooden boards—a long and short piece— screwed together to create a head/backrest. The spread was all white, so what better way to blend in than wearing the same color?

As the spring conservation season gained steam, more hunters embraced the layout blind. They are comfortable and a great way to eliminate hunter movement. The blinds do come with drawbacks. One is they are often cumbersome and a pain in the ass to transport into and out of the field (many farmers will not let hunters drive in this time of year because the fields are so wet). Then there is set-up and take-down time. Add in brushing and possibly digging in to lower the profile of the blind and it all adds up to inconvenience and too much time wasted, especially if you are chasing the birds for a week straight.

Tyson Keller with two blue geese after hunting in a traditional socks spread.
A much younger version of the author after a morning on the coastal prairie of Texas.
Most modern snow goose hunters use a tornado machine like the one seen here.
Guide Jimmy Reel in the rags on a Texas snow goose hunt.

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The New 6.8 Western is a Versatile Big-Game Hunting and Long-Range Shooting Cartridge from Browning and Winchester

The new 6.8 Western is being loaded by Browning and Winchester and is being touted as the ultimate big-game hunting cartridge. (John Whipple/)

If you want to introduce a successful new big-game cartridge these days, it’s got to be the fastest, hottest, hardest-hitting, new load ever created, right? Well, actually, no. Browning and Winchester’s new 6.8 Western works off the concept that if you take a long, sleek, heavy bullet and fire it at a reasonable velocity, you’ll get just as good (or better) down-range performance as ultra-fast bullets that are less streamlined. And, you’ll get that performance with less recoil.

So their engineers took a .270 Winchester Short Mag. case and lowered the shoulder to allow for a longer bullet in a short-action rifle. That also meant less propellant loaded into the round.

“The challenge in 6.8 Western was all about balance,” says Kyle Masinelli, director of New Product Development for Olin Winchester. “It was the balance of taking a parent case in .270 WSM and actually taking away powder capacity to make it more powerful down range. It seems counterintuitive, but that was exactly what was accomplished. If we compare it to our top performing 270 WSM cartridge, the 6.8 Western has 10 percent less propellant, but has 12 percent more energy at 500 yards. It seems that we cheated physics somewhat, but we really just used it to our advantage by optimizing case capacity and bullet weight. Less propellant also equates to less muzzle blast.”

The 6.8 Western (left) compared to the .270 WSM and 6.5 Creedmoor. (Browning/)

And there’s no doubt that Browning and Winchester are touting this new cartridge as a long-range hunting and target shooting load to try to capture some of the excitement created by the 6.5 Creedmoor and 6.5 PRC. With the 6.8 Western’s heavier bullets, Winchester says it’s bringing 16 percent more energy than the 6.5 PRC at 500 yards and 67 percent more energy than the 6.5 Creedmoor. Winchester is claiming 24 ft-lb of recoil, which is about the same as a 7mm Rem. Mag. (but again, with more energy at long ranges).

Both Browning and Winchester are offering ammo in this new cartridge and building rifles for it. For starters, Winchester will load 165-Grain Accubond Long Range bullets and Browning will load 175-Grain Sierra Tipped Game King bullets. Eventually they plan to introduce loads with the Winchester Ballistic Silvertip and a Match BTHP. Last fall, Tyler Freel and I both had the opportunity to test the two bullets they’re launching this cartridge with and we got to see real-world performance on a handful of big-game animals. Here’s what we found. —AR

The 6.8 Western (left) compared to the .270 WSM and 6.5 Creedmoor.
Browning will be loading the 6.8 Western in 175-grain Sierra Tipped Game King bullets.
This bull was taken with the 175-grain Sierra bullets in 6.8 Western.
Winchester will be loading the 6.8 Western in 165-grain Accubond Long Range bullets.
Hunting the high country in southeast Alaska with Browning X-Bolt Western Hunter.
Robinson's blacktail buck taken with the 165-grain Accubond Long Range bullet in 6.8 Western.
Alex Robinson's whitetail buck taken with the 165-grain Accubond Long Range bullet in 6.8 Western.
A mushroomed 6.8 Western bullet that was recovered from a whitetail buck.

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We Had Rob Roberts Customize a Winchester SX4 into The Ultimate Waterfowl Hunting Shotgun

Testing the SX4 on the pattern board. (Joe Genzel/)

Duck hunters require the most out of their shotguns. We hunt in the toughest and in the soggiest, swampiest places. I’ve seen what a season of hard hunting can do to a brand-new gun, so I wanted an autoloader that I wouldn’t have to worry about functioning properly no matter how harsh the environment. I also wanted a gun I wouldn’t have to strip down for a deep cleaning every time I took it to hunt divers in salt or brackish water, which you must do if your gun is coated in blued steel. The shotgun would also have to shoot better than any I had ever shouldered. This was asking a lot, I know.

You can’t get this kind of functionality and durability from a gun you buy off the shelf, so I asked gunsmith Rob Roberts if he would make the necessary upgrades to a Winchester SX4 and build me a custom duck gun. Here is a detailed look at the upgrades Roberts made.

Why I Chose the SX4

Affordable and functional, the SX4 is a great buy. (Joe Genzel/)

The No. 1 thing I wasn’t willing to budge on for this project was a gas-operated auto-loader. I love Benellis and all the shotguns that fall under that brand, but inertia-driven guns don’t have the versatility I required in an ultimate duck gun. I haven’t had good luck with them cycling light target loads, and since I shoot a lot of skeet in the off-season to stay sharp, there was no way I was buying a gun that functioned off recoil.

I have also found that gas guns cycle better (as long as you keep them clean) on high-volume snow goose hunts. In the past, I’ve hunted snows extensively with the SX3, and the gas system on the SX4 is similar (if not exactly the same). The Super Xs function flawlessly. By comparison, when you are shooting multiple shells through an inertia gun in one volley, they can hang up in the action if the buttstock slips off your shoulder. The inertia guns need you as a backstop to drive the action, and if there is nothing for it to work against, they won’t fire properly. These experiences are based on my personal use and preferences. It’s not an indictment against inertia guns or those companies that manufacture them.

Affordable and functional, the SX4 is a great buy.
Roberts cuts the forcing cone ring inside the bore to create better patterns downrange.
The T3 pairs best with the larger bore diameter of the SX4.
A lighter trigger will make you a faster shot on speedy divers.
The author tested four different shotshells at four different distances at the range.
Putting the SX4 to the test on Texas ducks (please note, the author is left-handed and switched the safety, so the gun is on safe).

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The Biggest Antlered Does You’ve Ever Seen—Including a 200-incher

Doug Laird’s antlered doe grossed 200 4/8 inches. (Doug Laird/)

Like albino deer, melanistic whitetails, and the ever-elusive world-record, antlered does are among the rarities that hunters dream of, but generally never see. And if they do, most don’t even realize it. This is the stuff of legends, really, and there are more that biologists who don’t know about the phenomenon, than those who do.

The Science

Does that produce enough testosterone can produce antlers. Most of the time, these are very small, and due to similar body characteristics, might even resemble 1 ½- to 2 ½-year-old bucks with small 2- to 8-point racks. Each case is dictated by hormonal imbalances and reproductive abnormalities.

“It’s testosterone based,” says biologist Grant Woods of Growing Deer TV. “All males and females have testosterone and estrogen. But why does one doe have a larger input of testosterone — or smaller input of estrogen — than most females?”

That’s usually the mystery. But lower levels of testosterone oftentimes lead to smaller, velvet-clad headgear that lasts all year. Does that generate higher levels of testosterone grow sets that shed and go hard-antlered each year. Which category each individual falls into depends on numerous factors.

Approximately 1 in 10,000 does grow racks.
Chuck Rorie shows off his big Kansas doe.
Curtis Russell had his deer on camera, but didn’t know it was a doe.
Curtis Russell’s antlered doe is full of character.
Doug Laird joyfully poses with the world-record antlered doe.
Laird’s antlered doe even had a fawn and an udder full of milk.
No matter how you look at it, this deer is impressive.
The tremendous rack on Laird’s deer.

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The Smartest Ways to Trick Late-Season Canada Geese When You Can’t Get on the X

If you can't get access to the field geese are feeding in, you must get under them. (Drew Palmer/Miler North Outdoors/)

Finding the X—the field big geese are feeding in—is easy; getting access to hunt it is not. In the last decade, it’s become increasingly difficult to hunt the agriculture fields waterfowl want to be in. Landowners have become stingy about who they allow on their property, and more and more outfitters are leasing up land, making it difficult for the average guy to get access. So, you have to target fields that geese are flying over, from the roost to the feed, and try to kill them that way.

I’ll caution you, it’s not easy. There’s a reason only 1 million or so hunters are waterfowlers (even fewer chase late-season geese). But there are some tactics that can give you an edge over the honkers. It just takes the right weather, diligent scouting, and a trailer full of gear. Here’s how to target these wary geese when you can’t get on the X.

Don’t Hunt Traditional Locations

Pit hunting traditional goose grounds makes it tough to traffic honkers. (Joe Genzel/)

I grew up field hunting giant Canada geese in the Illinois River Valley from leased pits, so we didn’t have many options to move fields when birds didn’t come our way. That made it impossible to trick honkers into the decoys. I learned real quick that if you can’t get geese over top of you, it’s near impossible to kill them.

In traditional goose hunting locations, it’s not easy to stay on the birds because there’s a pit in every corn or bean field. You’re stuck in a single location unless you have a network of buddies with multiple pits. But that is a rare circumstance. Instead of blowing cash on a leased pit that won’t produce much, spend your hard-earned money on a trailer, more decoys, and different styles of blinds. Then you need to find an area that doesn’t get loads of pressure, which is also tough, but less frustrating than watching birds fly over your neighbor’s pit (not yours) for two straight weeks.

Pit hunting traditional goose grounds makes it tough to traffic honkers.
To kill big, late-season honkers, you need a diverse decoy spread.
This jerk rig goose flag from Banded will get the motion away from goose hunters.
Concealment is a key ingredient to successful late-season goose hunts.
Having open water after a hard freeze will attract geese headed back north.

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Right Now is The Best Time to Be a Public-Land Small-Game Hunter

January and February are my two favorite months to be in the public hardwood bottoms along the Illinois River. I spent my youth duck and goose hunting with dad on the banks of this historic waterfowl flyway. But the birds don’t come here in the numbers that they once did, and with those days long behind us, and a new squirrel dog by my side, I’m chasing more foxtails and grays than ever.

I hadn’t squirrel hunted regularly since I was a kid, and forgot all that the woods have to offer this time of year. Depending on your state’s regulations and season lengths, there’s a fantastic opportunity to hunt multiple species on the same piece of property right now. You just have to do a little background on the site you want to hunt. Or, maybe you know a place well and just haven’t yet realized that it’s a damn fine spot to shoot an assortment of critters.

I can’t guarantee you will kill six different types of wild game on the same morning. And late season in the public woods is tough. A lot of hunters have utilized these tracts in the past few months, and that puts a lot of pressure on the animals. But now most of those hunters are gone, and that’s why you should be hunting. Here are some tips that will help you bag more small game this winter.

The Main Targets

Late-season is one of the best times to be in the woods. (Larry Case/)

I’m looking to shoot squirrels and rabbits first during winter hunts. My dog runs out in front with his nose to the ground, trying to tree a foxtail or gray. While he is doing that, any brush piles or thickets I run across get a few swift kicks from my boot. The hope is that a cottontail will spring from cover and I will kill a bonus rabbit while the pup is chasing after squirrels. Sometimes he will scent-track rabbits as well, but he has yet to get on one and run it back to me (rabbits run in a circle pattern when they are chased if you didn’t know).

Small creeks and rivers are an ideal spot to target waterfowl.
The author always shoots non-toxic shot and wears blaze orange when waterfowl and upland seasons are in.
Beat the competition to the first sheds of winter.

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Maine’s Mystery Buck: The Obscure Tale of Maine’s 110-Year-Old, Non-Typical Record Whitetail

The Hill Gould buck was taken in 1911 and scored 259 inches by Boone & Crockett (Bass Pro/)

Louie Cataldo grew up in a family of hunters in the remote Grand Lake Stream area of northern Maine, where he would eventually become a registered guide, leading hunters in search of the region’s legendary big-woods whitetails. The bucks were celebrated in no small part due to a giant deer that his grandfather, Hill Gould, killed when he was a teen.

The Hunt

The year was 1910. Hill, his twin brother, Eldon and their friend, Leonard “Kizzie” Kennison, all in their late teens, headed to an old tar paper hunting shack they called the “Bear’s Den.” The blind—as it would be referred to today— was located along the Little River, which flows between West Grand and Big Lake. Gould himself was a guide.

“That’s what everybody did back then,” says Cataldo. “There weren’t a lot of other ways to make money so that’s what most folks around there did—still do.”

With no sports in camp, the boys took some time to hunt for themselves, each heading off in a different direction to stillhunt the big woods. Meat was the main goal back then and hunters were allowed two deer so any deer would do.

The mounted Gould buck.
Will Maine hunters ever take a bigger non-typical?

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Best Mosquito Repellent: Find the Right Insect Control for You

Ward off pesky skeeters with these handy repellents. (Pexels/)

Mosquitoes are everywhere. You’ll find them at the equator, at the earth’s temperate zones, and even at the Arctic pestering the caribou, along with whoever and whatever is hunting them.

Mosquitoes can ruin an evening outdoors or even an entire camping trip. And mosquito bites can do more than itch. If you live in or travel to areas plagued by mosquito-borne illnesses such as malaria, dengue fever, or zika virus, getting bit by a mosquito can be downright dangerous.

Knowing how mosquitoes find you and bite you will help you choose the best mosquito repellent for you:

Only female mosquitoes actually bite and drink blood, which they use like a prenatal smoothie filled with the proteins they need to grow a brood of bouncing baby mosquitoes. To do that, they first locate a victim using a suite of sensors on their antennae and mouthparts that pick up chemical signatures from body heat, exhaled carbon dioxide, and volatile fatty acids that waft off your skin. (Those volatile fatty acids differ based on things like your sex and what you eat, and may explain why some of us are barely bothered by mosquitos, while others are basically a mosquito buffet.)

After the female mosquito lands on you, she unsheathes a set of six needles from her mouthparts. One pair of these needles have serrated edges for sawing through your skin. Another pair holds your tissues open while the last pair works together to drool mosquito saliva into the wound—which contains an anticoagulant, to keep your blood from clotting—and suck up a body-full of your blood.

The classic aerosol contains 25 percent DEET and a proprietary powder-dry formula.
This plant-based option is 30 percent oil of lemon eucalyptus and 65 percent PMD.
It deploys a mist of repellent for up to 12 hours of protection.
These coils release mosquito-paralyzing pyrethrins into the air for up to 7 hours.
This zapper draws in mosquitoes with a subtle UV light, then electrocutes them.

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The Evolution of Shotgun Coatings: From Blued Barrels to (Mostly) Impervious Firearm Finishes

From left: The Benelli Super Black Eagle 3 with the matte blue BE.S.T. finish; an SBE3 with a camo finish, and a Remington 870 Special Purpose Marine Magnum pump with a nickel-plated finish on the barrel and receiver. (Natalie Krebs/)

My shotgun slid sideways along the mesh wire fence that held the blind together. It was a slow morning, and the Benelli was propped against our makeshift hide of cedar boughs. I reached out to readjust the gun and, instead of setting it upright, clumsily scraped the barrel across six inches of the rusted wire. But when I rubbed my thumb over the scratch, I discovered it wasn’t a scratch at all—just a powdery residue from the fence that disappeared when I touched it.

This was lucky, because it wasn’t my gun. It was a test model —the Super Black Eagle 3, in Benelli’s new BE.S.T. finish—and if I couldn’t test it on birds at the moment, this accident seemed to count. Like some hunters, I’m hard on my gear and I don’t always take care of it the way I should. Like most waterfowlers, I want a low-maintenance shotgun I can shoot in any weather without worrying about rust.

As we waited for late-morning flights, I got to thinking about all the guns I’ve succeeded in scratching (with less effort), dinging, and soaking in the rain. I’m not sure if any coating could stand up to the hot mess that is my hunting season, year after year. So I did a little research and, as expected, it turns out not all shotgun coatings were created equal. But some are much better at withstanding the elements—and hunters—than others.

A Model 12 Winchester with a blued barrel. (Phil Bourjaily/)

Shotgun Coatings 101

Diving into every iteration of every type of coating would be as painful as sitting through a chemistry lecture with a hangover. Instead, let’s run through the CliffsNotes.

A Model 12 Winchester with a blued barrel.
Bourjaily considers the maintenance of hunting with a wood-and-steel shotgun on a snowy day well worth it.
A mixed bag and the BE.S.T.-treated Benelli.
A competitor's barrel showing the damage from 48 hours of saltwater exposure, compared to a Benelli BE.S.T.-treated barrel after three months of saltwater exposure.

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Your State-by-State Spring 2021 Turkey Forecast

Don’t look now, but spring turkey seasons will kick off in just a few weeks. Here’s our annual preview of what to expect. (Brian Lovett/)

After enduring the COVID-19 pandemic this last calendar year, we need something to look forward to.

Enter turkey season. With the promise of brilliant spring dawns and thunder in the timber, who could feel downtrodden or depressed? Sure, the woods might be a bit more crowded this spring, as it was in 2020. But look at it this way: Like-minded folks are taking advantage of one of America’s greatest wildlife resources and enjoying an experience available nowhere else. Plus, there’s plenty of room to roam from coast to coast. Pick your poison: Easterns, Merriam’s, Rio Grandes or Osceolas (or all four if you’re going for a grand slam). Just be ready, because the action starts soon.

Here’s a quick guide to plan your spring 2021 hunts.

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

Decoys can help close the deal on shy gobblers.
The author with a late-season tom.
Winter turkey numbers are looking strong in some states.
Red dot scopes are a great way to avoid missing spring birds.
The long walk home is made more pleasant when there’s a longbeard over your shoulder.
Give some thought to your calling strategies. Call more aggressively early in the season and quieter late in the spring.
Missouri’s Steve Stoltz worked his magic on a Show-Me State longbeard.
A mature tom taken in his strut zone.

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Best Storage Bins: Keep Your Stuff Protected and Organized

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

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

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

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

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

Things to Consider When Shopping for the Best Storage Bins

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

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

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The Hottest New Crossbows for 2021

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

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

RELATED: The Best New Compound Bows for 2021

Excalibur TwinStrike

Excalibur TwinStrike (Excalibur/)

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

TenPoint Havoc RS440 XERO

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

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The Best New Compound Bows for 2021

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

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

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

Mathews Archery V3 27 & V3 31

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

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

Mathews Archery Prima & Atlas

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

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7 Tips for Catching Big Cold-Weather Bass

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

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

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

1. Dress for success

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

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

2. Pick smart shoes

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

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How to Call More Coyotes into Shotgun Range

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

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

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

1. Sneak into Your Stand

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

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

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

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

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Field Test: The New Straight-Pull Savage Impulse Rifle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Best Bear Spray: Five Things to Consider

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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