Hunting and Fishing News & Blog Articles

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How to Tag a Tom in These 4 Tough Turkey Hunting Scenarios

Aaron Warbritton of The Hunting Public with a hard-earned gobbler. (The Hunting Public/)

The Hunting Public’s annual turkey tour YouTube series is on again and it’s taking them all over the country. Along the way, they’ll see dozens of birds in a variety of scenarios. But this isn’t new to Aaron Warbritton, a founding member of THP.

Warbritton has been chasing gobblers all his life in his home state of Missouri. He’s logged a lot of time on a turkey call and has coaxed all kinds of toms into shotgun range. So, we decided to pick his brain about a few common turkey hunting scenarios that you might find yourself in this season.

Most of these tips are geared toward intermediate turkey hunters, but if you’re a beginner, you’ll find a few takeaways to bring into the woods, too. Grab your favorite calls and check out Warbritton’s fixes for these common turkey hunting problems.

How to Bring in a Henned-Up Tom

“More so than anything with henned-up turkeys, you need patience because they’ll fly down and they’ll shut up,” Warbritton says. “When they’re real henned-up early in the season, sometimes they won’t gobble all day. But the one common thing I’ve seen is when they get real henned-up like that, they don’t travel very far. They stay in the same general area all day. A lot of people used to say if you get aggressive, sometimes you can piss off the boss hen and bring her in,” he says. “I’ve definitely seen this happen, but it’s rare.”

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Explosive topwater fly patterns for some blockbuster thrills

They're quite a catch. (Evan Wise via Unsplash/)

They say you can’t buy happiness, but you can bulk order topwater flies, which is close enough as far as we’re concerned. As any experienced angler knows, there are few finer ways to spend a summer afternoon than flinging foam poppers for smallies or trying your chances with a Chubby for trout while wet wading in a local stream. To equip you for such an outing, we’ve rounded up four top-rated topwater patterns that are sure to produce huge smashes all season long.

The finesse pattern that’s perfect for skinny water. (Amazon/)

For many anglers, the term “topwater bass fly” is synonymous with the popper. That’s because the classic, hall-of-fame-worthy pattern is loads of fun to fish and wildly effective, coaxing big smashes more consistently than just about any other fly, even on stupid-hot summer days. For some reason, it’s weirdly hard to find big topwater bass poppers on Amazon. According to users (and personal experience) many that claim to be sized for smallies are, in fact, way too tiny and suitable only for panfish. Fortunately, the Wild Water popper is the real deal. Available in sizes 2 and 1/0, it’s “a well-made product that flat-out catches bass,” as one user put it.

The finesse pattern that’s perfect for skinny water. (Amazon/)

As satisfying as it is to chuck a meaty popper in front of a bass and cause a ruckus, sometimes you need finesse, especially if you’re targeting a slab in shallow water. For such occasions, there are hair bugs, like this red, black, and white version by Wild Water. As Field & Stream’s Joe Cermele has pointed out, there’s a case to be made that hair bugs, as opposed to traditional foam poppers, better imitate distressed bugs, frogs, or mice, since the pattern creates a small wake similar to that of a swimming critter.

A stealthy fly that’ll trick even the most skeptical of fish. (Amazon/)

The Sneaky Pete is effectively a standard-issue foam popper turned backward. The result is a slightly subtler presentation: As the fly slides across the water, it leaves ripples instead of the big burps and glugs of a traditional popper—which proves increasingly effective as the season wears on and the temperature heats up. This Fly Crate model is a typical Sneaky Pete design and should trick even the wariest of smallies on the hottest, clearest summer days.

A foamy and highly effective trout pattern. (Amazon/)

The previous three lures on this list are best suited for bass and, to a lesser degree, panfish. Not to be left out, trout, especially of the feisty Western variety, will also attack a foamy topwater lure, such as the four hopper and Chernobyl patterns in this dozen-fly set. The foamy flies are effective by themselves in summer. And if you’re nymphing, you can up your odds of hooking up by swapping out a strike indicator for a foam floater. We keep a few grasshopper patterns in our fly box at all times, since there’s basically not a freshwater sport fish that won’t eat one of the chirping insects if afforded the chance.

The finesse pattern that’s perfect for skinny water.
The finesse pattern that’s perfect for skinny water.
A stealthy fly that’ll trick even the most skeptical of fish.
A foamy and highly effective trout pattern.


Four perfect camping pillows

A place to rest your head. (Laura Pluth via Unsplash/)

Life is too nasty, brutish, and short to sleep without a pillow. Snoozing sans headrest is also a good way to jack up your neck, which you’ll especially come to regret if you have to crane your head to peer down a rifle scope. So do yourself a solid and pack a pillow. We’ve rounded up four top-rated models that are lightweight and comfortable, and which you’ll have no problem finding space for in your pack.

The Klymit Drift, which includes a reversible outer shell and built-in cotton pillowcase. (Amazon/)

The Klymit Drift has a few strong things going for it: it weighs a modest 19 ounces, packs down to 11 inches by 5 inches by 5 inches, and is filled with comfy shredded memory foam. But it’s neatest feature is the reversible outer shell, which keeps the built-in cotton pillowcase clean when not in use. It’s a game-changer. We used the Klymit Drift on a recent Yellowstone backcountry camping trip and slept superbly.

The Nemo Fillo Inflatable Travel Pillow, a 9-inch backpacking cushion. (Amazon/)

Admittedly, as much as we like the Klymit Drift, it’s better suited to car camping than long-haul backpacking treks. For such an adventure, you’ll want something like the Nemo Fillo Inflatable Travel Pillow. The machine-washable cushion weighs 9 ounces and packs down to about the size of a softball, making it easy to stash in a backpack. The outside is made of 1-inch “luxury foam”—whatever that’s supposed to mean—and, after a few huffs and puffs, the pillow inflates to 17 inches by 11 inches by 4 inches.

The Sea to Summit Aeros, a 2.7-ounce inflatable backpacking pillow. (Amazon/)

The inflatable Sea to Summit Aeros is in a similar vein as the Nemo Fillo, yet it somehow weighs even less, at 2.7 ounces, and packs down to the size of a beer can. Nemo Fillo is generally considered more a bit more comfortable than the StS Aeroes, owing to the 1-inch-thick outer foam, which helps it more closely resemble a traditional pillow. But the Aeroes costs a bit less, if your budget is tight.

The Klymit Pillow X, which weighs a mere .95 ounces. (Amazon/)

OK, if you’re really, really on a budget and even the Sea to Summit Aeros is a bit steep, there’s the Klymit Pillow X. It definitely isn’t the plushest camping pillow on the market, but it is lightweight, at .95 ounces. It inflates to 15 inches by 11 inches by 4 inches and packs down to the size of a lighter, so it has that going for it, too. At the very least, it’ll keep your head out of the dirt.

The Klymit Drift, which includes a reversible outer shell and built-in cotton pillowcase.
The Nemo Fillo Inflatable Travel Pillow, a 9-inch backpacking cushion.
The Sea to Summit Aeros, a 2.7-ounce inflatable backpacking pillow.
The Klymit Pillow X, which weighs a mere .95 ounces.


16 Tips for New Rifle Shooters From a Former Navy SEAL Master Chief

Former Navy SEAL, now shooting instructor, Jim Kauber, dialing in a student’s rifle at his hunting rifle course at THE SITE in Illinois. (Joe Genzel/)

Jim Kauber can teach anyone, regardless of age or experience level, to be accurate with a centerfire rifle. Though he spent two decades with the Navy SEALs and dedicates much of his time to helping elite shooters become even more precise, his first love has always been hunting. His fascination with the outdoors is what led him to become a SEAL. He’s proud of the military accomplishments, but equally passionate about dialing in hunters’ bolt guns.

He has a keen ability to evaluate your skill set quickly and tailor his instruction to it, which he does each summer at THE SITE as the Director of Training and a firearms instructor. Kauber has trained law enforcement and European Coalition special ops snipers, but he can also make you—the newbie shooter—a better rifle shot. After taking his hunting rifle course in Illinois, I had the chance to talk to Jim about how regular shooters can become more accurate. Here’s what he had to say.

Outdoor Life: One of the biggest hurdles in buying a centerfire hunting rifle is deciding between a packable lightweight gun vs. a more accurate, heavyweight one. What’s your take on that?

Jim Kauber: I think a lot of shooters rely too much on what their buddies tell them or what the guy behind the counter says when it comes to buying a rifle. A gun that weighs around 8½ pounds total—gun, bases, rings, scope, and sling—is just about right. It’s heavy enough to soak up recoil and it has a heavy enough barrel you can get more accuracy with. And it’s light enough to carry just about anywhere.

OL: But there is something to be said for packing a lighter rifle out West, right? All that hiking and climbing with gear…you want to have the least amount of weight possible.

Tikka’s T3x bolt-action rifle.
A younger Jim Kauber with an Idaho muley he shot with his Ruger .270.
The Bergarra B-14 Ridge in 6.5 Creedmoor, an affordable gun for shooting pronghorn, whitetails, and mule deer.
You need to have a firm grasp of your capabilities with a rifle, and the only way to do that is with practice.

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Four essential books all about trout fishing

Guides on trout. (Clark Young via Unsplash/)

Trout are frustrating: They’re finicky about what they eat, they spook easily, and they’ll turn off with seemingly no rhyme or reason. All of that, of course, is largely why they’re stupid-fun to catch—they’re challenging. Fortunately, scores of fly-fishing writers have devoted their careers to decoding the mysteries of the fish. We’ve rounded up four must-read books that do good work in making sense of the wiley trout.

All you need to know. (Amazon/)

Since it was first published in 1938, Trout by Ray Bergman has become a bible for anglers, owing to its clear, authoritative descriptions of trout and how to catch them, whether with dry flies, old-school wet flies, streamers, bucktails, or nymphs. Bergman is as credentialed as they come, having served as Outdoor Life’s fishing editor for more than 25 years. His no-nonsense, almost analytical writing gets to the point and will surely get you on fish.

For when your trout and about. (Amazon/)

With The Orvis Fly-Fishing Guide, Tom Rosenbauer wrote one of the most practical and easiest to understand books on fly-fishing. (We’ve excluded it from this list because, though chock full of hard-won trout wisdom; it also covers plenty of non-trout species.) The Orvis Guide to Prospecting for Trout is no less excellent. It details how to troubleshoot for trout when there’s no hatch to match—the sort of fishing separates the newbies from the vets. To up your odds of success, Rosenbauer, with the help of illustrations and color photos, details the finer points of reading water, trout feeding habits, and how to fish nymphs, streamers, and more.

Let this book guide you. (Amazon/)

Fishing Through the Apocalypse by Matthew L. Miller is light on tips and tactics but full of interesting insights into fish, and trout in particular. Miller unpacks the future of fish and, in the process, unpacks how mutant banana trout became prominent and how lake trout overran Yellowstone Lake, among other modern phenomena. In doing so, he grapples with the state of trout and why conserving native fish has proved such a tall order, driving home why protecting public streams is more important now than ever before.

Tips to take you to the trouter limits. (Amazon/)

Ray Bergman’s Trout is great, in part, because of its paragraph upon paragraph of unbroken, lucid prose. Trout Tips by Kirk Deeter, on the other hand, is organized in bulleted, skimmable sections, e.g, “It’s Okay (Encouraged by Some) to Watch Your Loops” and “Three Tricks to Tame the Wind.” Newbies and experienced anglers alike will learn tons of handy tips, many of which come straight from Trout Unlimited members around the country. It’s small trim size also means that you can stash it in your fly vest for lulls between the action.

All you need to know.
For when your trout and about.
Let this book guide you.
Tips to take you to the trouter limits.


Four next-level camping utensils

Get your forkful. (Nathan Shipps via Unsplash/)

We’ll forgo many luxuries in the backcountry—toilets, showers, a soft place to sleep. One luxury that’s in no way worth skimping on: an eating utensil. We’ve compiled four top-rated camping utensils that are lightweight, multi-purpose, and totally worth a place in your pack. Leave eating with hands to monkeys and raccoons.

A durable, titanium option that’s sure to hold up under harsh conditions. (Amazon/)

You’ve probably seen the plastic Light My Fire Sporks at your local outdoors store. They’re good (and super-cheap) but a bit flimsy if you’re eating moderately firm food, not to mention prone to breaking after repeated use. This titanium variant is the same length as the original (6.75 inches) but, since it’s made of lightweight metal, it’s heat-resistant and extra durable. And it weighs only an extra .4 ounces. One user loves her titanium spork so much she wrote, “I’m bringing the spork home for the holidays so my mom stops trying to set me up with people.”

A super-compact foldable spork. (Amazon/)

If space is a serious concern, GSI Outdoors manufactures a handy foldable spork that collapses down to a mere 3.7 inches. 3.7 inches! At that super-tiny size, this affordable spork can fit beneath a camping fuel canister or in a coffee mug for easy packing. And, at .6 ounces, it weighs basically nothing. It’s hard to imagine a smaller camping utensils.

A tricked-out, ten-tool utensil. (Amazon/)

The Muncher takes the everyday camping utensil to the extreme. It’s the total camp-cooking with built-in ten tools, including a spork, serrated butter knife, can opener, fruit and vegetable peeler, beer opener, fire flint, screwdriver, and a box cutter. And somehow the whole package weighs just 0.8 ounces. The Muncher ain’t exactly cheap, and there’s some debate whether it warrants its not-insignificant price tag, but the design is certainly clever all the same.

A combo utensil perfect for venison steaks. (Amazon/)

Do you really need a tactical spork? Probably not. That’s not the point. The point is that Ka-Bar basically turned a normal camping utensil into a sheath for a 2.5-inch separated blade. If you plan on grilling venison steaks on your camping trip, this 6.8-inch combo tool warrants consideration. One minor hiccup several users have pointed out: “My biggest complaint is that I can’t clean food out of a little hole right near the head, unless I use a dishwasher.”

A durable, titanium option that’s sure to hold up under harsh conditions.
A super-compact foldable spork.
A tricked-out, ten-tool utensil.
A combo utensil perfect for venison steaks.


Should You Shoot Jakes This Spring? (and Other Things to Consider During a Coronavirus Turkey Season)

Shooting a jake is legal in many states, but it's still debated among turkey hunters. (Alex Robinson/)

Bethge: Let Jakes Walk

“If he wants to act like a big turkey, then he can die like a big turkey.”

My New England turkey hunting buddies might not have invented the phrase, but they certainly used it each time they came back to camp with a jake—which, actually, has not been all that often. This season, though—the year of COVID-19—there will be no slack provided. We’re making triply sure of our targets. Whether he works like a big bird or not, we’re laying off the jakes!

Renowned turkey biologist Michael Chamberlain first sounded the alarm for me a month or so ago when southern seasons were opening.

“With hunters being unable to travel, local populations of wild turkeys are bearing more hunting pressure, and increased harvest,” says Chamberlain. “We know from previous research that more hunter effort (time spent afield) results in more turkeys being harvested. For example, in Georgia, hunter effort on state Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) has increased 47% compared to last season, and similar trends are being observed in Mississippi. Statewide harvest in Georgia is 26% greater than in 2019 at this point in the season, and is 43% higher on public lands – despite no appreciable increases in production within the past few years. In Tennessee, statewide harvest is currently 50 percent higher than at this same point last season. There is potential that the increased pressure and harvest could negatively impact our local populations in many areas, particularly those witnessing long-term declines.

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Four super portable ground blinds

Stay out of sight. (Amazon/)

Don’t get us wrong, pop-up blinds are great. They afford plenty of cover to tag even the weariest of critters. But if you want to be aggressive and stay on the move—in hopes of, say, running-and-gunning a gobbler—you’d be wise to opt for something more portable. We’ve rounded up four ground blind alternatives, including one particularly clever mirror setup that are as easy to carry as they are deadly.

The Hunters Specialties Ground Blind, a basic three-pole setup that goes up quickly and easily. (Amazon/)

This Hunters Specialties model is a basic ground blind, the sort that legions of turkey and deer hunters have come to rely on. Patterned in Realtree Xtra camo, the three-pole setup quickly and easily stakes into the ground. At 8 feet wide and an adjustable 18 to 27 inches tall, it should afford plenty of cover in most hunting situations. Sure, it’s nothing fancy, but it’s among the cheapest options on our list.

The GhostBlind 4-Panel Predator Blind, a clever setup that mirrors its surroundings. (Amazon/)

On the opposite end of the price spectrum from the Hunters Specialties ground blind is the 12-pound GhostBlind 4-Panel, a portable, hyper-realistic, four-panel mirror blind. That’s right—it’s a mirror. As such, it’s designed to tilt slightly forward, to reflect the ground and perfectly blend in, while also eliminating sun glare and ensuring that game doesn’t see its reflection. The blind is dang clever, but it will cost you, though. It’s easily the most expensive option on our list.

The Alpha Cam Two-Panel One-Way-See-Through Blind, a pop-up blind that’s actually easy to set up. (Amazon/)

Maybe it’s just us, but four-walled pop-up ground blinds are never quite as easy to set up or as portable as they promise. The Alpha Cam Two-Panel One-Way-See-Through Blind strikes a good balance between such blinds and pole-and-fabric setups, like the Hunters Specialties Ground Blind. It has two panels, with one-way shooting windows that provide good cover without much bulk. To wit, it weighs only 3.9 pounds and collapses down to smaller than a camping chair, so it’s easy to schlep around the woods.

The Ameristep 3D Leafy Poncho, lightweight wearable camo. (Amazon/)

If you really can’t find a portable ground blind that you like, maybe it’s time to go full ghillie suit, or at least something similar to one. Patterned in Realtree Max 4, the Ameristep 3D Leafy Poncho weighs 1.45 pounds, thus adding almost no weight to your pack. In fairness, it’s more like a ghillie Snuggie than a ghillie suit, since it’s designed to be pulled over your head once you’re seated and since it lacks distinct armholes. Still, it’ll do wonders to break up your silhouette.

The Hunters Specialties Ground Blind, a basic three-pole setup that goes up quickly and easily.
The GhostBlind 4-Panel Predator Blind, a clever setup that mirrors its surroundings.
The Alpha Cam Two-Panel One-Way-See-Through Blind, a pop-up blind that’s actually easy to set up.
The Ameristep 3D Leafy Poncho, lightweight wearable camo.


2 Tricks To Make Your 30-30 Shoot Farther

Just about anyone who loads and sells ammunition loads the old 30-30. These are just a few of available brands. (Ron Spomer/)

The 30-30 may or may not have put more deer on the table than any other cartridge in history, but even if it hasn’t, it remains a darned effective cartridge. But you can make it even more effective if you exercise two tricks that extend its reach. The 30-30 does not have to be a 150-yard-max cartridge.

Before we outline these range-extending tricks, it might be fun to explore the history of this famous .30 caliber. It actually began as the 30 Winchester Center Fire way back in 1895. It was the first smokeless powder sporting cartridge in the U.S.A. Winchester chambered it in its new, strong, Browning-designed Model 94 lever-action rifle released just the year before in 38-55 Winchester and 32-40 Winchester. Those were still blackpowder rounds.

A 30-30 by any other name… Over the years the original 30 Winchester Center Fire has been sold as the 30 Winchester, 30 Marlin, 30-30 Smokeless, 30 American, 7.62x51R (in Europe) and probably a few more. Today 30-30 Winchester is the official name for this venerable cartridge. (Ron Spomer/)

The 30 WCF pushed a 160-grain flat-nose 1,970 fps, 600 fps faster than the popular 38-55. Consumer interest was immediately piqued. Within a few months, Marlin began chambering the same round in its Model 1893 lever-action, but they called it the 30-30. The last number referenced the 30-grains of smokeless powder it burned. Marlin contracted with Union Metallic Cartridge Company to build the ammo. The headstamp was 30-30 UMC. In 1936 Marlin modified the M93 slightly to become the M36. They modified this to become the M336 in 1948. The Marlin had side ejection which accommodated scope mounting. The Winchester M94 didn’t switch to angle ejection until 1982.

Read Next: Our 4 Favorite Deer Hunting Guns of All Time

I suspect that shooters in the late 19th century were so familiar with the caliber/powder charge system of describing cartridges that they naturally gravitated to Marlin’s 30-30 description. By 1946 Winchester finally accepted the inevitable and started calling it the 30-30 Winchester.

A 30-30 by any other name… Over the years the original 30 Winchester Center Fire has been sold as the 30 Winchester, 30 Marlin, 30-30 Smokeless, 30 American, 7.62x51R (in Europe) and probably a few more. Today 30-30 Winchester is the official name for this venerable cartridge.
Marlin’s name for the 30 WCF, the 30-30, made the most sense to shooters familiar with the old tradition of naming cartridges by caliber plus the grains of blackpowder typically loaded. The 30-grains in the 30-30, however, were smokeless powder.
The 30-30 Winchester standing beside the 30-06 Springfield and 243 Winchester put its size and relative power potential in perspective.
A sampling of current factory loads for the 30-30 Win. Note that only one has a modern, sharply pointed tip for better B.C. But that tip is rubber to prevent inertia detonation of primers in cartridges stacked atop it in tubular magazines.
150-grain Spire Point Chart.
150-grain Spire Point Chart.
The difference in shape and thus aerodynamic efficiency between a flat nose 150-grain 30-30 bullet and a sharply tipped, 150-grain spire point boat tail designed for other 30 caliber cartridges is obvious when both are side-by-side. Spire points were just coming into fashion when the 30-30 was designed, but Winchester couldn’t have used sharp-tipped bullets at any rate because of the tubular magazine of its M94 rifle.
160-grain Hornady FTX Chart.
While most famous as a fine brush country whitetail cartridge, the 30-30 has proven itself equally effective for black bears and many other big game species.
177-yard Zero Table Chart.
Not only do modern, sleek, sharply-tipped bullets potentially perform as firing pins when stacked against primers of rounds atop them in tubular rifle magazines, but they protrude into powder space due to their extra length compared to squat, flat-based, flat-nosed 30-30 bullets. Bullet shape, as much as muzzle velocity, is what limits the 30-30 to relatively short-range performance — unless you use the MPBR sighting system.
190-yard Zero Table Chart.
Hunters have been using open-sighted 30-30s like this Winchester M94 to take whitetails for 125 years.
190-yard Hornady FTX Table Chart.
Winchester’s M94 was originally chambered for the 30 Winchester Center Fire, the same round known today as the 30-30 Winchester.
An American Classic. The Model 94 lever action rifle chambered 30-30. It may not have actually, as often claimed, taken more deer than any other cartridge/rifle combination, but it must be a darn close second place.
Many rifles over the years have been chambered for the 30-30, even some relatively recent arrivals like this Mossberg 464 stainless. Angled ejection permits use of a scope.
Icons of the West. Many, if not most, western ranchers employed the 30-30 rifle as rough and ready, do-all tools kept in a horse scabbard or truck rack for whatever need popped up. And handful of 30-30s could solve a lot of problems.
Yes, the sleek, aerodynamic shape of a modern boat tail spire point can make the 30-30 shoot significantly farther, but it cannot be used with any rounds touching primers in tubular magazines. Handloaders who take advantage of high B.C. bullets with sharp, hard tips religiously load just one in any tubular magazine. The practice is still dangerous. Someone ignorant of the concept who found the ammo head-stamped 30-30 could fill a tubular magazine rifle with the rounds and potentially ignite an explosive chain reaction.
The 30-30 in a lever-action rifle became an icon of woodland whitetail hunters across North America.

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The Godfather of Montana’s Bighorn River

Gonzalez in his happy place—­wading the banks of Montana’s Bighorn River this past January. (Bill Buckley/)

Phil Gonzalez lucked into his first fishing rod. He grew up near a big bend in the Yellowstone River in Huntley, Montana, about 15 miles east of Billings. To keep the river from washing over its banks and flooding the town, workers for the Rural Electrification Administration would use their boom trucks to stack old cars, pull-behind combines, tractors, and other defunct farm equipment as riprap along the bend.

Gonzalez was 9 years old, and the stockpiled machinery was his playground. One day, the workers dropped off a vintage Buick sedan with portholes along the front fenders. He loved to ransack the discarded cars and trucks, looking for treasure before they went into the river. The trunk on the Buick was locked, and Gonzalez wasn’t able to get into it by cutting through the back seat like he usually did.

“That thing was built like a Sherman tank, but the longer it kept me out, the harder I tried to open it,” he says.

After three days of failed attempts, he managed to pop the trunk with a pry bar. “And lo and behold, there it was—a metal telescopic rod with a windup reel. It was pretty prehistoric.”

Gonzalez throws a streamer while the author guides the boat down a gravel run. (Bill Buckley/)

That day in 1956 marked the beginning of Gonzalez’s fishing career, one that would play a pivotal role in the history of the Bighorn River in the years to come. His earliest forays were in his local waters, Pryor Creek and the lower Yellowstone, which was not the pristine river it is today.

Gonzalez throws a streamer while the author guides the boat down a gravel run.
A large brown trout caught in Montana's Bighorn River.
Snow and Gonzalez tag-team a Bighorn brown.
Gonzalez’s arrest in 1978.
Tying on a streamer.
A ’bow goes back in the river.

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10 Turkey Questions For Mark Drury

Mark Drury with a big-hooked adult gobbler. (Drury Outdoors/)

Mark Drury, president of Drury Outdoors, has captured no less than six different world turkey calling titles in his more than 150 wins. It can be said, however, that his truest passion lies with land management and ensuring the quality of a healthy animal population on his farm. He and brother Terry have dedicated their entire careers to bringing that excitement into the viewer’s living rooms year in and year out. We recently spent time with Mark to get his answers to 10 tough turkey hunting questions.

1. What calls do you use to roost a gobbler?

“My go-to is a coyote howler but I’ve had luck with turkey calls and owl hoots as well.”

2. How close should I set up on a roosted gobbler?

“As close as the visual will allow. I find myself having more success at that 80- to 120-yard range than any other distance.”

Mid-spring food plots are great places to call in gobblers.
A tailgate Rio.

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Four top-rated fishing nets that won’t leave you empty-handed

Secure your catch. ( Raghavendra Saralaya via Unsplash/)

Not all fishing nets are created equal. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of models that promise to do effectively the same thing: bag fish. But, as any experienced angler knows, certain nets are far better suited for targeting some species than others. (We dare you to try to nab a big bull redfish with a tiny trout hand net.) We’ve rounded up four top-rated models, one of which is sure to suit your angling needs, whether you’re targeting trout, walleye and bass, or specks and redfish.

An affordable trout net, with a handy, built-in measurer. (Amazon /)

You’ll struggle to find a quality, easy-to-carry trout net that’s more affordable than the 24-inch Ego Blackwater. It’s super-lightweight, at 14 ounces, and includes a built-in, retractable, quick-draw tether. Most notably, the bag has a measuring stick or sorts printed inside, for quick, hands-free sizing. It’s one potential shortcoming is that it comes with a nylon bag, as opposed to rubber, which tends to be easier on fish for catch-and-release.

A premium 26-inch net for diehard trout bums. (Amazon /)

The Fishpond Nomad fly-fishing net is substantially more expensive than the Ego Blackwater, but if you’re a buy-once-cry-once sort of person, you’ll likely think it’s worth the cost. The 26-inch net is made of lightweight carbon-fiber/fiberglass composite that’s waterproof, buoyant, and effectively bombproof. The net comes standard with a clear rubber-net bag. If you’re hoping to return trout to the river unharmed, it’s widely held that rubber bags, compared with nylon ones, tend to remove less slim from catches and thus result in higher survival rates. Flies are also less prone to become tangled in rubber bags.

A sturdy, no-frills model designed for competitive bass and walleye anglers. (Amazon/)

Ranger nets excel at simplicity. They are in no way fancy. But, unlike many nets you can buy cheaply online, they’re sturdy as heck and promise to hold up from season to season, even under intense tournament use, for which they were designed. The aluminum 345RD is made to handle hefty bass and walleye from boats. It has a 36-inch, non-telescoping handle and an 18-inch-by-18-inch hoop, along with a deep plastic-rubber net, to prevent tangles and harming catches. Made in the U.S.A., it comes with a three-year warranty, on the off chance you do have issues with it.

A telescoping net with enough strength to handle monster speckled trout and redfish. (Amazon/)

Telescoping nets are a mixed bag. Many aren’t as sturdy and reliable as you’d hope, and thus often end up hanging in the garage, seldom used. The Frabill Conservation Series Landing Net, meanwhile, is widely praised for its durability and strength. The handle extends from 24 inches to 48 inches, and its hoop measures 20 inches by 23 inches, the perfect size for speckled trout and redfish. And its knotless, specially coated mesh netting is designed to prevent fish injuries, for the catches you want to release.

An affordable trout net, with a handy, built-in measurer.
A premium 26-inch net for diehard trout bums.
A sturdy, no-frills model designed for competitive bass and walleye anglers.
A telescoping net with enough strength to handle monster speckled trout and redfish.


3 Ways to Become a Deadlier Turkey Caller

Aaron Warbritton of The Hunting Public working a pot and peg style call. (The Hunting Public/)

Calling turkeys takes practice, the kind of constant practice that annoys people around you who don’t understand things like the sound of a perfect yelp, or how a piece of roughed up glass and a stick can allow you to communicate with a wild animal.

Along with practice though, it also takes some good advice. To help, we’ve called on Aaron Warbritton of The Hunting Public. He’s the kind of guy who grew up going to the principal’s office for blowing a mouth call from the back of a classroom, and entered his first calling competition at the age of 16. When we spoke on the phone he rattled off the names of famous turkey callers as if they were the starting lineup to an NBA team, and when he’s not working on his calling technique, he’s probably out killing toms.

So, whether you’re new to calling or you’ve had a few turkey seasons under your belt, these tips should help hone your technique—and drive anyone within earshot absolutely crazy.

Make a Perfect Yelp with a Mouth Call

The ability to make consistent, realistic yelps with a mouth call is deadly, allowing you to keep both hands free to shoot. “Everybody blows a mouth call differently, so it’s hard to instruct somebody on the ‘correct’ way to do it,” Warbritton says. The main thing though is to focus on your breathing.

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Entertaining games to play while spending time outdoors

Fun wherever you go. (Greg Rosenke via Unsplash/)

Sure, most of the time when we’re camping we busy ourselves building fires, whittling sticks for s’mores, or telling ghost stories. But what about all the rest of the time? What about when it’s raining and you’re stuck in a tent, or you already built a fire and whittled your sticks? These games have you covered. They’re perfect for everything from the backcountry to an RV park, and will ensure you and everyone else in your camp is entertained.

Skimp on weight, not fun. (Amazon/)

The number of games you can create out of this set is nearly endless. It comes complete with a board and pegs for cribbage, and the accompanying deck of cards and dice give you unlimited gaming options. The entire set weighs far less than a pound—perfect for the weight-conscious backpacker. Play dice games in a group, cribbage with you and a friend or solitaire by yourself.

Learn about fishing while camping. (Amazon/)

There’s no better way to learn some facts about fishing than while settling in for the night in the woods. This game for all ages includes hundreds of questions and fun facts about fish items like gear and tackle and fish species. It’s suitable for kids as young as 4 who might need some help reading and answering questions, and will be fun for even the oldest players. Use it as a learning tool and campfire entertainment.

Toss it in your pack and play anywhere. (Amazon/)

Think Scrabble, only portable, faster paced, and pleasantly chaotic. This game—fit into a tiny, banana-shaped bag—can go with you just about anywhere and is perfect for anyone over 3, though ideally for those 7 and up. Play it by yourself or in groups of up to eight people. Use it for a fun evening among friends or as an educational tool for your kids.

Never be bored in a campground again. (Amazon/)

With minimal set up, this game set offers you ladder ball, frisbee and target toss all in one. The set isn’t small, but it’s perfect to stow in an RV closet or toss in the back of your truck. It’s durable enough to take along anywhere and promises fun for one summer after another. And you don’t have to pretend you’re bringing it along for the kids—these games are more than enough fun for you, too.

Skimp on weight, not fun.
Learn about fishing while camping.
Toss it in your pack and play anywhere.
Never be bored in a campground again.


Four cots for sleeping well in the woods

Another way to sleep in the woods. (Jesse Gardner via Unsplash/)

Don’t get us wrong, there’s a time and a place for roughing it and sleeping on the bare ground. But there’s no shame in partaking in a little comfort while in the woods. If you can, why not? Camping cots not only afford a better night’s sleep than, say, the flat earth or a paper-thin sleeping pad, but they’ll also keep your back from stiffening up, so you’re nice and limber for stalking a trout stream come daybreak. Plus, with several super-lightweight models on the market, a cot doesn’t even have to add much extra weight to your pack.

The Coleman ComfortSmart Cot, an affordable classic camping bed. (Amazon/)

When you hear the words camping cot, there’s a strong chance that a classic Coleman model, like this ComfortSmart Cot, springs to mind. It’s a foldable, no-nonsense, 6-foot-6-inch bed, with an included thick sleeping pad that promises a good night’s sleep. At 19.6 pounds, it’s not exactly light, but it’s the cheapest model on our list, so it has that going for it.

Tons of sleeping space. (Amazon/)

If you’re a big dude, you don’t want to get stuck trying to catch Zs on a tiny cot. Behold, the reasonably priced, 26-pound Teton Sports Outfitter XXL Cot. It has a 600-pound weight capacity (as opposed to the Coleman ComfortSmart’s 300) and an extra-large sleeping area, measuring 80 inches long and 35.5 inches wide. “The BEST camping purchase ever!” one user wrote. “Finally! I’ve graduated to a real camp bed!”

The Helinox Lite Cot, a 2.8-pound, super-portable backpacking cot. (Amazon/)

Camping cots, for all the good sleep they afford, tend to be heavy and not terribly compact. That’s typically the tradeoff: good sleep in exchange for extra weight. The Helinox Lite Cot is an outlier in this regard. At 2.8 pounds, it’s one of the lightest cots on the market, and it packs down to fit in a 20.5-inch-long bag, making it backpacking friendly. The catch is that it’s fairly pricey, but if you’re serious about shedding pounds, the Helinox Lite Cot will do the trick.

The Desert Walker Camping Cot, a 3-pound, reasonably priced portable cot. (Amazon/)

The Desert Walker Camping Cot is an ultralight cot, weighing about 3 pounds and packs down to 19.6 inches. It sits 6 inches off the ground when assembled, and has a 440-pound weight capacity (though some users call this into question). It receives slightly more mixed praise than the Helinox Lite Cot—but it also costs about half as much, and would be our pick if given the choice.

The Coleman ComfortSmart Cot, an affordable classic camping bed.
Tons of sleeping space.
The Helinox Lite Cot, a 2.8-pound, super-portable backpacking cot.
The Desert Walker Camping Cot, a 3-pound, reasonably priced portable cot.


A Raft Hunt for Caribou in the Alaskan Tundra

Floating a tributary of the Sagavanirktok River in Alaska. (Craig Okrasaka/)

The fact that I was even on this trip at all was pure luck. I stumbled into the invite—a float-hunt for caribou through a remote corner of Alaska’s Brooks Range—because another hunter had dropped out. Hard hiking, rafting down fast-­flowing rivers, and enduring cold, wet weather would all be part of the deal. I felt like I had been preparing for this trip my entire life.

I was born in Broad Ripple, Indiana, a neighborhood in northern Indianapolis that sits on the banks of the White River. I was drawn to the water as a kid. My dad would ferry us out into the river in our rowboat, and we’d fish and explore the ever-changing sand islands of our backyard. Even then, I understood the river could deliver adventure, and that its power demanded respect. When I was older, I found myself dialing in my kayak roll and calling out commands from the back of a raft as a whitewater guide. Leading expeditions through slot canyons built the character needed to withstand any plunge into a cold-water pool. Floating the waterways of the Southwest, I marveled over historical petroglyphs that depicted rivers as lifelines, giving water to plants and animals, and helping humans travel and connect with each other.

Hunting for me came later. I had settled in Colorado, where my brother slowly brought me into the fold. I had spent most of my adult life working as an adventure educator, but hunting was a fresh, visceral way to interact with nature. My first hunt was life-changing: My brother conjured up a bull elk from the timber, and I made a clean shot. Years later, I’m still chasing that feeling.

Making the long hike up one of the Sag’s many tributaries. (Craig Okrasaka/)

The River Road

The highway leading to our caribou hunt is paved with oil. My hunting partners—Joe Risi, a rep for Backbone Media; Thor Tingey, CEO of Alpacka Raft; and Craig Okrasaka of Maven optics—and I made a 10-hour drive north from Fairbanks on the Dalton Highway, which was built to access the oil fields of Prudhoe Bay and support the pipeline that brings a flow of oil south.

Making the long hike up one of the Sag’s many tributaries.
We hunted with Maven’s B2 binos and RS.2 scopes.
We utilized Alpacka packrafts to run tributaries.
Settling in for the shot on a curious bull.
The author with his velvet bull.

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Sonar fishing units to find fish fast

Know where to fish. (James Wheeler via Unsplash/)

Advances in sonar have made fishfinders more accurate and affordable than ever. These units will help you make the most of your time on the water and boast easy-to-use features that will fishing like a professional in no time.

Powerful CHIRP sonar in a value-focused package. (Amazon/)

Featuring ultra-clear CHIRP sonar, the Helix 5 delivers crisp bottom images. It includes an internal GPS chart plotter with built-in Anima cartography to help you learn new lakes in a hurry. The 5-inch WVGA display is bright and sharp.

Full-featured sonar and GPS in a compact package. (Amazon/)

Kayak anglers, take note. The Striker 4cv packs all the key features you’d expect in a quality sonar unit. There’s CHIRP sonar as well as CHIRP ClearVu scanning for incredible underwater imagery. The built-in GPS allows you to create routes and waypoints and monitor your boat’s speed. The 4.3-inch screen is sunlight readable and the rugged design is built for rough use.

Pro-level features in a value-priced unit. (Amazon/)

With CHIRP sonar and downscan, this powerful sonar unit can cover any type of fishing you’d want to do. The built-in GPS system includes NAVIONICS maps of more than 9,000 lakes in the U.S. and Canada. The single transducer can be set up on the transom, thru-hull, or on a trolling motor.

Ultra-portable sonar for anglers on the go. (Amazon/)

If your fishing adventures take place on the bank, in a kayak, or on the go, this castable sonar unit is worth a look. The sonar unit features a rechargeable battery with 10 hours of battery life and delivers depth readings up to 135 feet. The sonar communicates to your mobile device via Bluetooth and a free app is available for iOS or Android units.

Powerful CHIRP sonar in a value-focused package.
Full-featured sonar and GPS in a compact package.
Pro-level features in a value-priced unit.
Ultra-portable sonar for anglers on the go.


Stay safe on the water with these comfortable inflatable life vests

Float on. (Pete Nowicki via Unsplash/)

A life vest can only do its job if you’re wearing it. These lightweight, potentially life-saving inflatable life vests remove just about every excuse commonly used to not wear a flotation device while on the water.

No-frills safety. (Amazon/)

If you’re looking for an entry-level offering into the world of inflatable life jackets, the Eyson basic Is worthy of consideration. It’s CE certified and SOLAS approved and features durable, lightweight construction with an adjustable belt suitable for adults and youth. It has a buoyancy rating of 150N and the manual inflation system is rechargeable and reusable. It comes in a dozen color options as well.

Auto-inflating vest that won’t blow your budget. (Amazon/)

The SALVS automatic vest is unobtrusive, light and self-inflates when submerged for hassle-free, reliable safety on the water. The vest weighs less than two pounds and is easily recharged for repeat use. Its fully adjustable to fit men and women.

A serious performer for survival situations. (Amazon/)

With a tough 500 denier Cordura shell and 100N buoyancy, the M.I.T. 100 is a serious tool for extreme conditions where submersion is likely. The vest boasts a see-through panel for easy inspection of the inflator system which is rechargeable. The vest is designed for a lightweight, flexible fit.

Automatic inflation with manual backup. (Amazon/)

The A/M 24 offers the option to use an automatic inflatable or manual-only when wearing in heavy rain or spray to prevent unwanted inflation. The vest is fully reusable and rechargeable and features a comfortable, low-profile design that’s easy to wear.

No-frills safety.
Auto-inflating vest that won’t blow your budget.
A serious performer for survival situations.
Automatic inflation with manual backup.


10 Answers To Tough Turkey Questions

Ernie Calandrelli (Ernie Calandrelli/)

Ernie Calandrelli of Model City, New York, is one of the most respected turkey hunters in the country. A member of the New York State Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame, 32-year employee of Quaker Boy Game Calls and Mossy Oak pro staffer, Calandrelli has hunted turkeys across the country with bow, gun, and crossbow, and is renowned for his calling prowess—and wit. We recently spent time with “Big Ern” to get his lightning-round answers to 10 tough turkey hunting questions.

1. What calls do you use to roost a gobbler in the evening?

“Owl or coyote followed quickly with a gobble on a tube call.”

2. How close should I set up on a roosted gobbler?

“It depends on terrain and foliage—as close as possible without him being able to see you. If you know a field where he might be going, be there waiting for him no matter how far away he is.”

Calandrelli with a farm-country gobbler.
Calandrelli with a pair of Texas Rio Grande gobblers.

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Hardworking backpacks for any outdoor scenario

Room for everything. (Lucas Favre via Unsplash/)

A backpacking pack is great for the backcountry, but overkill for a dayhike. A duffle might be perfect for flying, but no one wants to lug it any farther than necessary. You plan your gear around your activity. But the bag you fit that gear into is just as important as the gear itself. Don’t be caught unprepared.

Fit for adventure. (Amazon/)

This pack for hunters is the perfect solution to debates over taking a pack for your gear or taking a frame for your animal. Instead of debating, buy this and take it all. It has a built-in meat shelf, scope, and tripod pockets, holster for your pistol, and a zippered rear entry for quick access. The waterproof fabric suppresses scent and resists dirt, moisture, and blood. The camo is perfect for most outdoor situations. The best part is it comes with an unconditional lifetime warranty, which means no matter what happens to the pack, even if it’s your fault, they fix it for free.

Go light, but carry the essentials. (Amazon/)

If you don’t need a big pack for that hike to the lake, day on the river, or even picnic in the woods, don’t bring one. This pack is all you need for a day outside and nothing more. It has an adjustable shoulder harness, waist, and chest straps along with stretch mesh pockets on both sides for storing bottles and small items. The external hydration sleeve accommodates up to a 3-liter water bladder.

Take more gear, less pack. (Amazon/)

This backpack holds up to 50 pounds with dual density shoulder harness and load-lifter straps. The removable lid compartment converts to an optional chest pack, and it includes a hydration port and internal hydration sleeve. Most importantly, carry everything you need in comfort with a light frame and molded foam back panel that fits your torso.

A bag that looks as good as it works. (Amazon/)

This Patagonia bag looks slick but doesn’t skimp on function. It carries everything you need for a long weekend or extended trip. Expect careful craftmanship with 100 percent recycled body fabric, lining, and webbing you can feel good about. Whether you’re traveling for work or to the river, this bag is what you need.

Fit for adventure.
Go light, but carry the essentials.
Take more gear, less pack.
A bag that looks as good as it works.