Hunting and Fishing News & Blog Articles

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Great TV for the Great Outdoors: DISH Outdoors Satellite TV Enhances the Outdoor Experience


DISH Outdoor Satellite for camping. (DISH/)

Over the years, outdoorsmen have benefitted from a slew of technological achievements designed to make their time in the field and on the water more enjoyable and productive. These days many rifles come straight from the factory able to shoot tight groups that once could be achieved only by an expensive custom product; hunters have access to GPS waypoint guidance on their cell phones that can easily and safely guide them to and from their deer stands; and bass fisherman can take advantage of 3D HD fish finders that help them quickly locate productive areas to fish. Technology has also enhanced another important area of the outdoor experience—relaxing at the end of day with friends and family. Thanks to DISH Outdoors, you can now catch that big game live and entertain your kids with their favorite movies, no matter where you make camp.

What It Is

The DISH Outdoors system consists of a DISH portable satellite antenna (I tested the DISH Playmaker from Winegard, but multiple models at different price points are available) and a Wally portable HD receiver that connects to your TV. The system is lightweight, rugged, and easy-to-pack equipment, ideal for use with RVs, cabins, and campers. Set up is simple, and no Wi-Fi or cell signal is needed. If you’ll be roughing it without access to power outlets, just bring along a portable power pack.


Easy to travel DISH Outdoor Satellite (DISH/)

Set Up

Place the antenna so it faces south in an open area where it can receive unobstructed signals, then link the antenna to the receiver with the supplied 25-foot-long coaxial cable. Connect the receiver to the TV. When powered up, the antenna will automatically find DISH satellite orbital satellite locations. Once the signal finder acquires the satellite signal, a pop-up menu appears on your TV. Use the remote to navigate through a series of set-up steps that sync the antenna to the receiver and the receiver to the monitor. Any connectivity issues are quickly resolved via an easy-to-use diagnostics panel.First time set-up may take a while as you acquaint yourself with the system’s operating and programming capabilities. Remember to place the antenna as high as you can, free of obstructions. Also keep in mind that if you move the antenna while it’s on, you’ll disconnect the signal.When I first set up the antenna, I couldn’t get a signal. I soon realized the problem: a broad-leafed tree was blocking reception. So, I moved the antenna a few feet to the side. Problem solved (the long cable is a real asset here). Because the reflector can grab only one satellite at a time, depending on the channel you want you may have to wait while it acquires another signal.

Easy to travel DISH Outdoor Satellite
Outdoor entertainment with DISH Satellite.

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Fishing books that inspire, entertain and educate


Soak it in. (Lilly Rum via Unsplash/)

No matter how good you are at fishing, chances are you can still learn more. And if you’re just beginning, or thinking about beginning, or somewhere in the middle of the life progression from beginner to pro, books will help take you to the next level. But in a world of a seemingly endless supply of fishing books, which one should you choose? We’re here to help. We broke it down to four books to get you started and give you tips and tricks and also a couple that will educate, inspire and simply entertain for nights around the campfire or lounging on your couch.


Great way to learn about new and familiar species and have fun while you’re doing it. (Amazon/)

You may never try to microfish for shiners or cast into agricultural canals, but that’s fine. Author Matthew Miller will take you with him while he tries. This book is exactly what any modern angler needs to read right now. It’s a realistic take on the state of fish and fishing in the U.S., but also offers readers a reason to be hopeful. When you’re done, you might just want to see what you can catch that’s different from your norm.


Go ahead, read for fun. (Amazon/)

The first in a budding series by novelist and acclaimed outdoor writer Keith McCafferty, The Royal Wulff Murders introduces readers to Sean Stranahan. He is a fly fisher, painter, and “has-been detective,” who of course becomes looped into a strange murder where the deceased has a fly in his lip. Read this one then get hooked on the series, you won’t regret it.


Trust us, you need to read this. (Amazon/)

The book’s description basically says it all: “The mission of The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing is to demystify and uncomplicate the tricks and tips that make a great trout fisher.” That’s not an exaggeration. The authors are lifelong fly fishermen who have lived and breathed the sport. It’s full of tips like how to place and drift your fly and how to cast straighter, more accurately and longer. The book came out in 2010 and has become a staple for novices and experts alike.


Read a classic. (Amazon/)

On its surface, this is a fishing story. It’s about a Cuban fisherman and his relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin. But like so much of Hemingway’s work, it’s about so much more. It’s a story about courage and personal triumph. It’s about persistence. It’s the book every angler, and really most people, should read in their lifetime.

Great way to learn about new and familiar species and have fun while you’re doing it.
Go ahead, read for fun.
Trust us, you need to read this.
Read a classic.

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Gear for a perfect fish fry


Dinner is served. (Andy Wang via Unsplash/)

Every hole-in-the-wall restaurant in the South has fried fish on the menu. But only the special ones draw Friday night crowds that wrap around the parking lot. Mastering the fish fry is an art form, and to do it right, the artist needs a few special tools. You can’t go wrong with these.


This device is exactly what you need for crispy, golden-brown fillets. (Amazon/)

Forget the oil-free nonsense. What you need is a reliable, electric deep fryer that maintains perfect temperature. There are plenty of good ones, but this one is a favorite—and of the perfect size for the family kitchen (go for the double basket version if you’re frying for more than half a dozen people).


This collapsible container makes breading fillets clean and easy. (Amazon/)

A batter bowl saves on mess, and is far and away the quickest way to bread a big pile of fish fillets. Most of them take up too much room, but this one collapses for easy storage. It’ll work to bread frog legs, vegetables, venison steaks, and anything else that might need a hot grease bath.


Favorite for those who like a little heat in their fish. (Amazon/)

The elite among us will have perfected their own fish-fry batter recipe. But this one is sure easy to use, and it’s a perennial crowd favorite—especially if your crowd tends to like things a little spicy. A half bag will batter up a good mess of bluegill fillets, if you’re wondering just how far three bags will go.


A fun and practical display for your fish fry. (Amazon/)

Yes, a casserole dish lined with paper towels works. But casserole dishes shatter when dropped, and fryer oil soaks right through the paper towels. These baskets have a grease-proof liner, are microwaveable for tomorrow’s leftovers, and are just the right size for your guests. They’re stackable and easy to clean, too.

This device is exactly what you need for crispy, golden-brown fillets.
This collapsible container makes breading fillets clean and easy.
Favorite for those who like a little heat in their fish.
A fun and practical display for your fish fry.

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Four GPS watches for worry-free training


Know where you go. (Tim Foster via Unsplash/)

Step counters are great, but if you actually want to know how far you’ve gone, and how fast you’ve been running, riding, skiing, or golfing, nothing beats a GPS watch. But the differences between a baseline watch that tells you speed and distance and a top-of-the line one that connects to your cell phone and keeps track of your heartrate is big. Not sure what is best for you? We broke down four of the best options to help you make a decision and then get out there.


Get your stats, don’t pay for extras. (Amazon/)

GPS watch technology has improved immensely in the last decade. An “affordable” GPS watch hasn’t always been an option. Enter the Forerunner 35. The slick design looks good while estimating your heart rate. It also automatically downloads data to your smartphone and tracks steps, calories, and intensity minutes throughout the day. Most importantly, it tracks your distance, speed, and location.


Leave your phone at home. (Amazon/)

Download playlists from Spotify, Amazon music, or Deezer, put your phone on your kitchen counter and head out the door. The Garmin Vivoactive 4S tracks your energy levels, respiration, stress, sleep, workouts, and estimated heart rate. It also lets you listen to music on the go. The slimmer, smaller watch lasts up to seven days in smartwatch mode and up to five hours in GPS and music modes. It also gives you easy-to-follow workouts and has more than 20 preloaded GPS and indoor sports apps.


Stay connected without your phone. (Amazon/)

It might not be cheap, but it’s hard to put a price on convenience. The Apple Watch 5 has GPS and cellular, meaning you can go for those epic runs and not worry about where to store your phone. Its screen is 30 percent larger than older generations without looking bulky. Because it’s swim-proof so you can wear it during any workout. It also offers a built-in compass, elevation tracker, and emergency SOS with international calling.


Track your rounds, swings and stats. (Amazon/)

Golfing is a game of stats and community, and this watch does it all. It’s an elegant timepiece that also happens to use Garmin’s GPS technology to track your steps, distance, and courses. The Garmin TruSwing sensor gives you metrics to help you improve your swing. CourseView updates frequently played courses. Garmin Connect hooks you into an online golf community. The watch even keeps track of your score, gives you smartphone notifications, and uses GPS to track your rounds.

Get your stats, don’t pay for extras.
Leave your phone at home.
Stay connected without your phone.
Track your rounds, swings and stats.

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10 Common Parasites and Diseases Found in Game Fish (and What You Need to Know About Them)


Sea lamprey can kill freshwater fish. (Great Lakes Fish Commison/)

Have you ever seen black spots on the skin of a trout? Or small worms burrowed in the fillets of your crappie? How about a bass that has turned pale and is hardly able to swim? Spend enough time on the water, and you’ll eventually hook into an odd-looking fish. Every living organism is a host for parasites and susceptible to disease—and that includes fish. For the most part, parasites in fish cannot infect humans as long as the fish are cooked properly, which means heating it to an internal temperature of 145 degrees for 15 seconds. You can also treat the fish by throwing it in your freezer for a few days to kill any parasites. If you’re a connoisseur of ceviche or pickled fish, you definitely need to freeze the fish first. Failing to do so risks a tapeworm infection. (The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has outlined all the necessary precautions for tapeworms here.)

If you ever catch a suspicious-looking fish and you’re not sure what’s wrong with it, FishPathogens.net is a great resource to consult. (Note that many diseases look similar, and the only absolute way of determining the issue is through lab testing.) You should also photograph the fish and contact your state fish and wildlife agency to alert them. Doing so could help prevent further outbreaks.

There are definitely some nasty organisms and viruses infecting freshwater fish, and this list takes a closer look at a few of them. In many ways, the science around fish pathogens is just getting started. Most pathogens (that we know of) are fairly harmless, and shouldn’t stop anglers from doing what they love. Just be sure to exercise caution. So if you’re curious about what’s living inside the fish in your livewell, read on.

1. Flukes


Yellow grub. (FishPathogens.net/)

Yellow, white, and black grubs are the most commonly found flukes (Trematodes) living in fish. The parasites form in birds and are then transferred to a snail (mollusk), where they can only live for a short time. If they survive, the grubs attach themselves to a fish either through ingestion or just being in close proximity to a fish (perch seem to be one of the most likely species to be infected by yellow grub, but there’s no hard data on that yet). Flukes use fish as a host, and then complete their lifecycle when the fish is eaten by another bird. This is a common characteristic of fish parasites: starting and ending their life inside birds. Fortunately, these grubs aren’t harmful to humans as long as any affected fish are cooked properly.

Yellow grub.
Sea lamprey's can cause serious damage to an otherwise healthy fish.
Tapeworms from a Norwegian stickleback.
Most round worms cannot be transferred to humans.
Musky and northern pike are the two most common fish to contract this disease.

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6 Waterfowl Projects You Need to Do Before Opening Day

Duck season is a few months away, and now is the time to get your garage full of gear in order. You need to get organized, but you also need to make repairs: re-paint old decoys, cut new longlines, etc. It’s also a good time to start (and finish) some quick DIY projects to make opening day a success. Here are a few you should work on before the fall.

1. Hot Glue Decoy Repair


Hot glue is a great way to repair shot-up decoys. (Joseph Albanese/)

One of the best things about diver hunting is the in-your-face action. Unfortunately for your decoys, this means they’re going to take plenty of stray pellets. If you have cork or foam blocks, this is of little consequence, as they’ll continue to float no matter how many times they’ve been shot. But hollow plastic decoys rely on their airtight shells to stay buoyant.

Luckily, you can patch holes in plastic dekes with a hot glue gun. Other sealants will certainly work, Lexel caulking being one of the better choices, but they take a while to dry and may not be able to fill wide holes.


Don’t stay too long in one spot or you could melt the plastic on your decoy. (Joseph Albanese/)

For my decoys, I prefer using low-temperature hot glue sticks. You just have to be careful not to linger too long in one spot or you’ll run the risk of melting the decoy’s plastic.

Don’t stay too long in one spot or you could melt the plastic on your decoy.
Cut up old waders to help camouflage a boat motor.
Decoy stretch cords can rot, so it’s a good idea to replace them before next season.
Shock cord and hog rings are a good replacement for rubber tubing.
Make a call lanyard the way you want it.
A home-made jerk cord will add life to your decoy spread.
This simple gun rest can be pressed into the ground to keep your shotgun within arms reach.
Bend round steel wire to form the gun rest and trim it with bolt cutters.

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8 Different Ways to use a Survival Knife in an Emergency

Anyone who spends time in the woods owns a survival or every day carry knife (if you don’t, you should). But it’s likely you are not using the blade on your hip to its full potential. Knives can do more than cut, and when you’re in an emergency situation, there are several different ways to use a blade that can save your life.

1. Scrape with the Spine


If your knife has a straight square spine with a crisp edge you can use this side of the blade for several scraping tasks. (Tim MacWelch/)

Not everyone likes a square knife spine with precise edges. For one thing, they tend to chew up batons. And many of us would rather have a saw back or a false edge on our knife spines. But if you do happen to have a crisp square spine, you can use it for some important scraping jobs. The primary use in the survival realm is scraping ferrocerium rods. Rather than dulling your knife edge by scraping this fire-making metal alloy rod, you can scrape with a square spine and produce a shower of incendiary sparks. And if the spine is really good, you can even use it as a wood scraper for projects like bow making and tool production. If you do happen to lose your desired “square-ness,” use a file to touch up the top of the spine. Finish the job by stroking a hard, smooth metal object (like the side of a screwdriver) down the spine edges with intense pressure. This will burnish the spine and create slight burs on the edges. After that treatment, the spine should scrape better than ever.

2. Use a Harwood Baton Like a Hatchet


A good knife can cut through wood like a hatchet. (Tim MacWelch/)

You won’t want to try this trick with a folding knife or a fixed-blade knife with a wimpy tang, but more robust blades can take a beating (and can split wood). By using a hardwood stick and hamming on the spine of your knife, you can baton your way through firewood and even do some rough wood carving. I often use the baton technique to “rough in” survival stick-bows and taper down wooden throwing sticks. Save your wood chips from these woodworking endeavors, as they make great kindling to go with your newly split firewood.

A good knife can cut through wood like a hatchet.
With careful twisting, you can use your knife tip to drill holes in a variety of surfaces and objects.
A good knife should be able to carve a point on a stick to make a rudimentary spear.
A shiny blade can serve as a simple signal mirror.
If the soil isn’t too hard or rocky, you can get away with a little digging with a knife before you ruin the edge.
The handle of a knife can be used as a blunt object for striking.
In the right situation, the right knife can become a projectile weapon.

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12 Ways to Hunt Down Big Bass


Edwin Evers is one of only five pro anglers to have won more than $3 million on the pro bass tournament trail. (Major League Fishing/)

One of the most successful anglers of all time, Edwin Evers is one of only five competitors in history to pass the $3 million mark in career winnings. Evers has recorded 11 wins and 118 Top 20s in his 22-year career, and won the 2016 Bassmaster Classic. Outdoor Life recently caught up with Evers in order to help your catch more big bass.

1. Outdoor Life: Any lure choices that you’d recommend for bank anglers?

Edwin Evers: In my mind, there is not a better bait than a weightless stick worm, like the Berkley General. It really works anywhere you are —in ponds, lakes, rivers, creeks. It’s a versatile bait for somebody fishing from the bank.

If I had to choose one other bait, I would choose the Bullet Pop from Berkley—size 60, matte finish bluegill pattern. Bass eat bluegills all across the country and it’s really fun to fish because you can see the strike.

2. OL: What are your 5 favorite, go-to baits?

Big bites are hard to come by even for tournament anglers.
Evers has recorded 118 top 20s in his fishing career.

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7 Confessions from a New Rifle Shooter (That Can Help All Newbies Get Started)


There are some basics beginners need to know before becoming a rifle hunter. (Howard Communications/)

I’ll be honest: I became a writer because I sucked at math. Algebra, geometry, statistics…I narrowly passed. Once school was out, I said so long to math. But then, later in life, I started shooting rifles. All of my hunting career, I used shotguns, because in my home state of Illinois there are few game animals you can legally kill with a centerfire or rimfire, so there’s very limited opportunity to hunt with a rifle. And if you don’t know (and as I found out), rifle shooting is a mathematical pursuit. But hunting with a rifle—and shooting one at the range—was so fun that I didn’t mind relearning basic arithmetic.

I tell that story because I didn’t let a roadblock (my hatred for math) stop me from pursuing something I wanted to do. And I know that for beginners, shooting a rifle can often seem a daunting task. You can’t just pick up a bolt gun and shoot it accurately. You have to mount a scope, boresight it, and sight-in the rifle before you can practice effectively. But don’t let the unknown spook you. Once you learn the basics, and what pitfalls to avoid, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a competent rifle shooter.

1. What You Need to Know Before Buying a Rifle


Picking the right rifle is the first step for new hunters. (Howard Communications/)

If you ask 10 traditional hunters what rifle to buy, you will get 10 different answers. One of my good friends, for example, tried to convince me that my first rifle needed to be a high-end bolt-action with a carbon-wrapped barrel and a pricey optic. That’s bad advice to give a novice. You need a basic setup, and there are two options to choose from.

If you have never shot a rifle before, purchase a rimfire, like a .17 HMR or .22 LR. There is way less recoil with rimfires than centerfires, and ammo is cheaper. But all the concepts for shooting accurately are the same. Practicing with a rimfire will help you build skills for shooting a centerfire rifle. You can buy one (with a scope) and practice until you feel comfortable moving to a centerfire. I had shot some rimfires before buying a centerfire, so I went straight to a 6.5 Creedmoor.

Picking the right rifle is the first step for new hunters.
Shooting accurately at longer distances is a big leap for new shooters.
The author with his guide and an Alberta pronghorn.
Ideally, you’re first hunt is a no-pressure endeavor.

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10 Tips to Troubleshoot Your Bass Fishing Woes


Heavy lure weights allow for better casting control according to Chapman. (Major League Fishing/)

One of the few anglers in the world who can lay claim to the title of tour-level Angler of the Year, Brent Chapman was the 2012 Bassmaster Elite Series AOY. He’s one of the Top 30 B.A.S.S. money winners of all time (over $2.1 million total), and has four wins and 40 Top 10s on his resume.

1. Outdoor Life: Do you have a favorite all-around color?

Brent Chapman: That’s a tough question. If I had to pick one color, I’d have to say green pumpkin. It’s the most versatile for all around the country. It’s the most diverse for all the fisheries and good in clear and dirty water.

No matter where we go on the Bass Pro Tour, we’re going to have some type of green pumpkin soft plastics tied on for sure.

2. OL: Mono, braid, fluoro or all of the above? When to use each and what pound-test?

This stunner helps Chapman climb the leaderboard.
Chapman with a KastKing Bassinator Elite reel.
Brent Chapman is one of the top 30 bass tournament money winners of all time.

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Federal’s FireStick Will Be a Game Changer in the Muzzleloader Hunting World


Federal’s FireStick comes pre-loaded with either 100 or 120 grains of Hodgdon Triple 8 powder. You still load the bullet through the muzzle just like in standard muzzleloaders. (Alex Robinson/)

The technological advancement that’s going to open muzzleloader hunting up to a whole wave of new people is a polyethylene capsule that’s filled with black powder. So … not exactly space-age technology. While the product itself might not be super advanced tech, the idea behind it is pretty brilliant.

One of the great pains of shooting a muzzleloader is loading it (usually measuring out powder charges) and then cleaning it after every other shot (or sometimes with every shot). For newbies, this process is not only a pain in the neck, it can also be really intimidating. If you don’t add the right amount of powder or seat the bullet properly … bad things can happen.

Federal has solved those problems with the FireStick, which is a capsule that comes pre-loaded with either 100 grains or 120 grains of Hodgdon Triple 8 powder. The FireStick pairs specifically with a new Traditions Nitrofire muzzleloader. Here’s how the system works. First you load a .50 cal muzzleloader bullet through the muzzle of the rifle. Then, you break open the gun and load the FireStick through the specially designed breech of the muzzleloader and then press a standard 209 primer into the FireStick’s primer pocket. Snap the gun closed and you’re ready to shoot. You can see the process in more detail in the video below.

Advantages

The fact that this is way easier than loading a regular inline muzzleloader is obvious. But, there are a few more nuanced advantages to this system, too. First, it’s really easy to unload. Simply pull the FireStick out when you’re done hunting and leave the bullet seated.

Expect to see above-average accuracy with the FireStick/Nitrofire combo.
The advent of the FireStick makes it easier for new hunters to properly load a muzzleloader.

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Take an Overland Adventure to These Five Fishing Destinations


The vehicle you use to begin overland fishing doesn't need much modification to get started. (Damon Bungard/)

Overlanding (self-reliant adventure travel) has become a popular pursuit in recent years. You may have seen stories, watched videos, or witnessed folks crisscrossing the U.S. and foreign countries in outfitted pickups, Toyota 4Runners, Jeeps, or Range Rovers. For those people, the experience of travel is the reward. The same is true for me, I just like to throw fishing into the mix when I’m on an overland journey.

If you want to try your hand at overland fishing, you don’t need to make many modifications to your truck or SUV (though you certainly can if you have the money). Many overlanders start off with a truck topper and something to sleep on in the truck bed—a small air mattress (or foam pad), pillow, and a blanket or sleeping bag will work. You could also buy a tent and bring it along. Once you have the bare necessities (bring a cooler full of water and food at minimum) you’re ready for adventure.

To fully enjoy an overland fishing trip it’s best to stay away from the crowds—so you’re not trying to catch pressured fish—which is important this summer while coronavirus is still impacting the country. It’s a good way to practice social distancing. You’re not staying in a hotel or fishing with a bunch of people. Bring all the equipment you need from home and avoid potentially bringing the virus to small western towns. Make sure to follow all local and state rules concerning coronavirus when traveling. If you are safe and thoughtful, these remote destinations are ideal spots for having your best fishing of the summer. So if you are considering an overland fishing trip, here are some excellent locales to target across the West.

1. Buck Island Lake (Rubicon Trail, California)


Getting to Buck Island Lake is difficult, but the view (and fishing) are worth it. (Bob Semerau/)

In 1887, when dirt trails and deep ruts made up most of America’s roadways, the powers in place at the time designated the Rubicon Trail a public highway. Originally a native American footpath, today the rock-strewn Rubicon is managed by El Dorado County and is due for a maintenance and revitalization program in the near future. The entire trail length is under the stewardship of the non-profit Rubicon Trail Foundation (RTF).

Getting to Buck Island Lake is difficult, but the view (and fishing) are worth it.
Come winter, the Illinois River is teeming with big steelhead.
Wading the Braids on the San Juan River can require technical sight casting for wary rainbow trout.
Illipah is a serene reservoir just a few hours from Las Vegas trout enthusiast will love.
A brookie from Deer Creek Lake in Utah.

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4 Things You Need to Concealed Carry a Handgun (Comfortably) in Hot Weather


For when it's hot. (Amazon/)

Carrying a defensive handgun is a major responsibility, but frequently lost in the discussions over the best guns, calibers, and training is this reality: concealing a firearm every day is uncomfortable, and especially so in hot weather. We can’t stop the sweat or control the forecast, but we can help you make it more manageable with these items.


For the hip. (Amazon/)

The Clip Draw is one of the easiest ways to carry in hot weather. It’s an add-on clip that allows you to secure your firearm to a pocket or inside your waistband, just like a modern folding knife. It is a permanent fixture on your gun, and you don’t get the security of a holster—but the clip works quite well, especially with small autoloaders (though it’s available for most popular handgun models).


This is the ideal accessory for secure carry in a pair of cargo shorts. (Amazon/)

This is one of the safest—and least expensive—ways to carry in summer. The holster protects your gun from sweat and pocket lint, keeps the trigger covered, and secures the weapon for an easy draw. There’s no need to overthink this one. The classic, soft Nylon model is available in four sizes to fit most carry pieces, it does everything you need it to do, and it doesn’t cost much money.


A compact flashlight is an essential item. (Amazon/)

Statistics show that most defensive encounters happen in low light—meaning that if you’re going to carry a gun, you need to be able to see, too. A weapon-mounted light makes sense for home defense, but it creates a package that’s too bulky to conceal in the usual summertime attire. For that, you need something small enough to fit in the pocket, bright, and reliable, like this flashlight.


Use this to keep your mags clean, handy, and concealed. (Amazon/)

Many autoloader malfunctions can be traced to the magazines. Dropping your reload into a pocket means that debris and sweat will eventually find its way onto springs and followers, and that’s no good. Keep your mags clean and hidden with these IWB carriers. Sold two per pack, they’ll work fine with most popular single-stack autoloaders.

For the hip.
This is the ideal accessory for secure carry in a pair of cargo shorts.
A compact flashlight is an essential item.
Use this to keep your mags clean, handy, and concealed.

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How to Catch a 100-Pound Catfish


Zakk Royce with his state-record blue catfish. (Zakk Royce/)

Zakk Royce, 29, lives on Lake Gaston in Gasburg, Virginia. He held consecutive North Carolina blue catfish state records for catching a 91-pound blue cat on December 20, 2015 and broke his own record the next day with a 105-pound blue cat. He owns and operates Blues Brothers Catfish Guide Service, LLC, on Lake Gaston and Kerr Lake.

1. Outdoor Life: Many of the biggest blue catfish are caught in winter. However, what’s the best way to catch them in summer?

Zakk Royce: The summer can actually be an excellent time to catch trophy blue cats, as they come off the spawn and are very aggressive. In a lot of bodies of water, a thermocline also shows up as the water temperature rises. This concentrates the bait and fish to whatever depth the thermocline forms. The best way to target the blues during this time is to fish around the thermocline, either over deep water using floats and planer boards to suspend baits, or by fishing areas where the thermocline meets the bottom, or shallower. With the warmer water temperatures, drift fishing or trolling is effective. Although I still try to stay around 0.5 mph in the summer just like other times of year, I have caught them in the summer trolling as fast as 3 mph.

2. OL: What’s the best bait to use—live or dead?

ZR: Both live and cut bait work great for blue cats. The advantage with cut bait, especially when drift fishing or trolling, is it puts off a constant scent trail that the blue cats can really key in on. However, in the summer months I usually do have a live bait out in the mix as well.

The record Lake Gaston blue.
There are cats bigger than this in Gaston, according to Royce.
A Lake Gaston giant.

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How to Hunt: A Step-by-Step Guide for New Adult Hunters


There are plenty of reasons to hunt. Best of all? It's fun. (Dustin Lutt / Rockhouse Motion/)

There are plenty of reasons to learn to hunt. The most ancient and trendiest modern reason for hunting are actually the same: it’s a great way to secure lean, free-range meat for yourself and your family. Wild game meat reduces your reliance on the commercial food chain and helps you know exactly what you’re eating in our age of processed foods. Hunting is also a great way to learn more about the natural world, and to support wildlife habitat and conservation in the U.S. Best of all? Hunting is fun.

But getting started isn’t always easy. Hunting is a commitment that takes time, interest, specialized gear, and lots of leg work. But it’s worth it. That’s why we pulled together this step-by-step guide to help you navigate all the essential stages and skills of becoming a hunter, from signing up for a hunter safety course to cooking your hard-earned venison, and everything in between.

Let’s get started.

Navigating this Post

Because there’s a lot to hunting, there’s a lot to this article. Here’s a handy list to help you find the information you’re looking for more quickly. Read straight through, or click on a chapter to jump right to it.

The best mentors are patient, experienced hunters who are happy to help coach you at the range and in the blind.
If you don’t know anyone who hunts, there are lots of learn-to-hunt programs that will teach you everything you need to know to start hunting.
While many hunters prefer to wear all-camo clothing, others simply wear jeans and other durable clothing. More important than what you wear to hunt is how you hunt.
Ducks and geese require a lot of gear to hunt, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying it out. Waterfowling is also one of the more social types of hunting, which means you can easily tag along. Many hunters are happy to have an extra pair of hands to help set and retrieve decoys.
There are tons of choices when it comes to rifles, shotguns, scopes, and ammo. This lightweight Weatherby Mark V Camilla rifle was designed as a women's backcountry big-game rifle, but it works just as well for Eastern whitetail hunts or open-country antelope.
Scouting for sign (tracks, game trails, droppings, etc.) is critical for learning what properties hold game and how they use it. These turkey tracks are a helpful indicator that there are birds nearby.
Wild animals, like these whitetail deer, have incredible senses and survival instincts. To get close, you’ve got to be stealthy enough to slide in under those senses, undetected.
Using terrain to your advantage is a fundamental tactic for any hunt, especially in the wide-open spaces out West. Take particular care not to skyline yourself by standing at the top of an open hill or ridge.
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How to Prep and Cook Largemouth Bass Fillets for Fried Deliciousness


Fried bass nuggets taste as good as they look, as long as you prepare them properly. (Hank Shaw/)

Green carp. Ditch pickles. Largemouths. Black bass. No matter what you call this fish, it ain’t good eats. Or is it?

The cultural taboo against eating largemouth bass is not wholly a matter of tradition, but bass can make fine table fare with a few specific considerations.

Native to the Eastern and Central parts of the United States, and introduced pretty much everywhere else, the largemouth is hardy and full of fight, an icon of pro fishing in America. And as such, catch-and-release is the rule.

But no one ever told me that.

I did not grow up with largemouth bass. I grew up with striped bass. I am a born-and-bred saltwater angler. I didn’t even catch my first freshwater fish until I was in my 20s.

Fried fish, tatar sauce, and lemon make for the perfect summer entree.

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How to Choose The Right Hunting Bullet


Even when hunting big, open country like this caribou tundra, an effective hunter can usually stalk close enough to make high B.C. bullets irrelevant. But if they are constructed for good terminal performance, using them provides a nice fudge factor against wind deflection and poor range estimation. (Ron Spomer/)

“What’s your B.C?”

The B.C. (Ballistic Coefficient) question seems to have displaced “what caliber are you shooting” as the most common if inconsequential question a hunter could ask. The “caliber” question should really be “what cartridge are you shooting?” And the B.C. question hardly matters over the distances at which most North American big game animals are shot.

Fifty years ago, when hunters argued over which cartridge was best, they focused on muzzle velocity. The .30-06 Springfield was better than the .30-30 because it spit the same .308-inch bullets 400 to 500 fps (feet per second) faster. And the .300 Win. Mag. was better than the .30-06 because it bested that venerable round by another 300 fps. It was the era of muzzle velocity and may the biggest magnum win.

And then shooters got smart. Somewhere along the line someone figured out that if a race car could go faster when built low and slim and slippery, so could a bullet. And sure enough, just as the military had discovered in the late 1800s that an elongated bullet shot flatter than a round ball at the same MV (muzzle velocity), late 20th century shooters tumbled to the reality of long, slim, sharply tipped and boat-tailed bullets also shot flatter. Much flatter. With much less wind deflection and much more retained energy. And it works like this…


The fast, flat-shooting .25-06 Remington can perform adequately to 300 to 400 yards with any bullet shape, but it would be silly to stick a round nose slug atop this case. (Ron Spomer/)

Bullet Savvy

The fast, flat-shooting .25-06 Remington can perform adequately to 300 to 400 yards with any bullet shape, but it would be silly to stick a round nose slug atop this case.
Portrait of a high B.C. bullet. Berger’s 156-grain EOL Elite Hunter shows most of the form that boosts B.C. Long, sharply pointed nose; minimal full-diameter shank length; long, tapering boat tail. Not shown is the dense lead core that adds mass for a higher B.C.
Trajectory Chart
Trajectory Chart
All three of these images show a 75-grain Swift Scirocco beside an 80-grain Nosler Custom Competition. The Nosler will provide slightly better extreme range trajectory, but a competition bullet may not be the ideal for terminal performance on game. One must choose carefully and balance terminal performance with ballistic performance.
The Federal Premium .300 Win Mag with 180-grain Nosler Accubond (left) will shoot flatter, deflect less in wind, and retain more energy than the old round nose (right). But inside of 300 yards, the differences will be so minimal as to be a wash. For more reasonable distance hunting, B.C. hardly matters.
Just a bit of careful stalking can negate the B.C. advantage.

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6 Tips for Becoming a Crack Shot with Your Shotgun Inside 40 Yards


Becoming a crack shot inside 40 yards takes a tremendous amount of practice. (Howard Communications/)

Imagine spending hard-earned money on shotguns, shells, clothing, a pointer or retriever with champion bloodlines, plus the rest of the gear we “need” to pursue wild birds each fall…and then not being able to kill one because you haven’t put the time in practicing. All that financial investment, and you didn’t make time for shooting clays at the range over the summer? A lot of hunters make this mistake—I certainly did—and it stops us from fully enjoying the hunt.

If you’re tired of embarrassing yourself (and getting frustrated) in front of your heckling buddies, it’s time to do something about it. Namely, practice. The first and most important thing you need to understand before starting down the long road to becoming a good shot is that your effectiveness with a shotgun is going to fall off markedly beyond 40 yards. There’s a bevy of reasons for that, the main one being that leading a bird properly at longer distances is damn tough. But also, the effectiveness of most shotshells starts to decline beyond 40 yards.

So, once you understand your effective range, the real work begins. Here’s what you need to do in order to become a crack shot inside 40 yards…and shut those hunting buddies up for good.

1. Take the Bead Off Your Barrel


Leaving the front bead on the barrel of your shotgun can draw your eyes away from the target. (NSSF/)

Any new shotgun you purchase is either going to have a fiber-optic sight or front bead on the end of the barrel, and the first thing you need to do is get a pair of pliers, unscrew it, and remove it. Don’t throw it away—you may want it for turkey season or other pursuits. But in wingshooting, a front bead isn’t necessary, and it actually draws your eye to the end of the shotgun barrel and away from the bird you’re trying to hit. If you remove the front bead, your entire focus is on the target, and nothing else.

Leaving the front bead on the barrel of your shotgun can draw your eyes away from the target.
Throw clays straight away to see if your shotgun is shooting true.
Shooting skeet is a great way to stay sharp in the offseason.
Trap offers the best presentations for upland hunters.
Creating presentations that mimic real shots will help your accuracy.

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The Ultimate Truck Gun Build (Plus 14 More Guns for Your Pickup)


John B. Snow’s MK107 Mod 2-M by Primary Weapons System. (John B. Snow/)

Recent uncertainty and social unrest caused me to reevaluate the firearms I travel with for personal protection. I had many different types of guns chambered in a variety of cartridges and while reviewing my collection I came to the old realization that less is more. While the .45 ACP, 10mm, .300 Blackout, .357 Magnum, .40 S&W, .380 and a host of other cartridges are fine in and of themselves for personal protection, for the sake of simplicity I narrowed my selection to two: 9mm and .223 Rem (and chose the latter). The complexities of relying on firearms chambered in a many different cartridges in the event of an emergency just didn’t make sense. This meant effectively “retiring” a number of guns and, happily, picking up a couple new ones.

My first acquisition was this AR pistol, a MK107 Mod 2-M from Primary Weapons Systems (PWS) in .223. The company was among the first to bring dead-nuts reliability to short-barrel ARs, and they still excel at that mission.

The MK107 Mod 2-M uses PWS’s long-stroke piston system which has a three-position adjustment on the gas setting so you can tune the pistol to your needs and liking. It has excellent ergonomics. The handguard can take both M-Lok and Picatinny accessories, the magazine well is flared for easy reloads, the ambidextrous safety is buttery smooth to operate, and the length of the SB Tactical brace can be adjusted in a flash.

I added a Surefire Scout Light Pro to the handguard, and topped the rifle with a Trijicon SRS sight. I have it zeroed at 100 yards using 55-grain polymer-tipped ammo and have no problems getting hit after hit on 8-inch steel at that distance. The Surefire kicks out 1,000 lumens of light that is activated by a switch pad that sits under my left thumb making the system ready to use in the dark or low light. I attached a single-point sling to the QD at the base of the buffer tube to complete the setup.

Because it is so compact and portable, the pistol is by my side most of the time. It is an excellent truck gun and is unobtrusive. Most importantly, however, is that the PWS runs like a cat on fire and is built to withstand extreme abuse. I’ve put hundreds of rounds through it to date, and not once has it failed to fire, cycle, and eject. —John B. Snow

Accuracy International chassis system.
Henry Lever Action X Model .45/70
Rock River 7-inch A4 Pistol
Colt Python
CZ 527 American Synthetic
Ruger Security-9
Winchester Model 94 Short Rifle
Marlin 1895SBL
Rossi R92 Triple Black
Ruger 10/22 Takedown
Savage A22 FV-SR
Mossberg Patriot Predator
Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard
SIG MCX Rattler SBR

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The Senate Is About to Pass a Bill That Will (Finally) Fund Public Lands and Ease Maintenance Backlogs in National Parks


The Great American Outdoors Act is a win for hunters, anglers, and outdoor-lovers all across the U.S. (Steve Hillebrand / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/)

In a rare and much needed piece of good news this week, the U.S. Senate is expected to vote in favor of the Great American Outdoors Act. This landmark bipartisan legislation will fully—and permanently—fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund at $900 million annually. The second major provision of the GAOA will address increasingly dire public-land maintenance backlogs.

“If this gets passed, it’s absolutely gigantic for conservation and access in this country. The LWCF has been used in 99 percent of the counties in this country, and these are projects that can happen right now,” says Land Tawney, president and CEO of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers.

Originally introduced in March, the GAOA has since gained momentum with 60 total cosponsors. The LWCF is a critical tool for conservation and access in the U.S., and one that doesn’t rely on taxpayers to foot the bill. Trouble is, Congress has only partially funded the LWCF over the years, siphoning more than $20 billion of its funding over the decades to other projects. The LWCF only received $495 million in fiscal year 2020—the highest amount allocated in 15 years. On top of the repetitive annual appropriations battles, the LWCF expired in 2015 and 2018, requiring renewed efforts to keep the program afloat.

Read Next: Love Public Land? Thank the Land and Water Conservation Fund

Enter the Great American Outdoors Act (S.3422), which would provide permanent, full, and dedicated funding for the LWCF. This means the LWCF would receive, indefinitely, the full $900 million needed annually to fund the program. It also means funding can’t be diverted.


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