Hunting and Fishing News & Blog Articles

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

Reliable camping toilets for when nature calls

A beautiful place to do business. (Kevin Ianeselli via Unsplash/)

When you need a camping toilet, you really need one. Outdoorsmen who might be tempted to scoff at portable commodes have clearly never tried to dig a latrine in ground that’s rock-solid frozen, or been stuck in an ice-fishing shack over a long weekend, with the nearest port-a-john nowhere in sight. Besides, there’s no shame in enjoying some comforts from home while in the woods. Whatever the occasion, we’ve compiled four camping toilets or toilet accessories that will make taking care of business in nature a little more pleasant.

The GigaTent Pop Up Pod, a portable outhouse when privacy is a problem. (Amazon/)

Nature doesn’t always provide enough seclusion when, well, nature calls. The 6-foot-tall Pop Up Pod is a portable tent outhouse that can solve this problem by providing you plenty of privacy, whether you’re using a latrine or a portable camping toilet. This 3-pound, wind-resistant tent can also double as a changing room or shower stall, and would be particularly handy at crowded big deer or fish camps.

The Reliance Products Luggable Loo, a no-fuss toilet setup. (Amazon/)

Admittedly, there’s not a lot to this product. It’s basically a 5-gallon bucket with a toilet seat that snaps to the top. But sometimes that’s all you need, luxury be darned. The Luggable Loo is marketed toward outdoorsmen but is apparently pretty popular among long-haul truck drivers, too. Don’t forget to pick up some heavy-duty trash bags to use as liners.

The Porta Potti Thetford, a toilet that flushes and holds 5.5 gallons of waste. (Amazon/)

Sometimes a 5-gallon-bucket setup, like the Luggable Loo, doesn’t cut it, especially if you’re significant other isn’t accustomed to roughing it. The reasonably priced Porta Potti Thetford is a major step up, in terms of comfort and cleanliness. It flushes like a normal toilet, holds 4-gallon of fresh water and 5.5 gallons of waste, and averages 56 flushes before needing to be emptied. It also has a neat built-in toilet-paper compartment, and an easy-to-pour detachable waste tank.

The Cleanwaste Portable Toilet, a 7-pound toilet seat that folds up for easy carry. (Amazon/)

If bringing an entire toilet to camp, even a portable one, seems like a lot of trouble, not to mention a bit cumbersome, there’s the Cleanwaste Portable Toilet, which, despite the name, is not really a toilet but a toilet seat. The 7-pound contraption folds down to the size of a briefcase, and includes a carry handle to boot. To use it, you just secure one of Cleanwaste’s biodegradable toilet bags (sold separately) and go to town.

The GigaTent Pop Up Pod, a portable outhouse when privacy is a problem.
The Reliance Products Luggable Loo, a no-fuss toilet setup.
The Porta Potti Thetford, a toilet that flushes and holds 5.5 gallons of waste.
The Cleanwaste Portable Toilet, a 7-pound toilet seat that folds up for easy carry.


Outdoor lights for all your nighttime needs

The corn hole tournament doesn't need to end at nightfall. (Jimmy Conover via Unsplash/)

Not all nighttime situations are created equal, and not all require the same illumination. If you’re riding your bike home from work at night, you need one type, if you’re playing games in a tent, you need another. You may end up buying all four of these lights, and you likely won’t regret it. And even if you already have a favorite headlamp, check out this list to see if you also may need that lantern or flashlight, too.

Stay safe at night. (Amazon /)

From packing down a trail in the dark to field dressing at dusk, this headlamp will take care of you when the sun finally sets. Its many perks include instant transitioning between full and dimmed power and the ability to remember your brightness setting to avoid cycling through multiple ones each time you power on. The headlamp offers full strength in two distances, plus dimming and strobe abilities, and red night-vision. It’s also waterproof to a little more than 1 meter for up to 30 minutes, so don’t panic if it starts to rain.

Go light and stay in the light. (Amazon /)

For less than 9 ounces, this lantern has 225 lumens and will charge your smart phone in about 3.5 hours. It has folding legs, so packs up tight to fit in small spaces. Use this for anything from games in a tent to a little more light during dinner. It also has a hook to hang from the inside of a tent or a nearby branch. Never be caught in the backcountry in the dark.

Why settle for just a light? (Amazon/)

If it looks like it’s from the future, it’s because it works a bit like it is. This light might cost more than your average camping lantern, but your average camping lantern probably doesn’t also charge phones and tablets, recharge with the sun, and run for up to 48 hours. If it’s cloudy, don’t worry, you can recharge it with a built-in hand crank. And it only weighs a hair over a pound.

For when you need a dependable light. (Amazon/)

Yes, this is a lot of money for a flashlight, but consider the specs on this one. It runs for 50,000 hours—that’s more than 5.5 years of being on 24 hours a day. The lithium ion battery can be recharged up to 1,000 times—and it only takes 3 hours to recharge it. If you can’t recharge, it will run for 60 hours on AAA batteries included with the flashlight. Why not make the next flashlight you buy the last one you’ll need to buy?

Stay safe at night.
Go light and stay in the light.
Why settle for just a light?
For when you need a dependable light.


Will Coronavirus Get More People into Hunting?

After shooting a gobbler on opening day in Indiana, a hunter hustles back to work from home during the state's COVID lockdown. (Natalie Krebs/)

Like most folks these days, hunters are sore from whiplash. Our community is well-suited to weathering this pandemic, but we’re also not immune to the fallout. In the six weeks since President Trump declared a national emergency, we’ve already endured travel restrictions, shooting range and public-land closures, and canceled seasons. Yet many folks have extra time for spring hunting, and firearm and ammo companies have seen a spike in consumer sales, with the FBI reporting 3.7 million background checks—the highest ever recorded in a single month—in March 2020.

So, how is this all going to affect hunter numbers? The future of hunting participation was already on the ropes, and we haven’t been making much progress since we discovered we were in trouble a few years ago. Despite ramped-up recruitment efforts, U.S. Fish and Wildlife data reveals that we’ve lost some 255,000 hunters nationwide between fiscal years 2016 and 2020. And that figure is actually worse than it sounds because the national population is growing even as hunter numbers are shrinking.

If you’re a pessimist, you could make the case that corona could knock out hunting for good. But if life ever returns to normal—or even if it doesn’t—this crisis looks an awful lot like a boon for hunter numbers.

Right Now: How COVID-19 Is Affecting Turkey Hunters

There are significantly more spring turkey hunters in the woods this season. (Natalie Krebs/)

Every state’s game agency is reacting to the virus in a slightly different way. Some states chose to just outlaw camping while others closed public hunting areas altogether. Some states halted tag sales, and others didn’t change anything at all.

There are significantly more spring turkey hunters in the woods this season.
Google searches for “turkey hunting” (top) and “turkey season” (bottom) are the highest they’ve ever been (since 2004) though the above graphs show the last 5 years for easier reference. The red line represents March 1, 2020. Note: The sharp spikes on the lower graph coincide with Thanksgiving Day; the rounder humps represent the spring. (Results as of 4/23/2020.)
New hunters check their targets with Missouri Department of Conservation employees at a state shooting range in December.
Mentors and new hunters crowd around a deer at one of QDMA’s Field to Fork hunts in last year.

Continue reading

Four hydration packs perfect for backcountry hunting and fishing

Hydration packs for any outdoor trip. (Austin Ban via Unsplash/)

Water bottles are sort of the worst. They’re cumbersome, slosh around a ton on hikes, and seldom fit well into a bag’s built-in water pouches. Our modest proposal: Ditch them. Hydration packs are tons more convenient and, in most cases, include extra storage pockets for gear. Win-win. We’ve rounded up for four top-rated models, one of which is sure to suit your next off-the-grid excursion.

The Barbarians Tactical Hydration Pack is a lightweight, 3-liter bag with plenty of extra storage. (Amazon/)

The Barbarians Tactical Hydration Pack is like a lot of other hiking hydration packs—just better, in part because it’s affordable. Other reasons: The 3-liter water-hauler is made of tough 600D Polyester, meaning it won’t fall apart on you easily, and it weighs only 1.83 pounds sans water. It comes in four colors—tan, camo, black, and dark green—all of which are hunting-appropriate. And the two big outside pockets mean that, for short outings, you can stash your fly gear, cellphone, and wallet inside and leave your regular backcountry pack at home.

The Osprey Duro Vest, a snug-fitting, 1.5 liter vest. (Amazon/)

The Osprey Duro 1.5 is a hydration vest designed for running and, as such, fits extra-snugly against the body, to maximize stability and minimize sloshing. For backcountry hunters getting in shape for elk season, the Duro would be a nice companion for uphill training jogs. Likewise, the pack will prevent anglers from having to lug cumbersome water bottles on long hikes to far-flung trout holes.

The Piscifun Fishing Vest, an affordable, 17-pocket pack. (Amazon/)

Though many, if not most, fly vests and slings come with a water-bottle pouch of one sort or another, precious few include a water bladder and built-in hose holders for easy hydration while casting a line. The Piscifun Fishing Vest Backpack is one of the latter. The affordable, 17-pocket pack aims to be a complete fly setup, with a backpack in the rear (where the water bladder is stored) and a proper fishing vest in the front. Don’t be surprised if you spot more backcountry fly bums sporting this Piscifun on the river.

The Anglatech Fly Fishing Backpack Vest Combo, a durable, do-it-all angling setup. (Amazon/)

The Anglatech Fly Fishing Backpack Vest Combo is a modest step up from the Piscifun Fishing Vest Backpack, in terms of cost and quality. It’s widely praised for its durability, and fishermen claim that it rivals any big-name fly vests they’ve used. It comes with a 1.5-liter water bladder that fits discreetly into the rear backpack.

The Barbarians Tactical Hydration Pack is a lightweight, 3-liter bag with plenty of extra storage.
The Osprey Duro Vest, a snug-fitting, 1.5 liter vest.
The Piscifun Fishing Vest, an affordable, 17-pocket pack.
The Anglatech Fly Fishing Backpack Vest Combo, a durable, do-it-all angling setup.


Enjoy National Park Week with these 7 Incredible Photos

You would be forgiven for not knowing that it’s National Park week. The coronavirus crisis has captured the country’s attention and kept most of us sheltering in our homes. While some of the most well-known parks, like Yellowstone and Teton, have closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many national parks are still open. Most experts and health officials still caution against traveling long distances to visit parks (you could unknowingly be bringing the virus with you), but if you live near an open park and you follow social distancing guidelines, now is a good time to get some fresh air and enjoy one of our national parks.

If you can’t get outside and do some hiking or fishing in a national park, scrolling through QT Luong’s photos might be the next best thing. Luong is the first (and only) known photographer to shoot photos in each of our 62 national parks with a large format camera.

He grew up in Paris, France, and traveled to Denali National Park in 1993. He was enthralled by the park’s natural beauty. But when he got back and reviewed his photos, he was disappointed to see that they didn’t capture what he had witnessed in person. He started researching photography and started experimenting with a large format camera.

It was a love for hiking and photographing national parks that brought Luong to America full-time. He moved to San Francisco to be near his favorite park: Yosemite.

“I saw it was a unique chance that America has to preserve these lands,” he said. “Coming from France, most of the lands were already developed. There’s not much left besides the mountains. But here the vastness and diversity of the national parks, it’s such an opportunity to see land that is still pristine.”

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah
White Sands National Park, New Mexico
Schwabacher Landing, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Fireflies, Elkmont, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee
Exit Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii

Continue reading

Four excellent cameras for your next expedition

Capture nature's wonder. (Maksym Kaharlytskyi via Unsplash/)

Buying the right camera can be tough—and investing in one that isn’t part of your phone is even more of a trial. We’ve taken away some of that struggle. Included here is a list of four cameras perfect for any outdoor expedition, no matter your skill or desire. Whether you want to step up your game and learn to shoot on a DSLR, or you know you’re going to be wet more than dry, we’ve got you covered.

Take pictures anywhere—literally. (Amazon/)

This Olympus camera is named Tough for a reason. It’s waterproof up to 50 feet, crush-proof to 100 kg of force, freeze-proof to 14 degrees Fahrenheit, and anti-fog. Go ahead, dunk the camera to get those pictures of trout on the release. Take it with you skiing and don’t fret if you drop it in the powder (as long as you find it again). It also has a high resolution, F2.0 lens, 8x zoom, and can shoot magnified up to 1 cm from the lens.

Shoot like a pro without all the weight. (Amazon/)

Sony has cornered the market on mirrorless cameras, and as a result is one of the best options for someone hoping to break into more professional photography. Get started with this one. Interchangeable lenses allow you to upgrade as much as needed, while spending your money on glass instead of a bigger body. The small body means you can tuck this camera into your waders or slip it into your hunting pack. And with a 0.02 autofocus, it can capture just about anything you need.

Shoot like the best. (Amazon/)

The price tag is significant, but so is this camera. This Nikon shoots in full frame and 4k UHD video. It has wireless connectivity to transfer your images seamlessly from camera to phone, and allows for remoteless long exposures for those night shots you always wanted. When you experience its 24.5 megapixel resolution and robust image processing engine, you won’t question the price.

Take the shot then keep playing. (Amazon/)

It takes a pretty good point and shoot to replace smart phone cameras right now, but this one does. The Panasonic pairs with lens icon Leica to offer a point and shoot that operates somewhere between your phone and a bigger DSLR. The camera offers 20.1 megapixels and 4k video. It also has all of the creative scene modes. But the real seller is its ability to offer zoom and better images under low light.

Take pictures anywhere—literally.
Shoot like a pro without all the weight.
Shoot like the best.
Take the shot then keep playing.


Four teepee-style tents, from lightweight to living-room-size

Stay covered. (Amazon/)

The native peoples of the North American Plains were onto something when they adopted these conical structures as their year-round dwellings sometime in the 17th century. The shelters, for starters, are a cinch to disable and transport. That’s in part why, all these years later, they remain a solid choice when camping in the backcountry. We’ve rounded up four top-rated models, from super lightweight to massive in size.

An affordable, quality option for beginners. (Amazon/)

The Wenzel Shenanigan’s chief appeal is the price: it’s the cheapest teepee option on our list by a significant margin. Still, it has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from users, who praise it for easy set-up and for its overall quality—especially given its affordable price tag. The well-vented beginner teepee isn’t exactly lightweight, at 10.63 pounds but, with an 11.5-by-10 footprint, it’s large enough to accommodate three or four sleepers, so you can have a buddy help you pack it in.

A 1.4-pound three-person shelter. (Amazon/)

The Nemo Apollo is about as minimal as it gets, which is exactly what you want if you’re trying to pack light and hike deep into the woods. Weighing a mere 1.4 pounds, the three-person shelter collapses down to about the size of an overstuffed burrito. Admittedly, it’s not exactly cheap for what’s effectively an aluminum pole and a Silnylon canopy, but you’d struggle to find a lighter, more reliable setup.

A 2.6-pound teepee that’ll keep you warm in gnarly weather. (Amazon/)

At 2.6 pounds, the OneTigris Smokey Hut weighs just a bit more than the bare-bones Nemo Apollo, but it’s a good bit more affordable and strikes a good middle ground between minimalism and comfort. The 20D silicon-coated nylon shell excels at trapping in heat, and the waterproof, wind-resistant design includes a stovepipe opening if you really want to warm up the teepee. Few other teepees for the price can withstand the elements as well as the Smokey Hut.

A living-room-size wilderness shelter. (Amazon/)

In fairness, this three- to six-person Dream House shelter is more of a yurt than a true teepee, but it’s good enough to make this list anyway. Made of heavy-duty canvas, the shelter is available in a half-dozen or so different sizes, ranging from 9.4-foot diameter to 19.7-foot diameter. In other words, it’s massive—large enough to contain a king-size bed with plenty of room spare. This is the teepee you want if you want to live it up while in the woods.

An affordable, quality option for beginners.
A 1.4-pound three-person shelter.
A 2.6-pound teepee that’ll keep you warm in gnarly weather.
A living-room-size wilderness shelter.


How to Plant a Sunflower Field for Better Dove Hunting This Summer

Planting a sunflower field for dove season is easier than you think. (Joe Genzel/)

If you didn’t grow up on a farm, it may seem like a daunting task to plant your own sunflower field for the September dove opener. I grew up and started my hunting career in the city (our duck blind was on the Illinois River in the shadow of a town of 120,000 people). So I never knew much about growing crops, and I’m still no expert. But I can tell you that planting sunflowers—which attract doves if you manage them right—isn’t as hard as it may seem. The seeds found in the flower’s head bring in the doves. As the sunflowers dry out and die, the seeds drop and the bird’s feast. Millet, milo, and wheat are also common crops doves love.

You only need about an acre of ground, a few essential tools, and a little resourcefulness. Here’s how to get started.

Spring brings with it unpredictable weather, so plant your seeds as soon as the ground is dry. (Joe Genzel/)

When to Plant

This varies every spring due to weather (rain, snow, and cold), but ideally you don’t want to get the seeds in the ground any later than the second week of May. Sunflowers have about a 100-day gestation period, so to get a good, full-grown head on the flowers (which means more seeds for the doves to feast on), you need to get them in by then. I try and plant in April, if possible, but in the Midwest you can get a freeze or even snow this time of year, so it’s important to look at the forecast. Folks in southern states can typically plant earlier without worrying about frost.

My recommendation is that when you have the chance to plant, do it. Don’t wait for a dry weekend. Take a day off work and get after it, because the weather is volatile in spring. Our last few springs here have been especially wet, and I’ve learned the hard way you have to plant at Mother Nature’s convenience or there won’t be a healthy crop come August.

Spring brings with it unpredictable weather, so plant your seeds as soon as  the ground is dry.
Spray Roundup to kill any weeds in the field.
A harrow is an invaluable tool for working dirt.
The ground was a little wet in this planting season so someone had to walk behind the planter to cover the seed with dirt.
This is what a healthy sunflower field looks like about a month before dove season starts.

Continue reading

Video: Meet the Duck Hunting Queen of Plaquemines Parish

Twilight in the Louisiana delta. (Smithsonian Channel/)

The Smithsonian Channel partnered up with Sitka gear to produce this awesome video on Albertine Kimble, a duck hunter and conservationist from the Plaquimines Parish in Louisiana. The short film follows Kimble through the marsh and highlights one of the major conservation issues facing our country right now—the degradation of delta wetland habitat at the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Here’s the oversimplified explanation of the problem: The river has been channelized, which prevents enough freshwater from reaching the marsh. Vegetation dies and gives way to saltwater—a football field of land is lost every hour.

But there is a lot, lot more to the story of Louisiana’s marsh. In the video we also get to see Ryan Lambert, a long-time friend of Outdoor Life and one of the most vocal and knowledgeable conservationists in the region. Deputy editor Gerry Bethge hunted nutria with Lambert earlier this year and shed some light on just one of the many environmental challenges the marsh is facing.

Read Next: Duck Hunting: The Ducks Stop Here

So give this video a watch, it’s worth the 10 minutes of your time just to get to know Kimble, one of the many salt-of-the-earth folks who rely on the natural resources of this region.


10 Questions: Jason Hart On Turkey Hunting

Jason Hart and Paige Hill Murphy with spring 2020 Osceolas. (Jason Hart/)

Jason Hart from Summerville, South Carolina, has been turkey hunting for 30 years and racked up 20 Grand Slams (one with every American gauge, bow, and muzzleloader), five Royal Slams, two World Slams and has harvest turkeys in 39 states on the way to his U.S. Slam. Jason received a degree in Wildlife Biology from Clemson University and has made his living in the outdoor industry working for Avery Outdoors, Quality Deer Management Association, Under Armour, Mossy Oak and is the co-founder of NOMAD and Huk Perfomance Fishing. He is on the foundation board at the National Wild Turkey Federation. We caught up with Jason recently to get his answers on some common turkey hunting questions.

Q: You’ve hunted turkeys across the country for numerous years. Which birds and what place(s) have been the toughest? Easiest?

A: “I think “tough” and “easy” birds can be found in every state. The more turkeys a property has and the less pressure it receives, the easier the hunting tends to be. I don’t always buy into the theory that western subspecies are the easiest. Although Rio Grande and Merriam’s turkeys can seem easy, if they are hunted with lots or pressure they can be just as challenging as their darker feathered relatives to the east. If I were to pick one state, I would say my home turf of South Carolina has the toughest birds I have hunted. South Carolina has lots of great turkey hunters and gets a ton of pressure. The same can be said for Alabama and Mississippi.”

Q: Generally, have you found that turkeys have become more difficult to kill over the past decade? Why?

A: “Unfortunately, I would agree with this statement, particularly in the southeast. Eastern wild turkeys are on the decline in many states and it is going to take research to determine the reasons why. Biologists are finding that the breeding hierarchy of adult gobblers is more complex than was previously thought and many states have or are considering moving their seasons to later in the spring for the good of the resource. If something doesn’t change soon, the golden age of wild turkey hunting may be over. I would hate to see wild turkey populations in the south have a similar fate to that of the bobwhite quail in 20 or 30 years.”

Jason Hart with a Ocelatted gobbler he shot with a bow.
Jason Hart with a great Oregon tom.

Continue reading

Hunting Nutria in the Louisiana Bayou

Walter Heathcock retrieves our first nutria of the day, near Buras, La. (Cedric Angeles/)

I can’t help but be transported back in time the instant Ryan Lambert hands me a .22 rifle and points his 28-foot mothership hunting barge into the bayous off the Mississippi River. Lambert and I have been close buddies for years, chasing redfish, ducks, and even swordfish together from his lodge out of Buras, Louisiana. But now we’re loaded to the teeth on a cold day in February to hunt…swamp rats. I’m having flashbacks to my childhood.

The phrase “redneck entertainment center” most certainly did not originate at the town dump in Sandisfield, Massachusetts, but that’s where I first heard it. On Saturday summer evenings, my dad, brother, cousins, Uncle Hans, and I spent countless hours there plinking at marauding rats. Dad’s Winchester Model 77 .22 was a thing of beauty to me, and I’ll never forget his stern look when I’d empty its seven shots on a scrambling rat, defying Dad’s single-shot restriction. But he was a softie, and I’d catch him smiling knowingly at my uncle when I burned through another magazine. It was all good. Heck, it was great fun, and he knew it. I had the feeling I was in for this same kind of fun with Lambert.

Motoring alongside us is Walter Heathcock in his 18-foot marsh boat. Standing high in the stern of the skiff, hand on the tiller of his 35 hp Pro-Drive shallow-water outboard, the ponytailed Cajun Rambo looks as grand as George Washington crossing the Delaware in Emanuel Leutze’s iconic painting. There is no Hessian army waiting for us, but there is a different invader lurking across the lower Mississippi River.

Swamp rats feed ­heavily on the root systems of marsh grass, as seen to the right of the boat. (Cedric Angeles/)

At first blush, the conservative Lambert, 62, 30-year owner of the Cajun Fishing Adventures lodge, and the ever-animated Heathcock, 35, owner of Fin Twisters Fishing Guide Services, seem unlikely collaborators for a nutria hunt. You can tell straight off from their choice of primary hunting guns. Lambert totes a wood-stocked Remington 552 .22 LR with a Tasco scope, and Heathcock has a Ruger .17 HMR topped with a Pulsar Trail Thermal slung over his shoulder. Their perspectives also speak volumes.

“Honestly, we’re just a couple of Cajun coonasses,” Heathcock says with a wry laugh. “Helping the marsh is an important part of all this, but shooting nutria is also just a lot of fun. I think that once people do it, they’ll understand. I take my 15-year-old daughter all the time, and she loves it. She’s a hell of a shot too. Heck, she shot a running nutria from a moving boat at 50 yards the other day.”

Swamp rats feed ­heavily on the root systems of marsh grass, as seen to the right of the boat.
The author (far left) and Lambert track a nutria with their .22s; Heathcock shoots backup.
Nutria are strong swimmers and can stay submerged for up to five minutes.
The serpentine bayous off the Mississippi provide an abundance of nutria habitat.
Despite temperatures in the low 40s, our crew stacked several nutria by midday.
Heathcock searches the thick marsh grass with a thermal riflescope.
Louisiana’s Coastwide Nutria Control Program pays a $6 bounty per tail.
One of the most popular calibers for swamp rats is the .22 LR.
Marsh damaged by feeding rats often never wholly regenerates.
Lambert gets on the stern for a better vantage point of the marsh.
Walter Heathcock preparing nutria rat meat.
Hunter carving nutria rat meat.
Preparing nutria rat with vegetables in a stock pot.
Nutria rat stew with rice and vegetables.

Continue reading

Four ways to organize your fishing gear

Be neater than this! (Harrison Kugler via Unsplash /)

Maybe you figured out the best way to store your flies, lures, line and other fishing accessories. Chances are, you could probably use an upgrade. If everything is currently tossed in a big box—or in a bin in the bottom of your boat—take a look at these options. And remember, the more organized your gear, the less time you’ll spend fishing for the right lure and the more time you’ll spend fishing for, well, fish.

Stay organized. (Amazon/)

Does this look like your dad’s tackle box? Maybe, but why mess with an original? If what you need is a classic design with two trays, divided slots and a space for each lure, then go with what you know works. Find six removable dividers, a flip-top accessory compartment, and even more storage in the base for bulky items.

Grab what you need then keep fishing. (Amazon/)

Keep everything you need for an afternoon or a week of fishing on your back, tucked out of the way. But know the moment you need it, every bit of your gear will be accessible on your chest, held up by a sling. Internal pockets, zippers, and cord loops means you can store every line, tippet, strike indicator, and fly in exactly the right place. It even has a forceps sheath on the shoulder strap with a magnetic anchor.

Take it all and don’t lose a thing. (Amazon/)

When you’re on a boat, and space isn’t a premium, bring along this case that lets you organize and store as much tackle as you could need. Four removable StowAway utility boxes fit inside with three, top-access removable spinnerbait racks. A clear DuraView lid lets you check out your top gear quickly, without sifting through your tackle. Spacious bulk storage also allows for plenty of bigger items.

Carry just what you need. (Amazon/)

Take only your choicest lures out onto your canoe or kayak in this waterproof container. The adjustable compartments let you fit your case to your lures, and the extra-long bulk storage accommodates the strangest of tackle. Don’t worry about flooding the inside should you capsize or take on waves, the Dri-Loc O-ring seals and three, tight-sealing Cam action latches give you quick access and keep the water out.

Stay organized.
Grab what you need then keep fishing.
Take it all and don’t lose a thing.
Carry just what you need.


Must-haves for camping with your dog

Outdoor gear for your favorite pal. (Annie Theby via Unsplash/)

Something that will always make you smile? Watching the dog that always has your back enjoying time in the woods. But while you remembered your tent, sleeping bag, stove, and other gear, did you think of what he or she needed? Don’t worry, we have you (or your dog, rather) covered. From an outdoor bed to a first aid kit, don’t leave home without these must-haves.

Plan for the worst. (Amazon/)

No one wants to think about our furry friends breaking legs, tearing ligaments, or gouging skin, but it happens. Any veterinarian can offer horror stories of backcountry adventures gone wrong. Fortunately, you can be prepared. This kit contains everything you need to remove splinters and ticks, reduce swelling from sprains and strains, wrap injuries with bandages that don’t stick to fur, and medicate to relieve pain and allergies. The kit weighs less than 1.5 pounds.

Sleep well. (Amazon/)

Your dog may be tough in the field, but when night falls, and they’re curled in a ball on the cold ground, offer he or she someplace warm to sleep. This bed is packable, durable and perfect for the backcountry. It weighs less than 13 ounces and is water-resistant and quick-drying. Side bonus: When you bring Fido a bed, he won’t want to sleep on your sleeping bag.

Let them carry their food. (Amazon/)

Don’t catch yourself skimping on food for your dog on a backpacking trip because you don’t want to carry more weight. Fill this pack with your pup’s food, bowls, and other essentials and let them do the work for you. It has reflective trim to help you see them in low light, and pads for added comfort. It comes in a variety of sizes and colors, including blaze orange for hunting season. It also has a harness to allow you to carry Fido over logs or boulders.

Never risk dehydration. (Amazon/)

This dog bowl weighs next to nothing and collapses to fit anywhere. Some dogs may drink straight from water bottles, but most won’t, and it’s not necessarily the most sanitary for you. Don’t be stuck on a trail pouring your precious water into your hands for your furry friend to drink.

Plan for the worst.
Sleep well.
Let them carry their food.
Never risk dehydration.


Four multi-tools to get you out of any situation

A tool for everything. (Depositphotos/)

All MacGyver needed was his Swiss Army knife. While we may need more, these multi-tools will get you closer to solving your backcountry—or front country—predicament. We’ve highlighted four for any situation. If you need something light and minimal, find it here. If you want something that cuts, opens a bottle of wine, and saws a small stick, we have that, too. Read through to find the perfect fit.

Open everything. (Amazon/)

Need to clip some rope? Done. Saw a stick? Done. Open a bottle of wine? Done. Whittle a spoon? Done. Open a beer bottle? Not a problem. This knife, from the timeless brand Victorinox Swiss Army, will have your back no matter your problem. It’s stainless steel and comes with a leather clip pouch.

Bring what you need and nothing more. (Amazon /)

This Leatherman multitool weighs just more than 6 ounces, and what it lacks in weight it makes up for in strength. It contains needle-nose and regular pliers, wire cutters, a large bit driver, a bottle opener, and, of course, a knife blade. The tool also comes with a 25-year limited warranty and a carabiner for easy carrying. Extra bonus: You can store another bit in the handle for even more capability.

Carry what you need when you need it. (Amazon/)

Never worry about grabbing your keys, wallet, phone, and multitool again. This little tool hangs on your keychain, which means anywhere you go with your keys you can fix a problem. It’s stainless steel, compact and offers 10 tools including scissors, a bottle opener, tweezers, a file, and wire cutter. The spring-loaded pliers are just another perk.

Carry only what you need. (Amazon/)

This compact, easy-to use multitool has everything you need and nothing that you don’t. It has the classic scissors, screwdrivers, knife, and file, as well as a pair of tweezers tucked away inside. It’s made in Portland, Oregon, and comes with a 25-year limited warranty. Tools pop open with a push of your thumb, but close with magnetic locking to keep you safe while it’s closed.

Open everything.
Bring what you need and nothing more.
Carry what you need when you need it.
Carry only what you need.


25 Top Spring Turkey Hunting Tips

Riverbottoms are great places to strike a gobbling tom. (Michael Hanback/)

One April morning I threw the proverbial kitchen sink at an old Virginia mountain gobbler. For an hour he played along and roared back at my every call, spinning and strutting on a sun-drenched ridge 80 yards away.

“Okay mister, let’s try this,” I whispered beneath my camo mask.

I pinned a double-reed diaphragm to the roof of my mouth, and forced out a couple of high-pitched squeals. I picked up my box call, pressed the lid tight to the sounding lip and stroked some tinny whines amid a run of raspy yelps.

Big feet churned the leaves as the gobbler body-rocked down the ridge, beard swinging. I rolled him at 20 yards, before he ran plumb over me.

Listen closely and pay attention, and you’ll hear that turkey hens mix delicate squeals, whines, purrs, and moans with their clucking and yelping. These little falsetto notes can drive a gobbler wild. Tweak your calling to have the same effect. Those off-beat notes you mix in a string of yelps can bring a stubborn bird running. That’s tip #1.

The author with an Oklahoma gobbler.
Sharp, curved hook of a 4-year-old gobbler, the holy grail of turkey hunting.
Grooves alongside big tracks where a gobbler strutted for hens.
A friction with an aluminum or glass surface is best for loud yelping and cutting to locate strutters at midday.
Binoculars are handy in Eastern woods and a necessity out West in Merriam's and Rio country.
A Midwest field-edge gobbler.

Continue reading

5 Cool Things We’ve Found in Rivers

Rivers never stop. For the poor guy who drops a rod into one, this is bad news because if the flows are up, nothing falls straight down. Currents can carry lost items for miles, and subsequently, it takes only one flood or a week of high water to move a treasure that’s been at rest for years—or centuries—to a new location. Sometimes, if we’re lucky, we’re the one who finds it, and sometimes what a river gives you is more special than an old lure or a vintage Coke bottle. I reached out to a bunch of fishing buddies to find out the most interesting artifacts a river has ever given them. Here are the three coolest answers, plus two of my most memorable finds.

1. Smith & Wesson Revolver

Smith & Wesson Revolver (Joe Cermele/)

As soon as the anchor line on my raft came tight, I looked down and there, directly below me in the Delaware River, was a revolver. I reeled a jighead to the tip of my rod and looped the hook around the trigger guard, and my friend scooped up the pistol in the net. After our float, I took the crusty gun to the police station, thinking it might be linked to a crime. A few days later, a friend told me it was a really expensive .357 hammerless revolver with a scandium frame, made specifically for concealed carry. His point was that while a thug could have tossed it, it was more likely that its legal owner had a big oopsy on the river.

2. Mammoth Tooth

Mammoth Tooth (Dawson Hefner/)

Dawson Hefner is a gar guide on Texas’ Trinity River. Prone to flooding, the Trinity has a soft bottom that’s constantly being stirred, causing prehistoric fossils and bones to surface. Hefner has found everything from fossilized marine invertebrates to Mosasaur teeth, but his best find was an intact tooth from a mammoth, which thrived in Texas about 10,000 years ago. “My client wanted to do some rock hunting, so I pulled up on a bar,” Hefner says. “I got out of the boat, and that tooth wasn’t a foot away.”

Mammoth Tooth
Rusted double-bit ax head.
A Lamson Fly Reel.
Roy Mann's Memorial sign.

Continue reading

Four books every hunter should read

Even if you can't hit the great outdoors this week, you can still use your time wisely. (Hello I'm Nik via Unsplash/)

Outdoor Life has already compiled 14 books that will change the way you hunt and the top 20 books for hunters and anglers. Add this short list to your reading queue. Below, four books that you can download and pore over before opening day.

A fact-filled deep dive into the history of hunting. (Amazon/)

In this deeply researched and even-handed tome, Philip Dray, a noted historian, traces the history of American hunting from its earliest days. The book dives deep into hunter’s successes here stateside, including the development and legislation of a strong fairchase ethic, and the birth of the American model of conservation. It touches on some missteps along the way, namely market hunting and the unchecked slaughter of the bison. (Which one could argue isn’t even hunting.) The overall picture is extremely positive, though, and Dray does a commendable job showing how sportsmen have led political movements to protect wildlife and the nation’s wildest places.

A new collection of outdoor classics. (Amazon/)

This new collection of 18 stories includes some of the most renowned outdoors writers of all time, including Theodore Roosevelt, Nash Buckingham, and Archibald Rutledge. The book’s editor, Lamar Underwood, no doubt has an eye for writing talent: He was previously editor-in-chief of Sports Afield and Outdoor Life. The collection he’s compiled is an excellent starting place if you’ve never dived into the old greats.

A short-story collection from a seminal outdoors writer. (Amazon/)

Rick Bass, a Field & Stream contributor, has spent his career as an essayist covering some of the most important conservation issues of our time, taking a special interest in the protection of the grizzly bear. He’s also one heck of a short-story writer, as this thick collection of new and selected fiction certainly proves. Not every story is about the outdoors, though a good number are. That said, “Elk”—about a hunting trip gone awry—is alone worth the price of admission.

Handy guide for off-the-grid backpack hunts. (Amazon/)

Josh Kirchner made his name as the guy behind Dialed in Hunter, a breezy personal blog about the outdoors. His new book aims to teach new hunters how to prepare for their first season of backcountry backpack hunting, detailing safety considerations, food prep, the physical demands, and practical skills. It promises to be a good crash course if you’re looking to tag out way out in the wilderness.

A fact-filled deep dive into the history of hunting.
A new collection of outdoor classics.
A short-story collection from a seminal outdoors writer.
Handy guide for off-the-grid backpack hunts.


Stay dry and comfortable with these top-notch waders

What are you wading for? (Paul Wolke via Unsplash/)

Whether you’re chasing trout in the high country, smallmouth in the river between the hills, or just tossing spinners for panfish in the local creek, these piscatorial pursuits have one commonality: Waders that keep you from getting wet. Here’s a few top choices.

Loaded with features and value. (Amazon/)

Featuring triple-layer nylon construction with 4mm neoprene booties, these stocking foot waders pack a lot of features. The waders boast a handwarmer pocket, waterproof zippered chest pocket and built-in gravel guards.The waders come with a one-year warranty that includes free repairs should they ever leak.

Tough, durable waders for rocky environments. (Amazon/)

If your outings take place in areas that are a bit wild, these waders are up to the task. With four layers of nylon throughout and six layers in critical wear areas, the Tailwaters are made for the rough stuff. The waders feature a pass-through waterproof chest pocket, a flip-out storage pocket and built-in gravel guards.

Do-it-all option for varying conditions. (Amazon/)

The Hellbender features a strong nylon outer shell, a waterproof middle layer and a smooth tricot lining that gives these waders a light, airy feeling. The large chest pocket includes storage and a hand-warming pocket. The neoprene booties are protected by built-in rock guards.

Premium performance for discerning anglers. (Amazon/)

The Freestone is built to handle brushy banks and cold water. The articulated fit promotes easy movement and the Quadralam fabric boast four layers of durability and breathable water-proofing. The waders features a reach-through, fleece-lined, hand-warming chest pocket and a zippered stash pocket for storage.

Loaded with features and value.
Tough, durable waders for rocky environments.
Do-it-all option for varying conditions.
Premium performance for discerning anglers.


Baby camping gear that will save your trip

Outdoor gear fit for a baby. (Daan Weijers via Unsplash/)

Babies possess an incredible gift for going from giggling to crying in fractions of a second. And, if you’re in the backcountry or off the grid, the potential for crying is compounded by, well, everything—bugs, the sun, rain, an unfamiliar environment. If you’ve gotten the slightly deranged idea to go camping with a baby, the name of the game is to keep him or her comfortable at all costs, for both their benefit and your sanity. We’ve compiled six items that will aid your efforts, so that your adventure is refreshing and fun, not forever regrettable.

Spare your kid burns and bites. (Amazon/)

If you want your baby to be absolutely miserable, just neglect to pack sunscreen and bug spray. If, however, you want them—and you by extension—to enjoy their time in the woods and not resent you forever, you’d be wise to invest in some decent sunscreen and bug spray, like this 50-SPF sunblock spray and natural insect repellent combo pack.

A comfortable carrier for covering miles. (Amazon/)

This top-rated, premium child carrier will keep both you and your rugrat comfortable on long jaunts down the trail, thanks to its comfortable padded straps, easy-to-reach pockets, and sunshade.

Behold, the ultimate utility diaper bag. (Amazon/)

This clever, three-in-one diaper bag doubles not only as a change table—useful in the backcountry—but also as a portable bassinet, sparing you from having to schlep all three items to camp.

Wraparound sunglasses, with 100 percent UV protection. (Amazon/)

These shatterproof, wraparound protective shades are clutch for outdoor eye protection.

Spare your kid burns and bites.
A comfortable carrier for covering miles.
Behold, the ultimate utility diaper bag.
Wraparound sunglasses, with 100 percent UV protection.
An easy-to-unfold, sun-blocking shelter.
A high-end stroller for serious hikes.

Continue reading

How to Make an Old Rifle More Accurate

The upgraded Remington ready for an elk hunt. (Luke Renard/)

When a good friend of mine drew a once-in-a-generation ­Oregon elk tag, he wanted to hunt with the rifle his father gave him when he was in his early teens. The only problem, which is quite common with rifles that were built 20-something years back, is that the old .270 didn’t shoot worth a damn.

By my friend’s own admission, the rifle had never been very accurate. Although it performed fine for midrange deer hunting, its ability to handle the longer shots his upcoming hunt might require was in doubt.

His rifle is a Remington Model 700 BDL Mountain Rifle in .270 Winchester with a pencil-thin barrel, a low-density walnut stock, and rotary dovetail scope mounts. Basically, it’s a common big-game rig from the era before synthetic stocks and heavy target barrels.

I decided to help him try to bring his rifle up to modern performance standards while maintaining the Remington’s character and, hopefully, not spending a pile of money in the process.

First, I shot several types of ammo through the rifle to get a baseline for accuracy. The best group I could get was 2 inches at 100 yards, with some as large as 4 inches. By the fourth and fifth shots in every group, the barrel was wicked hot, and the impacts were wandering farther and farther from the point of aim.

The shiny spot shows where the barrel was rubbing on the stock, degrading the rifle’s accuracy.
A barrel-channel inletting tool or a dowel wrapped in sandpaper is used to free-float the barrel.
This epoxy maintains the spacing between the action and the stock before more wood is removed.
The bolt is used as an action slave screw around which the Devcon is poured to create the pillar.
Sand away the excess Devcon. Make the pillars a paper-width taller than the surrounding wood.
Once the stock is prepped with masking tape, apply epoxy per instructions to bed the action.

Continue reading