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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The Ultimate Guide to Fishing the Great Lakes this Summer

There's plenty of opportunity to catch trophy walleyes in the Great Lakes this summer. (Steve Quinn/)

The size and diversity of the waters we call “The Great Lakes” boggles the mind. This system contains 21 percent of the world’s fresh water supply and has 160 native species of fish, supplemented by many imports, arriving via stocking trucks and otherwise. Though they’re connected hydrologically, each basin is unique. In fact, a biologist recently told me the only thing that Lake Superior and Lake Michigan have in common is they both contain water.

Since anglers began to wrestle its bounty from commercial fishers in the early 20th century, its popularity as a sporting destination has grown, now estimated at over $1.2 billion in direct annual angler expenditures. Its economic impacts are far greater, not to mention historical significance and sociological attributes. But it’s not been an easy journey.

With many international ports, the Great Lakes have been a dumping ground for exotic creatures that crossed the Atlantic Ocean in the ballast water of freighters. The latest count lists 25 fish imports, 59 plant species, 24 algae, and 14 invasive mollusks. A few have been benign or possibly even beneficial. Others have threatened the entire ecosystem, most notably zebra and quagga mussels. Yet in the face of these assaults, the Great Lakes still deserve their name.

I credit their resiliency to the cohesion of aquatic systems and the leveling power of nature, coupled with the impressive efforts of state biologists and management agencies to help fishing thrive. They’ve learned to deal with fluctuating nutrient dynamics, which lie at the heart of aquatic ecosystems. While salmon fishing will never return to what it was in the 1980s, and perch have suffered an overall decline, steelhead, bass, walleyes, and muskies have never been better. And several exciting gamefish species have come onto the scene. The future fishing outlook for the Great Lakes is indeed bright.

Along the shores of the Great Lakes lie 32 cities with many tens of millions of potential anglers living within a short drive of its waters. And scattered along its shoreline, in communities large and small, are thousands of fishing guides who can dial in the bite at any time of year. No matter which species you’re after, you won’t be disappointed.

A coaster brookie caught in Lake Superior.
A stud laker caught on the Great lakes.

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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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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.


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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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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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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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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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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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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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, 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. (

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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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.


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.


New Hunting Gear is Great, But Confidence is the Real Key

The author after a successful Dall sheep hunt, where confidence and a positive attitude made all the difference. (Tyler Free/)

There are discussions in every hunting camp about what gear actually gives us an advantage. Just the other day, I found myself in a debate with a buddy over which type of bear baiting lure was best. Each hunter has their own personal recipe for what they like to bait bears with. And over time, our opinions deepen to an almost superstitious level. Every hunter swears by what they use, because it’s worked before. But the truth is that a wide variety of lures and baits work, and there’s much more to a successful bear hunt than what lure is used.

This basic premise is applicable to almost all hunting and fishing gear. When I was a kid, I was also a chronic lure changer. A few casts with no action, and it was time to change up. My dad would grumble “You can’t catch them if your line isn’t in the water.” I probably would have caught more fish if I’d spent more time casting and reeling rather than tying knots.

People tend to use (and spend money on) the gear that gives them confidence—whether that confidence is rightly earned, or comes from something like the placebo effect (having faith in a piece of gear even though there is no real evidence that it works). And debates over gear are only amplified by the new flavors of gear and technology offered from the hunting industry each year. Some hunters and anglers embrace everything and anything new, looking for any advantage they can get. Old-school guys scoff at the unnecessary new junk that is shoved in their faces each season. The rest of us are somewhere in the middle.

The outdoor gear we have available today is far beyond what hunters used throughout history, and in general, it helps make us more effective. We have rifles and bows that weigh less and shoot more accurately, tents and clothing that can withstand the worst weather, lightweight, comfortable treestands, and a million other gizmos and doodads. Many of the things we use present a true game-changing advantage, but how much of the equation is really just a boost in our confidence that makes us more effective?

One of the most valuable assets a hunter can have is an unrelenting persistence. It’s an attribute that all successful hunters have, and it’s also an attribute you cannot buy. But, you will stay persistent when you have confidence. So if a new product gives you a little more confidence, and that leads you to be more persistent in your hunting, I could argue that product is effective (whether it’s actually doing the the thing it’s advertised to do or not). When you are confident in a hunt you will work harder, glass more carefully, and stay alert longer. That little bit of extra effort is the real key to more punched tags.

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Catch more walleye with these lures

Gotta catch 'em all. (Colman Byrne via Unsplash/)

Walleye fishing isn’t easy. But what it lacks in ease it makes up for in entertainment. And fortunately, there are some lures that will help you along the way. Not sue where to get started? We broke down four perfect lures for four situations. Go ahead, catch fish.

A hole in one. (Amazon/)

You may think a jig is a jig, but walleye don’t. These Lindy Slick jigs, which come in a variety of colors, should be a go-to in your tackle box. They’re made to imitate natural bugs and have a unique weight-forward design. Slip on a worm or a minnow and reel those walleye in.

Don’t lose your minnow. (Amazon/)

This complicated series of hooks and line will be the ticket in waters where it’s legal to fish with live bait. Each lure has two hooks with three inches between the hooks. It comes in three blade styles and is tied with #17 monofilament line. Choose a few colors to maximize your chances of success.

Go deep. (Amazon/)

Why mess with perfection? The Wally Diver Lure has a perfectly designed nose to let you keep your bait exactly where you need it. It comes with two treble hooks for maximum effectiveness. And it also has nearly a dozen color and pattern options giving you plenty of choices if nothing bites the first time.

Fish for success. (Amazon/)

This jigging lure might look a little gnarly—with a hook at the nose and tail and treble hook hanging below—but to a walleye it likely spells doom. It’s flashy enough to attract attention and has plenty of hooks to hang bait and catch a lip. The lure’s environmental zinc is weighted and it has a balanced design.

A hole in one.
Don’t lose your minnow.
Go deep.
Fish for success.


Reel in more trout with these ideal lures

Lures for when your trout and about. (Taylor Grote via Unsplash/)

An angler could spend his or her entire life trying to perfect trout fishing and still not quite arrive. For many, that’s the beauty in the sport. Fortunately, you don’t need to be perfect to catch fish, but the right lures sure help. We’ve narrowed it down to four good options whether you’re a beginner or one of those career anglers.

Grab their attention. (Amazon/)

This Panther Martin boasts a unique shaft through the blade design that creates the “easiest and fastest spinning action in the world.” We can’t verify if, indeed, it’s the fastest in the world. But it is definitely fast. The heavy weighted bodies go deep and the super sharp hooks will ensure the fish stays on the end of your line.

Dive and rise. (Amazon/)

The original Rapala was carefully crafted to dive and rise when you need it to. The nose carries it down to depths where fish are hanging. The floating body means it also comes back up, allowing you to constantly cruise through a series of water levels. Two treble hooks, one on the belly and one on the tail, ensure when that big brown trout bites, it can’t let go.

Keep this one with you. (Amazon/)

Cast epic distances and create plenty of flash underwater with these solid brass lures. The company lists them as ideal for salmon, steelhead and other salt water species. We tend to agree. And better yet, they come in a wide variety of colors and patterns giving you plenty of options.

Bring them up from the deep. (Amazon/)

This miniature-sized fishing lure is the perfect size for ice fishing for big trout. It perfectly mimics a forage fish, especially when jigged aggressively through your hole. It flashes and it flutters, sure to bring trout from nearby expecting to find a wounded minnow. The strong treble hook at the bottom keeps the trout you catch on your line.

Grab their attention.
Dive and rise.
Keep this one with you.
Bring them up from the deep.


The Roadless Rule in the Tongass National Forest is Vital for Both Hunters and Brown Bears

A male brown bear fishes for salmon at the mouth of a stream in the Tongass National Forest. (Bjorn Dihle/)

In the mid-1980s an old, dying bear hunter named Ralph Young sat in the back of a skiff, squinting through the rain at the ocean and mountains of Southeast Alaska. In the bow, huddled against the wind and rain, sat a teenager named Klas Stolpe. The two would be out for a month or two, until most of the salmon had spawned and the bears had left the streams for the high country. The old man didn’t especially enjoy the kid’s company but, due his to declining health and old age, he needed his help for basic things like getting in and out of the boat. They motored past once pristine bays, where years ago the old man guided legendary hunters like Warren Page and Jack O’Connor. Now, those lands were clear-cut logged. He pointed the skiff toward Admiralty Island, the heart of rainforest grizzly country, and opened the outboard’s throttle.

Young was making his last journey into the wilds of the Tongass National Forest. Established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1907, the Tongass is nearly 26,500-square miles of temperate rainforest, mountains and glaciers. Roosevelt, during his first year of presidency, unsuccessfully campaigned for Admiralty, Chichagof, and Baranof Islands, which compose most of the northern third of the Tongass, to be turned into a brown bear preserve. The President loved hunting bears and, believing that America could have both economic development and wilderness, saw the incredible opportunity the Tongass offered for hunters and for preserving a piece of the nation’s wild heritage.

Young came to Alaska during the first half of the 20th century, when many of Alaska’s leaders and prominent citizens wanted the brown bear eradicated. In 1929, when a timber cruiser who was mapping a giant pulpwood sale on Admiralty Island shot a bear and then was killed by it, the anti-bear rhetoric reached a boiling point. The Forest Service’s designated bear expert, Jay Williams, recommended exterminating all Admiralty’s bears to make resource development easier. This sort of thinking was common across Alaska at the time. Then, in the spirit of Theodore Roosevelt, a burgeoning movement of hunters banned together in defense of the bear. Harry McGuire, the editor of Outdoor Life, penned an extensive editorial about the importance of conserving the brown bear. Other naturalist hunters wrote books, articles, and campaigned across the country. Young joined the fight in the 1960s, after seeing what happened when one of his favorite watersheds on Admiralty was clear cut—salmon streams had been destroyed and the bears and other wildlife had been displaced. These sort of detrimental logging practices were occurring all over the Tongass. Young devoted the last quarter of his life fighting tooth and nail to save Admiralty Island and its bears. In 1980, after a 50-year battle that was led by Young, Karl Lane, and other bear hunting guides, much of Admiralty was designated as wilderness. Today, in large part because of the conservation efforts of many hunting guides, there are more brown bears in Alaska than during any other time in the last 150 years.

Roadless Rule on the Chopping Block

But today, hunters and brown bears still face an uncertain future in the Tongass. There’s a huge push led by the government and timber interests to open up much of the remaining old-growth forest to be clear cut logged and crisscrossed with roads. In 2001, the Forest Service established the Roadless Rule. Under the Rule, inventoried roadless areas all across America are protected from old-growth logging, new road building and, to a limited extent, other resource development. In the Tongass National Forest, about 9 million acres were protected. The Rule does allow exceptions for hydroelectric projects, mines, and community interties—every project applied for has been permitted. What the Roadless Rule does not allow is more logging roads and clear-cut logging, which protects much of the Tongass’ remaining old growth forest. These old-growth forests are the most important habitat for brown bears, spawning salmon, and other wildlife.

Atlin Daugherty with a happy hunter and a nice bear taken in the Tongass National Forest.
Vista of the Tongass National Forest taken from the high country of Admiralty Island.

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A hunter’s guide to awesome food plots

Gear for your food plot. ( Peter Neumann via Unsplash/)

Right now, serious hunters everywhere are thinking about improving the wildlife habitat on their hunting properties with food plots. If you want to grow a field that’s green and good for deer, this is the list for you.

This is made for breaking dirt with an ATV. (Amazon/)

A four-wheeler is never a substitute for a tractor and real farming implements, but not everyone has the budget for that. This compact disc (not to be confused with your favorite late-'90s soundtrack) attaches to a 2-inch receiver hitch on an ATV or UTV, and can be carried in a transport mode between spots. It uses the weight of the machine and the rider to cut, and it’s just about perfect for creating small hunting plots in those hard-to-reach areas.

This giant ladino variety is highly nutritious to whitetails. (Amazon/)

The original seed from the Whitetail Institute was one of the first commercial food plot plantings available, and it’s still among the best. Yes, it’s expensive but a well-made stand of this perennial forage will last for years with regular maintenance, and deer simply hammer it. Stock up on it now so that you’ll have plenty to plant later on.

Living up to its name, this stuff grows about anywhere. (Amazon/)

If you’re just looking to green up woodland trails and small openings with minimal equipment, this blend is about as easy as it gets. It’s heavy on the rye grass—stuff that will grow almost anywhere—but it includes some clover and brassicas, too. You can clear a quarter-acre spot with a rake, water it with a backpack sprayer, and expect to see deer activity on it within a month.

Create a natural food plot with a small-scale prescribed fire. (Amazon/)

The eco-friendliest way to manage land might be to clear away old leaf litter and duff with a controlled burn. Be smart, be careful, and ask for help—but don’t be afraid, because fire is good for the ground, and a steady rain following a burn will leave a flush of green growth that attracts wildlife of all sorts. No extra planting, fertilizer, or chemicals required.

This is made for breaking dirt with an ATV.
This giant ladino variety is highly nutritious to whitetails.
Living up to its name, this stuff grows about anywhere.
Create a natural food plot with a small-scale prescribed fire.


11 Strategies For Growing The Perfect Deer Food Plot

A picturesque hunting plot of brassicas in the fall woods. (BioLogic/)

Bobby Cole is an expert at growing food plots and works at Mossy Oak BioLogic. He loves seeing people have success with their own plots. We recently caught up with Cole to ask him 11 critical questions about growing a successful whitetail food source.

1. Outdoor Life: What steps do I need to take to establish a new food plot and what’s best to plant in the first year?

Bobby Cole: When establishing a new food plot, after you clean the area out thoroughly, I would strongly suggest taking a soil sample. This will tell you exactly what’s needed to make the soil perform for you. It will provide your pH and fertility levels. Some of the best tests make available precise recommendations according to the plot you hope to plant. These tests are typically under $10 and a bargain. I try and clean my plots up as best I can and if it’s in a wooded area, I definitely want to open up the area as much as possible to allow sunlight in. New food plots are fun, they are full of promise and hope. But the soil generally needs some help in the form of lime and fertilizers.

2. OL: What’s the best way(s) to quickly increase the quality of my food plot soil?

BC: As I said, soil tests are critical in order to let you know how much lime and fertilizer you will need to raise the nutrient levels of your soil. There is also a product called Soil Solution from Deltag that I love to apply to new food plots which also helps soil health. I really believe in this product.

Prepping a summer plot with a tractor and disc.
Soil samples are critical in determining the proper amount of nutrients to add to your soil.
Clover plots are ideal summer and early fall plots. They will, however, need mowing and weed-control measures.
Deer radishes will be heavily browsed by deer once the weather turns cold.
Exclusion cages help determine how heavily deer are browsing your plots.

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How to Take Your First Overland Hunting Adventure this Fall

The more you get into overland hunting, the more gear you will likely buy, but you don't need much to get started. (Damon Bungard/)

Overlanding and hunting go together naturally. Many of us take trips each fall, staying in motels or renting a cabin, so we can have a warm home base at night after a long day of chasing roosters or sitting in a treestand. But for some, it’s smarter financially (and during these unprecedented times when social distancing is still a part of everyday life to remain healthy) to turn a truck or SUV into a mobile hunting home. And it doesn’t take loads of cash to make it happen. In fact, you will likely save money in the long run since you won’t have to pay for a room anymore.

Overlanding on its own is a pursuit that has grown in popularity. One of the most well-known events is the Overland Expo, which showcases all the new gear you can buy to outfit your rig each year. And if you don’t know much about overlanding it’s a great resource to get you started.

Overlanding is a niche industry (much like hunting), full of tricked out off-road vehicles that you can spend infinite amounts of money on. But you don’t need tens of thousands of dollars to overland. Hell, you can do it out of the back of your grandma’s station wagon, though that will limit how far off the beaten path you can travel. I have comfortably lived for a month in the back of a rented Chevrolet Traverse in Alaska, but know I can go more places in my Jeep Wrangler Rubicon back at home. It’s just a matter of picking the right vehicle for the destinations you will frequent most.

1. Choosing the Right Vehicle

The author’s overland vehicle of choice is the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon (Damon Bungard/)

Overland travel tends to be off-pavement in remote, wild places (like the locations for good hunting), so having a capable four-wheel drive vehicle is essential to getting to and from those venues safely. Part of self-sufficiency means using the right tools for the job, and being prepared to tackle treacherous conditions. You need to choose a vehicle that is capable of handling the terrain you will be hunting in. Typically, that means a 4x4 truck or SUV. Jeeps are some of the most common vehicles used by overlanders. My personal vehicle is the Wrangler Rubicon, and I have found it to be a durable and capable machine.

The author’s overland vehicle of choice is the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
Everything the author needed for a trip to Alaska fit in the back of this rented Chevy Traverse.
Try a nearby state park or campground to test the overland waters.
Public lands are an ideal place for overland hunters to target.
Don’t wait until you shoot an animal to figure out how you will transport the meat, cape, and antlers home.

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Planning to Hunt Alaska Someday? Here’s Why Caribou Should Be Your First Trip

Hunting caribou is a smart choice for your first trip to Alaska. (Tyler Freel/)

The hunting opportunities in Alaska are as diverse as the people living here. And choosing the species to pursue on your first hunt in Alaska can be daunting, because there is such a variety of wild game to pick from.

Each hunter is different, and you have to decide what you want to get out of your first Alaskan hunt. There are no right or wrong answers, but there are specific things you need to consider in your planning, contemplation, and research.

Most folks will be looking at a DIY hunt (due to the expense of an outfitted hunt), so we need to eliminate the species that require a registered guide for non-residents. Dall sheep, mountain goats, and brown or grizzly bears are off the table. That leaves moose, caribou, black bear, Sitka blacktail deer, Roosevelt elk, and muskox.

You will need to consider factors like the type of hunt you want to do (i.e. drop camp, road system, hiking, floating, etc.) You’ll also need to consider the region you would like to hunt, the weapon you want to hunt with, the availability of tags, and the level of logistical complication that you are willing to deal with to not only go on the hunt, but to get your meat, cape, and antlers back home. There is a lot of nuance to each person’s decision, but when considering all factors, I think that caribou are generally the best first animal to hunt in Alaska, and here’s why.

Pick Caribou for Simplicity Sake

Caribou are one of the most manageable animals to hunt in Alaska.
Caribou hunts can take place in a wide variety of terrain.

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