Real Men Do Cry...Sometimes. A Larry Whiteley Story from the Heart.
My dad didn’t allow me to cry, but I cried when I shot my first bird.
The big boys don’t cry and real men don’t cry rule gradually faded away after my dad passed.
Men need to know there is nothing wrong with showing emotions. That does not make them any less man.
By Larry Whiteley
I still remember the day vividly in my mind. It was 1954. I was eight years old and walking around Grandpa and Grandma’s farm. It was where I was born and grew up. My Daisy Red Ryder BB gun is in my hand. I had been shooting at a piece of old, rusted tin hanging on a fence post. A plinking sound told me when I hit my target.
Birds were singing and flying around. Even back then, I loved to watch and listen to them. One bird landed on the fence a little ways from me. I swung my BB gun toward it, looked down through the iron sights, and fired. The little bird fell to the ground. I walked over to where it lay, dropped to my knees, and picked it up. Tears came to my eyes as I held the lifeless little bird. It was the first live animal I ever shot. I told it I was sorry. Tears flowed.
My dad heard me and came to see what happened. He told me it was just a bird and did not try to comfort me. Before walking away, he said, “Big boys do not cry, so quit it.” Even if I did something wrong and he took a switch to me, there was to be no crying. He was like most men back then, and many still today. They believe that real men don’t cry. They believe crying is unmanly.
I grew into a teenager and got into hunting squirrels, rabbits, and quail around the farm. A few times when I first took their life, I almost cried. I had to choke back the tears when we buried our old farm dog Trixie and later Blackie, but the words of my dad in my head stopped me.
I do not remember crying at the funeral of my Grandpa. I did not dare with all those people there. Dad would not have liked that. The closest I came to crying was when my parents divorced, and I had to move to town with my mom. I loved that old farm and did not want to leave it. It was hard to choke the tears back as we drove away.
After high school, I joined the Navy and had to fly off to boot camp. I did not cry then. I wanted to several times but remembered Dad’s words again -real men don’t cry. I was a real man then.
Later in life, I married, and we started our own family. I remember lying on the bed with our newborn son after we brought him home from the hospital. I told him I would always love him. I did cry a little then.
Dad wasn’t around much anymore. The big boys don’t cry, and real men don’t cry, gradually faded away. I am not ashamed to say tears were in my eyes when my sons, grandsons, or a granddaughter caught their first fish. Or when a grandson and a granddaughter got their first deer. When a son, at forty years old, got his first deer, I cried. A few years later, away from others, my tears flowed hard when I heard that same son had cancer.
Animals once again brought tears to my eyes. Some tears fell to the ground while burying our family dog, Buffy. I also cried a little when our son found out one of his beagle dogs had died and was crying. I cried when I lay on the floor with my arm around Memphis. He was the beloved family dog of that same son and his family. I told him how much we all loved him. He couldn’t raise his head, so he licked water out of my hand. I told him his family would be alright. He could close his eyes and go home. If there is a dog heaven, Memphis is there, along with all our family dogs that have touched our hearts.
Young boys and men need to know that there is nothing wrong with showing their emotions. That does not make them any less of a person.
There is nothing wrong with showing your feelings. There is nothing wrong with being emotional. There is nothing wrong with crying. They also need to know they are not any less of a man for doing so.
If you are a believer, and I hope you are, you know Jesus himself cried. If you are not a believer and want to know more, I am not bashful about sharing with anyone what Jesus has done for me and you.
The Bible says in John 11:35 that Jesus wept. He did so when He found out about the death of his friend Lazarus from his sisters Mary and Martha. He knew He would raise Lazarus from the dead, but when He saw their sorrow, the tears came to His eyes.
In Luke 19:41 it says Jesus wept before a crowd of men and women over the destruction He knew was coming to Jerusalem.
Ecclesiastes 3:4 says there is a time to cry, a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
There is no shame in a man shedding tears. We men are allowed to have feelings. We don’t have to hide them. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.
I read a story recently on my friend Brandon’s blog that he wrote about himself and a change he had made in his life. I had been praying for him for a long time. I am not ashamed to say I cried as I read it.
Brandon is a real man. He loves everything about the outdoors and has traveled all over America and even went to Africa on his quest for outdoor adventures. You can hear about those adventures on his podcast and read them on his blog. He also writes for magazines and newspapers. He is also a conservationist involved in protecting the outdoors that God created for all of us.
In his story, he tells how his Grandpa was his hero. Grandpa was an avid outdoorsman, the life of the party, and drank a lot of beer. He wanted to be like him, and he was for many years.
Besides drinking alcohol way too much, Brandon went through a messy divorce, and his cabin was burnt to the ground by an arsonist. It was enough to make any real man cry.
Then, his teenage girls moved in with him. That is what finally got him on the right path. He realized what his drinking was doing or going to affect them just like his Grandpa’s drinking had affected him. I think he probably shed a few tears through his journey.
He said for the first time in his life, he felt the miraculous hand of God in his life.
In the darkness was a light, and God guided him out of that darkness.
He encourages everyone to join him on the beautiful path he is now on. He also encourages others to ask for help if they cannot do it alone.
You can read his inspiring story at www.driftwoodoutdoors.com. You may cry as you read it, but do not be ashamed. Knowing that real men do cry sometimes and reading Brandon’s story might change your life.
TV Nature Shows are great, but Backyard Nature Shows are Incredible
Birds, Rabbits, Squirrels, Butterflies, Deer, and so much more…PEACE.
Sunrise and Sunset are the best times to Sip a Coffee on a Quiet Chair in your Backyard.
By Larry Whiteley
For some of you, your only experience with nature is watching shows on PBS, National Geographic, Discovery, and others in the comfort of your home. I also love watching nature shows. However, they are much better when I watch them out the windows of my home rather than on television, my tablet, or my smartphone.
I am entertained more through those windows than my recliner watching TV nature shows. At home, I see colorful birds coming to our feeders. Bright red male Cardinals. Iridescent blue Indigo Buntings, yellow and black Finches, gray Mourning Doves, and blue Bluejays. Woodpeckers and other birds of all colors and sizes join them, along with the tiny Hummingbirds. Colorful Baltimore Orioles and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks add even more color to the bird show during springtime.
Our squirrel population is also part of the nature show out our windows. I watch young squirrels play tag and wrestle. I have even seen squirrels do the same thing with rabbits. In the fall, adults gather acorns for the winter and build nests high in the trees. In spring, birds dive-bomb squirrels that get too close to their nest. During summer’s hot days, I watch squirrels spread their bodies and lay flat in the shade. They are trying to cool off and are doing what is called splooting. Squirrel tracks are everywhere in winter snow.
I am also blessed, at times, to see Deer, Turkey, Red-Tailed Hawks, lots of Crows, Great Horned Owls, and sometimes even an Eagle. All the butterflies are another special treat. There is always a nature show going on every season of the year. But it is like watching nature TV shows on my devices with muted sounds if I stay inside. To enjoy nature shows even better, I open the door and go outside with my binoculars. That way, I can take in all the sights and sounds of the nature shows. I take pictures and record all the sounds with my smartphone. They will bring me many hours of enjoyment later.
I try not to make noise while I am there. If I am successful, the wildlife tolerate me being in their world. They continue to do what they do. Geese honk, Crows caw. Birds will sing and feed. Squirrels will chatter and run around everywhere. Both will scatter and hide if they hear the sound of a red-tailed Hawk flying around looking for a meal.
I go outdoors any time during the day to watch and listen to nature shows. I love to be there as the sun rises, a cup of coffee in hand. The wildlife wake up and start their day. They don’t even know I am there with them as I watch and listen. Bird songs start, turkeys gobble, a breeze blows through the trees, and crows begin talking to each other. I might also see a chipmunk scurrying around or a turtle slowly walking while exploring my yard. A lizard or two is usually somewhere. Movement under a bush is probably a snake looking for his next meal. Sunrises are always beautiful. I can never take enough pictures of them or the rainbows after a rain. It is much better than watching the morning news on TV and getting all depressed before the day even starts.
Sunsets are also a favorite time for me. They are beautiful. Deer move around looking for a place to bed down for the night. As it gets darker, owls hoot and coyotes howl. Bats begin to dive for bugs. Summer nights also mean a light show performance by thousands of tiny fireflies. I can also record or enjoy the sounds of frogs, crickets, cicadas, and katydids. A little thunder and lightning only add to the night. Pull up a chair and enjoy the show.
You probably think I live in the country to enjoy nature like that. When we built our house fifty years ago, it was in the country. There were few neighbors. Today, I not only see nature shows out every window, but I also see other homes out every window. Most people probably don’t even realize a live nature show is happening outside near their homes. I hear their barking dogs, their mowers, and weed eaters. Their cars and trucks drive down the road. Most of you can probably hear and see all that, too. But even with all that, I bet there are nature shows right outside your window if you take the time to look and listen.
Now, why would you bother to do that? First of all, we should all be mindful of the different types of media we consume on a regular basis and how it impacts our mind. That includes TV, movies, books, magazines, news, and social media. Everything we choose to consume daily has an effect on our thoughts, feelings, and perspectives in some way. There are lots of studies that show how spending more time in nature is good for you.
One study showed nature can reduce symptoms of depression. Another study showed that bird-watching around your home can reduce stress and anxiety. Another study found that just listening to the sounds of nature can put us into a more relaxed and comfortable state. Other studies have shown experiencing nature can lower blood pressure, reduce nervous system arousal, enhance immune system function, increase self-esteem, reduce anxiety, and improve our mood. Do you need any other reasons to start getting involved in watching and listening to nature shows out your windows and outdoors?
After learning to enjoy the nature shows around your home, I encourage you to take the next step. Go camping, even if starting off, it is in your own backyard. Hopefully, you will take the next step and go camping outdoors at places away from man-made noises and artificial lights.
Get on your computer or smartphone and find places to go hike. Enjoy nature along the way, and when you reach the top, look out over the valley below and be amazed. Find a river or lake and catch a fish or relax in or on the water. Learn to enjoy wildflowers in the spring, snow in the woods during winter, colorful leaves in the fall, and a star-filled sky on a summer night. Discover how incredible nature is.
Get away from the TV, computer, and smartphone. Escape all that is going on in your life and our broken world. Find the peace you seek. Restore your body and soul. I personally know Who created the outdoors, and He did a great job. Let Him and all the nature shows change your life for the better.
As Anne Frank said, “The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely, or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature, and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy amidst the simple beauty of nature.”
Lake Tanneycomo in Branson, Missouri, is full of trout surprises!
Country Music, Nature Trails, Fishing, Great Food, Museums, and the Aquarium on the Boardwalk.
Klondike-like gold rush music boom started in the 1980s – it’s even better now.
The Osage Indians were first here in Branson. Perhaps they were drawn here by the fantastic fishing.
By David Gray
My old friend Larry Whiteley asked me if I could describe Branson, Missouri, in just three words. I said, “Sure! Fishing, Family, Fun.” Grinning his usual warm-hearted smile, Larry said, “So true. I especially like that Branson is neatly nestled in these Ozark Hills. The four seasons add color twice a year, too. Even better, I like the many Grade-A fishing lakes and streams we have nearby – bass, crappie, trout. But you know, honestly, there is so much more to Branson that many folks never see.”
At a recent outdoor media conference event, Larry handed me a Branson Visitors Guide, and I took a day to explore more. I found Country Music, Nature Trails, Live Entertainment, Attractions, All-Day Adventures at Silver Dollar City, Camping, Golfing, Friendly people, Great food, and Museums. Don’t overlook that last one.
Family fun deserves a visit to the Branson Centennial Museum. The Museum guidebooks share that kids who learn history in school have many questions when touring historical displays.
Some things I learned at the Museum: The Branson Hills were blessed with music long before the music theaters sprang up. Before modern settlement, the Branson area was home to the Osage Indians, the original local music stars.
The Osage were well-known and admired for their extraordinary music and style of dancing.
In 1839, the first couple to settle in Branson was Calvin and Cassandra Galyer. Calvin was 15, and Cassandra was 14. Cassandra raised 11 children. Calvin was a gunsmith, and during the Civil War, he was sought by both sides as a gunsmith. When their home burned, the family hid and lived in a cave so Calvin would not be taken away by the North or South for his gunsmithing skills.
Cassandra stared at the Branson cemetery as a final resting place for fallen soldiers of both sides. None of the graves were marked Union or CSA, as Cassandra did not want the graves desecrated by the other side.
When European settlers arrived, they brought their fiddles, and the hills and hollers enjoyed the evening front porch music sessions. Each evening, the picking and playing echoed among the hills.
After the war, more settlers arrived in the Branson area. It took long days of hard labor to make a living by raising cotton, tomatoes and tobacco. Doing the wash was physical, and the phrase “Wash Day” was literal, as it took all day to do the family wash. The Museum displays include the earliest washing machines.
More recently, Branson was labeled a Country Music Phenomenon when a Klondike-like gold rush music boom started in the 1980s. Country Music stars visiting the Branson area fell in love with the Hills and Hollows, the residents, and the natural beauty here. They decided to build theaters and move to Branson to perform.
The first music performer in the area was Box Car Willie. Box Car loved being in the Ozarks and invited Johnny Cash and Loretta Lynn to perform with him.
The Ozark Hills of Branson quickly became a must-do destination for country music lovers.
Today, the Branson country music passion has grown to 24 live music theaters, and also offering music of every genre.
Fishing in the Ozarks has always been an attraction. First, the Osage Indians, then the early settlers, and later, anglers from many places have been drawn to the exceptional fishing for many species, including Bass, Crappie, Walleye, Trout and White Bass.
Today, the area’s lakes, rivers and streams offer unlimited fishing opportunities. Some of the best fishing guides provide a variety of trips on Table Rock Lake and Bull Shoals Lake, and the trout waters of Lake Taneycomo flow right through downtown Branson. Easy fishing is fun fishing.
The most famous Branson area angler is Jim Owens, who is credited with creating the first commercial float fishing service, the Jim Owen Boat Line. Jim offered tailored floats up to 10 days long. Celebrities from all over the world came to float with the Owens Boat Line. Today, you can easily find many artifacts and photos of the Owen Boat Line around Branson, including some of the old fishing tackle in the downtown Branson Bass Pro Shops.
Then there is the History of Fishing Museum. If you love fishing, take advantage of a side trip to the History of Fishing Museum. It is a beautiful attraction with 40,000 historical fishing equipment and items on display.
Fishing tackle from the Stone Age to the modern era is displayed in an easy-to-follow walk-through tour. Even more astonishing to learn is the value of some of the rare collectible items.
Want to see the first-ever modern bass boat? Here is a hint: it is a 1949 Skeeter on display at the Museum. Have you ever heard of the Spike Reel, a Haskell Fish Hook, the Snyder Reel, a Buel Trolling Spoon or the Comstock Fly Hellgramite? These rare pieces are all on display. Every old tackle box probably has a Rapala minnow in it. The Museum has one of the first Rapala lures. It was made with silver foil salvaged from chocolate wrappers.
In your garage, there may be something worth a lot of money. Ever heard of a Kentucky Tackle Box? It is a rare metal tackle box that collectors today will pay a lot of money to acquire. One of these is displayed at the Museum, and you can learn to identify one there.
Ever heard of Phillipp? It was a company that made popular trout flies. The company also made a few, very few, trout fly rods. Only three are known to exist. If you see an old bamboo-looking fly rod at a garage sale and the label is Phillip, buy it. Some say it would bring $100,000 to a collector!
I can’t wait to return to Branson with my family for the fishing, the fun, and now that I know – the museums! Below, don’t miss one of the latest attractions on the Boardwalk: The Aquarium. This facility offers a virtual 3D submarine adventure ride as you are guided through the maze of displays by Aquarius the Octopus and Finn the Pufferfish.
Chasten Whitfield is a 23-year-old championship lady angler passionate about helping less fortunate others.
“Their Life, My Lens” is a TV Show where Chasten Whitfield asks America to provide support to continue an empowering program.
“Chastenation” is the name of her non-profit program to empower the Abilities, Not Disabilities, of kids and their families with a day-long moment to forget about doctor appointments or therapy and focus on reeling in that fish. To show all kids that they are “good enough.”
By Forrest Fisher
When you move to new places and like to fish, you join groups that bring folks together who enjoy fishing. At a recent Sarasota Salt Strong Fishing Club meeting, vice-president Merlin Troyer introduced the guest speaker, a gracious and humble-minded young lady named Chasten Whitfield. In less than 25 minutes, this young lady changed the view of many in attendance, inspiring them to consider how essentially important the fun of fishing can be to others in need.
An expert angler and bass fishing champion through high school and college, this young lady impressed every one of the 90 people in attendance. Her welcoming smile and tonal clarity in communication made her an instant hit with the entire audience. Chasten started by sharing that she was inspired and filled with love for sharing the fun of fishing with others – especially others who might never have a chance to learn about fishing. Kids and adults alike.
Chasten was looking for people that were somehow incapacitated in their life by human ailments, be they physical, emotional, or otherwise. She provided details about her high school and college education and communication classes, learning more about the demands of fishing competitions and the needs filled after winning or simply catching a big fish. She wondered how a similar endorphin effect might apply to help people with ailments. These people might need a spoonful of rescue and fun.
Her voice and smile filled the church hall with the inspiring tones of human care and love for others. She received an overture of hearty applause several times. She provided ways to help but suggested that everyone look up the online website. Click the picture below.
Her story is unique and echoes her passion for fishing. At 13 years of age, she purchased her first boat from babysitting earnings, then passed the test for a boater’s license. She detailed how she was often bullied because she was the only girl in her class that fished. Encouraged by her mom to disregard the boo-hoo kids, she entered her first fishing tournament. She won, and surprising everyone, she returned the championship cash winnings to the tournament charity. She continued to demonstrate her capabilities as an angler. At 15, she received the lady’s certified IGFA record catch for her 178-pound tarpon, except she released it. She said, “I just couldn’t kill that fish for the record book.” Applause came. In her sophomore year of high school, she and four lady friends fished their town’s super bowl of tournaments. She paused, then smiled and said, “We won first place. The town turned upside down.” Applause again.
At 18, she received her USCG Charter Captains license. She said, “At this point, we began to visit schools, girl scouts, and churches to teach the basics of fishing. While teaching, we would talk to kids about the critical issues of bullying and social media. Then, I met Easton during a summer job teaching at a fish camp. Easton has Spina Bifida.”
“After I met Easton, I discovered what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I immediately contacted a boat company about making a customized boat to accommodate a child-size wheelchair, so I could help kids have an amazing fishing experience. Yellowfin created a hybrid boat that I took to the College Bass Series and FLW Professional Bass Series. It was a good thing.”
Also, in her sophomore year of high school, Chasten was recruited to the Savannah College Art and Design bass fishing team. They were the only all-girls college bass fishing team at the time. She added, “I now have my Bachelor of Fine Arts in TV and Film from Savannah.” More soft applause.
Speaking clearly and ever-so humbly, Chasten shared that she was blessed in 2022 to host her own TV show. Her goal was to demonstrate the ABILITIES, not DISABILITIES, of her TV Show guests. She sent in one episode, and the TV Show was signed. She is working to continue her outreach and support program with the help of sponsors, supporters and the general public.
You can find her TV show, THEIR LIFE, MY LENS,” on the Pursuit Channel on Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. and Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. The show appears on Destination America TV on Saturdays at 8:00 a.m. and streaming anytime on Waypoint TV.
About Chastenation: Founded in 2015, Chastenation was founded by Chasten Whitfield, a 23-year-old angler who proves “it’s more than just fishing.” Our mission is to help give differently-abled kids and their families a moment to forget about doctor appointments or therapy and focus on reeling in that fish.
Where hospitality and nature meet hunters and fishers.
Where walleye tournaments are common, smallmouth bass reach seven pounds, and bowfishing is fun after dark.
Wilson Lake is a favorite with campers, hikers, bikers, hunters, paddlers, and water sports enthusiasts.
By Jonathan Blumb and David Zumbaugh
The Outdoor Communicators of Kansas held their spring conference in Wilson, Kansas – the Czech Capital of the state. Local introductions and hospitality were provided at the unforgettable Midland Railroad Hotel. The town of less than 1,000 is strategically located for hunters and fishers. Cheyenne Bottoms Marsh and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge are just South, and Lake Wilson is just to the North. This berg was settled in 1874 by Bohemian immigrants who came to the area to work on the railroad, establishing the town as the Kansas Center of Czech Culture.
This group of media professionals and freelance contributors to sporting publications does more than just have fun on their outings. Their charitable efforts support youth engagement in the outdoors, offer college scholarships, fund hunting licenses for veterans, and contribute to junior shotgun shooting sports. Since 1961, members have encouraged people to embrace outdoor activities and support various goodwill events to facilitate their mission.
Fishing guide Joe Bragg of Wakefield, Kansas, and local guides Dale Hines of Sylvan Grove and Wayne Loy of Lincoln graciously gave willing fishers a grand tour of the lake. Members Nick Neff and Mike Miller towed their boats along for big fish bragging rights contests. Mother Nature cooperated, offering beautiful, clear blue skies and mild breezes assisting angling endeavors. Some chose to fish off the shore, as Wilson offers many public access sites to reach deep water and big fish – without a boat.
Rods and reels got a workout as most anglers succeeded with walleye, bass, crappie, wipers, and drum brought to the net. While the bite was less than hot, no one complained because they got to fish Lake Wilson! The waters are renowned for giant stripers; some are even hooked through the ice in winter. Walleye tournaments are common, and smallmouth bass reach seven pounds. A bowfishing tournament, sponsored by Knotheads Bait Shop, was held concurrent with the OCK meeting, with participants from six states shooting huge carp and garfish in the backwater coves.
This lake is a favorite with campers, hikers, bikers, hunters, paddlers, and water sports enthusiasts. The epic Switchgrass bike trail is a huge draw, which is not suggested for mountain biker beginners. There are several exceptional hiking trails for all levels of mobility. The Rock Town Trail is spectacular, with views of the lake and overhanging cliffs.
Nearby lodging is available in Russell and Lucas. Kansas Parks and Wildlife has cabins available at Wilson State Park. Several RV campgrounds are available. One is within walking distance of the dam spillway, which offers excellent fishing opportunities when the water is flowing.
Some members took a break from piscivorous pursuits to visit area attractions. One cannot visit Russell County without stopping in Lucas to be amazed at the bizarre Garden of Eden, take in the well-stocked art shops, and have a burger at the K-18 Café. Of course, you must pick up some brats at Brant’s Market to take home.
Attendees were treated to another natural outdoor festival. A fish fry was held at a Lake Wilson State Park cabin.
Someone even Bar-B-Queued bobwhite quail procured from a recent pointer field trial for an over-the-top feast!
Of course, practiced lies were sheepishly spoken about the big one that got away and the snake that tried to get in a boat, but all was accepted in fun. As the evening waned, all were rewarded with a magnificent sunset, which decorated the surrounding hills with gorgeous spectral colors.
All photographs are courtesy of Jonathan Blumb. Additional photographs appear at the end of this story.
Advice #1: Seek expert help. The well-stocked Port Charlotte tackle shop called Fish’n Frank’s offers charter captain advice from local fishing specialists.
Advice #2: Keep an optimistic focus. Share a grin and good questions to identify the best fishing methods.
Advice #3: Tackle care. The legendary fish-filled backwaters of Charlotte Harbor demand that every angler check lines, leaders and hooks often.
By Forrest Fisher
In the sun-kissed kingdom of Southwest Florida, shimmering waters meet pristine beaches, and tales of fun, exploration, and daring adventure unfold with each fishing trip.
More than once a week, Simon Cremin embarks on a journey to share his unmatchable passion for fishing and the sea. Originally from the United Kingdom, Simon resides with his family in the United States. He is transitioning from fishing in Europe, where the goal was to catch toothy northern pike and musky.
Today, Simon sets out to find and conquer the mighty Apex predators that roam the coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Facing the challenge of choosing the right fishing gear and learning where to fish with success, Simon works with optimistic focus, a grin, and a curious expression to develop answers that satisfy his call for challenging the deep. His fully equipped 19-foot fiberglass Sailfish Boat, powered by a 90 horsepower Yamaha 4-stroke outboard, transports him and his fishing friends to their destination quickly and affordably.
His home base of operations for learning more about the nationally famous tarpon waterway of Charlotte Harbor, Bull Bay, and Boca Grande is a well-stocked tackle shop called Fish’n Frank’s (941-625-3888). Recently rebuilt after a fiery vehicle accident burned the homey, 5-decades-old tackle store to the ground, the new location in a plaza is located at 4200 Tamiami Trail (US Route 41) in Port Charlotte, FL. Store manager, Robert Lugiewicz, offers a complete and friendly service with live bait, frozen bait, lures, rods, reels, and line, all at affordable prices. Maybe the best part is that the store is filled with nautical wall maps, silent conversations, and finger-pointing to hotspots with fishy details, explanations, and a grin to cheer you on your way. The Lugiewicz staff provides the most considerable degree of encouragement to newbies and retirees that enter this legendary tackle store domain. The visitors find a boost of honest help on what, when, where and how to catch fish. Simon will agree because, with their help, Simon has succeeded.
Launching in Charlotte County from Placida Park (6499 Boca Grande Causeway) or Charlotte Beach public boat ramp (4500 Harbor Blvd.), Simon usually meets up with one or two local friends. They check lines and leaders, then head out to explore the legendary, island-filled coastline and mangrove-filled backwaters of Charlotte Harbor. Simon says, “Each fishing trip is new to me, as I am still sort of new to the area. It’s fun to learn where to find fish, and we have found fish in some of the most remote areas imaginable.” Laughing a bit, Simon says, “Good thing most of my friends have little fear and a brave heart.”
Simon continues, “We fish simple. We use my electric bow motor to access secluded backwaters where we have found some of the largest fish, including Tarpon, Snook, Redfish and Speckled Trout. Of course, wherever we go, I focus on also catching a Shark, they are so powerful, and there are so many types here. I have learned with each fishing trip and have evolved to establish a simple system that offers an opportunity to catch multiple species, and sharks too.”
Simon prefers the back of the boat to the front, so his fishing partner is offered control of the boat, running the bow motor for the day. Simon says in his British accent, “All of my fishing buddies seem to enjoy that part of our 6 to 8-hour fish trips. We each cast lines with plastic-tailed jerk baits on weighted weedless hooks or throw hard baits. Both lure types are designed to mimic the local forage groups. Doing that, I like to trail one or two lines for Shark. I have learned that it is better to trail one line simply. You can get into a real mess with two trailing lines when a handsome Gafftopsail Catfish hits and runs laterally. In the back of the boat, I can still cast out the side of the boat for multiple species, but now I trail just one line with a huge bobber, a wire leader and a huge hook with a half ladyfish or other cut bait. Some days, we catch five sharks and more than 50 other gamefish. It’s exciting! I’ve even caught sharks while casting lures. They can be that aggressive. “
Simon explained that on one trip while discovering a new oyster bed with nearby emerging sea grass, he and his partner caught 11 different species while hooking up with 3 Tarpon, some more than 6 feet long. They also caught Blacktip Sharks and watched dolphins, stingrays, nurse sharks and bull sharks swim near their newfound fishing zone. In total silence, the intriguing sounds of a circling osprey or a nearby eagle crack the meticulous silence of the fishing mission.
Simon admits that studying the weather, the tides, and moon phases is necessary, but he enjoys the academic side of fishing the saltwater. He also admits he may be pushing the boundaries of his fishing gear at times since he hooked and landed a 7-foot Lemon Shark estimated at 125 pounds in weight, a personal best shark catch on one recent trip. That Shark and all the others were each carefully released to live another day. That giant Shark was caught on a 40-pound braid main line, a 60-pound fluorocarbon leader to the bobber, and a length of 0.040-inch diameter wire leader to an 8/0 circle hook.
Before each fish trip, Simon studies the local areas, reports on marine life, and talks with his newfound friends at Fish’n Frank’s. He studies the successful strategies of others, takes notes, watches videos and readies himself and his boat to face the ultimate challenge and adventure of fishing the saltwater.
Each trip begins with setting sail before dawn, and enormous anticipation fills the air each time. Minutes turn into hours, and there have been times when he admits they have persevered in unpredictable weather and high heat index days, knowing that the ultimate prize may await on the next cast or next drift. Persistence pays off when a gargantuan shadow glides beneath the surface on the end of your line. The true leviathans of the deep live in each of the natural bays here. Simon says, “Each trip is so exciting that when we power the boat onto the trailer at day’s end, I cannot wait for the next time.” Talking with Simon in person, he admits, “Hooking up with one the Sharks, there is adrenaline pumping through my veins, and the fun of it all is indescribable.”
Amidst the fish battle struggles, Simon admires the magnificent creature fighting for freedom. He recognizes the importance of conservation and respect for these majestic Apex creatures—reasons why he makes the ultimate sacrifice and releases the Shark. Simon is an advocate for conservation in his community.
In the heart of Southwest Florida, tales of adventure are etched along the coastline and every inlet of the intra-coastal waterway. The Simon Cremin “learn-to-fish” story is a testament to the attraction of the sea and the capacity for personal growth. Through his journey of learning more about saltwater fishing, particularly shark fishing, he has reinforced the importance of responsible fishing practices, the value of conservation, and the irreplaceable wonder to be discovered in the natural world here. As the sun sets on the Gulf waters, the tides of destiny await the next trip. His future focus? As a Charter Captain, his new goal, Simon Cremin plans to share more of his fishing time with others. He’s going to be a good one!
Flexibility, sharpness, perfect balance, and made in the U.S.A.
Sure-fire handle grip, orange in color: It’s easy to find!
A lifetime guarantee promotes how good it is before purchase.
By Forrest Fisher
A newbie in my gear room would definitely notice that I like to collect knives. Each is handsome, and they can all cut bread, but they each have a purpose. Some of them are fixed-blade, some are folding knives, and there are specialty knives.
That’s where my new fillet knife set from the Knives of Alaska came in last week. While there are knives all over the room, the Knives of Alaska set stands out for good reason: these knives have a hunter-orange handle. You can’t use what you can’t find, and it seems like when I have tasty fish to clean, lots of them, I can never find my fillet knife. Problem solved! And the color thing also keeps it out of my sock drawer (my better half places things with destination unknown in my sock drawer).
Above that, these knives are not ordinary. A good fillet knife needs to be flexible and sharp, it needs to maintain sharpness, and it needs to fit right in your hand. While we are all different, we can’t be very good at the job without all these virtues. All that considered, lastly, my best fillet knives exhibit a balance between the blade and the handle to link and sync my brain to program how my wrist and hand work together. Of course, the best fillet knife for the job at hand also depends on the size of the fish, and that’s why having fillet knives of different sizes matters for good reason. Precise cutting is no accident.
The Coho Fillet Knife at 13 inches overall with an 8-1/2 inch blade. It’s 3 inches longer than its smaller fillet knife cousin, the Steelheader, which offers a 5-3/4 inch blade. Both knives are ground with an 18-20 degree blade bevel. Having the two-knife set allows for medium and larger-sized fish filleting with little effort. A nylon sheath is included. Both knives have a comfortable sure-grip and a layered polymer handle to assure a positive hand-hold. I especially like that. Click the picture below to visit the store.
On the technical side, these fillet knives are made from high-hardness steel (440C). That means they hold an edge because this blade material retains its hardness quality for a long time. I fish in freshwater and saltwater, so I need the sharpness retention quality to assure perfect fillets for the table. The high chromium content means high corrosion resistance. While this steel is hard and corrosion resistant, the manner in which Knives of Alaska manufactures these, provides the best of all worlds. In short, the balance of blade material properties makes it relatively easy to sharpen. How can you beat that? You can’t.
The Coho Knife is sold retail for under $100, while the Steelheader sells for under $90; the sheaths are extra. The two-knife set includes a sheath that will hold both knives, and it sells for $189.99.
Knives of Alaska has become well known for their durable construction, sharp blades, and ergonomic designs. They cater to the specific needs of hunters and outdoor enthusiasts. If you value performance, durability, functionality, and affordability, do yourself a favor, and check them out. Click on the picture below.
Deer Ticks (Blacklegged Ticks – Ixodes Scapularis) can carry Lyme Disease and are VERY TINY in physical size.
Protect yourself by becoming aware of their size and available repellents (Picaridin & Permethrin) that can work to keep ticks off of you and your loved ones.
Learn what to do if you find an embedded tick on your body.
Deer Ticks (Blacklegged Ticks – Ixodes Scapularis) can carry Lyme Disease and are VERY TINY. CDC photo.
By Forrest Fisher
It’s time to fish, hike, camp, and bird-watch, and it’s time to sit on a quiet park bench anyplace you like. Right now is also an excellent time to take 5 minutes to learn more about deer ticks and Lyme disease. Read this article. Remember it. Please share it. It could save you or your loved ones from a life of medical care and unwanted jeopardy.
According to the CDC, Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in the United States. Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and, rarely, Borrelia mayonii. It is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected black-legged ticks. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, the infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system. Lyme disease is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings (e.g., rash), and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks. Laboratory testing is helpful if used correctly and performed with validated methods. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics. Steps to prevent Lyme disease include using insect repellent, removing ticks promptly, applying pesticides, and reducing tick habitat. The ticks that transmit Lyme disease can occasionally transmit other tickborne diseases as well.
Several years back, but not that long ago, three of my seven grandkids were bitten by a tiny little critter that many of us would have passed off as a speck of dirt and not thought twice about it. But, the little sliver of dirt was hard to brush off. It was embedded into the skin and looked like a tiny, little beauty spot. At first notice, the thought is that it’ll go away. It’s just a beauty post or a piece of dirt. Get some soap. That was just the beginning. After a shower and a few days of baths, good old Mom noticed that the little brand-new beauty spot had grown in size. She did not know there was a little critter in there, and it had filled its holding tanks with her child’s blood. It was a juvenile deer tick—less than the size of a dark sesame seed on your morning bagel.
In the old days, most of us would say, so what? You got bit by a tick, grow up, be a big boy and take a shower more often. Today, science has educated us. The concern today is that deer ticks carry Lyme disease and many other pathogens that cause diseases that are hard to diagnose and harder to treat. In many cases, if initially left untreated, the best prognosis for the more than 400 other Lyme-related diseases is front and center.
Back to the grandchild. Two days later, that little beauty spot was suddenly about 25 times larger. It was easy to see now. Trying to brush off that little spot directly caused a gush of blood from the embedded deer tick. The blood ran and stained the skin. So much so that the blood was running like when you have a small cut on your skin surface. Deer ticks are hungry little, suction-prone, disease-exchanging little critters. Not a disaster, but you might need a few tissues and a small band-aid. That’s not the end. The actual deer tick was still embedded. You or a medical person with skilled tweezers must remove the tick and wait a few weeks to see if you develop Lyme symptoms or get it tested to identify if it carries Lyme disease. Visit Ticknology at https://www.ticknology.org/tick-testing. Lyme and tick-borne disease is often misdiagnosed. As a result, the opportunity for early treatment is missed. Ticknology is one of several lab services that offer tick testing to identify early detection of Lyme or related disease exposure. Many folks prefer to order a Universal Tick Test from Ticknology and receive a comprehensive evaluation of Lyme-related infection risk.
The truth of the deer tick world is that many of these little critters are so small right now – in their nymph stage (just born) – they are hungry and looking for a host. Like their deer tick parents who used up all their energy delivering hundreds of young deer ticks. The deer ticks get Lyme disease from the mice, not vice versa. The ticks cuddle close to the mouse as they are trying to stay warm in the coldest of winter. Then the deer ticks find warm weather, and they leave the mouse. The mommy deer ticks are looking to bear their young on a flower, a weed, a horse, a dog, a backyard plant, a rose, you, me, or somewhere on a bristle of green weeds in your garden and many other places. The point is, beware of these little disease carriers and killers of human health. Why the sudden increase in deer tick numbers and Lyme cases? That’s a mystery.
About 15 years ago, many doctors misdiagnosed Lyme disease for about 400 other conditions. Many folks today still suffer from that lack of early medical awareness. Times have changed, the blood testing process is better, and the medical world has recognized this mysterious disease’s seriousness. About 40 percent of deer ticks tested today are carrying Lyme. Be aware.
What to do if you like to enjoy the outdoors: Stay aware. Understand that tick season is year-round, and spring and summer are their peak activity periods. Be careful if you hike in wooded areas or venture forth in places with high grass. Walk in the center of the trails. Wear long sleeves and, while it may look stupid, tuck your pants into your socks or shoes top. Use tick-repellent products registered by the US EPA. According to reports, DEET is effective, but the go-to for most folks is to use Picaridin on your exposed skin outside your clothing and treat your exterior clothing, shoes, socks, and other gear with Permethrin. The Permethrin (0.5 percent strength) can last several washings (about four to six weeks). Once your hike, bike, camp or outdoor adventure trip is over and you are back inside at home, toss all your clothes into the dryer on high heat for 10-15 minutes. Heat kills deer ticks. Then do a full body check. Use a mirror. Be extra sure in difficult-to-see areas such as under your arms, around your hair, ears, back of knees, between your legs and especially here: inside your belly button. This is serious; no laughing. To further reduce risk, shower immediately after coming in and after your initial inspection. Why shower immediately? There may still be ticks on you that went unnoticed and are not yet attached. A shower will wash them away.
Uh-oh. During your look-see, you find a deer tick on you. It’s embedded. Not to worry, but remove it. The CDC says to use tweezers to remove the tick. Grip the tick and apply a steady outward pressure across the entire diameter of the embedded tick. It may take a few seconds or a minute, but it will eventually come out. Do not twist the tick with the tweezers. We don’t want to break off the mouth. Then save the tick. Wrap it in a tissue and place it into an old prescription container. Then clean the bite area with rubbing alcohol or soap/water, and wash your hands thoroughly. You can watch for symptoms for the next few weeks or visit your doctor. Show him your tick. Depending on his diagnosis, he may send it for testing or provide antibiotics. About eight out of 10 people immediately treated are cured when bitten by a Lyme-carrying tick. The numbers show that about 10 to 20 percent develop Lyme disease syndrome with lingering symptoms, including fatigue, joint pain, mental confusion, and much more. Deer ticks carry Lyme and many other diseases. It can be nasty.
If you were bit and developed a “bulls-eye” rash near the bite location, about one-third of folks display this condition – the typical treatment is Doxycycline or a similar antibiotic for as long as the first 30 days. That is up to the doctor. If you have no bulls-eye rash but are developing a fever, rash or headache, muscle pain, joint swelling or other unusual symptoms, or any uncommon illness, see a doctor ASAP.
Stay aware of Lyme disease and deer ticks. AND get rid of your mice! They infect the ticks.
Fishing Legend Jimmy Houston among Team Reviving Historic Company
Luck E Strike: An American Original Since 1970
Redman Spinner will be 1st lure to lead new red/white/blue packaging and product line
Singer, songwriter, and entertainer Toby Keith, pictured left, has acquired Luck E Strike, a bait and tackle brand name as ingrained with top-tier anglers as weekend recreationists.
Endorsed by National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Famer Jimmy Houston and operated by sporting goods industry vets Jeff Williams (General Manager) and Todd Hempen (Operations Manager), the company is relaunching this summer with a new focus on its traditional American-made division in Greenwood Ark., while maintaining the current assortments sold nationwide, as well as a new slogan: “An American Original Since 1970.”
For the singer of “Made in America,” Luck E Strike occupies a special place in the world of outdoor sports. “They’ve got a lot of history,” Keith says. “It’s one of the earliest fishing brands universally stocked in national retailers.”
In the bass fishing world, Luck E Strike is well known for tackle kits, hand-crafted crankbaits, and its Redman Spinner Bait. The latter was designed by Houston, who used it successfully for decades, and it led to his two 1st Place Finishes at the Bassmaster Classic. Trading in its prior yellow and black packaging, the Redman Spinner will be the first lure to lead the company’s new red, white, and blue packaged product line in the coming months. Details and timeline are forthcoming.
The company’s biggest brand ambassador is the host of the 46-year-running Jimmy Houston Outdoors television show. “Jimmy is one of about three big legends in the fishing world,” Keith says. “He has been a spokesperson for Luck E Strike for decades and started building his Redman Spinners out of diaper pins and selling them to Walmart.”
Houston asserts this acquisition will make an impact in the world of fishing. “In addition to being one of the best singers and songwriters, Toby Keith is an incredible patriot,” he says. “Tying those two together in an American lure company known for making outstanding bass and crappie lures at great prices is so exciting. As his friend, I’m happy seeing the fire in his eyes over this company. It’s a big deal for the fishing industry as a whole to have him involved and bringing this brand back to where it ought to be.”
Having fallen on hard times, the company had been in disarray. “They needed a new focus and vision, and I happened to be standing at the door ready to pick up the pieces,” Keith says.
“I’ve got a house on a lake where they hold a lot of fishing tournaments, and I became friends with Jeff, who has built two big tackle brands,” he continues. “He reached out and told me Luck E Strike was for sale, and he was as interested as I am in rebuilding it.”
Williams is an accomplished angler, bait and tackle developer, and businessman whose brands have included Team Catfish and Fle-Fly. “Everyone knows Luck E Strike and its industry-leading lures,” Williams says. “It’s a working folk’s brand, and Toby Keith is the right person at the right time to build this thing back up. We’re already hard at work rebuilding wholesale relationships and vetting tackle manufacturers, domestically and abroad. Luck E Strike will be a global tackle brand, with Toby’s involvement.”
Hempen has more than 30 years of retail and supply chain experience with some of the biggest names in sporting goods, including Bass Pro Shops, Walmart, and Amazon. “I am honored to be working with Toby and this team to revitalize the Luck E Strike brand,” Hempen says. “This will be a big deal for Toby’s fans and the faithful Luck E Strike customers.”
Known for his prodigious work ethic, Keith is ready to go. “This team is so good, and the brand and product speak for themselves,” he says. “Through the years, Luck E Strike has sold hundreds of SKUs nationally at major retailers. Unfortunately, that business has dwindled some, but we will build that backup and add some rod-and-reel combos, apparel, fishing tools, and tackle systems. We will put this brand back at the level it deserves.”
“I’m a nostalgic guy, and that’s part of it, but this is great stuff,” he continues. “I know a bunch of pro anglers, and they’re all telling me if I can get them the stuff, they’ll fish with it.” With the expertise and marketing muscle Toby Keith is investing in, it’s a safe bet they will be one of many companies using and having success with Luck E Strike lures.
About Toby Keith: Arguably the most prolific self-directed creative force in the country’s modern era, Toby Keith has amassed 42 top 10 hits, 32 No. 1s, 40 million albums sold, and more than 10 billion streams largely on the strength of his own songwriting and producing, and under the banner of his own Show Dog Nashville record label. Among his many accomplishments, the New York-based all-genre Songwriters Hall of Fame (2015), the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame (2021), and BMI Icon (2022) are his most treasured.
We share and teach these principles: Respect Yourself, Respect Others, Respect Authority, Respect the Environment.
We teach kids to build trust with adults and others.
Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches – Please consider helping us plant the seeds of a new life for troubled youth.
By Bill Frye, President – Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches, Inc.
As I write “My Perspective” for our quarterly Rancher Magazine, I am sitting at the dining room table in my home in North Carolina. I drove up after a very busy and engaging Easter weekend with our grandchildren Jackson and Cora Rose. It was a planned getaway as I had much to do with writing, meeting preparations, upcoming evaluations and visits. I just needed to be away from all the hustle and bustle of the office and have some quiet time to put my thoughts in order before reengaging with everyday work. While I truly love what I do, it does at times become overwhelming, and in those moments, solitude can be very healing, especially if you take the time to be still and spend time in prayer. So off to the mountains of North Carolina, I fled, taking with me everything I needed to work on.
Driving alone can be very therapeutic, especially if the traffic is not too bad. Sometimes it allows you to reflect on past events or come up with new ideas on how to move a project forward. However, most of all, it allows me time to give thanks to God for all that has been provided to me and others over the years. This drive was no different because it gave me time to be still and remember the little blessings I somehow overlooked.
As I began my ascent into the mountains, I noticed the variations of colors; the trees were just beginning to produce new leaves as spring was arriving. In the lower elevations, the leaves were fuller and darker in color, and as I drove upward, they became lighter in color and much smaller in size. When I arrived at my home, the trees were still bare, and colder temperatures had not yet allowed new leaves to form. Looking down the mountain, you could easily see the transition. By the end of this week, I am sure it will be much different.
As I stood in my dining room and looked out the window toward the valley below and the brown-leaf-covered landscape, something caught my eye. Growing on the side of the mountain was a tulip plant with three beautiful red blooms. The blooms stood out against the barren landscape that had yet to come back to life after a hard winter. Seeing those tulips started me thinking and remembering how our lives are filled with many blessings.
Like when a child first arrives at one of our summer camps. They sometimes arrive with a frightened look on their faces, scared of the new environment, wondering if they will be liked or accepted. Will they make new friends? Will the counselors be nice? Are those deputies going to be mean? The landscape of their arrival is sometimes barren because of their fear of the unknown. Then, just as those beautiful red blooms changed a bleak mountainside into something remarkable, the counselor’s smile, the deputy’s warm greeting, and the introduction to the new cabin mates melt away the apprehension, and the landscape begins to transition. By the end of the session, it’s like looking down the mountain and seeing the brown winter vegetation becoming lush green vegetation of spring and summer. The child who arrived frightened has blossomed into a happy, smiling camper with new friends and special bonds with their camp counselors and the deputies who spent time with them. As they leave, they carry their own positive memories because of everything they experienced and accomplished.
The same is true for the children who come to live with us at one of our residential campuses. While they choose to come live with us for many reasons, they often arrive with frightened looks, wondering if they will be accepted and liked by the others already living there. Many arrive with so much emotional baggage from life experiences that they find it difficult to let go of past hurts, disappointments and fears they encountered in their young lives. Their personal landscape is barren and void of hope, with only the fear of the unknown. However, with the love and support and tolerance found within our ranch community – from our cottage parents to our support staff – kids can become free of their past baggage and discover new life. All with the help of those who are committed to their care and well-being. Then, as they grow up and build lives of their own, they too will be better prepared to face the future not with anticipation and fear, but with resolve and determination.
In this day and age of negative events being broadcast through news programs and social media, the landscape around us often looks barren. In some ways, our country and communities are like my mountain landscape after a hard winter. However, there are blessings to be discovered, and for me, those blessing are found within my family, my beautiful grandchildren, our donors, sheriffs, supporters and alumni who make it possible for our wonderful staff and volunteers to help improve the lives of children who come to us for care.
I pray that each and every person reading this 65th Anniversary edition of the Rancher Magazine discovers the many everyday blessings being provided to children because of your kindness and generosity.
From the publisher of ShareTheOutdoors – About Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches: The mission of the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches is to prevent delinquency and develop lawful, resilient and productive citizens through a broad range of services. In 2023, the Youth Ranches will serve over 4,000 boys and girls. This charitable, nonprofit organization was founded by the Florida Sheriffs Association in 1957 and operates three residential care campuses along with three summer camps. Additionally, it provides community-based services to as many of Florida’s neglected, troubled children as funds will permit. Voluntary contributions are the primary source of funding, especially thoughtful gifts made through special bequests in wills and trusts. To donate in any of several ways, please visit https://www.youthranches.org/index.php. The Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches, Inc. is nationally accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Services for Families and Children, Inc. and the American Camp Association. If you would like more information about the Youth Ranches, please contact us at 1-800-765-3797, or email us at email@example.com.
Please note that the photographs, forms, videos and this editorial copy are the property of the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches, Inc. We have requested permission to reprint in order to help others learn about this successful youth program.
The Hunting Wire team would like to thank you for helping us grow in 2023. We are bigger and better than ever, mainly due to you – our readers. Thank you for tuning in every two weeks for our hunting community’s latest news and information.
Spring is here – finally. Hopefully, by now, you’ve bagged your bear or gobbler, or you’re figuring out how to pay your safari taxidermy bills. Wendy and I are headed to the woods this evening to (try) to get her first bird. We’ll let you know how it goes.
This issue’s Voice of Leadership Panel essay by The Mule Deer Foundation’s Luke Thorkildsen is an eye-opener for those who may not know how conservation funding works.
Speaking of the Voice of Leadership Panel, we’re looking for volunteers for the next cohort, which begins in September 2023. It would help if you were a discerning, eager, emerging leader in our community who wants to showcase his or her concerns for community issues on a global scale. We’ll give you the platform and mentorship to find, socialize, and grow ideas to improve the hunting community. We are especially interested in voices from the guide and outfitting realm, ammunition communities, archery communities, and local, state, and federal agencies. Don’t let bureaucracy stop you. Ryan Brown – Executive Director, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, proved you can actively and aggressively participate in our panel. We challenge other government leaders to join us. I’d also like to take a moment to give another Ryan, Ryan Hoover of Handgun Hunters International, a shot-out. Hoover is one of our strongest panelists, with timely, well-written, and challenging work; the handgun-hunting community is fortunate to have him as a leader. If you’re interested in serving on the 2023-2024 Voice of Leadership Panel, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The POMA Conference is a networking and friendship-making opportunity for Writers, Bloggers, YouTubers, Videographers, Website Contributors, Podcasters, Radio Show Hosts, Outdoor Industry Brands and Social Media Influencers who create and share stories, information, and content about the wonders of the outdoors and outdoor sports recreation. It’s a modern, changing world of outdoor communication, POMA has become a solitary leader in the new world of outdoor communication. Register Here.
At the annual business conference, seminars from talented communicators share tips, ideas and how-to information on how to do what you do to develop greater impact and reach. All this takes place at the Professional Outdoor Media Association business conference from June 12 – 15. The largest prize for attendance may be to network with representatives from Outdoor Brands and communicators from other regions of the country. Try new products, learn about new products and gather desirable information to share with readers, listeners and viewers. Check out the POMA Social Media Tool Kit.
If you are a communicator with many years in the business, or if you are just starting out, the POMA business conference is an event made for you. Make friends, and new contacts, and learn tips while you participate in a relaxed, enjoyable, effective business conference. Leave with helpful knowledge and new contacts that will help your purpose.
The Keynote Speaker this year is Col. Nick Nichols of Folds of Honor. Folds of Honor provides life-changing scholarships to the spouses and children of fallen or disabled U.S. service members and first responders. Toyota is a cornerstone ingredient and manufacturer for powered adventure in the form of flawless adventure vehicles and engines. Toyota is sponsoring the POMA Pinnacle Awards for best content creation among POMA members.
The POMA business conference is all about the POMA mission.
POMA Mission: To foster excellence in communications at all levels, help members build their businesses, connect media and industry, promote fair and honest communication of traditional outdoor sports and conservation stories, and mentor the next generation of traditional outdoor sports communicators.
Light rods, light lines, artificial lures and lots of fish.
Finding the forage and simulating their size and color was key.
Savvy lures, special action-assist knots, using stealth – learning the how-to.
Fun fishing near Pine Island, Florida.
By Forrest Fisher
Just before sunrise, it was still dark, I was greeted with a friendly handshake and a confident, fish-catching happy face by Captain Dave Chorazak of Inshore Dream Fishing Charters. “My cooler has lots of ice and water bottles; you can add anything you like. It looks like we’re going to have some great weather today. Let’s go see how the fish feel about that!” I was pumped.
As we idled out from Pineland Marina on the west side of Pine Island, birds in the nearby mangroves were singing assertive tunes of good luck to us. I made that assumption. They may have been begging for a free meal, but this fishing trip was artificial lures only.
I am excited and eager to learn more about how to fish the saltwater without live bait, and to understand the gear, the right rods, reels, lines and all that.
Pine Island is just north of Fort Myers, where tens of thousands of folks are still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Ian storm damage. The storm affected an area about 75-100 miles wide across the Gulf of Mexico shoreline of southwest Florida, where the sea water level rose to 20 feet above the normal. Hard to imagine.
But today, the waters of Pine Island Sound were calm and serene as we were looking out from the marina departure channel. Captain Dave said, “We’re going to fish some of the mangrove-filled inshore bays out here, and we’ll probably see some Osprey and Bald Eagles, and many other birds too.” My camera was ready. “Right now, the waters in the bays and islands are filled with good baitfish. They find the gentle eddy currents that form on one side or the other of the many islands. Finding the little currents allow us to find that forage without much difficulty, and then we cast near to those areas with hopes to catch bigger fish with lures that resemble the forage.” He made it sound pretty easy: 1-2-3 go!
He added, “Any moving tide can work for us. I have some proven waypoints to try that hold solid fish at times if we’re lucky. We’ll be casting from the boat toward the shoreline to try our luck.” The Captain’s voice was inspiring and confident. “Put your Polaroid sunglasses on, tighten your hat strap. You don’t mind if we pick up some speed?” I could only grin and holler, “Me? Mind speed? Let’s hit it!”
He pushed the throttle forward, and the sleek 20-foot Action Craft bay boat hopped out of the water and came to life. The Mercury outboard roared, and I glanced over to the dash to see we were going 45 mph in just a second or two. With the pre-fish talk and the sound of the engine, my anticipation and anticipation gained a mountain of fish-catching momentum. This was thrilling, even without any fish on the line. The boat skimmed along so smoothly, so comfortably.
We were at waypoint number one in a very short time.
Dave added, “Pine Island is the largest island on the Gulf Coast of Florida, it’s part of Lee County. Pine Island Sound forms part of the Intracoastal Waterway, and if you look out west that way, you can see Cayo Costa Island. There are a few smaller islands of some fame, too, like Cabbage Key, a tourist stop with a restaurant for private boats and tour boats. A little south is Captiva Island and then Sanibel Island, both famous vacation places. The fish don’t care. We have lots of fish for everyone to catch.” This soft-spoken fishing expert was very convincing.
The boat electronics provided speed, sonar, navigation and communication. Our first stop was a secluded bay. It was so quiet. An Osprey screamed and flew overhead, right above the boat about 20 feet, looking to see if we were delivering breakfast. I talked to the handsome bird, “No baitfish here, ‘ol friend.” He hovered for a moment, came in right above the boat, and then off he went to tend to a nearby nest of young Osprey. His mate was also nearby.
We fished slowly with electric bow motor control.
The 7-foot 6-inch spinning rods were loaded with light lines. The 10-pound test braided line allowed for longer casts to spooky fish – the water was so clear. The 20-pound fluorocarbon leader provided abrasion durability to survive contact with clam and oyster beds, and one or two of my famous errant mangrove tree casts.
A double-uni knot tied the leader to the braid. The lures were tied to the leader using a loop knot that Dave described as a knot that provides more wiggle and action. The result was a wide walk-the-dog action, surface and sub-surface, with the lures. We never stop learning.
The artificial lures were from an assortment of Captain Dave’s secret casting baits. The lures resembled the forage: threadfin, pilchards, herring and glass minnows. These minnows flood the inshore waters to feed on algae and plankton as the waters warm with the season. It didn’t take long to find fish.
About 5 minutes after we started casting, the first fish said hello with a tail swish and surface water blast. “Fish on!” Dave hollered. About a minute later, a handsome 27-inch speckled trout came aboard. A beautiful giant trout, it was a picture-perfect fish.
Using Rapala saltwater lures and plastic jerk baits on weighted weedless hooks, the next 3 hours were filled with unforgettable topwater strikes and fish-catching moments. It was sheer, impressive, fishing fun.
We motored around the islands, positioning to try various spots. Fishing the moving tide locations to catch several fish species, including snook, speckled trout, ribbon fish, redfish and others.
I managed to lose quite a few fish while bringing about 10 good fish to the boat. I learned by Dave’s example about how to work the baits and what baits work best under what conditions.
We released all the fish to catch on another day, big ones and small ones.
Conservation is key to keeping any fishery healthy, and I was in full support of releasing the fish. We were careful not to damage each fish we landed. It was great to see the clear waters and growth of new seagrass in this vibrant spring fishery.
Captain Dave Chorazak was a volunteer firefighter from Hamburg, NY, near my old hometown, and he was a good friend of my son-in-law, Dieter Voss. That’s how we met a few weeks back, when we all went out for dinner to a tasty Mexican restaurant (Lime Tequila) in Port Charlotte. I was a tournament walleye and bass angler from my history up north, so it was easy to “talk fishing” with Dave at dinner. Some secrets he shared with us at dinner and on the fish trip were provided in confidence, but I’m sure Dave would share these with any customer that asks. You’ll need to sign up for a trip to learn about his fish-catching lures, special knots, the seemingly foul-proof weighted hooks (I hooked plenty of mangrove trees high up and didn’t lose a single lure!), and his tactic secrets that put a lot of fish on my line in a very short time.
This trip was one of the most peaceful, fun-filled, fish-catching days I’ve ever enjoyed over my last 55 years of fishing all around the country.
I plan to bring my grandson next time. He is going to really enjoy this. The charter cost is quite affordable ($350), and I look forward to fishing here again soon. Fishing from his flats boat, an open flat platform boat, there is plenty of room for casting, but there is no shade – so bring sun protection. I wore sunscreen and a 360-degree shade-making hat, a fully-aerated long sleeve hoody, and fishing gloves.
The Florida sun is great, but it is hot, even in April, and can damage your skin with nasty sunburn if you go out unprotected. The Captain provides water, but you can bring along other beverages and snacks to add to his onboard cooler. All the tackle and bait and fish licenses are included in this affordable pricing. Hard to beat.
Note: Upon departing the marina, I noted the presidentially famous Tarpon Lodge Restaurant to the south and Randell Research Center to the north of the marina roadway entrance. Many former U.S. Presidents have stopped at Trophy Lodge for their famous seafood menu. The Randell Research Center (RRC) is part of the Florida Museum of Natural History, offering programs dedicated to sharing the archaeology, history, and ecology of Southwest Florida. Their motto is, “As we learn, we teach.” That’s the way I felt fishing with Captain Dave Chorazak.
Where to fish – an easy choice when you fish with old guys (the fish are in the water).
Rigging and weighting plastic worms and alternatives.
Lure selections, knot varieties, water depth: fishing factors that matter.
By Forrest Fisher
When young-minded friends meet on the water in Florida for a post-retirement gathering, life is good. Good for at least two reasons: You’ve survived long enough to collect social security and are going fishing. And, if you were smart enough to give your wife permission to go shopping, you know the entire day will have a happy ending when the boat returns to the trailer. Funny how things work with an excellent plan to wet your line!
We met at Gary’s winter home in Auburndale, Fl., moved the ice-filled cooler with water and sandwiches to the boat, and the day was on. Bill said, “Geez Gary, don’t you ever wash your boat. There’s dust on the motor!?” Not 1-second passed when Gary answered, “Well, go get a dust rag over there in the corner. You can be the new pixie dustman.” Gary and Bill have been friends for a long time and fished many bass tournaments together, also as competitors. I was the new guy in this senior collection of age-old, line-casting, bass-fishing quibblers. Gary added, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain there, Forrest. He thinks he knows how to fish.” We all chuckled, and the laugh-fest, fish-fest was in gear.
We piled into Gary’s GMC Terrain with his 19-foot Ranger bass boat and trailer in tow. The boat was filled with strapped-down, ageless fishing rods and reels and many memories about to be relighted for a fun day afloat. Our destination this day was a canal-interconnected lake system near Lakeview, FL. We arrived at the no-charge boat launch on Lake Rochelle, and the fishing fun began. The lake system includes Lake Haines, Lake Rochelle, Lake Conine and Lake Smart. I swear that each time I fish with these guys, we all get a little more clever and imaginative, no thanks to the last lake name there. Old guys know so much about so many things to do with life and fishing! I’m not bragging, as I’m on the side of what we (I) never stop learning.
“What should we fish with, Gary? You’re the guide today because you know this water,” Bill asked. “Well, the bass are done spawning as of a few weeks back, so they might be hanging back from the shoreline reeds and in deeper water or not. They might be feeding on their own fry, in shallow. Who knows?” Gary replied. Bill quipped back quickly. “You mean you don’t know.”
“Every day of fishing is different, Big Bill, you know that. It could be the new moon phase, the sunrise clouds, the early overcast fog, or it could be that you just got up too early, Bill. Or maybe…you got me up too early!” Never let your guard down on senior fun fishing days.
I looked toward Gary to say, “I liked where we fished here in Lake Rochelle last time, over there where that big gator hangs out.” I was pointing across the lake to an underwater point with sky-seeking reeds that was also near a quick drop-off. “That’s what I was thinking, too,” Gary replied. The big motor roared to life, we popped out of the hole and were skimming along the smooth lake surface at cheek-waffle speed.
About 5 minutes later, Gary plopped the MinnKota Terrova electric bow motor into the water, and we were rigging up lines. The remote control Bluetooth link made it easy for Gary to position the boat to shallow or deep.
Bill tied on an Xstended Life soft bait, a 5-1/4 inch Apex worm in green/red fleck color, using a 4/0 circle hook. I did the same with a blue-black Apex worm, and Gary tied a similar soft plastic tail bait onto a wobble jig. With about 10 casts each, there were no strikes and no fish yet. A few minutes later, I checked my watch to share that it was 8:55 a.m., breakfast time for big old bass looking for big old fishing buddies ready to take their picture. Not a minute later, Bill said, “Fish on! This one is not big guys, but it’s a nice healthy Florida largemouth about a foot long.” Grinning, I said, “They must have heard me, brother Big Bill.” Bill said, “First fish in, guys, pay up.” Bill is a master talker, a great storyteller, and a great friend. Another 45 minutes passed, and Bill yelped, “Well, guys, looks like I got the first fish, the biggest fish, and the moist fish. Bingo, bango, bongo. It’s gonna cost ya’ll.” It’s easy to start speaking Florida English when you’re in Florida, even for just a few months. Bill was developing an accent.
“It’s time to switch, guys.” Gary picked up his first-generation Bass-Pro casting reel bought way back in the 80s – a fishing reel he loves, and tied on a short Berkley Lightning Shad in white-silver color. I switched to a small floating-diving crankbait from Al’s Goldfish Lures called the “Diving Demon.” One of my favorite lures, it dives no deeper than 3-4 feet, no matter how hard or fast you crank. Bill said, “I’m sticking with my worm.”
About two casts later, I had a fish on and pulled a nice 2-pounder into the boat. About 30 seconds later, Gary caught three fish on successive casts. Gary said, “What’s the matter, Bill? Did you spit on the knot and scare the fish away? The fish don’t like you, buddy.” Not exactly sandpaper on sandpaper, but hearty laughs and grins. Then over the next hour, we caught four more fish, Bill too, and the fish bite just plainly turned off. It was 10:30 a.m., and we all knew it was time for man-to-man jaw talk when the fish stopped biting.
We always share good talk, usually about things we’ve discovered in life and fishing. Gary is from Oswego, NY; Bill is from near Sylvan Beach, NY; and I was born and raised in western New York near East Aurora. We all accept that Southwest Florida is a great place to escape snow shoveling. We talked about life and cost of living, the differences between New York and Florida, taxes and gas prices. And how census numbers the day before where New York lost 299,500 residents in 2022 while Florida gained 315,000 new Florida residents the same year. “It must be the great fishing guys!” I added. “It could have more to do with taxes,” Gary said. “Let’s not talk about politics, you guys. C’mon.” Bill garbled. Then added, “The water temp is nearly 80 degrees, guys, it’s siesta time for the fish.”
We switched our no-fish-biting talk over to lure choices to try now. We covered surface lures, plastic baits, swimbaits, crankbaits, jigs, hair bodies, soft bodies, and plastic worms and their pliability and durability. That led us to talk about lure size and plastic worms. I threw in that I fished with Rick Clunn in the Red River a few years back, and Rick says, “Fish with a 12-inch plastic worm to win the tournament or not, and just one more fisherman in the crowd.” Gary said, “It’s true that bigger lures catch bigger fish or no fish. I won a NY Bass tournament that way once a few years back.” I asked how long ago, and Gary said, “Not that long. It was in the late 90s.” We all laughed. How time flies as we get a bit older.
Our conversation between casts was better than Abbott and Costello telling their story about WHO was on first and WHAT was on second and who and what has changed since then. That took us to cellphones…flip-tops and smartphones, laptops, the internet, grocery delivery to the door, online banking and what it all means. No face-to-face conservation and no touch or emotion between people. That’s when Bill said, “Hey Gary, where are you hiding the fish? Let’s get the sandwiches out and head to another lake in the system.”
Five seconds later, Gary hollered, “Lines up, guys. Get the bread out. Time to move.” He lifted the bow motor, turned the ignition key and the Merc outboard growled to life. Off we went. I love that Merc sound as you begin to feel airborne. Ten minutes later, sandwiches and ice-cold water in hand, we idled into a narrow canal to enter Lake Haines, and watched for ospreys and eagles. Lake Haines is another pothole-style Florida lake. The deepest water is about 18 feet. Gary said, “I don’t fish this lake too often, but sometimes you gotta stick your nose where the wild roses grow. Maybe they’re biting here.” A broken 5-acre field of water hyacinth patches was floating in front of the canal entry. Heavy wind the previous day had broken them off from their shallow roots near shore.
Bill stood up to cast the first line where the edge of weeds and reeds was about 4 feet deep in clear water. A 30-foot cast, his line immediately moved left, then right, as Bill lifted the rod to hook up with a nice bass – his biggest bass for the day. Smiling ear to ear, “That’s how you do it, guys. Were you watching? Gary? Forrest? Of course, you know I just jinxed us. First cast, first fish in the new lake, we’ll be lucky to catch one more.” Bill’s prediction turned out to be right on. About an hour went by with no hits.
We turned our talk to fishing lures from long ago that we still have and still use and still work, and we laughed a lot. We talked about new lifestyles in winter: fishing and golf and watching spring training baseball games. We also talked about the new pains and aches we all are developing and that, at least for me, I hide with a patented arthritis grin that can fool anyone. We talked about fishing and hunting and how most outdoor sportsmen enjoy everything in between. Our discourse about lures, line brands, rods, reels and fishing gear changes went into great detail.
We agreed that the increasing multitude of American tournament bass fishing contests today might not be good for the fish but was good for the local economies and the tournament owners. We yakked more and laughed a lot. Non-stop. We deliberated taking affordable Canadian fishing trips with friends – in the summer.
The fish needed to be biting better on this day, yet we brought seven non-whopper bass and a giant bluegill to the boat. The lack of non-stop fishing action was great for talking time. The yapping talk and laughing helped us forget everything else on our calendars as we roughed it out from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. We spoke about notable quips and quotes we have heard through the years, like this one: “Remember that without bread, there can be no toast. Without friends, there can be no fun.” So true.
Crispy chicken wings or meaty chicken drumsticks – perfect for football games!
You can fry, grill, smoke, or bake the wings at the tailgate or the house.
Dust your wings with Trail Dust, Cajun Cowboy, or Pineapple Siracha seasoning for more kick.
The Hi Mountain Seasonings Chicken Wing Bundle (www.himtnjerky.com) has everything needed for the perfect taste.
By Forrest Fisher
The 2023 football playoffs are finally here! As you gather with family and friends, folks are chomping at the bit to celebrate a team they love. Whether you’re planning a tailgate party or a house party, be prepared to serve drop-in guests the best in delicious quick-finger foods.
My better half and I usually prepare a supply of wild game meats to be cooked in a potpourri-style venue with our favorite dips and sauces for post-pot dunking on the side. Then we back that up with pre-cooked chicken wings or meaty chicken drumsticks from our air fryer at home. If we tailgate, we put them in a pot and warm them up at the tailgate on a portable cooker, but they are good cold too! Everyone loves mouth-watering chicken wings. Of course, you can fry, grill, smoke, or bake the wings at the tailgate or the house. Delicious, however you cook them.
Whatever cooking method you choose, they’re ready to eat when they hit 165F internal temperature. We use the Hi Mountain Seasonings Chicken Wing Bundle (www.himtnjerky.com) to make scrumptious wings. You brush on some olive oil and dust your wings with Trail Dust, Cajun Cowboy, or Pineapple Siracha seasoning for a little more kick. It’s all included in the bundle package, including classic Blue Cheese Dressing and Dip. It’s everything you need for a pre-game football party or a halftime household gala event.
The old giant Oak Tree was a friend to me and my family, and so many others.
For about 200 years, the old Oak Tree was here for the Osage Indians, the early settlers, the farmers, and us.
With thousands of sunrise and sunset moments, this tree shared the character of our land.
By Larry Whiteley
For over 50 years, an old oak tree stood near the corner of our house. It was no ordinary tree. Two oak trees had grown together at the trunk many years ago. It was massive in circumference and stood over 80 feet tall. The shade over our house and the oxygen it produced were invaluable to us. The fall colors of that tree added beauty to our yard.
Six other oaks are in the backyard. Two other oak trees are in front of the house. All are big, all are old, but none as old or as big as the old oak tree. The giant stood out among the other oaks, the maple trees, the redbuds, the buckeye, the dogwoods, and the spruce trees.
The giant old oak was always home to the birds. They built their nests, raised their babies, and sang their songs. The squirrels enjoyed the acorns it produced and also built nests in it. Gathering up all the leaves every fall was a chore. Picking up small limbs that fell in our yard and driveway was a pain. My wife and I both loved that old oak tree.
One year I made a birdhouse. I painted it white and then put a Wisconsin red “W” on it. It hung on the side of the tree where we could see it every time we drove up our driveway. It reminded us of our youngest son, his wife, and grandsons living in Wisconsin. When our grandkids that live near were little, they enjoyed a rope swing tied to one of its limbs. It also served as a backdrop for many pictures.
Several years ago, I noticed a hole at the bottom of the tree and fungi growing around the base of it. I called an arborist to come to check it out. He told me it wasn’t anything to worry about and the tree would live for many more years. He was wrong.
The hole kept getting bigger. Black ants moved in and started eating the wood. Fungi kept coming back around the base. I called another arborist. His concern, as was mine, was the possibility of the massive roots starting to rot underground. If that was happening and strong winds or an ice storm came along, the tree could end up crushing most of our house.
A neighbor up the road has a tree-trimming business. We hired him to do the job. I told him to cut it down and leave the wood I could cut and split for our wood-burning stove. Then haul the big logs away.
On the day they were to cut down our old friend, I was out early that morning taking pictures to remember it. I stood there for a long time just looking at it. I admit, there was a lump in my throat and maybe a little tear in the corner of my eye.
As they started, I couldn’t watch. I went to my workshop and tried to keep busy. I turned up the radio. I did not want to hear the saws. When the saws went silent, I stepped out and looked at where the tree used to be. They had already moved and stacked all the logs I would keep. I would now spend a lot of time cutting, splitting, and stacking. The old tree will now keep us warm for several winters.
I had asked for their final cut to be right above where the two oaks had grown together so long ago. The stump was almost six feet tall. I stood on a big rock to get high enough to count the tree rings. I wanted to know how old it was. When I finished counting, I did it again to make sure. It was over 200 years old.
I stood there and imagined a squirrel burying two acorns at this spot back in the early 1800s. Like most squirrels, he probably forgot where he buried them. Maybe the squirrel died before he found them from a Native American Indian arrow. The acorns eventually sprouted and pushed their way up through the soil. The two little trees grew closer together until they eventually became one.
Thinking about that, I went into the house and got on my computer. I started searching for what it was like in this part of America 200 years ago when the old giant old oak started its life. I wondered what that tree could have told me about what it had seen and heard.
It was here when the Osage Indians lived where our home now sits. It was still a young tree when the white settlers came to the land of the Osage. They built cabins and fences out of the trees and cut them down for firewood. It must not have been big enough to use, so they left it alone, and it continued to grow.
There were several dark marks on the tree rings. The neighbor said it was where barbed wire fencing was attached to the tree. Counting the rings from those marks to the outside told me there was probably a farm here sometime in the early 1920s. My wife and I have always thought there was a barn here at one time. I have found old rusted wire and nails around the property. The dirt is blacker in some places than in the rest of our land. That tells me there was a farm long ago.
When we bought the land over 50 years ago, we wanted our house close to the old oak tree. Back then, there were only a few other houses around. I hunted for deer and turkey in the woods behind us. I hunted rabbits in the fields with my sons. I searched for morel mushrooms in the woods. My boys and I caught fish in the pond up the road.
It was quieter then. Now we hear lawnmowers running, dogs barking, and kids playing. Today, no matter which direction we look, there are houses. The road out front can get busy at times. There is no more hunting or fishing around our place. Life here has changed again.
For over 200 years, the old oak tree was there for the Osage, the settlers, the farmers, and us. It was part of their life and part of ours. It was there as our kids and grandkids grew into adults. As my wife and I have grown old, it was always there. Just like the tree, someday we will be gone too.
I go out and visit the tree’s giant stump sometimes. The other day I was there when something caught my eye near the base of the stump in the fertile soil nourished by the decomposing leaves. There, fostered and protected by the decomposing leaves from the old oak tree, were two oak seedlings growing close together. I wondered what they would see in their lifetime. I wondered if they would grow together and become a big old oak tree.
More and more people are interested in wild table fare, which has made learning to hunt a priority.
Outdoor Alabama gives everybody the opportunity to cook wild game with unique recipes.
Outdoor Alabama gives everybody a place to share their best recipes.
By DAVID RAINER
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
If your hunting season has gone well and you have plenty of wild game to prepare, you may be looking for new ideas on how to put the best dishes possible on the dinner table. Or you could be a novice hunter getting ready to prepare a meal with wild game for the first time and looking for helpful resources.
With that in mind, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) website, Outdoor Alabama, has just what you’re looking for in the new Wild Eats page at www.outdooralabama.com/WildEats. The page features a list of tasty recipes for a variety of wild game.
“The culmination of a hunting or fishing trip is food,” said Billy Pope, ADCNR’s Communications and Marketing Director. “We wanted to provide a platform on Outdoor Alabama that gives everybody the opportunity to cook wild game with unique recipes and a place for everybody to share their recipes.
“We’re asking people to submit their unique recipes for wild game and fish. We’ve already had submissions for stir-fried duck and collard green soup with venison.”
Pope also said ADCNR realizes many late-onset hunters are pursuing wild game with a different mindset from who grew up in a hunting culture.
“People being introduced to hunting or wanting to learn to hunt are doing it for a different reason,” he said. “They want to harvest their own meat, so they know where it comes from. They want sustainable, healthy protein for their families.
“More and more people are interested in wild table fare, which has made learning to hunt a priority. ADCNR’s Adult Mentored Hunting Program has been able to fill the void and introduce new hunters to the art of field-dressing and butchering wild game.”
Justin Grider, ADCNR’s Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division R3 Coordinator, said the process of placing tasty wild game dishes on the dinner table starts well before the hunt.
“Before it’s time to hunt, you need to become proficient with whatever firearm or bow you’re using,” Grider said. “You want to make sure it is shooting where you’re aiming so you can make a good, clean, quick kill. You owe that to the animal as a hunter to make that as quick and painless as possible. When you are proficient with the firearm or bow, it leads to a better end-product when it comes to putting it on the dinner table.”
When the hunter makes a quality shot, it leads to a quick recovery of the animal, and the processing of the animal can proceed without delay.
“The quicker you can get those internal organs and entrails out of that animal, especially deer, and get that body cavity cooled down, the better,” Grider said. “You’re fighting three things – heat, moisture, and dirt. You’re trying to avoid all three.
“Most days in Alabama are relatively warm, so if you don’t have access to a skinning shed, grab a couple of bags of ice from the nearest gas station and throw it into the cavity, so it starts to cool down that body cavity. Make sure you get the ice between the hip joints. There’s a lot of heat down there. When you get that cooled down, it will delay any bacteria growth and meat spoilage.”
Grider said when you’re able to get the animal field-dressed in a reasonable amount of time, it allows you to move to the next step in providing that quality wild game for the family.
“I like to let my deer age for seven days,” he said. “If you have access to a walk-in cooler, you can let it hang and allow that deer to go through rigor mortis. That whole product will start to break down and become more tender. If you don’t have a walk-in cooler, which most of us don’t, you can quarter the deer and age that animal in a 55-quart cooler.”
The key to using an ice chest/cooler is to keep the meat elevated above the ice by using some type of rack or baking sheet to keep the meat from coming in contact with any water from the melting ice. Refresh the ice often to maintain the proper temperature.
“That will accomplish the same result as if you had used a walk-in cooler,” Grider said. “That’s going to lead to your best-tasting product. Any time you can age that meat for seven days, that’s the magic number.”
After the aging process is complete, Grider starts with the hind quarters. He debones the quarters and separates the muscle groups. He trims as much of the connective tissue as possible and decides whether to use the meat for roasts, steaks, jerky or ground venison.
“I start from the back of the animal and work my way forward, all the way up to the neck,” he said. “I save that neck roast for slow cooking to break down the connective tissue and make it really tender. Of course, it depends on your needs. Later in the season, after you’ve got some steaks and roasts set aside, you may focus on grinding the whole thing, so you have plenty of ground meat for the year.”
Grider removes all the venison fat, which can cause the meat to have a gamey taste. Instead, he heads to a butcher shop or grocery store and procures beef or pork fat to mix with the venison for grinding. He tries to get the ratio of venison to fat to around 85-15 or 80-20.
“You can call the day before you plan to grind the meat and ask them to set aside 10 to 15 pounds of fat,” he said. “Venison is so lean, you need to put in a little fat. I’ve seen people use bacon ends, or you can buy a chuck roast and grind that in.”
If your hunt ends in a difficult recovery, Grider says hunting conditions will dictate whether the meat is salvageable.
“If the temperature is above 45 degrees, which is pretty common for most of the hunting season in Alabama, and the deer is out in the field for 6, 8, or 12 hours, be cautious about that end product,” he said. “Bacteria grows so fast. Rancid meat has a distinct odor and color. Use your eyes and nose to make the best judgment.”
When the hunt goes well, and the deer is processed correctly, it’s time to dine on some delicious wild game. One of Grider’s favorite preparations is venison burger, and he depends on the Maillard reaction to help him serve the best dish. The Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction that occurs when browning meat. After that reaction has occurred, the meat won’t stick to the cooking surface.
“When I’m cooking burgers or Korean beef on a grill or cast iron, I’m cooking it so that it gets a crisp, nice brown edge to it,” he said. “That’s the Maillard reaction, and it gives it a better taste. I see people browning meat, and they put it in the pan long enough for it to turn brown. If they leave it in just a little longer and continue to stir it, it gets a nice crispy edge from the Maillard reaction and the breakdown of the sugars. It changes the flavor profile for the better.
“A good way to check on the grill is if you try to flip the burger and it’s stuck to the grill, the Maillard reaction hasn’t happened. If you wait a little longer, it will unstick from the grill, and you can flip it easily.”
Grider said the worst mistake consumers of venison can make is to overcook it. If you’re not going the slow and low route with plenty of liquid, don’t go past medium rare.
“If you cook venison burgers hot and fast on the grill or flattop about 2 minutes on each side, that will leave you with a medium rare burger, which, in my opinion, is the best,” he said. “With a backstrap or inner loins, and you grill it hot and fast, you get a really crispy, tasty outside with a medium rare center. If you cook a burger or loin too long, it gets dry and tough. A well-done venison burger is not palatable.
“If you’re cooking shanks or neck roast, you want to cook it long and slow and keep it in some type of braising liquid.”
When it comes to waterfowl, Grider uses the same techniques that he does for venison, with one exception. He does not trim the fat on waterfowl.
“The only thing is I may go even a little rarer on waterfowl,” he said. “A lot of people just cut the breast out, and you can be missing a great opportunity with the skin and fat. If you’re lucky enough to harvest a duck with a good layer of fat, like early-season teal or wood ducks in a cypress brake, you leave the skin on and add a ton of flavor. You can also pluck the duck and cook the thigh and leg meat, which is delicious.”
Even with small game, Grider prefers to age the meat before he prepares it. He removes the entrails from small game and waterfowl and ages them in the refrigerator.
“Not to say you can’t cook it right out of the woods, but I find that if you age it to break down the protein, it makes for really tasty wild game,” he said.
An old deer, an old man, an old treestand, and the click of an old muzzleloader.
Broken antler tips, a little slump to his back, a limp in his walk – it was a big old buck.
The old man and the old deer looked at each other…
By Larry Whiteley
It was Christmas Eve Day. Christmas trees and decorations were in every room of the old house. Outside too. Torn wrapping paper was everywhere. It had been a good day.
The old couple stood at the door hugging their kids, grandkids, daughters-in-law, granddaughter-in-law, and future grandson-in-law as they were leaving. They would all be busy on Christmas Day. The old couple was happy to have spent Christmas Eve with them. They all did remember to wish the older man a happy birthday. Just in case they got busy and forgot to call him on Christmas Day.
The old couple watched them out the window as they all got into their cars and headed off to their busy lives. Both had tears in their eyes. They talked for a while about Christmas memories from the many years of their marriage. Then, they started cleaning up all the messes and getting ready to go to the Christmas Eve service at their church.
On the way home from church, the old man asked his wife what they were doing on Christmas Day. She said she planned to start packing away all the Christmas decorations she had been putting up around the house over the last month. He said, “The alternative deer season started today, so I think I will get my old muzzle loader rifle out and go deer hunting. It will be cold, but I don’t care. I am going anyway.”
His wife wanted to talk him out of it, but she knew he needed this time alone with his thoughts. She told him to be safe, have a good time, and supper would be ready when he got home. Christmas morning, he kissed her as she slept and whispered he loved her. He paused at the door to look back at her sleeping peacefully, then looked up and thanked God for her.
The old man sat alone in a treestand on Christmas morning. There was no one else out hunting on Christmas Day. They would soon be opening Christmas presents. He thought this was a great way to celebrate his birthday and the birthday of Jesus. His mind took him back to his grandpa and grandma’s old farm. He was born there 76 years ago. He also thought about how much the world has changed since then. He thought about how many of his friends and family were no longer here.
He also thought about the times he messed up and made mistakes in his life. He wished they had never happened, wished he could take all of them back. He knew he could not. He knew God had forgiven him. He believed God gave him the gifts of writing stories and speaking to help others find Him too. God had changed him. He can change anybody.
Sunlight was beginning to filter through the trees. The frosted field spread out before him and sparkled like tiny diamonds. Fog rose from the creek on the other side. He could hear the sound of flowing water.
He held the old muzzleloader rifle in his lap. He loved that old gun. It was a 50-caliber Hawken like the mountain men of long ago had used. He loved reading about that era of life in America and watching every mountain man movie ever made. “Jeremiah Johnson” was his favorite. He figured he had watched it at least fifty times or more. He often daydreamed about living back then. To have hunted and trapped and roamed the Rocky Mountains.
As he waited silently in the darkness, he thought about all the years he had been a deer hunter. Memories of deer hunting with sons and grandkids flooded his mind. Now, they are grown and gone. Busy with their own lives and hunting in other states. It is just him, alone in a treestand with his muzzleloader. “Is this the last time I will be a deer hunter,” he thought. He wipes away a tear.
The sun rises over the top of the trees, crows talk to each other, birds flitter from limb to limb, and squirrels look for acorns. A fox crosses the field, then stops to scratch himself. The old man has seen and heard these many times over many years. He still loves all of it.
Getting a deer was always just a bonus to him. At times he needed to get one to help feed his family. Being out in God’s great outdoors was most important. It was all the memories he made with family, friends, and alone in the deer woods.
The old buck crossed the cold creek, then stopped at the edge of the woods. His eyes scan the field. He sniffed the air for danger. He was a wise old buck and had done this before. He had spent lots of years wandering this land. He had watched many of his family grow up here and die here. He turned his head to lick some scars, then slowly started walking into the field, stopping at times to look and smell.
Out of the corner of his eye, the old man saw movement. Slowly he raised his binoculars and brought the deer into view. It was a big buck. Old like him. A lot of gray around his muzzle. Broken antler tips, a little slump to his back, and a limp in his walk. He was alone now too.
The old man put down his binoculars. The old muzzleloader stock now rested against his shoulder. He found the old buck in the iron sights and cocked the side hammer back. The old deer heard the click and saw movement. He knew someone was in the tree. He could have raised his tail and fled but did not. He slowly walked through the field. The old man and an old deer on Christmas Day.
After looking through the sights for several minutes at where he planned to shoot, the old man lowered the hammer back down and put the gun back in his lap. The old man and the old buck just looked at each other for a while. The old deer finally put his head down and kept walking. He was waiting for the old man to shoot, but the shot never came. He stopped several times to look at the old man in the tree. Finally, he walked into the woods, never to return to the field. The old man turned his eyes toward heaven and thanked God for all the deer hunting memories and the old deer on a special Christmas Day.
He lowered his rifle to the ground and climbed down from the tree. He paused to look around the valley he had hunted so many times over many years and then walked toward his truck. It was his last deer hunt. It was his last Christmas Day.
98 years young – US Army WWII veteran, full of life and laughs: Life Lessons for us all.
Fish tales of the broken braid would keep everyone wide-eyed!
Everyone needs to hear the stories about these amazing men and women veterans of the greatest generation. There are not many left.
By Larry Whiteley
I used to see Pete at church almost every Sunday. He would be on a bench in the main hallway, telling stories to anyone who would listen. He knew that I wrote articles for magazines and newspapers about the outdoors. When he saw me, he always wanted me to come over so he could tell me his fish stories.
Pete would start with, “It was midnight on a hot summer day. The moon was full, bats are diving in the night sky, and fog shrouds the lake. I was out fishing by myself in an old wooden boat. The night was filled with sounds. Crickets chirping, owls hooting and frogs croaking. So I take my old fishing rod and throw a top-water bait toward some bushes next to a log. I let it settle, then start reeling. It gurgles and wiggles back toward me. Suddenly, a bass, a monster bass, attacks my bait! It rises from the water with the plug hanging in its jaw.”
Pete always acted out his fight with the bass. I loved the expressions on his face while he told his story. Pete would lean back on the bench reeling it in on his imaginary fishing rod. He would always have a grimace across his face as he turned the reel handle. His eyes would get big as he described the fish pulling fishing line from his reel.
Sometimes Pete would add to the story with moans about backlashes in his braided line. He would frown and tell me it required valuable time to untangle. Then he would smile and proudly tell me that he still got that fish into the boat. Then he would say, “I unhooked that bass and put it back in the water to watch it swim away.”
Sometimes, he would tell me another story. It was about another big bass he caught and released, but not on purpose. “It almost took the rod right out of my hand,” he would say. “When it was close to the boat, it shook loose from the hooks. I watched it disappear into the darkness of the water.” Of course, like most fishermen, the bass also got bigger each time I heard his story. Sometimes the bass was so big it was pulling his small wooden boat around. I listened each time as I had never heard Pete’s fish stories.
Pete is a 98-year-old World War II veteran. One of “The Greatest Generation.” He was a U.S. Army paratrooper. In the European Theater Campaign, he served under General George Patton. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge and the Battle of Bastogne. He was also part of the Rhine River Jump. It is hard to imagine what Pete and all those other men went through fighting for our country.
His daughter Cora told me she flew with her Dad on one of the first Honor Flights for veterans. Honor Flights are all-expenses-paid trips to the war memorials in Washington, D.C. These flights allow veterans to share this momentous trip with other veterans, remember friends and comrades lost, and share their stories and experiences.
As the plane prepared to land, Cora asked her Dad what it was like back during the war when he was getting ready to land and go into battle. Pete looked at her and said, “I don’t know. I always got on a plane, but I never landed on one. I was always jumping out of them.”
On Veteran’s Day at church, Pete would bring in a big glass-covered shadow box with all his medals from World War II for all of us to see. There are many. He always stood with pride, as all veterans would stand so that we could honor them. I often saw tears in his eyes as Pete faced the flag with everyone, put his hand over his heart, and we all sang God Bless America.
Up until this year, Pete lived by himself and cooked his meals. He drove himself to go grocery shopping, other errands, and church every Sunday. Pete even loved to go out dancing. He had more energy than most men half his age. Then cancer reared its ugly head.
Pete is tough. He is fighting this battle too. He knows where he is going when his time comes. I am sure there will be a lot of family and military buddies that will be glad to see him again. I bet they will get to hear Pete’s fish stories too.
I visited Pete with a friend from our church, Dan Bill, at the home Pete built many years ago. His daughter Cora seated us in the living room and went to tell Pete we were there. Pictures of his wife, four children, 10 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren were on every wall. So were pictures of a younger Pete in his army uniform. The shadow box with all his medals was there too.
I was expecting to see him in bed. Instead, Pete slowly walked into the room with support from his cane and sat in his favorite chair. He was glad to see us, but I could tell he was tired and in pain. We didn’t hear any fish stories that day, but we did hear several war stories.
Every year, we lose more men and women who sacrificed so much for us during WWII. Less than 30,000 of the 16 million men and women who fought in World War II are still alive. There won’t be any of them left in a few more years. Only twenty percent of the 6.8 million men and women who fought in Korea are still alive today. Veterans like me from the Vietnam era are in their 70s now. Veterans lucky enough to return home from the Gulf War, Iraq, and Afghanistan came home with scars. Not just on their bodies but in their minds.
Our kids and grandkids need to hear the stories about these men and women. When we hear our national anthem, those that kneel need to listen to their stories. Those who protest and disrespect our flag need to listen to their stories. Our politicians need to listen to their stories. Then they need to do everything possible for these men and women.
We all need to take the time to thank our military men and women who served our country or are serving now. Not just on Veteran’s Day each year. We need to do it every time we have the opportunity. If you see a veteran wearing their branch of a military service cap, thank them in some way. That’s the least we can do for all they did and are doing for each of us.
Every Sunday, when I come in the front door of our church, I still look over at the bench where Pete sat. I see him in my mind’s eye telling me fish stories. As I stand before everyone to give the weekly church announcements, I look to where Pete was always sitting a few rows to my left from the front. I wish he could still be there proudly wearing his World War II Veteran cap. I miss hearing Pete’s stories. Everyone will.
Special Note: Pete (US Army Tec 5, Gaylord Dye, by real name) went home to heaven last week. I bet he is up there telling stories.
Al’s “Age-Old” Goldfish Lures are proven irresistible to hungry fish.
Al’s Goldfish Spoons are Made-in-America! We need more of this.
Al’s Goldfish Spoon is a tested and true fish-killer lure since 1952.
Al’s Goldfish Spoon is available in multiple colors and 3/16 to 1-1/4 ounce sizes.
Al’s Goldfish Lures are affordable (great holiday gift).
By Dave Barus
Some of the best lures made for fishing were invented long ago and were made in America, too. In 1952, in a small town near Eliot, Maine, a prototype spoon lure known as Stuart’s Goldfish hit the angler market big time, selling nearly one-million lures a year way back then. Inventor Al Stuart renamed his flagship lure, Al’s Goldfish, and the company became Al’s Goldfish Lure Company in 1954. Along the way, other Al Stuart lures became angler-famous, including the “Forty-Niner” and the “Helgy.”
All of them are still Made-in-America! Present-day owners Jeff and Mandy DeBuigne are admittedly “fish-heads” and want to share some of the famous good fortunes of catching fish with their fishing followers and customers. They are celebrating the 70th anniversary of Al’s Goldfish Lure with a freebie contest open to everyone.
Al’s Goldfish Winter Promo Giveaway – To enter, simply go to Al’s Goldfish Lure Company Facebook page and click on the promotion or visit Al’s Goldfish Lure Company Giveaway. When prompted, fill in your name and email address, and you are entered. One entry per person. Do it today! All entries must be completed by midnight on December 15, 2022. When prompted to join the Outdoor News America mailing list, additional entries can be made. The lucky winner will be randomly drawn and notified via email. Many of Al’s Goldfish products and lures are included in the prize package.
Today the company still makes and markets the original Al’s Goldfish and much more. These include tried and tested fish-catching lures, ice-fishing jigs, Sebago trolling rigs, bottom jigging rigs, and accessories. Treble hook bonnets and other lure accessories were added to the company’s list of American-made products. In 2015 the line was expanded to include the Saltwater Goldfish series. For a complete look at Al’s Goldfish Lure Company’s entire line, visit https://www.alsgoldfish.com/ or call them at 413-543-1524.
The company’s American-Made core values will keep it strong and vital for this and the next generation of anglers. Mandy DeBuigne says, “We value Jesus for our blessings and the example of unconditional love. We value our veterans and active duty service members for our freedom and their sacrifice. We value our friends and customers of all backgrounds, races, orientations, and abilities – we don’t care what you look like, where you came from, what your gender is, who you love, or what you can/can’t do – what matters is: Do you like to fish? We are committed to making our products right here in the USA, which keeps Americans in our supply chain employed. And we value an honest sale. If your purchase fails beyond the normal wear and tear that happens to a product you are literally throwing as far away from yourself as it will go – to fish, let us know. We will make it right.”
Al’s Goldfish Lure Company PRIZE PACKAGE – Al’s Goldfish Lure Company has teamed up with Outdoor News America and Wolf Premium Oils to put an excellent fishing package together for anyone that likes to wet a line. This giveaway package includes Al’s ice jigs, a trolling rig, a bag of hook bonnets, Kenny Kieser’s Christmas Kit filled with Al’s top freshwater spoons, Al’s Goldfish top Saltwater Series Goldfish lures, Al’s Goldfish Limited Edition 70th Anniversary Buck fillet knife, and a bottle of Wolf Premium Oil. All combined, this “Al’s Goldfish Lure Company Winter Promo Giveaway” has a suggested retail value exceeding $250.
FISH SPECIES – a big factor in determining Fly Rod Selection.
Rod Length, Line Weight, and Rod Action are among the CRITICAL CHOICE FACTORS.
By Lacy Jo Jumper
A thoughtfully-selected fly rod can make or break the on-the-water experience, and knowing which type you need isn’t always as straightforward as it seems. Fly rods vary in weight, length, and action, and when it comes to choosing the right fly fishing rod, it all boils down to where you are fishing and the type of fish you’re targeting. So, which fly rod is perfect for you? Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned fly fisherman, Wild Water Fly Fishing will help you explore the different types of fly fishing rods that are available and can provide everything you need to know for a successful day on the water.
Fly fishing is a sport of personal preference and style. Choose a versatile fly rod that suits the environment – both the water and its surroundings – that you’ll fish the most. Don’t be surprised if a rod serves you well one day and not the next, as locations and fishing conditions change. When selecting a fly rod, it is important to take line weight, rod length, and rod action into consideration. These variables are the distinguishing factors among fly rods, and next, we’ll explore each of these variables in-depth.
First things first: What are you hoping to catch? The size of the fish, as well as the type of water body it inhabits, will determine the weight of your fly rod. As a general rule of thumb: The larger the fish and the rougher the water, the heavier the line should be.
If you’re fishing for large trout or smallmouth bass, you’ll most likely find yourself wading and fishing in small to medium-sized rivers, streams, and potentially lakes. Targeting these types of fish will require a 7 or 8-weight fly rod. When up against largemouth bass, carp, or salmon in lakes, large rivers, open freshwater, or inshore saltwater, you’ll need to up the ante as far as fly rod length and line weight are concerned, in which case you’ll want a 10-weight line.
Lighter rods lend better to creeks, small rivers, and gentler lakes. The higher the river or lake intensity, the heavier your rod should be. Saltwater species also tend to be stronger and faster than freshwater fish. They fight longer, requiring a heavier line weight and a heavier fly rod that can duke it out with these fish.
Fly fishing rods can range from very short (around 6 feet) to very long (12 to 14 feet.) There are advantages and disadvantages to each. A long rod provides extra reach for roll casting and covering more water. They’re also better for mending, drifting, steering, and lifting fish through long drifts. They’re ideal for medium-sized rivers and lakes. Long rods require extra space for casting. If there are a lot of trees, brush, or other obstacles, a shorter rod may work better. Short rods are best when you’re targeting smaller fish or fishing in smaller streams. They’re also great for children to use as they learn. As a child develops their skills and grows taller in height, they can eventually work their way up to a longer rod. If you’re looking for a middle-of-the-road rod or a rod that is highly recommended, start with a 9-foot rod.
Now that we’ve discussed rod length and line weight, next we’ll explore the different kinds of rod action. Rod action refers to a rod’s ability to bend under pressure and revert back to its natural shape. The tip section of any rod will always have the most flex. Anglers with more advanced casting skills can cast further and in windier conditions with a fast-action rod. These rods typically bend ½ or ⅔ towards the tip. Fast-action rods also have the stiffness required to forcefully land heavier fish.
Wild Water recommends starting with a medium-fast action fly rod to help learn casting. This rod isn’t too soft or fast and will still be useful and give great casting performance once you learn fly fishing. We also recommend a 9-foot rod unless you have a specific type of fly fishing you want to do. A medium-fast action rod will bend deeply to half its length with minimal line in use. This type of rod is universally suitable for most fly fishing methods.
Are You Ready to Fly Fish?
When choosing the right fly fishing rod, keep in mind that you won’t use that same fly rod for the entirety of your career.
Fly anglers will build their fly rod collections over time. It’s common to go between rods, depending on where you’re fishing, what you’re targeting, and how you’re casting, on any given day or time of year. As you become more confident and experienced, your preferences will most likely change as you try different rod lengths, actions, and line weights.
For more fly fishing tips, stay tuned to Wild Water Fly Fishing’s blog or check out our learning pages!
About Wild Water Fly Fishing – Wild Water Fly Fishing represents a dedication to bringing friends and family together by providing everything you’ll need to gear up for a trip to the lake. If you’re a parent or grandparent wanting to nurture a kid’s interest in fly fishing, Wild Water provides the best tools to make your fly fishing trip an unforgettable experience. Wild Water Fly Fishing is the only company to focus exclusively on affordable, easy-to-use fly fishing starter packages for all species of fish. Learn more about Wild Water Fishing by visiting us at https://www.wildwaterflyfishing.com/.
Here are some tools that I have found helpful and recommend that everyone review.
The tools mentioned below are reliable and of excellent quality.
If you are a first-time or veteran hunter, I hope this helps you decide on tools to consider for your hunting season.
By: Kristine Ostertag
Your alarm goes off, you step outside onto the frosty ground, feel the cool morning breeze on your face, and gaze up at the stars in the sky. The smell of fall is in the air, and you are gearing up to head out to your favorite deer stand. You start your trek into the woods, adrenaline pumping, surrounded by darkness and the sounds of animals in the distance. You tiptoe your way through the crunchy leaves, hoping not to bump anything, and FINALLY, you arrive at your stand. You climb the tree, get situated, knock an arrow, and sit in the peaceful silence of the woods, waiting for the sun to rise. You have been waiting for this moment all summer, and it’s finally here.
Every fall, millions of people head out into the woods to chase whitetails. You sit around telling stories, laughing and joking about the one that got away. A lot of work is involved in hunting, and having the right tools for hanging deer stands, clearing trails, and processing your harvest will make things a little less stressful. Here are some tools that I have found helpful and recommend everyone have.
Folding Limb Saw
Trying to trim brush and clear shooting lanes with a dull, cheap saw is very frustrating and usually ends with me swearing and throwing it. However, I prefer to work smarter, not harder, so I recommend the Smith’s Folding Limb Saw. It has an aggressive tooth pattern and comes with a built-in tooth sharpener. So you can sharpen it while out in the woods. In addition, it has an 8-inch blade that works fantastic for medium-sized branches and limbs. Smith’s Folding Limb SawMSRP: $21.99
Edgesport Gut Hook Combo Kit
After the adrenaline wears off and you’ve tracked down your deer, it’s time to get to work gutting your deer. The gut hook is designed to split the skin of the deer without cutting into the meat or nicking the guts, which usually leaves an unpleasant smell. Some people prefer not to use the gut hook and simply use the regular blade. I like this kit because it comes with a 4-inch folding lock blade knife and a sharpener. It also comes with a knife case that goes on your belt, so you always have it handy. It’s a great go-to hunting kit for any hunter. Having a knife with you is always essential when you are out in the woods or climbing mountains, as you never know when you might need one. Smith’s Edgesport Gut Hook Combo KitMSRP: $59.99
EdgeSport Field Dressing Kit + Jiffy PRO
If you want to make quick work of processing your deer, I highly suggest you invest in the Smith’s EdgeSport Field Dressing Kit+ Jiffy PRO. It comes with everything you will need. It comes with a skinning knife, two boning knives, and a sharpener. If you are anything like my family, we process multiple deer a season, and having reliable knives is vital. Skinning a deer can be daunting with a dull knife, but Smith’s skinning knife is designed to make this process easy. It is also not uncommon to sharpen your blade a couple of times during the skinning process, which is why you must have a sharpener nearby. Once your deer is quartered, you have to get the meat off the bone, which is where the boning knives are ideal. They are long, thin, flexible blades designed to run along the bone and around tight places. Stiff blades are not suitable for processing your game. Smith’s EdgeSport Field Dressing Kit + Jiffy PROMSRP: $84.99
Edge Stick Knife and Broadhead Sharpener
This is a fantastic tool to have with you when hunting in the backcountry or deep in the Northwoods. It sharpens knives and broadheads and has multiple sharpening surfaces for different needs. The carbide blades are used for quick sharpening, and the diamond stone is used for final edge honing. Diamond stone can be used with or without lubricant and does not wear down like a natural stone. You never want to be stuck miles from camp or lost in the woods without a sharp knife. Always go prepared! Smith’s Edge Stick Knife and Broadhead Sharpener MSRP: $24.99
You can purchase many tools, but these are some of my favorites. These tools are reliable and of excellent quality. I hope this helps you decide what you need for your hunting season.
When grilling a steak from a deer, I think about that morning in the deer woods, it is special.
Cooking a wild turkey in my smoker, my mind travels back to a spring morning, a beautiful sunrise, the gobbles.
Saying grace before meals, among other things, is a way to remember God and share special blessings with your family and friends.
By Larry Whiteley
When I was growing up on the farm, saying grace was something we did before a meal. Our food back then came from my grandmother’s garden or wild plants around the farm. She gathered eggs from the chickens she raised. On special occasions, she would kill one and fry it up. Grandpa raised hogs and butchered them himself. He cured the meat in a smokehouse and milked the cows by hand. Almost everything for every meal came from that old farm. It was important to thank God for what He had provided us.
Today when our family gathers for Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, one of us says grace as we all hold hands and bow our heads. We don’t always do that at other meals when we are all together.
Saying grace before meals, among other things, is a way to remember God, not our credit card, provided the meal. Even if you are not a believer, saying grace recognizes the people whose hard work brought food to your holiday table, daily meals at home or eating out: farmers, grocery store clerks, friends, relatives or restaurant chefs. If you are a non-believer, I would be happy to tell you about a true story that can change your life.
Several times I have been asked to say grace at luncheon meetings, banquets, or church. As a believer, it is an honor to do that. I always hope that what I say will touch the hearts of those listening and get their eyes on God instead of the depressing evening news or what they are seeing or reading on their smartphones.
I will admit that I don’t say grace before every meal. At home, it’s just my wife and me. We usually don’t. When I go through McDonald’s for a biscuit sandwich to eat on my way fishing, I don’t. When I stop by Arby’s for a roast beef sandwich after a morning hunt, I don’t. I should be thanking God before every meal, but I don’t, even though I should. I don’t know anyone that does.
It is much easier to say grace over the game I have harvested or fish I have caught and prepared for a meal. Maybe that’s because I have a close connection to them, as grandma and grandpa had on that old farm. It is hard to have that feeling with pizza out of a box, roasted chicken in a plastic container, a hamburger and fries in a sack, or store-bought groceries.
When grilling a steak from a deer, I think about that morning in the deer woods. I remember the beautiful sunrise peeking up over the hill. I remember the frosted field, the crows calling, the birds fluttering through the trees, the squirrels running around looking for nuts, and the bobcat walking by.
I remember when that deer first appeared. The deer never even knew I was there in the tree. I remember kneeling beside it, laying my hand on it, and thanking the deer for giving its life to feed my family. I remember looking up and thanking God for my time in his creation. I remember field-dressing it and thinking this deer would feed the crows, turkey vultures, coyotes, raccoons, opossums, and other animals. When I eat any part of that deer, I say grace.
If I am cooking a wild turkey breast in my smoker, my mind travels back to a spring morning and another beautiful sunrise. Birds were singing while crows were talking to each other as always. Everything was green, and wildflowers were blooming everywhere. I heard turkey wings flapping when they flew down from their roost. My hen decoys were poised and ready in front of my hiding place. My Jake decoy was near the hens and close enough to make a gobbler want to come in and kick his butt for trying to mess with his ladies.
A gobble came from over the slight rise to my left. I gave a soft purr with the mouth call I hoped would say to him, “Come on in. I am ready for you.”
He answered me with a booming gobble. My heart rate increased dramatically. I never made another call because he quickly appeared over the rise. He fanned his tail feathers and puffed out his chest. It was his way of saying, “Look how handsome I am.”
Then he saw the Jake decoy. He immediately went over and attacked it knocking it to the ground. The gobbler stood there over the battered fake Jake and strutted out for the ladies again. When he came out of his strutting display, my shotgun boomed. He flopped around for a minute or two. The hens disappeared over the rise. It took one gobble, two struts, and a gobbler was on the ground. It is not always that easy, believe me.
I smooth its bronze feathers in the early morning sun and thank it for feeding my family. The gobblers fan, beard, and spurs hang on my wall with others. The smoked turkey breast is another reminder of a great day in the turkey woods. There was no hesitation in saying grace when I sat down to eat it or the morel mushrooms I found that day.
It is the same with fish I catch. I don’t lay my hand on them and thank them for giving their life to feed my family like I do turkey and deer. But when I fry, grill, or smoke the fish I caught, I remember when I caught them. I see the sun or the moon reflecting on the water. I see the eagle sitting in a tree. I see the deer at the water’s edge. I hear the water lapping against the boat or rippling down the stream. I hear my lure hit the water.
When I am out on a camping trip, I feel close to God. My meal may not be fish or game, but I try to say grace over my camp meal if it’s just a hot dog grilled on a stick. As I sit around the campfire, watching the flames flicker and dance with nature all around me, I look up and say thank you.
When I take the life of a game animal or fish, I don’t take that lightly. I remind myself it is through the gifts He gave me to be a hunter and a fisherman that I was able to take the game or catch the fish. I will always be thankful to God for the great outdoors He created for me to enjoy my camping, hunting and fishing. I will always try to remember to say grace before a camp meal and before I enjoy eating the wild game or fish that I have prepared at home for a meal. Saying grace is the least I can do for all God has done for me.
It starts with a short, virtual, 3D submarine adventure ride to the bottom of the sea…where you buckle up.
Gain up-close and personal physical contact with a variety of friendly sea creatures in the touch pool.
Visit the Lionfish! They get their name from their long, colorful fin rays that resemble a lion’s mane.
By Forrest Fisher
The mountain darkness was so very welcoming during an early rise and shine morning to go fishing in Branson, Mo. As I sipped a hot cup of coffee, the daybreak air was fresh with a sweet smell of morning dew. It was revitalizing. We drove toward Branson in the nightfall, and as we turned the corner to Main Street, we discovered the highway strip was alive with lights and displays. It was dazzling. One lighting array that caught my eye was a giant octopus. It was large enough to surround the building below it. The octopus appeared alive and moving with glimmering blue, green, purple and silver flickering reflections of backlit lights. It is a spectacular light display.
My friend and driver, Jim Zaleski, was familiar with Branson and mentioned that it has modernized and grown in the last five years. “This giant octopus marks the entryway to the new Aquarium-at-the-Boardwalk. If you have not visited that place, you should go there before you head home. It’s all saltwater ocean life oriented and cool, especially for big kids like you.” Our trips are filled with a bit of bantering.
Later that day, I mentioned the Aquarium to my bride of 53 years – she wanted to visit immediately, as Rose is a renowned venue explorer. I hurried through the shower, and away we went! After entry, the mesmerizing venue provides a walking journey of the undersea ocean world. It all starts with a short, virtual, 3D submarine adventure ride to the bottom of the sea. We sat in a large armchair with a safety belt. All hooked up; we met Aquarius the octopus and Finn the puffer fish as the sub took us to a remote and notably secret ocean location observatory. As we stepped off the submarine, Finn mentioned, “We are about to learn more about the oceans, fish, sea creatures, and the importance of weeds and kelp. Watch your step.”
Our walking journey in the Aquarium continued, and we discovered that fish and sharks have peering eye expressions and fishy smiles…we never knew about those before. It provided more than one ah-hah moment for me. The nose-to-nose views of many colorful fish species and amazing sea creatures, including seahorses, jellyfish, octopus and eels, provided captivating and thought-stimulating flashes for a new voyage and realization of sea life. We both felt lifted to a new level of respect for sea life and conservation.
The Aquarium building is large and comfortable at just under 50,000 square feet. The displays deliver a measure of viewable magic that you are free to capture if you bring a camera, which is allowed, to relive these moments.
One thing about the incredible walk-through exhibits, you can see the tops and bottoms of the many finny critters of the sea. You stand above them as they swim below you in places, and they swim above you in areas. You look straight up to see them in other places. The 360-degree walk-around displays in the jellyfish infinity room, the fantastic sting rays tank, and the coral reef display provide new views of undersea life.
Kids and adults alike can enjoy bonus moments of discovery with interactive fun at the touch pool. We were able to gain up-close and personal physical contact with a variety of friendly sea creatures. The touchy-feely sensation is a discovery moment for everyone.
With each display, the Aquarium focuses on fun with a wide variety of interactive and entertaining activities – there are more than 7,200 critters, forms of sea life, fish, animals, and creatures in the building. Kids may help make discoveries to help the fishes of the sea and people of the world learn much more about life and science. Together.
This is one stop we had o make, and I can still sense the power of learning more about the oceans as we drive home.
Alex Otte has grown from a severely injured 13-year-old girl to become an inspirational lady and leader.
Her positive-minded survival story shares her grief with every family that has ever lost someone to an impaired driver.
Bottom line: Boating under the influence = Driving under the influence. She wants to spread that message.
By David Gray
Alex Otte, a young girl, shares what happened to her. “On July 2, 2010, I was run over by a drunk driver. My offender wasn’t driving a car; he was driving a 17-foot bass boat at more than 70 miles per hour. I was sitting across the narrow lake from my mom and brother, and the boat was headed toward them when he banked it to the left and never straightened up. The boat hit me, going more than 60 miles per hour and threw me off the Jet Ski. I landed face down in the water, and the boat landed on top of my body before it sunk. I sustained severe, life-threatening, and lifelong injuries from head to toe, including a severe traumatic brain injury. I was classified with shaken-baby syndrome, having a shattered jaw, broken neck, broken collarbone, lacerated liver, and bilateral shattered femurs. I incurred the loss of my right leg below the knee.”
On July 2, 2010, medics lifted Alex into a Life-Flight helicopter. They told her parents that their 13-year-old beautiful young daughter might not live long enough to make it to the hospital. But Alex did make it to the hospital, remaining in a coma for seven days.
Alex remembers waking up in the hospital with her Dad sitting by the bed. “Dad would tell me what happened and that she had suffered severe brain injuries.” When she woke up the next time and the next time, her Dad was still sitting by her bed. He had to tell Alex again and again what had happened. Each time she could not remember. Her injured brain could not recall what her Dad had repeated each time Alex woke up.
At 13 years of age, Alex Otte shared time with her creator and doctors for the next seven weeks in the hospital. The young girl was strong and determined. The following fall, she returned to school but would not walk into the classroom this time. She was in a wheelchair.
On July 2, 2010, the woman that little girl would be, was nearly gone. But the little girl survived to quickly become a strong, articulate, well-focused personality and inspirational leader.
Alex has become the woman she wants to be and has risen to be the President of MADD. She is devoted to education about a choice you or someone in your family makes when they get ready to operate a boat.
Boating is recreational. Boating is fun. Safe Boating involves a choice, just like a choice to safely drive a vehicle.
Boating under the Influence is as dangerous and life-threatening as driving a car Under the Influence.
In her speech, Alex states, “Operating a boat while impaired from alcohol or drugs does not result in unintended accidents while enjoying a recreational activity. Operating a boat while impaired often results in an incident and a deadly crash, causing injuries and death because of a person’s irresponsible choice.” Operating a boat while impaired is a choice, just like driving a vehicle.
Drinking and boat driving create the same dangers to others as drinking and driving an automobile.
A study of the relationship between the risk of fatality and blood alcohol concentration of recreational boat operators by Peter Mengert, E. Donald Sussman and Robert DiSario (1992) found that with a 0.1 BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) you are more likely to die in a boat crash than a car crash. Fishermen know that being out on the water in the sun, wind and waves will cause fatigue. Combine on-the-water fatigue with alcohol in your system, and you are more likely to cause a severe crash. Statistics show that you are more likely to NOT SURVIVE a boat crash with a 0.1 Blood Alcohol Content, even as a passenger.
On May 26, 2022, Alex Otte delivered a strong message as President of MADD. Alex traveled to Lake of the Ozarks, in the middle of Missouri, in the middle of the country to announce and launch the nationwide BUI = DUI boating campaign. Boating under the influence = Driving under the influence.
Starting at Lake of the Ozarks in the middle of the country, Alex will spread her message in all directions.
The message is simple. Do not operate a boat impaired. Alex does not want anyone in your family to operate a boat while impaired and run over a person causing another family to endure what her family had to endure.
People impaired by alcohol or drugs can cause death and lifelong severe injuries to others.
We asked Ms. Otte, “If you could sit down one-on-one with a person who would NOT drink before driving their car but might also believe that having a couple of drinks before driving a boat is OK – what would you say to them?”
Alex said, “Everyone needs to understand that drinking is irresponsible if you are driving anything, and bad choices can be hazardous to others and themselves. It is not OK to drink and operate a boat, just like it is not OK to drink and drive a car.”
Things happen fast on the water. While Boating is fun, it can be dangerous to you, your family, and others if you operate under the influence.”
Early lessons in life help shape the future of our young people. Teachers can help.
My students taught me that nature and conservation are important in today’s world.
The students brought in venison, rabbit, squirrel, and pheasant – suddenly, the world was a better place.
By Bob Holzhei
I was fortunate to grow up on a family farm in the 1950s, in the outdoors. I learned many lessons early in life that shaped my future.
Daily chores included sweeping the grain elevator and shoveling oats, wheat, or navy beans into the “pit” where the grain was transferred upstairs into grain bins for storage.
The first lesson I learned was to work up to my dad’s expectations. If I fell short, there was no supper provided that evening. True fact.
It only took one lesson to teach me.
My father was neither mean nor cruel, simply clear of his expectations. That lesson would shape my future and lead to my graduation from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s and master’s degree. I became a teacher.
I student taught at St. Johns High School and was eventually offered a teaching position, retiring following 37 years of service there.
Over those years, I learned there are two kinds of smart: book smart and hands-on smart.
The book smart folks went to college while the hands-on smart folks excelled in various skilled trades. Both types of “smart” are essential, more now than ever!
I taught two classes of hands-on smart students. I discovered early as a teacher that one needed to meet each student where they were in life to move them ahead.
Each year after meeting a new class, the students would learn to call me “Uncle Bob.” A student asked me, “Hey, Uncle Bob, can we have a wild game after-school dinner feast if we all get our school work in?”
“You bet,” was my reply.
Over those years, the entourage of students taught me a vital teacher lesson. Instead of prodding the class to get work in, I had the students that finished their work early help those who lagged behind.
The classroom became a dynamic hands-on experience.
The day of the wild game meal arrived, and I had reserved the home economics room to hold the celebration. The students brought in venison, rabbit, squirrel, and pheasant. Suddenly, my principal arrived and asked, “How in the hell can you justify this? I want to see you in my office after school!”
I humbly whispered to him, “Real easy, look over there at that table. See the boy eating off the other students’ plate? He didn’t have breakfast this morning and can’t afford to buy a school lunch.”
Still, the principal left the home economics room very angry.
After school, I went to the principal’s office.
“You wanted to see me,” I stated.
“Not anymore. I don’t know what you do to motivate those losers; just keep doing it.”
I followed with a response. “Shame on you! Every student deserves to have an equal opportunity for a good education. To only focus on the book smart kids whose parents own businesses in town is wrong!”
Another lesson learned from my students!
Wild game food provided a pathway to celebrate accomplishment among my students, leading the way to a much-improved classroom life for everyone. The principal learned that the sweet-smelling aroma from perfectly cooked rabbits, squirrels, and deer can bring folks together to appreciate each other and nature.
Life lessons have extended to a well-deserved destination when the classroom and conservation come together.
Editor Note – About the Author: Robert E. Holzhei is an inspirational factual and fictional author, he has published more than 425 outdoor travel stories and several motivsational books, including The Mountains Shall Depart (2017), The Hills Shall Be Removed (2018), Canadian Fly-In Fishing Adventure (1993), and Alaskan Spirit Journey (1999). He is the recipient of five national writing awards from the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW), including 1st Place in the Best of Best Newspaper Story, and multiple additional awards for writing (including three presidential awards). He has also been recognized by the Michigan Education Association, the Michigan Outdoor Writers Association and the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association. His books can be found for purchase on Amazon.
Need a limit catch of Walleyes? Visit Dunkirk, NY, in Chautauqua County.
NYSDEC Region 9 has a new hands-on Director that knows the ropes: Julie Barrett O’Neill
By Mike Joyner
One can easily state that any and all ports of access to Lake Erie lead to the walleye capital of the world. You would be correct, just as your fishing partners’ may counter declarations. Rather than debate the issue, I’ll lead us into the “declaration of Dunkirk” as a “must experience” port of launch and a favored choice to pursue a great fishing experience on Lake Erie. As reported in recent years by myself and legions of the outdoor media, the 2022 walleye season on Lake Erie is consistent with all the observations and claims as a “Walleye Mecca” of prior years. Yes, folks, it’s that good!
This year’s VIP Fish Day, held annually every August, would greet us with mixed clouds, moderate temperatures, and the calmest waters I have ever experienced on this Great Lake. This year’s event was coordinated by Jim and Diane Steel of the Innovative Outdoors team. A well-organized and super friendly event. Lots of familiar faces and many new ones. The event pairs Charter Captains with outdoor writers, local legislators, business leaders, and members of the NYSDEC Fisheries group. The group of outdoor writers present would hail from Indiana, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, Rhode Island and New York.
As a fishing partner, I would be paired up with Julie Barrett O’Neill, the new Director for NYSDEC Region 9. We would join Captain Hans Mann of Buffalo Harbor Outfitters on his 21′ Warrior boat for a morning of outstanding fishing.
Our trip out into the harbor was inspirational for all its beauty and the lake’s calmness. We would be heading out to 60′ – 90′ depths to troll for walleyes that had been, in recent days, hanging near the bottom. Just 30 minutes into setting up the lines, we were already into fish as we started our first trolling run. Although we ran a pattern of depths, those we had out deep with dipsy divers and worm spinner jigs made it happen. The fish-catching started off with Julie landing the first walleye. We both would catch our limit for the day and release others back to the lake. To this day, in my humble opinion, walleye is one of the best fish to eat and is a welcomed treat in our home.
The fishing was fantastic, and the conversation during our trip was even better! Julie comes into her new role as Region 9 Director with an impressive resume. She is as passionate about the resource as any of us. Julie is incredibly excited about the outlook for Lake Sturgeon, which is making significant progress in the North American conservation story. Having a Director that is hands-on and very comfortable with fishing tackle is a good thing for us sportsmen. As I have, you’ll find her very approachable, friendly and knowledgeable. I would also learn that Hans is just as passionate about fishing for muskies and very involved as a board member of the Eastern Lake Erie Charter Boat Association. I can tell you Hans runs an efficient setup and is directly dialed in on walleyes. I can easily envision how he takes his ‘A’ game to muskies. I found Hans to be a great boat captain and super friendly. They are genuinely great people to enjoy time out on the water with. We would discuss many topics concerning the fisheries, future development, and the current issues with proposed windmills. In a few hours on a beautiful morning, all the essential goals of the VIP event were being met on a 21′ boat. The future for Eastern Lake Erie has a bright future, in my view.
The event concluded with a great lunch at the Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club. As in the past, we got updates on issues concerning the lake, the latest research, and the fishery outlook.
It is a beautiful format to promote not only the great fishery and recreational opportunities of the area but also puts the significant stakeholders together in the same room, the same boat, to further the communication needed for developing the resource. The event is fully supported by the following organizations: Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau, Erie County Fisheries Advisory Board and the Eastern Lake Erie Charter Boat Association.
Georgia allows hunters to harvest up to 10 antlerless deer and no more than two antlered deer.
Deer of either sex may be taken with archery equipment at any time on private land during the deer season.
To pursue deer in Georgia, hunters must have a valid hunting license, a big game license and a current deer harvest record.
All harvested deer must be reported through Georgia Game Check within 24 hours.
By Forrest Fisher
The statewide archery deer hunting season begins Saturday, Sept. 10, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division (WRD).
Last year, 83,000 archery hunters harvested over 44,000 deer. Statewide, hunters can use archery equipment throughout the entire 2022-2023 deer season.
“Archery hunting season is nearly here, and bowhunters get the ‘first shot,’ pun intended,” said state deer biologist Charlie Killmaster. “While it may seem too hot to hunt the early part of archery season, it is an excellent time to pattern deer. Persimmons are a highly prized natural food source during the early season, but don’t overlook the trails between good cover and a food source to locate mature bucks.”
Public Hunting Opportunities
Georgia WRD operates more than 100 public wildlife management areas (WMAs). These areas offer hunting dates throughout deer season and even some specialty deer hunts, including youth, ladies, seniors, and disabled and returning veterans license holders. Maps, dates and more info can be found at GeorgiaWildlife.com/locations/hunting.
Hunters can find additional hunting opportunities on Voluntary Public Access, or VPA, properties. These properties are available thanks to a USDA grant that allows for the arrangement of temporary agreements with private landowners for public hunting opportunities. More information at GeorgiaWildlife.com/VPA-HIP.
“Interested in eating from locally available, sustainable sources?” questions Killmaster. “Venison is a nutrient-rich, heart-healthy lean protein, and there are so many amazing ways to cook it. Check out our blog at GeorgiaWildlife.blog and type ‘venison’ in the search bar – you won’t be disappointed!”
Hunting Need-to-Know Info
State law allows hunters to harvest up to 10 antlerless deer and no more than two antlered deer (with one of the two antlered deer having a minimum of four points, one inch or longer, on one side of the antlers) or a minimum of 15 inches outside antler spread. For most hunters in the state, the deer season ends on Jan. 8. However, some specific counties (Barrow, Bibb, Chatham, Cherokee, Clarke, Clayton, Cobb, Columbia, Decatur, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Hall, Henry, Muscog, Paulding, Rockdale and Seminole) offer either-sex archery deer hunting through Jan. 31. Additionally, deer of either sex may be taken with archery equipment at any time on private land during the deer season.
To pursue deer in Georgia, hunters must have a valid hunting license, a big game license and a current deer harvest record. Licenses can be purchased online at GoOutdoorsGeorgia.com, by phone at 1-800-366-2661, or at a license agent (list of agents available online).
All harvested deer must be reported through Georgia Game Check within 24 hours. Deer can be reported on the Outdoors GA app (which works regardless of cell service), at GoOutdoorsGeorgia.com, or by calling 1-800-366-2661.
For more on deer hunting, including finding a game processor, reviewing regulations, viewing maps (either sex day or the rut map), visit GeorgiaWildlife.com/deer-info.
Shore lunch completes every Canadian fishing adventure.
Canadian guide and foodie Kent Kulrich shares his secret shore lunch recipe.
By Dr. Jason A. Halfen
Waves lapping against the rocks, a crackling fire, and a delicious handcrafted meal of fresh fish, fried potatoes, and warm beans fuel the body and fill the soul. This is angling comfort food at its finest – and like most of you, I could enjoy this meal every day and twice on Sundays. However, everyone should be willing to step away from the typical midday fare and embrace a little variety on an extended trip north of the border.
I met Canadian guide and foodie Kent Kulrich on a recent trip to northwest Saskatchewan’s beautiful Tazin Lake Lodge, a destination renowned for its huge lake trout and enormous northern pike. My group connected with Kent and his guests for lunch on one afternoon, and I was utterly blown away by the meal presented to me on a granite knoll overlooking gorgeous Tazin Lake. This was a baked lake trout feast like none I had ever encountered – and now, you’ll be able to enjoy it too.
“Fried fish, spuds, and beans are great,” reflects Kulrich, “but we like to offer our guests something a little different if they’re in the mood.” While anglers flock to Tazin Lake Lodge to tangle with multiple 40-inch class lake trout during their visit, northwest Saskatchewan’s Tazin Lake is also brimming with eater-size lakers – fish in the three to five-pound class. Tazin Lake Lodge’s staff of professional and experienced guides take advantage of this bounty, perfecting several trout recipes that elevate the shore lunch experience to entirely new levels. Below, you’ll find Kent Kulrich’s recipe for baked lake trout with a sweet chili sauce, paired with maple-glazed red potatoes and seasoned veggies.
Begin with an eater-size lake trout. We caught these in abundance in relatively shallow water at Tazin Lake – and by shallow, I mean anywhere from one to twenty feet deep. Ever seen a 20-inch lake trout swimming in six inches of water along a sandy beach? Or caught a laker on a topwater less than a yard from shore? If not, add those to your list of things to do while visiting Tazin Lake Lodge. Gut the trout, remove the head and tail, and then slice through the skin and part-way into the meat along every inch along the trout’s length. A Regal River 7-Inch Straight Fillet Knife from Smith’s Consumer Products is the right tool for this job. Those slices ensure that the fish cooks evenly, allowing flavors to penetrate throughout.
Begin seasoning the trout by rubbing salt and lemon pepper into the cuts along the sides of the body. Add a generous amount of sweet chili sauce, lime juice, and fresh parsley. Wrap the seasoned trout in parchment paper – which keeps the fish moist as it cooks and prevents sticking – and encase it within a double layer of aluminum foil. Place the package on top of hot wood coals and bake for about 15-minutes, flipping once as the trout cooks.
With the fish baking on the coals, turn your attention to the sides. Slice red potatoes into chunks, fry them in a cast-iron pan with a bit of oil until done, and then glaze them with maple syrup – because, after all, this is Canada, eh? A blend of seasoned salt and smoked paprika finishes these wilderness spuds and pleases the most discerning palette. While the potatoes cook, open cans of corn and mushrooms and simmer them in water, right in their original cans. When the veggies are heated, drain the water and add diced fresh garlic, rosemary, and parsley before combining the corn and mushrooms into a delicious blend that perfectly complements the other components of this Saskatchewan feast.
When timed correctly, the sweet chili-baked trout, maple syrup-glazed potatoes, and seasoned corn and mushrooms should be ready at just about the same time. Open the trout’s foil package into the shape of a large bowl, then add the spuds and veggies alongside the baked guest of honor. The visual presentation of this wilderness feast is surpassed only by its unbeatable aroma, texture, and taste. It’s hard to return to fried fish after a meal like this!
Shore lunch is an integral part of every Canadian fishing experience. On your next visit to Saskatchewan’s outstanding Tazin Lake Lodge, be sure to grab an eater-size lake trout right before lunch and give this baked trout recipe a whirl. You’ll be thrilled that you did.
NOTE: Images courtesy of Dan Amundson, Kent Kulrich, and Dr. Jason A. Halfen
About Dr. Jason A. Halfen: A long-time guide, tournament angler, and specialist in marine electronics who owns and operates The Technological Angler, which teaches anglers to leverage modern technology to find and catch more fish. Learn more by visitingThe Technological Angler on Facebook or @technoangler on Instagram.
About Smith Products:We are constantly striving to identify improved methods for providing consumers with the best edge, as shown by our recent launch of an electric sharpener incorporating interlocking diamond-coated wheels that ensure a factory-sharp edge to your knife with only a few quick passes of the knife. We also offer designs appropriate for the field or your gourmet kitchen. We have the broadest line of knife and scissors sharpeners available, ranging from simple, fixed-angle pull-through sharpeners for consumers that want quick and easy sharpening to sophisticated Precision Kits designed for the knife sharpening enthusiast. Our offering includes both manual and electrical sharpeners that incorporate many different abrasive materials, including diamond, carbide, ceramic, bonded synthetic abrasives and, of course, natural Arkansas stones.
Loomis unveils new Steelhead Rod offerings with IMX-PRO STEELHEAD Series.
Blending different modulus materials was one key to dynamic rod development.
Light in weight, sensitive, durable, affordable, warranty protection.
By Forrest Fisher
If you’re among the lucky ones chasing chrome in a Great Lakes or ocean-bound tributary stream, you already know that we anglers are only as good as our tools. Rod, reel and line are among these. Having the right rod in hand provides distinct advantages. At the ICAST 2022 new product show, G. Loomis introduced the IMX-PRO STEELHEAD rod. Loaded with technology and purpose, this new tool will enable anglers to maximize their effectiveness on the water with exacting standards.
Steelhead fishing isn’t a pastime for most steelhead anglers. It’s an obsession. Forged from experience, passion, and often a healthy pinch of optimism, hardened steelhead anglers in the Great Lakes Region often slog through extreme weather swings from autumn through winter and into spring, when the fish are in those tribs. As you might expect, no two steelhead streams fish the same, as each tributary can require a unique application of tactics, techniques, and specialized tackle to slide the odds of fish-catching into the angler’s favor. The rod is perhaps the most important tool in collecting steelhead-catching tools.
The new IMX-PRO STEELHEAD is a collection of cast, spin, float, and center-pin action options built to meet the exacting requirements of modern steelhead fishing. The Loomis technology exclusive multi-taper design yields a lightweight library of steelhead-specific rods with precisely-defined lengths, powers, and actions that strike the perfect balance between durability and performance. With MSRPs of $365 to $635, this rod series provides anglers with the specific tools needed to secure success on the water.
IMX-PRO STEELHEAD fishing rod features:
Fuji Alconite Guides
Premium Cork Handles
Fuji Reel Seats
Handcrafted in Woodland, Washington, USA
Limited Lifetime Warranty
About G. Loomis: We exist to heighten angler experience through creating tools that expand tactical opportunity, boost effectiveness, and enhance natural ability. We develop solutions for experienced hands designed to complement capability. We strive to expand what’s possible to achieve the unattainable. Our DNA is comprised of three equal parts: Technology, Innovation, and Design. Since 1982, we’ve contributed innovative materials and manufacturing technology to the angling community. Examples include early graphite construction, advanced guide trains, Multi-Taper Design and advanced resin systems. Visit https://www.gloomis.com/.
The final weekend of the Lake Ontario Counties (LOC) Trout and Salmon Derby is this weekend, and Joe Miller of Honeoye is still leading for the $25,000 Grand Prize with a 28-pound, 14-ounce king salmon reeled in off Point Breeze in Orleans County. Both trout leaders changed this past week. In the Steelhead division, Daryl Jenkins of Factoryville, Pennsylvania, gave his charter skipper Capt. Vince Pierleoni of Thrillseeker an early 60th birthday present when he weighed in a 13-pound, 6-ounce Olcott fish. For the brown trout category, Kathryn Covin of Howard, Pennsylvania, took over the top slot with a 16-pound Wilson fish. The derby ends at 1 p.m. on Labor Day, with the awards to follow at 3 p.m. at Riley’s Bar and Grill in Sodus Bay. Check out www.loc.org for a complete leaderboard.
The Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey fishing contest is now over. The awards ceremony will be held on Sept. 25 at 3 p.m. at the NYPA Wildlife Festival. There are numerous winners for both the adults and the kids. Check out the Fishing Chaos website or fishodyssey.net for a complete list. Remember that it will all change when the first-place winners are put into a hat and randomly drawn by Carmen Presti representing the Primate Sanctuary.
In the fishing department, the weather put the fishing on hold for a few days, but the mature king salmon are starting to show up on time. According to Capt. Mike Johannes of On the Rocks Charters out of Wilson, it has been a tough grind in 90 to 200 feet of water for staging kings. The salmon have been very finicky, but the bite can be very good when you are in the right place at the right time. The water from Olcott to the Niagara Bar has been producing some big kings. It has been mostly flashers and flies, but some days flashers and meat have been best. Magnum and medium-sized spoons are always an option, especially out deep. Johannes has been running riggers 50 feet down to just off the bottom. Anglers run divers anywhere from 100 to 220 feet back, depending on the day and the depth.
Niagara Bar action has been good to very good for mature king salmon, according to John Van Hoff of North Tonawanda, while trolling aboard the Terminator. His crew primarily ran flashers and flies, and they caught mature king salmon from the Canadian line all the way to Six Mile Creek. Cut bait has turned on between the Niagara Bar and Wilson, and there were good reports of decent salmon fishing.
Capt. Tim Sylvester of Tough Duty Charters reports that the offshore bite off Olcott has been decent from the 26 to the 30 line, catching a mix of salmon and trout. There have been a few mature kings off the port in 100-200 feet of water, but it has been a slow pick.
In the Niagara River, Lisa Drabczyk with Creek Road Bait and Tackle reports that walleye action is still good, and the bass fishing has been consistent. For walleye, some of the river drifts are holding fish, as well as the Niagara Bar area around the green buoy marker. From shore and boat, the bass are hitting off the NYPA fishing platform, on the Bar and around the Fort. Crayfish is the top live bait that most people are using.
Wear a wonder. Shop Niagara Falls USA apparel, drinkware, and gifts at the Niagara Falls USA Official Visitor Center, or browse our online shop.
Destination Niagara USA, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY 14303; p: 1-877 FALLS US | 716-282-8992 x. 303
Forage fish, predatory fish, wildlife, nature critters…and people in boats – all share in the bounty provided near Sanibel Island and nearby Estuaries.
Fishing friends gather, stories form and grow, grins occur, and life is good with fishing.
By Forrest Fisher
As my grandson and I turned the corner to head toward the boat landing, a spectacular sunrise moment in full bloom appeared before us. The morning cloud formations in brilliant “glow orange” were above description. The white puffs were soaring up to 40,000 feet or more and reflecting with the glimmering orange radiance of the sunrise yet below our visible horizon. It was spooky, it was cool, and it was fantastic – all at the same time.
“Good morning, guys! There’s hot coffee over here,” hollered Rich Perez and his dad, Rich Perez, Sr. It was 6:28 a.m., and they were both loading up the 2-wheeled gear-carry tram to move our fishing rods, tackle, coolers and foodstuffs from the parking area to dock and the boat. Grinning with his usual positive anticipation for the day ahead and looking at the tram, Rich Sr. said, “This thing is such a blessing!” A seagull hollered approval as he flew over our group and may have scented a whiff of Italian sub sandwiches below as if to ask, “Got anything down there for me?” Somehow the seagulls always know where to look for their next food morsel, especially near the beach.
My grandson Collin, myself, a neighbor friend Dustin, Rich Sr. and Rich – the five of us loaded the boat and headed down the Caloosahatchee River with grins for the day ahead and anticipation for tight lines to be shared. The 300HP Yamaha on the stern quickly poked the 24-foot Key West center console bay boat up to 40 mph. As we approached the Cape Coral Bridge, Rich hollered and pointed to see all the fish rising just off the main channel. In the approximately 1-mile-wide river section, we watched seagulls dive for baitfish pushed toward the surface by predator fish below. We saw an occasional fin or two as the fish would sweep and roll over to grab their breakfast.
“Guys, let’s get some spoons tied on and see what those fish are,” Rich added. Collin tossed a ½-ounce Johnson Silver Sprite spoon near the mixing boils about 50 feet from the boat. His first cast yielded a nice 20-inch ladyfish, then another and another – the kid was on ladyfish fire. ”There’s another one!” he said. Rich suggested we keep a few of these for cut bait if we couldn’t find any pilchards with the cast net later. We all traded the casting rods to share in the brief fun. Collin caught his first-ever Jack Crevalle during the baitfish melee. A little one, but we had to take a pic.
The sun had just popped up behind us as we headed under the 90-foot-high span of the Cape Coral Bridge. The boat traffic was minimal, a good thing, but it was early. We slowed for the two no-wake zones along the way to protect shallow water migrating Manatee from boat damage. We waved to other recreational boaters and anglers alike, and everyone was happy to be sharing the day. Then we headed west under the Sanibel Causeway bridge and to Matanzas Pass near Fort Myers beach. We searched for full blooms of baitfish clouds on the sonar, hoping to find pilchards or threadfin herring. We checked all the usual bridge abutment spots, anchored pilings and permanent buoys, and Rich threw the 12-foot net, but the counts were nil. Just as we were set to depart the area, a young-of-the-year snowy egret landed on the bow. Apparently looking for a few minnows that he anticipated he could steal, but there were none. The white feathers of the bird and the black beak allow this bird to be startlingly beautiful to watch. It has been said by others that the white color signifies attributes of purity, dignity and tranquility, while black provides a symbol of mystery, elegance and sophistication. On we went to share in mystery and tranquility!
Rich explained that although it takes a little more effort to catch and fish with bait fish, he added, “It is the hunt for the bait that tells what is going on with the fishery on the day we fish, and that this is all part of the challenge for a fishing day, at time. He added, “Live bait fish are still among the most effective ways to catch fish, wherever you fish.” My grandson and I have fished with many friends that catch their baitfish in various ways. Everyone has their most effective personal style of capturing bait. No doubt, the cast net is the most effective where it is legal, but there are minnow traps, seine nets, pinfish traps and, of course, those trusty multi-hook Sabiki rigs. The Sabiki rig is for when the bait is too deep or is quicker than the descending cast net. Only moments later, “What do you guys think? Should we try the Sabiki rigs?” We all signaled a hearty yeah. Tying these on with a 3-ounce bottom weight makes it easy to drop and lift in 10 to 20 feet of water. The rigs featured 7-hooks tied in dropper-loop style, and the sharp, tiny hooks were colored with chartreuse yellow imitation feathers. With an outgoing tide, we caught about 30 threadfins in just a few minutes after moving to deeper water near the bridge abutments. Rich drove around slowly to find the clouds of fish near the bottom. Hey, this bait fish fishing was fun!
Rich moved us to the isolated mangrove shoreline between Punta Creek and Jewfish Creek. The mangrove side was shallow, and in this location, the opposite side of the boat was near a sector of deep drop-offs linked up with the Okeechobee Waterway. A transitory fish channel. A fish hawk flew by just moments later and decided to hover over the boat. He might have spotted the cut bait Rich had prepared on the stern. We waved at him, and he moved on. A sight to see, but all the sea birds seemed hungry.
Our day went on, moving from time to time, casting the live bait to the shadows on the mangrove side (Size 3/0 hooks with 30-pound fluorocarbon leader off 30-pound braid) and throwing DOA shrimp-style jigs on the deep water side. We enjoyed an excellent time fishing, some tasty sandwiches, cold beverages on ice in the Yeti, and jokes and laughter. We hooked up with many different fish species but lost many of them on this day. Rich Sr. had hooked up with three Snook that simply outsmarted his total control of rod, reel and drag. He had words that were shared with the intelligent fish, but then all that changed in just one quick instant.
Rich Sr. said, “Hey, I got one! Look at this” He lifted his rod and touted a giant blue crab on board. The crab immediately went into toe pinching mode, adding one more saga of yelping to the fish trip. Just then, a dolphin emerged a few feet from the boat. He, too, was fishing for a meal. Beautiful to see all these critters of nature in one day on the water.
Overall, Collin may have hooked and lost more fish than Rich Sr., but he simply shared a grin with each release that he called “good conservation practice.” Collin was dubbed with a new nickname before the trip ended. Nice going, “CR!” After a few quips from the fishing crew and hearty laughs, Collin said, “OK, what does the CR stand for?” Someone shared, “It means Catch and Release. You earned a new title, CR!” We all laughed out loud. Honestly, that was very unlike Collin; he was a sure hook and catch guy, but not today. He shouted out an answer to everybody on the boat, “Captain Rich, I need more practice. When can we fish again?!” Hearty laughs followed again.
Just then Rich hooked into something that was taking his 30-pound braid out on the drag setting. Whatever it was, the tug of war went on for about 10-minutes before Collin reached for the net. There is was, a nice Jack Crevalle. An adult this time. Rich said, “Man these guys fight so hard!”
The trip was full of chuckling moments, the kind that lasts a lifetime in our minds of these extraordinary times to be remembered. We had caught Snook, Jack Crevalle, Ladyfish, and many forms of baitfish – those on rod and reel including Threadfin and Pilchards, and a blue crab, and we enjoyed the peace of observing many sea birds and a dolphin. All close-up.
As we watched the usual afternoon storm clouds forming on the eastern horizon, it was after 12 noon, and we had agreed with Captain Rich that it was time to head back. Just a mile from the boat dock, the clouds decided to open up with a sturdy fresh water rinse. All of us and our gear received a wash down. With the earlier temperature nearing 95 degrees, it felt good. I prayed with a silent Our Father, too, as we all heard the thunder claps and watched lightning strikes in the distance on each side of the river. A moment later, we were safe at the dock.
Thank you, Lord, for this day. Amen. I can’t wait until we fish again!
My grandson and I tried something new in the smoker getting ready for a Sunday family dinner celebration. Chicken drumsticks! A few weeks back, we found some huge chicken drumsticks at a local market in Arcadia, Florida. When we bought them, we vacuum-packed 13 of them for later use – that day was last weekend. It took about 3 hours to bring them up from freezer temp to room temp, then we seasoned them up in two groups. This was a first-time family taste experiment with chicken drumsticks, HUGE drumsticks. For reference on size, these 13 drumsticks weighed nearly 4.5 pounds!
The first group of 6 was prepared with a spice mix blended together in a small bowl:
2 Tbs garlic powder
2 Tbs black pepper
2 Tbs dried Cuban oregano (homegrown)
2 Tbs chili powder
Then rub coat each drumstick with olive oil
Then sprinkle coat with the spice mix.
The second group of 7 used a blended spice mix quite different from the first group:
1 Tbs garlic powder
2 Tbs smoky dry rub
2 Tbs paprika
2 Tbs ground sage
2 Tbs onion powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 Tbs chili powder
Then coat each drumstick with yellow mustard
Then sprinkle coat with this spice mix.
It didn’t take long to fire up the smoker with mesquite wood chips, 275F. It took 2 hours to reach 170F internal on the whopper chicken legs.
In between, after 90 minutes, we flipped them over and brush-coated all of them with ½ cup of liquid chili sauce mix from Aldi’s that was thinned with ¼ cup of Bragg’s apple cider vinegar.
Then we smoked the coated drumsticks at the same temperature for another 30 minutes to harden and crisp up the skin.
In the future, we plan to try the same recipe in the oven and then again in the instant pot with the same formula.
We’ll be looking for taste vs time to do, but honestly, it will be tough to beat the real smoker cooking taste.
These smoker drumsticks were absolutely delicious! Just plain delicious! Worth the time (total = 3 hrs).
Hot Beach Day, 107 heat index…YOU NEED to chill with a cold beverage.
Avoid sunstroke and heat exhaustion by staying hydrated.
We found a lightweight carry-along friend to help ensure fun in the sun.
By Forrest Fisher
At 2 PM on July 2nd on a busy holiday weekend on a beach in Southwest Florida, the air temperature was 97 degrees, and the heat index was 107. That’s a hot day anywhere in the USA. The water in the Gulf of Mexico was crystal clear with a slightly bluish hue and a gentle surf, perfect for a treasure hunt walk. The goal is to find some unblemished sea shells and prehistoric shark teeth for which this beach is noted.
There were four of us, so two stayed back to sit on a blanket, hoping their twice-applied sunscreen would protect them but still allow a sun tan. Using a UV thermometer, the surface temperature of the sand measured 116 degrees. Ouch! Sandals were among the required beach gear. Finding a cold drink on a public beach at Stump Pass State Park (Florida) is impossible. No vendors are allowed, so you need to bring your own. A week before, we searched the web and found a hand-carry bag that allowed cellphones, wallets, and ice in one product gizmo. It is called the “Grizzly Carryall.”
This soft-sided product is 32 liters big in volume and is very light when empty: 1 pound-14 ounces! Some of our other hard-sided coolers in that size weigh as much as 20 pounds when empty. They work well, but they weigh so much when adding ice and beverages, even with wheels that do not work well on sand. We loaded up the Grizzly Carryall with 8 cans of pre-chilled 12-ounce Coca-Cola’s, 6 pre-chilled 16-ounce plastic bottles of water, 4 pre-chilled 12-ounce bottles of V8 vegetable juice, and one 24-ounce jar of Margarita’s. We also tossed in two 6” x 6” x 2” frozen blue ice packs and a 4-pack of unbreakable cups. The Carryall has side pockets for phones, wallets, and car keys, and a spare inside pocket for an extra set of socks, sunscreen, sunglasses, underwear – or whatever. All the compartments are sealable with durable zippers to open/close.
The chilled beverages stayed ice-cold for the three hours we enjoyed the sweltering beach – on the hot sand, with no umbrella and no shade. True test. Honestly, we were all amazed. The ice-cold drinks tasted so good when we needed them.
Also, the walk from the car to the beach with the Carryall is comfortable with a dual-locking handle strap above the main bag YKK zipper that brings tight closure to tote on your shoulder. It was still light, even with all those goodies on board. The Grizzly Carryall is leakproof, insulated, water-resistant, and handsome. The reflective, attractive, glacier blue outer cover helps maintain the chill inside, and the Carryall is guaranteed for life. Imagine that. It has a small retail price tag of $125 (we found it for $100) and a significant 32-liter volume with 4 YKK zipper pockets. One more time, it all weighs in at only 1 lb. – 14 oz. UNREAL. For physical size, it measures 14H x 18L x 8W in inches.
It was the morning of July 4th. A truck with three men pulls into the marina. Their families were still sleeping at the lodge where they were all staying. They get out of the truck and tease each other about who will catch the most fish while unloading their fishing gear. A brilliant orange sunrise lit up the eastern sky as they headed down the ramp to the dock.
The pontoon boat pulled away from the dock. An American flag hung from the bow blowing gently in the breeze. A family of three generations of soldiers celebrated Independence Day by going out crappie fishing. The father was a veteran of the Vietnam War, the son had been in the Gulf War, and the grandson had recently returned from Afghanistan.
They laughed, they smiled, they caught crappie. Between reeling in fish, they talked about vacations they had been on together. They spoke of their beloved family deer camp. They talked about other fishing trips they had been on. They talked about kids, grandkids, and military buddies. Many stories were shared, but none about war and the things they had all seen and been through. They kept all that to themselves.
They talked about the dad, the grandfather, and the great grandfather who had been one of the “Greatest Generation.” The father smiled and spoke about how much he would have loved being there. Fishing and family were important to him. They all kind of felt he was with them that morning and how proud he would have been of each of them for serving their country.
Being a soldier ran deep in this family. Other generations of family members fought in the Korean War, World War I, and even the Civil War. Serving their country was in their blood. It was not something that was expected of you. It was something you wanted to do. It was something you did.
They all stopped fishing to watch two eagles sitting in a nest at the top of a tree. Seeing this iconic symbol of America meant as much to them as the flag waving on the front of the boat. One of the eagles flew from the nest and started circling over the water. It was out fishing too. As it circled in the bright blue sky, it made the distinctive eagle sound which is said to be unlike any other sound in nature. They all knew that an eagle call represents a call to action. Native Americans believe the sound of an eagle gives you courage and life force to overcome your obstacles and fight against your challenge. They had all done that.
The eagle and its mate also reminded them that they had family back at the lodge waiting for them to come to pick them up so they could have a picnic out on the water. They put away their fishing gear and raised the anchor. As the boat idled into the marina, they could see their wives, kids, and grandkids. It reminded all of them of the time when their families were waiting for them when they came home from war. It also reminded them of how blessed they were to make it back home to their families when so many of their buddies did not.
They loaded up food and family and went back out on the water. The flag still waved on the front of the boat. As they motored across the lake, boats pulling water skiers and kids on tubes were everywhere. So were the jet skis. Other families were out having fun on this Independence Day. Most had no idea why we as Americans celebrate this day. No one realized that three generations of soldiers had just passed them on the water. Men like them fought to protect our country’s independence. Men and women like them continue to serve and fight for our country and the freedom of other countries worldwide.
As the pontoon boat continued across the crowded lake, the eagle flew over and circled them again. The kids loved seeing and hearing the eagle. They kept following the eagle until it led them into a quiet, shaded cove away from the crowds, and then it landed in a tree. It was almost like the eagle knew these men were three generations of soldiers and had led them to this place. The other eagle flew in and joined its mate and the families.
They unloaded water toys for the younger kids, a Mickey Mouse fishing rod for the 6-year-old, lawn chairs, and a cooler full of food and drinks. The father started a campfire and got the skillet ready. The other men filleted crappie and threw what was left of each fish out on the water for the eagles, to say thank you. Everyone loved watching the eagles circle the fish while making their sound and then dive down to the water for their special treat. Crappie sizzled in the cast iron skillet as the women got the rest of the food together.
When everything was ready to eat, they circled together as a family, held each other’s hands, and bowed their heads as the father/grandfather led them in prayer. He said, “God, thank you for this special time on this special day. Thank you for the nature you created for all of us to enjoy and care for. Thank you to men like my dad, my son, and my grandson who fought for this nation that was founded upon “In God We Trust.” It saddens me to see our country the way it is becoming. I pray that this nation will turn from its wicked ways and turn back to you. Thank you for the many blessings you have given this family. Amen!”
As they were eating, the 6-year-old told everyone that the eagles were praying too. “What do you mean,” said his dad. “I peeked at the eagles while papaw was praying,” the boy said. They both had their heads bowed while papaw prayed and then raised their heads when he was done and made that sound again.” Everyone looked up at the eagles and smiled. Some looked back at them again and wondered.
The afternoon was filled with talking about memories and making memories. Sitting in the shade, playing in the water, skipping rocks, and much more. The 6-year-old and his grandpa walked up the bank and found a good place for a 6-year-old to fish. Grandpa dug up a worm and put it on the little boy’s hook, then helped him cast it over by a log lying in the water. The bobber went under, and grandpa helped him reel in a little fish. It didn’t matter to the boy what size it was. He had to take it back and show everyone. Another fisherman joined the family that day.
A beautiful sunset lit up the western sky. A great day was coming to an end. They had all caught crappie and had a fun-filled afternoon as a family. They were getting ready to pull up the anchor when the fireworks started across the lake. The flag still waved on the front of the boat with the fireworks as a backdrop. The eagles saw them too. The soldiers all stood at once and saluted the flag. The rest of the family joined them, put their hand over their heart, and all started singing “God Bless America.” The 6-year-old looked up to see his dad, grandpa, and great-grandpa saluting the flag, so he did too. His great-grandpa looked down and saw him. He knew that someday his great-grandson would also hear the call of an eagle.
During the time that I grew up, we did not need the news channels to tell us who our heroes should be.
Though true heroes were pointed out to us so we would see them.
We learned about the actions that made them heroes.
Mom, dad, teachers, ministers and friends, all drew our attention to people who were heroes.
I learned that heroes are people who give of themselves when required.
I learned many live a very simple life, but often, their lives are a life of example and caring.
Heroes always give of themselves.
They serve others in whatever they do.
We have heroes today, but it seems we do not thank our heroes as much as we once did.
This writer citizen, and hundreds of Vietnam Veterans, want to thank Congresswomen Vicky Hartzler for organizing the 2022 Vietnam Veterans Recognition Event in Jefferson City, Missouri. A special thank you to those who served and are serving.
During the editing of this video, several veterans viewed it and many had tears in their eyes before it was over. One said the video was so patriotic and honest. I know, and you probably know, more Vets that would enjoy watching this video and would share and pass it along to other veterans. Please do.
From all of us, a hearty thank you to our many military veteran heroes, you’ll see many of them in this video.
The Outdoor Communicators of Kansas (OCK) chose Lucas, Kansas, for their fall 2021 conference on Nov. 20-22, 2021. OCK members include nationally recognized editors, writers, photographers, artists, and bloggers focusing on outdoor recreation.
Nearby Wilson Lake is a fishing hotspot where anglers can catch walleye, white bass, striped bass, catfish, drum and even trophy big-mouthed bass. There is ample room to cruise your boat on the gorgeous 9,000 acres of water. If you prefer to patiently sit in a lawn chair and watch the world go by, you will find plenty of scenic places to fish from shore. The full-service marina in the state park is open from Apr. 1st – Nov. 1st. A host of items is offered, including groceries, live bait, fuel, fishing and camping supplies. There are 200 rental boat slips available.
Surrounding Lake Wilson is more than 8,000 acres of public hunting access. Deer hunting is popular with hilly terrain providing spot and stalk opportunities. Small game hunters can wear out a pair of boots chasing pheasants, quail and even prairie chickens! Wild turkeys, rabbits and squirrels are present as well. Waterfowl hunting can sometimes get frenzied on the reservoir’s upper end and the many coves and backwater wetlands. There are thousands more acres within Russell and adjacent counties of Walk-In-Hunting-Access (WIHA). The WIHA Atlas is available online.
Abundant camping opportunities exist, including Wilson State Park, Minooka Park, Lucas Park and Sylvan Park. Cabins and camper hookups are available, and reservations are recommended. Several hiking trails attract both hardcore nimrod hikers and the less ambitious. The Cedar Trail in the Otoe area is an easy one-mile loop with a concrete surface. The 25-mile Switchgrass Mountain Bike Trail is a national bucket list challenge for cyclists.
Other area attractions include the Post Rock Scenic Byway driving tour, Garden of Eden, Grassroots Art Center, Possumbilities Antique shop and Kansas Originals Market. Lodging is available in Lucas at the Garden View Lodge, Horseshoe Lodge, Cozy Cottage, Lucas RV Park, and Set in Stone Cabins. Many other lodging choices and services can be found in Russell and Wilson, Kansas.
A short one-hour drive south will reward you with a visit to Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area, the largest wetland in the interior of the United States. More than 300 species of birds have been documented in the bottoms, especially important for shorebirds. Whooping cranes are annual visitors, and people travel from around the globe to witness the antics of the whoopers. Some pools are open for waterfowl hunting, so it gets popular on the weekends during duck season.
OCK members were surprised at Lucas’s variety of services and supplies, such as from the Home Oil Service Convenience store. They were awed and spooked by the eclectic displays at the Garden of Eden! A Bar-B-Que at the Garden View Lodge with meats sourced from Brant’s Market kept everyone’s energy at peak for their hunting efforts. Jason Vanley of Kansas Outdoor Adventures provided guiding services for pheasants and quail. His dogs entertained everyone at the evening social gathering.
Lucas is located in the heart of the Smokey Hills, and many visitors consider this area the most beautiful in the state. Local businesses graciously offered support for hunting and fishing pursuits, and the Russell County Convention and Visitors Bureau provided generous hospitality to the group. Visithttps://lucaskansas.com/visit for more information.
Full camo shotgun, full camo boots and garb, 25-yards, aim, squeeze, shot – BANG…BIRD DOWN.
A surreal moment after harvest, it will last me FOR ALL TIME.
By Dawn Redner, with Forrest Fisher
The Illinois turkey season was open and, honestly, I was itching to get out there. I had a craving for a wild turkey dinner, though as everyone knows, bagging a bird doesn’t happen every season. Hey, I’m an optimist!
We were hunting on our own property, which includes about 12 acres of native forest. There was something special about this day, though I wasn’t sure what it was. This time, though, I seemed more alert and more ready to hunt than usual.
Maybe it was because this time when I walked into our woods, I thanked the Lord that I can hunt with my husband, Wayne. Also deep in my prayers, I was thinking of my husband’s dad. Wayne’s dad was always so proud of me for being a girl/woman fisherwoman and huntress. He passed on in March 1993. We miss him.
As we approached the woods, I was careful to quietly load up my camo-color Remington 11-87. I slid the Winchester Double-X, 3-inch number 5s in and double-checked my safe. All good. Wayne had the turkey calls with him, we were set to trek in.
In 15 minutes or so, in the dark, we set up in a good-looking woodsy spot. After just a few minutes, a serious gobble echoed off to our left. It was quite a ways off. We looked at each other through our face masks and whispered to consider moving closer. We moved quietly in the direction of the gobble to close the distance. We got as close as we thought we could and set up in a deadfall. While we were moving, we heard him gobble a few more times. We were moving, so we did not call back to him. We thought it was the same bird, the live turkey yak-yak tone sounded similar to the first hearty gobble we had heard. Quietly, we cleared a little brush out of the way and sat down. Wayne gave him a few soft yelps with his Primos Razor Hooks with Bat Cut Mouth Diaphragm.
We got an immediate response! We waited a minute or two and called again.
We got another response, and he was much closer now.
He was on his way to us!
I lifted my Remington to rest on my knee and waited.
The few minutes felt like an hour as we waited, hoping to see him move into sight and range.
Then, just like that, there he was, only about 25 yards out. I gently slipped the safety off. In range now, I decided to take the shot, gently squeezing the trigger once. After the shot, I couldn’t see him anymore.
So I jumped up and ran to where I thought he should be, worried a bit.
Then, there he was! I had bagged him!
We high-5’d and hugged. Yes! The moment was fantastic!
After another look at the bird, it had funny-looking legs. We discovered he had all those extra spurs.
Three on one leg and two and a nub on the other leg.
He also had a very long beard and he was a pretty large bird.
Later, we measured the beard, it was 12-inches!
The weight scales really gave us an even bigger surprise, 25 pounds!
This was one big beautiful tree chicken.
One big beautiful memory.
I always wanted to get a Pope & Young just for my father-in-law, he might think this hunt came close to that. My husband does!
For me, this whole day will be unforgettable for a lifetime.
The Great Spirit of fishing starts young, if you're a lucky little girl.
When do women outfish men? Chilly air and morning fog make little difference.
Is it luck when you catch a limit…and you are the only woman around?
When we talk to ourselves when fishing, are we talking to the fish too? A higher power?
Annie shares her experiences and connections on the water…and more.
By Larry Whiteley
It’s early morning on the river in Trout Park. The sun is beginning to peek through the forested hills. Annie is at the river’s edge, waiting with rod in hand. She is visiting with the men on both sides of her. It’s a cool morning. Annie is the only woman to brave the chill. The fishermen and one fisherwoman talk about the early spring weather and how they are glad that winter is over.
The rising sun reveals a beautiful fog rising from the water. The siren sounds to signal the anglers they can now start fishing. Annie’s lure is the first one to hit the water. In minutes, she is smiling and bringing a trout to her net. She puts it on a stringer and makes another cast. A few turns of the reel handle, and another trout takes her lure. This one is bigger and pulling line from her reel. It leaps from the water, and Annie shrieks with joy. After a few more jumps, she scoops it up with her net. She admires its beauty, puts it on the stringer and makes another cast. An hour later, she has her daily limit.
Several other fishermen who hadn’t been quite as successful came over to congratulate her. One of them asked what kind of lure she was using. She looked at him, smiled and said, “Honey, it’s not the lure that’s catching the fish. It’s this 75-year-old woman using it.” She laughed too, wished them luck and headed for her car. After she put her fish in the cooler, she looked up to the sky and thanked God for this particular time in the outdoors that He created. She also thanked Him for watching over her all these years.
Looking back at the river, she saw an eagle perched in a tree across from where she had been fishing. She remembered her favorite bible verse – “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint.” She looked back at the eagle, smiled again and said to herself, “God sent an eagle to watch over me today!”
When she got home, she couldn’t get the eagle out of her mind, so she sat down to read about eagles. One of the things it said was that Native American Indians believe an eagle delivers their prayers to the Great Spirit. They hold an eagle feather aloft as a custom while saying a prayer. To them, the eagle meant strength, wisdom and courage. Annie has needed all those things throughout her life. A tear flowed down her cheek.
Annie was raised in the church and grew up loving the great outdoors. In San Mateo, California, she was born, where her dad worked for United Airlines. He was also an avid hunter and fisherman. Her mom liked to fish too and taught Annie that if you catch them, you clean them.
She loved it when they would travel north to see her grandparents in Ahwahnee, California. Her granddad was a friend of the famous photographer Ansel Adams, who rose to prominence as a photographer of the American West, notably Yosemite National Park, using his iconic black-and-white images to promote the conservation of wilderness areas.
Her granddad won awards for his photography. She remembers him having a darkroom in their house where he developed the pictures he took while out enjoying nature. Yosemite National Park was just 5 miles from Ahwahnee. The waterfalls, towering granite monoliths, deep valleys and ancient giant sequoias were a big part of her young life. Annie gives credit to her parents and grandparents for her love of the outdoors.
Annie was 9-years old when her dad was transferred by United Airlines to Kansas City, Missouri. Later they bought a home at Lake Waukomis, a town with a great fishing lake. That continued to fuel her love for fishing. One night she set some baited lines off a dock for catfish. She got up early the following day and found she had caught three nice catfish. She knew how to scale and clean other fish but had no idea how to clean a slimy ole’ catfish. So she took them into the bedroom where her dad was still asleep to ask him to help. “He sure wasn’t pleased about it,” said Annie.
They would travel down to Lebanon, Missouri, to visit her Grandma Effie on her mom’s side in the summers. Like most of her family, Grandma Effie was an outdoorsy person too. She took care of a 4-acre garden and still fished. During the depression, she did it to survive, but now she did it for fun and food.
Her Uncle Dale lived next to her grandma. He loved fly fishing and would take Annie along with him. After he caught a fish, he would hand Annie the rod and let her reel it in. “I never got into fly fishing like Uncle Dale,” says Annie. “I just thought, why would I want to cast five times to a fish when I could cast one time and catch it with a regular fishing rod and reel?”
When Annie graduated high school, her dad took her on a Canadian fishing trip with six other men. For seven days they caught and ate walleye. A few years later, her dad was transferred back to California with United Airlines. Her mom got sick, and her dad couldn’t take off work, so it was up to 18-year-old Annie to find them a place to live in San Mateo. She did.
Not long after that, Annie got married. She and her husband Bob lived in the state of Washington, and she traveled with him to Australia and other places. He passed away, but Annie won’t talk about that. After all those years, it still hurts too much. Annie says, “I was blessed with a strong father and a strong husband who said I could do anything, and through God, I can.”
Annie eventually re-married to another man named Bob, who loved to fish as much as she did. They lived in Warsaw, Missouri, in a lakefront home on Lake of the Ozarks for 28 years. He had his own bass boat, and he got Annie an aluminum fishing boat with a bright yellow life jacket just for her. The yellow life jacket was so if he or neighbors came out looking for her (when she stayed out fishing too long), they could find her a lot easier. She still remembers the elk hunt he took her on and the beautiful Colorado Mountains.
She went fishing without him one day and caught a 13-pound hybrid bass. When she got it on the boat, she started crying. He asked her why she was crying. Through sniffles and tears, she said, “I always had this idea that if I ever caught a bass bigger than 5 or 6 pounds, God would take me home to heaven, so I am sitting here waiting to go.” Her husband said, “I guess God’s not done with you yet because you’re still here.”
After her second husband passed away, she never re-married. She moved to Blytheville, Arkansas and worked at a co-generation plant. When her dad passed away, she moved back to Springfield, Missouri, to take care of her mom. “With God, we can do anything,” says Annie. “He put us here to help one another.”
On May 11, 2011, nearby Joplin, Missouri, was hit by an F5 tornado. The town was devastated. Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris started a fundraiser to benefit the disaster victims. They held an auction, and one of the items was a fishing trip with fishing legend Jimmy Houston on a private lake at his ranch in Oklahoma. Her bid won the trip for two. She invited the husband of a friend, who was always helping her, to go along. He was as excited as Annie. They caught well over 100 bass. “Jimmy and his wife Chris are wonderful people and could not have been more hospitable,” says Annie. “It was a sweltering day, and I got a little overheated. Chris went in and got her mamma’s fishing hat and put it on my head to shade me and cool me down. Jimmy and I still text back and forth all the time.”
Like Chris Houston, Annie has a special feeling for our Native Americans. She says her Grandma Effie always said they had Cherokee blood in them, but they have never been able to find absolute proof of that. That belief has been a big part of family stories for many years. A portion of the Cherokee Trail of Tears runs through her cousin’s property near Lebanon, Missouri. She has walked in the footsteps of the Cherokee on parts of the trail. She, like me, believes that this was their land, and we stole it from them. They were not the savages; the white man was. They were trying to protect their land and families.
Annie loves her fishing and says she will go anytime, anywhere. But, NASCAR racing comes in a close second. She got the racing bug watching dirt track races near her lake home in Missouri. She was at the race track when Dale Earnhardt died in a crash. She was always a fan of Rusty Wallace because he is a Missouri boy. She has met Tony Stewart several times and also met Richard Petty. I am not sure that I have ever seen her not wearing the Martin Truex Jr. jacket he autographed for her.
She also has agape or unconditional love for her two dogs that rule her life. Sammy is a Shitzu Poodle that adopted Annie in a Walmart parking lot. Callie is a 6-year-old Bushon that was someone’s throwaway dog. Her compassion, though, is not just for her dogs. She also once took a lady into her home that was a throwaway and needed Annie. We will never know how many other people Annie has helped.
Not one to sit around unless it is by a peaceful river, Annie is not accepting growing old. In less than a year, she has walked over 3,006,000 steps enjoying nature. Like she tells people, “You have to stay active mind and body. If not, you rot. You got to enjoy what God gives you. The fresh air in the outdoors has helped keep me well.”
At one time, Annie said she had completed her bucket list with all the places she had been and things she had done. She changed her mind and decided she still wanted to go fishing in Alaska and travel to Florida to walk on a beach looking for seashells.
A few weeks ago, Annie told a few friends sitting at a table in her church that she was leaving to go to Florida the next day. She needed a few days by herself. She was going to check another thing on her bucket list and walk a certain beach on her birthday looking for seashells. One of the men at the table stood up and walked over to Annie. He told her that was the same beach his wife loved to visit. He also said to her that was where he, their kids, and grandkids had gone to leave some of her ashes. He told Annie to say hi to her while she was there. As she stood there crying, Annie told him she would. She also told him she would bring him back a sea shell from that beach.
Over the trip, one of her friends texted her several times to check on her. She had gotten there safely and enjoyed herself but was not finding any seashells. With only a half-day left before heading home, she ate lunch at a seafood restaurant. A woman came up to her, and they started talking. In their conversation, Annie told her she couldn’t find any seashells and the story of why she wanted to find one to take back home for her friend. The woman smiled and told her to go to a certain place on the beach, and she would see what she was looking for.
Annie finished her lunch and headed to where the lady had told her. She walked and walked. A little ocean kelp weed had washed up on the beach, but that was it. She still couldn’t find any seashells. She was about to give up and get ready to head back home when something caught her eye in the kelp. It was a kelp seed pod shaped like a heart. Annie picked it up and stood there crying, looking up to heaven. She talked to the man’s wife. Annie told her what a good man he was and that he and her family missed her. Then she said that she was taking this special heart-shaped seed pod back to him from her. Annie had found what she was looking for where the woman in the restaurant told her she would.
As Annie started to walk away, she looked down and saw something else in the kelp. She thought it was some kid’s ball they had lost, but it was another seed pod. To Annie, it was a sign that God wanted her to keep on rollin’ and had a lot more living to do. She got into her car and headed home.
The Sunday after getting back, she got to church and went directly to her table of friends. The man stood to welcome her. Annie tried to tell him her amazing story without crying but couldn’t. Tears flowed down her cheeks, and tears came to the man’s eyes when she told him what had happened. Then she put the heart-shaped seed pod in his hand, and he hugged her.
Those blessed to know Annie and call her a friend will tell you that Annie has a heart as big as the outdoors she loves. As the Cherokee people would say, “ageyn gvdodi equa adanvdo“ which means, “Annie is a “woman with a big heart.”
Have you been to the grocery store lately? I went with my wife the other day and was totally shocked. Usually, I don’t pay much attention to what she spends on groceries. Since it was just the two of us, I always figured it couldn’t cost too much. The grocery cart was not anywhere near full, and it was almost $200. It would have been a lot more, but they were out of some of the things she needed.
We would have also spent even more money than we did if I had been willing to pay $14 for a small bottle of pancake syrup that I used to like when it cost $8, or $12 for a box of granola bars I always took hunting and fishing with me when they cost $7. Those are only a few examples. Meat prices had gone up more than anything. The only thing I was looking for that had not increased in price was my favorite Guatemalan coffee beans that I grind myself and enjoy every morning. They had plenty of it, so I bought a bag, and I didn’t even need it. I told my wife to buy a bag or two every time she went grocery shopping as long as the price remained the same, and before they didn’t have any of it on the shelves anymore. She is more than willing to do that because she knows how cranky I get when I don’t have my coffee.
On the way home from the grocery store, I already had my coffee, but I was cranky anyway because of our grocery shopping experience. She just rolled her eyes and humored me as I went on about Washington politicians, government waste, supposed shortages, price gouging, disruptions in the global supply chain, adverse weather, rising fuel and energy prices, and a few other things I said about certain politicians that aren’t printable. I don’t know how some families make it. I don’t know how my wife made it listening to me go on about everything all the way home. I think she was glad we didn’t have to stop and get gas because that would have really set me off.
Since there weren’t that many groceries, it didn’t take very long for me to bring them into the house. I offered to help put them up, but she declined my help and told me to go cool off for a while. Well, that’s not exactly what she said but what she did say is not printable here either. I have a feeling she won’t want me to go grocery shopping with her again. I am also betting I will never know what she spends to feed us again. That is probably a good thing.
I went to my man cave, and she was glad I did. I was glad I did, too, because I was here, surrounded by my deer, duck, pheasant, turkey and fish mounts, that a brilliant idea came to me. To save my wife and me a lot of money, I needed to go hunting and fishing more! That way, I would bring home more fish and game to put in our freezer to help offset the cost of groceries. My kind of grocery shopping would be done outdoors in nature, rather than in a building surrounded by crowds of people pushing carts around and spending too much money.
I am retired and have accumulated a vast amount of the outdoor gear I would need. I reasoned that there really wouldn’t be much cost to do this kind of grocery shopping. The only cost would be a license and tags, plus gas to get where I was going. I could even stay out several days doing grocery shopping. My wife would really like that. I could just take my tent along and camp where I didn’t have to pay a fee. That would save on gas too.
As for food, I could bring the deer jerky and summer sausage I make for snacking. I could fry up fish from the freezer or some of what I caught for my meals. Grilling a deer steak would be really good too. I could also fry up potatoes since they aren’t costly. I could even boil up a pot of my Guatemalan coffee over a campfire. Isn’t this idea sounding good?
For my grocery shopping, I should be able to tag two deer and two turkey hunting. The turkeys won’t give us much meat, but they will be good in soups or cooked in my smoker or deep fryer. The deer I would skin and process myself to save money. It would mostly be made into venison burgers since my wife likes those. I enjoy the steaks, jerky and summer sausage. I like deer heart too. She definitely will not eat that.
As for more grocery shopping, there are ducks during the open season, and I should be able to bring home plenty. Maybe I can develop a good recipe for baked duck and wild rice she would like. I forgot about dove season. I might get her to try a grilled bacon-wrapped dove. Did I mention that I have to cook all the wild game at home because my wife won’t? That’s just another reason she will like this idea.
She likes to eat fish, so she will definitely approve of grocery shopping via fishing. This is where the meat could really pile up in the freezer and save us money. If I can catch my limit of several fish species every day while shopping, can you imagine how many fish I would have in the freezer even if I make sure I don’t go over my possession limits? I can fry them, bake them, grill them, can them, and smoke them. I can also go grabbing and gigging for sucker fish. I love fried suckers, and so does my wife.
When the frogging season is open, I could go fishing during the day and get a limit of frogs at night. I love frog legs. I could even catch crawdads and boil them up. They say fried snake tastes like chicken, so I might even try that too. I don’t think I will be able to get her to try any of that. While I’m doing all my grocery shopping out there, I can also gather wild mushrooms, berries and nuts. I’m telling you, my idea of grocery shopping could really work.
In the little time I would be home and not out grocery shopping, I would care for our garden. We would also have a good supply of tomatoes, cucumbers, and other vegetables to go along with the fish and game and everything I bring home from my grocery shopping. This idea of mine is sounding better and better. Now all I need to do is convince my wife how much money I can save us with my kind of grocery shopping. Wish me luck on that.
Olympus Digital Camera, from the late Joe Forma photo collection
By Bob Holzhei
With tick season just a few weeks away, outdoor folks – especially turkey hunters, are preparing to sit their butts down in the woods. It might be good to know about the tick prevention safety guide that has been developed by Brian Anderson, who is from Iron Mountain, MI., known as the Tick Terminator.
“The guide has been used by hundreds of safety directors, outdoor workers and enthusiasts across the country to help them learn and share new prevention ideas in the battle with ticks,” says Anderson.
A follow-up bulletin titled “The Hidden Cost of Lyme Disease” assists readers of the tick season which runs from March through November each year.
What is Lyme Disease?
“Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdolferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of black-legged ticks (deer ticks). Symptoms include headache, brain fog, chills, fatigue, flu-like symptoms, neck stiffness, achy joints, bulls-eye rash including other rashes, facial palsy, heart palpitations, dizziness, vision changes, and sensitivity to light,” stated Anderson.
If left untreated the disease can spread to joints, heart and the nervous system. It is estimated that the disease results in 300-400,000 new cases each year.
Early detection and treatment are important. If diagnosed soon enough, within a few weeks of a bite, antibiotic treatment by an MD will be sufficient to combat the disease. Allowing the disease to go untreated for months will lead to a chronic condition. Many doctors treat patients early with antibiotics to be safe. Lyme disease can take months in the body to show up positive on a test.
Where Does Lyme Disease Come From?
Ticks get Lyme disease by feeding on an infected animal, often a mouse or rodent, which is then passed on to the next host. Using good repellants and checking for tick bites during the season is advised.
The Hidden Costs of Lyme Disease
The person infected with Lyme disease enjoys a normal active life. Then suddenly overnight they become exhausted, can barely make it through a day of work, and can’t wait to get home to rest. Often folks feel it’s just a temporary bug, which will pass. Lyme disease is nicknamed, “the great imitator,” and the medical costs continue to rise.
“Unfortunately, many insurance companies do not recognize the disease, and therefore will not pay for it,” added Anderson.
Where Are Ticks Found?
Ticks are found in tall grasses and low-lying shrubs, preferring moist shaded areas. They don’t jump, fly or fall out of trees. They wait patiently to smell the odor of an animal or human walking by. They then latch on and enjoy a 2–4-day, blood meal. When temperatures rise above 32 degrees or warmer, the tick season has begun. Ticks do not die off during the winter. The small younger nymph ticks are the size of a poppy seed and are responsible for most Lyme disease cases. See the photo.
Preventing Lyme Disease
The use of Deet on the skin and Permethrin on clothes and gear was suggested by Anderson.
Tuck in your pants into the socks!
Wear light-colored pants to easily spot ticks!
Walk on well-used paths and stay away from vegetation!
Use 25-34% Deet on the skin.
Treat shoes, socks, pants, and shirts with Permethrin.
After the Bite
Quick medical attention is advised by a physician that knows about tick-borne diseases. The disease can be treated with antibiotics. Early detection and treatment are stressed!
“If you keep the ticks off of you, you won’t get bit,” concluded Anderson.
Look for gravel on the bottom, shovel in, dig, lift, drop into a floating sifter, shake out the sand. Place your hand underneath the sifter and lift up slightly, look for the teeth. There they are!
Place the teeth into a collection jar, get on to the next shovel-full.
It’s not unusual to find several hundred shark teeth treasures in a single outing of just a few hours n the right spot. The right spot can be anywhere there is gravel on the bottom. Dig there. No teeth? Move on a few feet away, try again.
By Forrest Fisher
Buck called me in the afternoon. It was a Tuesday. He said, “Hey dude, I was thinking about taking my rig out of Arcadia and heading upriver for a shark tooth dig. Wanna go?” Of course, I said, “SURE! What time?!” He said, “Can you be at my house around 830ish? Then we’ll head out.” He added, “Just bring your big sifter and a shovel.” I said, “I’ll pack us some water and a sandwich for when we take a break; sound OK?” Buck replied, “Yea, that’s great.”
Buck was waiting at the door when I arrived, but I asked, “Can I see your teeth collection one more time?” He said, “Sure, come on in.” Inside his living room, there are two giant glass cases, each standing about 6-feet tall. Each has several glass shelves, and each shelf has several mounted picture-style frames of Megalodon shark teeth. Some are shiny, others are dull in color, some are black, others gray, others brownish. I could only simply say, “Wow, these are fantastic.” Buck said, “OK, let’s go.”
Buck is an 80-year-old man who thinks and acts like a 40-year old. Buck is a cancer survivor, doesn’t smoke or drink. Still, he occasionally shares colorful word expressions, especially when he is driving. He says, “Florida drivers just don’t follow the rules. No turn signals. No stopping at stop signs. No common sense, for the most part, they pass on the right! Speeding too, and the sheriffs must be blind or lazy. They let it all happen right in front of them. I’ve watched it. I make up new words when these things happen, so please forgive those moments.” He smiled. “Really bugs me when folks here don’t follow the traffic safety laws. I’m from New York near Albany, but I’ve been here more than 10 years now, and it is worse than ever.” I changed the subject and asked how far it was. He smiled again and said, “OK, I get it. Time for me to stop walloping new words. Sip your coffee.” No kidding, I was laughing so hard. This was honest fun.
Buck is a tough old guy that doesn’t shirk his responsibilities to get the job done, whatever it is. He welded up a trailer to hold his 14-foot shark tooth hunting boat, then equipped it with a homemade 4-stroke air-cooled engine from Harbor Freight and attached a custom-made 10-foot shaft and propeller. Buck added a steel guard for the propeller after the first time out a few years back, so the prop could move the boat over very shallow water at high speed. He said, “I prefer to stay in the boat until I get to where I’m going. Hey, I’m getting a little older and getting into the water in the shallow rapids. You know, there could be potholes in the phosphorous bottom around the river. I could twist an ankle – that would hamper my digging style.” Yea, he was grinning all the way. He likes the power of that homemade boat engine sounding loud enough to scare the gators on both banks into submission.
As we headed upriver, we waved to campers set up along the river on the west bank at Peace River Campground (https://peacerivercampground.com/). Just before that, we noticed one long gator that liked to sit in the sun on the eastern bank. He was there on the glistening, hot white sand, about 25 feet up the bank from the river. A beautiful critter. That gator just continued his sleeping lesson as we headed on by. Never even opened his eyes. “He’s tired,” said Buck. “Hope he stays up there, but no matter, we are going upriver another mile or so.” Then we came to an ancient railroad bridge, a trestle, with logs, all jammed along the structure’s base in several places. At relatively high speed, we skimmed over the tree branches with Buck throttling the motor down as we crossed the spot where the prop had to be lifted out of the water. It was a manual effort to do so, but Buck had no issue with it. He was grinning and talking to me at the same time. “Darn branches! No snakes to ward off, though. That’s good.” No fear in this guy.
In about 10 minutes, we slowed up and pulled over near the base of a large swamp oak that had fallen into the river. The bark was mostly worn off from the current, but the tree was more than 100 feet long. “You’ll like this spot. It has been a treasure finder place for me and my girlfriend.” Buck smiles and grins a lot for good reasons. He is an example of an age-old, golden-era American that is hard to find these days. He will address any issue just for a friendly talk based on what he understands about it. A fun guy. Someone who never stops learning from common sense and he builds on it with every hour of the day.
We moored the boat to shore and stepped into the river. It was about waist deep at the start but shallowed up as we moved back toward the middle of the river. I was using a square-ended shovel, he was using a sharp-nose shovel and a large, heavy sea flea rake that he bought at Bass Pro. He said, “I dig a few spots in the gravel bottom areas and sift each dig. Then, I rake that same area and hope to drag in anything that fell off or couldn’t fit onto the shovel blade. You know, that’s my method. I have found many, many Meg’s in this area here. I’m hoping you find one today.” I was still looking for my first Meg after 3-years of digging the Peace River and scouring the Gulf Coast beaches. I did not have a drag device, though. Next time.
Over the next 3-hours, we talked to about 10 kayakers paddling upstream and downstream. We were about two miles from the campsites mentioned earlier. We found new gravel areas in the spot where we had stopped and probed with our dig and sift gear. We watched one water snake cross the river, and off he went, wanted nothing to do with us people. Buck said, “That’s the way it is most of the time, with gators too, unless it is mating season. The critters leave us alone. We like it that way.”
There were no Megalodon teeth this time, but we brought back several hundred beautiful, sharp-edge shark teeth. Primarily Bull/Dusky shark teeth, though several Mako, Tiger and Snaggle-Tooth (Hemipristis) shark teeth fossils were in the treasure pile too. A good friend and shark tooth expert and his wife, Tim and Jeanie (https://www.ebay.com/usr/sharkartguy?_trksid=p2047675.m3561.l2559), have shared that most of the shark teeth in the Peace River originate from the Miocene era (5-25 million years ago). They are genuinely ancient fossils. One reason why going on these river adventures is so exciting. We are looking at history from so long ago. Tim says, “We retired in SWFL to golf and fish, which we did for the first six weeks. Then we discovered shark teeth on the beach. The first thing we did was sell the golf clubs and spend less time fishing so we could collect shark teeth. WE LOVE SHARK TEETH! There are a lot of us out there like Tim and Jeanie and Buck. Me too. Buck is not a guide, Tim neither, but they love to share the fun of shark tooth hunting with folks they meet wherever they are. I was lucky to meet both of these folks through casual circumstances. Tim will give away shark tooth necklaces to the kids looking for teeth in the surf on the beach. Quite a “hello traveler” gesture.
With his dig, sift, and drag method, Buck has done well.
A boat journey in any float craft will provide a beautiful experience, as giant cypress trees, colorful birds, and butterflies abound. The moments afloat are unforgettable.
That handsome 10-foot alligator was still in the same elevated sand spot as we neared the boat launch on our way back. Not more than 300 yards upstream, several dozen camper folks were sitting in the river, on the bottom of 1-foot deep water. They were sifting gravel in the river near the spot locals call the “cliffs” with tiny shovels. It is a shallow area where the water in the river drops about 2-feet from the upstream to the downstream side of the rapids. They said, “We’re doing great!” Happy shark tooth hunters are a good sign to try that spot next time.
Of course, anyone can hunt for shark teeth in the Peace River. Access is mostly near the boat launch areas (https://myfwc.com/boating/boat-ramps-access/). Besides Arcadia, there are several other boat launch access areas including Brownsville, Zolfo Springs, Wauchula and others.
For our efforts, I weighed our shark tooth finds to realize we had nearly 14 ounces of shark tooth treasure in the jar. Not bad for a 3-hour effort.
A place designed for individuals with physical disabilities and their families. Big fish are waiting to greet you!
Located on beautiful Lake Shebandowan about 50 miles west of Thunder Bay, Ontario, the newly modernized Wilderness Discovery Centre provides outdoor adventure for disabled persons. It’s all about sharing access to the wilderness with them.
Visitors can enjoy a 3-season lakefront resort with modern accessibility. Donations are welcome.
Bed lifts, ramp systems, aquatic lift render, grab bars, and additional assistance technology devices are used here.
The facility also caters to seniors, military veterans, first responders, non-profit groups, corporate retreats, non-profit groups, families for reunions, and social gatherings.
By Forrest Fisher
With songful loons sounding off at sunrise, the call of a warm breakfast in the Canadian wilds beckons to all. Especially to folks that may require assistance to enjoy a lakeside resort. Visitors to one special place called the Wilderness Discovery Center can now enjoy pontoon boat rides, accessible swimming facilities, dock fishing, lake fishing, and a warm bonfire at the sunset hour right before bedtime.
There are laughs for the fun of it, all from the heart and soul of dedicated camp administrators. The Wilderness Discovery Centre provides active participation to include everyone, regardless of disability and assures an ultimate, safe, outdoor, vacation-style experience. The discovery of “no barriers” is special all by itself.
At the Wilderness Discovery Centre, visitors are encouraged to enjoy the unique outdoor adventure found here, by staff who maintain the principles of personal independence, dignity, integration, and equal opportunityfor everyone. The staff strives to create a no-pressure camping and outdoor experience that affords all guests a “Life without Barriers.” That’s the goal of Mr. Bob Hookham, the President of the Board of Directors of Wilderness Discovery Centre (WDC), and the rest of the Board, since the facility began re-opening in 2019.
Bob says, “The staff is fun and works to provide a fully accessible family resort that promotes a secure and barrier-free camping experience. Everyone will have fun and enjoy their time together. They work hard to engage the community in a way that fosters these values.”
Bob adds, “As able-bodied people, we take many things for granted: Fishing, swimming, having a bonfire, or even just a BBQ. This facility will allow anyone with any kind of disability to do all those things every day of their stay. We have a special pontoon boat designed with wheelchair access so that anyone can go for a lake cruise or go fishing. There will be a lift to lower individuals into the lake for a swim or a boat ride in a fishing boat. Every camper can navigate the camp using the ramp system from their cottage or the main lodge to the beach and bonfire area. They can enjoy these simple pleasures. Life here will afford our guests a ‘Life without Limits.” For the Board of Directors, dedicated volunteers, and committed carpenters, it has been a long and winding road to revamp the facility. Discover an information capsule on the history of this facility at the end of this article.
By July of 2019, Wilderness Discovery added the final touches to cabins. In a report from TBN News Watch (www.tbnewswatch.com), Bob Hookham estimated the cost for repairs was around $1 million. Today, reservations are open for 2022. Additional revamping and expansion will likely continue with help from local support groups such as the Rotary House in Thunder Bay and many others across Canada and the USA. If you would like to help, please visit https://www.wildernessdiscovery.net/donate/.
The modernized cabins feature an open concept living room, brand new sliding door entryways, sliding glass doors leading to the sun deck with access to a meadow of colorful dandelions. The cabins feature a fully accessible L-design kitchen and 3-piece bathroom with shower stall, dining room, and entertainment area. The cabins are completely furnished, including a fully-equipped kitchen (dishes and cutlery, countertop stove, microwave, pots, pans, toaster oven, coffee maker, dish towels and cleaning supplies), essential bedding and towels (pillow, sheets, blanket, bath/wash towel), fireplace and window air conditioning, a large wrap-around deck with tables/chairs, TV’s and DVD player, with Wi-Fi access in the Main Lodge. Hard to beat all that! To book a reservation, please visit https://www.wildernessdiscovery.net/rooms-cabins/ or call 807-346-9722, or email email@example.com.
Is there good fishing in Lake Shebandowan? YES! It’s home to big walleye, smallmouth bass and northern pike. Anglers Edge fishermen stars James Lindner and Dave Csanda did a colorful and informative fishing show from the lake. This heartwarming angler duo shares a video presentation where viewers can learn finite details to locate fish in Lake Shebandowan. Lindner uses a Humminbird sonar with a MinnKota Ulterra electric motor, using spot-lock and speed control to demonstrate finding the strike zone while incorporating speed dynamics and position location control to refine angler presentations. The show illustrates how they bring Lake Shebandowan whopper fish to the boat. Lures that imitate whitefish and tullibee are the main forage base.
I plan a donation to the Wilderness Discovery Centre, and I want to visit and fish there soon! Please join me with a donation.
HISTORY: The history of this Centre has always been about helping others. In 1951, the land was deeded by the Carson and Cross families to the YM-YWCA as a summer camp for youth. By the early 1980s, Handicapped Action Group, Inc. (HAGI), had a dream of expanding this camp into a facility that would allow persons with disabilities and their families to enjoy life at the lake. In August 1983, HAGI entered into a 20-year lease to develop the HAGI camp. In 1993-1994, the lease was amended and expired in 2013, followed by yearly extensions until the fall of 2015. In July of 2015, Bob Hookham of the Fort William Rotary and Jeff Jones of the Hill City Kinsmen met with Minister Bill Mauro to discuss the possibility of assisting HAGI to maintain the operation of this facility at Lake Shebandowan. In April 2015, HAGI announced that they would be forced to stop operating the facility unless there was a significant change in the financial picture concerning the facility. In February 2017, negotiations culminated in an official announcement from Minister Bill Mauro regarding a new management group. On April 7, 2017, Wilderness Discovery received its Letters Patent as a Non-Profit Corporation with representatives on its Board of Directors from the Thunder Bay Rotary Clubs, Hill City Kinsmen, HAGI, and the Shebandowan Lake Campers’ Association. In July of 2017, the Corporation and the Ministries signed an Agreement of Purchase and Sale for the Lake Shebandowan Property. Since August 11, 2017, the Wilderness Discovery Centre officially took possession of the Lake Shebandowan facility that HAGI previously operated. Immediate upgrades have been in progress since that time.
Editor note: All photographs are courtesy of the Wilderness Adventure Centre.
Inspiration abounds in spring – beautiful sunrise sunshine, birds, bees, fresh tree buds, and it seems, at least to me, there might be angels everywhere.
Anticipation and fun to look forward to – limits of crappie, white bass, walleye, suckers and tasty fish fry’s.
Special hunting treats – spring gobblers, fresh morel mushrooms, slow-cooked savory venison steaks. Thank you, Lord.
By Larry Whiteley
Circle the first day of spring on your calendar. Put that date in your smartphone and computer calendar with a special alert. Or, you can tell Alexa, Google Assistant, or whatever you use, to remind you of the first day of spring.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, on that exact date, you got up that morning and saw a beautiful sunrise coming through leafed-out trees with a chorus of angels singing “Hallelujah”? Birds are singing with the angels, peeper frogs are peeping, butterflies are everywhere, turkeys are gobbling and wildflowers are blooming. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Since we are daydreaming here anyway, let’s say your boss calls and tells you he knows how much you enjoy spring, so he wants you to take the week off with pay and go fishing. Did I hear the angels singing again?
As I write this, it is a March day. I pause to look out my window at icicles hanging from bare tree limbs. The ground is white, the birds aren’t singing and neither are the angels. The squirrels are shivering and their teeth are chattering. I put another log on the fire. My fishing gear is organized, re-stocked and ready. It sits in the corner of the garage waiting for spring and so am I.
I think I will quit daydreaming for a while and go inventory my turkey gear. Then, when my wife leaves to go grocery shopping, I might practice my turkey calls. I can’t practice when she’s home or she would tell me to go outside to make my yelps, purrs and cackles. Then the neighbors will yell at me and tell me to quit making those noises. I don’t want to go outside anyway. It’s cold out there!
Until she leaves, I guess I will just sit here and try not to think about the cold, windy March weather outside my door. Instead, I will daydream about spring. Wonderful, glorious spring. To me, spring is God’s gift to all of us after a long, cold winter that we don’t think is ever going to end.
To some people, the first sign of spring is a robin in their yard, leaves starting to bud out, or flowers beginning to bloom. To me, the first sign of spring is the mating call of the peeper frog. A single peeper frog is no bigger than your fingernail and couldn’t be heard if you were standing right next to it. But, when hundreds of them blend their clear, birdlike “peeps” into a chorus trying to woo a suitable mate, its music to my ears.
Other signs of spring to me are migratory birds joining year-round residents at our bird feeders and filling the air with their sounds of courtship. Joining them are the drab goldfinches of winter magically changing into the bright yellow of spring. More signs of spring are a bee buzzing around, a spider spinning his web on a bush or a lizard rustling in the leaves causing my heart to skip a beat thinking it’s a snake. There’s also a clean, fresh smell to the air.
Where I live buckeye trees are the first to leaf out. Serviceberry is the first tree to start showing off its blooms. They are followed by the white of the dogwood and the purplish tint of the redbud trees. Wildflowers begin popping through the dead leaves and so do morel mushrooms. While looking for mushrooms I never know when I will find a shed antler from a big buck and that’s a bonus. All the sights, sounds, smells and early season activities always remind me that we humans weren’t the only ones waiting for spring.
Spring to me also means limits of crappie, white bass, walleye, suckers and fish fry’s. It’s matching the hatches on a trout stream. It’s big bass and battling smallmouth. Spring is floating a river, hitting the hiking trails and getting my camping gear together for my first camping trip of the year.
Spring is also my beloved turkey hunting time. My heart always beats faster as a big old gobbler comes into my calls. I’ve spent a lot of years sitting with my back against a tree waiting for the sun to come up and the woods to come alive with the sounds of birds, chattering squirrels and flapping turkey wings. I’d like to have a dollar for every yelp, purr and cluck I’ve made on my calls.
More times than I’d like to count I did everything right and the gobbler wouldn’t respond or come in. There have been times, too, that I did everything right and then scratched an itch or blinked an eye and the gobbler caught my movement. There have also been magical times when my calls were answered by a gobble from really close by. My neck hairs bristle, my heart rate cranks up and the ache in my butt disappears. I point my gun where I expect the gobbler to appear and cluck on my mouth call. Suddenly a crinkly head appears and God smiles down on me. I smooth his bronze feathers, feel his bristly beard, admire his spurs and look up and say thank you once again for my special time in the turkey woods.
The great thing about spring is walking through the woods in search of the delicious wild morel mushroom. They are a special spring treat to me. I wash them off then slice them and sauté in butter until they’re soft and tender. Then I heap them on venison steaks or wild turkey breasts and enjoy their delicate flavor. Besides sautéing,
I also like to bread and fry them. They make great pizza toppings and I like adding them to my wife’s spaghetti. I also put them in soups, stews and sauces. If I am lucky enough to have more fresh morels than I can eat I just dehydrate them for later use. Okay, I have to quit thinking about morels. It’s making me really hungry. I wish my wife would get home with the groceries.
If only Punxsutawney Phil hadn’t seen his shadow a few weeks ago spring might already be here. But he did, so that means we have a few more weeks to wait. It turns out groundhogs aren’t the best for predicting when spring will arrive anyway. A study, probably government-funded with our tax dollars, looked at Groundhog Day predictions from the past 30 years and found that they were only right about 37% of the time.
Regardless, here in the middle of America, March will continue to seem like the longest month of the year. It drags on and on. April gets here and it, at first, teases us into thinking winter is over and spring is finally here. Then cold winds slap us in the face again. Please, God, I want winter to be over! I promise I will be good. Spring is coming, isn’t it?
Family Fun at a well-managed Florida Sporting Clay Course.
It’s a good idea before heading out – Discuss the obvious. At all times, treat the gun as if loaded.
Go over the common rules – Embed them even if you know them. Assure to use the proper gauge and ammo type, check it twice.
The shooter sequence – The shotgun shell goes into the gun ONLY when on a shooting station and you are to fire.
A Problem? – If the gun does not fire, point the muzzle downrange and wait for a full 2-minutes.
By Forrest Fisher
When my 34-year old nephew, Jonathan Liebler, asked what I was doing the day of the baby shower party set for his beautiful wife, I had a solid answer. “I’m driving your Aunt to your moms’ house for the party, of course.” He replied, “Good, you know I found out that guys are not welcome at those events. I wanna invite you to check out the sporting clay club just down the road from there, are you in? Jeff (Jon’s brother) and I go there often. It’s such fun!” There was so much enthusiasm in his voice! I was blown away by his sheer energy and anticipation. How could I say anything else except, “OK, man, that sounds great!” I was pretty excited.
Jon went on to explain, “Most folks shoot the usual over-under style shotguns, but any shotgun that holds two rounds can be used. I can’t wait to try out my new Berretta 12 gauge I recently bought, I got it used at a local gun show. I patterned it, and I’m pretty pleased that it seems to shoot well. Jeff is bringing his Mossberg over-under 12, what do you have Unc?” I replied, “Well, I have my favorite Berretta 20, the black onyx model, and my old Ithaca over/under 12 from the 1960s that I gave to your cousin, my grandson, Collin. He likes that gun, he used it to shoot trap at his old high school trap team league. He got pretty good with that gun, they won the league 1st place trophy that year. You know Collin is with us down here in Florida now.” With excitement, Jon answered, “That’s great, let’s all go together then! And so we did.
When we arrived at FishHawk Sporting Clays in Lithia, Florida, it was about 11 a.m. Jon and Jeff met us in the parking lot and there was that special, unmistakable, magic of new adventure and excitement in the air. The facility was modern, computerized for initial registration, and fully equipped with golf carts and rental gear, including shotguns, hearing protection, and ammo. In 10 minutes, we were set to go and provided with a trail map of the shooting station layout. Impressive.
Back to the vehicles to get our firearms and ammo, we all talked about safety first. As we moved from truck to golf cart, we opened the breach of each gun and peaked down the barrel to check for a clear, shiny reflection to daylight at the other end. I picked up Jonathan’s gun and said, “Hey, who cleaned this gun?” My sly grin gave my joking a giveaway. They all laughed. We went over the safety stuff just like when the guys were kids, treating each gun as if it was loaded. We went over the process of shooting, never to load the gun until we were at the shooting station, then finger off the trigger until ready to shoot. After shooting, eject the spent ammo and move off the station, action open. Of course, eye and ear protection for the full time on the course.
When the family boys get together for a day at the shooting range, especially a sporting clay shooting range, it’s going to be a fun time. Especially when it’s a first-time sporting clay experience for one of the guys. Jon explained the many course options as we headed down the cart trail to the range area. First-time sporting clay shooter, Collin Voss, motions toward the field and speaks to his cousin, “Can we go A then B, real quick?” Bang! Bang! Jon Liebler answers, “Nice shooting bro! You are really picking up the targets so quickly. The hardest thing about having not done this before is finding the targets as they go flying left to right, right to left, straight up and away, straight across and at you, or bouncing along the ground.” Voss answers, “It’s simple. Watch me.” Everybody laughed. Collin continued, “This is awesome fun. I love this sport.” Jon’s brother, 32-year-old Jeffrey answers, “Not bad for a bonehead kid bro.” Collin is just turning 21 this year. Everybody laughs again and the banter game is on.
Jon hollers above all the other group shooting sounds in the area, “Let’s go over to one of my favorite stations down the trail here, I think you’re gonna love it. Jeff and I like this one to see if we are still on time with our hockey reflexes – it’s quick and it’s a challenge for us. See what you think.” Collin grins and gabbles back, “Uh-oh, are you guys setting me up again?”
In all, at FishHawk Sporting Clays in Lithia, Florida, there are two 8-station courses, one 11-station course and one super sporting clay course of 16 shooting stations. Each station is denoted in a sequence via separately labeled trail marker colors (red, blue, white and green). Easy to follow on foot or in the golf cart. Each station offers from two to four clay bird release platforms. Some stations throw small clay discs (birds), and some toss regular-size clay discs. The type of target bird is noted on a clipboard hanging to the left of the shooter in the shooting platform. Type of small game or bird species. Each target as noted on the clipboard ID is a bit of a surprise. All of them are fun, especially when competition fun grows between family siblings.
Jon hollers, “How many in a row is that Jeff?” Articulate and deadly accurate, humble Jeff mumbles softly, “16, I think.” He looks over my way with an unassuming grin, whispering, “Thanks for opening the door to all this stuff when we were kids. I remember it like yesterday, we were with my dad way back when at your East Aurora Fish and Game Club in New York. Those days were unforgettable.” I whisper back, “I know I’m getting old when I have to think about when that was.” Jon answers, “You brought me, my dad, and Jeff to the club, opened up the trap range and showed us how to hold the shotgun, aim with both eyes open, then lead the target and squeeze the trigger. You let me hold the release controller and with you holding a single-shot .410 gauge shotgun, told us to stand about shoulder-wide but to stand as comfortable as we could – as if we wanted to jump high and far. Then you said, hold the gun lightly and squeeze the trigger real soft.” I grinned from my heart that time. Collin jumped in, “I wasn’t there for that, I wasn’t born yet!” We all laughed. “Move over little guy, who’s turn is it?” hollered Jon. Slowing things down a bit, Collin added, “But when you took me there, you placed a foam pad under my right shirt shoulder and said, pull the gun in sort of snug to my shoulder. When the bird goes up, aim right at it, then squeeze the trigger.” You said, “You’ll get it after a few tries. Don’t worry if you miss it. It takes time. There’s no pressure, it’s just fun. You get to try again and again.” The kids didn’t know that on those first experience moments for them, I had set the machine to throw the birds straight away, making it a bit less complicated to powder a bird. By the time we left, it was a powdery day.
As we navigated the well-managed course, there were no two shooting stations alike. The surrounding trees, swamps, ponds, hardwoods, pines, ground cover, and general terrain, were new and different at each stop. The differences changed the target presentation and provided a brand new shooter-view and illusion, a new challenge at each station. I thought the changes were very much like actual dove hunting, rabbit hunting, chukar, or pheasant hunting. Quick reflexes, distance judgment, target speed, and angle of flight adjustments are all required from the shooter.
The best news is that there is no closed season at a sporting clays range. When wildlife hunting seasons do open, the shooting skills of folks that practice on courses like this are better and far more accurate. During hunting season, it’s more fun in the open-season fields and woods. The shooter is trained and confident, and success feels good on the field and, later, on the dinner plate.
Thank you Fish Hawk, and thank you, Jonathan, Jeff and Collin. Was a pleasure and honor to watch each of you guys shoot safely…and so well. Each one of them is a powder-poker. Safe, efficient, accurate and full of fun. At the end of that day, I looked up and said, thank you, Lord.
Muskoka Lake Fishing Fun for walleye, northern pike, smallmouth bass and largemouth bass
Single-blade spinner rigs fool big and little fish…when presented in the “fish zone.”
How-to, what-to, when-to with expert angler, Andy Wilbur, sharing one of his secrets.
By Forrest Fisher
You know, the older we get, the more we forget! I discovered this last week during a fun fishing trip with good friends to Muskoka Lake in our nearby north, about 100 miles above Toronto.
For many years now, about a dozen outdoor buddies have banded together to make this trip up north because there seems to be an uncommon mutual interest in the outdoors, in the peace and enjoyment of special fishing moments and evening round table campfires.
Add clear starlight skies after dark with an occasional streaking meteorite (a good luck shooting star), the northern lights on some nights, and never-ending conversations about guns, bows, new equipment, new outdoor seasons, and anything else that pertains to the outdoors…and you get it. All the ingredients of a great trip and lots of relaxing fun happen during these away-from-home sessions.
There was a new addition to the band of Muskoka fishing brothers this year. His name was Andy Wilbur. He lives in Central New York, and he had successful heart surgery just two weeks ago.
Understanding that, he wanted to make the trip anyway because he had always turned down previous invitations, and maybe, just maybe, this was a special year for a “big fish”. There is always that story-tale thought!
It turned out to be more than that for the big-hearted new guy. Andy readied his 17-foot Lund moored at the dock and walked up to where the group was still unpacking to ask, “Does anyone want to join me for a few first casts while I check out my boat?” A quick answer came from 12-year old Zack Buresch, “Can I go?”
So Zack and his dad, Karl, a marine infantry veteran, both jumped in the boat and off they went.
About 30 minutes later, we could see the trio returning to the dock. We walked down to help Andy get the boat retied safely and to make sure he didn’t do anything silly after his hospital event. “How did you do?” asked Craig Sauers. “Any good?” Zack hopped vertically about 3 feet straight up and onto the dock, grinning, and said, “I caught my first walleye with Mister Andy!! Look, here it is!”
The fish was 23-inches long, golden yellow in color, a prize all by itself, but that was not all. There were two more on the stringer! The boys caught three beautiful walleye in 30 minutes on a waterway where walleye are known to exist but are rarely caught with any consistency.
After the excitement went into a brief rest mode, everyone wanted to know how, what, where, and all the details.
Chris Sauers asked, “Were you electric motor trolling Andy?”
“Nope, just casting from my anchored boat,” he answered with a whitebeard grin. “Andy just showed us some new magic boys,” Karl said, “I think you might want to see how Andy fishes!” Zack was still beaming.
Andy explained his new old trick for catching walleye here was just as simple as his open water boat. He used an unassuming spinner and worm rig with just a few beads and a single-snelled hook, threaded a half-nightcrawler onto that hook and then cast the line out. In front of the rig, a few split-shots that are heavy enough to take the rig down to the bottom in 20 feet of water or so. Then he simply reeled it back very slowly. Spinner flash, worm scent, color from the beads…..wham! Fish on!
One-fish luck can happen to anyone, but three fish in short order is a demonstration of something more than luck.
There it was, “Andy Magic.” Maybe this was why Andy finally made the trip this year. He had some unique fish-catching charm to share that would change how the “band of Muskoka brothers” fish for all time.
Andy mentioned that he had brought his spinner parts just in case he needed to make some more. Needless to say, there was a spinner/worm rig-making seminar on the kitchen table in the cabin five minutes later. All 12 guys (a big place) were rigged up with at least one. Young Zack had a few extra!
Andy shared with everyone that there is nothing more special to him than watching a youngster hook his fish on a rig that he can tie. “There is captivating charm and bonding magic with the fish when you catch ’em on lures you make,” Andy says. His words hit an exclusive memory chord with me.
The whole experience took me back in a time warp to a time when my dad, who just recently passed away, showed me how to make fishing lures for the first time. A new lane was opened in my mind. This experience with Andy had opened up a direct link I forgot about when I was a kid, to a time when dad was passing on his local fishing lore.
When dad always taught us to save money because we didn’t have too much of that. He knew I loved to fish (he taught me), so he took me aside one day and brought a fishing lure components catalog to my side. The Herter’s catalog was my favorite (I still have a 1953 version), but Netcraft was a close second. With that, he shared the details of how to make a spinner and worm lure. Not a fancy spinner/worm rig like we use on open Lake Erie today, but a straightforward rig, like what Andy was using.
At Muskoka, the blades we used mainly were smaller size 1 Colorado blades, most were silver in color, but copper, gold and painted red/white spinner blades worked too. Just like dad taught me, Andy showed us to slip a clevis into the tiny hole located at one end of the blade first, then slip the line through the clevis, add four or five small beads and tie on a size 4 hook bait-keeper hook, where we threaded a small worm for bait.
Dad would say, “You just need to use enough beads so that when the beads are strung onto a leader, they take about as much space as the blade is long plus a little. That way, the blade doesn’t hit the hook where you put a small worm, and it will turn OK when you cast it out and reel it back.” Andy sounded just like dad. Then he would say, “You can use any color beads you want, but red or green always seem to work well.”
Andy said these very same words like it was 55 years ago, at least as I remember it all. Magical, mystical, extraordinary, the conversation brought all those things.
The trip was simply outstanding, the boys enjoyed moments to never forget, and a massive release of sharing went on. No boasting or bragging, that would not be the way for anyone in this humble group of likable outdoor friends. Just fish tales, simple humor, a few practical jokes, and a lot of fun in the outdoors. It doesn’t get any better! The Canadian beverages were pretty good too!
That wasn’t all. On the last night of the stay, another old friend joined us to fish. Young eight-year-old Alex Denz, joined Andy and Chris in the now-infamous “Andy walleye boat.” Alex hooked into a whopper 23-inch walleye on the simple rig as sunset turned to nightfall.
“Yes!” said Alex, “this is the best day of my life! I love walleye fishing, but I could never catch one! Now I caught one! Yes! Thank you, Mister Chris and Mister Andy!”
Fishing is so much fun! Congrats Alex! Andy presented Alex with the spinner rig with which he caught his first walleye. A wall-hang prize and treasure for the youngster!
The whole experience of “going back to simplicity” made me think about how things have changed here on Lake Erie. Tackle shops sell spinner and worm rigs now that feature photo-prism blades with unique beads that cost seven dollars these days! Wow! In a bad economy, some things never change, like the rising cost of lures. Not sure the high-priced spinner/worm lures work any better than existing Lake Erie models out there for half the price.
However, one word to the wise. Even the half-cost models are complicated. What if we all went back to tying our own simple one-spinner blade rigs with a few beads and only one hook? The blade turns at about a half-mile per hour! Fish attractor? Yes. Right color? Yes, we can make them any color.
Right size? We’re going to find out!!
Do you know what I’m doing today? It’s time to get simple and see if these simple rigs, which can also be used effectively in a very slow drift, work up here for hard-to-catch Lake Erie walleye.
We finished the Muskoka trip with lots of walleye for our every other day fish fry up there. We caught walleye like never before in a lake where walleye are only caught once in a great while. There is a new old lure in Muskoka town today!
You might want to try it in Lake Erie and the Finger Lakes and other places too.
A lifelong resident of Missouri and a Small Business owner.
Public school teacher where she was Co-Director of the At-Risk Teens program, Launched the Missouri Drug-Free initiative.
Lifelong farmer elected to the United States Congress in 2011 and Reelected to Congress in 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2021.
Hartzler is a candidate for the Republican nomination to the US. Senate.
By David Gray
If you love to hunt, target shoot, and value the rights provided by the Second Amendment, that is – to keep and bear arms, please read more about Vicky Hartzler, the Republican party candidate for U.S. Senate, in this interview. Learn about her answers about the right to keep and bear arms. Many in the State of Missouri say that if Vicky Hartzler could join Missouri Senator Josh Hawley in the US. Senate, it would be a Missouri Dream Team for defending Second Amendment rights.
Interview with Vicky Hartzler (courtesy of ShareTheOutdoors.com)
Question:You have been called an authentic conservative. What is an authentic conservative?
Vicky Hartzler Answer: “A person that has conservative values in their heart and always acts accordingly.”
Question:Why do you want to be a Senator from the state of Missouri?
Vicky Hartzler Answer: “To serve the people of the state and fight to stop socialism so that people can pursue their dreams. Right now, that is being interfered with.”
Question: What is America’s Greatness?
Vicky Hartzler Answer: “Our values of faith, family and freedom.”
Question: You have been a Congressional Representative from the 4th District in Missouri. Is a Senator a “representative” or a “free thinker” elected to do whatever they want? What is your position on that?
Vicky Hartzler Answer: “A Senator is still a public servant. The only thing that will change for me as a Senator is that I will represent the entire state.“
Question:Our Second Amendment says, “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not beinfringed.” Is there any infringement of the second amendment you would consider supporting?
Vicky Hartzler Answer: “NO. In fact, we see in other countries that when their (citizen) gun rights are infringed, their other rights soon get infringed.”
Question:When I say the word America what is in your heart and immediately comes to mind?
Vicky Hartzler Answer: “Pride, gratefulness, the experience of freedom, and to make the most of our opportunities.”
Question:When I say the word Missouri what comes to mind?
Vicky Hartzler Answer: “Love of Missouri, farms, small towns, industries and cities on each end that are good places.”
Question.What is your favorite Outdoor Activity?
Vicky Hartzler Answer: It used to be grabbing the fishing rod and going to the pond. Now it’s a walk in the woods on our farm. It’s so peaceful and pleasant activity.
Question: The Missouri Department of Conservation is the envy of all other states as the model for excellence in conservation management. The Missouri Conservation Department is overseen by a citizen’s commission. Almost every year a small group of state legislators introduces a bill to strip away the citizen’s control of the Conservation Department and place it the control of state government. Of course, this is a state issue and not one that would come before the United States Senate, but as an individual Missourian, what are your thoughts on that?
Vicky Hartzler Answer: Missouri does have the best conservation model that works in the best interests of all the citizens. It is the conservation model that is the envy of many other states and should not be changed.
After the SharetheOutdoors.com interview, the following endorsement for Vicky Hartzell from Missouri Senator Josh Hawley was announced.
Endorsement from Josh Hawley Senator Missouri.
“For almost a year I’ve been asked who I intend to vote for in the [Missouri Senate] Primary this August. Well, I’ve made up my mind. I’ll be supporting Vicky Hartzell. Vicky has the integrity, the heart, and the toughness to represent Missouri. I can’t wait to work with her.”
Vicky Hartzler Career Information
A lifelong resident of Missouri.
Small business owner
Public school teacher where she was Co-Director of the At-Risk Teens program
Launched the Missouri Drug-Free initiative
Elected to the United States Congress in 2011
Reelected to Congress in 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2021.
Catching fish is a lot about knowing how….there’s one source to check in the future if you are heading to Florida: Darcizzle Offshore TV.
Keeping and eating your catch requires training and a sharp knife: Check out the Darcizzle fillet knife from Smith Products in Arkansas.
Keeping the blade sharp is no easy task, until now. See about the “2-Step Tool” in the story.
By Forrest Fisher
Fish on! The Pompano are running! The Sheepshead are biting! Anglers everywhere share a common goal to catch fish when the fishing is hot. Putting fish on the line is pure passion for so many, me too. Except I did not know a thing about catching Pompano or Sheepshead. I’m new to Florida. When you need to learn, I do what everyone does today, I check YouTube.
Scanning the YouTube channel for “How-To-Catch,” you can type in pompano or sheepshead, or anything else. I hit the brakes when I watched a bright-eyed young lady in a bikini screaming “Fish On!” As she reeled in the surf of the Atlantic Ocean near Miami, another rod went off that was set in a beach rod holder. Excitement! 2-hook line sets, snag-wire weights, dropper loop knots, Fish-Bite baits, all were there. Great show. Her TV show is called Darcizzle Offshore and features Darcie Arahill and her boyfriend mentor, Brian, nicknamed Puddin’. They visit a variety of waterways using a multitude of tactics that always end up in their kitchen. Watching the videos allows the viewer to learn from top to bottom, start to finish. Of course, before the kitchen, there is a clean-the-fish job that needs to be completed. The next show featured sheepshead. Learning in the modern world can be simple.
With each show, Darcie demonstrates how to clean the catch. The eye-stopper for me on this recent show was the EASE with which she cleaned their recently caught sheepshead. The tasty sheepshead is no easy task to fillet. They offer tough, heavy scales and a structural, thick-boned rib cage. Darcie provides easy-to-watch videos that simplify the process. While she did not mention the name of the fillet knives she was using, it aired at the end of the show. I watched for it. Identified as the Darcizzle 6-inch and 8-inch curved-flex fillet knife, the knives come from Smith Consumer Products in Arkansas, USA. After Darcie quickly transformed the half-dozen tough-skinned sheepshead into delectable fillets, they moved to the kitchen at their house where Puddin’ shared how-to cooking secrets for the meal that followed.
There is nothing like a great knife that holds its edge. Every fisherman I know is always looking for another “best knife.” So, I had to do it. Did I need another knife? NO. But…yes, I got online and found the Darcizzle knife products at https://smithsproducts.com/knives-9. In a moment, an invisible force pushed my mouse pointer to “BUY.”
The 2-Step Tool: A few pages later, I also found the 2-Step Diamond Adjustable Knife Sharpener that features two diamond rods and two ceramic rods with 3-preset sharpening angles of 15, 20, and 25 degrees. The first time I have ever seen this idea. This is an uncommon kitchen gadget innovation in my eyes, and it fits in a pants pocket. Just switch the tab to match the factory angle on your knife blade, and achieve a razor-sharp edge in no time. Three or four strokes through the carbide sharpening slots will restore the edge on a very dull knife in seconds. Follow that with two or three strokes on the other side of the stone, where the matched angle ceramic rods provide a quick-touchup finish of the knife edge.
After having used the Smith Product Darcizzle knives for about 5 weeks now, the edge retention is great, they are corrosion resistant in saltwater use (3Cr13 Stainless!), the non-slip ergo-friendly handles keep you safe, and the slip-on sheath that has a locking sheath (it never falls off until you take it off) that allows this sharp tool to stay within easy reach when kept in your kitchen drawer.
Once or twice a day, my wife says, “Where’s my Darcizzle knife!?” OK, so I borrow it every now and then. The point is when my better half for the last 53 years likes a new knife that much, there is something special about it.
I learned more about catching Pompano and Sheepshead, cleaning each of these species, a surprising new knife product and how to keep it sharp – all in an hour or two of flipping through the Darcizzle Offshore Fishing channel on YouTube…and my wife loves me more.
Hard to lose with all that going on. Just saying…you might wanna try one of these new blades.
Summer or Winter, there is one place to add to your Bucket List!
In Winter, the Switzerland Alpines can be found in Gaylord, Michigan – snowshoeing, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and river rafting peace and quiet
In Summer, relax and unwind with camping, hiking, biking, swimming, fishing, boating, kayaking, surf-boarding, wake-boarding…the list is long!
All year round, enjoy the forests, fields, the peace of sinkhole lakes, rivers and creeks – all offer adventure and opportunity
By Larry Whiteley
Are you thinking you would like to go somewhere this year where you can get away from all the politics, COVID and the division that’s going on in America? Do you want to go to a place where you can really enjoy all the great outdoors has to offer and not have to worry about any of that other stuff? No matter what season of the year you want to go, I have just the place for you.
When you get there you will feel like you are in an alpine village in Switzerland, but instead, you will be in the small town of Gaylord located in beautiful Northern Lower Michigan. Gaylord and the surrounding Otsego county area is an outdoor lover’s paradise. You can just relax and unwind from all that’s going on in the world or you can choose to enjoy a plethora of outdoor adventures.
If it’s water you seek for your adventure, Otsego County has over 90 inland lakes and the headwaters to five major rivers start here. The sinkhole lakes in the Pigeon River Country State Forest is also something you have to experience to believe. If you’re a fisherman, this is truly paradise. You can catch tiger Muskie, northern pike, walleye, yellow perch, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, bluegill, rainbow trout, brown trout and brook trout just about any season of the year. Choose from open water, hard water or flowing water. Otsego Lake, the county’s largest lake, offers the opportunity to try and catch huge sturgeon which can grow to over 7-feet long and weigh up to 200-pounds. During winter Otsego Lake is known for its great ice fishing.
Depending on the season you can also enjoy canoeing, kayaking, boating, wakeboarding, wake surfing, water skiing, tubing, swimming or just relaxing on a sandy beach. There are plenty of rental places for whatever fun you want to try and several sporting goods stores where you can purchase your fishing license or anything else you might want for any season.
If hiking or biking is your passion there are 282 miles of trails in and around Gaylord for any age or skill level. The trails wind through meadows, along lakes and streams, and they climb the hills. When you get to the end of the trail, your reward is the view of the valley below. If you come to Gaylord in the spring, wild birds will be singing their songs, trees will be leafing out, and the mating song of peeper frogs fill the air. You’ll see butterflies fluttering around the wildflowers that include Trillium, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Bloodroot, Marsh Marigolds, and many others are everywhere. Bring an empty sack with you just in case you find some delicious Morel mushrooms during your journey. You and your family might also be thrilled to see a baby rabbit, a young black bear or a newborn fawn.
The Gaylord area is also known for its enjoyably mild summers, so now you know it’s not too hot to be on one of those many trails in the area. Sunsets and sunrises are magical during this time of year. If you visit during the fall season, you will never forget it. This area is known as one of the best places in America to enjoy the beautiful fall foliage. A kaleidoscope of colors awaits you. Brilliant displays of red, orange and yellow are everywhere and if you are on the trails or on the water, these are among great places to enjoy the view. It’s also a fun time to visit the local farmer’s markets and pumpkin farms.
Come during the winter season and truly experience a winter wonderland. The trails now become fantastic for snowshoeing and cross country skiing. Snowmobiling is also a popular wintertime activity. If you come during the winter season you have to try rafting on the scenic Sturgeon River. It’s another adventure you do not want to miss. Your whole family would also love taking a sleigh ride. You can also enjoy downhill skiing, snowboarding and tubing at either Otsego Resort or Treetops Resort. Both also offer golf in the other seasons on renowned championship golf courses. There are 17 other golf courses in the county making it a mecca for golfers. If you enjoy camping there are lots of places to pitch a tent or park your RV. There’s also plenty of cabins, resorts, hotels, motels and even a dude ranch to choose from.
There are plenty of things to do between all your outdoor adventures. Gaylord has that small-town charm but still offers plenty of dining and shopping opportunities. While you’re shopping, be sure and purchase some of their famous and delicious chocolate-covered potato chips to take home with you. There’s also another trail you might like and it is right in Gaylord. It’s the Craft Tap and Beer trail leading to craft and micro-breweries throughout the town for your tasting pleasure. Don’t miss taking a trip to the city park to see the elk herd that the city takes care of for locals and visitors’ enjoyment. The Call of the Wild Museum is also a great place to visit. To really appreciate any place you travel to across America it makes it even more special if you know the history of the area so I also suggest you visit the Otsego County Historical Society.
If I have painted a good enough picture with my words to get you thinking you might just like to travel to Gaylord and Otsego County, then I encourage you to get on your computer and visit https://www.gaylordmichigan.net/. Watch the videos, enjoy the pictures, and read about all there is to see and do. My hope is you will pick a season and go experience this beautiful part of America. I am willing to bet you will love it so much you will return again to sample another season and then another season and then another season. Gaylord, Michigan, and Otsego County will stay with you forever in your memories. It is an outdoor paradise for all seasons.
Larry Whiteley to be inducted into Missouri Sports Hall of Fame
Conservationist & Outdoor Journalist, U.S. Navy Veteran.
Host of the Great Ozark Outdoors from 1976 to the present.
Public Relations Manager for Bass Pro Shops for 23 years.
By Dave Barus
You might say that Larry Whiteley is a common and uncommon, outdoors Christian man. You would be correct, but there is so much more. He shares his life with others in a special way. With listening, honest caring and effective suggestions.
Larry Whiteley is a 1964 graduate of Nixa High School. A military veteran during our country’s time of need, he served in the U.S. Navy. Whiteley has hosted an outdoor broadcast show through The Great Ozarks Outdoors, Inc., his family corporation, since 1976. That includes 30 years for the award-winning Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World Radio, carried by more than 1,200 radio stations – including those as part of the American Armed Forces Radio Network.
He also was the Corporate Public Relations Manager for Bass Pro Shops for 23 years. Additionally, his voice was the one carried over every Bass Pro Shops store in America, as it welcomed customers, noted the latest sale and gave outdoor tips. He also was a crucial part of conservation and kid’s outdoor education programs.
To date, Whiteley has voiced more than 18,000 radio shows and written more than 5,000 articles communicating the great outdoors to people worldwide. He still writes for newspapers and magazines, including Hook & Barrel, Outdoor Guide, Show Me, CrappieNOW, ShareTheOutdoors.com, and Missouri Conservation Federation.
Whiteley, a winner of numerous awards through several outdoors associations, also is an inductee of the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame. Through all this activity, Larry Whiteley, the gifted communicator that is everyone’s friend, has remained a humble man at every turn. Never looking for credit at any time, Larry is always encouraging others to step in and get going. With an ear-to-ear grin, he is a human spark plug for inspiring others.
Missouri Sports Hall of Fame CEO & Executive Director Jerald Andrews unveiled the Class of 2022 in early December. The inductees will be honored on Sunday, February 6 at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds. A reception presented by Reliable Toyota will begin at 4 p.m. that day, with the evening program to follow at 5 p.m. Associate sponsors are Advertising Plus, Bryan Properties, Great Southern Bank, Hiland Dairy Foods and Hillyard, Inc.
Hats off, and hearty congratulations to Larry Whiteley!
Paddletail jigs with a wiggle and wobble catch fish in Placida Harbor.
Fishing Islands and Embayments in Southwest Florida
Speckled Trout, Snook and Snapper…Catching Fish
Topwater Plugs, Paddletail jigs and Lightweight Fishing Rods
By Forrest Fisher
The morning radar was threatening possible rainstorms when my phone beeped. It was my friend Marty Poli, a retired master tradesman from New Jersey. “Hey Forrest, it’s a go! Just bring a rain jacket, we might get wet, but I’m in for at least a half-day if you’re good with the chance of getting a little wet.” It was still dark outside as I pulled back the curtains. It was a bit before sunrise. I answered, “Of course I’m in, let’s go!” My heart rate went up a bit. It’s always exciting to know you’re going fishing to a place where you might catch a 10-inch fish on one cast and a 30-pound fish on the next cast. Saltwater fishing is exciting!
I hurried through the shower and thought about what to put in the backpack, then grabbed two inshore fishing rods, a small cooler with bottled water, and I was out the door. As I reached the truck, I glanced up to see stars everywhere. The sunrise glow from the east had just started. Wondered who was running that weather radar station. It was a beautiful morning.
The Placida Harbor boat launch at Gasparilla Sound was deserted. Other fisher folks must have been watching that same radar. The sun was clearly above the horizon now, and the orange cast across the water was simply incredible. I parked my truck and walked to the ramp to wait for Marty. A few minutes later, he was there. A 15-year old youngster hopped out of the truck too, “Good morning, sir!” Marty jumped in to share in the greeting. “This is Phillip Sokolov, a great young fisherman neighbor from the Chicago area. He is visiting his family folks down here. This kid is someone that might just show us up today, my friend.” We grinned and laughed. Everyone was beaming with the morning sunshine glow. In about 2-minutes, we were off.
Marty knows Placida Harbor and Bull Bay islands area very well. He headed for a fishing area that catches a cross-current with the tide flow while watching the wind direction. The wave action and current mix create undulating bumps between the sandgrass and oyster beds in the sand bottom. Devilfish Key was just a short rock throw away. As the wind came up from the south, large bait schools of pilchards swimming near the surface became noticeable. Their surface riffles highlighted their location. You know what they say, find the bait, and you find the Fish. The cormorants and feeding predator fish helped us to find the exact area to fish.
Marty started out by tossing a Zara Spook saltwater version near one side of the bait riffles. It didn’t go 5-feet when something attacked from beneath. “Fish on!” Marty yelped. “Feels like a good one.” A moment later, Phillip hollered, “Fish on! I think it’s a trout.” Marty answered, “I don’t know what mine is, but it’s huge.” Phillip landed his Fish, a nice 16-inch speckled trout. Just then, Marty grimaced a bit, “Ugh, he’s gone. He tossed my hook. Darn!” Things got even better in the next 45 minutes as we caught 12-15 fish on assorted lures. Surface lures, spoons and plastic-tailed jigs. Color didn’t seem to matter.
We moved to Bull Bay next, inside Cayo Pelau, in 3 to 8 feet of water. We could see emerging seagrass and mudflats too. An excellent area of the bay structure that everyone looked for to find Fish. There were bait schools hereto. Marty used his electric bow motor to keep in position, then dropped his Talon pole anchor to hold on a good spot. Before we were set, Phillip had hooked and landed two trout. The kid was hot. Using a turquois-colored St. Croix Avid Inshore model fishing rod, a Daiwa Saltist Back Bay 30-series fishing reel with 15-pound Power-Pro braid and a 20-pound fluorocarbon leader, Phillip was catching 3-fish to each one that Marty or I had hooked up. “OK, so what’s the secret Phil? Is it a special bait your tossing?” Phil grinned, “Nope, it’s just a light line and leader with a 1/8 oz chartreuse-colored lead head.” I looked at it and mentioned that I couldn’t tell what color the head was. “Well, it had a color when I started!” He grinned. “I just thread a Z-man flapper tail with gold flecks in it – but it needs to be perfectly centered, and then cast it out and jiggle it once in a while as I reel it in. You know. I give it some action. They just seem to be wrecking it! I’ve used this lure before, and it has always worked. My uncle told me about it.”
Phil’s excitement and energy level were contagious. He is a meticulous angler for a youngster, tied good knots and didn’t mind sharing his fishing prowess with others. That makes him humble and unique in my book, especially during this day and age. Together, we might have brought about 75 fish to the boat in this morning of fishing fun. Phile probably hooked up with about 50 of those. With Speckled trout back on the keeper list again, Phil took home a meal for his family.
As we headed back into the boat harbor at Placida, our conversations covered everything from the weather to fishing gear to lunchtime just ahead. We had caught snook, trout, grouper, ladyfish, redfish, blowfish, lizard fish and other species. In the middle of our angler talk, Phillip stood up and asked Marty if it was OK to cast a line as we approached the bay with the boat ramps. The kid had eyes on the Mangrove overgrowth on the shoreline. “There are no boats around, so sure, Phil, looks OK,” Marty said. Phil hooked and landed a nice snook on the first cast, then another and even one more before Marty returned with the trailer. He returned all the snook unharmed.
Some fishing days are just exceptional! This was one of those that reminds us that good fishing is always about friends and fun. Catching Fish adds to the fun, and we had lots of THAT fun on this short fishing day. Tight lines, everyone.
He could still hear the sounds of bombs exploding, the whir of helicopter blades...
By Larry Whiteley
When he came back from war over 55 years ago, he never wanted to touch another gun. He never wanted to smell gunsmoke in the air. He never wanted to see blood staining the ground again. Family and friends knew he had served in the military but never told anyone his stories. They all knew it was best not to ask. But, they were still there in his heart and mind. It was partly because of how they were treated when they came home, but mostly because he didn’t want to remember.
Sometimes though, he could still hear the sounds of bombs exploding, the whir of helicopter blades. He could still feel the ground rumble as tanks went by, and he would remember. He awoke some nights to the screaming of wounded buddies and lay there in the dark with his eyes open for hours as his wife slept peacefully beside him. He kept it all hidden from those he loved.
They had no idea he also felt really guilty because he got to come home, raise a family and have a good life. So many of his buddies did not get to go home. At times, it even bothered him that he escaped the nightmare of that place with no visible scars and no missing limbs. He was one of the lucky ones, but he didn’t see it that way. He had scars alright, but they were hidden.
No one said anything, but they probably wondered why he didn’t want to watch war movies or any movies or TV shows involving shooting and killing. He would even walk out of the room when the news came on. He didn’t want to see or hear anything about people being shot or killed.
When friends tried to get him to go deer hunting with them, he politely declined with some kind of excuse. One of his grown sons got into hunting with friends. He told his dad how much he enjoyed it and that it was not just about killing a deer. It was about all the special moments out in the woods with his kids or by himself, whether he got a deer or not. The grandkids also encouraged him to join them on a hunt.
He came up with an excuse each time they asked and declined as he had his friends. But, then one day, he saw the disappointment on his grandkid’s face and the pleading eyes of his son when they asked once again. “Okay,” he said, “Teach me what I need to know to hunt these deer.” He couldn’t believe he spoke those words, but then he saw the smiles of joy on his son and grandkids’ faces. He would do this for them.
His son loaned him one of his rifles, and they went out to sight it in. When he was handed the rifle, thoughts of all the times he held an M16 rifle crossed his mind. He took a deep breath before the first time he fired it and again had to wipe away memories going through his head. It got a little easier with each shot.
The morning of the hunt, he put on the camouflage hunting clothes his son had bought him. As his wife slept, he quietly poured a thermos full of coffee and waited for headlights to come up his driveway. He sat there and tried to concentrate on making good memories this day and not think about bad memories that for all these years had crowded his mind.
Lights shined through the window, and he went out the door into the dark. “Are you ready for this,” his son said. “You’re going to love it, papaw,” a grandchild told from the back seat. He took a deep breath, sighed and then smiled. “I will do my best,” he said. His son gave him lots of tips and told him stories of what to expect on the drive to the woods.
They pulled off the dirt road and parked. The grandkids were old enough to hunt on their own, so they wished everyone good luck and went off to their favorite treestands. The son took his dad to an enclosed blind that he felt would be safer than having him try to climb a tree with a gun and sit in a stand when he had never done that. The son didn’t know that dad had done that many times a long time ago in a place far away that he tried hard to forget.
The son wished his dad good luck and went off to his own treestand. As he sat there in the dark, the sun started peeking through the trees. The sky was a beautiful shade of orange. Birds started singing and fluttering around from limb to limb. A fox came walking through and had no idea he was there. Squirrels were digging in the dry leaves. His first thought was it sounded like the enemy advancing on his position. He dismissed that thought and enjoyed watching them.
The field he could see out the windows of the blind could have reminded him of battlefields, but it didn’t. The shots he heard in the distance could have put him on alert for advancing enemy soldiers. Instead, he hoped it was his grandkids, and they were successful.
In this particular moment, in this special place, he silently talked to God. He asked his forgiveness for not thanking him a long time ago for watching over him during the war and bringing him safely back home. He also thanked Him for creating all the beauty of nature that surrounded him that morning. He started thanking Him for his wife and family and was wiping a tear from his eye when he saw something in the field before him.
The buck had his nose down following the scent of a doe that had come through the field during the night. He remembered everything his son had told him. He raised the rifle, looked through the scope and put the deer in the cross-hairs. His heart raced as he clicked off the safety just as it had many years ago. He squeezed the trigger, gun smoke drifted through the air, and the buck dropped where it stood.
What his son hadn’t told him was that he could see Dad’s blind and the field from the treestand he sat in. The buck had walked right under the son’s stand, and he didn’t shoot. He knew Dad had been in the war even though he never talked about it. He knew that Dad needed this moment to hopefully help free him of his nightmares.
There was blood on the field that morning as the son joined his father where the buck lay. They hugged, and the tears flowed. The grandkids joined them and hugged their papaw too. They also knew their papaw had been through a war, but dad had told them not to ask him about it. They all dropped to their knees, put their hands on the buck and bowed their heads to honor it for giving its life to help a troubled man heal.
What does organic food really mean? Higher cost or Better Health?
By Larry Whiteley
I went grocery shopping with my wife the other day. I’m usually not much of a shopper unless I am in the local outdoor store. It can take me hours and cost me a lot of money when I go in there. I always need to replace something I broke, lost or wore out. Plus, there is always the latest and greatest new product I just have to have.
Anyway, as I followed her around the store, I was amazed at all the organic foods with their green and white labels. Some labels were not green and white but still said they were organic but not as organic as the green and white ones. The prices kind of amazed me too. They sure weren’t cheap, and some of those labels were in my wife’s grocery cart. I could have bought a lot of fishing lures for what they cost.
When we got home, I brought the groceries into the house, and she went about putting everything in its proper place. I went into my office, opened the computer, typed in “organic foods,” and hit the search button. I found that organic meats are supposed to be free of antibiotics, growth hormones or other drugs, and according to the USDA, not genetically modified or unnaturally “enhanced” in any other way. Organic livestock raised for meat, eggs, and dairy products must also have access to the outdoors, giving them more room to move around, provided with organic feed, and not inhumanely cramped up in a crowded pen.
Organic crops must be grown without synthetic pesticides, bioengineered genes (GMOs), petroleum-based fertilizers, and sewage sludge-based fertilizers. It also said that how food is grown or raised can have a significant impact on the health of your body, including your mental and emotional health. Organic foods often have more beneficial nutrients, such as antioxidants, than their conventionally-grown counterparts. People with allergies to foods, chemicals, or preservatives often find their symptoms lessen or disappear when they eat only organic foods.
In addition, organic farming is better for the environment. Organic farming practices reduce pollution, conserve water, reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility, and use less energy. Farming without pesticides is also better for nearby birds and animals and people who live close to farms.
Organic meat and milk are richer in particular nutrients. A 2016 European study showed that levels of certain nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, were up to 50 percent higher in organic meat and milk than in conventionally raised versions. I guess I might be forced to admit that the price of organic foods is justified by all that.
Maybe organic foods are also worth the price just to know that you do not have pesticides, petroleum products or sewage in the food you eat. That is kind of gross, don’t you think? As I leaned back in my desk chair, pondering everything I had just read about organic foods, I thought about that.
As I pondered all this, a picture of the old farm where I was born and grew up caught my eye. We milked cows by hand, raised and butchered hogs, had chickens to fry and their eggs to eat. We also hand-tilled and grew our own vegetables in the garden. All of that was done without the use of any chemicals back then.
While I continued to ponder, I looked around my office. On the walls were deer heads, turkey fans, duck mounts, pheasant mounts and fish mounts. Pictures of myself and kids and grandkids with fish and wild game hung on the walls and sat on shelves around the room. They brought back great memories and got me thinking that I have been eating natural organic foods for years. Even before it became a buzzword that some marketing companies came up with.
I hit the search button on the computer once again and typed in “health benefits of wild game and fish.” I found that the venison, wild turkey, ducks, pheasant, and other wild game I hunt and eat are all organic. Wild game is the original sustainable, free-ranging, grass-fed meat. And, it’s lower in fat, cholesterol, and calories than most other meat. It’s also high in protein, iron and vitamin B, yet low in saturated fat.
The fish I catch and eat are naturally organic. So are the wild mushrooms I find and prepare with my fish and game. The wild blackberries, raspberries and other fruit and nuts are a special treat and are also organic.
The exercise, fresh air, and other health benefits from harvesting all kinds of natural organic foods are enormous. It’s good for my body, my mind and my soul. Anyway, that’s what the computer said, and that’s what I am going to tell my wife. I will also tell her that all the natural organic foods I bring home are cheaper than what she buys in the grocery store. Suppose I say that, though, I have to hope she doesn’t get adding up the cost of all my guns. In that case, the gun safe I put them in, all my hunting clothes and equipment, my ATV, the trailer to haul it, my boat, I don’t know how many rods and reels, tackle boxes and at least a zillion lures. I almost forgot all my camping gear. On second thought, maybe I better not say that.
Hmm! I wonder if I could start a market of my own. Instead of a Farmers Market, it could be an Organic Outdoorsman Market selling wild game, fish, mushrooms, wild fruit, etc. Or, maybe The Organic Outdoorsman Restaurant. Can you imagine the menu? Appetizers could be fried frog legs, or boiled crayfish tails dipped in melted butter we make from a wild buffalo we milk by hand. Entrees could include grilled venison tenderloin with sauteed morel mushrooms, fried walleye or crappie with potatoes and onions (that I grew myself), baked wild turkey or wild pheasant with wild rice. For dessert, maybe gooseberry pie or wild blackberry homemade ice cream. I might even make enough to buy more fishing lures. But, on further consideration, I’m thinking that a lot of work would cut into my time outdoors doing my kind of organic market idea.
I quit my daydreaming, shut off the computer, then head out to my workshop to grab my fishing stuff and hook up the boat. Before I leave, I stick my head in the back door and tell my wife I’m going shopping for organic food and that I will be back in a couple of hours.She just rolls her eyes, shakes her head, smiles and tells me to have a good time shopping.
Please feel free to use any or all of the above information with your wife to help you get away more from organic food shopping when you need to. You just have to hope she doesn’t figure out the real cost for all your organic shopping.
Lake Trout tussle very well in Lake Huron near Alpena, Mi.
Bob Holzhei and first mate, Justin Grubaugh, admire the size of one of our lake trout.By Bob Holzhei
Lake Trout were targeted on this fishing trip and it wasn’t long before the first fish was boated. It was caught on a Monkey Fish lure. Then another and another until our limit was met! It was exciting! Gaylord, Michigan, was the selected Annual Conference site for the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW). Journalists, corporate members, and radio and television personalities from all across the United States are part of the trilogy that comprises the membership.
On this day, our morning departure from the Treetops Resort began at 8:00 A.M., arriving at the Alpena City Marina an hour later. Our boat was a 21-foot Voyager named Depth Charge with Captain Kevin Drummond.
We began fishing in his “honey hole,” in 110-120 feet of water, using 8 rigged fishing lines to cover the depth, which ranged from 30 feet to 120-foot depth. “I began fishing as a kid at 16 years old and only lived a block from the lake. Lake Huron has an amazing lake trout fishery, and I get pleasure from watching people catch fish,” stated Drummond.
Also on board among my fishing partners was David Gladkowski, a staff writer with the National Turkey Federation and Brady Laudon, Assistant Director and Sales Manager for Visit Bemidji, Minnesota. Each year, three locations are chosen by AGLOW to present a conference bid, that is, to host a future conference.
“I’ve never done any fishing like that, being a South Carolina boy.
Of course, I’ll be back. I was thrilled! Gladkowski stated. This was also the first time Brady Loudon fished Lake Huron. “Our fishing party limited out on Lake Trout. I couldn’t believe how the honey holes produced so many fish,” added Laudon.
In addition, to a yearly conference, AGLOW – along with corporate sponsors – offers “Communicator Camps,” which consist of 6-10 outdoor journalists. Members apply for a spot and are selected by the tourism bureau. The Communicator Camps provide opportunities for CVB’s to gain additional exposure.
The excitement throughout the morning and afternoon continued, and soon, there were three lake trout in a battle to free themselves at the same time.
The anglers had to slow down the pace at bringing the fish in. The fishermen on our boat took turns landing the fish, allowing time to rest from the strenuous battles. Drummond spoke highly of the success with the Shimano Tekota reels and Talora Shimano rods. The reels spooled with a 20-pound test line, one item among the tools used to reach our limit of lake trout, a couple steelhead and a salmon.
“Lake Huron is also a world-class Atlantic Salmon fishery, perhaps the world’s largest landlocked Atlantic Salmon, and the finest angling,” according to Jim Johnson, a retired fisheries biologist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
According to Johnson, Lake Superior State University faculty and students have been stocking 20,000 to 35,000 Atlantic salmon in Lake Huron annually since the late 1980s.
A significant difference between the Atlantic’s and Chinook salmon is that the Chinooks die after spawning. At the same time, the Atlantic’s can spawn multiple times and live longer. The Atlantic’s have been marked by removing the adipose fin and implanting a tiny coded wire tag in each fishes’ head. The tag provides information about the stocking date and location, which assists the DNR in measuring the stocking success. Anglers are asked to forward the heads to the area DNR office.
As we boated ashore, the rich memories of this fishing trip would resurface until I returned to fish with Drummond again!
For more information, contact: Gaylord Area Convention & Tourism Bureau 1-800-345-8621, www.gaylordmichigan.net and Alpena Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, 1-989 354-4181, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember that Gun Safety is #1 at ALL TIMES. James Monteleone photo
With a profound passion, Jake loved to hunt for deer, turkey, waterfowl.
Does a deep passion for hunting and familiarity with firearms contribute to a lack of discipline for firearm safety? Keep safety rules in mind….always.
Shooting a firearm MUST INCLUDE THE COURAGE TO CORRECT A FRIEND for any lack of gun safety: Where are the bullets? Where is the gun pointed?
Read, learn, share with others – GUN SAFETY FIRST!
By James Monteleone
Dear Mr. Average Teenager – I turkey hunted once with a kid named Jake. Yes, I know there is a strange connection to the young hunter’s name and a young turkey. Jake’s real name is Jacob, and other than Jake, he is called “Spud” by those in his close circle of family and friends. I was introduced to Jake by a friend, and our paths crossed when I was co-hosting a Youth Day seminar. It was easy to see that Jake had the benefit of some good instructions when it came to using a friction call. His notes and cadence on both a box call and a slate call were better than the average man, much less a young teen.
The day we hunted was pretty ordinary as turkey hunting days go. Chuck Tiranno (my friend) and Jake headed down to the far end of a long field. I split off to the left to cover a long stretch of woods that bordered the same field. There was some gobbling from my left and I was set up in a great place to intercept the birds as they closed in on my position. I called in and saw four “jakes” that morning. They did their usual hard-gobbling routine and put on a little show for the decoy, but they were not my intended target that morning.
After 8am, I heard three shots coming from the spot where Jake and Chuck had set up. The timing of the shots led me to believe that someone may have missed. When we met up at about 9am, I found out that Jake had, in fact, killed one of several birds that came in to his calling. His shots were an attempt to anchor the bird that was a little farther out than the effective range of his shotgun. Chuck, who lives across the street from Jake, has been a mentor to Jake and wasted no time putting the teenager in his place for shooting at what he considered an extreme distance.
Jake, who developed a proficiency for trap shooting and archery hunting for deer, loved waterfowl and turkey hunting too. His ability to call in ducks, geese and turkeys gave him a unique ranking within his peer group and allowed him to compete with adults in pursuing these sports. Chuck always insists on youths like Jake patterning and sighting in their firearms. In addition to these steps, Chuck stresses the need for practice and safety. These are all part of the collaborative effort on which we focus during Youth Day seminars and lectures to all age groups.
In some ways, Jake is just an average 15-year-old boy. Although his hunting and shooting abilities are comparable to an adult level of participation, he, like many 15-year-olds, thinks he is a “top dog”. I think it’s great when a youth has an outlet for his energy and takes an interest in the outdoors. Jake won’t see his 16th birthday. Jake won’t be out for the deer season, and we will never know what Jake may have been able to offer the youth of future generations.
Jake lost his life to a terrible accident. Not an accident that you would have foreseen in his future. He died due to a gunshot wound that came while he and a friend were handling a gun before a waterfowl hunt. The other details are not necessary. But these young men have been drilled at almost every opportunity in the safe handling of firearms. I will not speculate as to the actual events other than to state the obvious. If you question why I would state the obvious, then think about what any and all of us could do to avoid situations like this in the future.
It’s too late for Jake. It’s not too late for the rest of us to take a lesson from a situation where a young boy who grew up around guns may have failed to take charge of a situation where his friend was not being safe. There was an adult in the home when the accident occurred. Could there have been a stricter approach to the firearms being handled that day? Of course, we can all use hindsight to say “Yes” emphatically. But that time has passed, and we need to honor Jake’s memory and the other people who have lost their lives in firearm-related mishaps. How do we honor those people?
We never miss a chance to reinforce the need for safety in handling guns and other weapons. Those basic rules like “treat every firearm like it’s loaded” and “always point the muzzle in a safe direction” and “be sure of your intended target” and “supervise all young and new shooters in the use of firearms.”
This has been difficult for the parents, Jake’s young friend and the community in general. I saw and heard the grief yesterday as I stood in front of the casket of a 15-year-old boy. He was dressed in camouflage, and the pictures displayed at the entrance showed a young man with a passion for the outdoors. He posed with his turkeys, some geese and several of the deer he had taken. The pride of competing in a man’s game and winning was etched on his face. Ironically, Jake had taken a deer with his bow only days before this tragedy took place.
Having had Jake as one of the participants in my presentation at the Youth Day seminars and seeing him in death was a painful reminder that nothing should be taken for granted no matter how many times we preach the safe handling of firearms. We cannot over-emphasize safety. No one is invincible or immune from a lapse in judgment. Don’t be embarrassed to remind people (and insist if necessary) that safety is an absolute part of our sport. It doesn’t matter how long you have hunted or how proficient and knowledgeable you are about firearms. Danger doesn’t take a day off. Yes, people can be dangerous; guns are only a part of the equation.
Put safety first. I have said to Jake and many others, “There is no deer, turkey, elk, bear or any other animal that is more important than coming home safely.” We all stress that “you can’t take a bullet back once it’s fired. You have lost any control that you have over the outcome of that shot once you pull the trigger”.
There are no “do-overs” where guns are concerned. I doubt that anyone among us has not witnessed the poor and unsafe handling of firearms. Are you embarrassed to remind the offender of his duties to protect himself and others? Jake’s parents wish someone would have done that for him. If you appreciate this reminder, don’t thank me, thank Jake. He gave up his life to a lapse in judgment. His father said to me yesterday, “I hope something good can come from this,” and I told him then, “We have to be Jake’s voice now”. That’s my objective in writing this the day Jake will be buried. I want to be Jake’s voice. Not just today, but every day when there is a firearm present.
Will you join me and honor Jake by being his voice? It’s so much more important than “Good Hunting and Great Memories.”
From my friend, Tony Tiranno: May Jake rest in peace. I pledge to be “Jake’s Voice”.
THE 12 GOLDEN RULES FOR SAFE GUN HANDLING:
Always treat the gun as if it is loaded.
Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
Always keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
Always keep the gun unloaded until you are ready to use it.
Never point the gun at anything you don’t intend to destroy.
Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
Learn the mechanical and handling characteristics of the gun you are using.
Always use proper ammunition.
Be sure the barrel is clear of obstructions before loading and shooting.
If your gun fails to fire when the trigger is pulled, hold your shooting position for several seconds, then with the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, carefully unload the gun.
Don’t rely on the gun’s mechanical safety to keep it from firing.
Be aware of your surroundings when handling guns so you don’t trip, lose your balance or accidentally point and/or fire the gun at anyone or anything.
Cut wire, mono, braid easily…and will cut off hook shanks when required
High-Quality – priced under $45
Today’s fishermen are gearheads, no doubt about it. There are a myriad of specific rods, reels, lures, terminal tackle, and accessories to help them be successful in freshwater and saltwater, no matter the targeted species. Regardless, there are three tools all anglers should always have – pliers, scissors, and a hook remover. The Anglers’ Best Tool Kit conveniently combines all three, each of the highest quality designed to last a lifetime. All for under $45.
The scissors are razor sharp, with a non-slip handle and are perfect for trimming everything from line tag ends to jig skirts and more. The needle nose pliers are designed as a multi-purpose tool, ideal for everything from crimping to removing lure hooks of all sizes. To accommodate the different types of lines, the pliers are crafted with a special place to cut braided line. A non-slip handle provides a perfect grip at all times. The hook remover in this kit is an oft-overlooked tool that not only makes hook removal quick, safe, and simple, it also helps you remove the hook from fish without hurting the fish itself. It creates less wound and increases the chance of the fish survival rate in water almost significantly. Thus, a fishing hook removal tool helps you to save fish and enjoy the fun of angling at the same time. The Anglers’ Best Tool Kit is sold individually, suggested retail price – $44.99.
Best of all, every tool in the Anglers Best Tool Kit is designed to fit in the Lazy Joe, Anglers’ Best’s patented-designed tackle box and accessory holder that fits around your boat seat pedestal. It keeps your baits and accessories within reach without having to leave your seat or trolling motor. It saves valuable deck space and rotates around the pedestal for easy access to all your tools and accessories.
Tool storage is easy. The Lazy Joe pedestal tool and accessory holder comes standard with three Bait Boxes. Suggested retail price is $149.99. The weather resistant, angled body keeps the Lazy Joe out of your way while keeping your tools and accessories within reach.
For more information, visit www.anglersbest.com.About Anglers’ Best: Headquartered in Danville, Ala., Anglers’ Best is a designer and manufacturer of state-of-the-art fishing accessories. For additional information on Anglers’ Best write to: Anglers’ Best, 8237 Danville Road, Danville, AL 35619; Call: (833) BAS-SNET or visit www.anglersbest.com.
He sure is lucky, this 4-year old little boy asleep in his bed. He’s going fishing for the first time today. Mom promised him she and dad would take him if he kept his toys picked up. Even though some toys are just pushed under the bed or back in the closet, his room looks pretty good. His little basketball goal sits against a wall waiting for him to make another 6-pointer. The bookcase is filled with books he likes dad or grandpa to read to him. Mom can walk across the floor now without stepping on a Lego.
In the corner, near the door, sits his new fishing rod and reel. Dad got it for him. This is no Mickey Mouse outfit. He thinks it looks like the ones dad uses. Next to it sits his new tackle box. Dad took him to the outdoor store to buy it. He got to pick out the one he wanted. There are some red and white plastic bobbers, sinkers, hooks, and a fish stringer to put in it. Dad gave him some of his old lures. Plastic worms, frogs and lizards. He likes playing with them. There’s also a small toy or two tucked away in one of the compartments.
He is snuggled up to his favorite stuffed animal. A turtle named “Tucker”. Great-grandma got it for him. A few others are scattered around the bed. As he sleeps, there’s a smile on his face. He must be dreaming about going fishing. In his dream, he hears someone calling his name. He feels someone kissing him on the cheek. Through sleepy eyes, he sees mom. In his grogginess, he hears her say, “You better get up. It’s time to go fishing.” His eyes widen, and he reaches up and hugs her. Then the family dogs burst into the room; they jump on the bed and start licking him. Now he is really awake and ready to go fishing.
Mom sends him to the bathroom to do his morning big boy duties and brush his teeth. He rushes back to his room. She helps him get his “Daddy’s Fishing Buddy” t-shirt grandma got him. He puts on his “Born to Fish” cap great-grandpa sent him. He’s a lucky little boy to have so many people and dogs that love him.
Mom had breakfast ready, so the little boy and dad came in and sat down at the kitchen table. They all held hands, bowed their heads and dad thanked God for this special day and all their many blessings. It was sure hard to eat when you are a little boy and ready to go fishing.
They loaded the coolers, the snacks and the dogs in the truck and they were off on this great adventure. At least it was to a 4-year old. As dad drove, questions came from the little boy sitting in his car seat. How much farther, dad? Why do fish have fins? Did you get my fishing stuff? What color are fish? Dad patiently answered all the questions and smiled. Mom smiled too.
“I can see the water”, the little boy yelled as they drove across the bridge. Soon he was helping dad back the boat down the ramp. The boat motored away from the ramp with life jackets on all the occupants. Dogs too. They made a quick stop at the marina so dad could get some worms. Guess who had to go with him? Back in the boat, they came out of the idle zone, and dad pushed the throttle forward. The look on the little boy’s face was priceless as the boat motor roared to life.
Dad had been on his college bass fishing team. He still fishes bass tournaments when he can. The boat has every kind of electronics imaginable. Dad works for the company that makes them. The little boy wanted to know about every one of them. This day was not a fishing tournament, though. It was all about a first fishing trip for a little boy. He idled down and drifted into a shaded cove. The lucky little boy got to see an eagle flying in the sky, a deer drinking at the water’s edge and a big heron fishing along the bank.
It was a great place to have a picnic lunch, play in the water and catch the first fish.
That was the only thing on the little boy’s mind after they anchored and tied up the boat. He was ready to go fishing. Dad tied a small sinker and a bobber to the line but no hook, and then showed him how to cast and then helped him cast. Then he let him try casting by himself. That was hard for a 4-year old. Dad told him he would help.
Dad and the little boy walked along the shoreline hand-in-hand. He carried his fishing pole and dad carried the tackle box and worms. Mom took pictures. The dogs came along too. Dad found a good spot and put a hook on his line and a worm on the hook. The little boy wanted to put the worm on. Dad told him to watch how he does it first and then when he’s bigger, he can do the same. He knows dad is smart, so he’s okay with that.
Dad gets on his knees, puts his hands around his little boy’s hands and helps him cast the worm into the water. Mom said it was a great cast. They all smiled. She got a great picture. Dad told him to watch the bobber and when it went under, he would help him set the hook. Just as he said it, the bobber moved sideways and then started bobbing up and down.
Dad helped him set the hook but let him fight the little fish and reel it in. Mom was frantically taking pictures as the little boy reeled it up on the bank. Dad and he posed for pictures with the fish. Dad took out the hook to release it, but the little boy wanted to touch it first. With one finger, he did. The dogs came over and wanted to smell the fish.
Then he said goodbye as dad put it back in the water. He gave a high five to dad and mom and hugged the dogs. First fishing trip, first cast, first fish.
He wanted to fish some more, so dad put another worm on and cast it out again. Almost immediately, the bobber started moving toward deeper water, and the two fishermen set the hook. The little rod bent nearly double. Dad had to help him with this one. It took line off the reel. They would gain some of it back, and it would strip more line. Mom’s yelling and taking pictures at the same time. Dad was just hoping the line or the rod wouldn’t break. A determined look was on the little boy’s face as he and dad fought the fish. Dad told mom to get the dip net from the boat. She held it in the water as the little boy and his dad brought the fish to it. A good size largemouth. For a little fishing outfit and a little boy, it was a monster.
They posed for pictures again, and dad beamed with pride. He would be sending that picture to all his bass fishing buddies and showing it off at work next week. Mom was already sending it to Grandparents and Great-grandparents. Two casts, two fish. Dad tried to explain to him it’s not always that easy. The little boy was so happy he didn’t care right now. He had caught a fish like dad catches. They watched it swim away.
Knowing that they would probably not catch another fish like that, dad talked him into playing in the water so he wouldn’t be disappointed if they didn’t. They all paddled around and played for a while. The dogs, too, and they got hungry. The little boy sat on dad’s lap eating, talking about the fish and yawning. They decided to pack up and go home. The little boy was asleep before the boat reached the loading ramp.
On the drive home, mom turned around and took pictures of a tired little fisherman with his “Born to Fish” cap tilted to one side. Two tired dogs were asleep on each side of him. He was probably dreaming fish dreams. He’s a lucky little boy.
Mulligans can offer new and better opportunity for the next time.
Mulligans are do overs, but why not do the good things over too!
Keep the grins and giggles nearby, God wants us to share those too.
By Larry Whiteley
Simply put, a mulligan is a “do-over” in the game of golf. Hit a bad shot? Take a mulligan and replay that stroke. Drop a ball on the spot from which you just played, and replay the shot. The bad shot is not counted. Our son Kelly loved to play miniature golf when he was younger. We still laugh when we talk about all the mulligans he wanted to take during a round of miniature golf with the family.
Don’t we wish we could take a mulligan for all the bad things that have happened in our lives? Don’t we wish we could replay things? Don’t we wish we could have a “do-over”? I would like to go back and take a mulligan on several things that have happened in my life. You can probably say the same.
I remember a fishing trip when my line broke on the biggest bass I had ever seen. It had to be at least a state record. I knew my line was getting old. I knew I needed to put fresh line on but didn’t – Mulligan!
Then there was the time I got into my deer stand, reached into my pack to get my bow release, and it wasn’t there. I knew I should have double-checked. I then had to sit there and watch three bucks bigger than anything I had ever taken with gun or bow walk right under my stand – Mulligan!
In a time long ago before digital cameras and smartphones, I was on a camping trip and the beautiful northern lights were dancing across the sky. I reached for my camera and started taking pictures of this beautiful sight. You guessed it. There was no film in the camera – Mulligan!
I would also like to take a mulligan for times I was too “busy” and my kids wanted to go fishing, or my wife wanted to go hiking or on a trip. Oh, believe me, there are many other things I have done that I would like to take a mulligan on. I am just thankful I have a God that forgives me for the mistakes I have made. The hardest part is forgiving myself. All we can do is try to live the rest of our life, so we don’t want or need to take a mulligan.
Believe it or not, there is a national holiday every year on October 17th called Mulligan Day. But, don’t wait until then. Mulligan Day can be any day. Whether it is a former relationship with a friend or loved one, an old hobby that you abandoned, or a past mistake that needs rectifying – you can take a mulligan.
Everyone deserves to have a second chance in life, right? And that is what mulligans are all about. If you don’t succeed at first, try and try again! After all, we aren’t perfect. There has only been one perfect man. We are going to make mistakes. We should not feel bad about doing something wrong. We should see it as an opportunity to learn and do it better the next time.
Aren’t second chances and sometimes even third chances good for everyone? Although we always want to do things correctly right away, immediate success is not always possible. In fact, it is very rare. We should embrace our human faults. Don’t simply admit failure and give up. Instead, take a deep breath, think about where you went wrong, learn from it, and try it again.
Mulligans help us to be more confident and accepting of ourselves. We can also use them to encourage other people too. When you see someone failing at something or struggling to get it right, give them encouragement, and offer them advice if they would like some. Imagine how much better a place the world would be if we all had this sort of attitude and helped others achieve their goals!
Take a mulligan and give yourself another chance to do something the right way that previously went wrong. After all, mulligans are about second chances and doing something again. Hey, God gives us mulligans all the time if we just ask Him.
You can also use mulligans as an opportunity to learn some new skills. Whether playing an instrument or learning to fish, use it as the catalyst to help you try out something new. You shouldn’t have any fear of failing or needing to do something, again and again, to get it right. After all, the struggle makes the achievement even more enjoyable at the end, and it is definitely better to try than not give it any sort of effort at all, right?
Here’s a great idea! If mulligans are “do-overs” for bad things that happened, why can’t we have “do-overs” for good things that happened in our lives? Deer camp with friends or family – Mulligan! A trip my wife and I made to Glacier National Park – Mulligan! Going fishing with my grandkids – Mulligan! Deer and turkey hunting with my son’s and grandkids – Mulligan! Time alone around a campfire – Mulligan! The list goes on.
Sometimes life gives you a second chance, or even two. Not always, but sometimes. It’s what you do with those second chances, those “do-overs,” that count – Mulligan!
Partition by color, size, lure type – store up to 90 spoons or 50 crankbaits, or any combination
By Forrest Fisher
Ever ask yourself, what’s essential in a tackle box? Most fishermen don’t think about it. Most go to the store, search available inventory, then pick out what might work to carry their selection of lures. Anglers usually do not look for separation and organization, and easy access. Now they can get all that in one tackle box. Imagine a tackle box with lure separation, easy one-look fast access, and keeps lures dry even when it’s raining, or the waves are crashing over the sidewall? Not many boxes can do all that. When visiting the Niagara Falls Outdoor Show last year, I found a new tackle box aptly named “The SpoonCrank Box.” This durable box will organize all your lures with room for 50 crankbaits or 90 spoons, or any combination of these two quantities – or more if you double up on some spaces.
The box consolidates the usual wasted tackle box air space of many other tackle boxes with divider separation and wet-protection capability. Nobody needs rusty hooks. Water cannot get into this box with the rubber seal around the inner top cover. Walleye anglers use assorted stickbaits with lots of treble hooks. Bass anglers, too, use lots of crankbaits with multiple treble hooks. They’re all sticky sharp and can catch fingers or other lures easily. The separation dividers provide isolation from travel vibrations that can wear out a shiny lure finish. Spoons big and small, a favorite lure selection for salmon and trout trollers, are aptly and safely stored for easy access in this same box.
Done fishing? Close the cover; the lures are safe and ready for next time – tangle-free. That’s not all. The box’s top lid provides a hidden compartment for pliers, snippers, clippers, fluorocarbon leader reels, snap clamps, and various personal preference gear. In using the box for a while now, I also discovered one other option.
If I remove some of the vertical separation panels, there is enough space to add two or three small compartment boxes (jig heads, split shot, hooks, etc., and a fishing reel or two. Yep, still all in one package. Of course, I’ve got way too many lures to do that. The box was designed to safely provide lure transportation, protection and access for the focused angler. There is no other box that can safely carry and protect 90 lures in an
organized, easy-to-find and easy-to-remove fashion. The box is high quality, durable, handsome in outdoor marine green color, fully functional, and affordable. The SpoonCrank Box helped to make me, a sometimes messy angler, appear quite organized and systematic.
While I am not usually that way, I have been trying to that my whole life! Worried about security? The box is lockable. You could chain it to your trunk or the boat deck if that was needed. The box is available in two sizes. Visit www.spooncrankbox.com to review size options or to order one.
The bottom line is that you can be a more effective and successful angler when you can find the lure and color pattern you are looking for when you need it. No wasted time.
Get out fishing with a new organized focus! I like this box.
FLORIDA KEYS, LOWER KEYS — Beach-front camping can be found throughout the Florida Keys. Campgrounds vary in size, with some capable of accommodating recreational vehicles, others only tents. Some sites offer lecture programs and guided nature walks conducted by park rangers. Photo by Bill Keogh/TDC/NewmanPR
Family Campfires set new pace for outdoor fun as RV Sales Skyrocket during Pandemic
By Bob Holzhei
Sales of recreational vehicles (RV’s) have skyrocketed during the pandemic, as people discover a safe way to embrace nature! Enjoying the outdoors while camping is a safe way to travel while social distancing during the post-coronavirus pandemic era.
There are a lot of first-time buyers as well as veteran campers wanting to upgrade and travel. Folks are tired of being “locked down.” Camping provides one safe way to maximize family time while controlling the environment. And yes, RVs are becoming harder to find, with companies on lockdown.
According to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), recreational vehicle sales were up more than 75 percent in May of this year. Many folks are discovering the joy of tent camping while cooking meals over a campfire. There’s something intrinsically worthwhile about enjoying the outdoors and getting back to nature. The RVIA adds, “The median annual usage of RVs is increasing from 20 to 25 days per year. This increase is indicative of the changing attitudes towards remote work and the ability for more people to be able to work from a destination more frequently than traditional vacation days afforded in the past.”
Outdoor activities offer many benefits. A 40-minute walk each day reduces stress and calms people.
I’ve camped in my backyard to experience a change of scenery. Camping at home allows me to think about things I need to take along on the first camping trip of the season. A picnic around a campfire in the backyard is a great way to wind down and discover a new perspective on life while slowing the pace of life down.
Take a walk or hike as part of your daily routine, capture the memories by taking photos and share them later with friends and family.
Our family started camping with a nine-by-nine tent, eventually upgrading to a used pop-up camper, then a used Del-Ray pickup camper, which had a foot of floor missing by the entrance door. The $600 cost of the camper was affordable, and I repaired the flooring with a piece of steel and plywood. We owned this camper for 16-years before selling it for $400 to a gentleman who wanted the furnace and stove to place in his horse trailer. Tales can be told about that stove!
Eventually, a 26-foot new trailer was purchased, which had a bathroom in it. My wife was finally pleased to have indoor plumbing. The following RV was a 34.5-foot fifth-wheel followed by a drive-around 26-foot motor coach, which now allows us to explore the Wild West.
Many healthy outdoor opportunities await discovery while slowing down the pace of life.
Joe Bragg, operator of Thump 30 fishing guide service, scouted Milford Lake for spawning crappie.
By David M. Zumbaugh, images by Jon Blumb
A generous offer for a guided May crappie fishing trip on a premier reservoir in Kansas buoyed my spirits after the restraining misery of the COVID-19 pandemic. Being a long-time member of the Outdoor Communicators of Kansas (OCK) has its privileges! The weather predicted for the weekend was invitingly mild, but was to be accompanied by the classic, relentless, gusting south wind. I packed an assortment of outdoor and camping gear and headed west to Milford Lake, the largest in Kansas, impounding 16,000 acres.
The first stop was an enlightening tour of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s Milford Lake Fish Hatchery. Pioneering work on the propagation of striped bass, developed here, has been shared with other USA hatcheries to enhance the stocking of many lakes throughout the country, according to hatchery manager Daric Schneidwind.
Daric Schneidewind, Manager of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism’s Milford Fish Hatchery, answered questions from members of the Outdoor Communicators of Kansas.
A tour of the Milford Fish Hatchery was given to the Outdoor Communicators of Kansas by Daric Schneidewind, Manager.
Walleye and other popular sport fishes are grown and distributed from this facility to aquatic impoundments. When they mature to keeper size, they put smiles of delight on many a Kansan face.
For supper, the OCK conference group was invited to an old-fashioned fish fry at Grandpa Boone’s Cabin (www.lakemilford.com) in Milford, Kansas. Ironically, the lake was named after this city, which had to be moved to a new location as the lake was created by damning the Republican River in 1967. Brad Roether is the proprietor of Grandpa Boone’s and the nearby Milford Tropics (a great place for a “cold one”) and the Mayor of Milford too!
It was rewarding to get reacquainted with OCK pals, meet new members, and interface with Michele Stimatze from the Geary County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Mike Miller, Assistant Secretary of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, received a special award for his contributions to the Outdoor Communicators of Kansas.
After a scrumptious meal, our group gathered at Acorns Resort for more camaraderie and a “Bottled in Bond” bourbon tasting session.
While no one over imbibed, I doubt anyone can remember the favored rankings of selected spirits. This resort features cabins of various capacities, an RV park, yurts, boat rentals, The Cove Bar & Grill, and even an events center. A popular place for outdoor recreationists throughout the year for sure.
I arrived at my comfortable Army Corps property campsite at a reasonable hour, only to be disturbed by some happy campers until the wee hours. Unfortunate, as entrepreneur Roether promised to put me on a longbeard at an early hour the following day. He did not disappoint me. With clear eyes and intent mission, I stealthily conspired to slay a gobbler. For temptation, I placed my hen decoy in a newly planted field.
Soon, two curious Toms espied the imposter and had a contest to see which could puff up the most disgraceful display of feathery testosterone; but the pageantry occurred just out of range. Unluckily, three white-tailed deer browsing for breakfast interrupted the ambush by wheezing and snorting, warning my quarry to safer quarters in the creek bottom. When hope for a turkey dinner faded, I dejectedly trudged out of the woods for a 9 AM rendezvous with Joe Bragg of Thump30 Guide Service (www.thump30.com) to pursue his specialty, crappies.
Photographer Jon Blumb and I were welcomed aboard Joe’s well-fitted, very comfortable boat and prepared to angle for speckled treasure. We did not have to wait long. Joe put us on fish almost immediately, and the bite was intense and frequent. With Buck’s graphite poles rigged with Z-Man jigs, the fish couldn’t resist. In just a few hours, we had enough fish in the cooler to keep us busy at the fillet table, a few whoppers exceeding two pounds.
Other OCK conference attendees were successful landing species Milford is renowned for, including smallmouth bass, walleye, and blue catfish. May is a prime time for hitting Kansas lakes, with both bank fishing and on-the-water opportunities plentiful.
KDWP&T publishes a Fishing Atlas, providing access locations throughout the state, presenting bountiful opportunities regardless of your skill level or favorite fishy preferences. A search of the KDWP&T website will identify kids fishing clinics, always a novel way to introduce youth to the outdoors.
Kansas in spring is a wonderland. Hiking and biking trails abound, along with other popular outdoor pursuits. Paddle sports (kayaks and paddle boards) are gaining momentum with rentals available at various locations, including Council Grove Marina.
Mushroom hunting in eastern Kansas can be outrageously good. May is a key month for bird migration, and all habitat types are represented, from deciduous forests and marshes to arid grasslands.
More than 450 species have been confirmed in Kansas. Did I mention wild turkeys? While fishing at Milford, bald eagles were competing with us, noisily complaining about our success.
So, get outside and take a field trip to the Sunflower State soon.
Dakin Dairy Farms is a sustainable farm with a focus on Made-In-America business for many years to come.
See and learn where milk comes from, cow to bottle, then taste the real deal.
Enjoy breakfast or lunch at the Farm Kitchen and store.
Kids can play in the 5-acre picnic area and dig for shark teeth there.
Sunny days in Florida offer a chance for new wild adventure, especially now with alligator mating season in progress (you might find them under your car any day of the week). My better half and I like excitement, but this time we took to a short and peaceful sort of adventure road trip to Myakka City in Manatee County, Florida. Arriving there we discovered Dakin Dairy Farms – a sustainable family dairy farm of about 1,200 acres. It’s a place where kids can learn learn where milk comes from, how milk travels from the cow to the bottle, and then taste the difference of truly fresh milk from Dakin.
They process and sell their own milk and cheese products, and offer tours to the public (re-starting in Oct-2021). In their Farm Market Store, you may purchase delicious cheeses, milk, and butter. The Farm Market Café is open year round and serves delicious meals that are sure to leave you feeling happy.
At their farm site, visitors can find a 5-acre family picnic area/petting zoo with tables, baby cows (more than 30 baby cows are born each month!), goats (2 baby goats were born on Valentine’s Day), and a not-so-big earth hill where kids can dig for ancient shark teeth. Everyone is looking to find a Megalodon tooth, the biggest of fossilized shark teeth from whale-eating sharks that roamed the seas about 10-20 million years ago.
The best part? Their kitchen nook! A lengthy breakfast and lunch menu at really affordable prices for VERY generous portions. We tested some of the items out for taste – try their Reuben Sandwich, it was delicious!
We met the general manager, Courtney, who explained the operation of the farm, their large number of cows and other farm animals, their roadway dirt -fill provision capability for county highway crews, and the function of the kitchen, gift shop and children’s picnic area. We then met the chef and storekeeper, Russell, who explained some of his cooking secrets not to be shared in this venue, but you could stop in there and see for yourself.
It was a very relaxing morning! Their delicious products are carried in Publix, Detweiler’s and many other south Florida area stores. Learn more about Dakin Dairy Farms when you visit this Facebook site: https://www.facebook.com/DakinDairyFarm.
Lightweight Snake Boots that eliminate sweat! Irish Setter Boots.
Not many folks think about snake boots for hunting with sweat and scent control, but if you hunt or live in areas where the heat index soars to above 110 degrees, you really do need to consider this primary element for a successful hunting experience.
On this note, I found the MudTrek snake boots from Irish Setter to accomplish scent and sweat control for your feet while staying protected from venomous eastern diamondback rattlesnakes and cottonmouth water snakes that we have in Southwest Florida.
The Irish Setter TempSens technology helps regulate the temperature within the boot to maintain constant foot comfort. The system reacts, so moisture is hyper-wicked away from the foot in hot conditions, allowing for evaporative cooling. This helps keep feet cooler, drier and comfortable. In colder conditions, the system also pulls moisture from the skin but traps it to create a thermal barrier that helps maintain a constant, comfortable temperature inside the boot. Warm or cold, the ScentBan™ antimicrobial scent control helps eliminates odors within the boot. I found all-day underfoot comfort with these “safety boots” and excellent traction in slick or tough-walking terrain. The self-cleaning lugs help remove mud and dirt with every step. The vulcanized rubber upper design makes them waterproof and durable.
Also important, these snake boots are light, and they offer a traditional, roomier full fit with a wider leg and ankle openings. And, there is a convenient side zipper for easy on/off. I need that (I have big feet!). They are 17-inches high and are vulcanized rubber in a brown color boot design that features foot and lower leg comfort with resistance to fangs and thorns. These elements make the Irish Setter SnakeGuard boots the essential comfort tool for hunters and hikers in snake country. They cost about $230; visit www.irishsetterboots.com to learn more.
Logan now has countless new reasons to think fondly of his home water after claiming the tournament title here on Championship Monday. The 26-year-old from Springville, only a 30-mile drive from the Gadsden City Boat Docks, caught a four-day total of 20 bass weighing 57 pounds, 9 ounces. He capped the competition with a 14-1 limit Monday, the third-heaviest of the day.
Logan earned $100,000 for the win, his first in 26 B.A.S.S. events.
The second-year Elite Series angler charged into the lead on Day 3 with a 16-15 bag that tied for the heaviest of the tournament. That made him the last man to weigh in Monday and the only one with a chance to knock Connecticut pro Paul Mueller from the hot seat.
Logan peeked silently at the scale while his bass were weighed. When his winning total flashed on screen, he let out a victorious yell and pumped his right fist over his head. Then he hugged Mueller and hoisted his first blue trophy for his home-based fans to see.
“I started tournament fishing with my dad when I was 5,” Logan said. “We’d come here, Logan Martin and Weiss … I went into practice trying to not put pressure on myself. I wanted to fish like I’d never seen the place before. I wanted to figure out a pattern.”
Having an open mind, even on water he knows so well, was critical this week. Neely Henry was a difficult read for most of the 98 anglers who started the tournament on Friday, postponed by a day because of heavy rains earlier in the week. The storms sent the water table rising and shot sediment throughout the lake. The Elites scrambled to find stable water, many relying on junk fishing to see which lures and techniques produced the best bites.
A trio of lures worked best for Logan — a 5/8-ounce Dirty Jigs Matt Herren flipping jig (black/blue skirt) with a Zoom Big Salty sapphire blue Chunk; a Dirty Jigs No Jack swim jig with a Zoom Super Speed Craw trailer; and a frog, which he used to fill his Day 3 limit.
Logan started the tournament strongly, putting 14-1 on the board Friday, good enough for ninth place. He caught 12-8 on Day 2, climbing to eighth and surviving the cut to 48. He made his move on Day 3 with the 16-5 haul, pointing to a pair of unusual catches as the turning point.
“I caught two bass under a bridge right by the Gadsden City Boat Docks on a crankbait,” he said “I’m not a crankbait fisherman. It was about 11:30, and I only had two keepers at the time. But I caught a 2 1/2 there, and then two casts later, I caught a 5 1/4. I only got one more bite that day.
“When you get that kind of bite when you’re not supposed to, that let me know I had a chance to win. Stuff like that just doesn’t happen all the time.”
Logan didn’t divulge specifics on the crankbait, other than to say it’s specially painted, similar to a black/chartreuse combo.
“I keep that one in my hand around here,” he said. “It’s a confidence thing.”
Logan planned to fish down-lake from the start, but low water in that area made him choose otherwise. Each of the 20 bass he weighed was caught between Cove Creek and Minnesota Bend — both only a 10-minute run from the Gadsden City Boat Docks.
Mueller, meanwhile, went straight for the lower end of Neely Henry and found success. He seized the lead after Day 2 and was in second place going into Day 4, trailing Logan by just more than a pound. Mueller caught the heaviest bass of the tournament Monday, a 6-6 largemouth, but his 13-13 closing weight wasn’t enough to overtake Logan.
“My pattern went away today and I knew that would be the deal,” Mueller said. “I had to fish new water. I was able to catch some fish, and I had a good day. I’m glad at the way this turned out. As short as the morning bite was, I could have been sitting in sixth or seventh right now.”
Mueller caught his best bass, including the 6-6, on a Deps Evoke 2.0 squarebill crankbait (chartreuse/brown back). He earned an additional $2,000 for having the Phoenix Boats Big Bass on Day 4 and overall.
Alabama native Gerald Swindle caught the second-heaviest bag on Day 4 (a 15-0 limit) and finished third with 54-2 overall.
Mueller took home an additional $3,000 for being the highest-placing entrant in the Toyota Bonus Bucks program, and fourth-place finisher Jason Christie of Park Hill, Okla., earned $2,000 for being the second-highest placing entrant.
As part of the Yamaha Power Pay program, Logan earned $4,000 for winning while Christie claimed an additional $1,500 for being the second-highest placing entrant.
Minnesota pro Seth Feider finished 12th in the derby and didn’t qualify for Championship Monday, but he still left Gadsden with a commanding lead in the Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. His season total of 525 points gives him a 41-point cushion over Patrick Walters of Summerville, S.C., (484) with three tournaments remaining.
2021 Bassmaster Elite Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota
2021 Bassmaster Elite Series Premier Sponsors: Berkley, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Ranger Boats, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha
2021 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: AFTCO, Bass Pro Shops, Garmin, Huk Performance Fishing, Marathon, Rapala
2021 Bassmaster Elite Series Conservation Partner: AFTCO
About B.A.S.S. – B.A.S.S., which encompasses the Bassmaster tournament leagues, events and media platforms, is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 515,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), TV show, radio show, social media programs and events. For more than 50 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.
The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, Basspro.com Bassmaster Opens Series, TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Series, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors, Bassmaster Team Championship, Bassmaster B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series powered by TourneyX and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk
Shark Teeth Anyone?! Ancient fossils that share a story of evolution.
Take a good cooler for food and beverages – protect yourself and friends from dehydration.
Gear includes a 15” x 24” gravel sifter, shovel and shark tooth collection jar.
Wear sneakers or beach shoes, pack a cell phone, emergency toilet paper, venom-extraction kit – and tell someone where you will be for the day.
By Forrest Fisher
Ever take a river-bound shark tooth hunting trip? It’s a treasure hunt adventure, but unlike any other hike you might ever take. Why? Because it’s a challenging hike – over logs, through cattails and swamp grass, through slimy mud, it’s a swim, and it’s a dig. It’s a sweaty workout, but it’s authentic deep south fun!
There is something to be said for trusting one day of your life in sweltering Florida sunshine with a heat index of 109F, crossing a river with too much gear in hand, only to discover one special, sweet surprise. The beverages and food are ice cream cold in the cooler, and you learn that your GRIZZLY cooler is so durable and dry that you can drag it in the water – or use it as a float to take you safely downstream! It has an elastomeric seal to seal the exterior from the interior in a groove around the cover. Nothing outside gets in (including river water), and the cool ice stays inside, mostly un-melted, as we discovered.
When I ordered the Grizzly 15, I looked for something not too big, but large enough to hold supplies stable and chilled for a one or two-day trip for two people, and light enough when fully loaded to be an easy carry. The Grizzly 15 is the perfect answer. At 12-pounds unloaded, it is lightweight and yet has a rugged, padded, adjustable shoulder strap that is actually comfortable. The rubber-like latches assure compartment integrity, and I found that the cover will not unsnap if you drop the cooler along the way on rocks or anything else. I liked that since I dropped the cooler about three times on our slippery hike through swamps and down the Peace River in Southwest Florida. We went in search of ancient fossilized shark teeth treasure.
The worst part of the trip was discovering my wide-rimmed shovel weighed more than the cooler. The best part of the trip was finding out that the cooler would float high and dry when fully loaded for a day-long adventure. It made walking down the river easy! In bright orange color, it was also a potential life-saving color beacon. So on our short trip to this never-never land of Florida jungle with critters among us (a few snakes and gators), we found lunchtime security with our Grizzly.
As we made our way in and out, we carried two gravel sifters, two shovels, a dry bag with our wallets, cell phones, a sidearm, a backpack, our cooler, shark teeth collection jars, a venom extraction kit, sunscreen, emergency toilet paper, a knife/plier tool, and we each had a Florida fossil collection permit from the Florida Program of Vertebrate Paleontology. Visit www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/vertpaleo/home or call 353-273-1821 to obtain such a permit ($5 fee).
We collected over 1,500 shark teeth during our one-day trip. The teeth gods looked were favorable upon us! Finding where to dig for teeth involves walking the river and searching out the bottom with your feet for an area that offers a sand-gravel mix. A few shovel scoops and a quick sift will reveal if we should spend more or less time at that spot. It’s fun, it’s a workout, and it’s always an adventure. Tim Snyder is an expert at shark tooth hunting; he runs a business entitled Shark Art by Clark. You can find him on eBay or Etsy with prices so low that it amazes me (about $5 for 30 teeth, which can include a shark tooth necklace!). Snyder says, “All of my teeth for sale are real fossilized shark teeth. They mostly come from the Miocene Epoch (5 million to about 25 million years ago), and orders can include teeth from Hammerhead, Lemon, Tiger, Whaler sharks. Whaler sharks include Bull, Reef, Dusky, Black Tip and Whitetip sharks. Whaler shark teeth are difficult to identify as their teeth are very similar, but most people just call them Bull shark teeth. They’re all pretty cool looking.”
Better yet, the cooler is made in the USA, and if it ever does break, it carries a lifetime warranty.
We thought that was pretty cool, too. Find them online at www.grizzlycoolers.com. We had filled it with six water bottles, four beers, two sandwiches, and two bags of chips—no dehydration or starvation in the day plan.
We also carry a Sawyer Extractor Kit in the event we need it for a bee sting, wasp encounter, snake bite, spider bite, or the rest.
The kits are small in size, affordable (around $15), and can be used with one hand; no razor blade is needed.
The Tri-Lakes area of southwest Missouri and northern Arkansas includes fishing hotspot waters, including Lake Taneycomo, Table Rock Lake and Bull Shoals Lake.
World class fishing is found everyday in the famous Tri-Lakes region of southwest Missouri.
Lake Taneycomo, Table Rock Lake & Bull Shoals Lake offer trout, bass, crappie, walleye, catfish, perch and more.
Visitors discover affordable family fun, family fishing, family entertainment and restful accommodations.
By Larry Whiteley
Where can you go and fish three different lakes for 23 different species of fish in one trip? The answer is Branson, Missouri. Located in the famous Tri-Lakes area of southwest Missouri and northern Arkansas, this family fishing hotspot includes Lake Taneycomo, Table Rock Lake and Bull Shoals Lake. All have been ranked among the best fishing lakes in America. In 2018, Branson was named #1 in ”Top 10 Lake Towns,” then in 2020 was ranked #2 in ”Top Affordable U.S. Lake Towns” by www.realtor.com.
Wrapping around the eastern border of Branson is Lake Taneycomo, renown as the “Trout Capital of America.” It is internationally known for world-class rainbow and brown trout fishing. The Missouri state record brown trout was broken twice in 2019 with a 34-pound 10-ounce fish, followed seven months later with a 40-pound 6-ounce brown. The world record is 42 pounds 1 ounce and was caught in New Zealand. In 1997, a dead brown trout was found floating in Taneycomo that was 41.75 inches long, and based on those measurements, it would have weighed over 44 pounds. Will the next world record come from Lake Taneycomo? The fabulous trout fishing is not the only great fishing that Taneycomo offers. The diverse fishery also features catfish, crappie, bass, sunfish and walleye that all thrive in the cold, nutrient-rich waters.
Table Rock Lake is also a big part of the fishing and fun in the Branson area, with shorelines covering both Missouri and Arkansas. When I say big, I do mean BIG! The 43,100-acre reservoir has excellent bass fishing year-round and is annually ranked in Bassmaster Magazine’s 100 Best Bass Lakes listing. If you have dreamed of catching the “Triple Crown of Bass” (largemouth, smallmouth, spotted), this is the place you could make it happen. White bass are also in these waters, so I guess if you caught one of them along with the other three, you would have a “Grand Slam of Bass.” There are also a limited number of striped bass, but I have no idea what you would call it if you caught one along with the other four. A miracle, I guess, and something you can tell your grandkids about. In addition to all the bass species available in Table Rock waters, there are also white and black crappie, walleye, goggle-eye, channel catfish, flathead catfish, carp, bluegill and longear sunfish. If you are into catching something really different, Table Rock is also home to ancient paddlefish.
Bull Shoals Lake is a short drive from Branson, and like Table Rock, is in both Missouri and Arkansas. It, too, is nationally known for its excellent bass fishing. Largemouth weighing up to 12-pounds have been caught here. There is also hybrid bass, smallmouth bass spotted bass, stripe bass, and white bass too. Bull Shoals is not known for hybrid bass, but a local angler recently caught a state record 29-pound 1-ounce hybrid that might very well also be a line-class world record if it passes all the judging criteria. A 65-pound, 10-ounce state record striped bass was also taken from these waters. Bull Shoals is also nationally recognized as a fabulous walleye lake. The Missouri state record at 21-pounds, 1-ounce came from Bull Shoals. Crappie fishing is also popular and, if you’re into catfishing, there’s plenty of those too. There are a limited number of rainbow trout and a few of the historic paddlefish here. Another fish in Bull Shoals, and conservation folks are not sure how they got there, is the yellow perch. This species is very popular in America’s northern lakes and in Canadian waters. The Missouri state record is 2-pounds, 7-ounces, which is a good size for this good-tasting cousin of the walleye.
Besides fishing, there are many family fun things to do in this beautiful area of America. Go to www.explorebranson.com and check it all out for yourself, then come explore all that Branson, Missouri has to offer for fishermen and families. For additional information regarding travel or accommodations, you may also contact the Branson Visitors Bureau by phone: 1-800-296-0463 .
David A. Rose with a rare Gulf sturgeon caught in the surf at Orange Beach, Alabama.
Weighing 120-130 pounds, the rare fish fought for 40-minutes, was landed, then was carefully unhooked, and safely released alive and well.
Gear: Penn Battle II – 5000 series spinning reel, 8-ft Penn Battle II surf fishing rod, 20-lb Silver Thread mono, 40-lb test shock leader, and a Dusty Hayes Pomp Rig w-1/0 Circle hooks.
Secret: Live ½ shrimp bait, wrapped to hook w/Atlas Mike’s Spawn Net & Magic Thread.
Story by the angler, David A. Rose
When it comes to surf fishing the freshwater beaches of the Great Lakes and inland lakes near my home in the Traverse City, MI area, I can usually hold my own. On the other hand, when it comes to casting and proper fishing in saltwater, I’m an apprentice.
Ever so slowly, though, I learn something new about surf fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. The sugar-sand near Orange Beach, AL, provided the fun. The date was March 6, 2021, and my regular morning catch included the usual whiting, croakers, flounder, Gofftopsail catfish, and the like. Then at about 11:35, one of my two rods signaled another tell-tale hit. The day was about to change! About 40-minutes later, after coming close to spooling me twice, this fish, a Gulf sturgeon over 6-feet in length – a fish with prehistoric roots – was tailed, beached, and released.
This particular fish—one of the rarest species on earth and protected by the Endangered Species Act–would likely have been the all-time world-record catch for hook and line. No one on hand recorded any official length or girth before the behemoth was unhooked and freed to swim away, no worse for wear. I didn’t want to take any chances of injuring the fish.
To get an idea of the sturgeon’s length, I spread out my arms—which have a span of about 6 feet. The nose and tail of the fish were both well beyond my reach. I tried rolling the fish over to remove the hook from its mouth, but it was too heavy. The fish was on the sand, it was impossible to move the fish without possibly harming it, and I estimated that it weighed 120 – 130 pounds. It wasn’t until a large rogue wave rolled in that I was able to gain enough leeway to swing the tail so it could swim out. It still had the hook secured in the mouth, but thankfully, it could swim out, taking about another 100 feet of line with it. I reeled the giant in once more, this time to water about 2 feet deep. That’s when the fish could be turned belly up, and I was able to finally remove the hook.
The fish ate half of a live shrimp purchased from Lost Bay Tackle & Guide Service in Orange Beach that I had wrapped with Atlas Mike’s Spawn Net & Magic Thread. It’s a neat trick that kept the bait tight to the hook during the cast, allowing the scent and sight of the bait to work as it should. The rig was a hand-tied “Dusty’s Pomp Rig – 2/Drop,” with multi-colored floats made by Dusty Hayes of Sam’s Bait & Tackle, also of Orange Beach. The rig is comprised of 20-pound-test Momoi Diamond monofilament and size-1/0 Mustad circle hooks. I fished the rig in the building surf with a 4-ounce pyramid sinker.
As for my gear, the reel was a 5000 Penn Battle II spinning reel spooled with 20-pound-test Silver Thread AN-40 monofilament, tied up a 20-foot shock leader of 40-pound-test Berkley Big Game mono. I used a Uni-to-Uni knot to bring those lines together. The rod was an 8-foot graphite moderate-fast-action Penn Battle II surf spinning rod rated for 12- to 25-pound mono. As a combination rig, it was enough to subdue the goliath.
Before getting a good look at the fish, there was no doubt in my mind that I had hooked some species of shark. But when its back broke the surface, there was no dorsal fin. By the time the fish was reeled in, over 100 spectators had gathered. When the fish started to tire, an onlooker—who, it was obvious, had some knowledge of fishing—tried tailing it for me. The armor plating of the fish was too slick. So, I asked my wife, Carol, to hand him my Rapala Fisherman’s Gloves. These allowed him to get a firm grip. That’s when the Sturgeon was able to be beached.
An educated guess, at the time, had me thinking the fish was an endangered species. So, I made sure the head and gills stayed in the surf while I posed for a very quick photo and checked for any tags. None of the latter were found.
Earlier that day, I had chosen my casts in the 2- to 3-foot surf along a section of a riptide that was flowing into the Gulf, thinking it would be an area fish would congregate to forage on bait wafting out with the current. My guess was correct. This particular fish was hooked out front of the Phoenix VI condominiums, about ½ mile west of the Perdido Pass jetty.
Gulf Sturgeon reside in the Mississippi Delta and east along Florida’s Gulf side. Via social media, a few people stated they’ve seen Sturgeon breaching at the mouth of Perdido Pass. After another post about this catch on the Alabama Gulf Coast Surf Fishing Facebook page, I hoped that local biologists might become aware of the catch. The ploy worked.
I discovered that the Gulf sturgeon is an anadromous fish (living in saltwater but spawning in freshwater). “Overall, these rare fish spawn in the freshwater rivers of the Gulf region in spring,” says Jeff Powell, assistant field supervisor from the Alabama Ecological Services Field Office for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Powell added, “Our studies are showing there may be a few that migrate and spawn in the fall, as well. The Gulf sturgeon you landed is most definitely a once-in-a-lifetime catch.”
The one thing I love most about fishing saltwater? You never know what species you’ll hook next. This fish, a species so rare to even see let alone catch, is proof of that.
Red Grouper fun in Southwest Florida. Rod, reels, rigs and how.
Fish: Red Grouper, Lane Snapper, Vermillion Snapper….30+ miles out
Rig: 200# test braid, 80# fluoro leader, 10-oz slip-sinker, 9/0 Gamakatsu Circle Hook
Bait: live shrimp, live sand perch, frozen squid, frozen ballyhoo
By Forrest Fisher
The hi-energy growl of the 400 Hp Mercury Verado coming out of the hole is a beautiful sound. As we departed the Placida boat launch, Nick Weaver brought the flared high-bow of his 26-ft Caymas (boat) up to plane quickly. We were soon skipping along at a humble 25 miles per hour in Lemon Bay and then made the turn west as we slid past Little Gasparilla Island into the Gulf of Mexico.
It was a relatively calm day. The open seas forecast of one to three feet looked good as Nick moved the throttle forward and kicked the boat into high speed. I looked over to fishing partner, Marty Poli; he had a broad smile on his face as we both reversed our hats, rims to the rear. The boat came to cruising speed as Nick set the Raymarine electronics to autopilot for the destination 36 miles out: the Bayronto shipwreck. After surviving a U-boat torpedo attack in 1917, the 400-foot-long Bayronto ship went down during a hurricane while traveling to Tampa in 1918. In our modern times, more than 100 years later, the fuselage has become a fish-attracting magnet for anglers (and divers) that make the offshore trip. Forage and predators abound! Nick still had to consider the gently rolling swells that were about 200-feet apart on this calm day, so he slowed the boat down to 35 mph. Even at that, it didn’t take long to get there.
We all talked on the way out. Nick shared rig details, gear options and what we had for bait selections. Then he offered the fish plan to identify our goals. We were going to first focus on the wreck for yellowtail snapper, after that, the bottom-feeding, reef-dwelling, red grouper. If time allowed, we would then target amberjack after that. We all grinned a bit as he said,” Why not? We have the whole day!”
The plan was to stop short of the wreck to catch live sand perch, known locally as squirrel fish, for bait. In 88 feet of water, Nick deployed the MinnKota Ulterra, and we zeroed in on the bottom for a bait school. Hitting anchor lock, the boat stopped and stabilized, maintaining our location. We delved into the bait well, where there was 18-dozen beautiful live shrimp (TNT Bait & Tackle, El Jobean, FL). Cutting the shrimp in half, we used lighter Penn rods equipped with open-face Penn Fiarce II 5000 series reels, 65# braid, 35# fluoro leader, 3 oz hot-pink hog ball (Captain Chappy).
After we caught some bait, along with some vermillion snapper, lane snapper, and other species like blowfish and remora, we moved onto the wreck. It was time to the Penn Battle II 6000 series rod and reel, 80# braid, 40# fluoro, 6 oz slip-sinker, 3/0 Gamakatsu circle hook (Fish’n Frank’s Bait and Tackle, Port Charlotte, FL).
On the first drop, I had removed the shell from half-a-tail of shrimp – an old friend told me that the fish will eat that no-shell shrimp bait faster – from pure scent attraction. It hit bottom in short order. Not 5-seconds later, I held the rod in my hand when the rod tip dipped swiftly into the water from a vicious strike. I yelled, “Fish on!” The reel drag was pretty tight but was screaming. The fish was swimming so fast, going away in the opposite direction. It was a throbbing, bobbing action on the rod tip. My hands were wet from the shrimp and I was worried about the rod slipping away. I gripped the rod tighter as this fish was massive in strength. Nick hollered, “You got a big mangrove snapper! There might be amberjack here, you might have one of those.” A few moments later, the line snapped, my fish was gone. My heart was beating so fast! “Ugh,” I groaned. “I lost it.” Nick said, “Reel in Forrest, let’s see what she did.” The brand new Spectra braided line was sheared and was ragged at the breakpoint where the fish had apparently headed for the safety of the wreck on the bottom. “Whatever you had, it was huge,” Nick added.” We’ve got lots more hooks and sinkers, tie one on.” This was going to be a fun fishing day!
We moved from that spot to stop at three different places before finding what Nick called “live bottom.:
Here we discovered a rock-hard bottom (w/coral-like caves) surrounded by bottom growth all around the spot, and, of course, this was home for a large school of red grouper and various multiple snapper species.
We switched fishing rigs to level-wind Penn Fathom II line-counter reels (FTHII30LWLC) with matching Penn Carnage II rods (Fish’n Frank’s Bait & Tackle, Port Charlotte, FL). Our connection to the fish was not fragile. The reels were filled with 200# test braid, with a 10-ounce slip-sinker to a 200# swivel, then a 5-foot long 80# Yozuri fluorocarbon leader, all terminating to a 9/0 Gamakatsu circle hook. Nice rig. So powerful. We would discover that this rod-reel rig was such a powerful workhorse set up as we hooked and landed more than 50 fish in the next 3 hours.
The target fish (red grouper) were big, were plentiful, and the best part, they were hungry. It didn’t take long before we ran out of our live bait perch, but Nick’s emergency backup planning paid off with his last-second find of frozen ballyhoo (10-12 inches) at the bait shop. These worked as good as our diminished supply of live sand perch.
We each kept our fish limits, and thanks to Nick’s knowledge and investment in an air bladder venting tool (www.oherofishing.com) and a descending device called a SeaQualizer (https://seaqualizer.com/product/seaqualizer-descending-device/), we also safely released everything else to live another day. With the fish we kept, Nick provided colored plastic tie-wraps to identify whose fish was theirs and make it easy to remove the harvested fish from the fish well – it saves the fingertips. Saltwater fish have big sharp teeth.
The venting tool allows the angler to simply expel the fish’s air bladder so it can swim back to the bottom. The SeaQualizer is equipped with a jaw clamp that connects to the fish and allows the fish to be securely descended and safely released at a predetermined depth of 50, 100 or 150 feet using a secondary fishing line rig with a heavyweight. All that without venting the air bladder. Conservation at its finest!
As the sea winds began to change direction and kick up a bit, we decided to stow the Ulterra and head home for a fun time of fish-cleaning. We had a healthy supply of fish to fillet. Nothing can replace the fun (and sweat) of reeling in these hard-fighting red grouper. Our legal grouper limits of fish ran from 23 to 27 inches in size and were quite heavy.
The grouper fillet slabs were about two-inches thick, and my wife suggested we slice them in half to make grouper sandwiches. We vacuum-packed the slab harvest of grouper and snapper to keep them unspoiled for future delicacy meals.
The moral of this story is simple: Use adequate gear (rods/reels/line/MinnKota Ulterra) without disturbing the bottom.
After you locate a “live-bottom,” maybe the most challenging part of the fishing plan, enjoy the catching! Once you find such a spot, save the GPS location to your electronic memory. Tried and true deep holes are usually repeatable all year long. Some of the best spots are rocky, snag-filled and rough in structure content. Use new leaders and replace them often. Remember that fluorocarbon leaders are much more durable than braided line. Don’t believe that? Ask Josh Olive, charter captain and publisher of the weekly Sun-News Waterline Newspaper Magazine (https://www.yoursun.com/coastal/boatingandfishing/), to demonstrate. I was surprised too. We never stop learning.
Visit the brand new Fish’n Franks location (4425-D Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte, FL, 33980, 941-625-3888, https://fishinfranks.com/) for advice and gear. Don’t forget to carry a sharp knife, pair of needle-nose pliers, hook-remover, sunscreen, sunglasses, a wide-brim hat and lots of bottled water. Dehydration is common on offshore trips.
One last note, Marty and I never stop learning from Nick Weaver. The deep waters we fished were probably never fished by anyone else ever before. Imagine that?! Nick has a passion for healthy water, healthy people, working hard, sharing knowledge and natural resource conservation. Let’s all never stop fighting for clean water. Might be good to start that all of us learn about and understand more about the outflow of Lake Okeechobee, maybe put it back to the way nature wanted it. The Everglades depend on it. There’s so much more to know. Visit Captains for Clean Water, please: https://captainsforcleanwater.org/. We gotta save and restore our ecosystems.
Was it the owls and crickets, or the stream flowing nearby…that brought dad back into mind?
The old days and the days of today, there was love in both places, but so different.
It’s something about campfire smoke in the morning at sunrise, it makes your eyes wanna cry.
By Larry Whiteley
He woke up from a good night’s sleep and lay there in his tent, listening to owls hooting and crickets chirping. For some reason, he got to thinking about his Dad. “Haven’t done that in a long time,” he thought to himself. He slipped out of his sleeping bag, put on some clothes, and went out into the early morning.
There were still a few hot coals in the campfire, so he added some kindling, blew on the coals, and the fire came to life again. He gradually added bigger sticks until the fire was ready for his coffee pot on the grate. As he waited, he looked up to see stars still twinkling and listened to the sounds of flowing water in the nearby creek. He enjoyed his time alone in the outdoors, but he was beginning to miss his wife and family.
Maybe that’s why his Dad kept sneaking into his thoughts that morning. His Dad had been gone for many years, but there were things he needed to say to him and never had. It was a good time to do that. To tell him something that had been in his heart and mind for a long, long time. And, no one was around to think he was crazy talking to someone that wasn’t there.
You know, Dad, I don’t remember you ever telling me you loved me. I don’t remember you ever putting your arms around me and hugging me. I’m sorry, but it’s hard for me to tell you I love you when I never heard or felt it from you. I realize now that your father never did that with you, so you didn’t know-how. That’s probably the way he grew up, so he didn’t know how either.
All I remember about Grandpa is he never smiled. He never seemed happy. I guess his Dad was probably that way, too, so not showing someone you loved them got passed down to you. I wish it had been different, but it wasn’t. Excuse me for a minute, smoke from this campfire must have got in my eyes.
I do remember the only time you took me fishing. You and my other Grandpa took me along to the river with you. But you never let me fish and never tried to show me how. I do remember getting in trouble for throwing rocks in the water. I also remember the turtle I hid from you because I was afraid if you found out I snuck it back home with me, I would get in trouble again.
That was when we lived with Grandma and Grandpa down on the farm. I don’t remember you doing much with me as I grew up there. You worked for the railroad and were gone a lot. Mom worked in town, and grandma was always busy helping with chores and cooking our meals. At least she would take the time to put her arms around me and kiss me on the head once in a while. I loved her smile. Grandpa had to milk the cows, feed the pigs, butcher the hogs, cut and put up the hay, fix what was broken, and a lot of other stuff, so he didn’t have much time for me either.
When I was young, I spent a lot of time by myself wandering the fields and forests around the farm. I remember pretending to be a soldier like you were. My imagination had me fighting the Germans. When I wasn’t fighting them, I was dodging arrows from the Indians and riding off on my horse. You weren’t around to see me doing that, Dad.
When I got old enough to help around the farm, I gathered the eggs for grandma and helped her pluck the chickens. Grandpa taught me how to milk the cows by hand and take a bucket to the spring to haul water back for grandma. He never said thanks, but at least I got a pat once in a while. That’s something I never got from you, Dad, but I know you were busy working. Wow, smoke’s getting in my eyes again.
Two things happened during that time that would eventually end up being a big part of my life. When I got my work done, Grandpa would let me use his old fishing rod, and I went off and taught myself how to fish. Later he let me use his old .22 rifle, and I became a hunter. The love I was seeking from you, I found in the great outdoors.
Were you proud of me when I joined the military, Dad? I wrote you, but I don’t think I got any letters back. Guess you were too busy. I’ll be right back. This campfire smoke is nasty. Got to blow my nose and wipe my eyes.
O.K., where was I? Oh yeah, were you there when I got married? I don’t remember that either. Like you, I made mistakes too, and for that, I am deeply sorry. God forgave me, and I forgive you, Dad.
My wife and I tell our kids and grandkids we love them, and we hug them. That’s important in today’s world. They have grown up fishing, hunting, camping, and in church. It has helped shape them into the good adults and young people they are. They have a lot of happy memories. Our kids have passed it on to their kids, and they too will pass it on to their kids and grandkids. You will be glad to know that the chain is broken. What a better world it would be if all kids grew up knowing that they are loved. It would be even better if kids grew up learning to enjoy God’s great outdoors and all it has to offer. It changes lives.
Well, I have to go now. My son and grandson will be here in a little while, and we’re going fishing. I’m glad we had this talk, Dad. I’ve been needing to do this for a long time.
He finished his coffee, wiped his eyes one last time, smiled, and started getting his fishing stuff together.
Photo by the Late Joe Forma, a life-long supporter of wildlife conservation.
Ducks Unlimited and the University of Florida work together for conservation at the DeLuca Preserve
Land donated to the University of Florida by Elisabeth Deluca
Thanks to the tremendous generosity of Elisabeth DeLuca, more than 27,000 acres of iconic Florida prairie and wetlands habitat have been permanently protected through a unique partnership between Ducks Unlimited (DU) and the University of Florida.
The land was donated to the University of Florida by Elisabeth Deluca, and a conservation easement was set up through DU’s land trust – Wetlands America Trust. The easement will protect important wildlife habitat and natural values on the property in perpetuity.
“This Kissimmee Prairie landscape is in the Everglades headwaters, yet at the edge of central Florida’s tourism and development core and is now a permanently protected piece of the conservation puzzle,” said DU CEO Adam Putnam. “For generations to come, students and researchers will make new discoveries alongside migrating waterfowl, endangered red cockaded woodpeckers and grasshopper sparrows on this massive outdoor laboratory. Future ranchers, water-fowlers, nature lovers and wildlife scientists will be able to apply what they’ve read in textbooks to what they’re observing on the landscape, thanks to Elisabeth DeLuca. This partnership between the University of Florida and Ducks Unlimited benefits waterfowl, wildlife and millions of Floridians who value clean water and the protection of the natural landscape.”
This property will continue to be grazed using sustainable methods, thereby protecting its grasslands, one of the most threatened ecosystems in the country. Rates of grassland conversion in the U.S. have continued at a rapid pace, with a significant portion lost to non-agricultural uses.
“Elisabeth DeLuca’s generous contribution of such a significant property is a gift to all Floridians and really, to people everywhere,” said UF President Kent Fuchs. “The preservation of this land and what it will enable our scholars to learn, teach and achieve will reverberate around the globe.”
Through a multi-faceted partnership, DU and the University of Florida will utilize the property for education, outdoor engagement and working-lands conservation, including the training of future generations of natural resource and agriculture professionals in a living laboratory. The easement serves as a perfect launching pad for Ducks Unlimited’s expanding conservation programs in Florida. While this is the first conservation easement held by DU and WAT in Florida, DU has conserved more than 33,000 acres in the state through other programs. This easement is also the largest in the history of Ducks Unlimited.
“Located between a global tourism destination, with the Turnpike as a boundary, the DeLuca Preserve is an epic win for conservation, and an international model for research, education and outreach,” Putnam said.
This property, along with other state and federal lands, comprise 250,000 acres of protected areas of the Northern Everglades Headwaters which is an important ecosystem for wildlife corridors, watershed protection, flood mitigation and endangered species habitat. Livestock grazing is a highly compatible and economically important management strategy on this landscape.
The Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund provided critical funding via the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida to help endow Ducks Unlimited’s permanent conservation easement and other costs associated with this once-a-generation gift of land.
“We’re thrilled to partner with Ducks Unlimited and the University of Florida to help conserve this outstanding habitat, which will serve as a national model showcasing how wildlife management, water conservation and ranching can thrive together,” said Bob Ziehmer, Senior Director of Conservation at Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s. “We are grateful to our customers who, by rounding up purchases in our stores and online to the Outdoor Fund, directly support key conservation projects like this.”
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America’s continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved almost 15 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org.
Dave Mika of Tonawanda, NY, with a lake trout he caught while fishing out of Olcott.
Niagara Falls USA Fishing Forecast for Wednesday, March 31, 2021 from Destination Niagara USA
Happy Easter! April 1 is the traditional opener of the state’s inland trout fishing season. Of course, this does not include Great Lakes tributaries (they are open all year). However, it does include Gill Creek, Hyde Park Lake and Oppenheim Park Pond. Due to COVID-19 concerns, the state will not be announcing a specific time and date for when fish will be stocked. One way to keep tabs is to call the fish stocking hotline at 358-2050 to see when fish are stocked after the fact. They are usually stocked the first week in April. The NYPA Fishing Platform, including the elevator and the fish cleaning station, should be open starting April 1. Check the hotline at 286-6662 to see the status. The upper reservoir and the water intakes in the upper river are both open as well. Some mixed smelt reports in the lower river. We heard of one decent report prior to the water changing color, but most are coming up empty. Water temps are good and there are an awful lot of lanterns on the Canadian shoreline across the river.
Water clarity took a serious hit in the Niagara River after the wind and rain last week. With more wind and rain in the forecast, it will continue to have an impact on fishing success. Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls reports that he was down in the gorge this week and found 1-1/2 feet of visibility. He did manage to catch a small female steelhead using an orange/chartreuse No. 5 spinner. There should be some fresh fish around when the water starts to clear. Boaters have really been struggling, but a few fish have been caught on live bait like minnows and plugs like MagLips. Brightly colored egg sacs are also producing a fish here and there, which is what Capt. Joe Marra of Lewiston was using last weekend down river Anthony Gomez Jr. and Sr. from West Seneca. Capt. Steve Drabczyk of Lewiston found some steelhead in Devil’s Hole.
For Lake Ontario, the kings are starting to hit off St. Catharines, Ontario, according to reports this week, which means it will not be long before kings will find their way off the Niagara Bar, Wilson, and Olcott.
Mark Mika of Newfane reports that he wanted to share some early season action out of Olcott. He boated 15 Lakers, all big healthy fish, fishing with his brother Dave of Tonawanda and Paul Karelus of Williamsville. They were fishing in 60 to 65 feet of water between Olcott and Somerset using spoons and homemade body baits. A dozen were taken on an old Sammy Pac 07 that he repurposed for some added fun.
Capt. Richard Brant of Tonawanda was out on the Niagara Bar fishing for lakers this week and he got into them well trolling east in 65-75 feet of water on spoons with chartreuse and gold colors.
Todd Ceisner with In-Fisherman was out trying to jig up bass and lake trout last week while fishing with Capt. Frank Campbell in the river and out in Lake Ontario. He pulled a walleye from the river that was released immediately, and then had several hits on lake trout using a jig tipped with a plastic smelt imitation. Swim baits worked the best.
Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors reports that steelhead fishing has been good at Burt Dam. Egg sacs or egg imitations like beads. Action was good off the piers but slowed after recent storm activity.
Scott Feltrinelli with Ontario Fly Outfitters to his first smallmouth of the year last weekend with some customers. After that last rain, lake run trout are dropping back and out of the system while smallmouth have started moving in. It is a slow pick of scattered singles in the tributaries now.
The Niagara County Bullhead Tournament is coming up April 9-11. This is a shore fishing only event, with anglers vying for the best 2 bullheads total weight to win the prizes. The contest starts at 5 p.m. on April 9. Weigh in on April 11 at the Wilson Conservation Club from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. when the tourney ends. For more info call Eric at 628-6078.
Brendan Walsh of Niagara Falls with a lower Niagara River smallmouth on a jigging spoon.
Warm weather has encouraged anglers to visit waterways in boats and from shore.
Lack of rain and runoff have allowed extremely clear water conditions – it’s a tough bite on those days.
Lake trout, steelhead, brown trout and smallmouth bass have all been landed by fishermen, though.
Niagara Falls USA Fishing Forecast for Wednesday, March 24, 2021 from Destination Niagara USA
Unseasonably high temperatures have brought out the fishermen to the streams and on Lake Ontario. Some boats have started to work the waters in the main lake. Remember that if your boat is less than 21 foot in length, everyone on board should have a personal flotation device on (wearing it) until May 1.
Capt. Joe Oakes of Newfane reports he did well catching brown trout and lake trout out of Olcott last Sunday. The lake is warming up already, at 36 to 38 degrees. The brown trout fishing now is tough due to the lack of rainfall/runoff making the inside waters really clear according to Oakes. If possible, try and find some dirty water if looking for browns says Oakes. Best baits for browns are stickbaits and smaller spoons.
The lake trout action is extremely good right now between 50 and 100 feet. Any lure with some flash will work if fished towards the bottom. Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Youngstown reports he fished the lake on the Niagara Bar the last two days and did well. The brown bite is slow right now, though. A few bites early then it shuts off. The water is clear and cold, 36-37 degrees according to Yablonsky. The laker bite between the green and red can on the Niagara Bar is good. MagLips on 3-way rigs or trolling with spoons on riggers and divers has been working well. In the river, Yablonsky reports the bite is pretty much non-existent for boaters. With the fish spawning and the crystal-clear water conditions, the bite is tough.
In the streams, Jim Evarts at The Boat Doctors in Olcott reports there is good trout action at Burt Dam, some fish are being caught off the piers in both, Wilson and Olcott. Olcott harbor is producing steelhead and perch with minnows.
In other tributaries, Scott Feltrinelli of Ontario Fly Outfitters reports that the streams have been reduced to a very slow pick of scattered singles. There has been no rain or meaningful snow melt in 2 weeks. Warm weather and low, clear creek conditions have created full on spring conditions early this year. That could all change with a warm rain Friday. That should bring in more steelhead, as well as smallmouth bass.
Mark your calendars for the Niagara County Bullhead Tournament set for April 9-11, 2021. This is shore fishing only. Best 2 bullheads total weight wins the prizes. Weigh in on Sunday at the Wilson Conservation Club. For more info call Eric at 628-6078.
The LOTSA pen rearing project work party is at the Town of Newfane Marina at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 27.
The big news for next week is that the NYPA fishing platform, as well as the other NYPA fishing facilities (Reservoir and upper river at the Water Intakes) – they will open on April 1. They hope to have the elevator working, too, on the platform, but no guarantees.
Action has been slow in the lower Niagara River according to Lisa Drabczyk with Creek Road Bait and Tackle. The main reason is clear water. The rain in the forecast for later this week should help.
Shore anglers are using spoons, spinners, and jigs. Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls reports catching 3 steelhead on Sunday, all above the whirlpool. All were taken on homemade white and silver jigs. Water was low and slow with at least 7 to 8 feet of visibility.
No reports on smelt yet. Brendan Walsh of Niagara Falls was in search of smallmouth bass and found some bass using a jigging spoon over the weekend in the lower. Remember that for almost all locations around the state, it’s catch and release with artificial lures only…if you are targeting bass.
We know that brighter days are ahead. Until then, let us be your destination of hope. Click here for our video message.
Frank Campbell – Director, Outdoor Promotions
Destination Niagara USA, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY 14303
Total economic impact for the USA firearm and ammunition industry increased from $19.1 billion in 2008 to $63.5 billion in 2019.
Some 342,330 full time jobs are supported by the firearm industry, averaging $56,400 each, in wages and benefits in our economy.
Over 100 hundred million law-abiding Americans rely upon the firearms and ammunition industry to to safely enjoy the recreational shooting sports, as they exercise their right to keep and bear arms.
St. Patrick’s Day 2021 brings us stunning data regarding positive economic news from the firearm industry. Just released in a report from the National Shooting Sports Association (NSSF) – the total economic impact of the firearm and ammunition industry in the United States increased from $19.1 billion in 2008 to $63.5 billion in 2019, a 232 percent increase! The total number of full-time equivalent jobs rose from approximately 166,000 to over 342,330, a 106 percent increase. The data is according to a report released by the National Shooting Sports Foundation®, the industry’s trade association.
On a year-over-year basis, the industry’s economic impact rose from $60 billion in 2019, to $63.5 billion in 2020. Total jobs increased by more than 10,000 in the same period, from nearly 332,000, to over 342,330. The broader impact of the industry throughout the economy, supports and generates business for firms seemingly unrelated to firearms, at a time when every job in America counts. These are real people, with real jobs, working in industries as varied as banking, retail, accounting, metal working and printing among others.
The firearm and ammunition industry paid nearly $7 billion in business taxes, including property, income and sales-based levies.
“The firearm industry has demonstrated amazing resilience and these economic impact figures are the result of every man and woman who comprise our industry,” said Joe Bartozzi, NSSF President and CEO. “These professionals are the reason our industry continues to grow and contribute to our communities, states and nation. These workers and our member companies produce the highest quality firearms and ammunition that over a hundred million law-abiding Americans rely upon to exercise their right to keep and bear arms and safely enjoy the recreational shooting sports. This growth equals more jobs that add to our local economies, averaging $56,400 in wages and benefits. Since 2008 we increased federal tax payments by 170 percent, Pittman-Robertson excise taxes that support wildlife conservation by 89 percent and state business taxes by 125 percent.”
The Firearm and Ammunition Industry Economic Impact Report provides a state-by-state breakdown of job numbers, wages and output covering direct, supplier and induced employment, as well as federal excise taxes paid. Access the full report here.
About NSSF: Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of thousands of manufacturers, distributors, firearm retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers nationwide. NSSF is the trade association for the firearm industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. For more information, visit nssf.org.
Photo from the late Joe Forma deer picture collection
Warm winters, High summer nutrition, Fewer hunters = TOO MANY DEER
Do we need DNR to consider additional expanded seasons?
Farmers need help, Home Owners have property damage and deer disease concerns (Lyme, CWD, etc.)
By Bob Holzhei
Within a one-mile radius of our farm in Clinton County, MI, I counted over 40 deer. They were traveling in two different herds on our property, woodlot and an adjoining property.
This population of deer was much higher than in previous years, increasing by about four times what I had witnessed in the past.
What factors accounted for the high numbers? A mild winter this past season was possibly one factor. The immediate question is, do the high deer numbers have consequences as apparent overpopulation occurs?
“Overpopulation is more deer than the habitat can support. This numbers growth occurs simply by having survival exceed mortality. We may be witnessing the survival theory that may have occurred for a more prolonged period of time than thought. “The distribution of deer can vary throughout the year,” according to Chad Stewart, a Biologist and Deer/Elk Population Specialist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
“During the spring-time is when deer are clustered on the landscape, primarily around food sources. As green-up occurs, deer numbers redistribute themselves to more normal levels, and the concentration of deer in large numbers is likely to diminish,” added Stewart.
One way of looking at it might be that a reduction in hunter numbers means an increase in safe spaces for deer to evade hunters. Add high summer nutrition to high winter survival rates and mild winters, we might expect the trend to continue. For farmers, I am a farmer, crop damage occurs when deer numbers are high. The field edges are hit hard, but damage can extend into field centers as the deer numbers increase.
“Clinton County, MI, has seen increasing trends in populations over the past 6-8 years,” stated Stewart. “Research has shown that about 20 deer per square mile is the threshold for detecting deer damage to forests. Keeping deer numbers below that threshold is ideal for forestry management.”
“The Michigan DNR, in an effort to manage deer numbers, has liberalized the license structure by offering more flexibility for hunters to take antlerless deer with a combination license during the firearms and muzzleloader season. The antlerless licenses are also transferrable between counties and properties. A late antlerless season has also been extended in southern Michigan,” concluded Stewart.
If you enjoy healthy, high-protein venison steaks and burgers, this coming season could be a very special time for you and your family. AND, you could be helping the farmers with your harvest.
About the author: Bob Holzhei is a published author with more than 450 published outdoor adventure stories from across the United States. He has authored four books, including Canadian Fly-In Fishing Adventure, Alaskan Spirit Journey, The Mountains Shall Depart and The Hills Shall Be Removed. The latter was nominated for Pulitzer Prize consideration. His books are available at Amazon.
Sanibel Island sandbar Pompano. Shelley Crant Photo
The tide flow is key for picking WHEN to fish.
The place WHERE to fish can change from day-to-day. Newly formed sandbars and emerging weed flats hold both – baitfish and predators.
Fish often hold to the current boundaries- FIND them, find the feeding fish
By Forrest Fisher
There is nothing so fun as going fishing with friends when the fish are biting! When chilling inshore winter waters begin to transition to their annual warming trend in spring, coastal species of many saltwater varieties take note. On the incoming tide, it’s feeding time!
Fishing near Sanibel Island and Fort Myers, a slow boat ride at low tide with polarized sunglasses will often reveal newly-formed grass flats and sandbars. Holding hotspots for baitfish and predator species know that. The island and beach areas are constantly changing with winter wind and the related current flow changes. As March begins, new grass is growing on the flats, and that draws even more baitfish.
We were rigged with lightweight jigs targeting Pompano on this day. Add a 7-ft medium-action spinning rod, 30-series open-face reel filled with 15-20 pound braid, and a short 3-ft length of 30-pound fluorocarbon leader – we were set for inshore fishing magic of any sort. The new YoZuri TopKnot Fluorocarbon leader has proven it is tough and abrasion resistant, and it’s essentially invisible to the fish.