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The President Just Signed a Historic Conservation Bill That Will Help Buy New Public Lands and Fix Our National Parks


National parks are the crown jewel of America's public lands. Now, they will finally get updates to their aging infrastructures. (NPS Photo/J. Tobiason/)

For decades, the conservation community has been advocating for the full and permanent funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a program that uses royalties from offshore oil and gas operations to purchase new public lands and maintain public access. Today President Donald Trump—who has often been criticized by conservation and public land advocates—signed a bill that will do just that.

“We’re here today to celebrate the passage of truly landmark legislation that will preserve America’s majestic natural wonders, priceless historic treasures—and that’s exactly what they are—grand national monuments, and glorious national parks,” President Trump said before signing the bill. “This is a very big deal, and from an environmental standpoint, and just from a beauty of our country standpoint, there hasn’t been anything like this since Teddy Roosevelt, I suspect.”

The Great American Outdoors Act achieves two main goals. The first is a decisive victory in the decades-old battle to secure full funding for the LWCF, at $900 million annually. Until now, advocates had to renew the case for funding each year, and their efforts have only ever been partially effective. Since its establishment in 1964, the LWCF has only been fully funded twice. And, if you tally up how much that appropriations process left on the table, as the LWCF Coalition has, you’ll find that Congress diverted more than $22 billion from public lands and waters over the past six decades.

Second, the GAOA will chip away at the $16 billion worth of maintenance backlogs on federal land by establishing The National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund. This new fund—earmarked for deferred maintenance projects—will receive a maximum of $1.9 billion annually to be divided among federal land management agencies over five years. Like the LWCF, it’s funded by federal revenue from energy development. Most of this fund will be allocated to National Parks, which bear the lion’s share of maintenance issues, but it’s still a win for public land owners everywhere—especially since some politicians have used the backlog as an excuse to stop funding and acquiring new public lands.

Originally introduced in March, the GAOA since gained momentum with 60 total cosponsors from both sides of the aisle. In particular, senators Steve Daines (R-MT) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) championed the bill in the Senate, where it passed 73 to 25 in June.


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High-quality sunglasses for long days out on the water


See the fish better. (Tessa Wilson via Unsplash/)

Sunglasses aren’t just for protecting your eyes. Sure, that’s the primary feature, but for anglers, sunglasses are a tool for seeing more fish. Don’t buy gas station glasses and expect to spot as many brook trout in a stream or bonefish in the flats. If you’re not sure what’s best for you, we narrowed down four good options for you and your family.


Buy these. Go fishing. (Amazon/)

It’s hard to say enough good things about these sunglasses. They’re perfect for nearly any fishing situation. The polarized, anti-reflective and hydroleophobic lenses keep your eyes safe and maximize visuals on fish. The rectangular frames fit most faces. They come in many colors. There’s a reason Smith calls them their Guide Choice glasses.


Protect your eyes. (Amazon/)

If you’re fishing in the ocean, buy these glasses. Their polarized lenses will help you see fish. Their 580 Glass is scratch-proof and offers 100 percent UV protection. The blue mirror lens is great for full-sun settings on and offshore. The nylon frame material is tough and durable. The best part is, every pair of Costa glasses include a lifetime warranty.


Look good. Fish well. (Amazon/)

These glasses may look good, but don’t let their style fool you. The lenses are polarized and reflect glare from the water. They are 20 percent thinner than most glasses. The lens coating is scratch resistant. Look good on and off the water.


Their eyes need protection, too. (Amazon/)

No, you shouldn’t break the bank on pricey glasses for kids—knowing at best they’ll be outgrown and at worst they’ll fall in the water or be left at the lake. That’s why these are perfect. They’re affordable but also lightweight and versatile. The polarized lenses will help your kid see fish in the water and eliminate reflection. The frame is soft silicon and virtually unbreakable, protecting the glasses and your child’s face.

Buy these. Go fishing.
Protect your eyes.
Look good. Fish well.
Their eyes need protection, too.

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The 7 Biggest Myths of Hunting Early-Season Deer


Sometimes you need to break the rules of early-season deer hunting. (John Hafner/)

The opening weeks of deer season bring renewed excitement, promise, and enthusiasm. They also bring a fairly rigid set of “rules” that most deer hunters have adopted as rock-solid truth. Early season tactics center on feed-to-bed patterns (and rightly so) and are typically viewed as a game of patience. But what if the things you think you know about hunting early season whitetails aren’t actually based in fact? Odds are, many of them aren’t. So let’s dive into a few myths that need busting.

1. Mornings Are a Waste

I’m ashamed to admit that I once bought into this myth in a big way. Morning hunts during the earliest stages of deer season, say September and into early October, were taboo. You simply couldn’t hunt the mornings without risk of screwing up the rest of the season by bumping deer on the way to the stand. And this is a fact—if you bumble around fields and food sources. However, if you know how to look at a map and follow a path saved on a mobile hunting app like HuntStand, there’s really no reason that should happen. Avoid deer that are likely feeding in ag fields and primary food sources in the pre-dawn darkness and you could have a pretty good morning of activity. Hang a stand on a travel route that takes those deer back to their bedding areas, and access that stand from a route that avoids bumping them. And just like that, you’re in the game.

2. Early-Season Scrapes are Only Hit at Night

Yeah, and turkeys only gobble in the spring, right? Well, that’s interesting because I’ve not only heard turkeys gobbling throughout the fall, I’ve also seen bucks working scrapes with fevered intensity in September and October. The fact of the matter is this: There’s plenty of scraping activity after dark all season long. And there is plenty of daylight activity all season as well.


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Effective lures for catching pike


Alluring choices for pike. ( Alan Bishop via Unsplash/)

Northern pike are known for their aggressive behavior and extra-sharp teeth. They’re such aggressive predators, in fact, that if illegally introduced into a lake or reservoir, they’ve been known to eat nearly all other fish. But the qualities that can make them so destructive in an unwanted water system are the same ones that make them so fun to catch. We’ve narrowed down four lures that will help you make that happen.


When you begin, go with what works. (Amazon/)

This lure might not look like much, just a treble hook on a yellow and red spoon, but trust us, it works. Its flasher is loud enough to attract attention but subtle enough to still resemble something the pike wants to eat. It wiggles and it wobbles and is generally irresistible. And if you don’t happen to be on a pike water, throw this for walleye, bass and other hungry predators.


Get them out of the water. (Amazon/)

Have you ever seen a pike come to the surface like a shark? If you haven’t, put the experience on your bucket list. Buy this lure to make it happen. The pencil popper with a weighted tail comes in many color variations and has two treble hooks attached to its middle and tail. It’s also tough and will last through many thrashings.


Be food to catch it. (Amazon /)

This spinner bait might be one of the best options to catch a pike underwater by pretending to be a small fish. It comes in a variety of colors and is built to imitate just about any small bait fish. You’ll be irresistible to any voracious predator, and the 12-inch steel leader means the bait won’t break off on sharp teeth. Just be sure you’re holding tight to your rod when it comes in for a strike.


Catch a monster on a 6-weight. (Amazon/)

Prepare for a fight if you want to catch a pike on a fly rod—a fight you won’t regret. This fly will make it happen. It’s designed to imitate a minnow and will flow, twitch and shift in the water just like a small bait fish. It’s also durable enough to use again and again. If you haven’t fished for pike on the fly, give this a try.

When you begin, go with what works.
Get them out of the water.
Be food to catch it.
Catch a monster on a 6-weight.

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Must-have items for your new boat


Necessary boat buys. (Roberto H via Unsplash/)

So you bought a boat—congratulations. Now think about what you need inside of it. While options for boat gear are nearly endless, and depend often on what you’re doing, a few staples for any boat—especially a fishing boat—apply. Consider these before you launch into the big blue.


Keep your stuff dry. (Amazon/)

Pack this thing full of any item you need on the water, close the zipper, and don’t worry another moment. The YETI bag is 100 percent dry with waterproof zippers and a U-dock to ensure a complete seal. The shell is high-density nylon and the lamination is puncture and abrasion resistant. No matter what you throw at this, or throw this into, your gear stays dry.


Keep your phone alive. (Amazon/)

Take this with you on a boat, in the mountains, or on the trail and it will charge your devices. Three USB ports allow you to charge three items at a time. Expect enough power to charge a iPhone X3 up to 7.4 times and a Galaxy S0 Plus about 5.7 times. Recharge the battery pack with the sun, or if you think about it, plug it into an outlet.


Let this do the work for you. (Amazon/)

If you plan to do much fishing off of your boat, consider this rod holder. It allows you to set a line, prop your rod in the brace and kick back. The durable build will last you for years. It also has a spring-loaded, auto-locking base. A quick and easy release ensures when you do get a bite, you can be the one to reel it in.


Stay in place. (Amazon/)

An anchor may seem like a simple item, and it is, but it’s also a critical one. Go with the best. This high-grade, manganese steel anchor is perfect for any smaller watercraft. It’s also self-launching. It’s not too big to be in the way, but big enough to keep you stopped whenever you need to be.

Keep your stuff dry.
Keep your phone alive.
Let this do the work for you.
Stay in place.

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4 Best Fishing Snacks EVER


Destin Demarion with a great smallie. (Bassmaster/)

Many tournament bass fishermen are guilty of eating poorly on the water. Not only is this not good for physical health, but it can also affect your mind. Being able to think on the water and make good decisions is so important in this sport whether you are a Bassmaster Elite Series Pro or just enjoy fishing your Tuesday night jackpot tournaments. I’m going dive into four snacks I always have on the boat that are nutritious, quick to consume, but not totally in the health nut category.

1. Jerky


Jerky is an excellent source of nutrition. (Bassmaster/)

There was a study conducted years ago with Bassmaster Elite Series anglers by connecting them with FitBits and tracking how many calories these guys were burning out there on the water in practice and in the tournaments. The results were pretty staggering. Most guys were burning well over the daily recommended caloric intake which means putting those calories back in were ever more important. Meat is full of protein and let’s face it, who doesn’t like beef jerky? It tastes good and is packed with protein that your body needs and will help with muscle recovery. I try to avoid ones that have a ton of unnatural things in them and keep it simple. I’m a big fan of Dukes and also Epic Jerky as both are not ramped up with a bunch of random ingredients and are also very good tasting.

Read Next: What’s the Best Wild Game Meat?

2. Trail Mix

Jerky is an excellent source of nutrition.
Trail mix will help keep you in the game while on the water.
Vegetable/fruit packs can be a quick source of protein.
Be certain to grab a few protein bars for quick energy.

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How to Find a Last-Minute, Affordable Deer Lease


Focus on small properties to find an affordable deer lease. (John Hafner/)

We could be in for one crazy deer season. With more and more folks interested in hunting and putting meat in the freezer during the coronavirus crisis, there’s a good chance that there will be a lot of hunters in the woods this fall. That could mean more pressure on public land, especially in parts of the South, Northeast, and Midwest where there’s already a lot of deer hunters and not much public ground to spare.

So if you’re a public-land deer hunter (who doesn’t have that secret honey hole) this should be your season for experimenting with a small hunting lease. Putting together a deer lease can be complex and expensive. But it doesn’t have to be. What I’m talking about here is a small-time affordable lease. These opportunities are rare, but they do exist.

A few years ago I was driving around looking for permission to hunt early-season geese. I stopped by a dairy farmer’s place and asked about hunting geese in his field. He politely declined because there was a waterfowl outfitter who was going to be hunting the field. But then he asked: “You don’t do any deer hunting, do ya?”

“As a matter of fact, I do,” I responded. A buddy and I went on to lease his farm for bowhunting and ended up with an awesome spot close to home. Here’s how to find a deer hunting lease of your own.

Understand Laws, Regs, and Rates


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9mm vs. .380 Auto vs. .38 Special: Which Concealed Carry Cartridge is the Best?


The author's favorite concealed carry caliber is the 9mm. (Federal Premium/)

In recent months, many folks across the U.S. have considered or become first-time gun owners. Social unrest has prompted citizens in urban areas to buy a handgun for personal protection. But with so many cartridges and guns to choose from, it can be daunting to make a well-informed decision. This won’t be a comprehensive dive into ballistics, but it will help those of you still weighing your options and seeking to make an educated decision before buying a self-defense handgun. Realize supplies will be limited as U.S. citizens are buying guns in record numbers, so you may not be able to purchase the exact gun you want. But there are a variety of platforms to choose from and plenty of options. But first, let’s talk about the benefits of buying a handgun for protection.

Make the Right Choice

One of the obvious advantages of carrying a smaller caliber handgun is it will better integrate into your daily life (you can comfortably carry a pistol with the right holster or in your purse). Semiautomatic pistols are best, because they have higher capacity magazines (which you can’t get with a revolver), decreased felt recoil and muzzle flip, and overall increased shootability.

You need to choose the right cartridge, which is where most new shooters can be led astray. The most common small caliber pistol offerings are the 9mm, .380 Auto and the .38 Special. While sharing virtually the same diameter as the famed 9mm round, the latter two are certainly not equal to it in overall performance and should be considered the bare minimum for self-defense applications. They won’t penetrate and expand, which are two of the most important components in a bullet, like the 9mm.

Penetration is critical, as it ensures vital organs can be reached by the fired projectile, allowing the bullet to do its job, if placed properly. If a round lacks penetration, the desired effect (stopping the threat) might not be achieved, especially if the attacker is wearing heavy or thick clothing. By technical standards, you want a minimum of 12 inches and a maximum of 18 inches in calibrated ordnance gelatin (those big blocks of yellow gel firearms testers shoot into) penetration.

The Federal HST has a hollow point for more rapid expansion once the bullet enters the body.
Here’s a look at an expanded Speer Gold Dot G2 projectile.
Black Hills’ spiral fluted HoneyBadger in .380 Auto.
The author doesn’t recommend the .38 Special for self-defense, but if you decide to go with the snub nose revolver, this is the best ammo to shoot.

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Hiking boots to take you anywhere in the mountains


Always get to the top. (Lucija Ros via Unsplash/)

Any activity in the mountains will require decent footwear. Everyone knows that (or should). But exactly what kind of boot is best for any given activity varies. Are you mountaineering? Do you backpack but also day hike? Are you hunting big country off trails or sticking to the named routes? Whatever it is, we have you covered.


Go anywhere, anytime in any conditions. (Amazon/)

These ultra-light, high-lace leather boots are the ultimate multi-purpose mountain shoe. The Michelin sole provides some of the best grip on the market. The rubber lip around the sole means you don’t have to worry about your toe separating from the boot. These are designed for everything from serious day hikes to 20-mile steep hunts, to multi-day backpacking trips. If you need a good boot to take you anywhere, you won’t regret these.


Stay warm and dry. (Amazon/)

Nothing makes a trip more miserable than cold feet. If you think it could snow or sleet on your mountain trips, consider these UltraDry Snow Boots. They are waterproof leather with a wool collar lining. The 3M Thinsulate Ultra Insulation keeps you even warmer. The only risk with these is wearing them on a hot day.


Wear only what you need. (Amazon/)

You don’t need to bring a backpacking backpack on an afternoon jog, and you don’t need to wear mountaineering boots on a day hike. These are a perfect hiking shoe when you plan on staying on trail and want to cover miles. But don’t underestimate these. The Gore-Tex lining is waterproof and breathable, and the Vibram sole is plenty grippy.


Tackle peaks. (Amazon/)

Are these a serious mountaineering boot? Yes. Are they meant for weekend backpacking trips? No. But as you’re standing at the toe of a glacier putting on crampons, you’ll be glad you have these on your feet. The leather boot has more technical aspects than we can list in this description, but in short: they’re water-repellent, incredibly warm, stiff, and solid. This boot was built for peaks.

Go anywhere, anytime in any conditions.
Stay warm and dry.
Wear only what you need.
Tackle peaks.

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Best waterproof cameras


Water? No problem! (Amazon/)

We’ve all been there, headed out on a boat, kayak, raft or canoe, and we know we’re going to want to take pictures. But there we are, staring at our phone wondering if the risk is worth the reward. It probably isn’t. You’ll regret ruining that pricey smartphone. That’s why, if you spend much time on the water, you should consider investing in a waterproof camera. The technology has come a long way in the past decade. With one of these you’ll get that shot you want and not worry if you (and it) go for a swim.


Get good shots anywhere. (Amazon/)

This little beast is waterproof, shockproof, crush proof, freeze proof, and anti-fog. And it’s not just a marketing gimmick. It really is. It will take pictures of those monster brown trout underwater and even shoot in 4k video. The high resolution F2.0 lens with 8x zoom tells you how good this really is. Just don’t drop it in the ocean unless it’s attached to you or the boat—as good as it is, it won’t swim back to you.


Capture everything. (Amazon/)

GoPro long ago became the standard bearer on action sports filming. Anyone can buy one, mount it on a helmet or dashboard and turn into the next extreme sports star. Well now you can do it underwater, too. But these aren’t just for amateurs. Anyone who needs professional underwater filming can turn to this for 12MP photos, 1080p, and even live-streaming stabilization. And true to GoPro, it’s small enough to not get in your way.


Get what you need. (Amazon/)

The price of waterproof cameras can spike pretty quickly. But you can still get a good quality camera for less than you’re thinking. This Nikon is budget-friendly but is waterproof to 22 feet, has full HD video with stereo sound and 18 shooting modes. It also has a telephoto lens and built-in WiFi. Get what you need without breaking the bank.


Buy a few and hand them out at the beach or pool. (Amazon/)

Even in the age of cell phones, where everyone has a camera, disposable cameras are still an option. And we’d argue that with cell phones pricing high, a waterproof disposal camera is the perfect option for a day at the beach or pool. Buy a pack of two, or 10, and hand them out at a pool party or beach day. See what you get back. At minimum, you know you won’t go home having ruined your favorite phone or camera.

Get good shots anywhere.
Capture everything.
Get what you need.
Buy a few and hand them out at the beach or pool.

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The best shoes—not wading boots—for fishing


Stay comfortable while fishing. (Taylor Grote via Unsplash/)

When most of us think about fishing shoes, we think about wading boots. But those aren’t the same thing. Plenty of times we end up fishing in places and situations where we’re not wearing waders but still need something to protect our feet other than running shoes or hiking boots. We have some options for you whether it’s fishing on a boat, on the banks, or in the muck.


Don’t get wet. (Amazon/)

If you want to go fishing, want your feet to stay dry, but don’t want to wear waders and wading boots, these are your boot. They’re rubber and waterproof with nonslip and non-marking soles. The outsole tread even locks down on wet and slippery surfaces. The neoprene upper prevents water from getting in.


Sometimes staying dry isn’t the point. (Amazon/)

When the weather is hot, and you’re trekking to a high-mountain lake or little-visited stretch of river, you would probably rather a hiking shoe than a wading boot. Look no farther than these. They’re basically a really tough sandal with waterproof leather upper and Vibram TC5 outsole. They also have a neoprene stretch collar for ease pulling on and taking off.


Be comfortable anywhere. (Amazon/)

This shoe is as comfortable for the trail as it is for the boat. It’s open mesh and synthetic upper allows air flow and water to drain. The midsole has superior cushion, and the Omni-Grip non-marking wet grip outsole will keep you from slipping. Wear it on a boat and feel confident hopping off onto rocks.


Look good, feel good. (Amazon/)

Sometimes what you need is a fishing shoe that works well on a boat and looks good in a boat club. When that time arises, this is your shoe. It has a rubber sole and leather upper and looks the part of any good boat shoe. But it’s not all looks. The non-marking rubber outsole offers ultimate traction in wet and dry conditions.

Don’t get wet.
Sometimes staying dry isn’t the point.
Be comfortable anywhere.
Look good, feel good.

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Fishing Kept Me Off the Streets and Out of Trouble. Now It’s Time to Pass on What I’ve Learned


The author with a nice smallmouth caught in Minneapolis. (Raymundo Ruiz Jr./)

Editor’s Note: If there’s one thing that’s certain after these last few weeks, it’s that Americans need to come together. To do that, we first must listen to those of us who have been ignored for too long. At Outdoor Life, that means Black and other minority hunters and anglers who don’t often see themselves represented in the hunting and fishing community. We’re running a collection of essays to tell their stories and share their perspectives.

Other kids never talked about hunting and fishing when I was growing up. I was raised in the barrios of Chicago, where, by the time we were teenagers, many kids were joining gangs, getting into trouble, or dealing drugs. Many of my peers ended up in jail. But I was fortunate to have two amazing, loving parents who sacrificed a lot to give me opportunities that they never had, like a good education. They also made sure that I got to experience the good things they did have when they were growing up in Mexico—like hunting and fishing.

One of my earliest memories is my father taking us to the Kankakee River, where I began developing my angling skills, and more importantly, where I discovered my passion for fishing. My father, an immigrant from the state of Jalisco, Mexico, came from a small mountain town called Poncitlán. As a youngster, he would fish and hunt for rabbits, squirrels, deer, and birds. He did this to feed his brothers and sisters, and over time, he became an expert outdoorsman. From him, I learned the skills to get started. Then, as all kids do, I developed them into my own style and techniques.

Those memories of fishing with him still burn bright. I was 5 when I caught my first 3-pound bass. I caught it with my Zebco 404 on a 1/8-ounce purple June bug beetle spin. That fish changed my life. I became obsessed with fishing. I marveled at the idea that I could fool a fish into taking my lure. I asked myself, “How the hell did I catch this fish using this fake, artificial bait?” (It’s a question that I still ask myself today.)

That obsession with fishing motivated me to ride my bike back-and-forth through dangerous, gang-infested neighborhoods of Chicago all the way to Lincoln Park Zoo Lagoon for the chance to catch bass, crappie, and bluegills. When I think about it now, it seems stupid and dangerous. But as a kid, I wasn’t thinking about the danger. The only thing that mattered was hooking into another monster bass, and the feeling that came with it.

The author with a stud largemouth.

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How to Pick the Ultimate Backcountry Rifle and Cartridge That’s Right For You


There is not one universal backcountry rifle and load for every hunter. (Tyler Freel /)

What is the ultimate backcountry rifle and cartridge? Our outlook on the world often tends to be in black and white, and this is especially true when it comes to rifles, cartridges, and other tools of the hunting trade that so many of us have a great passion for.

When searching for the ultimate rifle and cartridge for the backcountry, it would be foolish to suggest that any single selection universally trumps the rest. The “backcountry” itself can be many different places, and as diverse as the colorful folks who travel it, presenting a litany of different challenges and requirements. The answer to the question posed will vary depending on what backcountry we’re talking about, who is using the rifle, and what they’re using it for. Even among common cartridge offerings, any rifle can (in theory) be outdone in some way by another, more customized or more expensive version.

There are a few attributes that I think are non-negotiable in a backcountry rifle. Dependability is a clear necessity, but also corrosion resistance. Part of the nature of “the backcountry” is that you are away from help, and need to be able to depend on your tools. Simplicity, although difficult to measure, is another requirement. Rest assured that Murphy and his Law will follow you everywhere in the backcountry, and you typically want the most foolproof option you can get. You also want a cartridge with flexibility and shootability, but with a little bit more punch than is probably necessary for the intended job. Your rifle doesn’t necessarily need to print world-class groups, but it needs to be accurate.

Living in Alaska has its benefits, and one of those is that we have a surplus of land that is more remote than anything you’ll find in the lower 48 states, and a great diversity in that land and how we travel and hunt it. This presents several key differences in what the “best” choice for a backcountry rifle would be. It’s depends on the circumstances, and even then, there is plenty of wiggle room for opinion and personal style. I can’t tell you what the ultimate backcountry rifle and cartridge are, but I can help you decide what is the best fit for you.

If You Hunt the Mountains or Alpine

Weatherby’s Backcountry Ti in 6.5 WBY RPM is a fine choice for mountain hunts.
Consider a lever gun if you are hunting big game in the low country.
Forced to choose the ultimate rifle and cartridge, the author would pick Ruger’s M77 Alaskan in .300 Win. Mag.

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The Ultimate Summer Deer-Scouting Plan


Whitetail bucks are genetically engineered to bed within 200 yards of prime feed in late summer. (Michael Hanback/)

Praise the deer gods, it won’t be long now until you put the stress and uncertainty of the pandemic behind and head out for some much-needed rejuvenation time in a treestand. But don’t wait until the last minute to get ready. To tie your tag to a big whitetail, the advance work you do right now is as important, maybe more so, than the hunt tactics you’ll employ in a couple of months. Here’s your plan.

1. Chart a Course


Study maps to eliminate 60 percent of marginal habitat, then concentrate your scouting the 40 percent that holds the most bucks. (Michael Hanback/)

On your kitchen table with the A/C cranking, check topographic and aerial maps, either old-school paper ones or on apps like OnX Hunt or HuntStand, of the lands you’ll hunt this fall. Study the contours of crop fields, pastures and woodland edges. Key on timber strips, draws, creeks, and similar funnels that connect potential feeding and bedding areas of deer.

Scan the maps and visualize the likely patterns of bucks. If you’ve hunted a property before, think back to how animals fed, traveled and bedded according to prevailing winds.

By reading and studying maps you can eliminate some 60 percent of marginal deer habitat before you ever leave the house. Then focus your scouting in the 40 percent where you’re most apt to get on a good buck.

Study maps to eliminate 60 percent of marginal habitat, then concentrate your scouting the 40 percent that holds the most bucks.
Biologists say two to eight bucks in a summer bachelor club is common.
Your serious camera work starts in mid-July and runs throughout the season. One camera for every 100 acres you hunt is optimum.
Yes, velvet bucks visit scrapes in summer.
Now is the time to find out whether it will be a banner or poor acorn year.

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Life vests that will help keep you safe while on the water


Safety in the water. (diGital Sennin via Unsplash /)

For many water sports in the country, life vests are required, and for good reason. People die every year from coast to coast in accidents that would have ended differently with proper life preservers. But what is the best choice for you and your family? We narrowed down some options.


Your little one needs this. (Amazon/)

Don’t ever mess around with your child’s life. You know that as well as we do. This vest has a zipper and clips around the waste to keep it snug. A safety belt goes between your child’s legs to ensure it won’t slip up over his or her head. It’s U.S. Coast Guard approved, and rated for children between 30 and 50 pounds. The ergonomic design eases movement so your little one will be more likely to play in the water and forget it’s even on.


Stay safe. Don’t overheat. (Amazon/)

Not all life vests are made equally, and this one is particularly designed for paddle sports. A mesh below the back means you can fit in the vest and in a kayak or canoe seat. Shoulder adjustments come with neoprene comfort pads. Expandable zippered pockets also come with mesh drainage. Do the sports you love, but be safe while you’re out there.


Keep your jacket close. (Amazon/)

This vest looks intense for good reason. It has four buckles clipped around the front allowing you to adjust to any body size and shape. The U.S. Coast Guard approved of the vest. It also has closed cell marine foam and a coated nylon outer shell. If you plan on going fast on a jet ski, boat, or skis, consider this vest your new best friend.


Wear only what you need. (Amazon/)

Depending on your activity, sometimes you can’t wear a bulky life jacket. We get that. In those cases, consider this inflatable one. It automatically inflates when immersed in water or if you pull on the handle to force it to inflate. It has a soft neoprene neckline and stretchable back insert. The Coast Guard certifies it as a type V jacket.

Your little one needs this.
Stay safe. Don’t overheat.
Keep your jacket close.
Wear only what you need.

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Two-person sleeping bags for cozying up in the backcountry


Snuggle up. (Yann Allegre via Unsplash/)

If you’re the kind of person who likes zipping your mummy bag over your face, saying goodnight, and burrowing down deep, these aren’t probably the bags for you. But if you’ve ever tried zipping your sleeping bag to your partner’s, or using one as a bottom sheet and the other as a blanket, these are better options. Never underestimate a good night’s sleep with your adventure partner.


Stay warm together. (Amazon/)

This bag will keep you and your loved one warm down to 20 degrees. It also has a zipperless design made to keep you comfortable and warm. And on that warm note: The self-sealing foot vent allows you to let some air in, then quickly close it back up. It comes with insulated hand and arm pockets to seal out drafts. For a double bag, this one has it all.


Carry this into the backcountry, and don’t break your back. (Amazon/)

This bag is simple, but that’s part of its charm. It weighs less than 12 pounds and sleeps two people. The Tech Loft+ insulation will keep you warm. The two-layer construction helps. And the best part is you can unzip it and make it into separate bags if you end up on a trip without your boo.


Sleep tight. Don’t break the bank. (Amazon/)

Double bags don’t have to cost an arm and a leg. This one might not be rated to 15 or 20 degrees, but it will feel like a bed on cool nights in a tent, back of the truck, or even under the stars. Zipped together, the individual bags become a queen bed. It’s soft, warm, cozy, and will make you think you’re at home. And it comes with two travel pillows.


Buy a sleep option for life. (Amazon/)

Where do we begin on why this Big Agnes double bag is a great option for any couple in the backcountry? Its flex pad sleeve attaches to your pad or pads like a fitted sheet. But there’s so much more. The fitted hoods give you the feeling of a mummy bag but the comfort of sleeping next to your partner. It has all the bells and whistles you’d want, with a roomie shoulder area and tapered foot.

Stay warm together.
Carry this into the backcountry, and don’t break your back.
Sleep tight. Don’t break the bank.
Buy a sleep option for life.

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These bug repellants target ticks, mosquitoes, and flies


Keep the pests away. (Brooks Rice via Unsplash/)

Little takes the fun out of time in the woods than being covered in biting insects. Companies offer myriad ways to keep them away from shelters to candles. But not everything works. If you aren’t sure what does, we narrowed down four options suitable for just about any need.


Get rid of bugs, don’t assault your nose. (Amazon/)

For anyone not interested in DEET, give Picaridin a try. It’s effective for up to 12 hours against mosquitoes and ticks and eight hours against biting flies, gnats, chiggers, and sand fleas. It’s fragrance-free, and comes in sprays and lotions.


Go for the original. (Amazon /)

This spray will keep mosquitoes away for up to 10 hours and won’t sweat off, even in hot, humid conditions. It’s 25 percent DEET, so expect it to also repel gnats, biting flies, chiggers and fleas. The special formula feels dry when sprayed on and isn’t stiff or sticky. Sometimes, it’s best to go with what you know works.


Treat your stuff, not yourself. (Amaz/)

Maybe you have an aversion to insect repellents. Maybe you have an allergy. Maybe you just don’t want to spray anything on your skin. Whatever it is, give this a try. Spray it on your clothes and it lasts up to six weeks. It’s as effective against ticks, chiggers, mites and mosquitoes as 100 percent DEET. Best of all, it’s odorless and won’t stain your clothes.


Keep everyone safe. (Amazon/)

Sure, citrus candles smell nice, but they’re not always that effective against mosquitoes. Enter the Thermacell Radius. Simply push a button and wait for the small box to fill your area with airborne bug repellent that really works. It lasts 40 hours and has a rechargeable battery. Expect no mess, no scent and no DEET.

Get rid of bugs, don’t assault your nose.
Go for the original.
Treat your stuff, not yourself.
Keep everyone safe.

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3 Steps to Catching Bass on a Ned Rig


Elite angler John Crews and his favorite Ned Rig. (BassMaster/)

Catching bass is the objective for any bass angler and finding new ways to achieve that is fun. The Ned Rig is one of the latest techniques to put bass in the boat but even many seasoned professional anglers are behind the curve. I know this because I am a B.A.S.S. Elite Series angler and know that many of my competitors are not using it. So, here is how you use a Ned Rig properly.

1. Use the Proper Tackle

The Ned Rig is used most proficiently with spinning tackle. Because of the way you fish it (more on that next), spinning gear allows for longer casts and better line management during the retrieve. I like a 7-foot to 7-foot, 3-inch, medium-action Cashion spinning rod. Anything shorter will leave you at a leverage disadvantage. A quality spinning reel in the 2500 or 3000 size range is best. I like the Daiwa Tatula LT 3000. Line is very important. Running a 10- to 15-pound braid main line to a 8- to 10-pound fluorocarbon leader is the way to go. I use 12-pound Sunline X-Plasma braid in lime green on the main line so I can see it more easily. My leader is usually 15 to 20 inches long and made of 8-pound Sunline Sniper. The longer leader helps the lighter bait cast further. Trying different rod and reel combos has landed me on this set up.

Read Next: 6 of the Best Ways to Rig a Senko

2. The Way You Fish It

The Ned Rig is a short, compact soft-plastic bait threaded on a light jig head.

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4 Technical Aspects of Trail Cameras You Should Know Before Buying One

If you think about all the components that go into building a trail camera—detection circuits, infrared emitters, the lens, view screen, and waterproof housing it comes in—you’re getting a pretty good deal for not a whole lot of money. A good trail cam that will last you the entire year usually costs about $130. That’s not bad. It’s standing up to rain, wind, snow, and anything else Mother Nature can throw at it. There aren’t many other pieces of gear that can do that.

The problems arise when trail cam companies aren’t completely honest with customers. A lot of trail cams can’t do what they actually say they can do, so we’re here to clear the air. Every year, the folks at Trailcampro.com host a shootout to compare models, and find out which new cameras have the best technology so hunters can see more clear images of deer.

Before you buy your next camera, don’t just snag an affordable one with the most megapixels (like so many of us do) from the bargain bin. If you do, you’ll likely end up with a subpar trail cam, and miss out on images of deer that would’ve made it onto your SD card—if only you’d spent a little more money. Instead, remember these rules when shopping for a new trail cam.

1. More Megapixels Don’t Mean Better Images


Setting your trail cam for maximum megapixels won’t deliver a clearer image, but it will take up more memory. (Trailcampro.com/)

Many companies will tout that their camera is the best because of the number of megapixels it has. But the fact is, most trail cams have a “native resolution” of three to five megapixels, so when you set the camera for 24 megapixels, the only things you’re doing are 1) making that image file larger (not clearer), 2) taking up more room on your SD card, and 3) slowing the camera down because of the larger file size. You’re actually going to get a better image if you set the camera to its native resolution. Plus the camera will be able to take more images because you won’t need as much memory.

If you are always getting images of the ass end of deer, it likely means your trail cam has a slow trigger speed.
It was 63 degrees when the image of this buck was taken, but as temperatures drop below freezing standard alkaline batteries will fail.
Avoid buying trailcams with a wide disparity in detection and F.O.V. angles.

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13 Pieces of the Coolest New Fishing Gear from ICAST 2020

COVID-19 turned the International Consortium of Allied Sporting Trades (ICAST) into a virtual event this year, but the fishing industry’s premier trade show brought plenty of interesting new items. Here’s a look at some of the gear and gadgets that caught my eye.

1. American Tackle Tsuka Handle System


The Tsuka handle system can be used in new rod designs or to retrofit existing rods. (American Tackle/)

Recognizing that rod handles have largely lagged behind blanks in design advances, American Tackle utilizes an array of advanced elements to elevate this facet of rod design. This G2 3K carbon handle system includes the world’s first hand-crafted carbon blow-molded reel seat and a G2 custom matte black aluminum trim and end cap mounted on a fitted 3K carbon handle tube. With a split grip design, 3K carbon casting seat with extended trigger and aluminum reel seat link; the Tsuka’s lightweight design increases sensitivity transmission, durability and longevity. The Tsuka handle system can be used in new rod designs or to retrofit existing rods. ($145; americantackle.us)

2. Minn Kota Raptor


Minn Kota’s shallow-water anchoring system. (Minn Kota/)

Expanding its boat control mission, Minn Kota debuted a hydraulic shallow water anchoring system designed to combat the impact of waves, current and tide, while adapting to various bottom composition. Essential to the goal of maintaining a firm anchor position in any scenario, Raptor’s Active Anchoring continuously monitors the conditions and makes the necessary adjustments. Also, Auto-Bottom Mode measures how hard or soft the bottom is (rock vs. mud) and varies the amount of anchoring force. With an extruded aluminum mounting bracket and a tightly stowing pump design, this 8- or 10-foot anchor applies twice the force for retraction, so it’s sure to exit whatever it enters. Operated via wireless remote or optional foot switch, the Raptor integrates into Minn Kota’s One-Boat Network.

Minn Kota’s shallow-water anchoring system.
Plano extended its Edge Series this year with the more compact 3500.
The Reaper is a softshell jacket with a built-in facemask/neck warmer.
Mike Iaconelli partnered with Abu Garcia to design this rod/reel combo.
This Ozone sprayer keeps you fresh.
The 24 is compact enough to fit in a kayak or canoe.
YUM is encouraging young anglers to get outdoors.
Suffix 131 is braided with 13 fibers.
Ugly Stik packed a lot of functionality into these pliers.
VMC’s Crossover Pliers feature a compression handle design that expands the ring wide enough to slip onto a worm.
Keep lures and tackle in order with this G-Box.
A five-gallon bucket with the functionality of a Swiss Army knife.

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