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Pebble Mine Likely to Receive Federal Permit. Bristol Bay Hunters, Anglers, and Guides Brace for Impact


A male sockeye salmon. (Bjorn Dihle/)

Editor’s note: Bjorn Dihle is a lifelong resident of Alaska, and an advocate for Alaska’s wild habitat and natural resources. You can find him on Instagram and Facebook.

Today, a host of conservation and news organizations received via the U.S. Postal Service the final Environmental Impact Statement from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska. This paves the way for the federal permit the controversial mine needs in order to proceed, which will likely be issued within 30 days now that the final Environmental Impact Statement has been released. With the current political atmosphere, the Pebble Partnership is now in position to bulldoze through the final state and local permits required to start development in the wild country of the Alaska Peninsula, where a fully realized mining district would likely spell the death of Bristol Bay and its incredible sockeye salmon runs, the largest on the planet.

Many Alaskans, myself included, have strong ties to the area and its incredible natural resources. In a recent poll, 62% of Alaskans said they’re opposed to Pebble. Former governor Jay Hammond and former senator Ted Stevens (both Republicans and likely the most influential Alaskan politicians in recent history) strongly opposed the mine. Many believe you can either have salmon or you can have the Pebble Mine, but you can’t have both.

And many Alaskan outdoorsmen and women have good memories from hunting and fishing the area. My dad had taken me and my two brothers on a caribou hunt there when we were teenagers. I remembered a blond grizzly rising from the brush and glowering as a herd of caribou flooded across the hilly tundra north of Lake Iliamna. My younger brother and I knelt, watching two big bear cubs appear. We’d just about gotten within rifle range of a group of massive white-maned bulls but, now, with the bears nearby, we weren’t eager to push our luck. We backtracked to our dad without firing a shot. A few hours later, we lay on the tundra as hundreds of caribou filed by us only 40 yards away. Twenty years have passed since that once-in-a-lifetime hunt, but the memories of thousands of caribou moving across the tundra and red salmon filling the waterways of that big wild country remain crisp to this day.

I hadn’t heard of Pebble Mine back then, nor did I realize that we were hunting atop the proposed mine’s deposit of gold, copper, and molybdenum. A few years after that hunt, geologists announced the deposit to be the world’s largest untapped resource of gold and copper, and estimated its worth at $500 billion. The idea of a mine in that location was met with staunch opposition in Alaska. And for good reason—the region has the world’s largest run of sockeye salmon, which is vital for the area’s mostly Native population and the $1.5 billion commercial fishery that supports 14,500 jobs and an array of other industries, including guiding sport anglers, hunters, and bear watchers.

A moose hunter returning to camp on a lake on the Alaska Peninsula.
An Alaska Peninsula brown bear with a sockeye salmon.

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Pebble Mine Likely to Receive Federal Permit. Bristol Bay Hunters, Anglers, and Guides Brace for Impact


A male sockeye salmon. (Bjorn Dihle/)

Editor’s note: Bjorn Dihle is a lifelong resident of Alaska, and an advocate for Alaska’s wild habitat and natural resources. You can find him on Instagram and Facebook.

Today, a host of conservation and news organizations received via the U.S. Postal Service the final Environmental Impact Statement from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska. This paves the way for the federal permit the controversial mine needs in order to proceed, which will likely be issued within 30 days now that the final Environmental Impact Statement has been released. With the current political atmosphere, the Pebble Partnership is now in position to bulldoze through the final state and local permits required to start development in the wild country of the Alaska Peninsula, where a fully realized mining district would likely spell the death of Bristol Bay and its incredible sockeye salmon runs, the largest on the planet.

Many Alaskans, myself included, have strong ties to the area and its incredible natural resources. In a recent poll, 62% of Alaskans said they’re opposed to Pebble. Former governor Jay Hammond and former senator Ted Stevens (both Republicans and likely the most influential Alaskan politicians in recent history) strongly opposed the mine. Many believe you can either have salmon or you can have the Pebble Mine, but you can’t have both.

And many Alaskan outdoorsmen and women have good memories from hunting and fishing the area. My dad had taken me and my two brothers on a caribou hunt there when we were teenagers. I remembered a blond grizzly rising from the brush and glowering as a herd of caribou flooded across the hilly tundra north of Lake Iliamna. My younger brother and I knelt, watching two big bear cubs appear. We’d just about gotten within rifle range of a group of massive white-maned bulls but, now, with the bears nearby, we weren’t eager to push our luck. We backtracked to our dad without firing a shot. A few hours later, we lay on the tundra as hundreds of caribou filed by us only 40 yards away. Twenty years have passed since that once-in-a-lifetime hunt, but the memories of thousands of caribou moving across the tundra and red salmon filling the waterways of that big wild country remain crisp to this day.

I hadn’t heard of Pebble Mine back then, nor did I realize that we were hunting atop the proposed mine’s deposit of gold, copper, and molybdenum. A few years after that hunt, geologists announced the deposit to be the world’s largest untapped resource of gold and copper, and estimated its worth at $500 billion. The idea of a mine in that location was met with staunch opposition in Alaska. And for good reason—the region has the world’s largest run of sockeye salmon, which is vital for the area’s mostly Native population and the $1.5 billion commercial fishery that supports 14,500 jobs and an array of other industries, including guiding sport anglers, hunters, and bear watchers.

A moose hunter returning to camp on a lake on the Alaska Peninsula.
An Alaska Peninsula brown bear with a sockeye salmon.

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The Time I Hunted with a Waterfowl Poacher (and Didn’t Know It)


The author with a limit of Canada geese from his first hunt in Manitoba. (Joe Genzel/)

The first guided waterfowl hunt I ever went on was almost my last. At the time, I was a rookie outdoor writer and had never hunted more than 30 minutes from home. Now, I was thousands of miles away from Illinois, chasing puddle ducks and geese on the Canadian prairie. Our guide was an ostentatious American. At best he was a blow hard. In reality, he was a poacher. Several years after I hunted with him, he plead guilty to multiple migratory bird law violations, including burying untagged birds and shooting at ducks from inside his vehicle in order to scare them up for a hunting party. He paid more than $20,000 in fines and lost his outfitting license.

This year, many American waterfowl hunters likely won’t be able to make it to the Canadian prairie this fall due to the U.S.-Canada border shutdown. Outfitters will be operating in new locations here in the States to try and recoup some of the money they would have made up north. And it’s clear that folks are eager to hunt the Prairie Pothole Region even if they can’t get into Canada. South Dakota saw an increase of more than 1,500 non-resident applications from 2019 to this year (which is considerable), according to Jona Ohm, the strategic communications director for South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks.

With more waterfowlers looking to book hunts in the Lower 48, it could be a very lucrative season for guides in the U.S. But that could also open the door to fly-by-night operations interested in lining their pockets, but not staying legal. You’ll need to be on the lookout for guides who aren’t playing by the rules this fall.

When I hunted with an outfitter for the first time, I was green, and couldn’t identify the bad habits of an illegitimate guide. Now that I am a more experienced and a bit more well-traveled, I recognize that there were multiple signs that he was breaking the law. If you’re going to hunt with an outfitter this year, particularly a new one you don’t have a relationship with, follow these tips so you know what to watch out for.

1. Review the Camp

You should take all your birds home or directly donate them to another person when you hunt with an outfitter.
If you’re getting checked by wardens after every hunt, something is wrong.
This is the lone snow goose the author and his group shot one morning in Manitoba after the guides arrived late to pick them up.

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13 Amazing New Bass Lures from ICAST 2020

You can’t catch the same pressured bass year in and year out with one lure, so unless we keep showing these fish different baits, they get wise to our tricks. Here’s a look at some of the new bass baits introduced at ICAST.

1. 13 Fishing Shadow Spin


The Shadow Spin sports a custom aluminum prop on its nose. (13 Fishing/)

Spybaits have recently exploded onto the bass scene, but 13 Fishing gives this stealthy technique a new twist by integrating elements of swimbaits to the spybaiting game. Like standard spybaits, the Shadow Spin sports a custom machined aluminum prop on its nose, but its back end features a wedge-tail paddle. The result is a subtle bait with flash and vibration, complemented by a kicking action. Balanced for an attention-getting shimmy on the fall, the Shadow Spin includes HD Holographic eyes, high-def finishes and VMC Premium PTFE coated hybrid treble hook. ($20; 13fishing.com)

2. A Band of Anglers Dartprop Pro SK A


The Dart Prop will stand up to aggressive bites. (A Band of Anglers/)

Expanding the Hyperlastics line, renowned lure designer Patrick Sebile created this minnow-style bait with props at both ends for flashy, enticing motion throughout the water column. The proprietary Softough material provides a supple, buoyant profile that’s strong enough to stand up to aggressive bites. Fixed to a weighted EWG hook, the front prop steadily spins when the bait is in motion, while the molded-in rear prop spins erratically with various retrieves. At 5 1/2 inches and 5/8 ounce, the Dartprop Pro is available in six colors. ($10; www.abandofanglers.com)

The Dart Prop will stand up to aggressive bites.
An internal weight system optimizes casting accuracy with this Bagley bait.
Fusion19 hooks snare anything that bites the Hit Stick.
You can fish a variety of cover with the Big Bite BFA.
The Ripple Cicada is available in seven colors.
You'll get constant motion from the Flutter Craw.
Available in four different sizes, the Underspin Head's Willow-leaf blade will entice big bass to bite.
Flex Worm's are built to be strong and flexible.
The OSG 6 Slim is a flat-sided crankbait.
The 3D Bluegill comes in six different colors.
Strike King's Hybrid Hunter.
A different look on the original Chatterbait.

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Reflective gear that keeps you safe outside at night


Make sure you're seen. (Robson Hatsukami Morgan via Unsplash/)

We’ve all been driving at night and noticed someone running or riding a bike on the side of the road with no lights or reflective gear and had to swerve a bit. It’s scary and dangerous. Don’t be that person. Reflective gear is easy-to-bring and lightweight, plus it may well save your life. Below, a few of the most common items you may need.


Running, walking or riding, stay visible. (Amazon/)

During the day this may hardly qualify as a vest, but at night, in headlights, it will light you up super bright. The vest has reflective tape for oncoming cars and also has front and back LED strobe lights. The ultra-bright lights have a long battery life and will alert even sleepy drivers. It’s also lightweight and easy to wear.


Don’t mess with Fido’s life. (Amazon/)

If you’re worried a motorist won’t see you at night, you should be even more nervous about your dog. But this vest will fix any worries of Fido blending into the night sky. It can change between eight solid colors and six multicolor flashing and slow fading color modes. The harness offers 360 degree illumination, reflectivity and fluorescence and can be visible up to half a mile away. The recharging battery offers up to 12 hours of illumination.


Be seen. (Amazon/)

If a vest isn’t for you, we understand. Consider these glow in the dark armbands. The basic model is perfect for any minimalist working out at night. Strap them to your arms and alert any passing motorist as your arms move. The batteries last between 50 and 70 hours and come in a variety of colors.


Don’t clothesline yourself in the dark. (Amazon/)

It may not seem intuitive, but reflective rope is really handy in camp. Use this to anchor your tent to a tree, and then be able to see it at night. Tie down gear on your truck and be able to find it in any condition. This cord is lightweight and tough; you won’t regret adding it to the gear in your truck, camper or car.

Running, walking or riding, stay visible.
Don’t mess with Fido’s life.
Be seen.
Don’t clothesline yourself in the dark.

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First Look: Ultimate Arms Warmonger, a 14-pound .50 Cal.

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The term “space age” doesn’t pack the descriptive punch that it once did. After all, it dates to 1957, when the Ruskies launched Sputnik, a 22-inch metal sphere, into orbit, scaring the bobby socks off the rest of the world. However, there’s no better label for the new material that’s been developed by Polar Rifle Barrels for Ultimate Arms and other gunmakers. It is a magnesium alloy that has been used on space shuttle rocket boosters, so it is not only super light, but it dissipates heat like nobody’s business. During the forging process, the barrels are cryogenically treated (hence, “polar”) to reduce friction, which minimizes heat buildup, improves barrel life, and should help with accuracy. I had a chance to try out a couple of the first firearms made with this metal, called ZK Magna, earlier this summer.

An Off-hand .50

One was Ultimate Arm’s new magazine-fed .50 BMG sniper rifle, the Warmonger LR25-Magna. A rifle configured like the Warmonger will typically hit the scales at 30 to 35 pounds. A 31-inch steel barrel or a .50 BMG normally weighs 15 pounds or more. Forged from ZK Magna, the Warmonger’s barrel is just 4½ pounds.

All in, with a scope and bipod, the rifle is a little more than 14 pounds, meaning it can be fired from the shoulder without difficulty, something no other .50 can boast. That discounts the difficulty that goes with shooting a cartridge that generates about 13,000 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle, more than three times that of a .300 Win. Mag.


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Have Gun Writers Abandoned Your Favorite Old Cartridges?


There’s nothing wrong with focusing on new rifle cartridges, but we shouldn’t forget the old standbys, like the .30/06. (Howard Communications/)

Read any given article about a new cartridge or bullet and it’s clear that there’s an unquenchable thirst for the new and improved. Some would argue there’s also a lack of appreciation for what already works. At least that’s how it comes across to many readers. While many shooters love chasing the next best thing, there seems to be a whole other segment of readers who are dissatisfied with the lack of attention paid to their favorite old cartridges. What’s going on?

If you’re reading this, you have no doubt seen—and maybe even participated in—the comment threads below many ammunition-specific articles. There is a spectrum of opinions and feedback, but almost inevitably, you will see comments suggesting that gun writers today have abandoned the tried and true cartridges in pursuit of the new and flashy. If I were to write a story on my experience shooting the 6.5 Creedmoor, there will be at least one or two responses on how it’s not any more effective than the 6.5x55 or .260 Remington. And there will probably be a couple disgruntled comments from .308 die-hards. If I write a story about a new .308 factory load, you’ll see comments bemoaning the fact that I’ve ignored cartridges like the .280 Rem., .270 Win., and others.

The old saying, “you can’t make everybody happy” has never been more true, but rather than just write off these folks as old-school grumps, I think a little perspective could do everyone some good.

Ammo Loyalty


If you have found an ammo you love, great. But don’t disparage other hunters or shooters for wanting to try something new. (Winchester/)

We each develop our own tastes and preferences for the tools we use. When it comes to falling in love with our favorite cartridges and their applications, there are many contributing factors. For some of us, it’s sentimental, with specific memories, people, and experiences tied to what is stamped into the back of that case. For others, it’s specific experiences of performance that cement a cartridge in our psyche. Whatever the reason, it’s easy to take offense (apparently) when our sweetheart of a powder burner doesn’t get the attention that we feel it deserves.

If you have found an ammo you love, great. But don’t disparage other hunters or shooters for wanting to try something new.
There’s not one load that’s THE BEST. It’s all dependent on your hunting pursuit.

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The best rods and reels to start your kid fishing


Start them off young. (Adam Sherez via Unsplash/)

We’re thrilled you’re in the market for kids fishing rods and reels. The world needs more anglers, and starting them young will pay off for you in the long run. But what do you need? Should you buy something basic and inexpensive figuring your angler-to-be may well lose interest? Should you pick up something pricier that will last longer? Some of those answers are best left up to you, but we’re here to help break down four solid options.


Start them young. (Amazon/)

If you think 3 years old is too young for fishing, think again. All your little tyke needs is this basic starter rod and reel kit and something to clip on the end. Reel in a catch every time. As he or she outgrows the plastic fish, tie on a real hook and go for it.


Buy it all. (Amazon/)

We don’t blame you if you’re not sure what you need for your child’s first fishing outing. So stop worrying about it and just buy a set that includes everything. This combination includes a tackle box, plenty of hooks, weight, bobbers and lures, a net, a rod and reel, and even a convenient bag to hold it all. Throw this in the boat or take it to the beach and watch your child discover fishing.


Keep them engaged. (Amazon/)

Maybe your kid outgrew the Micky Mouse rod you bought him or her years ago. Maybe your child wants to get started and is too old for a Disney character rod. Take a look at this one. The 6-foot rod has two pieces and an all-metal body and handle. It’s good for right or left-handed anglers and comes spooled with 100 yards of 10-pound line. When fishing starts to get serious, bring this one along.


They’re old enough to start. (Amazon/)

Fly fishing is most certainly an art, but it’s an art that even young kids can figure out. When your child is ready to begin fishing with more than a spinning rod, consider this set up. It has four pieces and comes with a reel, line, and a convenient case to keep it all safe. It has a soft action and shorter rod length with a small, two-handed grip to help them learn even earlier.

Start them young.
Buy it all.
Keep them engaged.
They’re old enough to start.

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9 Ways to Actually Get Better at Shooting Your Bow This Summer


The author’s very average, very effective, 37-yard group. (Alex Robinson/)

I am not a professional archer. You won’t see me winning any national 3D tournaments or catch me doing burpees before the Total Archery Challenge. But I am, proudly, an effective average-joe bowhunter. I started shooting a compound when I was 12, and killed my first deer with one when I was 14. As a kid, my dad and I would shoot in the backyard a couple nights every week. He’d usually crack a cold beer or two to take the edge off after a long day of work at his welding shop, and maybe light up a cigar to keep the bugs away. We’d shoot until mom had dinner ready. This was back before shooting a bow was about “getting reps.”

While shooting at public ranges and deer camps over the years, I’ve noticed there are a whole lot of archers just like Dad, who squeeze in an hour of practice after work whenever they can. Practice for them is about getting dialed in for the fall but also about enjoying a quiet summer evening. As I have gotten more bowhunting seasons under my belt, I’ve evolved those shooting sessions with Dad and learned how to make sure I’m getting the most out of my practice time. Changing up my shooting routine keeps practice sessions fun, and it’s more representative of the shooting conditions and positions I’ll experience during a hunt. What we all care most about is making a good, clean shot on an animal right? That means we should be practicing specifically for the shots we’ll get during a hunt. So if you’re one of us, an average-joe archer with an eye toward fall, check out the tips below and keep flinging arrows.

1. Make sure your bow, arrows, and form are tuned

First things first, it’s impossible to get better if you’re shooting with improper, inconsistent form. If you’re totally new to archery, I highly suggest getting some instruction from a pro. If you’re a veteran and know what good form looks and feels like, have your spouse, kid, or shooting buddy film a few of your shots from a couple different angles. You might notice flaws in your form or weird habits you’ve developed. You can work on those through the summer. It’s equally important to make sure your bow is tuned to your arrows. Either have the local bowshop give it a once over or run through this very simple paper tuning drill. If you’re going to spend a summer shooting your bow, you might as well make sure that it’s tuned properly.

2. Don’t get obsessed with shooting long range

If you're a treestand hunter, spend as much time as possible shooting from an elevated platform.
Shooting in low light helps train your eye to pick a spot on the target, even when you can't see details.

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7 of the Most Underrated Pump Shotguns of All Time

I’m fairly certain when John Moses Browning built the Winchester Model 1893, the first commercially successful pump-action shotgun, he didn’t envision duck hunters using future iterations of his timeless design as both shotgun and boat paddle. But honestly, that’s the reason we all buy pump shotguns: because they can be dropped in the bottom of the boat, dipped in the lake, and still cycle shotshells in just about any kind of weather extreme.

We love pump guns for their durability and functionality. There’s a reason so many millions of Remington 870s and Mossberg 500s have been sold—they work. But what about the great pump shotguns that never received the fanfare they deserved? There are a select few pumps that should have spent decades as top sellers, but didn’t. Here’s a look at the best pump shotguns that never made it into your gun safe.

1. Mossberg 200K


The 200K looks like a rifle that turned into a shotgun. (Mossberg/)

It looks like Mossberg started making a bolt-action rifle, stopped halfway through, and decided the 200K needed to be a pump-action shotgun. Developed in the 1950s, the 200K was Mossberg’s first magazine-fed shotgun. A detachable box mag holds three 12-gauge rounds, though you can load two shells from the top without removing the mag, just like you can with some rifles. For single loads, shooters can just open the chamber, drop a round in, and close it up. A tang-mounted safety, which Mossberg still utilizes on its modern shotguns, leads into a ported barrel with a flat rib. The muzzle is affixed with an adjustable choke. Shooters can choose from full, modified, improved cylinder, or full cylinder, depending on the hunting pursuit or use. Unlike more modern pump shotguns, the fore-end does not slide along under the barrel. It’s a piece of steel integrated into the stock, which also resembles a rifle stock with that high cheek weld.

2. Marlin 19

More than a century old, the 19 was only in production for a year.
The Remington 31 was available in a sporting model and trench gun.
Most M97s were takedowns, but some were built on a solid frame.
Japanese gunmaker Howa produced the 3000.
The 120 never caught on like the Remington 870 and Model 12.
The top gun is the Winchester 25, and at bottom is the 20-gauge version of the Model 12.

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6 of the Best Ways to Rig a Senko (The Best-Selling Bass Lure of All-Time)


The venerable Senko. The most popular bass bait of all time. (Bassmaster/)

The Senko is the best-selling bass lure of all-time, and for good reason. It flat out catches bass all year, on every type of water. It works on lowland lakes, highland lakes, natural lakes, farm ponds, and rivers. After 32 years as a professional bass fisherman, it is my go-to bait from North to South, and East to West.

Let’s start with size and color selection. As I travel America competing on the Bassmaster Elite Series, my best bait is the 5-inch Senko in two colors: green pumpkin and black with blue flake. These two colors will catch fish anywhere, anytime. I prefer green pumpkin in clearer water and on sunny days, and black/blue in dirty water and on dark days. I use the 6-inch Senko in these same two colors as well, particularly if I am targeting larger bass.

Although a Senko will catch fish anywhere, you will need to modify how you present the lure based on time of year, water clarity, and depth the bass are using. So, here are my five most productive ways to rig the Senko:

1. Weightless, Texas Rigged

Use a 5/0 offset shank EWG hook on the 5-inch Senko, and a 6/0 on the 6-inch Senko. A weightless, Texas-rigged Senko is perfect for fishing around shallow, heavy cover where the big bass live. It fishes well in weed beds, pads, brush and under docks.

Jay Yelas with a giant Senko-caught largemouth.
Jay Yelas is a 32-year bass tournament veteran.

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The Two Biggest Deer Organizations Are Joining Forces. What Does It Mean for Hunters?


The establishment of a national deer conservation group is a step closer this week. (John Hafner/)

The establishment of a national deer conservation group, which has eluded a generation of buck enthusiasts, is a step closer to fruition with the announcement today that the National Deer Alliance will merge with the Quality Deer Management Association.

The unified organization, which doesn’t yet have a name, is the culmination of a number of dynamics that have caused many non-profit “critter” groups to reconsider how they raise funds, mobilize their members, and ultimately survive to fulfill their missions. The COVID-19 pandemic and social-distancing guidelines to reduce its spread have short-stopped the main revenue source—the local fundraising banquet dinner—for many of these groups.

But the merger of these two deer-centric groups has its origin long before stay-at-home orders and mask-wearing became part of our national discussion.

The Quality Deer Management Association was founded 32 years ago in South Carolina, and its center of gravity, membership, and influence remains in the South and with landowners interested in improving whitetail hunting and herd health on their properties. The NDA was incorporated in 2015, mainly to serve an advocacy role for its stakeholders, which included deer-focused groups as disparate as Whitetails Unlimited, Mule Deer Foundation, and QDMA.

The original intent of the NDA was also to serve as a virtual club and advocate for all deer hunters. Its creation came out of a resolution to create a conservation organization for deer, by far the most popular, abundant, and widespread of North America’s wildlife populations. Over 70 percent of America’s 10 million hunters primarily pursue deer. But cooperation and unity has been frustrated by the tribal nature of deer hunting—and deer hunters—a population that fractures along lines defined by regions, species, and hunting methods.


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10 Campers and Tents That Will Turn Your Truck into the Ultimate Mobile Hunting Camp

One of the biggest regrets I have is never making my truck into a livable space and tooling around North America, chasing the fall migration of ducks and geese. I know several folks who have sold their homes, bought a Roof Top Tent (RTT) or camper, and pocketed the profits, using the extra cash to hunt and fish where they please. It’s a much more simple, and freeing, way to live. And since their house rides around on four wheels, just about anywhere on this continent can be called home.

It’s a cool concept, and you can still do this (to a degree) even if you have a spouse and kids. Hell, some of these models are big enough for a small family, so you can bring everyone along—they can experience a part of your life they may never have seen otherwise. In the long run, no matter how expensive some of these rigs are, they will still save you money down the road. Think about all the cash you’ve blown on dingy motel rooms, the beds so gross you slept in your sleeping bag anyway. If you’re going to spend the night in your own fleece-lined sack, might as well do it on a clean foam mattress in the bed of a Ford pickup or the roof of your Tacoma.

If you want to turn your truck into a mobile hunting camp, here are some of the best tents, toppers, and campers to buy.

1. Napier Sportz Truck Tent


The 57 series stores in a bag the size of a duffle and gets you off the ground. (Napier/)

One of the cheapest and easiest ways to start overland hunting is to buy a tent, and the 57 Series was made to fit in the bed of your truck. This gets you off the ground and also gives you a bit more security from bugs, snakes, and varmints, like raccoons or coyotes. The entire tent stores in a bag the size of a big duffle, and the tent can be set up in 15 minutes thanks to color-coded poles that correspond to the appropriate sleeves. Two adults can sleep in the tent, and the fully-taped and seamed floor keeps you dry. Plus there are three windows, an entrance door, and two ceiling vents for better air circulation. A 4x4-foot adjustable awning allows you and a friend to sit on a shaded tailgate. There’s also an included rainfly, though you might want to hop in the cab of the truck in heavy/violent downpours just to be safe. MSRP: $230

A spray-on coating in high-wear areas extends the life of this topper.
The 180CC is a commercial-grade topper.
The Simpson III has all the luxuries you want in an RTT.
This RTT from Front Runner has a simple setup and is lightweight.
You can still haul gear in the bed of your truck with the Wedge.
The AirLand will keep you warm in the coldest of climates with proper attire and gear.
One of the more pricey clamshell RTTs, the Discovery has plenty of accessories to keep you comfortable.
This rig will turn your truck into a true mobile hunting unit.
GFC ensures that your truck is still equip for daily use after mounting a Platform Camper.

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Trout Fishing Tips from the Brookie Whisperer


Dustin Wichterman with a big native brookie. (Dustin Wichterman/)

To say that native brook trout mean a lot to me would be a massive understatement. The love of these fish and the environments in which they are found is in my blood. I’ve spent my life in close proximity to brookies, and dedicated many years to their study and restoration. My daughter’s name, Brooklynn Vale, means stream in the valley, and the skin above my heart bears a tattoo version of our finned friends.

These fish are special to me because they represent purity and a connection to the past. Because of this obsession, I studied wildlife and fisheries resources as an undergraduate and later obtained an M.S. in the field. I worked in environmental consulting before coming to Trout Unlimited in 2012 because my personal mission aligned with theirs: to leave our children with cleaner waters than those we see today.

I am currently the Associate Director of Trout Unlimited’s (TU) Mid Atlantic Cold-Water Habitat Program based in West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia. Together, with our partners, we have restored hundreds of miles of streams and many watersheds, engaged thousands of people in hands-in-the-water activities, and made our homes a better place to live.

I really don’t like to tell folks how to fish, as I’m simply glad to see people out there enjoying it. But the editors here at Outdoor Life asked me to answer a few questions about brookies, so I obliged. I hope it helps you catch a few more fish this year.


A native brookie in hand. (Mark Taylor/)

1. Outdoor Life: What do you suppose the attraction is—that so many anglers seemingly share—for catching a fish that rarely grows past the fingerling stage in most places?

A native brookie in hand.
Dustin and Brooklyn Wichterman on a great backwoods stream.
A quick brookie snack.
An outsized native brookie.

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Why We’re Failing to Recruit African American Hunters (and How to Fix It)


Jaysean with his first deer. (Eric M. Morris/)

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.

As a fat Texas doe stepped into the clearing about 30 yards from the blind, Jaysean eased his 20-gauge shotgun out the window. He took aim and squeezed the trigger. At the sound of the shot, the doe dropped as if struck by lightning. A smile of satisfaction spread across the 13-year old’s face. It was his first deer, and the moment held more meaning than words could describe. First hunts like this one play out each season across America, but this one was extra special to me. Jaysean is Black. And now, he is a hunter.

Many hunting and outdoor organizations say they want more racial diversity, but the current efforts to bring new people into the fold leave much to be desired. Black people (or any other people of color), are rarely given a voice in hunting and fishing media. Instead, the outdoors is continually portrayed as a white, male domain. This portrayal can sometimes be unwelcoming to people of color. I say this as a middle-aged Black man with 30 years of hunting experience. I know what it feels like to love the outdoors, but to rarely see someone who looks like me represented there.

This is why I host hunts each year to introduce more aspiring hunters, like Jaysean, to the outdoors. Despite stereotypes that “Black people don’t hunt” or “Black people just aren’t interested in the outdoors,” I know that there’s a tremendous desire among Black people across the country to learn about hunting, fishing, and the outdoors. I know because they keep asking me to take them hunting. I’ve recruited and helped mentor roughly 50 new hunters since 2014.

So why aren’t we seeing better results overall? The problem, unfortunately, is that most organizations don’t know how to effectively reach minority communities, while other orgs simply aren’t interested in learning. The good news, however, is that this isn’t an impossible problem to solve. I know there are effective ways to recruit and mentor more minority hunters and anglers, because I’ve tried them. If we are going to succeed in our recruitment efforts, we’re going to have to start making the following changes.

The author and his dog Razor.

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First Look: Garmin Instinct Now Lasts Longer in the Backcountry, Thanks to Solar Charging


The new Instinct GPS watch from Garmin uses solar power to recharge. (Natalie Krebs /)

I was never much interested in smart watches until a few years ago, when I made an ill-advised pact at SHOT Show in Las Vegas. Despite never having run farther than a 5K, I promised OL contributor Brad Fitzpatrick that I’d run a marathon with him. At the very least, I figured, all that running would help me get in shape for elk season that fall.

I’m a reluctant runner at best, and decided I needed something to keep me accountable—something more than the glitchy fitness trackers I’d previously tried. I bought a Garmin GPS watch and never looked at another brand again. I do wonder, however, why more hunters don’t wear one, or something like it. They don’t seem to have gained much traction in the hunting and fishing world, despite their usefulness in the woods and on the water.

These watches have always been packed with plenty of useful features (more on that in a bit), but Garmin just announced the newest one: solar charging.


Garmin is releasing three new solar GPS watches, including the new Instinct, pictured here. (Natalie Krebs /)

This is excellent news for anyone who spends any time off the grid, or just generally hates having yet another device to worry about charging. I always pack the charging cord for my watch, forget to charge it in the scramble to get on the trail, and head into the mountains for a 6-day hunt with a 6-hour battery life. All week long I’ll glance at my watch trying to check legal light or how far I’ve gone, only to remember the watch is dead.

But not anymore. After fully charging the solar Instinct Garmin sent me to test (with the USB charging cable), the battery meter read 28 days. Any hunter who wears a traditional watch will find this laughable, true. But if you’ve got a smart watch, or want one that won’t cost as much as a new rifle, it’s a game changer.

Garmin is releasing three new solar GPS watches, including the new Instinct, pictured here.
The 6-hour Solar Intensity display let's you know how much (or in this case, how little) sun your watch has recently been exposed to.
Projecting a waypoint, using one of the Instinct's many navigational modes

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6 Top Tips for Catching Mid-Summer Bass


Tyler Rivet with a punched out largemouth. (Bassmaster/)

Because he’s from Louisiana, Bassmaster Elite angler Tyler Rivet has adapted to fishing in the heat. When the summer sun is bearing down on largemouths, fish locate cover that’s thick on the surface and swim underneath it, where the water’s cooler and more comfortable. This is when anglers need to turn to a technique called “punching.” You get a small, soft-plastic bait and a super heavy bullet weight, and punch a meal right through that cover to get a bite. When you’re looking to pick a fight with a bass through the thick stuff, consider Rivet’s tips. These tricks will not only help you get bit, but also help you get that fish to the boat once it is hooked.

1. Outdoor Life: What are the best color baits to use?

Tyler Rivet: I go with one of two colors. If it’s not Junebug it will be a green pumpkin base with maybe a chartreuse dipped tail. Under mats, it’s dark, so you want something that has a darker base so they can see it quickly.

2. OL: How do fish bite under mats?

TR: When I’m punching, I like to move quickly. I am looking for more of a reaction bite than a feeding bite. When something unexpectedly falls in front of their face, they snap at it. So, I will drop my bait in and if nothing hits on the initial drop, I’ll pull the bait up to the bottom of the floating mat and then drop again. If nothing bites, reel up and move on. I don’t like to spend a lot of time blindly working a bait under a mat unless I know fish are there. I’d rather make five different flips in new spots hoping for reaction bites rather than sitting it in one hole trying to coax a fish into feeding.

The perfect punch bait.

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How to Get Started Hunting Squirrels With a Dog


Squirrel hunting is a great way to get new hunters into the sport. (Larry Case/)

The frantic barking of the dogs drew us deeper into the hollow. Chris and I agreed to take this hunt easy and not go too fast. But, after hearing the intensity of the two squirrel dogs barking, that went out the window. It sounded like they were saying “Where are you guys?” “Get here quick!” “We have one treed!” I glanced over at Chris breaking brush; he was even more intent on getting to the dogs than me. The bellows from our dogs drew us onward, heedless of the rocks, brambles, and steep incline of the hill we pressed on.

You don’t need a dog to squirrel hunt, of course, but like many hunting pursuits, having one at your side makes it more enjoyable (and easier). A well-trained dog will also sniff out more squirrels than you can ever find on your own. The breeds are also relatively inexpensive when compared with bird dogs. You can typically find a good mountain cur or fiest pup for a few hundred dollars.

Also, hunting squirrels with a dog is one of the best ways to introduce a new hunter, young or old, to the sport. Squirrel doggin’ is a low stress endeavor and can be done most anywhere. Kids and adults can have a carefree day in the woods, watch the dogs work, and get plenty of shooting opportunities (hopefully). Kids don’t have to be quiet, sit still, or any of the other tortuous aspects of deer or turkey hunting. Plus, it’s fun.

Once you hunt squirrels behind a good dog, there’s no going back to walking the woods alone. Here’s how to get started.

Tracking Game Properly

It’s important to find a dog that has hunting bloodlines.
The author (at left) with his mountain cur, and friend Kevin Murphy with his fiest.
Socializing a young dog, and spending as much time as you can with it in the woods, are two keys to a better squirrel dog.

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Understanding Terminal Performance: Why Bigger Bullets Aren’t Always Better


Once bullets impact game, all bets are off. The original caliber can instantly change into a variety of widths, lengths, shapes, fragments and tissue tearing ability. (Spomer Photos/)

Recently, I read an Outdoor Life reader’s comment insisting that the 7mm was a “deadly effective caliber.” And I think he actually meant the caliber, not a specific cartridge that holds 7mm (.284-inch diameter) bullets. In that case, I agree. Bullets .284 inches wide are deadly effective if they are constructed for the purpose at hand, given adequate velocity, and applied in the right place.

This will raise eyebrows because plenty of hunters lambaste all 7mms as ineffective, if not useless. “Doesn’t hit nearly as hard as a .308!” is one assessment I’ve often heard. “Shoots so fast the bullets don’t have time to open,” is another. “The bullets are just too narrow. I’ll take the bigger hole from a .308.” Hmmm.


Many claim the 7mm Remington Magnum is “too fast” for the bullet to open and do sufficient damage to kill deer and elk. This 1,800-pound Namibian eland didn’t get the memo. (Spomer Photos/)

Do .30-Calibers Hit Harder?


Yes, at some point the wider caliber argument begins to makes some sense, like maybe this 115-grain .243 bullet as opposed to this 180-grain .308 bullet. But the difference between .28 and .30? Questionable. (Spomer Photos/)

The truth is some 7mms hit harder than some .308s. But it’s just as true that some .308s hit harder than some 7mms. Duh. It all depends on the muzzle velocity and bullet. Especially the bullet. Its mass, material, construction, launch speed, and form factor combine to determine its terminal performance on game. There is nothing special about the 7mm caliber to make it any more or less effective than the 7.62mm (.308 bullets) or 6.5mm (.264 bullets.)

Caliber performance, alas, is as misunderstood as is the word “caliber” itself. Caliber means the diameter of the bore and bullet in inches or millimeters. The .30/30 Win., .308 Win., and .30-06 Springfield are not calibers. They are cartridges that shoot .30-caliber bullets. The 7x57 Mauser, 7mm-08 Remington, .280 Remington, 7mm Remington Magnum, and 28 Nosler are cartridges that shoot .28-caliber bullets. There is nothing magical or even special about calibers, although some cartridges — with the right bullets — can be pretty special for many reasons.

Many claim the 7mm Remington Magnum is “too fast” for the bullet to open and do sufficient damage to kill deer and elk. This 1,800-pound Namibian eland didn’t get the memo.
Yes, at some point the wider caliber argument begins to makes some sense, like maybe this 115-grain .243 bullet as opposed to this 180-grain .308 bullet. But the difference between .28 and .30? Questionable.
If you think the 7mm Rem. Mag. is too fast to be effective, wait until you try shooting anything with a 220 Swift at 4,000 fps. Many deer hunters and feral burro cullers have found the hyper-velocity .220 Swift a faster and surer killer than the .30-06 and 8mm Mauser. (Left to right: the .22 Hornet, .222 Rem., .220 Swift.)
The .300 Win Mag. with its slight power capacity advantage over the 7mm Rem. Mag. pushes the same weight bullets about 100 fps faster. But, because the 7mm bullets of the same mass and form factor have considerably higher B.C. ratings, they conserve much more energy and end up carrying more wallop at long range. They drop less and drift less in the wind, too.
Bullet mass and muzzle velocity contribute mightily to terminal performance, but study these two slugs. Do you really think the slightly wider .308 on the left will do significantly more tissue damage due to that slim width advantage?
If the 7mm Rem. Mag. throws bullets too fast for them to open in game, imagine what happens with the .220 Swift, .264 Win. Mag., and 7mm Remington Ultra Magnum!
The heavier bullet in this Federal 308 Win. cartridge gives it a decided energy advantage over the 140-grain atop the 7mm-08, but if you match bullet weights, the 7mm has a greater downrange energy advantage due to its energy-conserving bullet B.C. If you believe hitting power contributes significantly to terminal performance, you’d have to give the nod to the 7mm-08.
The .308 Family of cartridges is the perfect example for comparing bullet diameter to terminal performance because most of these rounds carry the same quantity of powder. The narrower calibers like the .243, .264, and .284 (at left) get the highest muzzle velocities because they push lighter bullets. The .338 Federal and .358 Winchester (at right) pump out the most horsepower at the muzzle because they throw the heaviest bullets. But air drag changes the dynamic at some point downrange. While I think we can all agree the .358 will tear an appreciably larger hole than the .243, can we prove there’s a significant — or any — advantage of the .308 over the .284?
The six .308 bullets on the left don’t appear to look much wider than the four .284 bullets on the right. Can we really assume they’ll tear a bigger hole? Or will the longer, more efficient .284 bullets do more damage because they retain more energy and can potentially penetrate farther in any given weight?
The starting point for an intelligent discussion on one caliber versus another is knowing that a caliber is not a cartridge. Cartridges change the debate significantly because they’re various powder capacities add or subtract velocity and energy to a dramatic degree. The .17 Hornet on far left is on an entirely different planet from the .470 Nitro Express far right.
Even the same bonded core, controlled expansion bullet like these Norma Oryx become something other than their original diameter micro seconds after impact. What a bullet hits, its striking velocity, whether it tumbles or breaks up all determine how much tissue damage it does.
If the old 7mm Rem. Mag. truly was the “too-fast-for-its-own-good” cartridge many said it was/is, why did we subsequently see development of the faster 7mm STW, 7mm RUM, 28 Nosler and others? It’s the bullet that determines terminal performance, not the cartridge.
Speed is relative to the bullet and the distance at which it impacts the target. At some distances the hyper velocity 28 Nosler will be going as slow as the 7mm-08 at a closer distance.

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Canada’s Border is Closed to American Hunters Due to COVID-19 (and It Could Cost Many Outfitters Their Livelihood)


There likely won’t be any trips in the Yukon like this one for American hunters in 2020. (Sloane Brown/YETI/)

For many of us here in the U.S., an annual hunting or fishing trip to Canada is a longstanding tradition. And Canadians, particularly those in the more remote western provinces, depend on American tourism dollars to bolster local economies. But the U.S.-Canada border has been closed since March and will remain so until at least Aug. 21. There is also a 14-day quarantine rule in place. That means anyone who does come into the country must self-isolate for two weeks. In most cases, Canadian citizens are also not permitted to drive or fly from province-to-province without quarantine.

A recent poll showed 81 percent of Canadians don’t want the border to open to Americans, mainly due to the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 surges in the U.S. That’s bad news for outfitters in Canada. Of course, the safety of both countries takes precedence over the financial hit the hunting and fishing industry will endure. But an unfortunate outcome of the pandemic is that some guiding businesses won’t make it through.

It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but when the U.S. is seeing spikes in positive COVID-19 tests (though deaths have tapered), it’s difficult for Canada to open its border and safely allow Americans into the country, though it is possible once the U.S. makes it through this second surge. Iceland has broken through as a shining example, hosting international travelers since June by using a rigorous testing program, saving its tourism industry from financial peril. There have been pleas made by Canadian Travel and Tourism, which generates $74 billion and employs 1.8 million people, to allow healthy Americans into Canada, as U.S. citizens make up two-thirds of international tourists in Canada. But so far Prime Minster Justin Trudeau hasn’t budged.

4 Shutting Down the Yukon procedure in place for opening the border, only a projected date that keeps getting moved back, which has been a serious frustration for outfitters. It has left them in limbo, unsure if their outfits will continue to tread water with pre-COVID profits, or ultimately drown. Alberta’s Professional Outfitters Society reported guides in the province have lost $68 million in revenue since the pandemic began in March. Two thousand people are also jobless due to the lack of clients.

To find out how outfitters across Canada are coping with the border closure, I talked to four Canadian guides. We wanted to know how they are navigating these strange and difficult times, and if they expect their businesses to survive the pandemic.

B.C. guide Rachel Ahtila with a harvested Dall Sheep.
Steve Overguard and a client with an Alberta moose.
Guide Luke Sherders isn’t optimistic the U.S.-Canada border will open this waterfowl season.
Jessie Young congratulates Tatum Monod after taking a Yukon caribou.

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