Showing posts with label outdoors. Show all posts
Showing posts with label outdoors. Show all posts

Photographing Pelicans

Photographer, taking Photos
Photographing Pelicans
Today my wife, my children and I took a little Sunday drive to photograph some pelicans.  We had a lot of fun.  Above is a photo my wife took of me as I hid in some cover to take some pictures.  Below is one of the photos I was able to capture.

Flying pelican, pelicans, pelican flying
Flying Pelican
Sometimes the trips we take to the outdoors are not the typical hunting and fishing type.  Sometimes it is nice to just get out and enjoy nature without any expectations of catching that big fish or getting the kill.

- Any day in the outdoors is a good day

New Work Hours Might Mean More Time For The Outdoors

It has been a while since I have posted to my blog.  However, I am hoping this will change for the better as I have new hours at work.  These new work hours might mean more time for the outdoors if my body is able to adjust appropriately.  I guess as with anything else.....time will tell.  I now work from 3:30 AM until about noon which should allow ample opportunity to get out and enjoy the great outdoors as the weather begins to warm up this spring.

Knowing that prime crappie season is right around the corner and I am planning to make many trips to the lake in an effort to stock the freezer with some delightful meat.  On a typical crappie fishing outing I will throw at least one line in the water in an effort to take home some catfish as well.  If you have followed this blog for long or even read many of my fishing journal posts you have probably seen that catching fish is not usually a problem.  

We've had a mild winter here in Missouri and it has me aching to wet a line!

- Any day in the outdoors is a good day

A Daddy Daughter Date In The Deer Stand

Having spent most of my children's lives on the road as both a regional and over-the-road truck driver I haven't been able to spend nearly enough time with them in the outdoors.  Until the last couple of years circumstances have made it nearly impossible to get in much hunting and fishing at all.  As this situation started changing in my favor, I began to ease them into these activities.  I don't ever force them to go; I simply give them the option of joining me on each adventure.  

This year in Missouri the last of the youth rifle season landed on the weekend after Thanksgiving making things a little difficult.  However, where there's a will there's a way.  At least that is what I've always heard other people tell me when they couldn't figure out how to achieve something they wanted to accomplish.  

After finishing work for the day on Saturday the 26th I picked up the rifle my daughter wanted to use and took her out to get in a little practice.  She has been shooting guns since she was about six, but this was her first time shooting a larger sized rifle.  To my surprise, she handled the gun quite well and was able to hit the target without any issues.  She did tell me "this gun gets heavy after a while" to which I replied "tomorrow you will have something to rest it on while you are aiming."  We finished up our practice session (I wish I had taken pictures of the target after she was done shooting) and headed in for dinner and an early bed time.

At 3:00 AM on Sunday the 27th we crawled out of bed and prepared for the two-hour journey to our hunting spot.  Climbing into the stand just before daylight, we settled in for a daddy daughter date in the deer stand.
Weather, Weather Conditions
Weather Conditions Sunday November 27th
Hunting Blinds, Deer Stand, Hunting Stand
Our Little Hunting Blind

After a few hours of calling and spraying a cover scent, a year old doe finally wandered in.  I instructed my daughter to take her time as the deer seemed to be looking right at us on high alert.  I then heard a twig break behind us and turned around to notice that a much bigger doe was making her way through the woods towards our location.  As the bigger doe stopped, the little one blew and took off running out of sight, but returned shortly to the side of the bigger animal.  At this point they both began to move around to settle in front of us again.  Slowly my daughter attempted to get into position, but before she could manage to get a shot a third deer which neither of us had noticed busted us and ran off causing the other two to evacuate the area.

Yearling Doe, Little Deer, Young Doe
The Little Doe Headed For the Hills

I wish I could say my daughter was able to kill her first deer that day, but I can't.  We sat in the stand for a few more hours until it began to rain on us and decided to call it a day.  As we headed back home my daughter turned to me and said:  "It's ok that I didn't get a deer today.  At least I got to see some, and they were really close!  That's more than a lot of people can say about their first deer hunting trip.  A lot of people only dream of seeing even one deer the first time they go hunting."  I told her that I was really proud of her attitude towards the whole situation and that she was absolutely right about seeing deer on her first trip to the woods with a gun.

Whenever you are out hunting or fishing with your children remember that success isn't always about catching and killing; it's about teaching them to learn from and enjoy every moment they spend in the great outdoors.

- Any day in the outdoors is a good day

The Napier Sportz Truck Tent 57 Series 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.

As we age it becomes more difficult to sleep on the ground.  For those who love tent camping, there is a solution to this problem.... Napier SportzTruck Tent 57 Series.  This tent allows the camper to sleep in their truck bed which eliminates the need to stoop down in order to enter and exit your tent.
Truck Tent, Napier Truck Tent, Napier Sportz Truck Tent
Napier Sportz Truck Tent 57 Series Side View
Truck Tent, Pickup Truck Tent, Napier Truck Tent
Napier Sportz Truck Tent 57 Series Side View
The Napier 57 Series Sportz Truck Tent is an awesome three season tent that sleeps two.  The rain fly and walls are  constructed from 1200 mm PU polyester taffeta.  The floor is made from 1200 mm PU nylon taffeta.  There are two interior gear pockets with a gear loft that can be used for extra storage space.  With a center height of 5'5" there is enough head room for pretty much anyone.  The rear window is placed in a manner to offer access to the cab of your pickup through the rear hatch window.

The description on this tent says it can be set up in as little as ten minutes; however, I can tell you attempting to assemble this tent in the dark for the first time it will most definitely take much longer than that.  On the other hand, taking the tent down and packing it away is a really simple task.  If you are going to be out and about in the vehicle that the tent will be set up in, consider setting the tent up in advance so that when you arrive back at your camping spot for the night you can simply pick up the tent, slide it into your truck bed and strap it down.  This will save you an enormous amount of trouble.

Napier SportzTruck Tent 57 Series

Napier SportzTruck Tent 57 Series
"The Napier SportzTruck Tent 57 Series allows you to
sleep comfortably protected in the bed of your pickup.
Its shock-corded, color coded Durawrap fiberglass and
steel poles allow for fast set up in asittle as 10 minutes."

Although setting this tent up for the first time presented its challenges, I have to assume that the biggest reason for this is that my wife and I attempted to pull this off well after dark when both of us were already tired.  I'm quite certain that the next time we set it up will yield a completely different result.  Upon examining the Napier Sportz Truck Tent during the day I could see that is really is a simple tent to set up.

The overnight temperatures were in the mid forties when my wife and I used our tent, and we were able to sleep comfortably on an air mattress inside of our sleeping bag.  Unlike some tents that claim to be "three season," this one truly is!  We had no trouble staying warm inside of this well built tent.

One thing I will say is that if your truck is lifted, you will definitely want to come up with a step system for getting into your tent.  You could probably use a two-foot step ladder or cinder blocks.  Our method was to simply stack up some firewood and use it as our step to get inside. 

Keep in mind that there are several different models of this tent designed to fit many different truck bed sizes.  Be sure to find the right one for your truck.

I was pleasantly surprised at the overall quality of this tent.  With proper care this tent will provide the use with many years of use.

- Any day in the outdoors is a good day

What To Do When Your Hunting Trip Is A Washout?

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.

September 24, 2016

I decided to cancel my planned actual hunting trip to the woods this afternoon because of an impending storm.  It makes no sense to travel forty to fifty miles from home when you will most likely end up turning around and heading back home as soon as you arrive.  

Having made the decision to skip the woods in fear of drowning, I decided a father-daughter date was in order.  If you can't be in the outdoors, the next best thing for any sportsman is a store with all the outdoor gear you could care to see..... So we headed to the Bass Pro.

We entered the store and what else would my daughter want to do other than head straight over to the laser shooting gallery.  She gave me no choice but to show her that daddy can win at this game.  After checking out everything the hunting section had to offer.....and I mean everything, we decided to give the fudge a whirl (the salted caramel is a pretty tasty choice).

Fun At Bass Pro, Bass Pro Shops, Bass Pro
Having fun at Bass Pro Shops
Next it was off to make a loop around the lower level.  Of course we had to make a stop at the top of the stairs to check out the waterfall and catch some water to throw on dad (probably a pay back for beating her at the shooting gallery earlier in the evening).
Bass Pro Shops, Water Fall, Bobcat
Bass Pro has some interesting things to look at
While making the rounds on the lower floor we checked out all there was to see from the taxidermy to the boats to the four wheelers and everything in between.
ATV, Green ATV, Arctic Cat
Emilee checking out a 4-wheeler
Of course we couldn't pass up the ATV section.  We had to check out every one of them before making our way to the boats. 

Pontoon, Boats, Pontoon Boat
A couple of boats that Emilee had to see
In the boat section Emilee found two boats that she really liked (she has some expensive taste).  As you can see in the pictures the two she admired were nearly $40,000.

Upon finishing up our tour of the Bass Pro Shop we headed back home; of course, we had to make a pit stop by Quick Trip and get a frappe along the way.  I may not have been in the woods, but I did have a wonderful time spending the evening with my daughter.  I wouldn't have missed this opportunity for the world!

Next time your hunting plans get foiled by mother nature try spending some quality time with your children.  The memories from these experiences will not be forgotten.

- Any day in the outdoors (or an outdoor store) is a good day

Fishing Journal Entry 14 - The Turtles Win


Today I took my son along with a friend and his son to a small fishing pond to enjoy some fishing and relaxing.  We had a great time talking and catching fish.
Pond Fishing, Bass Fishing, Fishing In Ponds
A view of the pond
Having fished in many other places recently, I decided it was time to return to this beautiful pond to see how the fishing would be in the middle of the summer.
Catfishing, Fishing in ponds, Pond Fishing
2nd view of the pond
There was an enormous amount of aquatic vegetation growing in the pond which brought with it some fishing challenges, but we were able to cope with the situation.
Crappie Fishing, Fishing In Ponds, Pond Fishing
Another view of the pond
The weather was extremely hot with a temperature approaching 100 degrees.  The barometric pressure was 30.00 with a UV index of 9!
Catfishing, Pond Fishing, Fishing in ponds
The wind was blowing at twelve to fifteen miles per hour.
Bass Fishing, Fishing in ponds, pond fishing
Largemouth Bass
We caught three decent bass.  They were just shy of being keepers.

Crappie Fishing, Fishing In Ponds, Pond Fishing
First Crappie
We caught three crappie.
Catfishing, Fishing In Ponds, Pond Fishing
Channel Catfish
We caught six catfish.  Most were big enough to filet, but we released them all so they could get bigger.
Catfishing, Fishing in ponds, pond fishing
We used minnows, night crawlers and even some stink bait to catch these fish.
A couple of the catfish were rather small, but a fish is a fish.....right?

Catfish, Catfishing, Fishing In Ponds
As the crappie started biting I began placing them on a stringer.  Upon catching the third crappie I pulled the stringer from the water to find that the first two had been mutilated by turtles.  One was completely gone except for its lips and some of the skin around its facial area.  The other had about one half of one side destroyed.  Once I saw this, I decided we wouldn't be attempting to keep any more fish.  It is better to catch and release than to feed the turtles. 
Turtle, Pond Fishing, Fishing In Ponds
One of many turtles
In all we caught twelve fish and two turtles, but in the end.....the turtles won.

- Any day in the outdoors is a good day (even when the turtles are stealing your fish)

Build A Compact Fishing Kit

If you have ever been somewhere and found yourself wishing you had a way to fish, one solution is to build a compact fishing kit that can be stored in your vehicle and will take up very little room.  For this project you will need a sharp knife, scissors, two sports drink bottles,  an expired credit/debit/gift card, super glue and of course hooks, fishing line and sinkers.

The video below shows the process to build a compact fishing kit.

The steps involved are quite simple.
  • Cut the tops off of both bottles just underneath the rim that sticks out below the cap and ring.
  • Cut the ring off one of the bottle tops.
  • Trace around one of the tops onto the old gift/credit/debit card.
  • Cut a circle out of the card following the line that was traced.
  • Glue both bottle tops to the plastic circle that was cut from the card (one on each side)
  • Place hooks in one side and replace the cap.
  • Place sinkers in the opposite side and replace the cap. (Placing the sinkers in the side that the ring was removed from in step two works out best.)
  • Wrap fishing line around the open space where the ring was removed.  (Wrap the line in a clockwise direction.)
  • Attach a sinker to the end of the fishing line, remove the cap and place the sinker and the end of the line inside.
  • Screw the cap back on. (The sinker on the end of the line will prevent the fishing line from escaping and unraveling.)
  • Your compact fishing kit is complete.

Please feel free to leave your questions and remarks in the comments section below.

- Any day in the outdoors is a good day

Weather & Work Delays

As much as I would like to be out there fishing and/or hunting right now I have been experiencing both weather and work delays.  Working long days in combination with more nasty weather has really put a damper on what was turning out to be a great year so far.  Oh well, I guess this too shall pass.  When these things happen you just have to catch yourself before you become too disappointed by the circumstances and regain control of your mindset.  This situation can't possibly last forever, and believe me when it finally lets up I will be right back at it.  Up to this point it has been a really great year for filling the freezer.

Fireworks Pictures, Fireworks, Fireworks Display
The Family Fireworks Display

We did have a fish fry with the family on the 4th of July shooting clays and blowing off fireworks.  I must say I was a bit surprised with myself having shot about 100 shells through my Mossberg 500 12 gauge without experiencing any soreness whatsoever. My wife on the other hand did bruise her arm where it meets with her shoulder and asked me "you think I held my gun in the wrong spot a couple of times?"  She then laughed the matter off and said "guess I learned my lesson.  Keep the butt of the gun in the pocket where it belongs."

Shooting Clays, Target Practice, Shooting Shotguns
Shooting Clays With The Family

Over all we had a really good time visiting with family and friends although mom and dad weren't able to be there this year as mom wasn't feeling well.  I'm pretty sure she has been pushing herself too hard since the cancer surgery.  She just doesn't know how to take it easy when she needs to.  I guess some people may never learn that lesson.

I hope you all had a fun, safe and exciting Independence day too.  Until next time, remember......

- Any day in the outdoors is a good day

The Danger of Wild Parsnip (Pastinaca Sativa)

Wild parsnip particularly the (Pastinaca Sativa) can have horrendous effects on the skin of an individual who happens to come into contact with it.  Many people who are affected by this plant believe that they have been exposed to poison ivy.  

One major difference between poison ivy and wild parsnip is that poison ivy can affect the body anywhere there is exposure to its oils, but the wild parsnip requires sunlight to be present in order to have an affect.  This is not to say that wild parsnip can't cause a rash or burn on your skin if it is cloudy outside.  Just as you can get a sunburn on a cloudy day, you can also have a serious reaction to wild parsnip on these days.  The burns from wild parsnips can leave you with a discoloration of skin for anywhere from a couple of months up to a couple of years.  

Another difference between the two is that while poison ivy will leave you itching for up to a week or more, the wild parsnip will cause a severe burn that doesn't last nearly as long.  The burning from exposure to wild parsnip will begin within 24 hours whereas the itching rash from poison ivy may take up to two days to begin.  

For more information and photos of the wild parsnip, check out the USDA Website.  By studying photos and video of wild parsnip you can make sure to avoid it while on your adventures in the great outdoors! 

- Any day in the outdoors is a good day

Cedar Bluff State Park Kansas

The Cedar Bluff State Park in Kansas offers two areas for camping.  One is on the north side of the Cedar Bluff Reservoir, with the second area situated on the south shore. Both areas offer campsites and water access for boating, fishing and other recreational activities.

The area located to the north is the Bluffton Area which offers almost 350 acres of recreational space for its visitors.  The Bluffton Overland Boat Ramp allows water access for boating in this area.  The Bluffton Area contains 96 campsites with utilities, two shower houses, two community shelters, dump stations and five rental cabins as well as several primitive campsites and picnic areas. The Bluffton Area also offers access to fishing for those without access to a boat as most of its shoreline is  able to be utilized.  There is also a handicapped accessible covered fishing dock.

The southern area is known as the Page Creek Area and has close to 500 acres.  With one designated primitive camping area and many undesignated primitive camping sites, this area offers more opportunities for those who want to be a little closer to nature; however, there are a total of 36 campsites with utilities, a community shelter, two dump stations, two shower houses and two vault toilets.  The boat ramp offering access to the water on the south side of the Cedar Bluff Reservoir is the Page Creek Mulley Boat Ramp.  

If you are among those of us who love boating, jet skiing and fishing this is a Kansas State Park you will want to check out.  You just might find a new favorite place to get away from it all!

Check out the KDWPT website for more information on the Cedar Bluff State Park.  

- Any day in the outdoors is a good day

Lightning - What To Do When You Are Caught In A Storm

Imagine you are out enjoying a day in the outdoors when seemingly out of nowhere you find yourself in the middle of a wicked lightning storm.  What should you do?

Lightning strikes somewhere on earth every second and 67% of those deaths occur while participating in some type of outdoor activity.  According to 216 people were struck and killed by lightning in the eight year period between 2006 and 2013.  Among these, the top three activities that had lightning strike victims who died were fishing, camping and boating in that order.  As an outdoorsman/woman it is critical that you know how to respond if you should ever be caught in a storm.

When a sudden storm arises while fishing, immediately retreat from the water.  Water is a major conductor of electricity and should be avoided during a storm.  The best case in this situation would be to get to your vehicle if it is close by.  If unable to reach a vehicle, I would retreat to a group of small trees that are surrounded by several much taller trees and try to wait out the storm.  If there are no trees, it is time to retreat to the lowest area around and crouch down to become the lowest "target" in the area.  Never lay down on the ground as this action will maximize your body's contact with the ground.  The idea is to get as low as possible while minimizing ground contact with your body.  Areas to avoid include stand-alone trees, rock ledges and outcrops and places prone to flooding in the event of a flash flood.

If you are camping when a storm shows up, get in your vehicle or go into a campground shelter (avoid getting into your tent).  If you are not in a campground, seek out the safest place in the area.  This could once again be a small group of trees that are surrounded by many taller trees.  Make yourself as small as possible with minimum ground contact.

When you are near a shoreline in your boat when a storm appears make sure that everyone has a life jacket on and get to shore and off of your boat as quickly as possible.  You don't necessarily need to get back to the loading ramp.  Make your way to the nearest cove that will allow you to safely get on shore.

In order to avoid the dangers of lightning, always check the local weather forecast for the area in which you will be and avoid going out when severe weather is expected.  Consider bringing a small along on your adventure so that you can keep up with the local weather conditions.  Storms can pop up without warning.

- Any day in the outdoors is a good day 
(Just be sure that you don't put yourself in any unnecessary danger)

Fishing - An Unlikely Catch

While fishing below the Truman Dam on the Osage Arm of Lake of the Ozarks, I had one line in the water specifically for catfish.  I wasn't fishing with any special bait.  I simply placed a medium sized minnow on the line and sent it to the bottom of the lake.

After half-an-hour or so I noticed the familiar sign of a fish on the end of the line as my pole began dancing about.  I knew I had one, but as I began to reel in the line there seemed to be no resistance. "I guess I missed it" I told my wife.  However, as I continued reeling in the empty hook, a fight broke out that would end in the biggest catch of my life so far (I'd love to think there may be more giants like this one at some point).

Paddlefish, Big Spoonbill, Huge Paddlefish
The "first glance" at a big spoonbill
The above picture shows the spoonbill as it first reached the surface and decided to begin swimming away from me.
Spoonbill, Paddlefish, Big Spoonbill
Almost have it landed
Shown above is the point at which I began to regain the control in this battle
Spoonbill, Paddlefish, Giant Spoonbill
"The Big One"
In the picture above I had the spoonbill almost all the way in to the dock.
Spoonbill, Paddlefish, Huge Spoonbill
Right up to the dock
The final picture shows this large spoonbill just before I released it.

The spoonbill was scarred and its "bill" was broken.  It seemed to have had a hard life. I'm sure it had been snagged a time or two in the past and I felt as though I should release it without removing it from the water.  I carefully set the giant free without adding to its timeline of scars leaving it to continue swimming somewhere below the Truman Dam in Lake of the Ozarks waiting for the next person to come along and surprisingly catch the biggest fish of their life.

- Any day in the outdoors is a good day

Easy To Build Target Stand

If you own a gun, chances are you enjoy shooting it as often as you can.  Having a target holder enables you to hang your targets at the desired height and change them out as often as you want.  The following explains how I built a simple and inexpensive target holder that will last for quite some time.  The video shows what the target holder looks like upon completing the build.

For this project you will need:
  • 2 - Treated 4x4x8's
  • 1/2 Sheet of Plywood
  • 2 Bags of concrete mix
  • 8 or 10 screws (the length of screw depends on the thickness of the plywood you choose).
  • A post hole digger or a shovel 

This target holder could also be built with the slats from an old pallet instead of using plywood.  This will bring the cost down even more.  The purpose of using plywood or pallet slats is so that you can change out the actual piece of material that holds the targets when it is worn out.

  1. The first step in this build is to find the desired location for your target holder and dig two holes approximately two feet deep.  I spaced my holes about four feet apart so that the half sheet of plywood would fit right to the outside of each 4x4.  (For pallet slats you may want to reduce the distance between the uprights to 36 or 40 inches.  
  2. Next place one 4x4 in each hole and pour the concrete mixture in around them.  At this point you can use a level to make sure your uprights are straight.  
  3. After the concrete dries it is time to attach the plywood or pallet slats to the upright posts. If you are using plywood, placing a cinder block to rest the plywood on while fastening it to the 4x4's will make this part of the build much easier.
  4. Attach a target to the holder and have some fun!
As I told you in the video, I  build a "shooting berm" behind my target holder to ensure that the bullets wouldn't travel into a danger zone.

I will probably replace the plywood on mine with pallet slats when the time comes to change out the target holder.  This will cost less in the long run since I can get an almost limitless supply of pallets where I work.

- Any day in the outdoors is a good day

Who Is The Average Midwest Outdoorsman

I guess it is about time I let you know a little about myself.  

I am a freedom loving, gun toting, family man who is proud to be an American!  I guess I'm probably one of those people who is referred to as a bitter clinger and I'm sure there are many more average outdoorsmen just like myself out there.  Although the name callers and those who want to take our rights away may think they know what is best for themselves, they couldn't begin to know what is best for myself, my family and my friends.  Ok....Ok.....Enough with the political talk.

I was born to a loving family with a father who was a Sargent First Class in the Army as well as being a preacher.  His wife - my mother was a stay-at-home mom, I grew up in small town U.S.A.  The atmosphere around these small towns definitely played a huge roll in developing my love for the outdoors.  I was taught from an early age that family is extremely important. I was also taught that hard work and dedication are the two qualities that will enable a person to succeed in any area of their life.  

As a grown man with a family of my own, I do my best to instill these same values in my children.  I have also found out that raising children really doesn't come with an instruction manual.  As you have probably noticed, many of my posts include pictures of my family members and close friends.  This is because I want them to be as much a part of this endeavor as myself.  I love hunting and fishing with my family and friends. To me there is nothing better than sharing the good times and the memories  that each of those outings provide with the people I am closest to.

I love to share my knowledge about the outdoors (what little I have) with anyone who is willing to listen.  I hope that as I continue learning through my outdoor adventures I will be able to pass along some useful information to those who read this blog.

Always remember:
- Any day in the outdoors is a good day! 

Campfire Cooking Tips & Tricks

Many people love to go camping and cooking over a campfire should be a fun part of the camping experience.

Here are a few tips to help you with your campfire cooking adventures:

  • Use cast iron skillets for the best results
  • Use the hot coals for your heat source to achieve a consistent temperature
  • The same tongs and spatulas used for barbecuing work great for campfire cooking
  • Cut a square piece of aluminum foil, place a potato cut into cubed pieces inside with a generous amount of butter, fold the foil around completely sealing up the potato & place directly on the hot coals. Let this sit for ten minutes or so and you have a campfire version of fried potatoes.
  • In a pinch you can use a piece of aluminum foil to cook on.  Lay the piece of aluminum foil over the grate, spray it with cooking spray and cook vegetables and other items that would fall through right on top of it. (Even pancakes and eggs can be cooked this way.)
  • Try starting your fire off to the side of the cook area and moving the coals directly under the cooking surface (with a long stick to keep you from getting burned).
  • Use wood that is completely dry in order to get your fire started quickly
  • Save some money on matches by using fire starters.
  • Save money on fire starters by making your own
    • Dryer lint is an excellent fire starter.  Save some in a gallon baggie for your camping trips.
    • Cotton balls with petroleum jelly squished into them make good fire starters.
    • Flat cotton swabs dipped in melted wax and dried also make great fire starters.
  • As with any fire, make sure your campfire is never left unattended.  Put it out before leaving your campsite.
Using these tips can help make your campfire cooking experiences more enjoyable for everyone involved.

- Any day in the outdoors is a good day

Starting A Fire With Steel Wool

We never know when a fire will come in handy.  Perhaps it will be on a hike or a camping trip, or it could be on a hunting or fishing adventure that doesn't go as planned. No matter what the situation, it is always a good idea to have at least a couple of fire starting methods in your pack.  Because some methods are better suited for different situations, I try to have three different ways to start a fire whenever I hit the field. 

The obvious choice would be matches or a permanent waterproof match, but what if you forgot to fill the lighter fluid reservoir on your waterproof match and it's pouring down rain.  Your typical matches might light, but they will quickly be extinguished by the weather conditions.  In this situation it would be very helpful to have an alternative method to get your heat source going.

One of my favorite methods is steel wool and a 9 volt battery.  For best results use super fine steel wool.  Take one piece of steel wool and pull it apart so that you end up with a puffy ball.  Next take the 9 volt battery and touch both terminals to the ball you just made.  Be sure that you get a good connection between the terminals and the steel wool.  Once a good connection is made, the steel wool will catch on fire!

You will want to be sure to have your tinder and kindling close by so that your fire can be quickly transferred from the steel wool to the tinder.  It would also be useful in wet conditions to have a method of protecting your initial fire as much as possible from the moisture.

Make sure that if you plan on making this one of your back-up fire starting methods that you keep your battery and steel wool stored separately.  It wouldn't be good to have your pack go up in flames while you were carrying it. 

- Any day in the outdoors is a good day

Poison Ivy

Anyone who enjoys the outdoors has probably encountered poison ivy.  If you are allergic to poison ivy check out these photos to be sure you know what to look out for while you are exploring the countryside.  As a child and even into early adulthood, I would break out in a severe rash that would cover my body from head to toe.  However, with age I have become less allergic to this menacing plant.  

Poison ivy can cause an itchy, mild to severe rash on the surface of your skin upon exposure.

Poison ivy has 3 jagged leaves on each stem.

Poison ivy vines grow quite vigorously and can be found almost anywhere.

If you think you have come into contact with poison ivy, wash the exposed area of your body as quickly as possible with soap and water.  Typically if you can wash the area that has been exposed within about five minutes you can greatly reduce or even completely eliminate the effect it will have on you.

The poison ivy vine contains oils that many people are allergic to.  Most people will not break out in a rash from coming into contact with the leaves themselves.  However, when a poison ivy vine is damaged through contact by a human or an animal and breaks open, the oil that causes a reaction will seep out from the inside of the vine.  It is this oil that causes the reaction which you may have experienced. 

If you do not catch it in time and a rash occurs, there are a few things that you can try to help aid in reducing the itchy feeling before visiting a doctor.  
  • Rubbing the inside of a banana peel on the affected area can greatly reduce the itching.
  • Make a paste with baking soda and water.  Apply this paste to the area of the body that has been affected.
  • Alcohol applied to the affected area of skin and air dried can help to relieve the itching and dry out the rash.
  • An oatmeal bath is known to help relieve the irritation.
If these methods don't work for you or if you break out in a severe rash, it may be time to see the doctor.  Depending on the severity of your reaction the doctor will likely prescribe Prednisone.  If the rash is deemed by your doctor to be extremely bad or if you have it in your eyes, they may administer a shot in addition to the prescribed Prednisone.

Next time you are in the woods keep an eye out for this nasty, creeping weed and The stay clear of poison ivy vines altogether.

- 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

Morel Mushrooms & False Morels - Do You Know The Difference?

It's that time of year again - the weather is heating up and the wild mushrooms are about to pop! There are many types of wild mushrooms, some are edible and some are poisonous.  Do you know how to tell them apart.  In this post, I am concentrating only on the morel mushrooms as these are one of the most sought after wild mushrooms out there.

The morel mushroom can be found around trees that are either dying or have already died and fallen to the ground.  Some of the best trees to search around include dead or dying ash, cottonwood, elm and sycamore.  As the dying root systems of these trees break down they form an excellent food source for morels.  When collecting these tasty morsels be sure to use only mesh bags which will allow the spores from your collected specimens to fall back to the earth ensuring that the area in which you are hunting will continue to produce a steady crop year after year.

The false morel is sometimes mistaken for a true morel; however, there are differences which will help ensure that you are taking home the real deal.  Below are two pictures.  The top photo features some true morels which are safe to eat.  The bottom photo shows a false morel (these are the ones you want to avoid).

Photo Courtesy of Missouri Department of Conservation

Photo Courtesy of Missouri Department of Conservation
As you can see in the top picture, the edible morel has very well defined pits on the canopy.  The stem of this morel is hollow and extends all the way into the mushrooms head.  The false morel however is wrinkled rather than being pitted.  This poisonous mushroom also has a canopy which has a distinctly different color than the stem.

To prepare morels to eat I typically cut them in half and soak them in salt water for about a day.  I then coat them in breading and either pan fry or deep fry them.  They will make an excellent side dish with your next fish fry.

Morel hunting is an excellent way to spend a springtime afternoon in the outdoors and you will be sure to get in your daily exercise while seeking out these flavorful treats.

-Any day in the outdoors is a good day

Introducing Children To The Great Outdoors

fishing, children outdoors, children fishing

By getting our children involved in outdoor activities we give them a chance to experience the excitement that nature offers.  Whether it's camping, fishing, hunting or just taking a walk through the woods these activities encourage our youngsters to get away from all the electronic devices and gives them the chance to become more active.
In addition to teaching our children to be active, these outdoor activities also give us as adults many wonderful memories to share with them. It may come as a surprise, but children actually desire to spend time with their parents. The least we can do is take a break out of our busy schedules to allow them this special opportunity. Believe me when I say the time flies. Although my children are ten and twelve, it seems like yesterday that I was holding them in my arms rocking them to sleep. We must realize that if we don't give them our time, someone else will and the influence they get may well lead them down the wrong path.
Try taking a weekend to go camping at least once or twice a year. Leave the electronics behind, forget everything but the time at hand with them. Take this time to teach them important survival skills such as fire starting and how to cook over an open flame. Show them how they can take the fish they catch and make a wonderful meal without the convenience of an oven or a fryer. Take them on nature walks and teach them to find wild edibles.... this may just save their lives one day. Teach them all you can about the outdoors before they begin thinking they know everything, the things they learn while they are young will stick with them, even the things that we don't think they are picking up.
Take a Saturday, a Sunday or even an evening and take them fishing. Show them how to tie their hook onto their line, show them how to find crickets, grasshoppers, earthworms or even how to catch their own minnows or shad. Show them how to bait their own hooks and how to figure out the right depth for catching fish. It is surprising how much fun children have while fishing, even when the only thing that seems to be biting is perch their faces will light up and it just may be the spark they need to light a life-long love for the sport.
Take a day and teach them about hunting. Even at four or five years old our children will enjoy a day spent hunting with daddy. No, it may not go the way we plan on it going, but just go with the flow and have fun with it. Children love watching for squirrels, being surprised by a rabbit they kick up as they stomp through the brush and even just seeing the little things like song birds.
Whatever it is we choose to do with our children,be patient with them. Remember they are just learning and being impatient with them may turn them away from the outdoors. The important thing is that we spend that time with them and help to nurture their love for being active and enjoying the great outdoors.

- Any day in the outdoors is a good day