The Benefits Of Hunting

Hunting....Just mentioning the word is enough to set off an emotional rage for what seems to be more and more people all the time.  These people are unwilling to even consider that hunting may actually be beneficial in some ways.  They only think of poor, innocent animals being slaughtered for what seems to them to be no good reason.  These same people who will turn around and eat a juicy steak or some smoked ribs without thinking twice might be surprised to find out that hunters play a major role in all aspects of the conservation of the very animals they hunt.   

Hunters and have an environmental impact that reaches far beyond the simple killing of the animals which they pursue.  Without hunting wildlife populations would quickly become out of control resulting in disease and the deaths of many animals.  Much of the money from permits which hunters are required to purchase in order to participate in the sport is used in conservation efforts such as studying and controlling diseases in our wildlife populations.

Aside from the positive environmental aspects provided by hunting, there is also an immensely positive economic impact as well.  Every year hunters provide a huge boost to the economy through purchasing their guns, decoys, calls, clothing and other gear as well as spending money on gas, food, lodging, travel and other related expenses.  These purchases made throughout the U.S. are responsible for keeping a multitude of Americans employed.  There is also an immense tax benefit for both the state and federal government.  

Another less known benefit that hunters provide is that of helping to feed needy families.  Many states have programs which allow the meat from legally taken game animals to be donated for the purpose of helping those are in need of food.

The next time someone wants to get in your face about how terrible hunters are, I hope you will gently remind them that there is a good chance the money spent by hunters is the same money that in one way or another supports their livelihood.

- Any day in the outdoors is a good day

The Disadvantages of Stationary Stands on Public Hunting Lands

Spending most of my time hunting on public land I have found that there are ample opportunities for problems to arise if you choose to hunt from a stationary tree stand.  There is almost no aggravation like that of heading to the woods to find a stranger sitting in the tree stand you worked so hard to fasten to a tree in that perfect location in the woods (except maybe showing up to find the tree stand missing completely).

When hunting on public land you have to set your stand in a position suitable for the most common wind patterns for the area.  However, if the weather decides to go awry this may mean the best option you have is to skip hunting for a few days until it settles back into its normal patterns again.

A stationary stand will leave you helpless when your hunting area is invaded by other hunters who couldn't care less if you get your deer or not.

When a stand is left in the woods, it is sure to attract other hunters who may use it and overpressure the area you are planning to hunt while you're not around.

The reason for placing a stand as early as possible and leaving it up as long as possible is so that the wildlife will adapt to its presence in their home.  If the need arises to move your stand, the commotion involved in taking it down and placing it in another tree is sure to get the attention of the animals in that area making it necessary to stay out of there for a while in order to allow nature enough time to settle down.

Even with these issues many hunters will choose a stationary stand.  If you choose to go this route remember to do a lot of scouting well off the beaten path in order to find that perfect spot and lessen the likelihood that other hunters will interfere with your hunting experience.

- Any day in the outdoors is a good day

Fishing Journal Entry 3 Bank Fishing On The Mighty MO


A bit after 2:00 this afternoon I took Emilee and Dakota down to the Missouri river in hopes of hooking into some pan-sized catfish while we had a break between thunderstorms.  Instead we found ourselves casting our nightcrawlers into the middle of a bunch of sturgeon.   

Sturgeon, Fish, Catching Sturgeon

Most of the sturgeon we caught were in the range of twenty to twenty-eight inches long....Not giants by any means, but most of them put up a decent fight.  The smallest was about eighteen inches long with the biggest being about thirty inches long.

Catching Sturgeon, Sturgeon, Fishing
Another Sturgeon

The temperature today was in the middle 70's with a mostly overcast sky.  The sun did poke through for a few minutes, but it didn't last long.

Fishing, Another sturgeon caught, catching another sturgeon
One of several sturgeon caught

For a while I thought the kids were going to skunk me but I finally found my way into the action.  Emilee and I each caught 4 and Dakota ended up catching 3.

Sturgeon underside, Sturgeon underbelly, Another Sturgeon
A look at the underside of a sturgeon

For some reason it seems as though any time we get into a mess of sturgeon, the catfish are nowhere to be found.

Sturgeon mouth, sturgeon underbelly, close up of sturgeon mouth
A closeup of a sturgeon's mouth and underbelly
Although we didn't catch any catfish, we had a blast reeling in a total of eleven sturgeon in a matter of about an hour and a half.

Note:  Every fish we caught was released back into the water unharmed.

- Any day in the outdoors is a good day

Pigeon Hunting Basics

The rock dove aka pigeon is considered a pest in most places throughout the United States.  Because of this pigeons offer year round opportunities for honing in your shooting skills.  There are no limits on the number of birds you can take anywhere as far as I know and to top it off the meat from a pigeon tastes very similar to that of a dove.  Who could ask for more?

pigeon, rock dove
Pigeon photo courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation

Pigeons look similar to doves; however, they are bigger bodied than their closely related cousins.  Like the dove, pigeons will come to decoy setups.  Pigeons can be shot with a shotgun, but a medium to high-powered bb or pellet rifle will easily do the job.  When shooting them with a pellet rifle, try using wad cutters or hollow point pellets that will flatten out on impact causing greater shock than a pass through shot.  Because there are no limits the pigeon is an excellent choice for a low cost, good tasting freezer filler (just make sure it is cooked thoroughly).  As with the dove, the breast meat is what you eat so try to shoot them in a manner that will not harm this area of their body.

Pigeon in grass, rock dove
Photo Courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation

The waste from pigeons is known to carry many different diseases which is one of the main reasons these birds are considered pests.  Pigeons hang around in suburban areas as well as around farms where grain is stored.

Pigeon on rock, Rock dove
Photo Courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation

Before shooting them, make sure you check your local laws regarding shooting pigeons as it may be illegal to discharge even a bb or pellet gun if you live within the city limits (many small towns are more lenient about this).

- Any day in the outdoors is a good day

Gamo Mach1 Pigman Edition .22 Caliber EGT Air Rifle Review

Any links to merchants in this post are affiliate links.  If you click on a link and purchase a product mentioned in this post I may earn a commission.  This will not add to the price you pay for that product.

The Gamo Mach1 Pigman Edition .22 Caliber EGT Air Rifle is the second of two high powered break barrel pellet rifles I have purchased. The first was the Gamo Whisper Fusion Pro .177 caliber pellet rifle which you can read about here.

Since purchasing this gun I have shot it countless times and found it to be extremely accurate right out of the box.  As is the case with all Gamo airguns I have had the pleasure of shooting, this one is built to last.  The normal price of the Mach1 Pigman Edition is around $349.  I happened to find mine while it was on sale for about $249 which made it more affordable.

Gamo, Mach1 Pigman Edition, Gamo Mach1 Pigman Edition
My daughter with the Gamo Mach1 Pigman Edition
.22 Cal. EGT Air Rifle

The Gamo Mach1 Pigman Edition .22 Caliber EGT Air Rifle features:

  • Length of pull for this gun is 14.2 in.
  • Cocking effort is 32 lbs.
  • Barrel length is 17.8"
  • Overall length of the gun is 43.3 inches
  • Weighs a total of 6.5 lbs.
  • Available in both .177 cal.  and .22 cal.
  • Whisper Fusion double integrated noise dampening technology
  • Reduced Recoil Rail technology to extend the life or your scope
  • All weather synthetic stock
  • Non-slip rubberized grips
  • Shock Wave Absorber recoil pad
  • Fiber optic front and rear sights for easy aiming
  • Includes 3-9 x 40 scope

The .177 caliber rifle shoots pellets at up to 1420 feet/second while the .22 caliber rifle shoots pellets at up to 1,020 feet/second offering plenty of knockdown power for varmint hunting.


The only complaint I have about this rifle is that the quality of the scope that is included with it does not come close to matching the quality of the gun.  If you like shooting with open sights, you'll be set right out of the box once you sight it in.  If you want to shoot it with a scope, plan on spending some extra money to purchase a new scope.  The scope I chose is the Leapers UTG 3-9x40 AO Illuminated Reticle True Hunter Scope.

- Any day in the outdoors is a good day

Gamo Whisper Fusion Pro .177 Caliber Pellet Rifle Review

Any links to merchants in this post are affiliate links.  If you click on a link and purchase a product mentioned in this post I may earn a commission.  This will not add to the price you pay for that product.

The Gamo Whisper Fusion Pro .177 Caliber air rifle was the first high powered break-barrel pellet rifles that I purchased.  This gun rockets pellets at up to 1,400 Feet/Second with PBA ammo and as fast as 1,200 FPS with lead!  Anyone who has ever shot a Gamo air rifle could tell you that this gun has not disappointed me.  Hundreds of shots after blasting that first pellet down range, I still have only one complaint which has nothing to do with the rifle itself.  Instead, my complaint is with the scope that is included with the purchase of this gun.  Game makes an excellent rifle, but their scopes leave much to be desired.  The Gamo Gamo Whisper Fusion Pro .177 Caliber Air Rifle makes an excellent choice for plinking, target shooting and even some small game.

The features of this gun include:
  • Double integrated noise dampener
  • Shoots alloy pellets at 1400 fps
  • Comes with a 3-9x40mm scope
  • Two-stage adjustable trigger
  • All weather molded synthetic stock
  • Break barrel, single cocking system
  • 3-9 x 40 mm scope
Overall this is an excellent gun.  As I stated in the paragraph above the scope was lacking in quality.  If you enjoy shooting with a scope, plan on spending a bit of extra money to purchase one worth putting on your gun.  The scope I chose was the Leapers UTG 3-9x40 AO Illuminated Reticle True Hunter Scope which can be purchased here.

If you liked this post, you may like the Gamo Mach1 Pigman Edition .22 Caliber EGT Air Rifle Review

- Any day in the outdoors is a good day

Fishing Journal Entry 2


Friday evening finally arrived allowing for an opportunity to go fishing without worrying about the alarm clock going off so early in the morning that I would feel like I didn't get any sleep the night before.

Weather Conditions:  It had been raining overnight but the rain ended in the early morning hours giving way to partly cloudy to mostly sunny skies the rest of the day.

Temperature:  70 degrees

Wind:   Blowing from the Northwest 5 - 8  MPH

Water:  Murky

Ponds about 4 acres in size

Live Bait:  Minnows

Lures:  1/8 ounce Rooster Tails

Depth: Tried varying depths finally locating the reluctantly biting fish at about fifteen inches deep


The fish were biting very slow today.  I caught one crappie with a few nibbles from fish that refused to commit.  Emilee caught one tiny small mouth bass about nine inches long and one bluegill about eight inches long.  My brother and his wife were fishing with us having about the same results.  It was overall a beautiful day to be in the outdoors; however, the air cooled off quite fast as the sun began sinking below the horizon.

- Any day in the outdoors is a good day

Elk Hunting Opportunities In The Midwest

Elk are one of the largest of the species in the deer family and are found in many of the midwest states.  Although it is possible to hunt elk in the midwest, the opportunities are very limited with most of the states only granting permits to their residents.  The states in the midwest offering the opportunity to harvest an elk are Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.


The state of Kansas allows elk hunting for their military members and residents only offering only about 20 permits per year.  For more on Kansas elk hunting opportunities check out their Wildlife, Parks & Tourism website.


Michigan elk hunting opportunities are open to residents of Michigan and students attending a Michigan college or university who reside in the state during the school year.  For more information about elk hunting in Michigan check out the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.


Although Minnesota does hold a lottery for elk hunting, the permits issued are extremely minimal at this time and only for residents of the state.  To find out more about Minnesota elk hunting opportunities check out the Minnesota DNR website.


Nebraska is also a resident only elk hunting state; however, nonresidents who own land within the elk management area do qualify to apply for an elk hunting permit.  For more information pertaining to Nebraska elk hunting check out the Nebraska Game & Parks Website.

North Dakota:

North Dakota is open to both residents and nonresidents allowing either to apply for their elk hunting raffle.  For more information on elk hunting in North Dakota check with the North Dakota Game & Fish Department.

South Dakota:

In South Dakota elk hunting licenses are awarded via a drawing which is open to residents only.  To find out more about the elk hunting opportunity in South Dakota check with the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Department.

- Any day in the outdoors is a good day

Zebra Mussels

First found in the Mississippi River in the early 1990's these fingernail sized, black and white striped zebra mussels have spread  through the Great Lakes and their connecting tributaries.   Although native to some Asian waters, they are thought to have made their way to the U.S. by hitchhiking on international shipping vessels.     

Zebra mussels are an invasive species that can affect everyone wether they are a sportsman or not.  These nuisance shellfish are capable of clogging power plant and public water source inlets as well as destroying native mussels and can even reek havoc on our marine ecosystems.

Zebra Mussels, Invasive Species, Invasive Zebra Mussels
Zebra Mussels

Anyone who enjoys water sports can and should do their part to prevent the spread of zebra mussels.  Zebra mussels can clog the water intake on boat and personal watercraft motors causing them to overheat and rendering them useless.

Some of the things that can be done to stop their spread include:

  • Be sure to drain all water from your boat or personal watercraft as prior to leaving the parking lot.
  • Do not use bait that has had contact with infested water in any other body of water.
  • Wash your boat or personal watercraft at a carwash with hot water to ensure there are no mussels attached.
  • Wash any other items that made contact with the water such as skis, tubes, ropes, anchors, etc.
  • After washing, allow your boat or personal watercraft to dry in full sunlight for five days or longer before launching it into any uncontaminated body of water.
  • Get rid of your leftover bait on the shore a good distance from the water (it is illegal to dump unused bait into the water as this can introduce more invasive species).
As sportsmen it is important that we all work to prevent the spread of these unwanted pests in order to ensure the continued ability to enjoy the activities we love.

- Any day in the outdoors is a good day

Squirrel Calls & How They Work

Any links to merchants in this post are affiliate links.  If you click on a link and purchase a product mentioned in this post I may earn a commission.  This will not add to the price you pay for that product.

Have you ever wondered about using a squirrel call but didn't know where to start?  Using a squirrel call can go a long way towards putting more meat in the freezer.  Barking, cutting and squealers are the three types of squirrel calls that really get their attention.  Each of these calls serves a different purpose.

As the name implies, using a barking call allows the hunter to imitate the bark of a squirrel.  A mild sounding drawn out barking sound typically represents a squirrel that is happy with its current situation while a more loud and aggressive bark tends to correspond to a signal warning other squirrels  that danger is looming.  This call will also come in handy to make the sound of a squirrel's chatter letting them know that the coast is clear and others should feel free to come out of hiding.
Knight & Hale 4-in-1 Squirrel Call
Knight & Hale 4-in-1 Squirrel Call

Squirrels are noisy eaters and by using a cutting call the sound of a feasting squirrel can be reproduced.  In a pinch, rubbing the edges of two quarters together will suffice.  The sound heard while they are eating is actually that of the squirrel "cutting" or breaking through the nutshell with their teeth.

Squealers are used to replicate the sound of a young squirrel that is in danger.  Using this call in combination with shaking a nearby branch full of leaves will allow the hunter to mimic the commotion of a youngster being attacked by a hawk.  This action can cause squirrels in the area to go into panic mode and start barking making it easier to locate them.

The Knight & Hale 4-in-1 Squirrel Call is an excellent call that enables you to mimic the bark of the grey squirrel, the bark of the fox squirrel, the grey squirrel's alarm/chatter and the panicked squeal of a young squirrel.

To become proficient at using a squirrel call pay attention to the different sounds they make while you're enjoying the outdoors.  Watch what they are doing while making the different sounds and practice with your call until it resembles the sounds you hear.  Be sure to adjust your calling volume to fit the circumstances.  Use a bit more volume on soggy and windier days and use less volume while hunting in more calm environments.  After calling try producing the sound of a content squirrel to convince the other squirrels that everything is ok.  As with calling any game animal be sure to find a balance as calling too much can do more harm than good.  Pick a spot and have a seat for about half an hour.  If there is no activity in that location, try moving fifty yards or so and give it another go. 

If you like this post, you may enjoy Squirrel Hunting Tips & Tricks.

-Any day in the outdoors is a good day

Illusion Systems Extinguisher Deer Call Review

Any links to merchants in this post are affiliate links.  If you click on a link and purchase a product mentioned in this post I may earn a commission.  This will not add to the price you pay for that product.

Having tried a vast array of deer calls and being less than impressed with every one of them I was beginning to believe a good call was nonexistent.  However, while watching a hunting show on tv, I happened to see a commercial for the Illusion Systems Extinguisher deer call and decided to purchase one to check it out for myself.  I was extremely impressed with the lifelike sound this call produced.  Needless to say, I carry this call with me every time I hit the woods for a deer hunt.

As this short video displays - The Extinguisher deer call is quite capable of producing lifelike sounds.  

The Illusion Systems Extinguisher deer call features:
  • Now there is no need to carry two or three different calls to the stand.  With its patented ModiSlide the Extinguisher allows you to switch your calling from buck to doe to fawn instantly by simply sliding the mechanism up or down.
  • The ModiSlide mechanism gives this call the advantage of being freeze-free by not only changing the call sound but also freeing up the call if you ever experience "freeze up."
  • The throat tube easily allows directional calling so you can be sure that monster buck will hear you.
  • Every Extinguisher deer call sold includes a DVD to show you exactly how you can master the art of deer calling.
  • The Extinguisher deer call comes with a 30 day 100% money back guarantee.
One more reason to purchase the Extinguisher - It's made in the U.S.A.!

If you're like me and have tried a seemingly endless number of calls without satisfaction, it's time for you to try the Extinguisher.  It's the real deal!

- Any day in the outdoors is a good day

Fishing With Crappie Jigs

Bass Pro Shops Marabou Crappie Jig - Black - 1/8 oz
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Although referred to as crappie jigs, many species of fish will often bite on these lures.  There are many different methods that can be used to successful catch fish with a jig.  We'll cover a few of these in this post giving you an array of techniques to help improve your crappie fishing success.

Bass Pro Shops Marabou Crappie Jig - Yellow - 1/32 oz
One method used when fishing with crappie jigs is to "count down" to the desired depth and steadily retrieve your lure to keep it at that depth.  Jigs of differing weights will sink at different paces.  The heavier it is the faster it will fall.  Although you can find all kinds of data about how fast a jig will sink depending on the weight and water temperature, I have found that it is not necessary to worry so much about the depth in feet. Try counting to five seconds before retrieving your bait.  If you don't get a bite, try seven seconds.  Repeat this process varying the number of seconds you count before retrieval until you start getting bites.  Once you find the correct count continue using this count with each consecutive cast.  With practice you will be able to achieve consistency using this method.
Bass Pro Shops Marabou Crappie Jig - Gray - 1/8 oz
Another method that has been used by many anglers effectively is to place a bobber on your fishing line above your jig so that it will sit suspended in the water at the desired depth.  If you are fishing at a depth that is lower than the length of your fishing pole, you can use a normal float.  However, if you wish to hang your lure lower in the water it can be achieved by using a slip float with a bobber stop attached to your line in the desired position.  When using this method try fishing two jigs on your line about eighteen inches apart.  While fishing with a bobber you can slowly and steadily retrieve your lure recasting when it reaches the shore, or you can reel in a few feet of line quickly, stop and allow the crappie jig to settle below the bobber for a bit before once again repeating this procedure.

Jigs may also be fished from a boat or dock by dropping them straight down to the depth you want and bouncing them by using a quick but slight upward motion with the tip of your pole.  Many times fish can be caught by repeating the process of dancing your bait in the water for a bit followed by allowing it to settle for a few moments.

- Any day in the outdoors is a good day

Fishing With Casting Spoons

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Acme Little Cleo Spoon
Acme Little Cleo
Spoons have been used for fishing as far back as the mid 1800's and are available in a seemingly endless array of color combinations.  Casting spoons are good for those who are fishing in areas that don't have a lot of snags to get hung up on.  Spoons have a concave side which causes them to wobble and reflect light mimicking an injured baitfish.  Spoons can be used to successfully catch many different species of fish but are very popular for the pursuit of bass.

Blue Fox Cast Champ Spoon Kit
Blue Fox Cast Champ Spoon Kit
When fishing a casting spoon there are two main options to use.  The first option is to "jig" it from a boat or a dock.  When using this method, release your reel allowing the spoon to fall to the bottom of the lake. Once you notice it has reached the bottom, gently nudge it off the bottom and allow it to fall again.  A large portion of strikes will occur while the spoon is fluttering back to the bottom as this is when it will produce the most flash.  Once the spoon hits the bottom again, continue repeating this process.  Because the spoon will twist your line as it moves up and down, you may also let the lure dangle just off the bottom letting it spin while the line untwists.  Watch for your line to jump as this is a really good sign that you've had a fish strike your lure.

Blue Fox Strobe Spoon Kit
Blue Strobe Spoon Kit
The second method for fishing these spoons is to cast it out beyond the point the fish are located and allow it to sink to the bottom.  Gently raise your rod tip up and allow the lure to fall to the bottom again.  Once the spoon has hit the bottom, tighten your line and repeat this process until you have brought your lure back to you or you receive a bite.  As with the above method, the spoon will flash the most as it making its way to the lake floor.

If these two methods aren't producing try casting and retrieving the spoon as you would a jig, gently bouncing your rod tip from time to time allowing the lure to sink a bit after each bounce.  Be sure to set the hook as soon as you notice a strike.

Acme Kastmaster Spoon - 3/8 oz. - Chrome
Acme Kastmaster
Although fish can sense the vibration made by the lure moving through the water, the spoon is a lure that attracts fish by catching their eye as it flashes while dancing through the water.  Because of this using spoons in lakes and reservoirs with water that is clear or mostly clear will produce the best results.

- Any day in the outdoors is a good day

Fishing Journal Entry 1

Sunday April 17, 2016

Went fishing this afternoon.  Emilee caught her first fish of the year today.

Wind:   Blowing from the South/Southwest 10 - 15 MPH

Water:  Murky/Ponds about 4 acres in size

Bait:     Minnows

Depth: About 16 - 18 inches below a weighted bobber with no weight attached to the line


The fish seemed to be biting slowly but we did catch a few.  I caught one crappie, one largemouth bass, one smallmouth bass and one decent sized largemouth escaped just before I could land it.  Emilee caught one crappie and had one largemouth get away.

- Any day in the outdoors is a good day

Preparing Traps For Trapping Season


Any links to merchants in this post are affiliate links.  If you click on a link and purchase a product mentioned in this post I may earn a commission.  This will not add to the price you pay for that product.

For those outdoorsmen who enjoy trapping and those who rely on trapping for an income, the season seems like it is an eternity away.  However, it will be here before we know it.  Taking a little time now to ensure everything is in order can go a long way towards ensuring you aren't running behind when trapping season arrives.

Conditioning traps is something many new trappers may not be familiar with but it is an important undertaking to ensure your traps are ready to go when trapping season opens.

Rusting Traps

Rusting your traps prepares them to be dyed and waxed and is easily achieved.  
Begin by placing your traps in a mixture of soapy boiling water for about thirty minutes.  Once this is complete rinse the freshly boiled traps with clean water and hang them outdoors allowing a light coat of rust to form (this part of the process may take a week or two).

Dyeing Your Traps

The process of waxing and dyeing your traps is the next step after rusting them and completes the process of preparing them for use.  It seems monotonous, but before dyeing and waxing your traps you must clean your body-grip and your foothold traps by once again boiling them in water.  Once this is complete it is time to dye them.  The boughs from evergreens found in your neck of the woods, hulls from walnuts and the bark from maple trees are all great choices for use as your dyeing agent.  You can also purchase a ready made Logwood Trap Dye at a very reasonable price.   Add your choice of these to the boiling water allowing the water to pull the natural dyeing agent from it.  Next place the traps in the water and simmer for about an hour.  By placing the ring of the trap chain between the jaws of a foothold trap the whole trap will be able to be dyed. Be sure you are using enough water to keep the traps submerged throughout the dyeing process.

Waxing Your Traps

Once you feel comfortable that your traps have been sufficiently dyed, it is time wax them.  Waxing your traps will enable them to function properly.  You can purchase Duke Traps Pure Trap Wax or you can make your own by combining one third beeswax with two-thirds paraffin wax.  Place the wax in the water with the traps and allow it to melt (you will see a layer of melted wax floating on the top when it is ready).  At this point it is time to slowly lift the traps out of the water one by one allowing them to be coated evenly with a thin layer of the melted wax.  After the wax has dried, foothold traps should have the wax removed from the ends of the dogs (the mechanism used to hold the trap in the open position when set) and the pan notches (the notch that the dog hooks into to keep the trap in the open position when set) to ensure they will remain set.

Body-grip traps should never be waxed as it will cause them to become slick causing them to be extremely dangerous when attempting to set them.  

Always preform trap maintenance outdoors and store your traps away from human and pet odors.  Allowing your freshly prepared traps to absorb these odors will make the animals you are attempting to trap leery of them and cause your trapping season to be much less productive.

If you liked this post, you may like Dog Proof Traps For Raccoons.

- Any day in the outdoors is a good day

Missouri Plans To Disallow Feral Hog Hunting On MDC Lands

Currently in the state of Missouri hunters are allowed but not encouraged to pursue feral hogs on Department of Conservation lands.  However, proposed regulation changes will completely block hunters from taking feral hogs on MDC lands.  The time to act is now if you do not wish for this to take place.  The "proposed regulation changes" link above will take you to the page where you can view the proposed regulation change for feral hog hunting on Missouri Department of Conservation lands (this proposal is in the section marked 3 CSR 10-11.110: General Provisions).  You can also let the Department know if you would like to continue being able to hunt pigs on Conservation Department owned or leased lands.

By taking the time to respond to the Department of Conservation, you can let them know how you feel about the idea of losing your ability to hunt feral hogs on a great deal of Missouri's public hunting lands.

MDC is allowing public commenting on this issue between April 16, 2016 and May 15, 2016.

Don't miss your opportunity to be heard!

If you like this post, you may also like:
Should The MDC Encourage Or Discourage Feral Hog Hunting

- Any day in the outdoors is a good day

Hunting Gear - Is All This New Stuff Necessary

While watching hunting shows you are sure to see new products hitting the market seemingly on a daily basis.  There's the new scopes that will take pictures of your view, and the new rifle that's almost guaranteed to make you a better hunter, the new flashlight that makes it impossible to miss that evasive blood trail and all the other magical items you just have to have to be least according to the commercials.  Don't get me wrong, there is nothing bad about having any of this stuff and some of it really can give you an advantage.  However, if buying that new doomahicky isn't in the budget, don't let it keep you out of the field.  All the hype can make you wonder how anyone ever survived before there were grocery stores.  Our ancestors definitely weren't hunting with all these newfangled "necessities."

In truth, a successful hunt depends more on your preparation than any gadget or gizmo you can buy at the sporting goods store or from those infomercials.  Sure those new items are cool and fun to have around, but they really aren't necessary for success.  If you have a rifle or a bow that you are comfortable with shooting and some basic camouflage you can be successful as long as you do your homework and set up in the right place.  Smart hunting is the true key to success.

- Any day in the outdoors is a good day

Camping Etiquette - Minding Your Manners In Campgrounds

Sunset, sunset over water, water sunset
Sunset on the water

While camping in our nations campgrounds, it is important to respect your fellow campers.  Listed below are a few rules to live by to ensure everyone has a pleasant experience.

  • Respect other campers sites.  Do not just go walking through the camp sites of your neighboring campers.  
  • Follow the rule for quiet time.  There comes a point in the evening when it is time to quiet down and just relax.  Your camping neighbors will appreciate you for this and you will appreciate your neighbors being quiet as well.
  • Don't turn your radio up so loud that the entire campground has to listen to your music.  Not everyone wants to hear it.
  • Make sure that your campfire is completely out before you leave your camp site.
  • Be sure your any food is put up at night in coolers or in a vehicle....somewhere that it will not become a temptation for the wildlife.  Animals can become used to gaining easy access to food and will begin to hang around causing a disturbance to yourself and others camping in the area.
  • Always dispose of your grey water in the designated areas provided by the campground.
  • When leaving the campground, make sure it is as clean or better yet a little more clean than when you showed up to begin your camping adventure. Clean up all your trash.
By following these few tips, you will ensure that you and your fellow campground neighbors all have a good time.

If you like this post, you may also like:
Tips & Tricks For Wilderness Camping

-Any day in the outdoors is a good day

ThermaCELL Mosquito Repellent Review

Any links to merchants in this post are affiliate links.  If you click on a link and purchase a product mentioned in this post I may earn a commission.  This will not add to the price you pay for that product.

Thermacell, Thermacell mosquito repellent, mosquito repellent
Thermacell Mosquito Repellent Unit

It's that time of year again..... The biting insects are making a return attempting to chase the outdoorsman back inside.  Thankfully there is now a solution to this annoying problem.

After practically being eaten alive at the start of last years archery season, I purchased a Thermacell and put it to the test. I figured it was just a gimmick and I'd be returning the unit after trying it out, but to my surprise it worked so well for me that I couldn't figure out why I hadn't bought one sooner!

The Thermacell unit claims to protect an area of 15' in diameter.  I don't know if it does, but I do know that it protects an area large enough that I had a lot less issues with the pesky biting insects in the space I took up while hunting.

The Thermacell units are small enough to fit into your hunting or fishing pack right along with all your other gear.  Powered by a small replaceable butane cartridge, it heats up a small mat that contains allethrin creating the area of protection against mosquitoes, black flies, no-see-ums and sand flies.

Thermacell has no cords and does not require a lighter or matches to light.  Instead it has an on off knob with a starter button.  The unit weighs 7.1 OZ. with a full butane cartridge and will protect for up to four hours with one mat.  The butane cartridge will last long enough to burn through 3 mats which is enough to pretty much get you through the whole day.

I took the Thermacell with me whether I was hunting on the ground or in my tree stand with good results under both circumstances.

Thermacell is also U.S. Army tested and approved.

I would recommend this mosquito repellent device for hunting, fishing, barbecuing and most any other outdoor activity.  There are replacement butane cartridges available for purchase as well as replacement mats in both scent free and earth scent.

Overall I would highly recommend this item for anyone who loves the outdoors but hates the bugs that go along with being out there.

Thermacell mosquito repellent units can be purchased at Bass Pro Shops  along with the replacement mats and butane cartridges and is available in several different colors including camo and pink camo.

- Any day in the outdoors is a good day

Fishing Topwater Lures

Topwater Lure, Topwater Fishing Lure, Floating Lure
Topwater Fishing Lure

You have probably heard that the fish aren't biting when you see them hitting the top of the water.  Although fish seem to become more difficult to catch when this is happening, with a little bit of patience they can still be convinced to bite.  You will need to adjust your tactics in order to catch them and this is an excellent time to put your topwater fishing lures into action.

Fishing with topwater lures is fairly easy, but it is a much slower fishing method than the normal cast and retrieve method used with jigs and other crank baits.  The best method I have found to use with any topwater lure is to cast the lure and let it sit until the ripples caused by its hitting the water are gone.  Once the ripples are gone twitch your rod to move the lure slightly and repeat the process waiting until the resulting ripples are once again gone.  Continue repeating these steps until the lure has been completely retrieved.

You can move the lure just a tiny bit or you can choose to make it move several inches at a time.  Experiment with this as some days the fish will attack it with only a slight movement and other days they will have to see it move a bit before they're convinced it will make a good meal.

Another lure that can be used similar to a topwater lure is a floating shallow diver.  One method for using these lures is the same as for topwater lures.  An alternative to the topwater method  for a floating/shallow-diving lure is to reel it in a foot or two after the initial ripples are gone causing it to dip below the surface of the water before allowing it to pop back up to the surface.  As with the above methods allow the ripples to dissipate before moving the lure again.

There are a seemingly infinite number of different topwater lures available in all different price ranges.  Bigger and more expensive is most definitely not always better.  Many times a smaller lure will attract fish before the bigger ones will.

By patiently working your topwater lures you can bring in fish when no-one else seems to be having any luck at all.

- Any day in the outdoors is a good day

Dog Proof Traps For Raccoons

Raccoon, Trapping, Raccoon Trapping
One of the Raccoons caught on my trap line last  season

What are Dog Proof Traps

Dog proof traps were designed in order to prevent catching domestic dogs while trapping raccoons.  They are cylindrical in shape with a heavy spring activated wire which is pushed into place and set with a locking mechanism.  These traps are open at the top and have a trigger positioned near the bottom.  When a raccoon reaches in to retrieve the bait, they will typically hit this trigger causing the wire to be released which in turn catches their leg in the trap between the wire and the outer edge of the trap.

Types of Dog Proof Traps

There are two basic types of dog proof traps.  One type has a "pull" type trigger which sets the trap off when the trigger is pulled upwards while the coon attempts to bring the bait out the top of the trap.  The other type of trap has a double action trigger also known as a push-pull trigger which can be set off by being pushed down or pulled up as the name implies.

Setting Dog Proof Traps

Setting the dog proof traps is fairly easy.  You can purchase a setting tool or you can use the tailgate of your truck.  I typically lay the trap on my tailgate wire side down and push the "can" down forcing the wire loop at the top to move to the set position.  With the trap in this position I set the locking mechanism on the side of the can and place a piece of PVC pipe about six to eight inches long inside.  This prevents accidental discharge of the trap while making my way to the trap line.  To ensure the raccoon will not take off with your trap, it needs to be secured to something.  Stakes about eighteen inches long made out of rebar work very nicely for this purpose.  Use a mallet to put the stake into the ground and attach the trap to it with a piece of heavy duty bailing wire.  

Baiting Dog Proof Traps

When using a liquid bait simply douse a cotton ball with your bait and place it below the trigger (this should be done before setting the trap).  I don't recommend using liquid baits when the temperature is going to get below freezing as it can render your trap unable to "fire."  If you are using a solid type bait (dog food, pelleted bait, etc....) pour just enough bait into the trap to cover the trigger (this type of bait can be added after setting the trap).  When baiting a trap that has been set, be extremely careful that your fingers are nowhere near the opening as you DO NOT want to get your finger caught in there!

Why Use Dog Proof Traps

The use of dog proof traps will enable you to set trap lines in many more places than using traditional methods of trapping.  Many landowners will not allow trappers to set lines on their property unless dog proof traps are being used.  Dog proof traps will not eliminate catching all non-targeted animals, but they will greatly reduce the number of those animals being caught.  These traps will enable you to release any animal you do not wish to dispatch without harm.  The main non-target animal I tend to catch with dog proofs is opossum; however, you cannot rule out the possibility of catching the occasional skunk.

I hope this information helps you understand the basic principles of using dog proof traps.  I have found them to be relatively easy to use and very effective in catching raccoons.

- Any day in the outdoors is a good day

Catfishing In Lakes

Catfishing in lakes, Catfishing, Catfish
Catfish caught last fall

The midwest offers an enormous amount of opportunities for catfishing in lakes with excellent populations of catfish.   Some of these lakes even offer fish of extraordinary sizes (every cat fisherman dreams of hooking into a monster sized fish).

When fishing in lakes one of the best places to pursue catfish is directly below a dam.  If there is no dam catfishing in lakes with submerged debris is a great choice.  When fishing in lakes watch for logs or other objects sticking out of the water.  These are tell-tale signs that there is good cover in which the catfish can hide.  Because smaller baitfish love to hang out in and around these areas, catfish will occupy these places as well hoping to grab a quick and easy meal.  If you are fishing from a boat, fish along cliff edges where cutouts may be  hidden under the water.  These areas are another favorite hiding spot for catfish.

When catfishing in lakes you can use about any rod setup you like.  Make sure that your drag is set appropriately if you are using a lighter rod and reel with light-weight line.  The best way to set your drag properly is to let enough line out that you can get a firm grip on it.  Next while gripping the line pull against the pole and adjust the drag setting until your line will slowly pull off the reel without breaking.  Setting your drag correctly will allow you to bring in fish that weigh much more than the line is rated at.  However, it will take a bit of time to bring those big fish in.  There is nothing like successfully landing a big fish while using lightweight fishing tackle!

Crawdads, shad, minnows, goldfish, cut baits, hotdogs and even spam are great choices for catfishing in lakes.  Note:  It is illegal to dump live goldfish or minnows into any body of water so be sure you take any unused minnows with you when you leave.

- Any day in the outdoors is a good day

Fishing For The Future

Crappie Fishing, fishing
One of many crappie caught 4/4/16
While fishing the other day I began thinking about the importance of what I call fishing for the future.  As tempting as it is to take home every fish you catch, it is vital to think about fishing in a way that preserves this activity for future generations.  The crappie I caught were all pretty close to the size of the one pictured above and would have made an excellent fish fry; however, they were mostly females that were full of eggs.  As much as I was tempted to take these crappie home, I decided photograph some of them and return them to the water so they could lay their eggs and ensure that there would be more to catch in the future.

Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with taking your share of fish to eat.  In fact it is a good idea to keep some fish in order to allow room for other fish to continue to grow.  If we didn't keep some fish the waters would become overcrowded causing fish growth to be stunted, but during the spawn it is a good idea to return the female fish to the water unharmed in order to ensure there will be plenty of fish to catch in the future.

In order to do your part in making certain that future generations are able to enjoy fishing as we do, I encourage practicing Catch, Photograph, Release (CPR) fishing during the spring while the fish are spawning.  Together we can keep the sport of fishing alive.

-Any day in the outdoors is a good day

Summertime Crappie

Crappie fishing, Fish, Fishing
One of many crappie caught last summer

Crappie are among the most popular fish pursued in the U.S. and are fairly easy to catch in the spring when spawning is under way.  Let the weather heat up however, and you're looking at a whole new scenario.  As the water temperature heats up crappie can become more difficult to locate preferring deeper waters that offer plenty of cover areas in which they can hide.

In the summer fish for crappie ten to fifteen feet deep near submerged trees and other debris that offers protection.  A great method for catching crappie during the hot summer months is to fish a live minnow below a slip bobber which will allow you to get your bait down to where the fish are active.  Adjust your depth until you find the fish.  Be sure you are not fishing below the crappie as they will swim up a ways to eat but they will have a difficult time locating the bait if it is lower than they are.  The more active the crappie are, the farther they are willing to swim for their food.  However, when they  are less active you will need to land your bait closer to them to convince them to eat.

Fishing lures provide an effective, sometimes challenging alternative method for taking crappie.  Make sure you have an ample supply of multiple colors and styles to choose from.  This will allow you to present many different color combinations to the fish and give you a better chance of finding the ones they are biting on at any given time.  Match the lure color you use to the water.   I tend to fish with darker lures in murky waters and lighter colors in clearer water.  Try bumping your lures off of the cover structure to entice the crappie to bite.  Start by choosing the first color you want to try.  Cast your line and retrieve it multiple times so that you have covered the whole area you are fishing.  If you don't have any luck with the first color, move on to the next and repeat this process until you find the color that catches their attention and causes the fish to strike.

Try fishing around storms.  Sometimes the best fishing you can imagine will take place while a rain shower is passing through.  Don't worry.... it is well worth getting wet in exchange for taking home a stringer full of crappie.

- Any day in the outdoors is a good day

Simple Homemade Catfish Bait Recipe

When you think of dough baits for catfish you probably think about the ones that are readily available  on the big box store shelves.  By making your own you can save a lot of money and still catch your share of fish.

This recipe is about as simple as it gets.

Put one cup of water and vanilla extract (you can use pretty much any amount of vanilla....The more you use the stronger the scent will be. Using too much vanilla extract may require you to add in more of the dry mixture) into a pot on the stove and bring to a boil.  While waiting for your water and scent mixture to boil, thoroughly mix one cup of flour and one cup of corn meal together in a bowl.  Once the water begins to boil, add the mixture of flour and cornmeal to the water.  Allow the dry mix to absorb all of the water and remove it from the heat source.  Once the mixture cools enough that you can handle it without being burned knead it until the dough is thick enough to remain on your hook.  When the mixture cools completely place it in a ziplock bag or an old cool whip container.

If desired you can use Anise in place of the vanilla extract (or just make a batch of both).

That is all there is to it.  Now it's time to hit your favorite catfishing hole and start catching some fish!

Next time your wife says you don't need any more fishing tackle you can tell her you saved money by making your own catfish bait so you can afford to get that new lure.  However, you must do it at your own risk as I will claim no responsibility for this :-)

-Any day in the outdoors is a good day

Attracting Whitetail Deer To Your Property

Every whitetail hunter dreams of the ability to enter a deer paradise upon stepping out their back door.  Giving the deer the right foods will go a long way towards making this dream a reality.  You should consider planting a feeding area with multiple food options that will mature throughout the year giving the animals on your property a seemingly endless buffet to feast on.

What foods do deer prefer you might ask.  The following will give you a pretty good starting point for some of the preferred foods for whitetails.  Planting a variety of these will give the deer in your area an excellent reason to repeatedly visit your property.

Crab apples and sweet apple varieties are a well known food source.  Plant some apple trees to provide a favorite food for deer.  They will eat both the buds and the fruit.  The older the trees are when you plant them, the less time it will take for them to produce apples.  Apple trees typically take around five to seven years to begin fruiting.

White and red oaks will both attract deer although deer tend to prefer the acorns from white oaks over those from the red oak trees as they are less bitter.

Dry bean plants (kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, etc...) are another food source for whitetails.

Soybeans, corn and alfalfa fields are great sources of food for deer especially when they are near a stand of trees that offers them a place to disappear should any predators happen to encroach on their space.

Peas and vetch (a plant closely related to the pea)  are a food source that deer will find hard to resist.

White and red clover are both excellent choices to offer to the whitetail deer that eat on your land.

Birdsfoot trefoil is a great choice for those properties that have low pH even when the soil doesn't drain well.

Planting chicory will provide forage for deer to eat during the spring and summer months.

Brassica is part of the mustard family but the deer enjoy eating it especially later in the year.

Peanuts are another option for whitetails.

Deer will feed on oats where they are available when the foods they prefer more aren't readily available.

When none of the other food options are available deer can often be seen eating browse (twigs from hardwood and softwood trees)
Don't underestimate the importance of mineral for use as an attractant.  You can mix your own with mineral and salt purchased from your local farm supply store.

Keeping deer around:

Make sure that you don't hunt over their food plot.  Make their food plot in a "safe" area where you will allow no-one to go or hunt.  This makes the deer feel like they have a secure area to hang out on your property which can come in handy when  hunting pressure ramps up and the bullets start to fly.  It is typically best to center their feeding area on your land as this will allow you to observer where the deer are entering and exiting the property, and enable you to set your stands in the right places for hunting effectively.  Set up multiple stands in order to be prepared for varying wind conditions always keeping yourself positioned downwind from the deer.  If you have enough land you may consider setting up a "safe" area for bedding as well.

Note:  Use game cameras in order to see the deer that are entering your property enables you to choose the best animal to pursue.  This will also allow you to find out the time of day they are entering and exiting your property making it easier to plan your hunts.

- Any day in the outdoors is a good day