Hunting and Fishing News & Blog Articles

Stay up-to-date on hunting, fishing and camping products, trends and news.

Best Hip Boots: Fish and Hunt in Water and Muck

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

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

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

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

Best Rugged Hip Boots: WeaArco Hip Waders

Best Insulated Hip Boots: Lacrosse Men’s Big Chief

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

Continue reading
  1257 Hits

Black Bear Hunters Set Harvest Records in Multiple States

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading
  1118 Hits

A Strop is the Best Way To Keep Your Knife Sharp

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

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

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

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

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

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

A strop can keep your boradheads sharp as well.

Continue reading
  1109 Hits

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

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

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

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

A Public-Land Origin Story

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

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

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

Continue reading
  1139 Hits

Are Wolverines Making a Comeback in the Lower 48?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading
  1067 Hits

The Fall of the .220 Swift

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading
  1660 Hits

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

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

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

Most Unique Mother’s Day Gifts: Buff Multifunctional Headwear

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

Most Useful Gifts for Mom: Leatherman Wave Plus

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

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

Continue reading
  952 Hits

The Best Turkey Decoys To Help Fill Your Tag

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

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

Best Turkey Decoy Pair: Primos Gobbstopper Combo

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

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

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

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

Continue reading
  1169 Hits

Best Men’s Socks to Keep Your Feet Warm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading
  1368 Hits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A reintroduced Lahontan cutthroat trout.

Continue reading
  1104 Hits

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

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

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

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

Best All-Around Fishing Vest: Orvis Pro Fly Vest

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

Best Lightweight Fishing Vest: Orvis Ultralight Vest for Men

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

Continue reading
  1355 Hits

Best Headlamp for Campers, Hunters, Anglers, and More

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

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


Features to Consider When Shopping for the Best Headlamp

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

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

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

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

Continue reading
  1035 Hits

Want to Shoot Precision Rifle Competitions? Don’t Let These Excuses Stop You

The author found that when he stopped making excuses and started setting personal goals in competitions, he made more progress and had more fun. (Courtesy Robert Brantley/)

What are the barriers that keep people from shooting precision rifle competitions? Allow me to count the ways.

After talking to lots of different folks about this over the years, I’ve seen that their reasons for not competing vary. For some, it’s the cost of the equipment. For others, it’s the misconception that their gear needs to be perfect. Without the latest and greatest kit, they reason, they won’t do well. Some would-be competitors hesitate because they fear failure. They especially worry about not doing well in front of others. Folks also commonly think they don’t have the resources—time, as well as money—to participate.

Oddly enough, I’ve found that many of my best matches took place when I was confronting these issues myself. While those moments when you do have total control over every aspect of your shooting feel great, you also don’t have to have every “i” dotted and “t” crossed to shoot at a high level.

And you shouldn’t let a less-than-perfect situation keep you from signing up, either. For example, I talked to one guy who told me he didn’t go shoot a local one-day club match because his brass wasn’t annealed. That’s just overthinking things—letting that notion of perfection keep you from having some fun and learning, too.

I think the key is for shooters to define their own standards of success and work to achieve those goals. It’s not always about being No. 1 on the podium. Your measure of success could be just beating more people than beat you. Or getting a win in your division. Or just making a certain percentage of your shots throughout the day.

Continue reading
  973 Hits

19th Century Shotguns: Rise of the Repeaters

From the farm to the battlefield, 19th-century shotguns put food on the table, kept enemies at bay, and became widely available during a post-Industrial Revolution economy. The Civil War had made the mass production of guns a necessity. Small single-owner and family firms still produced hand-made guns of high quality. But the firearms giants of Winchester, Remington, and Marlin were changing the game and offering affordable production guns to a hungry market.

The growing need was not for more single-shot and double-barreled shotguns, although they still commanded market share. Lever-action rifles were gaining in popularity, and bird hunters clamored for their own repeaters: guns that could shoot more than one or two shells. John Moses Browning obliged them. Here are four shotguns that defined a new era of gun-making.

Winchester 1887

With the popularity of lever-action rifles, Winchester tasked John Browning with making a repeating shotgun. (Rock Island Auction/)

Winchester was having so much success with rifle sales, it knew a shotgun that could fire multiple rounds would be a winner. Christopher Spencer of Spencer Carbine fame had come up with a repeating shotgun in 1882, but it had a strange action that ejected shells from the top of the receiver and didn’t catch on. Winchester already had a relationship with John Browning through his 1885 single-shot rifle design and tasked him with developing a repeating shotgun. Browning thought a pump-action was the way to go, but Winchester was the “lever-action” company, so the company insisted on that type of shotgun.

Browning went to work and came up with the 1887 lever-action shotgun. It holds five rounds by opening the action and feeding shells into the magazine tube located under the barrel. The gun could be purchased in 12-gauge (2 5/8-inch chamber) or 10-gauge (2 7/8-inch chamber), both of which were only loaded with black powder at the time. Barrel lengths varied from 30 to 32 inches with a much shorter 20-inch barrel offered in 1888. Custom Damascus barrels were available on the 1887. Hollywood brought the 1887 back in “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.” It was the shotgun wielded by Arnold Schwarzenegger throughout much of the movie.

John Browning also designed the pump-action 1893.
The 1897 was put into service during World War I and II.
The Marlin 1898 closely resembles Winchester's 1897.

Continue reading
  1141 Hits

Giants of the Yucca: Hunting for Bucketlist Whitetails in Eastern Colorado

I’ve never shot a giant whitetail buck—I mean a real stomper. That puts me in the company of most deer hunters. And like those fellow whitetail hunters it hasn’t been for lack of trying. This last season, I took another crack at finding a monster and headed to an unlikely place to do so—the plains of Eastern Colorado.

I’ve been hunting whitetails a long time, and have climbed stands in some of the best places for big bucks—southern Illinois’ hardwoods, the plains of Kansas, ag bottomlands in Missouri, the dark swamps in Mississippi where some true giants grow, eastern Kentucky and Saskatchewan, Canada.

But I can trace my fascination with whitetails to the place I started hunting deer—Northern Michigan.

It was there, decades ago, that I saw my first “real” whitetail buck. I had only been deer hunting for a couple seasons, and though I’d shot some does and a spike, I hadn’t put eyes on anything like a genuine 8-pointer.

I’d see bigger deer hanging from the buck poles on the neighbors’ lands, and stacked in the meat locker at the IGA grocery where we’d take our deer to be processed, but never crossed paths with one myself.

Some cattle in the cottonwoods on the 35,000-acre ranch the author and his friend hunted.
Glassing up big Colorado whitetail bucks across a miles-wide field of winter wheat.
Cody Arnold with his huge Colorado whitetail buck, which sported split G2s on each side.
Hornady’s 143-grain ELD-X in 6.5 PRC was dead-on at 100 yards.
The author's Springfield Armory Model 2020 Waypoint chambered in 6.5 PRC perched on his ever-present Game Changer bag and tripod setup.
The author with his 10-point Colorado whitetail buck.
The author’s 515-yard shot split the heart of his buck.

Continue reading
  1081 Hits

Coydog, Coywolf, or Coyote? The 5 Things You Need to Know About Eastern Canids

Eastern coyotes indeed appear more wolf-like than their western cousins and are very much capable of taking down deer-size game. (Gerry Bethge/)

They go by many names: coydog, yodel dog, song dog, trickster, brush wolf, tweed wolf...

Most people, including biologists, now generally refer to them as eastern coyotes (Canis latrans), but sometimes even the scientists aren’t exactly sure where this critter falls in the taxonomic spectrum. Meanwhile the human population is split. Some hunters consider them a nuisance and even a bane, others a challenge. Some suburban and even urban dwellers fear them, while others are thrilled to have them around. So what really is this large canid that now occupies nearly all of the eastern U.S. and Canada? Let’s take a look.

1. Are Coydogs Real?

Eastern coyotes were, and still are, sometimes colloquially referred to as coydogs, particularly on the leading edge of their eastward expanding range. Some of this is due to our need to ascribe names to new and different creatures.

“Our eastern coyotes are very different from western coyotes,” says Shevenell Webb, furbearer biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. “On average, they’re about 10 pounds heavier. They eat deer and they show more color variation. Some exhibit a pale gray pelage similar to western coyotes, but others are blond, red, and even black. It was once thought this variation may be derived from historical breeding with dogs.”

An eastern coyote mousing in a midwinter field.
The author with a wintertime Maine coyote.

Continue reading
  1509 Hits

The Best Camping Coffee Makers

A hot cup of coffee (or two) will get you started off on the right foot when you’re outdoors. (Free-Photos / Pixabay/)

With a great camping coffee maker, it’s easy to be your own barista. There’s a huge range of products, from propane- and battery-operated drip coffee makers that work just like those at home, to ingenious camping percolators, pourover coffee makers, and camping French press coffee makers that will make you the envy of the campground. If you’re a true coffee aficionado, you can choose a product that will make coffee every bit as delicious as your favorite java shop back home. Or, if you’re just trying to get as much eye-opening brew into as many people as possible, there are choices for families and large groups that will be an indispensable part of your camping kitchen. Either way, this is at the top of our camping checklist.

Best propane camping coffee maker: Coleman QuikPot Propane Coffeemaker

Best camp stove coffee maker: Coleman Camping Coffee Maker

Best lightweight camping coffee maker: Kuissential SlickDrip Collapsible Silicone Coffee Dripper

Best camping coffee maker for an open fire: GSI Outdoors 12 Cup Enamelware Percolator - Blue

Fired by easy-to-find propane canisters, this portable coffee maker is an essential part of a great camp kitchen.
This easy-to-use drip coffee maker is built with a unique steel base that sits on the burner of a camp stove.
This pourover coffee maker smashes down wafer-thin, and is nearly unbreakable.
A classic design, this sturdy coffee percolator can handle dings and drops and still pump out eye-opening brew.
This coffee press makes fabulous French press coffee, and fits in car and camping chair cup holders.

Continue reading
  1618 Hits

Best Backpacking Stove: Camping Gear That Gets You Cooking Quickly

A good backpack stove will allow you to make warm meals and hot drinks with a minimum of weight and fuss. (Brandi Redd / Unsplash/)

The yearning to explore Mother Nature—and eat well while doing so—sends many people on a quest for the best backpacking stove they can find. Sure, you can pack along beef jerky and protein bars, or even go to the mess and trouble of making a wood fire to cook over in camp. But a good backpacking stove makes it easy. It’s one of the best pieces of camping gear you can own and should be on everyone’s camping checklist.

However, backpacking stoves come in many different price ranges and various levels of quality. The size and weight of a stove for backpacking is very important, since the only way to get it to your camp kitchen is to carry it along. But equally important to size is how powerful a stove is—especially if you’ll be cooking for more than just one or two people. Sometimes, even a budget-friendly canister stove can get the job done quite well. To choose the best backpacking stove for you and your purposes, consider the following important factors.

Best lightweight backpacking stove: MSR PocketRocket backpacking stove

Best fast backpacking stove: REDCAMP windproof portable backpacking stove

Best backpacking stove with adjustable flame control: Jetboil backpacking stove cooking system

This tiny stove weighs in at only 2.6 ounces, and measures a diminutive 2x2x3 inches.
This propane/butane lightweight backpacking stove is easy to use and store, and can boil a liter of water in only 2 minutes.
This tiny stove’s integrated cooking cup with insulating cozy makes boiling water, and keeping it hot, easier than ever.
This wood-powered backpacking stove is made of sturdy stainless steel and doesn’t require you to haul any gas canisters or bottles into camp with you.
This high-output butane stove quickly and evenly heats larger pots and pans.

Continue reading
  1699 Hits

Idaho Black Bear Hunting Offers a Close-to-Home Adventure

Brooks Hansen (left) and Rocky Fennessey (right) hiking up a forest service road toward an active bear bait site. (Ben Romans/)

“There’s a bear,” my friend Rocky Fennessey says to me. “I can see the tip of its nose. It’s coming down that same trail that bear took a few years ago—the one your dad shot.”

My friend Brooks Hansen sits to Rocky’s left, while I’m on his right—all three of us concealed in a makeshift blind of brush and broken tree limbs 40 yards from the bait site, and still, neither of us see what Rocky sees. But this is pretty typical. Rocky is tuned in to this region of Idaho: these ridgelines, this drainage, and the bears that live here. This is the first time Brooks and I have hunted together. He’s perched his Nosler rifle on a bipod, but even with the aid of a scope, he whispers that he can’t see the bear.

“Stay still. Don’t twitch a muscle. It’s going to come down and try to catch our scent, so just be calm. Don’t move until it’s at the barrel with its back turned to us,” Rocky says.

A moment later, a black shadow does materialize from behind a sapling. I can see a nose, then a head and ears, followed by a front shoulder. It’s squared up and looking directly at us. All three of us have been in this situation before. It’s nearly impossible to fool the nose of a bear. It knows we’re here. The question is, does it care?

As Rocky predicted, the bear isn’t scared of our presence, and after a slow saunter downhill and around the bait barrel, it settles in, with its back turned to us, to gnaw on dog food, melted marshmallows, gelatin, chocolate-covered cherries, and all manner of grease and scraps Rocky accumulated in the off season.

Fennessey's bear-baiting routine is effective; his success rate is 100 percent. Though his greatest joy is hosting other hunters.
Hansen’s bear wasn’t a color-phase, but it was the largest he’s taken to date.
The morning after tagging the bear, Hansen skinned the animal and prepared meat for the smoker.

Continue reading
  1171 Hits

Why Do I Salvage Every Scrap from Ducks and Geese? It’s Cheaper

There's more to waterfowl than the breast meat, including tenders, wings, legs, giblets, and yes, even the feet. (Jonathan Wilkins/)

Just about everything involved in waterfowling is designed to separate your money from your bank account. It’s a gear-heavy pursuit, with equipment like boats and waders that spend a ton of time partially submerged and subject to any number of hazards. Beaver stumps, branches, and the gnarled roots of long-forgotten trees tear and snag and disrupt. Gasoline, hotels, food, guns, shells, decoys, and licenses all conspire to make every outing cost a little more than you’d planned. That’s to say nothing of the amount of time and thought invested throughout your year—especially in punctuated burst of insanity during season. Waterfowlers spend days slogging in difficult conditions with heavy gear. We trek through the woods and the bayous and the fields, all in pursuit of a quack.

Those costs and those efforts will not change. We endure this because we are forced to, by love or compulsion. We can mitigate the expenditure, to some degree, by taking care of our gear to prolong its usefulness, repairing it when we are able. Beyond that, our best and most effective means of keeping costs in check is to maximize the yield from each bird. That means moving beyond only taking the breast meat. When you realize that you can pretty easily get multiple meals from a big mallard or a reasonably-sized specklebelly, a limit of birds suddenly becomes not just a snack, but a windfall.

Read Next: The Best Ducks to Eat, and How to Cook the Ones You Think You Can’t

Simply put, if you’re only breasting out ducks and geese after a successful hunt, you’re letting a ton of flavor, and several potentially phenomenal meals, fall by the wayside. You’re also letting the price per pound of that bird skyrocket to the caviar and champagne stratosphere. You can bring the cost back down to terrestrial levels by approaching the cleaning process differently.

Generally, with ducks, I pluck dabblers and I skin divers. With geese, it’s more species specific: I normally pluck white fronted geese and skin light geese. Obviously, plucking birds is more labor intensive, but I find that the extra flavor and cooking options the skin and fat provide are absolutely worth the effort. Diving ducks can carry a lot of that off-putting “fishy” taste in their skin and fat; skinning them first removes most of that unwelcome flavor, with the added bonus of being a super-fast way to process a whole bird.

Roasted goose carcasses and specklebelly feet, ready to go into a stock pot. The feet (which need a good scrubbing first) will add collagen and create a more substantial stock.

Continue reading
  894 Hits