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The 10 Biggest Outdoor Stories of the Year

Good news. Bad news. Important news. Outdoor Life has brought it all to hunters and anglers since 1898. These are the articles both readers and editors deemed most significant this past year.

10. Walmart and Kroger Are Changing Their Gun and Ammo Policies. Here’s What You Need to Know

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"Walmart and Kroger Are Changing Their Gun and Ammo Policies. Here’s What You Need to Know" by T. Logan Metesh

In the wake of recent high-profile shootings in Texas and Ohio, retail giants Walmart, Sam’s Club, and Kroger have changed their policies regarding ammunition and gun sales as well as open carry in their stores. [Read More »]

9. The 18 Best New Hunting and Precision Rifles, Tested

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"The 18 Best New Hunting and Precision Rifles, Tested" by John B. Snow (Bill Buckley/)

Okay I get it. In times of uncertainty and change, it is tempting to seek comfort in the traditional and spurn the new. If it helps put anyone’s mind at ease, let me say this No, there is nothing wrong with your old Savage .30/06. It will still kill deer and no one is suggesting otherwise. But as you’ll see here, with a few exceptions, the newest crop of rifles doesn’t look much like what you’d find in the gun rack at your daddy’s whitetail camp. [Read More »]

8. How to Pick the Right Sidearm for Backup Bear Protection

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"How to Pick the Right Sidearm for Backup Bear Protection" by Will Brantley, Bryce M. Towsley, Tyler Freel, and John B. Snow (Keith Crowley/Images on the Wildside/)

Hunters love to sit around the fire and argue about guns. When there’s no fire, there’s still social media, where people also sometimes argue. When I saw Freel and Towsley engaged in a Facebook pissing match over bear-defense handguns, I invited them to bring it to the pages of Outdoor Life. Enjoy. [Read More »]

7. The Wilderness War: Ice Fishing the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

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"The Wilderness War: Ice Fishing the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness" by Natalie Krebs (Lee Thomas Kjos/)

I take a drink from my CamelBak, sucking down the cold ­water, then puffing it back up the tube and into the reservoir so it doesn’t freeze. The rest of the crew has stripped away their jackets to reveal a collection of wool sweaters and base layers. Lukas Leaf is reapplying sunblock, smearing the stuff across his cheeks and ears, and doing his best to avoid his beard. The sun has turned the snowy lake where we’ve stopped into one of those ridiculous tanning mirrors, bouncing rays from below into our eyes without relief. [Read More »]

6. Florida’s Water Crisis Has Sport Fishing on the Brink of Collapse


"Western Hunters Can't Access 6.35 Million Acres of Public State Lands" by Natalie Krebs

If you hunt public land out West—as nearly three-quarters of all Western hunters do—you probably daydream about empty trailhead parking lots and ridges devoid of blaze-orange. You want uncrowded public spots where you can slip away from, well, the public. [Read More »]

1. Respect the Game: The Story of the World Record Buck

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"Respect the Game: The Story of the World Record Buck", Sponsored by Polaris (Heartland Bowhunter/)

Eastern Illinois is a mix of expansive agricultural fields, wooded river bottoms, and scattered timber lots. That all converges into the perfect habitat for growing massive bucks. So when Luke Brewster tagged the biggest wild whitetail buck ever killed by a hunter last year, it was no surprise that the deer came from this corner of the heartland. The surprise, however, was that it was tagged on a modest family farm—not a giant tract of groomed private ground. [Read More »]

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