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HUNT&FISH SUMMER/FALL 2016

OPE N SEASON

6

2016

TOP SPOTS

TO CAST & BLAST

ART ofthe KILL

SCOUT, STALK, SCORE! TRENDS • TACTICS • TOOLS • GEAR


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The 2016 Viking and full line of Yamaha ATVs and Side-by-Side Vehicles. The Yamaha Viking features the ultimate combination of performance, durability, comfort and value – and is engineered to tackle the toughest hunts 24/7. It features Yamaha’s legendary, ultra-durable Ultramatic® automatic transmission, exclusive On-Command® 4WD, best-in-class terrainability, and so much more. Plus, like all Yamaha ATVs and Side-by-Sides, it’s Real World Tough™. If you’re searching for the ultimate ATV or Side-by-Side, call off the hunt and get a Yamaha.

For your nearest Pro Yamaha dealer and to learn more about the full line of Yamaha ATVs and Side-by-Sides, visit YamahaOutdoors.com ATVs shown are recommended for use only by riders age 16 years and older. Yamaha recommends that all ATV riders take an approved training course. For safety and training information, see your dealer or call the ATV Safety Institute at 1-800-887-2887. ATVs can be hazardous to operate. For your safety: Always avoid paved surfaces. Never ride on public roads. Always wear a helmet, eye protection and protective clothing; never carry passengers; never engage in stunt riding; riding and alcohol/drugs don’t mix; avoid excessive speed; and be particularly careful on difficult terrain. · For Side-by-Sides:Always protect the environment and wear your seat belt, helmet, eye protection and protective clothing. Read the owner’s manual and product warning labels before operation. · Specifications subject to change without notice. Professional riders depicted on a closed course. Models shown with optional Genuine Yamaha Accessories. ©2016 Yamaha Motor Corporation. U.S.A. All rights reserved.


HUNT&FISH SUMMER/FALL 2016

Features CAMO 101 Science threaded throughout pattern

46

SPORTS HAVENS Six U.S. destinations teeming with top game and fish

58

SMOKY TROUT Great Smoky Mountains National Park: bring your reel

64

WILDLIFE MUSEUM $100 million national treasure opens in fall

74

HISTORY IN FOOD Three Native American chefs preserving their cultural cuisine

è

JOE ANDERSEN

36

Devils Lake, N.D., renowned for its bounty of duck and geese.


HUNT&FISH SUMMER/FALL 2016

Departments PREMIUM PUBLICATION

80

Sportsmen’s trophy tales

84

High-tech scouting: What to know

90

Bagging deer from tree stands

94

Mastering wild turkey harvest

100

103

Up Front 6 10

20

Building a better decoy spread

FISHING Big-catch experiences

106

Expert reeling tips for crappie

112

Buzz bait still has bass biting

116

Best national parks for anglers

122

OUTDOOR COOKING

EDITOR’S NOTE Fall is go time

Hot buys! Grills and smokers best for game and fish

GEAR

FINAL WORD

• Deer hunting • Freshwater fishing • Camping

128

Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing helps veterans

26

FROGGING

34

FISHING FILM TOUR

EDITORS Chris Garsson Elizabeth Neus Hannah Prince Lori Santos Sara Schwartz Tracy L. Scott DESIGNERS Ashleigh Carter Miranda Pellicano Gina Toole Saunders Lisa M. Zilka CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Brian Broom, Hollie Deese, Maisy Fernandez, Gary Garth, Bruce Ingram, Lars Jacob, Wes Johnson, Quinn Kelley, Brian McClintock, Jed Portman, Ben Romans, Kristen A. Schmitt, Lindsay Thomas Jr., Shane Townsend, Kristi Valentini, Ken White VP, ADVERTISING Patrick Burke | (703) 854-5914 pburke@usatoday.com ACCOUNT DIRECTOR Justine Goodwin | (703) 854-5444 jgoodwin@usatoday.com

This is a product of

Quick and easy guide

DEER TALES

GUEST EDITOR Tom Keer

BILLING COORDINATOR Julie Marco

Spotting the differences

28

MANAGING EDITOR Michelle Washington mjwashington@usatoday.com

FINANCE

Keep an eye on their eyes

CRANES

CREATIVE DIRECTOR Jerald Council jcouncil@usatoday.com

ADVERTISING

DEER VISION

24

DIRECTOR Jeanette Barrett-Stokes jbstokes@usatoday.com

Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved herein, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or reproduced in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the written consent of USA TODAY. The editors and publisher are not responsible for any unsolicited materials.

Some unusual hunting stories

Fin flicks are catching crowds

PRINTED IN THE USA

PHOTO BY: John Tobin/TobinPhoto.com

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER!

@USATODAYMAGS

4 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

COURTESY OF BASS PRO; THINKSTOCK

10

HUNTING


Essential gear for telling those big stories.

The PENTAX K-70 and the RICOH WG-M2 are your passports to adventure whether you are in the great outdoors or roughing it near home. The K-70 is a compact, lightweight, DSLR featuring a 24.24 megapixel AA-lterless APS-C CMOS sensor, and in-body SR Shake Reduction for sharp, high quality images. The WG-M2 captures active subjects in a 204 ultra-wide-angle movie in awless 4K Ultra HD resolution. It also records at a bit rate of up to 100Mbps so it never misses a single moment of action. Both cameras are rugged and weather-resistant for shooting in dicult conditions, and best of all, they are Wi-Fi compatible for easy mobile transfer and social media sharing of your adventures.

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EDITOR’S NOTE

Tom Keer, USA TODAY Hunt & Fish guest editor, bags grouse and woodcock with his English setter Rebel in New Hampshire. Keer is an award-winning freelance writer who lives in Cape Cod, Mass.

Fall Is Go Time

6 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

gear, we’ll be busy. None of us ever complains about the work, though. Painting the house, cutting the grass — we’ll grouse about that. Preseason preparations? Heck, they’re part of the fun. If I’m not trying to scratch down a Thanksgiving Day gobbler or running my setters through the woods and fields, I’ll walk a beach and look for migrating fish. As one of my favorite hunting and fishing spots is part of the National Park Service, I’ll tip my hat, for 2016 marks the agency’s 100th anniversary. I’m grateful I have so many places where I can hunt and fish, and I know you are, too. Fall for us is go time. Whether you hunt, fish or do both, good luck. I know you’ll make the most of it.

Tom Keer, Guest editor

ANGELA KEER

I

t’s easy for us to wax on about our love for the outdoors, but this is the time of year when we work. Our favorite time of the year — the one where we hunt big game, small game and waterfowl, and catch fresh and saltwater fish until our arms are tired — is knocking on our front door. At this time of year, our actions speak louder than our words, so we’re best served making final preparations before heading out the door. For some of us, our remaining preseason time includes scouting sorties to pin down movements on whitetail deer, elk, mulies and other big game. While others of us are roading dogs to get them in hunting condition. Along the way, we’ll sight in rifles and bows or crack clays on a skeet field. A few licks on a goose flute or a duck call never bothered anyone, except maybe the neighbors. Whether we string up our rods for fall fishing, grass duck blinds and boats or patch and replace


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| HUNT&FISH

UP FRONT I N T H E N OW, I N T H E K N OW

GEAR 10

THINKSTOCK

GET HOOKED! Flip through our 100+ pages for all you need to know to cast and blast this season.

|

WILDLIFE 20

|

PEOPLE 28

|

ENTERTAINMENT 34


GEAR

1 2

The lightweight BlackOut SS compound bow, from Bass Pro Shops’ partnership with Bowtech, combines accuracy, speed and consistency. Arrows launch at up to 335 feet per second. Package includes a stabilizer and five-arrow quiver. $549.97, basspro.com

With the ability to quietly swivel in all directions to let you take the best shot, Cabela’s Comfort Max 360° Original blind chair is made of a strong mesh fabric that offers back support and breathability. $89.99,

Cabela’s

Ready for Action Gear that takes your hunt to the next level this season

3 The GM-30i Trail camera has an easy-to-use interface and features a 50-foot detection range and long-range 850nm IR LED infrared. Can take 19,000 images per eight AA batteries.

$139.99, Gander Mountain

10 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

The Species Ground Blind, big enough for two at 73-by-68 inches, has adjustable 180-degree panoramic windows and a polyurethane coating to resist moisture. A hook-andMOLLE system replaces zippers. $349.99,

Cabela’s

COURTESY OF THE COMPANIES

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GEAR

5 Hunting in a confined area such as a blind or tree stand? Try TenPoint’s compact Instinct Order ACUdraw crossbow package, which fires bolts at up to 350 feet per second. Just 13.5 inches wide when cocked, it has a draw weight of 185 pounds. With illuminated scope and a three-bolt quiver. $1,199.99,

cabelas.com

6 The HR300 from Ozonics helps you avoid detection by using ozone to cover up your scent in the field. Available in late summer. $499.99, Gander

9

Mountain

Proven to keep ice frozen for up to five days, the Polar Cap Equalizer cooler has foam insulation without adding excessive weight. Easy to securely lock down, with barrel-shaped, rubberized T-handle latches for a secure seal. Available in five sizes.

$200 to $400, cabelas.com

Stay sure-footed with the Irish Setter Rutmaster 2.0 rubber hunting boot. The lug pattern helps ensure stability and traction on rugged ground, and the tread design helps release mud and dirt. Starts at

$139.95, Gander Mountain

12 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

8 The RedHead Scentinel line of scentcontrol clothing uses technology to trap odors and prevent the growth of odor-causing bacteria. Windproof fleece jacket and pants start at $89.99 each; windproof fleece vest starts at $69.99; basspro.com

10 With virtually no color distortion and 99.9 percent light transmission, Cabela’s water- and fogproof Instinct Euro HD 10x42 binoculars perform well in dim light. Aluminum-alloy body has an ergonomic design and a layer of rubber armor. $1,200, cabelas.com

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è

GEAR

If you want to catch big fish, use big bait. The new hollow-body series of lures from LIVETARGET are perfect for attracting aggressive largemouth bass or northern pike. These soft, realistic lures come in three shapes — mouse, frog and sunfish — with numerous color combinations to match the natural forage in your water. The lure has upwardarching hooks and is designed to float on its side so you can retrieve it through heavy cover without worrying about snags.

$13.99, Dick’s Sporting Goods

Rods and Reels

Get hooked on the best tackle and tools for bass and trout anglers BY BEN ROMANS

A

nglers are always looking for an edge, whether it’s a shortcut to catching more fish, or the latest and greatest tools and tackle that make time on the water that much more enjoyable. Here are a few pieces of gear that will not only make your next trek more gratifying — they’ll make it more productive.

è Rod designers at G. Loomis created a new rod series centered around the concept of rod “swing weight” — blanks specifically suited for tip-up maneuvers including pitching or flipping jigs or tip-down techniques such as retrieving crankbaits or swimbaits. The result is the E6X — a 30-rod lineup the company says has the sensitivity fishermen expect at an affordable price. The rods seized the title of Best Freshwater Rod in the new product category at the 2015 ICAST show.

$180 to $200; find a dealer at gloomis.com

è Fly fishermen cut their teeth on the Pflueger Medalist fly reel. With new capital and design, the classic has a new life — one that mixes modern construction with the classic look-andfeel that made it a hit. That electrifying click-and-pawl scream of a fish peeling line off the reel? It’s baaaaack. $119.95

to $139.95, pfluegerfishing.com

14 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016


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GEAR

è è

A good net can be the difference between the catch of a lifetime and a story about the one that got away. Rising’s Brookie is a modern take on classic troutnet design. Made from lightweight aluminum, it has a 10-inch long handle, measurement markings out to 15 inches, a knurled handle that’s easy to grip when wet and a flashy anodized finish. The basket is made from supple, clear “ghost” rubber that doesn’t spook fish underwater, and it’s less abrasive than nylon, so released fish have a greater chance of surviving.

Created from Honeywell’s Spectra HT (high tenacity) fibers, PowerPro says its new Maxcuatro line is 25 percent thinner but just as strong as an equivalent braided line of identical test strength. This translates into higher reel capacity, improved casting distance and less chance of fish seeing your line. And because the braid stretches significantly less than nylon or fluorocarbon, you can set the hook faster and harder. Available in test strengths from 50 to 100 pounds and on 150- to 3,000-yard spools in either moss green or high-vis yellow. $28.99 to $99.99,

cabelas.com

$229.99, dicks.com

16 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

In 2015, Scientific Anglers created several new series of fly line designed for specific salt- and freshwater applications, including the new Sonar series — a roster of sinking and sink-tip lines for casting (and submerging) big flies in big water. Available in an array of sizes and grain weights for 4-weights up to substantially larger two-handed rods. $74.95

to $79.95; find a dealer at scientificanglers.com

COURTESY OF THE COMPANIES

Using every proprietary technology at its disposal, Shimano created the Stradic FK series — a reel as tough and durable as it is attractive. But its key feature is the incorporation of the company’s Hagane gear: a cold-forged aluminum drive tailored for continual use and extreme abuse. Suited for nearly any species of fish, these reels are available in five sizes and gear ratios that are equally smooth whether you’re casting or reeling in the biggest fish of the day. $199.99 to

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THOUSANDS OF SERIOUS TOURNAMENT ANGLERS AROUND THE GLOBE HAVE MADE THE V-T2 LIVEWELL VENTILATION SYSTEM THEIR ONE SOURCE FOR LIVEWELL FISH CARE!

The patented V-T2 is the only product on the market to naturally cool, oxygenate & remove harmful metabolic gases from the livewell. The result is fish that are healthy, strong and ready for release. The V-T2 is affordable, easy to install, requires no battery power to operate AND eliminates the need and costs for ice and additives. PRO STAFF SCOTT MARTIN

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GEAR

Into the Wild

1. The Bluetooth-enabled Braven BRV-BANK backup battery with waterresistant rubber exterior includes a USB flashlight. $99.99, braven.com

Don’t forget to pack these gadgets with your camping gear BY QUINN KELLEY

2. Play the backup music for your campfire sing-along through the waterproof Scosche BoomBottle H2O Realtree speaker. $109.99, scosche. com

3. The Spot Gen3 can send your location to emergency responders, even without cell service. $149.99, plus yearly subscription starting at $99.99, satphonestore.com

4. Bracketron’s SmartLantern is a lantern, charger and flashlight all in one. $79.99, bracketron. com

6. The Stinger BKC90 insect zapper lantern attracts and kills flying insects. $34.99, Best Buy

7. The CamelBak All Clear Microbiological UV water purifier inactivates viruses, bacteria and cysts in 60 seconds. $98.95, backcountry.com

18 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

COURTSEY OF THE COMPANIES

5. Burn wood in the BioLite CampStove to create a smokeless flame that can cook food and generate energy to charge your phone. $129.95, biolitestove.com


WILDLIFE

Animal Side-Eye Those deer look oblivious, but they’re watching you BY LINDSAY THOMAS JR.

VISUAL FIELDS Deer vs. human

65°

120°

Binocular overlap Visual field

Source: QDMA.com

QUALITY DEER MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION; THINKSTOCK

H

ere’s a fun experiment in deer biology: the next time you sit down to a meal, first look around for any potential threats, like predators or fire or your loud-mouthed uncle. All safe? Good. Next, bend your head down and press your nose to your biscuit or backstrap or whatever’s on your plate. Now, while touching your nose to your food, look around again for danger. See any? No, you don’t. All you can see is a big, blurry biscuit and maybe a little of your uncle’s Hawaiian shirt in your periphery — and because


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your vision was limited, he’s got you cornered. Deer do not have this problem. When their noses are in clover or browsing anything else at ground level, they can still see danger approaching almost as well as they can when their heads are raised. That’s because their eyes can rotate in different directions — an ability known as cyclovergence. Deer have horizontally elongated pupils, while human pupils are round. Horizontal pupils are found most commonly in prey species, according to a new study of animal vision from the University of California, Berkeley, led by optometry professor Marty Banks. A deer’s horizontal pupils, combined with the fact that their eyes are placed on the side of their head rather than facing forward, give them an incredible 300-degree panoramic view of their surroundings. (Our own human field of view is slightly less than 180 degrees.) This leaves a relatively narrow 60-degree blind spot in the back of a deer’s head, which the deer can easily scan with a slight turn of its head. Within this panoramic view, objects in a band along the horizon are in focus, while objects on the ground right in front of the deer or over its head are out of focus. It’s a very effective setup for detecting movement and potential predators in a deer’s surroundings. But what happens when a deer lowers its head to take a bite of brassicas in your food plot or pick up a white oak acorn? Then, the eyes rotate independently, in different directions, to maintain alignment with the horizon.

22 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

CYCLOVERGENCE

The ability of a deer’s eyes to rotate in different directions to maintain alignment with the horizon as it lowers its head.

KEEPING AN EYE ON THEIR EYES The pupil of a deer’s eye is not easy to see because of the typically dark eye color. In the graphic below, the pupils have been enhanced to make them more visible. Even as a deer tilts its head down to browse at ground level, the pupil remains horizontal.

Head upward vs. head tilted downward

1

2

Source: QDMA.com

“If you imagine a line coming out of the center of the animal’s eye, the eye is spinning around that line,” Banks says. “So when an animal pitches its head down, the left eye has to rotate clockwise and the right eye has to rotate counterclockwise. We think we can see each eye rotating about 50 degrees. One is going 50 degrees and the other is going minus 50 degrees, so the difference is about 100 degrees. It’s a pretty remarkable ability.” That is cyclovergence. Human eyes do this occasionally, but only very slightly, a degree or two at most. The next time you are standing close to a horse, goat or cow, watch their eyes do this whenever they lower their heads to graze. As the domesticated descendants of prey animals, they also have horizontal pupils that remain horizontal when they feed. So deer are very good at detecting movement in surrounding cover, and that’s no less true when their noses are in food. Just because a deer drops its head to pick up that persimmon doesn’t mean it’s a good time to draw your bow or scratch an itch. Don’t let them roll their eyes at you. Wait until you can’t see either one of the deer’s eyes — like when its head is behind a tree — to make your move. Good luck putting this new intel to use this season, and also giving your uncle the slip! — LINDSAY THOMAS JR. is the director of communications for the Quality Deer Management Association (qdma.com), whose nonprofit mission is to ensure the future of whitetail deer, wildlife habitat and our hunting heritage.

QUALITY DEER MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION; THINKSTOCK

WILDLIFE


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WILDLIFE

X

Smart Shooting Crane hunters need to know a ‘whooper’ from a sandhill

YOU CAN’T RELY ON COLOR OF HEAD

T

he silhouette of the crane stands out against the backdrop of the morning sky. So you mount your gun and prepare to take your shot. But — you hesitate. If you’re following the advice of federal and state agencies, that’s exactly what you should do until you’ve determined whether that’s a sandhill crane in your sights or a federally protected whooping crane. The two species look enough alike that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service — as well as some states that allow sandhill crane hunting — provides detailed information to help sportsmen know the difference. It’s a matter of species survival for the rare and endangered “whooper,” which migrates along the Central Flyway from Canada to Texas each year and is known to mingle with sandhills. If you’ve obtained a permit to hunt sandhill cranes, be really sure you know at which bird you’re aiming before pulling the trigger. The penalty for taking an endangered species, such as a whooping crane, is a fine of up to $100,000 or up to one year in jail.

W

SANDHILL CRANE

WHOOPING CRANE

YOU CAN RELY ON BODY COLOR, WINGSPAN AND FLOCK SIZE

SANDHILL CRANE

WHOOPING CRANE

FLOCK SIZE Two to hundreds

WINGSPAN

Smaller groups up to seven

5 feet

White with black wing tips 7 feet

SOURCE: U.S. FISH & WILDLIFE SERVICE

For more information, go to fws.gov/birds/bird-enthusiasts/hunting/cranes.php

24 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

THINKSTOCK

Gray with dark wing tips


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WILDLIFE WHERE TO LOOK For on-foot frogging, look for areas that have 1 to 2 feet of water with vegetation and no current, such as backwaters, retention ponds and places where spring floods have left standing water in the woods. Golf courses are perfect — not that we recommend you break the law. (You can catch frogs on riverbanks, but they’ll get “frogged out” quickly, so go off the beaten track for more success.)

BE ALL EARS Listen for the bullfrog’s distinctive low-toned basslike croaks. Make note of the spots and come back at night. The hottest, darkest, most humid nights are best. Avoid the full moon — ambient light makes you more visible.

SHINE THE WAY

A flashlight and sack are all you need to catch meaty bullfrogs BY SHANE TOWNSEND

S

omewhere along the way, we’ve forgotten that frogs are backwater badasses. The American bullfrog is big enough to eat birds. And they do. We’ve also forgotten that their meat is delicious: $24.99 a pound delicious. Luckily, frogs are plentiful for those who are looking, catching them is a blast and it’s flashlight-and-sack simple — if you let it. Read on for how to find, catch and cook bullfrogs.

26 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

FROGGING CHECKLIST Gear:

» 2 headlamps, 1 handheld Q-Beam

» A mesh laundry bag

with a drawstring. (Attach a floating reflective key chain on the string in case it falls in the water.) » Water shoes

Team:

» Q-Beam man to shine lilght on the frogs

» Snatch-and-sack man to catch and bag the frogs

GO FOR IT Grab the frog barehanded — no gig needed. If you try to gig a frog that is floating, on grass or on an infirm surface, the gig will just push or poke holes in a frog you can’t recover. Check local laws for regulations on seasons and catch limitations.

CLEAN THE CATCH Nail the frog’s head to a tree or board, as if you were cleaning a catfish. Cut around the throat and back and peel. There’s some meat on the back and front legs, but not much. Cut the back legs off at the top of the hip with pruning shears. Ice them down.

COOK Frog meat looks a little like chicken, but has a slight fishy taste. It can be fried like a fish, broiled, grilled or cooked into a Cajun court bouillon (coo-bee-yon), a rich, spicy tomato-based soup.

THINKSTOCK

Minimalist Frogging

Walk slowly and quietly through the water. Light causes bullfrogs to freeze, so use high-powered lights like a Q-Beam, and someone can hold it to keep the light on the frog. This allows you, the catch man, to ease over, grab the frog, put him in the sack and cinch it up. Move too fast and the frog will sense you and jump.


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27


PEOPLE

15 POINTS!

Deer Tales

Recollections of key hunting scores

A

few of USA TODAY’s outdoorsmen shared some of their favorite and most unusual stories of deer hunting prowess. See whether you can beat these.

28 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

A PREHISTORIC WEAPON BAGS A HUGE WHITETAIL When the huge whitetail buck walked below his tree stand, Paul Gragg wasn’t sure he would be able to make the shot. Gragg was hunting in eastern Missouri in October last year with a prehistoric atlatl — a wooden throwing device that allows a skilled user to launch a 7-foot-long hunting dart with remarkable speed and power. “I’ve been hunting deer for 40 years, mostly with bows and muzzleloaders,” Gragg says. “No one had ever killed a deer in Missouri with an atlatl, so I thought it

would be interesting to try.” He ordered the device from Candor, N.Y.-based Thunderbird Atlatl, then set out to learn on his own how to use it. He used hay bales as targets and honed his throwing. Gragg, who lives in Defiance, Mo., the final home of frontiersman Daniel Boone, also just happens to be the state record holder for a nontypical buck taken by bow — a 16-pointer he shot in 2006 whose antlers measured out at 1745/8 inches. On that fateful day, Gragg climbed into a tree stand, »

PAUL GRAGG

Paul Gragg poses with the atlatl and throwing dart he used to take a 15-point buck.


PEOPLE

ran about 40 yards before it collapsed and died. Gragg says the jitters set in when he realized how big it was: a 15-pointer. “It’s kind of cool that you can hunt in Missouri the way prehistoric people did.” The atlatl, pronounced “AT-lat-ul,” was a popular worldwide hunting tool as far back as 30,000 years ago. Native Americans introduced the atlatl in North America about 12,000 years ago. The bow and arrow came later in history. The atlatl became a legal method for taking deer in Missouri during the 2010 firearms deer season. — Wes Johnson

30 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

22 A HUNTER WHO THOUGHT HE SCORED HIS BIGGEST BUCK Curtis Russell’s first chance at the big 22-point whitetail was disrupted before he could take the shot. “I saw it in a field with a group of six other deer, but a coyote came in and busted me — all the deer blew out,” he says, recalling his November hunt in Christian County, Mo. Russell came back the next day, looking for the deer with a huge rack on its head. Twenty minutes before sunset, he spotted it among a group of does and one small buck. The bigger whitetail used its antlers to keep the smaller male at a distance. “I did a 50-yard belly crawl to cut the distance and got to within 175 yards,” Russell says. “I was using a Remington 700 .30-06, and when I took the shot, it was a clean hit.” Now for the biggest surprise in Russell’s 26 years of deer hunting: The buck wasn’t a buck at all. It was an anomaly, a doe sporting a huge set of antlers. “It took me a minute looking at all

POINTS! the tell-tale signs, but it Curtis was missing Russell shot this male genita22-point lia,” Russell whitetail says. “Its face deer, which wasn’t like a turned out buck’s, it was to be a doe with real petite, antlers. and she had a great deal of fat on her. I’ve taken a lot of deer, but this had the biggest set of antlers, indeed.” Emily Flinn, a deer biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation, says Russell’s antlered doe was “definitely very rare,” as hunters in the state take 250,000 to 300,000 deer each year “and we only get a handful of antlered does.” A doe with antlers occurs because of a hormone imbalance with higher levels of male testosterone. Some antlered deer do turn out to be intersex, meaning they have both male and female sex organs. — Wes Johnson

SPRINGFIELD (MO.) NEWS-LEADER; CURTIS RUSSELL

positioned to intercept deer moving from their bedding area on a hill to feeding grounds. He was armed with the 7-foot hunting dart tipped with a twin-blade broadhead. He waited for the deer to move. The buck stepped about eight yards away, then swung its head to the right, as if it was going to lick its side. “When he did that, it exposed his vital area,” Gragg recalls. “I pulled back and extended my left arm, Outdoors then threw. It writer Wes hit him dead Johnson center, just throws an above the leg. atlatl dart during an My very first Outdoor thought was Days Mounhow easy that tain Man dart went in Rendezvous him.” event in Springfield, The deer Mo. jumped and


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18 POINTS! Duane Dyess of Walker, La., harvested this Lincoln County giant that grossscored over 170 inches.

32 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

THE RUT THAT PROVED FATAL FOR BEHEMOTH MOONSTRUCK BUCK Getting one of the highest gross-scoring bucks ever taken in Mississippi’s Lincoln County took a bit of time and a lucky break. “I’ve been getting pictures of him for four years,” recalls Rick Wright of Brookhaven, Miss. “I think he was 2½ (years old). ... He was, at that point, 120 inches,” a size a deer at his camp never reached. “The average deer is a 16-inch-wide eight-point.” The tricky thing was that while Wright had plenty of photos of the deer, they all were at night. Another camp member, Duane Dyess, of Walker, La., had pictures, too. “He was extremely nocturnal,” Wright says. That meant the buck, nicknamed “Flair,” kept out of hunters’ sights. “I didn’t think anyone was going to kill that deer,” Dyess says. “I figured I had a better chance of hitting him in the road

with my truck on the way home.” “I thought he would die of old age,” Wright adds. The buck’s nocturnal A game tendencies also camera allowed it time captures the to grow. By 2014, Lincoln County Wright says its buck known as “Flair” before rack had reached he broke off about 150 inches; several inches at the buck’s of tines. peak, it was carrying an estimated 180 inches of bone on its head. Dyess says when he got into the stand last October, his hopes weren’t very high. “It was like those does were trying to hide from the bucks.” Not long after, a doe came into the picture and the pace of the hunt picked up. “It all happened so fast,” Dyess says. “As soon as she went out, he popped up.” The buck was moving fast, and with only 30 yards to cover before the woods would hide him from hunters’ view, Dyess had little time to look and wasn’t sure he’d get a shot — until a near-miracle happened. “He actually ran across and stopped,” Dyess says. “He was looking away from me. I don’t know why he did that.” Dyess’ .30-06 did the rest. He knew he’d killed the deer, but he didn’t realize it was Flair until he went to retrieve it. “I guess it just took the right doe,” he says. Dyess’ buck had 18 points with 20-inch and 215/8-inch main beams. The inside spread was 19½ inches and it unofficially grossed 171¾ inches. However, had Dyess harvested the deer sooner, he could have scored higher. “Unfortunately, that deer had been fighting a lot,” Wright said. “He had broken three points. He would have easily gone 180.” — Brian Broom

RONNIE RIGDON/THE (JACKSON, MISS.) CLARION-LEDGER; THE (JACKSON, MISS.) CLARION-LEDGER

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Finding Fontinalis

search of the world’s anglers. “(Women) are a GET HOOKED largest brook trout. very large growing part For details on the The films have of fly fishing, but just stops and films, become so compelling, haven’t been in a lot of go to flyfilmtour. Powell says, that it is the films,” Powell says. com increasingly difficult to Fundraising proceeds keep the festival’s run time at just from each tour date support local two hours. stream cleanups, conservation “We try to make the best two efforts and habitat enhancement hours of what’s submitted, so it projects, topping $400,000 in the kind of becomes a complicated first few months of 2016. Rubik’s Cube,” he says. “There are And filmgoers can expect good probably five films last year that times when heading to one of the ... could have been in the tour, but more than 160 tour stops during we just ran out of time.” the film fest, no matter if they’re And things are evolving even in Big Sky, Mont., or Key West, Fla. more for the 2017 tour as two film“The fly fishing community makers were just awarded a grant comes around ... and it’s very by the festival to produce and social,” Powell says. “It’s very much submit films focused on female a party.”

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hat started as a fun idea centered on fish flicks and a few cold beers among friends in 2007 has grown to include more than 160 annual tour stops, hours of film submissions and a whole lot more people as the Fly Fishing Film Tour (F3T) marks 10 years on the road. “Brad Robertson and a handful of other filmmakers were making these really wonderful fly-fishing adventure films, but there was really no outlet for them,” says tour general manager Doug Powell, with Mayfly Media, which took over the festival from Warren Miller Entertainment in 2009. “It was his idea to start a gathering of fly fisherman and show these movies.” Initially, the films were strictly about the sport but Powell says the submissions evolved to include wonderfully produced movies and story lines. “It used to always be about the fish and the pursuit of whatever species they were going after,” Powell says. “Now the people are just as important.” One such film from the 2016 edition of F3T is Finding Fontinalis. Directed by Travis Lowe and filmed in Patagonia, it follows three anglers in


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SIGHT KUIU

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HIDE IN PLAIN

SIGHT

THE ART AND SCIENCE OF HUNTING CAMOUFLAGE AMOUFLAGE IS AS SYNONYMOUS WITH HUNTING

KUIU

as crisp fall leaves and alarm clocks buzzing at 5 a.m. Hunters of all ages hop out of bed when that alarm sounds and jump into the gear that simultaneously hides them from their prey and marks them as members of the clan. Even as they notice the changing styles and improving patterns, many hunters may not be aware of the technological precision and general science behind camouflage — or even its military beginnings. The word camouflage, which originates from the French word camoufler, “to disguise,” was first used to describe efforts by military forces to conceal equipment during World War I. Now, it’s the standard uniform of 13.7 million hunters across the country. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s “2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation” (the most recent available; the next one is

38 HUNTNAME & FISH XXXXXXXXXX | SUMMER/FALL 2016 4 MAG


underway), Americans spent $570.3 million on clothing for hunting — more than $600 million in 2016 dollars. With this amount of interest, camouflage designers and manufacturers are always looking to create new patterns that are stylish, comfortable and able to obscure any movement. But why, if studies show that deer are red-green colorblind and have limited color vision overall, is camouflage so necessary? It turns out that deer can distinguish tonal variation, which is why camo is an important part of any deer hunter’s arsenal. In fact, according to the Quality Deer Management Association, hunters should always avoid solid unbroken patterns, as well as very light colors, when in the field. While hunters could limit their color palette to greens, reds or oranges that would confuse deer, they also need camouflage patterns that break up their form for more concealment during the wait and should the hunter move during the shot.

missioned to create unique, yet realistic, patterns that incorporated natural elements observed by hunter/ entrepreneurs. One of them, Jim Crumley, developed techniques that many believe pioneered camouflage as we know it today. “In 1978, I started using gray work clothes and tiedying them in brown dye. Then I used a projector with 35mm slides that I took of the sides of trees and I projected that on these tie-dyed clothes,” says Crumley, who founded the first mainstream camouflage company for hunters in 1980. “With odorless markers, I drew in the lines of bark segments of

the tree so that the clothes looked like a tree trunk.” Word about Crumley’s handmade clothing spread, and he established the Trebark camouflage company, which was a forerunner in mainstreaming hunting clothing to the masses. Fast forward to 2016. Current camouflage is nothing like its initial »

HUMBLE BEGINNINGS The original camouflage prints for hunting were artistic renderings com-

39 5


HIDE IN PLAIN

SIGHT

counterpart. The move from colored pencils to computers — and the photorealism depicted in today’s clothing lines — occurred in the late 1990s. Today, computer applications such as Adobe Photoshop and InDesign, not to mention top-of-the-line digital photography, have propelled these original patterns into carefully calibrated mimicry and conceptual adaptation. “Good camo is all about the lights, the darks and the contrasts of colors that break up the human form,” says Larry Moore, director of

EXPERTS SAY TO: ■ Pick your pattern based on your terrain. Are you in forest or desert; are you north or south? ■ Look for realistic elements and natural colors.

VIAS, TOP, AND VERDE, RIGHT, PATTERNS: USED FOR WESTERN BIGGAME HUNTER SPOT-ANDSTALK HUNTING ACROSS ROCKY TERRAIN.

40 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

■ Look for contrasting tones (for example, lights and darks) for concealment. ■ Make sure the overall pattern breaks up your natural outline so you can move when necessary without spooking the animal. ■ Consider a macro pattern that breaks up your human form when you’re stationary.

research and development at Mossy Oak, an icon of the camouflage industry celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. “It doesn’t have to be photorealistic or abstract. It just has to be a mix of colors that break up the human form.” But it’s not as simple as you may think. “There’s a lot that goes into the blueprinting or the architecture of a pattern,” says Matt Richards, a specialist for big-game hunting apparel at Cabela’s. “We’ve developed patterns that are specifically for a region, researching what types of flora, primary types of trees, realistic components to incorporate into a mimicry pattern,” Richards says, unlike for abstract patterns that have greater applications for different »

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GOOD CAMO IS ALL ABOUT THE LIGHTS, THE DARKS AND THE CONTRASTS OF COLORS THAT BREAK UP THE HUMAN FORM.

environments. Mimicry patterns are designed by incorporating imagery inspired by sticks, moss and leaves into a pattern that allows a hunter to blend into his surroundings. Cabela’s Zonz line incorporates these elements. For Mossy Oak, it means improving upon historic patterns like the recently reissued Obsession for turkey hunters, and by breaking new ground with Mountain Country, a mimicry pattern aimed at Western hunters, which will be out next year. The new Realtree Xtra, best in fall, winter and early spring before things get green, “is a more broadbased all-purpose type pattern for us. It can really work well in all different terrains,” says Brad Schorr, senior vice president of licensing and sales for Realtree, another pioneering camouflage company. “MAX-5 is good for whitetail deer, and we’re bringing back our very first pattern this year, Realtree Original, which was the »

42 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

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DNA of Realtree from the very start.” But it’s not just about photorealism or mimicry. For mule deer hunters out West, for instance, KUIU has a different approach to the backcountry — and it’s not sticks, trees or limbs. “If you look at nature’s predators, whether it’s leopards, tigers or wild dogs, they all use contrast,” says Jason Hairston, the company’s founder. “They break up the profile using light and dark contrast. It’s surprisingly effective because it fools the eye.” KUIU offers two patterns geared toward the Western

44 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

big-game hunter spot-andstalk hunting across rocky terrain: Vias and Verde. Both feature a mottled abstract pattern of tans, grays, blacks, creams and (in Verde’s case) greens; both patterns are based upon distorting the human form through tonal variation, not photomimicry. Cabela’s Richards agrees there is a major difference between developing abstract patterns versus photorealistic ones. “When we look at an abstract pattern, we’re thinking about a broad application for many different types of environments,” he says. “We’re trying to target shapes, colors (and) distribution of contrast that will allow the end user to be more successful.” (This is the strategy behind Cabela’s new O2 Octane line, released earlier this year.) “Making camouflage specifically for hunting ungulates is not an exact science,” adds Shaun Ayers, director of product development at KUIU. “You can’t get a panel of deer together and ask them how we’re doing.”

While color and pattern are important, fabric also plays a major role. “People don’t understand how difficult it is to take essentially a picture and bring it to life on actual products,” says Richards. “Different types of fabrics take things differently. They reflect color differently.” Most camouflage is adhered to fabrics through heat transfer, which essentially embeds the pattern onto the material. Other methods include screen or roller printing, used on cottons or cotton-poly blends. “The improvement of printing capabilities through technology has had a positive impact on designing more effective camo,” says Bill Sugg, president of Mossy Oak. “You can create nature down to the exact ladybug on the leaf, and then you can print that.” So what’s next for camouflage? Maybe a cloak of invisibility? With the constant technological advances and digital development, you never know.

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efore I became a father of two young boys, I often scoffed at people claiming they had too much to do and not enough time — that even a 36-hour day wouldn’t offer reprieve. But now, I get it. Often, 24 hours aren’t enough to do what’s needed in a day and still have the time, energy or money to spend on adventure. Which is why finding the most bang for my buck — places that offer a mix of a little hunting with a little fishing with a little family time — are especially attractive. Zeroing in on an area for your experience might seem overwhelming. To help, here are a few hot spots in the Lower 48 where do-it-yourself enthusiasts, hunters, anglers and their families can maximize both time and money.

Duck hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon — it’s a fall ritual for many living around Devils Lake in North Dakota. While a lot of the best waterfowl property is held close by landowners or locked up in leases, hiring an outfitter that knows the lay of the land, migration corridors and effect of weather patterns can be a boon, especially on your first few visits to the area. When it comes to the fishing, however, bring or rent a boat and prepare for a fish fry. There are no slot limits on the lake and it holds the reputation among anglers as one of the best freshwater lakes in the U.S. for walleye and perch. The famous Perch Patrol Guide Service, which once ran the popular Perch Express for decades, now

provides lodging and guided ice fishing for out-of-town anglers willing to make the drive. The excitement is year-round; in April, fly angler Nathan Lafleur hooked, landed and released a possible state-record northern while just fishing from shore. North Dakota Game and Fish has a terrific online map showing the location of public land and opportunities on the water and throughout surrounding counties. But if you get your fill of hunting and fishing, or you’d like to spend a little more quality time with the family, Grahams Island State Park has amenities that make camping easy. Spirit Lake Casino & Resort offers something for the gambler, and there are golf courses, museums and bike trails all within easy reach.

Woodland Resort: woodlandresort.com

47


LABEL SPORTSMAN’S PARADISE

BLACK BELT, ALA. This is a swath of land just below the Appalachian foothills and above the Yellowhammer state’s coastal plain. Encompassing approximately 20 counties, it’s renowned for its hunting and fishing opportunities. One of the main draws is the excellent quail, dove, turkey and duck habitat. Visitors have the chance to participate in a traditional upland bird hunt, replete with English pointers and

mule-drawn wagons. But there are also lots of big whitetails and huge hogs. The region’s deep, dark, nutrient-rich soil helps big bucks pack on the pounds and antler mass, and, outside of deer season, some outfitters obtain permits to hunt hogs at night. That's a great option if you’d like to fish one of the area’s lakes for bass or crappie during the day, and work under spotlights after hours.

Alabama Black Belt Adventures: alabamablackbeltadventures.org; High Log Creek: highlogcreek.com

48 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

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LABEL SPORTSMAN’S PARADISE

GRAND JUNCTION, COLO. When it comes to hunting, it’s difficult for big-game hunters to beat Colorado. Robust animal populations, affordable and easy-to-acquire tags and licenses, plus more public land than can be covered in a lifetime are just a few reasons the region around Grand Junction ranks so high on sportsmen’s lists. Game management practices have kept elk, deer and antelope numbers high through the years. The state has also seen an increase in the moose population, which has attracted draw-only hunters.

High Lonesome Ranch: thehighlonesomeranch.com

50 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

Some of the area’s coveted hunting tags are available through limited draws, though there are several over-the-counter options for elk and similar species, if you decide late to hunt. If you also feel the need to wet a line, angling options include the famed Colorado River, countless Alpine lakes and dozens of high-plateau tributaries, including the Gunnison River. There are approximately 300 lakes and reservoirs alone in the neighboring Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison national forests.

Just pick up a few U.S. Geological Survey maps, plan a route, cinch up your backpack and camping gear and head out for a doit-yourself adventure. Or, if you’d like help organizing and executing a hunting, fishing or rafting endeavor the whole family can enjoy, there are dozens of lodges and outfitters in the area, including some that venture out on horseback. Several airlines service Grand Junction Regional Airport daily, or you can make the four-hour drive from either Salt Lake City or Denver.

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Considered a national treasure rich with both Native American and early American history, Pennsylvania’s Allegheny National Forest looks much the same way it did to frontiersmen — which may be one reason it is so popular with traditional muzzleloader hunters. Pennsylvania boasts one of the highest populations of hunters per capita in the Lower 48, and while the state still doesn’t allow hunting on Sundays, licenses are affordable. Depending on the season, hunters can find turkey, bear, deer and some of the best small squirrel and grouse hunting in the state. The forest is easy to reach from major metropolitan areas like Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, N.Y., and Toronto. Once there, you’ll find more than 800 square miles of land laced with roads and hiking trails, including a few of the increasingly popular Rails-to-Trails courses — unused railroad corridors transformed into public routes along rivers and through mountain drainages. There are campgrounds, RV parks and other accommodations fit for hikers and hunters. Anglers can find small streams to explore or locate a secluded stretch on bigger waters like the Allegheny or Clarion rivers. If you’re more comfortable in a boat, the 25-mile Allegheny Reservoir stretches into New York state and offers some great shots at muskie, walleyes, bronzebacks and pike. The Lodge at Glendorn: glendorn.com

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LABEL SPORTSMAN’S PARADISE

KETCHUM, IDAHO Top-notch skiing, abundant public land and water and both sporting and nonsporting activities for the family are just a few reasons the areas in and around Ketchum offer visitors experiences year-round. Positioned in the heart of some of Idaho’s most beautiful mountain terrain, the town is flanked by national forests, rivers and lakes, bike and hiking trails and public campgrounds. Here are some nearby standouts: The Sawtooth National Recreation Area and Boulder-White Cloud Wilderness are to the north. Numerous routes fork out from trailheads and forest service

Sun Valley Resort: sunvalley.com

54 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

roads — some following fishable tributaries — and lead to highmountain meadows and Alpine lakes where you can overnight or pit-stop on an elk bivy hunt. If you’re an angler, the Big Wood River and Silver Creek run south. Or, if you’re more adventurous, make the drive over the gravelly Trail Creek Road and explore water in the high-desert plateau of the Big Lost River drainage. It’s one of those rare places where sportsmen can archery hunt big game or fish for brown trout in the morning, shoot clays after lunch and even squeeze in a round of golf before enjoying dinner with the family.

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LABEL SPORTSMAN’S PARADISE

MOUNTAIN HOME, ARK.

Gaston’s White River Resort: gastons.com

56 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

hundreds of combined miles of shoreline to cruise along in Bull Shoals and Norfork lakes. The main attractions, however, are the tailwater rivers below the lakes. Considered by many to offer the best trout fishing in the country, the White and Norfork rivers consistently give up healthy, record-sized fish. It’s a great place if you’re hoping to get youngsters hooked on fishing. You can also shuffle them over to nearby Dry Run Creek — a river open only to anglers younger than 16 and anyone who is physically disabled.

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For decades, the hills of north-central Arkansas have been garnering the attention of hunters and anglers. Opportunities abound for big-game hunters looking for whitetail deer, and each spring, the forests erupt with the sound of gobbling turkeys. The hub of the region, Mountain Home, often ranks as one of the best places for sportsmen to live, and with more than 1 million acres of public land and almost 300 miles of trails in the Ozark National Forest alone, hunters should have no problem finding a place to rouse birds. For boaters or anglers, there are


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deer and elk. The Buffalo National River is a clear waterway, which makes it a great choice as a place to fish for bass, perch and catfish. Smallmouth bass rule the upper Buffalo River, but as you move downstream of Pruitt, you’ll also pick up Spotted and Largemouth Bass. Catfish can be found anywhere on the Buffalo River. Fishing from a canoe is, of course, a popular method; however, wade fishing can also be rewarding. Whether you are a dry or wet fly fisherman, pack your rod and enjoy the many fishing opportunities available here on the Buffalo National River!

Fishing the Ozark Mountain Region

If you haven’t fished the scenic Ozark Mountain Region, you are seriously missing out! Wit h

BULL SHOALS LAKE

a trophy Trout. The AGFC stocks hundreds of thousands of Rainbows and Browns in the White annually, and more than 90 percent of them are caught each year by anglers who come here from all corners of the globe. With 15 - 20 pound Trout being fairly common,

Set in the scenic Ozark Mountains of northern

the White River has produced several world

Arkansas and southern Missouri, Bull Shoals

and state records. Here you’ll find a series

Lake has hundreds of miles of lake arms and

of pools and shoals with overhanging trees,

coves perfect for fishing, almost 1,000 miles

tight turns, and gravel bottoms amid bluffs

of shoreline, and 60,000 acres of land. Bass-

and forests with thin layers of fog suspended

master Magazine selected Bull Shoals Lake

delicately above the river each morning. In

as one of the country’s Top 100 Bass Lakes

addition to Trout (Rainbow, Brown, or Cut-

for the past 5 years. Bass weighing up to 12

throat), the White River should satisfy any

pounds have been caught here. In addition to

angler with its assortment of Bass, Catfish

lunker Bass (Largemouth, Smallmouth, and

and Sunfish. Flyfishing is also extremely

Spotted), Bull Shoals boasts strong, active

popular on the White River during low water

populations of Walleye, Crappie, Trout (Lake

periods. Whatever your method, the White

and Rainbow), White Bass and Stripers, Cat-

River offers anglers an exciting world-class

fish, and the perennial favorite – Panfish.

fishing experience year-round!

Fishing is open all year with no closed season Shoals Lake than any other lake in the USA!

WHITE RIVER

BUFFALO NATIONAL RIVER

NORFORK LAKE With a 42-mile length of crystal-blue, pristine waters, over 550 miles of shoreline, and covering some 22,000 acres, Norfork Lake is an angler’s dream. Almost all varieties of fresh water game fish are found in this massive lake. A former world-record Brown Trout was taken from the river in 1988. A state-record 4-pound 12-ounce Brook Trout was caught in 2000. Bass, Walleye, Crappie, Bream, and Catfish all make their home here, which also contains one of the best Striped Bass fisheries in Arkansas. The lake is stocked annually, with Stripers over 40 pounds commonly taken by anglers. Many in the 30-pound class are caught every year. Shad are plentiful in Lake Norfork, so Stripers average 2.5 to 3 pounds of growth per year. Black bass fishing is at its best from September through May, and an increasingly popular sport on the lake is night fishing with lights for Crappie and White Bass. November is prime time to catch Crappie. Come fish the dream! ozarkmountainregion.com

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In the heart of the Ozarks, the Buffalo River

F O R W I T H A C O M B I N AT I O N OF PRIVATE AND S TATE

gained a national following of fishermen who

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flock to its waters to try their hand at hooking

viting gravel bars, towering limestone bluffs,

Below the Bull Shoals Lake Dam, the frigid waters of the majestic White River have

M ATCHI NG F U N D S .


LABEL

THE GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS

BY GARY GARTH

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

ARE NOT TO BE MISSED


Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

GARY GARTH:: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

T

Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Park officials estimate about 8 percent of the park’s 10 million annual visitors fish.

wo visitors emerge from the rhododendron, survey the landscape, consult in whispers and plan their approach. They are on the Middle Prong of Little River in a postcard-pretty slice of Great Smoky Mountains National Park known locally as Tremont. This particular pool is guarded by a downed tree. It is just downstream from a towering cascade that serves as a natural barrier separating the creek’s rainbow and brook trout populations. A few brook trout can be found below the cascade, but the waterfall prevents rainbows from moving up into restored brookie habitat. Rob Fightmaster, the owner and primary guide of Fightmaster Fly Fishing, and his fisherman study the pool for a full minute, which is a long time to watch water and not cast. The guide points, then raises his arm a few inches and points again. Trout. James Dotson, an engineer, steps into the stream knee-deep. He turns slightly to improve his footing and gets a better casting angle. Facing upstream, wielding an 8-foot fly rod, he makes a sidearm cast, then mends his line so the fly would float freely. A moment passes before the splash. Dotson sets the hook and for an electrifying instant, man and fish are connected. Then the line falls slack. He casts again, flips the rod tip to mend the line and waits. Another splash. This time the hook holds. After a spirited fight, Dotson brings a wild, 9-inch rainbow trout to hand. “This is my third year of fishing in the park,” he says. “I love it here. It’s one of the most beautiful places to be.” It’s easy to understand why. The 522,427-acre Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a woodland jewel, rising to a pinnacle of 6,643 feet above sea level, with 16 peaks above 6,000 feet, laced with some 2,900 miles of creeks and streams. Today, the park pulses with wonders and wildlife, thanks in

GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK COVERS

522,427 ACRES

HIGHEST PEAK

6,643 FEET

2,900 MILES OF CREEKS/ STREAMS

ABOUT

2,000 FISH PER MILE

59


“There’s really no bad place to fish in the Smokies.”

part to four decades of work restoring much of its brook habitat, work that, in some ways, has capped a long-term recovery. A century ago, the lush Great Smoky Mountains National Park landscape that visitors enjoy today did not exist. The land had been ravaged and with it most of the clear, cold, veinlike streams that — Daniel Drake, manager threaded this piece of the at Little River Outfitters Appalachian spine and harbored the region’s only native salmon: Southern Appalachian brook trout. “Prior to the development of the park, about two-thirds of what is currently Great Smoky Mountains National Park was completely clear-cut,” says park technician Caleb Abramson. “There was a lot of direct sunlight and a lot of erosion, so the brook trout lost about 75 percent of its native range.”

60 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

When the park was established June 15, 1937, wildlife restoration was not a linchpin of the management scheme. To improve the fishing, rainbow trout were brought in via rail from California. Those non-natives found the park’s highgradient, well-oxygenated waters to their liking. They picked up the moniker “California trout.” “Native species restoration wasn’t on everybody’s mind at that time,” Abramson explains. “The goal was to increase visitor enjoyment. The rainbow trout did well and took up the spaces where brook trout had been lost by logging.” A few native brook trout survived, but were confined to the park’s highest, most rugged ridges and slopes. Rainbow trout and later limited brown trout stockings continued until the 1970s, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service began evaluating brook trout within GSMNP. The Park Service decided that native species should be preserved and, in 1975, the handful of streams that still held brook trout were closed to fishing. All trout stockings stopped. The park’s native trout waters were identified and the labor-intensive restoration work began. Non-native species were removed above cascades and other natural barriers in historic brook trout waters, and

GARY GARTH

Brook trout have been restored to much of their native range throughout Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Most of the brookies are small — a 10inch fish would be a trophy.  


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TROUT, BEAUTIFUL AND ELUSIVE

a local guide. “We can show people where to go,” he says. “That’s easy. There’s really no bad place to fish in the Smokies. But the guides can show you how to catch fish.” It is estimated that park waters hold about 750 harbor brook, rainbow or brown trout. A few smallmouth and rock bass can be found in some of the lower streams. Estimates vary on how many of the park’s 10 million annual visitors fish. “It’s likely between 200,000 and 800,000, but my guess it’s closer to the higher number,” says Matt Kulp, a supervisory fisheries biologist for GSMNP for more than two decades. Kulp agrees that stealth is the key to fishing success. “These things are wild. They are attuned to what’s going on around them. If you put your fly in front of them they usually eat it, but they’re not going to eat it if you’ve already scared them.” Fishing in GSMNP is restricted to artificial flies or lures, single hook. No live or scented baits are allowed. The daily creel limit is five fish — any combination of brook, rainbow or brown trout or smallmouth bass. Anglers, however, have a negligible effect on fish numbers. Most trout are victims of floods or droughts, officials say. And annual natural fish mortality hovers between 55 percent and 70 percent. A 3-year-old Smoky Mountain trout is a

Estimates vary as to how many trout the park waters hold, but Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee/ the general consensus North Carolina. Open year-round, weather permitting. is upward of 2,000 fish per mile. ANNUAL lodging within Ten developed VISITORS: the park is campgrounds One thing everyone 10.7 million. LeConte with more than does agree on: Great America’s Lodge, atop 1,000 sites. Smoky Mountains most visited 6,593-foot Fees vary by National Park trout are national park LeConte amenities. (Grand Canyon Mountain and Reservations not pushovers. is second with accessible strongly Daniel Drake is about 5.5 only by foot. recommended. manager and part million). Open from late Backcountry owner of Little River March through camping Outfitters in Townsend, ENTRY FEE: mid-November. available. None. Reservations Commercial Tenn., one of the park’s required at lodging options gateway mountain LODGING: lecontelodge. abound outside towns. Drake probably The only com or the park. knows as much about commercial 865-429-5704. nps.gov/grsm fishing in GSMNP as anyone. He wants people to catch fish and is generous with advice. He’s also refreshingly honest.“It’s not easy fishing,” he says. senior citizen. “They’re all wild trout. Fishing up in the park can be difficult “We encourage catch-and-release, but we don’t discourage until you get it figured out.” keeping fish,” Kulp says. “Fishermen aren’t going to put a Drake doesn’t guide but is a skilled angler. dent in what’s out there.” “Presentation is really more important than fly patterns or Fishing can also offer visitors some solitude — a rare really anything else,” he says. “Try to stay out of the water as commodity in America’s most popular national park. much as possible. You want to make short, accurate casts.” “If a person is willing to put a little sweat equity into it, He also suggests first-time anglers and those even on the busiest days of the year you can find a place inexperienced with the challenges of park waters work with where nobody is fishing,” Abramson says.

IF YOU GO

62 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

GARY GARTH

some of the native fish still swimming in the park were transplanted into those areas. Abramson says brookie populations have been restored in 27.6 miles of 11 streams, and additional work is planned on 2 miles of Anthony Creek. Still, most of the park’s trout waters hold rainbows, naturally reproducing descendants of early stockers and fish that are now part of the landscape and welcomed.


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AARON JOHNSON

EXCLUSIVE TOUR & INTERVIEW WITH BASS PRO FOUNDER


WONDERS OF WILDLIFE NATIONAL MUSEUM AND AQUARIUM PROMISES TO AMAZE ALL BY WES JOHNSON

Realistic exhibits fill the new Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium.

ive largemouth bass weighing 10 pounds or more cruise by in the clear water. A slab-sided 12-pounder rolls its eyes as it swings by for a look. A bass angler just might be tempted to pitch a black Hula Popper or Alabama rig into this pond. But these lunker bass lurk behind a glass-walled enclosure filled with stripers, wipers, fat paddlefish and catfish at the new Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and

65


Aquarium in Springfield, Mo. The bass join more than 35,000 live saltwater and freshwater fish from around the world — including game fish like silver-sided tarpon, rainbow trout, bonefish, permit and barracuda, as well as dozens of live animals — showcased under a dynamic 315,000-square-foot complex that’s taken nearly nine years to build. It’s a more than $100 million project mostly bankrolled by Bass

66 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

“To be able to be aligned with these different organizations, I think they’ll help keep our storyline ever changing, so that hopefully, in a kind of exciting way, we’ll graphically showcase conservation successes for many years,” Morris says. In one hall, the International Game Fish Association’s mounted display of every fish in its record books graces a towering wall, but it’s not just fish that will lure visitors to the heart of the Missouri Ozarks. The new Wonders of Wildlife facility displays mounted animals from the African plains; goats and sheep from the mountains of the world; and wolves, musk ox and polar bears from the arctic. Another highlight is the famed National Collection of Heads and Horns exhibit, which

WONDERS OF WILDLIFE NATIONAL MUSEUM AND AQUARIUM

Don’t forget to look up: More than 35,000 species of fish thrive in the museum’s aquariums.

Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris, who expanded the original Wonders of Wildlife building into a national tourism draw adjacent to his Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World store — the original store in his outdoor empire. The renovated wonder is set to open this fall. To help spread the message about the world’s fish and wildlife, Morris partnered with more than 25 leading conservation organizations, including Ducks Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation, International Game Fish Association, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Missouri Department of Conservation and the Boone and Crockett Club. (He adds that he expects to announce “very soon” that the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame is relocating there as well.)


D O N’T

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS (3); WONDERS OF WILDLIFE NATIONAL MUSEUM AND AQUARIUM

MISS

ALTHOUGH NOT PART of the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium, there are two additional — and free — exhibits at the Bass Pro Shops flagship store that outdoor-oriented folks, especially hunters, might enjoy. On the upper level is the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum, featuring nearly 1,000 guns worth more than $20 million from the 1600s to modern day. Among them: Outlaw Jesse James’ .45-caliber Smith & Wesson Schofield revolver, President Teddy Roosevelt’s double-barrel hunting rifle, Annie Oakley’s double-barrel Parker shotgun and Napoleon’s circa-1800 double-barrel sporting flintlock. Film-famous firearms used by actors John Wayne (a shortened Winchester 1890s lever rifle from Stagecoach) and Tom Selleck (a Shiloh Sharps Long Range rifle from Quigley Down Under) are but a few of their kind on display. If archery is more your scene, on the same floor at the store is the Archery Hall of Fame and Museum, with nearly 1,500 primitive and modern bow and arrow artifacts. Among them are a wooden bow and quiver made by Apache chief Geronimo while he was held captive in Florida, and one of the first compound bow prototypes built in the early 1960s that altered the archery world. —Wes Johnson

Mounted displays capture animals mid-scene, like these polar bears fighting over a meal.

was first presented to the public at the Bronx Zoo in 1922. Back then, the mounted animals showed crowds what big-game animals looked like before they became extinct — as many feared — because of human influence and habitat loss. An homage to President Teddy Roosevelt, a big-game hunter and early leading voice for conservation, also has a presence. The museum recreated Roosevelt’s hunting cabin for visitors to explore. They can also touch legendary outdoor writer Zane Grey’s deep-sea fishing boat Avalon — the very boat he used in 1930 in Tahiti to land a 1,040 pound Pacific blue marlin — the first rod-and-reel marlin grander. Nearby is Playmate, one of writer Ernest Hemingway’s famous fishing boats, and Tracker, Morris’ own deepsea boat — set in a dynamic life-size diorama showing an angler battling a leaping blue marlin. In addition to the “wow factor” of the exhibits, Morris hopes visitors

MORRIS HOPES VISITORS WILL GAIN AN APPRECIATION FOR HOW CONSERVAITON EFFORTS ... ARE HELPING PRESERVE WILDLIFE HABITATS. will gain an appreciation for how conservation efforts — largely funded by taxes and donations from sportsmen and women — are helping preserve wildlife habitats and keeping many species from becoming extinct. “What we want to do with the facility is inspire people on how wonderful and great the outdoors really is, and to remind people of our incredible hunting and fishing heritage,” Morris says. “And especially, most of all, the role that sportsmen and sportswomen have played over many years of conservation.”

67


He hopes the exhibits inspire people to explore more. “Young people commonly spend as much as 50 hours a week on electronic devices and are just getting further and further removed (from the outdoors),” Morris says. To encourage more exploration, the museum features a mile-long walking tour through the air-conditioned complex. Visitors can start the journey exploring aquariums that display the oceans and fresh waterways of the world. In a gigantic circular saltwater tank above, pelagic ocean fish swim endlessly against a man-made current.

68 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

A blackfin tuna zips past like a fat, football-shaped torpedo. Deep-sea anglers will likely recognize the hard-fighting and delicious mahi mahi. A Morris favorite is the exhibit paying tribute to the Great Barrier Reef, where giant Maori wrasse and potato cod thrive behind a towering aquarium window 31 feet tall and 28 feet wide. Gulf coast anglers who fish the oil rigs and drop-offs might have had a chance to battle powerful Goliath groupers. At one of the aquariums, visitors can watch a Goliath grouper weighing more than 200 pounds glide effortlessly

through the waters. And there are sharks — lots of them. Look for the 9-foot sand tiger shark sporting a mouthful of ragged-looking teeth. For those feeling brave, the museum is working on a plan to allow visitors to don scuba gear and slip in the water with some sharks. The trail leads to the South American section, where the young or spry in the group can climb into the three

Evident throughout are reminders of the fishing and hunting heritage.

WONDERS OF WILDLIFE NATIONAL MUSEUM AND AQUARIUM

One of the museum’s goals is to showcase the importance of conservation.


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315,000 SQUARE FEET THE SIZE OF THE COMPLEX, WHICH HAS TAKEN NEARLY A DECADE TO COMPLETE

copperhead might slither beneath. Move on to the King of Bucks hallway and see the famous “Missouri Monarch,” whose 11-pound antlers scored 3337/8 on the Boone and Crockett trophy list. The 44-pointer deer was found dead, apparently of natural causes, by a hunter in 1981. The rack broke the previous nontypical whitetail record of 286 points for a Texas deer, in place since 1892. In Great African Hall, many big species are represented: warthogs and wildebeests, giraffes and

JOHNNY MORRIS BASS PRO FOUNDER

FRUSTRATED BY THE LACK OF fishing equipment

available, Johnny Morris started selling gear at his father’s liquor store in Springfield, Mo., in 1971. His approach struck gold with fellow anglers and the company he founded, Bass Pro Shops, now has stores and Tracker Marine Centers in 98 locations across the U.S. and Canada. While keeping his company private, Morris’ personal fortune was worth $4.3 billion in 2016, according to Forbes magazine. One of his biggest projects has been transforming the old Wonders of Wildlife building in Springfield, which closed in 2007 because of dwindling patronage, into the new Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium, which opens this fall. We talked with Morris in June.

70 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

What are some favorite childhood memories about enjoying the outdoors? Morris: Just going float fishing here in the Ozarks with my dad and my mom, and setting up tent camps on the gravel bars … (and) going down below the pothole at Forsyth, below that dam there, and camping down there on Swan Creek. … Hearing whip-poor-wills, cooking out on a campfire. It gets in your blood. Share a story about a favorite firearm. It’s up there in the NRA museum (at the Bass Pro Shops store in Springfield). My dad on my 21st birthday gave me his old Browning Sweet 16. My dad, he loved quail hunting. He was a

crack shot. At the end of the barrel he had white medical tape to help him get on the birds. The other end of the stock was taped up with black electrician’s tape. But it had developed a hair trigger and he quit using it and he really didn’t want me shooting it, so I just hung onto it. … I’m a lousy shot. I have a dominant left eye. What are the highlights of the new museum and aquarium? To have something on a scale approaching the Museum of Natural History right here in Springfield, where half the population of the U.S. lives within a day’s drive. … It will be like one destination where people

(who) are really passionate about hunting or fishing can come and not just see these exhibits, but see so many artifacts, so many rich pieces of history and trophy-sized fish and game that have been harvested. … I think the difference here than many other aquariums and museums is it’s really going to be more about saluting — and not be ashamed about it but proud of it — to salute hunters and anglers and the role they played in conservation. — Wes Johnson

COURTESY OF BASS PRO

Q&A

clear domed portals of the piranha tank. Take advantage of the photo op of grinning kids posing with piranhas swimming around their heads. It’s just one of eight aquariums that feature immersive displays that encourage personal interaction. In the Cypress Swamp and Wetlands portion, take in the bevy of living wildlife — alligators, otters, black bears, bats, owls and even a bald eagle. Be sure to look down while standing on the glass-encased opening of the trail — a venomous


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— JOHNNY MORRIS, BASS PRO FOUNDER

72 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

lions, aardvarks and African wild dogs, even a herd of Cape buffalo and a rare white rhino. At the dimly lit Africa After Dark diorama, taxidermied lions creep up on a safari camp, natural scents spray in the air and sounds of the African night echo. Then off to the cold arctic, where musk ox appear to battle wolves and massive polar bears stalk seals on an ice floe. Around the corner, wild sheep and goats from around the world — some sporting world-record racks — balance on mountain cliffs. Hunters take note: There is a desert bighorn ram (nicknamed Old Chiphorn) that was taken by Art Dubs in Arizona. A record at the time

Designed to encourage exploration, the museum’s interactive displays beckon young and old alike.

it was taken in 1988, it scored 1985/8 points, six points higher than the previous world record. Although it has taken a while to build and refine, the museum and aquarium is set to open this fall. Ticket prices will vary and there will be a number of ways to gain entrance, including daily passes and annual museum memberships. Keep up with the latest information about the grand opening at wondersofwildlife.org.

WONDERS OF WILDLIFE NATIONAL MUSEUM AND AQUARIUM

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74 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

DANA THOMPSON

Sean Sherman, left, and Maizie White, 12, at an Indigenous Farm Conference in Detroit Lakes, Minn., in March.


ORIGINAL AMERICAN FISH AND GAME COOKS RECLAIM ALL-BUT-LOST WAYS OF LIFE BY JED PORTMAN

or generations, tens of thousands of years of Native American tradition were withering away in bleak boarding schools and on sterile patches of reservation land, where anemic rations replaced native harvests of elk and venison. Some culinary traditions assimilated early on: Grits, succotash and cornbread are all examples of popular American dishes with pre-European pedigrees. Many more were smoldering into obscurity along with hundreds of languages and religions when a new generation of chefs organized behind a difficult but not impossible mission: to rescue endangered ways of life for populations plagued by poverty, diabetes and heart disease — with help from native fish, game and forage. “In the boarding schools, the motto was ‘Kill

the Indian, save the man,’” says Arlie Doxtator, a chef from the Oneida Nation in Wisconsin. “They almost did it, too, but they failed.” Doxtator and his colleagues are proving that American Indian cookery isn’t dead or lost to half-baked approximations like bison meatloaf or reservation staples like fry bread. “Our food systems never went anywhere, but people did get shuffled around and knowledge did get lost,” says Lakota chef Sean Sherman, who grew up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. “I decided years ago that I wanted to make food that felt native, but it wasn’t like there was a ‘Joy of Native American Cooking.’” To find inspiration, he paged through centuries-old travelogues and traveled the continent. Today, Sherman teaches cooking classes at reservations across the country. He wrote

75


the menu for the popular Minneapolis snacking, according to Craig. In patience. “To me, traditional cooking is restaurant-on-wheels Tatanka Truck, Apache country, it’s also a base for long, slow cooking,” Craig says. using only pre-European ingredients. months of meals. “We make different Sherman agrees. For the Tatanka Apache-Navajo chef Nephi Craig of kinds of stews with jerky, vegetables Truck, he simmers fist-sized hunks of the Sunrise Park Resort in Greer, Ariz., and seeds,” he says. Just a few hours bison with cedar branches and maple lives in the same mountains from the Mexican border, sugar for up to 18 hours at a time. where his ancestors chased Apache cooks also pound “I like to add just a few powerful elk and hooked trout — and rehydrate jerky as a seasonings to game, like cedar, and where his friends tamale filling. rosehips or bergamot,” Sherman says. and family still do. In Wisconsin, “Then I let those flavors slowly seep “There’s a percepDoxtator adds smoked in.” He uses an oven, but the technique tion that Apache turkey to his version has deep cultural grounding: For culture is set in of a traditional corn centuries, indigenous cooks have been one period of time,” soup. But when he slow-cooking both over hot rocks and coals and in just-simmering water. he says, “like we’re preserves his meat, he “They’d drop rocks into their water either traditional or actually leaves out one to heat it,” Sherman says. “It wouldn’t contemporary. I feel like very common ingredient: ever come to its boiling point.” At an we’ve never stopped evolving salt. His reasoning is groundevent last fall, a hunter brought him ed in tribal tradition. “We or adapting.” There was just a 14 venison hearts. He stewed them the Lotinishoni, Iroquois people, time, he adds, when survival was the most important same way, with spruce, wild bergamot didn’t use salt — not manuthing. “Even in the ’60s and and maple. factured or man-harvested ’70s, we weren’t allowed to Now, Sherman is crowdsourcing Oneida Nation, salts. Everything contains funding for a brick-and-mortar gather in groups and practice an amount of sodium, the Wisconsin restaurant in Minneapolis. Eventually, our ceremonies. Now, it’s safe amount we need.” Important he hopes to open satellite locations on for us to focus on things like as salt is to so many modernreservations plagued by commodity education, health and revitalizing our day cooks, Doxtator maintains that diets heavy in sugar and white flour. culture.” Promoting a cornucopia of smoked meats taste better without it. Doxtator recently left the kitchen for a healthy ancestral ingredients is how Smoking isn’t the only slow-cooking year to work in a tribal museum. He’s he does all three. method popular in native communialso learning the Oneida language and ties past and present. “When I think So what lessons do these working with Craig as a member of about Apache flavors, I think about the Native American Culinary chefs have for hunters and fire, smoke and chiles,” Craig Association, which the says, and that includes fishermen? For starters, be responsible. “You Apache chef founded in the local practice of 2003. read the accounts of European pit barbecuing. It’s a With time, the explorers who said they could almost year-round method, trio might be able to cross rivers on the backs of our fish,” but in the fall and carve out a foothold says Doxtator, whose Oneida anceswinter it’s most for generations of tors lived in present-day New York. often game going indigenous cooks “Now, we’re literally praying for our into 5-foot-deep pits to come, using tools fish relatives not to leave — not to go lined with fire-resistant refined over millennia on extinct. We need to have that spirit of lava rocks. Native pit the plains and riverbanks of thankfulness to each of our relatives masters heat the rocks with this country. — with paw, fur or scales.” overnight fires before clearing “We’ve lost so much as naPart of that obligation means makout the flames to make room tive communities,” Sherman ing sure a harvest lasts longer than for burlap-swaddled animals. says. a post-hunt feast. Historically, native Covered with more burlap and “A lot of it, though, is still cooks from coast to coast made the buried, they slow-roast for Apache-Navajo, attainable today. It’s just going most of their meat by smoking and eight to 12 hours. Greer, Ariz. to take more questions and sun-drying it. Like sun-dried jerky, more work.” Jerky is good for more than just underground cookery takes

Nephi Craig

76 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

COURTESY OF NEPHI CRAIG

Arlie Doxtator


The Tatanka Truck in front of the Minneapolis American Indian Center in Minneapolis.

CEDAR-STEWED BISON From Sean Sherman, The Sioux Chef

SEAN SHERMAN

F

eel free to substitute venison, elk or any other red meat for the bison in this recipe. Use the shredded meat for tacos, salads and sandwiches. Preheat the oven to 185 degrees or its lowest setting. Season bison with salt. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat until lightly smoking. Add bison and brown evenly. Then add water, maple syrup, corn and cedar and cover with a heavy lid or aluminum foil. Braise in the oven for 12 hours or until meat is falling apart.

5 lb. bison chuck or other roast, cut into fist-sized chunks 2 tsp. sea salt 2 T. sunflower oil 3 quarts water, or just enough to cover ž cup maple syrup 1 cob corn, cut into 1-inch rounds 1 handful cedar sprigs

Sean Sherman Lakota, Minneapolis

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HUNTING

Sometimes it takes a while, but the wait is worth it BY BRUCE INGRAM

80 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

BRUCE INGRAM

FIRST KILL

“I

While on a s deer in his mission. We set up in hunt with movement a mountain hollow that had the author, over for become a favorite haunt of Mike Moser the mornmine ever since I bought the of Botetourt County, Va., ing?” asks land. examines his 32-year-old Mike Moser, Seconds after I persuaded trophy. a fellow teacher at Lord him to practice more Botetourt High School in patience, two doe emerged Daleville, Va. from a clear-cut just 100 yards away. “Let’s wait a little longer, Mike. You “Ease up your rifle and put the never know when a deer might come scope on the closer deer,” I whisper. by,” I reply. “Wait until she’s not moving and It was 9:45 a.m. one Saturday broadside.” last November, and for more than a A minute or so later the lead month I had mentored Mike on how whitetail paused. Mike fired, and to become a deer hunter. Early bow shortly afterwards, we stood over the season had come and gone without mature doe. Mike trembled from the Mike having a chance to tag his first joy, tension and relief of the entire whitetail, and we had hoped that experience — as did I. I enjoyed the with the general firearms season and successful deer season, but the bigthe rut occurring simultaneously, my ger thrill was witnessing my friend fellow educator would be successful kill his first whitetail.


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Ocracoke, an English setter, is on the lookout for grouse in North Carolina.

FIRST BIRD Man’s best friend on the hunt BY TOM KEER

82 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

ANGELA KEER

O

cracoke arrived as a tricolor setter pup from good cover dog stock. Her daddy was Crackling Tail Blue, her momma was Zipper’s Sassy Girl, and she had the snappy footwork from her field trial lineage. She was all hunt, but as the runt of the litter she had a softer attitude than her siblings. I was easier on her than I am with other dogs. She took to training like bees to honey, so much so that I champed at the bit for opening day. My expectations were low. All I wanted was one solid point followed by a clean kill so Ocracoke could see the bird fall. Pouring rain and stiff wind made for jumpy birds, so much so that Ocracoke busted 17 woodcock in a row. I staunched her after every bump by returning her to the flush point, raising her head and tail, combing the fur on her back against the grain and repeating the “whoa” command. Our opening day was a mess. Then she pointed near a raspberry bush. Her head was high. Her tail was straight, and when the bird flushed she didn’t budge. I shot and we watched the bird fall to the ground. Birds make a bird dog, and Ocracoke has been my best hunting buddy ever since.


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DEER TRACKS High-tech scouting for whitetail success BY SHANE TOWNSEND

84 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

S

couting is crucial for deer hunting. But most of us get little time in the woods, so we want to scout smart, learn fast and hunt hard. Aerial photos, satellite images and topo maps can help us decide where to start the hunt — and thanks to Wi-Fi, we can start scouting remotely any time, from most anywhere. Aerial views show features on Earth’s surface: ground cover, roads, water, forest, fields. Topo maps show the shape underneath the surface,

plus elevation features such as ridges, saddles and draws. The interaction of these layers — terrain and cover — influences how deer move. If we know what to look for, high-tech tools and old-school knowledge can help us cross paths. “Find a deer’s route between his bed and his food,” says Ben Harshyne, founder of Hunterra, a high-tech custom mapping service for hunters, “and get there before he does.” Here are features to look for and how to find them:

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HUNTING 1. INSIDE CORNERS Imagine yourself standing at home plate, protected by the fence and backstop behind you with the field before you. Deer use inside corners to watch for other deer and predators.

Bird’s-Eye View: Satellite Images and Aerial Photography Use aerial views, available from Google Earth, Bing Maps and others, to find these seven surface features:

2. TRAILS AND CROSSINGS Deer are creatures of hoof and habit — both of which cut trails into the landscape. Zoom in on fence lines, open fields and S-curves in creeks to find trails and habitual crossings.

2

1

3. HABITAT TRANSITIONS Deer walk edges. Famed conservationist Aldo Leopold observed that wildlife diversity and density are greatest here. To spot transitions, look for shifts in patterns, colors or textures. Look for fence rows, field edges or transitions between hardwood forest and pine plantation.

3

4. ROADS Roads control access to land. Most hunters stay within a mile of a road; go deep to avoid competition. Roads show as light-colored lines.

5. WATER Deer like water. Ponds, lakes and rivers are easy to spot. A creek may only show as a thin line of trees snaking through farmland. A bridge confirms the creek.

4

5

6

6. FOOD Farmland and orchards feed deer. Agricultural fields stand out as big, treeless areas. Orchards have no understory and are more open and evenly spaced than forest. In drought, pay special attention food and water sources.

7

Pinch points confine deer traffic. Look for an hourglass-shaped forest on a background of farmland. As deer move from the top of the hourglass to the bottom, they are funneled through a narrow strip of cover — a pinch point.

86 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

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HUNTING 1. HILLS

Lay of the Land: Topo Maps

Hills are points of high ground that offer safe, dry views of the areas below. They are shown by contour lines in concentric circles.

On topo maps, contour lines represent Earth’s features in two dimensions. Topo maps are not new, but the Web makes them more accessible than ever. Use them to find eight terrain features:

2. VALLEYS Valleys are large, long areas of low, level ground with high ground on each side and may have the only water on a property. They are indicated by contour lines forming a U-shape.

1

2

3. SADDLES Saddles are breaks in a ridgeline. These narrow, lower spots offer the easiest path for deer crossing the ridge. A saddle appears as an hourglass of contour lines.

4. RIDGES AND LINES Ridges are lines of high ground that offer low-resistance travel routes and good views. During rut, bucks run ridges looking for mates. Ridges appear as parallel lines.

3 SADDLE

SADDLE

5. DEPRESSIONS Depressions are low areas that can act as deer highways across fields, especially when crops are in the ground. Scope out large flat areas to find depressions. On the map, they may appear as concentric closed contours with the lowest elevation on the innermost circles.

4

RIDGE

RIDGE

5

6. SPURS Spurs are small ridges shooting out from a large ridge that offer safe bedding areas. They appear as high ground between parallel draws on the side of a ridge, and are marked similarly to ridges.

DEPRESSION

7. DRAWS

8. CLIFFS OR BLUFFS Steep drops in terrain; deer bypass them by using gentler terrain on either side. They are shown by many contour lines converging into tightly grouped lines.

88 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

7

6 SPUR

8 DRAW

CLIFF

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Draws are tiny valleys between two spurs. Confined to narrow spaces, deer often cross at the tightest area near the ridge top. Draws show as contour lines in a V-shape with the point toward the ridge top.


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HUNTING

TREE TACTICS

Deer tracking tips from up high The author with an early season bow deer that he arrowed while hunting from a tree stand.

90 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

C

STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRUCE INGRAM

ome early autumn across much of the U.S., bowhunters tracking deer will take to the woods, followed closely by hunters with rifles. Many, if not most, of these individuals will spend much of their time aloft in tree stands. Here are some expert tips to maximize your time off the ground.


LEARN FROM THE EXPERTS For more information, go to tmastands.com, or check with your state fish and wildlife service.

Betty Honse of Fincastle, Va., makes note of where deer are funneling through a narrow opening to reach a field. Such openings make good sites for tree stands.

» FUNNELS OVER FOOD?

» FOOD OVER FUNNELS?

» SCOUTING IS KEY

Sherry Crumley, a board member of the National Wild Turkey Federation, is an avid deer hunter. She positions stands in funnels where the terrain “necks down,” forcing whitetails within range. “Sooner or later many days, deer will move from food to bedding areas or the reverse,” she says. “They usually move through funnels, and that’s where I’ll be in a stand. If there are acorns dropping within those funnels, then you have the ideal situation — food in a funnel.”

Her husband, Jim Crumley, often considered the father of modern-day camouflage with his Trebark brand, acknowledges that these deer conduits have their charms, but that food sources often trump funnels. “Find the hot food source, and you’ve often found the deer,” he says. “In some areas of the country, soybeans might be the ticket, other places corn, and just about everywhere deer live, acorns are common. Know what foods your local deer are eating ... and set up nearby if possible.”

That last statement is key, Jim says. “A month or so before the bow season starts, I begin scouting,” he says. “I’ll take binoculars and scan the white and red oak tree species, and determine which varieties and which trees are producing acorns. “I’ll also visit soft-mast food sources (apples, grapes and crab apples are common ones) as well as openings and agricultural areas in places. ... I’ll learn where deer will likely be on opening day and the opening weeks.” »

91


HUNTING

Betty and Jay Honse discuss the merits of a tree stand that has been placed near a food source. Hunters often have to choose whether food or funnels are the best places to position a stand.

» HOW HIGH IS UP? Sherry believes 10 feet or so off the ground is high enough for a tree stand. “If I go higher than that, my stomach goes wacko,” she concedes. “Besides, if you wait for the deer’s head to go behind a tree or to be occupied with feeding, you don’t have to go up so high.” If heights make you nervous, choose a lower stand in a spot filled with limbs and leaves that will break up your silhouette.

» MAYBE A LITTLE HIGHER Jim likes greater heights. “I believe 15 to 20 feet is about right,” he says. “You have much less chance to be spotted or scented at that height range than you do below it. Deer have an incredible sense of smell, and they also can pick up movement and shapes.”

» DON’T GO TOO HIGH Jim notes that stands positioned 20 feet or higher can be problematic. “At extreme heights, it’s much

92 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

more difficult for an arrow to pierce both lungs,” he says. “What is gained by our being less likely to be scented or spotted is lost by the increased difficulty of the shot angle.”

» PRACTICE SCENT CONTROL AFIELD

Nick Andrews, vice president of marketing at ScentLok, emphasizes that hunters in a stand have a greater chance of being detected than their earthbound brethren because scent is more easily dispersed — and can carry farther — when we are aloft. “Tree-stand hunters have two scent-control options,” he says. “They can spray themselves with a product, which is a good temporary fix, but not a long lasting one. Or they can wear a garment like one of ours (with carbon alloy technology built in) that absorbs human odor and gives them a better chance to beat a whitetail’s nose.”

» SCENT CONTROL BEGINS AT HOME

Andrews also emphasizes

that hunters should begin their scent-control regimen at home. “Many companies, including ours, recommend bathing in a scent-neutralizing soap and shampoo, storing clothes and gear in an airtight bag or container and then, for hunters, not putting on their clothes and hunting gear until they leave their vehicle.” Personally, Andrews says, he doesn’t don his hunting clothes until he is well away from a vehicle.

» CALL THEM IN! Will Primos, founder of Primos Hunting, says the pre-rut can result in the most dramatic and intense reaction from calling. “Start with three bleats from The Primos Can, which produces a doe-in-estrus call,” he says of his own product. “Then follow five seconds later with four short grunts, followed 10 seconds later with two snort wheezes.” Five seconds later, Primos emits some intense grunts on his own and adds that this calling sequence tells any buck within hearing that a hot doe has a buck with her and the buck is being challenged by another buck. — BRUCE INGRAM has written five books on river smallmouth fishing. His latest, Living the Locavore Lifestyle, is how to fish, hunt, and gather the food we eat.


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HUNTING

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THINKSTOCK

gain that big, old, savvy bird came within about 35 yards and hung up. It was the third time I was able to coax the long beard into that proximity, and every time, he would stick and crane his neck looking for the seductive hen he had been hearing. There was nothing obstructing his view and he knew he should now see her. I tried again, but his gobbles were getting fainter as his survival instincts guided him away, over the ridge. I had struck out. Normally when turkey hunting, 35 yards is getting close to a sure thing, but this day I was using an underhammer 20-gauge muzzleloader of my own making. I had spent hours at the range with bags of different

94 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016


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The author pictured with his 25-pounder.

96 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

shot sizes, flasks of black powder, pattern sheets and a chronograph. I came up with a formula that gave me confidence at about 25 to 30 yards. My method had already proven successful when hunting mature birds taken at 19 and 25 yards. Beyond that, I wasn’t going to take the chance. But the hunt wasn’t over yet. I was looking around for better cover when I heard what I thought was a gobble. I let a couple of single-syllable yelps out with my box call. Sure enough, a turkey answered, but from a long distance away. Then he gobbled again at half the

distance. This bird was hot and I had to set up quick. Trying a different strategy, I backed up against a big bull pine and had a juniper hump in front of me. I couldn’t see beyond 25 yards. When I called again, he responded immediately. Resting my barrel over my knee, I pointed at a deer path that cut through the juniper, the path of least resistance. After the black powder smoke cleared, I walked seven steps to pick up my 25-pound gobbler. Often decoys can help to get around the bird’s strong senses of sight and hearing, especially where terrain is flat or in areas with a large population of

TOOLS No matter what you hunt with, know its ability. Modern turkey guns, old guns, muzzleloaders, etc., differ in how effective they are at various distances. This means time at the range. With today’s hightech turkey guns, it’s best to try different ammo with a variety of choke constrictions on pattern sheets.

THINKSTOCX; COURTESY OF LARS JACOB

To get around the bird’s strong senses of sight and hearing, decoys can help where terrain is flat or in areas with a large population of turkeys.

turkeys moving through natural funnels like bar ways or river bottoms. But in heavily forested and hilly areas, such as where I was hunting in the Green Mountains of Vermont, decoys are hard for the bird to see and mobility is a must to be successful. Even when I hunt flatter terrain, such as the scrub country of South Texas, I use a “cutt & run” method. The three most important tools are the use of terrain, your ears and patience.


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There are many calls on the market, but the most important are your finishing calls. These require the most attention.

The information printed on your box of shells or low pressure loads for your old shotgun can also tell you a lot about your weapon.

TERRAIN Once you know the effective range of your shotgun, it will be easier to determine how to use the terrain to your advantage. Humps, dips, stone walls, deadfalls, thick slash and hedges all make great obstacles to put between you and the boss gobbler. Make sure these barriers are inside of your shotgun’s range and determine the easiest path around or

LISTEN Hunters rely primarily on sight when pursuing prey, but hunting turkeys also requires the use of your ears.

98 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

through and set up facing them. You are in his house; he already knows of these paths of least resistance.

CALLS Hunters rely primarily on sight when pursuing prey, but hunting turkeys also requires the use of your ears. Fortunately there are some fantastic digital ear plugs available today that help in the woods. Not only will they protect your ears from muzzle blasts, but they enhance your hearing as well. Once it is obvious that the gobbler has answered you and is committed to approaching, lessen your calling to responses only. The long beard will continue to gobble to try and locate you giving you an idea of where he is and which route around the obstacle he’s taking. Too much calling and he will come in silent and pin you.

There are many calls on the market, but the most important are your finishing calls. Just like putting in golf, these require the most attention and practice. These type of calls are typically friction calls that can be operated with minimal movement. Pushbutton style or slate calls that strap to your leg to help hide your movements produce soft single-syllable yelps and seductive purrs. These calls are made when the hen is content and feels secure. This assures the turkey that it is safe to finish the distance and come into your effective range. Turkey hunting is exciting already. The more you know about your tools, terrain and calls, the more likely you can bring that boss gobbler in close, a real thrill that will never be forgotten.

THINKSTOCK

HUNTING


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HUNTING

DUPE THAT DUCK! Draw in the waterfowl by setting creative decoy layouts BY TOM KEER

100 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

CHIP LAUGHTON

T

he black ducks kept circling and circling, dropping altitude consistently in the wind and the rain. Yet all they did was circle, never setting their wings for a final approach. Our blind seemed perfect, our decoys looked good and my buddy’s comeback and contentedfeeding calls kept them interested, but they were commitment-shy. As a last-ditch effort, I slowly pulled on the swimming decoy line, and when the water surface rippled and the lone block appeared to join the flock, the black ducks pitched in. That night, they tasted especially good. If setting decoys were easy, everyone would do it. On some days, puddle ducks, sea ducks, divers, Brant and other geese behave according to the textbook. On other days, they confound us to no end. We waterfowlers constantly look for an edge, so here are a few tips to get skittish ducks committed to your spread.


LOLLIPOP WITH A TWIST If your diver ducks are landing at the end of your string, try a lollipop. Set a long line on a current seam, then add decoys on both sides of the string near your boat (that’s the head of the lollipop). Mix them up with full-body decoys and Y-boards so the ducks will land in range.

SEASONAL DECOY SHIFT Goose silhouettes work great in the early season, particularly when there is ample food and cover. In midseason, corn is cut and foliage dies in colder temperatures, making silhouettes less effective. So for a more realistic spread, shift to full-body decoys. Late-season goose hunting has a different problem — the change in light. Sunlight is lower and softer, and when snow is on the ground, many full-body decoys don’t look as natural. Change your spread to include stuffers; their natural feathers absorb the light and reduce reflection. Stuffers make geese quickly set their wings.

MIX UP DECOY CONFIGURATION Sometimes, the ducks just pitch into your spread with reckless abandon. But

shortly after opening day, they can become as shy as an eighthgrader at a school dance. Set your rig by telling the story of a flock of birds on the water. Decoys with standard head sets can represent the bulk of your blocks, but other options should include head tucks that show relaxed, resting birds. Then add some blocks featuring outstretched heads or an upraised butt to imitate feeding birds. Sentry heads show protective birds keeping a watchful eye for predators, and swimming decoys resemble a bird attempting to join a flock. By including different head types, you’ll bring more birds into range.

ADD LIFE TO YOUR SPREAD A century ago, live ducks added realism to a spread. Live decoys are now illegal, but the concept of adding life to your spread is as important now as ever. Waving a black flag in a figure-eight pattern resembles a goose flapping its wings. WindWhacker Decoys (windwhacker. com) makes a product that resembles duck wings looking to land in a spread, while Mojo Outdoors (mojooutdoors. com) produces fullbody motion decoys with moving wings.

My favorite motion decoy is a simple jerk cord. On a calm day, a sharp pull on the cord keeps a glassy water surface from looking unnatural. Match it to a swimming-body decoy and get ready to click off your safety. (Check local regs to see what is allowed.)

HOW LOW CAN YOU GO? Sometimes it’s not about your decoys, spread, calling or anything else. Birds may be shy because your boat or blind looks unnatural. “Too high of a boat profile can spook ducks very easily,” says Robert Milner, founder and CEO of Beaver Dam Mud Runners (beaverdammudrunners. com), which sells shallow-water boats. Smaller boats and layout blinds with low profiles add stealth. It’s common for hunters to use one boat for both fishing and waterfowling, but having a specialty duck boat is a better bet. I prefer smaller individual sneak or layout boats as they are stealthy.” The old adage “Keep a winning game plan, change a losing game plan” applies to waterfowl hunters as well. If the ducks aren’t dumping in, change your spread and give them a setup that they can’t resist.

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FISHING

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RISING WATER GARY GARTH

The fishing experience you’ll never forget BY GARY GARTH

bout a mile upstream from Burkesville, Ky., Big Renox Creek flows through small palisades to join the Cumberland River, a large tail race that harbors the state’s best trout water. A narrow trail from a roadside park leads to the creek where the path drops into the stream. It’s an easy wade to the big river and its trout. The afternoon was hot and punctuated with area thunderstorms. Fishing alone, I’d caught and released several trout when lightning crackled from a nearby strike. Enough. I began sloshing up the creek toward the trail. You hear a flash flood before you see it: a guttural rumble that precedes an onslaught of churning water. In less time than it takes to read this sentence, the water was thigh-deep and rising. Panic rose like bile. I pressed against a rock wall, which provided a break from the violent current, and strained to reach the trail. A sapling sprouting from the rocks provided a handhold that made the difference. I scrambled from the water, my heart rate in triple digits. I glanced back. The creek was frothing with dark water. Somewhere in the mad rush I’d lost my net. I still fish without one. — GARY GARTH covers the outdoors for The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal. His work also appears in Kentucky Monthly, Outdoor Life and USA TODAY.

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FISHING

Author Brian McClintock, left, holds a brown trout at the Charlie Meyers State Wildlife Area in Colorado in 2011. He is pictured below at right, with his twin in the early ‘90s and the fish he writes about.

FIRST TROPHY Best fishing memory ever BY BRIAN MCCLINTOCK

104 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

old cast thousands of times and only came up with an 8-inch stocked trout. When I was about 10, we were at our typical opening-day spot, full of the typical trout — or so we thought. High water had flooded a nearby pond, and some larger trout made their way to our hole. I skipped the worm and baited up with some state-of-the-art chartreuse Berkley PowerBait. The first strike was like one I hadn’t experienced before. I hauled in a 16-inch rainbow. It was the biggest fish I had ever caught. To the chagrin of those fishing around me, including my twin brother, I decided to keep the trophy. Hastily, I put on fresh PowerBait and cast again. Lightning struck twice. A palomino, every bit as big as the rainbow I had just caught, was at the

end of my line. At this point, the 10 other people surrounding this hole were urging me to throw the trout back, especially those hoping to restore the golden beauty to their pond. But, like all those ill-fated kids who met their untimely demise in Willy Wonka, the greed got to me, and I kept them both. I have caught bigger trout, and I have had to work harder to catch them, but none were as rewarding as the two caught on Little Muncy Creek. — BRIAN MCCLINTOCK grew up in northcentral Pennsylvania, hunting, fishing and stocking trout in local streams. His work has appeared in Field & Stream, Men’s Journal, Men’s Health, Popular Mechanics and more. He lives in Pennsylvania with his black lab, Boru.

BRIAN MCCLINTOCK

I

n early April, the stocked trout streams of central Pennsylvania teem with easy-to-catch brook, brown and rainbow trout, and even more anglers. In my family, if you were old enough to carry a fishing rod, you were old enough to carry a bucket full of trout. My father and grandfather have led the trout-stocking operations for the tributaries of Muncy Creek for 50 years. Growing up, this meant that we always had ample fish in our opening-day hole. The expectation was to catch our limit, but my brother and I, like most others, searched for the elusive palomino rainbow trout. Like kids ripping through Wonka bars looking for the golden ticket, anglers young and


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FISHING

CREAM OF THE CRAPPIE The tasty sunfish can be easy to reel in

106 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

and tournament angler, wheeled the boat into a cove the size of a football field and throttled back the outboard. In seconds, he had the trolling motor humming and was checking his electronics. “They’re here,” he says. He positioned the boat above about 15 feet of cover, a patch of brush and stumps along with a scattering of stake beds. Patton rigged up with a small silver and white curly-tail grub threaded onto a 1/8-ounce lead head jig. I baited a gold, Aberdeen hook with a minnow. Patton cast, let the bait sink for

Crappie may be the second most sought-after game fish in the United States (largemouth bass being No. 1).

THINKSTOCK

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here wasn’t a cloud in the sky that day in August as the sun rose on Kentucky Lake, the 160,300-acre Tennessee Valley Authority impoundment that spills across the Kentucky/Tennessee border, and the thermometer had already topped 80 degrees with a heavy layer of humidity to match. Dog days. But blasting along in Scott Patton’s boat, we enjoyed the breeze mixed with the morning dampness that offered a cool reprieve. Patton, a veteran fishing guide

BY GARY GARTH


FISHING about five seconds and began his retrieve. I dropped my rig straight down over the brush but misjudged the depth and hung up. I managed to retrieve the hook but lost the bait. Patton, meanwhile, had caught the first fish of the day — an 11-inch white crappie — which he tossed into the livewell. Crappie might be the second most sought after game fish in the United States (largemouth bass being No. 1). They come in two basic varieties — white and

black; the primary behavioral difference being white crappie will tolerate more turbid water than their counterparts. The fish are widely distributed and can be found in lakes, rivers and streams from Texas to Virginia; Missouri to Florida and beyond. Kentucky Lake, the final impoundment on the Tennessee River, is one of the top crappie waters in the country. But it’s hardly the only one. Mississippi’s Grenada Lake, Alabama’s Weiss Lake and Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee are three other proven crappie producers. Crappie lack the size and fighting ability of bass (although, like largemouth and smallmouth bass, they are part of the sunfish family) and possess neither the glamour nor sophistication of trout. But they are among the best-tasting fish that swim in freshwater. For most fishermen, crappie is a meat fish. Locating and catching them can be astonishingly easy or maddeningly frustrating. “They are usually most easy to find and to catch in the springtime when they are spawning,” says Paul Rister, a veteran fisher-

108 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

Strike King pro and fishing guide Jackie Vancleave, above, often focuses on crappie. These white crappie were caught from Kentucky Lake, a top crappie producer.

ies biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources who oversees management of Kentucky Lake and neighboring Lake Barkley — another top crappie producer. Rister, who is also a fisherman, has studied the tasty sunfish — and the anglers who pursue them — for 25 years. “In the summer they are usually going to be suspended over deep cover,” he says, noting that “deep” is a relative term subject to any particular watershed. “Then in the fall, crappie are going to follow the baitfish and start moving from deep water back into the tributaries and shallow water.” Rister is quick to note that this seasonal crappie activity outline is an overgeneralization. Fish movement and behavior is only barely predictable, although crappie behavior is primarily driven by

GARY GARTH

Crappies are among the best tasting fish that swim in freshwater.


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FISHING

CRAPPIE BEHAVIOR CAN BE AFFECTED BY: »

Water temperature (and to a lesser degree, water clarity)

three factors: water temperature (and to a lesser degree, water clarity), food availability and spawning activity. Crappie spawn in shallow water (typically 2-4 feet) near a brushy shoreline when surface water temperatures are in the high 50s to mid-60s range: generally, March to May depending on your location. Crappie are a schooling fish that are drawn to cover — brush, trees, stumps, etc. Rister is most familiar with the waters he oversees but knows that crappie behavior basically follows the same pattern: Fish move to shallow areas to spawn, retreat to deeper, cooler water areas with cover during the heat of summer and migrate toward shallow areas in the fall in pursuit of bait, which move into shallow areas as summer melts into fall and water temperatures cool. When fish can’t be found — or can be located and won’t bite — Rister has some simple advice many anglers find hard to follow:

110 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

» »

Food availability Spawning activity

Try something new. “Fishermen tend to stick with what they know and it’s difficult for them to change,” Rister says. “That’s understandable. But it doesn’t really matter if you are fishing (Lake) Barkley, Kentucky (Lake), Grenada Lake or Reelfoot Lake or anyplace else. The lake is always changing. Sometimes what worked last week won’t work this week. Or you might not find fish this year where you’ve found them the past two or three years. ... Sometimes you have to adjust what you’re doing.” Patton, who does the bulk of his crappie fishing in March and April when fish are spawning, agrees that sometimes a variation from the tried-and-true approach is needed. Sometimes. “Well, yeah, if what you’re doing isn’t working, you need to try something else,” he says. “But when you can find (crappie) you can usually catch ‘em.”

GARY GARTH; JOEL ZILKA

Crappie are attracted to the type of brushy cover often found near shorelines. Bank fishing for the popular panfish can be surprisingly effective.


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FISHING

BUZZ KILL Want to catch bass? It’s as easy as switching lures. BY KEN WHITE

V

112 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

back and forth, creating a ruckus in the water. It is this added sound that has half the bass anglers talking about them and the other half listening. Bass have a keen sense of vision, but more importantly, they have internal ears and a lateral line, a system of sensory organs that run the length of their bodies. Bass use this to detect vibrations and movement. They feel sound, interpret it,

evaluate it and make decisions based on it — to ignore it, run from it or devour it. This is why bass respond well to buzzing baits, which have earned their place alongside jig and pig, plugs, and the plastic worm as lunker lures. Used as a top-water lure, buzz baits create such a commotion in the water you’ll expect to raise the dead, but they raise the bass instead.

Fishing guide Les Jarman holds a largemouth bass he caught while using a white buzz bait.

KEN WHITE

eteran turkey hunters will tell you that the best way to get a gobbler in the spring is to call him in. Work your mouth call, cedar box or any type call you master. Make the tom think you have something he wants — a female turkey. You can “call in” bass, too, with buzz baits. With a fast retrieve, buzz baits tear up the water like a muskie lure. They hum, flutter, sparkle, dance and die — and can turn you into a successful bass angler. Although not new to the market, buzz lures are the offspring of the spinner family. Any single or twin spin lure will rattle in the water if it is cranked fast enough. But buzz baits sound off better because of their tandem blade design — two blades, typically large, on a single shaft above the skirted lead-head. The top blade is a true spinner, but the second waves


With a fast retrieve, buzz baits tear up the water like a muskie lure.

Bass are like the people who fish for them: Some are smart, some are not so smart and many of them are lazy. Neither man, animal, fish nor fowl will go to the trouble of hunting if what they want is delivered to their door. This is why buzz baits are so successful — buzz bait fished near a bass’ door is easy food. Years ago, I used my first buzz bait on Pomme de Terre Lake in southwest Missouri, where this type of lure proved to be very popular. The results convinced me that when you need an ace in the hole, a buzz bait can save the day. I had just two keeper bass all morning until I put on the buzz bait. I finished the day with limit of bass including a six-pounder. Bass anglers have found success by casting close to trees and brush in flooded waters. “When I knew the Ozark lakes were high (in Missouri), I loaded up my buzz lures and headed south,” says Dave

114 HUNTNAME & FISHXXXXXXXXXX | SUMMER/FALL 2016 4 MAG

Parker, of Independence, Buzz baits, like Les Jarman’s, Mo. above, have Dave Lake, of the Happy earned their Hook Bait Shop in Stockton, place as lunker Mo., says he fishes about lures. 300 days a year and uses buzz baits often. Last summer, fishing guide Les Jarman caught limits of bass using buzz baits and top-water lures. “The fishing will get even better as the water in the big impoundments cools down,” Jarman says. “The fishing has been good ... in spite of the high water and the heat.” And what colors should they be? Many anglers would skip breakfast before breaking the custom of using light-colored baits in clear water, or dark-colored baits in dingy water. Many of the Ozarks’ best fishing guides say the buzzers that seem to work best are those with black and white or green and yellow skirts. Of course, no buzzing, clankin’, rattlin’ or dead quiet lure will take the place of hard work and common sense, but those buzzers are bass catchers.

KEN WHITE; THINKSTOCK

FISHING


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FISHING

NATIONAL FISHING GEMS Cast into the pristine waters and abundant fisheries of our national parks BY KRISTI VALENTINI

S

DAVE CONCA

earching for spectacular places to fish? Look no farther than the National Park Service, which is celebrating 100 years of stewardship this year. USA TODAY picked six primo lands where fish are plentiful and you can have a top-notch experience on public waterways.

116 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016


OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK WASHINGTON

GETTING THERE: From Olympia, Wash., it’s a 2.5-hour drive to the park entrance in Port Angeles, Wash. CATCH OF THE DAY: Like three parks in one, Olympic has rivers that run through moss-covered rainforest as well as 600 high mountain lakes and 75 miles of Pacific shoreline. Fish for steelhead trout, plus coho and chinook salmon from September through April in the coastal rivers draining from the park. During the summer, brook, rainbow and cutthroat trout are common in the lakes.

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK (2); THINKSTOCK

ADVICE FOR ANGLERS: “I’d tell a first-timer to head to Lake Crescent. It’s as gorgeous as any lake in the world and it holds two unique strains of trout, the Beardslee rainbow and the Crescenti cutthroat. For beautiful rivers, it’s hard to beat the Hoh, Queets or Quinault,” says Dave Steinbaugh, owner of Waters West, a fly-fishing outfitter in Port Angeles. nps.gov/olym

EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK FLORIDA

GETTING THERE: From Miami, it’s less than an hour by car to the park entrance near Florida City, Fla.

Boulder Lake, above, is accessible by the Olympic Hot Springs and Appleton Pass trails. Temperate rainforest parallels the Hoh River, right.

CATCH OF THE DAY: With nearly 300 species of fish swimming in the freshwater marshes and marine coastline of the 1.5-million-acre park, the Everglades is one of the best fishing estuaries in the world. Shoreline fishing is possible, but a trip by boat through the mangrove keys, grassy waterways and Gulf of Mexico bays offers a rare chance to catch an amazing array of fish in one day. Snapper abounds, as does sea trout, redfish, freshwater bass and bluegill. In winter, Spanish mackerel, cobia, triple tail and sheepshead also bite.

ADVICE FOR ANGLERS: “There’s so many different fishing techniques you can use,” says park ranger Brandon Moore. “You can sight fish in the flats where you���re pulling a skiff on less than a foot of water (or) go out to one of these 6-foot channels and you’re touching similar species, but in deeper water.” Visiting anglers should go with a guide to fish the crystal-clear Flamingo flats. Moore notes that a quarter-ounce chartreuse jig head lure works best in the muddier waters. nps.gov/ever

117


FISHING VOYAGEURS NATIONAL PARK MINNESOTA

CATCH OF THE DAY: With 40 percent of the park comprised of Rainy, Kabetogama, Namakan and Sand Point lakes, it’s no wonder anglers find this the perfect place to launch their boats in search of walleye, northern pike, smallmouth bass and crappie. Windswept shores and hundreds of secluded islands line these northern waterways teeming with fish — but going by boat is a must. If you don’t have your own, go with a guide or rent a canoe at the park. ADVICE FOR ANGLERS: “My favorite time to fish Voyageurs is July and August, when I can use electronics to set up over schools of walleye and vertically jig with live bait. For those fishermen who are inexperienced or have

limited electronics, I recommend May and June when you can troll or cast the shorelines,” says Mike Williams, a park tour boat captain and fishing guide. Another tip? Artificial bait, like that made by Rapala, works especially well early or late. nps.gov/voya

GLACIER NATIONAL PARK MONTANA

GETTING THERE: From Missoula, Mont., it’s a 2.5-hour drive to the entrance near Whitefish, Mont.

A view from the shore at Lake McDonald, above, in Glacier National Park.

118 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

CATCH OF THE DAY: Come here for nothing less than the most serene scene: fighting a trophy fish by fly or lure in the small streams and glassy mountain lakes of the park, surrounded by forest and snow-capped mountains. “Fishing in the park is an incredible experience,” raves Sanford Stone, a longtime resident of nearby Babb, Mont. “You can fly-fish, bait fish, spin fish — there’s something for

The Kettle Falls Hotel has entertained travelers since 1913. It was renovated by the National Park Service in 1987.

everyone.” The waters hold cutthroat and rainbow trout in the rivers and lake trout, northern pike, whitefish, kokanee salmon and grayling in the lakes. ADVICE FOR ANGLERS: Find fish in shoreline areas from late May through early July when they’re aggressively feeding. “Bring your fly rod and hike up to one of the spots on the east side,” says Stone. “Belly River has great fishing and not a lot of people hit it up. Red Eagle Lake is good, too. It’s where the Montana state record rainbow trout was caught. ... If you do take a boat out, you’re likely to have the lake to yourself.” nps.gov/glac

INTERNATIONAL FALLS, RANIER AND RAINY LAKE CONVENTION AND VISITORS BUREAU (2); THINKSTOCK

GETTING THERE: From Duluth, Minn., drive 2.5 to 3 hours to the park entrance near International Falls, Minn.


FISHING

With completion of the Lynn Camp Prong in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, brook trout, left, are plentiful.

GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK

NORTH CAROLINA AND TENNESSEE

WYOMING, IDAHO AND MONTANA

CATCH OF THE DAY: If you’re after wild rainbow, brook or brown trout or smallmouth bass, come here to fish the roughly 354 miles of stream they call home. Whether you prefer Appalachian Mountain forests or flowering meadows, it’s easy to find a peaceful pool if you walk in from the road — especially on the larger streams like Deep Creek, Little River and Cataloochee Creek.

ADVICE FOR ANGLERS: You can fish 265 days of the year in the park, but the best time is May and June. That’s when stoneflies, mayflies and other insects lay their eggs on the water and the trout readily rise to the top, says Matt Kulp, a supervisory fishery biologist for the park. “One key to catching fish in the park’s clear waters is being stealthy and fishing upstream, approaching pools slowly,” he says. “When the wild fish see you coming, they flee, and catching them is difficult. Many local anglers wear earth-toned clothing to blend in.” nps.gov/grsm

120 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

GETTING THERE: From Bozeman, Mont., it’s a one-hour-and-15-minute drive to the north park entrance near Gardiner, Mont. From Cody, Wyo., it’s one hour to the east entrance. From Jackson, Wyo., it’s one hour to the south entrance. From Idaho Falls, Idaho, it’s a two-hour drive to the entrance near West Yellowstone, Mont. CATCH OF THE DAY: If you’re fishing for trout and this park isn’t already on your bucket list, it should be. It’s also well-known for its blue-ribbon waters and geysers. With more than 2 million acres spanning three states, there are countless places to cast for

cutthroat, rainbow, brown, brook and lake trout as well as whitefish. ADVICE FOR ANGLERS: “First-timers try to visit too many waters. ... Take one or two rivers or streams your first time and get to know them. ... I see guys who show up here and they want to fish so many rivers that they end up spending 90 percent of their time in a car,” says Craig Mathews, author of The Yellowstone FlyFishing Guide. Mathews recommends hitting up lesser-fished Firehole and Madison Rivers before July. Later in summer, try Gibbon, Gallentin or Gardner rivers. nps.gov/yell

PETE YEOMANS; IAN AND CHARITY RUTTER

GETTING THERE: From Knoxville, Tenn., it’s a onehour drive to reach the entrance in Gatlinburg, Tenn. From Asheville, N.C., drive one hour to reach the park entrance in Cherokee, N.C.


OUTDOOR COOKING

FLAME GAME Grilling may be the best way to cook your kill BY MAISY FERNANDEZ

122 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

THINKSTOCK

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their vittles, rather than working hat range in your remotely. So a grill can be helpful kitchen may allow in other ways. you to cook over a “The pellet grill is a huge flame, but that may growth area,” says Raichlen. not satisfy your “They are highly automated; you primitive urge to light a fire and can set a temperature and they turn that deer into dinner the are clean.” old-fashioned way. Up-and-coming ceramic grills Rubbing two sticks together have been a popular pick, too, might be a little too antiquated, says Shon Rolfe, a Lowe’s store so these outdoor appliances can manager in Dallas. Not only help you continue the tradiare they easy to clean, they tion of outdoor cooking with often come in attractive modern-day ease. colors such as brown, In fact, many of copper or blue. today’s grills are Many shoppers so high-tech, they HOT TIPS Chef Steven Raichlen are also looking take the “you” offers recipes from for grills boasting out of barbecue his current PBS show, infrared burners, and practically Project Smoke which sear in handle the cookprojectsmoke.org all the juices and ing themselves. flavors, adds Rolfe, “One of the big who is an avid hunter trends in smokers are ones that talk to and your smartphone,” says Steven grills about 90 percent of his Raichlen, author of the Barbecue! meals at home. Bible book series and host of PBS’ “If you’re looking for a longProject Smoke. “A lot of high-end term investment in a grill, you grills will come with thermomwant one that is heavier,” Rolfe eter probes where you put a says. Extremely inexpensive grills probe into a pork shoulder, and are often thin and don’t hold with an app, you can monitor the heat as efficiently. temperature (of the food), cookNo matter what kind of grill ing time, the temperature of the you’re buying, Raichlen says, a grill and adjust the temperature few features are essential. On of the grill.” gas grills, look for a gauge that Despite the modern convemonitors your fuel level, plus a niences, however, many folks like temperature gauge. to play an active role in cooking “One important and often


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OUTDOOR COOKING

124 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

Smoked Planked Trout SERVES 4

CHEF STEVEN RAICHLEN walks you through his recipe, prepared on his PBS show, Project Smoke: When I smoke trout, I like to incorporate a popular grilling technique: planking. The plank — cedar, alder, hickory, your choice — adds a haunting wood flavor that’s lighter and different from smoke. It also makes a convenient and handsome presentation for serving — you don’t even need a plate. There’s an added advantage: This method works equally well on a grill or in a smoker. Conventional wisdom calls for soaking the plank in water prior to grilling or smoking on the theory that moisture keeps the plank from burning. You’re going to do just the opposite: Char the plank directly over the fire to bring out some of the flavor before adding the fish.

Method: Smoke-roasting Prep time: 15 minutes Cooking time: Direct grilling, 10 minutes; grilling, 15 to 25 minutes; smoking, 40 to 60 minutes Fuel: Hardwood of your choice — enough for specified cooking times

INGREDIENTS 4 whole trout, 12 to 16 ounces each, cleaned Coarse salt (sea or kosher) and freshly ground black pepper 10 sprigs fresh dill 3 lemons, one thinly sliced and seeded, others cut in half crosswise 2 T. thinly sliced, cold, unsalted butter 8 strips thinly sliced artisanal bacon ▶ Set up your grill for direct grilling and preheat to high (450°F). Lay planks on the grill until the underside is charred, 2 to 4 minutes. Let cool. ▶ Rinse trout inside and out under cold running water, then blot dry with paper towels. Make three diagonal slashes in each side. (This helps the fish cook more evenly.) Generously season the trout inside and out with salt and pepper. Place dill sprigs, lemon slices and butter in the cavity of each trout. ▶ Tie bacon strips to each trout, one on top, one on the bottom. Arrange trout on the charred side of the grilling planks (align on the diagonal); place a lemon half on each. ▶ Set up your smoker following manufacturer’s instructions and preheat to medium (350°F, or as hot as it will go). Add the wood as specified. ▶ Smoke-roast trout 15 to 25 minutes at 350°F, or 40 to 60 minutes if your smoker runs cooler, until bacon is crisp and trout is cooked through (140°F in the center). Or direct grill trout over medium flame about 10 minutes. If the edges of the plank start to burn, spray with a squirt gun. ▶ Serve trout on the plank with the smoked lemon halves.

MATTHEW BENSON

neglected area for gas grills is an easy mechanism for collecting and removing grease,” he says. On charcoal grills, getting a hinged grate means you can add charcoal or wood chips without the hassle of removing the entire grate, Raichlen says. When it comes time to cook, our experts offer some tips for fresh game and fish: Have good taste. “Soaking wild game in milk prior to grilling will take some of the gaminess out of the taste,” says Kingsford spokesman Chris Lilly, a passionate hunter and pitmaster who was recently inducted into the Barbecue Hall of Fame. “I like the way soy-based marinades enhance the rich earthiness of the flavor of wild game.” Fatten it up. “When cooking wild game, it is often necessary to add oil (or) fat to the marinade, baste or cooking pan to prevent meat from drying out,” Lilly says. “Bacon is a popular ingredient for wrapping dove, duck and venison tenderloin.” Monitor the heat. With game, “you want the grill hot, but not screaming hot because it will tense up the meat too much,” Raichlen adds. “Overcooking will definitely toughen it up.” Know your fish. Raichlen says the biggest challenges are having it stick to the grate, breaking into pieces when you turn it and drying out. A steak fish, such as tuna or swordfish, can be grilled much like a beef steak. But softer fish, such as bluefish or salmon fillet, benefit from using a fish basket. Planking, grilling on slabs of wood that offer added flavor, is another option, and works best with rich fish, including sole, flounder or flute. “The beauty of planking is that you don’t need to turn the fish over,” he says.


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126 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

COYOTE OUTDOOR LIVING’S 36-INCH S-SERIES gas grill features interior lights, backlit knobs, a RapidSear infrared burner, a rotisserie system, a warming rack and a smoker box. $2,798, bbqguys.com

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FINAL WORD

HEALING WATERS Veterans find solace in fly fishing

“Our mission is to help the wounded soldiers and to help the veterans.” — LARRY DRAKE

L

arry Drake, an Air Force and Army Reserve veteran, is now 74 and a cancer survivor. He mentors men through Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF), many of them young enough to be his grandchildren. But they all share the strains of serving their country. All gave some. Some gave more than others. Some wounds are clearly visible. Others go unseen. Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing uses the simple, smoothing activity of fly fishing to help all. “Our mission is to help the wounded soldiers and to help the veterans,” says Drake, a founding member of the Louisville-based Derby City Fly Fishers, which works closely with the local PHWFF program. “We try to give them something to look forward to.” What fly fishing does for injured and recovering warriors is easy to understand, but difficult to explain. There is a therapeutic, rhythmic cadence to the sport that’s part

128 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2016

Army veteran focus and part soothing. Josh Williams, Catching fish is a bonus. right, with Drake recognized the volunteer Joe intrinsically therapeutic Humphries in qualities of the sport long 2014 at Rose River Farm in before PHWFF was created Syria, Va. at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 2005. The program is a largely volunteer-run, donation-based nonprofit with nearly 200 local programs in all 50 states with affiliates in Canada, Australia and Puerto Rico. Drake recalls working with one soldier who had been injured in a helicopter incident but was suffering in other ways, too. “He was also mentally exhausted. We got that individual out on the water. He caught some fish on a fly he had tied. We helped him build a rod. The Army retired him. We get an e-mail from him occasionally,” he says. For more information about Project Healing Waters, go to projecthealingwaters.org.

DOUG BUERLEIN

BY GARY GARTH


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