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Editor’s Letter: When I asked the love of my life, Sandy, what she would like for her birthday, I expected the usual “oh, you don’t need to get me anything.” Then (as usual) I would try to come up with something that she’d like, she would open it, say how sweet I was and everybody would be happy. However, this year, she threw me a curveball. When I asked the perfunctory birthday question she immediately said, “I’d like a dog. Maybe a puppy.” Say what? With everything we’re responsible for doing every day, the last thing I thought we needed was a dog…especially a puppy. They have to be trained to go outside, they chew up expensive shoes, laptops, 100-year old woodwork in the kitchen, and they bite your ears.

But hey, Sandy’s a thinker. She had obviously thought about this issue and with her scary intelligence decided that we needed a dog.

The first Saturday after her birthday, we were the second and third people scrambling into the SPCA and there she was! The cutest little puppy since dogs were domesticated 15,000 years ago. Since this was Sandy’s gift, I tried to keep my mouth shut about the dog, but secretly I loved the little gal immediately. Why? She’s adorable and she’s obviously a hunting dog! Her name is Sunny that’s her with me on the front porch swing. After the first trip to the vet, we learned that Sandy’s new puppy was a cross between an English pointer and Heeler. As you can see, Sunny has the classic looks of a pointer. She also has the tendency to freeze when she sees any birds that land on the ground. Hello pheasant and quail hunting! She loves to fetch anything and is an extremely quick study on everything but when we scream to “quit digging up the flowers and put down Art’s shoes!” I spend a little time everyday sitting in my upstairs office looking out of the window with Sunny in my lap. I whisper the word “dove” when I see one land on the tree or ground. Soon she will know that a dove is something that dad really likes. I also have started reading to her from one of my favorite books, “Game Birds of North America” and she’s getting better at recognizing the difference between dabbling and diving ducks. If she’s restless when it’s time to go to sleep, I just start talking about the advantages and disadvantages between a modified and full choke shotgun and she’s asleep in no time. I hope you enjoy this issue of The Outpost, especially the article on choosing a hunting dog. If you have a dog story that we need to hear, please email us and don’t forget the picture! Sunny and I will look forward to seeing them. Hopefully, she and I will get to go hunting this year. However, we’ll have to clear it with mama. Sunny is, after all, her dog! We want to hear from you! Tell us what you think of the eZine and pass along to your buddies. We want to know what you like and what else you would like to read. Send us your story and or photos and perhaps it will make the next issue. We always love a tall tale. Email us at:

THE OUTPOST© is produced and copyrighted 2012 by Gorilla Marketing LLC, Marietta GA 30062. Reproduction in whole or part without permission is expressly forbidden.

THE OUTPOST Gorilla Marketing, LLC • 3164 Normandy Circle • Marietta, GA 30062 • 770-675-7200 Jason Martin, Partner • Jim Zegers, King of the Jungle • Art Young, Editor in Chief Contributing Writers: Art Young, Jason Martin, Patrick Meitin Photo Credits: - Michael Moscardelli - Sandy Earl “It’s a Jungle Out There!” National Wild Turkey Federation - Flickr Creative Commons





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What’s the Most Popular Fish? For some reason, we are all fascinated by popularity contests. How else can you explain why millions and millions of people pay for the privilege of voting for contestants on “American Idol” or “Dancing With the Stars?” Or, why an online poll on something as innocuous as “should the Obama family get a hamster” would motivate tens of thousands of otherwise sane people cast their virtual ballot one way or another. Basically, it comes down to our self-worth. We all think our opinion is critical and we want to contribute our two cents. Fishermen are no exception. In fact, in order to feed that need, there is a monthly consumer monitoring service call “Angler Survey” and it has the skinny on what’s hot and what’s not on the lakes, streams and seas. According to this publication, large mouth bass are the most popular freshwater game fish in America. In a 2008 survey, AS noted that 59.3 percent of the respondents fished for bass, which is compared to 36.8 percent for panfish such as crappie, perch, sunfish and bluegill. In third place were smallmouth bass at 25.3 percent. They were followed by trout and 20.1 percent and catfish at 17.4 percent. For those anglers who like saltwater fishing, spotted seatrout were the most popular fish, chosen by 29.5 percent. Following in second place were redfish (27 percent) and striped bass (24.5 percent). Whether you agree with these numbers or not, there is one positive aspect to this fish popularity contest. Unlike American Idol and Dancing with the Stars the “contestants” don’t have to wear those goofy costumes when they perform.

Bass Fishing the Spawn For bass fishermen, spring is as close to nirvana as it gets. The weather turns warmer, buds start coming out on trees, the birds are singing and bass begin getting their nursery ready for the small fry by moving from the deep water to the shallow and building spawning bed. This is the time when these majestic game fish are actually visible to the angler and with any luck the adrenaline rush of actually hooking one of these big lunkers is close at hand. Once the spawn begins, the male bass is in charge of guarding the eggs and anything that enters the area of the bed – including a well-placed lure – is attacked. This protective aggression can make for some epic battles between the fisherman and the prey. The Temperature of the Water is Key Whether bass are swimming around in shallow water or still hiding out in the deep end depends on several factors, the most important being the temperature of the water. Spring weather can be tricky and Mother Nature’s indecision about whether its going to be warm or cold can confuse the otherwise clever bass. It can also make for a slow day for the fisherman. Fishing guides note that if the daily temperature in the fishing area hasn't quite gotten up to the mid 60's, or hasn't stayed that way for at least a week, the bass will probably be fattening up down in the deep water. They will be eating as much as they can before they have to go for long periods of time without food while spawning and guarding their beds. This can be a good thing because means that most lures will work at this time. If, however the area temperature is 65 degrees or higher, it’s spawning time and the angler should be to be scouting the lake or pond for bass beds. Fishing experts suggest that the best areas to check are the cleared out areas on the bottom in shallow water. Fishing social network notes that during this spring season spawn, most bass make their nests in less than 5 feet of water and close to the bank. If what looks like a bed appears to be empty, this could mean that the bass have been spooked (most likely by that guy with a fishing rod in his hand!). When this happens, guides suggest that the angler retrieve the line, back up a few feet and wait a minute or two. If Mr. Largemouth doesn’t return promptly, it’s time to move to another area. Earthsports further notes that “the warmth of the water is also important and the spawn is likely to kick in first where the water warms up earliest. In general, that’s going to be on northeast shorelines, where the afternoon sun strikes most often. Canals and slow-flowing creeks or spring outlets might also be considerably warmer than open lake waters. And zones with lots of dark vegetation near the surface— hydrilla and milfoil—will soak up the heat better than those with white sand bottom.” Ancient fishermen spent a lot of time watching and even worshipping the moon. There’s a very good reason for this. The moon phase is another factor in fish spawning; with other conditions right, the spawn will be strongest during the three or four days around the new and full moons each month of spring. If an angler can be on the water, rod in hand, during those times, he can maximize his chances of finding active bass.

What’s the Best Gear to Use? The Ultimate Bass Fishing Resource Guide has some recommendations for tackle to be used during the spawn. It suggests using 6-foot, 6-inch rod for medium casting or spinning reels, line that is no more than 12-pound test and it advises to stay away from the popular braided line. It further recommends extra sharp bass hooks – brands are Gamakatsu, Owner, Daiichi and VMC – in a 1/0 or 2/0 size. These will be more expensive than standard hook but an angler will want them “because bass that are bedding won't hang on to your lure for very long.” If the weather is still somewhat cool but approaching warm and the fish are in deeper water, it’s a good idea to use a faster retrieve than one uses did during winter. As with any outdoor sport, there is a healthy debate about the best lures for snagging a big bass in the spawning season. Some fishing guides suggest that good lures include rattletraps, jigs, spinnerbaits, and crankbaits. Others feel equally passionate about soft plastic lures such as a Junebug colored Culprit lizard with a 2/0 hook. The experts a suggest that “The best bait for fishing bedding bass is nearly always the Texas rigged plastic worm; throw it into the bed, let it set, twitch it a bit and let it set again. Usually, the fish can’t stand it.”

Other Tips for Bass Spawn Fishing After checking the water temperature and making sure that every possible piece of gear has been purchased, there are five more tips that will help an angler haul in an early season bass. suggests that the fisherman: 1.

Wear quality polarized glasses with side shields, and a long-billed hat to shade the lens. This will greatly improve vision through the water’s surface.


When possible, always ease along a shoreline with the sun at the angler’s back.


Choose protected areas where wind riffle is minimal, for scouting.


Choose a casting position that is as high as possible in order to have better vision of the swimming fish. Visibility is best between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun is at its highest.


Be aware that spawning beds are not always obvious. Sometimes they show up only as slightly lighter shades of green or brown. Quality spawning beds tend to have firm bottom of sand or clay, not mud, with vegetation cover nearby.

Is it Right to Fish Bass that are Spawning? Even with the overwhelming number of fishermen catching-and-releasing bass, there is still a nagging guilt that comes from taking any fish that is preparing to reproduce. This begs the question: Does catching spawners harm bass populations? Biologists say that it does not. Bass that are caught, handled gently, and released in the same location nearly always go on to complete the spawning cycle. Mike Allen, a fisheries professor with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researched this topic and published his findings in the Transactions of the American Fisheries Society journal. He said, “We found that in most cases, spawning area closures won’t improve bass populations, for a couple of reasons,” he said. “One is there’s a lot of catch and release nowadays. The other is, if you lose some nests, the ones that are left have higher survival rates.” Allen and his colleagues published a study showing that the percentage of largemouth bass harvested by anglers had fallen by half since the 1980s. Fishing for bass during the early spring spawn is easily one of the most exciting experiences in the great outdoors. With a little planning, the right gear and some old fashion “recon” to find the beds, anglers can drop a lure in the middle of a swirling cauldron the most powerful freshwater game fish on the planet. And when the hook is set, the real fun begins.

Going Hog Wild!!! When someone is said to be "living high on the hog," it means that the person is living a good life. No doubt, this expression came about to describe some wealthy person whose position allowed him to eat the superior cuts of pork, such as hams and pork chops (high on the hog), instead of the pig's knuckles and jowls (low on the hog). Hunters, who love the adrenaline rush of facing down a 200+ pound charging feral hog and dropping it with a well-placed shot, understand exactly what living high on the hog means. Hog hunting any time of the year is definitely a rush. Wild swine, whether it's feral hog, wild boar or Russian boar, is one of the fastest growing wildlife species in the Southern United States. These animals were introduced in the South by the early Spanish explorer about 300 years ago. They provided a source of cured meat and lard for early settlers. The huge population of these hogs in the state Texas is due to Mexican General Santa Ana. When Texas' war with Mexico rousted the settlers from their farms, many of these pigs escaped and hit the road, intent on seeing the sights in Texas. Along the way, they met other pigs and nature ran its course. Since then, the population of these wild swine has exploded. There are other factors at work that brought about the population spike of hogs in other Southern states, the most obvious being the fecundity of the species. Hunting wild pigs has become a passion of many outdoorsmen for several reasons. Unlike the cartoon pigs like "Porky," these pigs are smart, relentless and more than a little scary. This makes them a terrific challenge for hunters. Plus, their numbers are huge. It is not unusual for a hog hunter to come upon a herd of 20-50 feral hogs in the field. Another reason for their popularity is that hunters can take a feral pig at any time of the year, by any method, and so long as he has hunting license and permission from the land owner, there is no bag limit. This makes hog hunting a great reason to get out in the field, loaded for boar, during the spring and summer times when the guns are usually sitting in the vault. The other reason why hog hunting is so popular has to do with the meat. With some exceptions, the wild hog meat is lean and more flavorful than the pork that's available in the store. Feral hogs are stocky and stout. A mature hog has a shoulder height of about 36 inches and can weigh anywhere from 100 to 400 pounds. They have four, continuously growing tusks, two on top and two on the bottom, and because they spend a lot of time fighting other hogs, these tusks are usually razor sharp. They have fairly poor eyesight, but make up for this with a superior sense of smell and hearing. It's perfectly legal to take a wild pig with a well-placed arrow. However, most (sane) hunters use a rifle or pistol. Because the feral pigs have such tough hide, most outfitters suggest using a rifle caliber of .243 or greater. Hunting pigs with trained dogs is also a blast, but with the adrenaline rush of this activity comes the potential for injuries to man's best friend. If you enjoy walking for hours through a quiet, heavily wooded area and then, in a split second, out of nowhere having a large, mean-looking pig coming straight at you, you'll love hog hunting. There are plenty of them out there and the farmers who are sick of their crops being trampled by them will thank you.

European Chefs Say Wild Hog is Tres Magnifique! There was once a myth that the meat feral hogs and its cousin the javelin was inedible. As anyone who has dined on this delicacy knows, this is patently untrue. In fact, when properly dressed and prepared, the pork from these hogs is some of the most flavorful of all wild game. Plus, the meat is much leaner than domesticated pork and as a result is much healthier. As for prices for wild hogs that are harvested in the South, bigger is definitely better. For a hog weighing 50 to 59 pounds, the processor will pay $5 per pig. An animal weighing 60 to 79 pounds brings about 13 cents per pound. A wild hog that tips the scales at between 80 and 99 pounds fetches 25 cents per pound. For a hog weighing between 150 and 249 pounds, the trapper can get 35 cents per pound, plus a bonus of between $5 and $10. The big boys of the wild swine posse, those weighing 250 pounds and heavier, earn 45 to 50 cents per pound, plus a bonus of $10 per animal.

Pigs Get Fat... Hogs Get Slaughtered Given that the wild hog population is growing exponentially, it is not surprising that many professional trappers will regularly ship more than 400 hogs a year to meat processors. However, as that great sportsman Maynard Keynes noted many years ago, the law of supply and demand will eventually catch up with this market that has gone hog wild.


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Eventually, the supply of these ferocious beasts will exceed the demand of the gourmands in Paris and Bonn and the prices for the meat will come down. However, most hunters are not in the business of mass-trapping wild hogs. For the hunter who's out to bring back good meat for his freezer and table, the pork from these wild hogs will always be one of nature's great gifts.

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Venison. It’s What’s for Dinner! So you had a successful fall and now you have a freezer full of meat? What a better way to impress your friends by not only bringing home a bountiful kill, but also putting the Food Network Chefs to shame with a feast from the field. Is there anything better than venison on the dinner table? Because it’s wild game, it takes a little more preparation than something you can get from the supermarket. However, there is less fat and more flavor in venison that was once in the cross-hairs of your rifle. Here are three recipes that are guaranteed to either win you a trip to Iron Chef contest or ensure that your significant other is eager to let you go hunting next year!

Slow Roast Venison Procedure: Set the oven temperature at the desired temperature that you want the venison to be when it is done. This should be about 165 degrees F. Place the roast in a pan, set it in the oven and leave it there. Leave it there overnight, all day, all day and all night--whatever. It requires no watching; it can't burn, vitamins and minerals can't be harmed at such a low heat. Almost no fuel is required to cook it. The fat in the venison will slowly cook out so you end up with a basically fat free roast venison recipe. The exact cooking time is not significant. Allow plenty of time. The longer you cook the meat at this low temperature, the more tender the roast will become. Let the internal temperature rise to 165 degrees F. We were startled at how scrumptiously tender and tasty the roast became, and I think you will be too.

Old-Timers Roast Venison Ingredients: 3-4 pound venison roast 4 cups vinegar 4 cups water 3-4 tablespoons salt 8 bay leaves 8 cloves 1 pound beef suet 1 pound bacon Salt Pepper

Procedure: • Trim off all deer fat. Most people don't like deer fat. Place roast in pan. • With a knife poke holes over entire surface of meat to allow liquid to penetrate. • Pour water and vinegar over roast. Make sure roast is covered completely with liquid. Add more liquid if necessary. • Add cloves and bay leaves. Let the roast set in this mixture for about 24 hours. • Remove from pan and rinse with water. • Now take thin strips of suet and bacon and press into holes in roast. Poke deep if possible. Set remaining bacon and beef suet on top of roast. • Pour about 1/4 inch water in roasting pan and return roast to pan. • Roast at 300 degrees F until done, usually about 30 minutes per pound. Do not overcook. Many deer are grass-fed (except in the Midwest where deer enjoy corn!) so there may be little fat to insulate the meat. Grass-fed meat cooks faster than fatty meat. If overcooked the meat will become dry and tough. The bacon and suet help prevent this.

Venison Steak Marinade Ingredients:

3 tablespoons canola oil 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 1 tablespoon soy sauce 1 -2 teaspoon minced garlic ½ teaspoon ground pepper 1 (1 ½ lb) package venison steak Directions: • Mix all marinade ingredients together in a small measuring cup. • Place venison steaks in a large zip lock bag. • Pour marinade over steaks and seal bag. • Place bag in a flat casserole dish so that the steaks are in a single layer. • Refrigerate and marinate at least 4 hours, turning every half hour to marinate each side. • Drain marinade and grill steaks to desired doneness.

WINE PAIRING WITH VENISON I was asked years back what’s the best wine to pair with venison. I suggested Stag’s Leap Red for the parallel humor of it. If it were frogs legs I would suggest Frog’s Leap White. Now you can never go wrong with a ice cold beer to pair with your venison or Jack goes pretty well with any meal. But how do you determine which wine will go best with your wild game meal that isn’t Two Buck Chuck...not that there is anything wrong with it. Most sommeliers recommend going with a full body red wine to go with your vension. Typically, venison is best paired with a Cabernet Sauvignon and a hearty Merlot / Merlot blend. However, a German Riesling can also accompany your meal nicely. You may want to consider the spice and or suace that you have marinated the meat to help. Some have advised to accompany venison with a classic Italian Red, a Syrah or even a Zinfandel. If you are goin with a Cab, I have found the California reds to be the best choice. These medium bodied red wines are soft and earthy. A great selection that is affordable in this category is a 2010 bottle of Simply Naked. It also makes for fun conversation if you are dining with the opposite sex. Some other Cabs that you might consider are a 2010 Concha Y Toro, Sebastiani Reserve Alexander Valley 2006, Black Swan 2003 or finally, just cause I was always a fan, Wayne Gretzky Estates Napa 2005. If you want to go in a bit of a different direction, a Syrah Wine from Rhone might be a good selection. There are many affordable selection here as well. These lighter bodied red wines are savory with mouth watering acidity, allowing them to work well with venison. A couple of suggestions would be the Chateau du Trignon Cotes du Rhone 2007 or the Domain d’Anderszon Cotes de Rhone 2010. Good luck and let us know your suggestions.


Earl Scruggs – One of a Kind Like a lot of boys who grew up in rural Texas during the late 30’s and 40’s, my father and his family would gather around the radio every Saturday night to listen to the Grand Ole Opry on clear channel 650, WSM radio. Since he is now 86 years old, he has shared hundreds of stories about the pickers and singers who made their way to the Ryman stage for their Saturday night shows. This live country music show was listened to by working class families across the country. Many of these musicians who became famous from this show – Uncle Dave Macon, the Delmore Brothers, Bill Monroe, the Carter Family and others – had devoted fans (including my dad) who would later show up for their gigs at school gymnasiums, VFW halls and flatbed trucks on the town’s square. Many credit Monroe with discovering and popularizing bluegrass music, which featured non-amplified guitars, mandolins, fiddles and banjos and the type of vocal harmonies that can only be described as spiritual. However, this genre had been around a long time before he ever tuned up his first mandolin. It came from the Appalachian Mountains and was spawned by the Scotch-Irish settlers who carved out a home from this hardscrabble environment. Hunting and fishing were not sports to these folks. They were critical skills that determined whether the family had meat or fish to survive.

It is from this foundation that the late banjo virtuoso, Earl Scruggs, evolved. As a member of Monroe’s band, he changed the way his instrument was played. The old timers like Stringbean, Grandpa Jones and Uncle Dave used a hardcore, rough-hewn “claw hammer” style of plucking the strings, but when Earl Scruggs came along with his five-string banjo he INVENTED the smooth, three-finger roll of picking that had never been used before. This dramatically changed the tempo of a bluegrass song. Later, he joined forces with Lester Flatt and together they changed the way the world thought about this uniquely American music. After his death on March 28, 2012, most of the people who were influenced by Earl Scruggs and were asked to give their thoughts on what made him great talked a little about his groundbreaking style of picking and some talked about his bringing in the younger demographic to a decidedly rustic genre of music. However, everyone made it a point to say what a sweet man Earl Scruggs was. I can attest to this. For several years, my dad took his passion for hillbilly music and the Grand Ole Opry and packed up his wife and three kids and hauled us up from Texas to Nashville to see the show. I’ll never forget being at the special pre-Opry Friday night show that was held at the Ryman auditorium and having WSM announcer Ralph Emory escort Earl Scruggs into the audience to meet all of us hayseeds who had come to the show. They walked by where my family was sitting and Mr. Scruggs shook my hand and asked if I knew how to play the banjo. At the age of about 7 or 8, I sincerely said, “No. Not yet anyway.” Then he played a little riff and the entire crowd went nuts. Needless to say, I didn’t really know who Earl Scruggs was until the next night when Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs headlined the “Martha White Flour” show on the Grand Ole Opry. When the band started to crank up “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” and Earl Scruggs flawlessly coaxed that amazing sound from his banjo, I was mesmerized. I have been ever since.


How to Choose a Hunting Dog

So you're thinking it would be great to have a hunting dog. It’s easy to imagine the crisp autumn afternoons in the pheasant field, a dozen of your buddies lined up, shotguns in hands, and a well-trained, eager dog to sniff out and bring back the downed birds. Or maybe your imagination takes you to a winter morning, sitting in the blind scanning the skies for ducks that your four-legged buddy will eagerly retrieve after you have executed the perfect passing shot. So, what type of hunting dog works best for you? As most hunting guides will say, "Well, that depends." Actually, the type of dog that will add to your hunting experience depends on several factors, some of which have nothing to do with the type of game you are planning on hunting. Here are some factors to consider before making a canine commitment.

Do You Really Need a Dog? Let's face it. Most people have to work for a living. This has the unfortunate effect of cutting into their hunting time. Plus, hunting seasons are very short, only a couple of months for each type of game. Can you really justify the year-round cost and commitment of owning a hunting dog? Hunting dogs are not cheap. Purebred dogs from quality field lineage can cost between $700 and $1,500 and that's only the beginning. You can expect to pay another $1,000 per year to feed, house, train and care for your hunting buddy. If you want him to be professionally trained, this can add a bundle to the investment. It might make more sense to use a hunting guide's dogs or even those of an independently wealthy friend. While it's not as much fun as having your own dog, if you only hunt 2 or 3 times a year, buying, training and keeping a dog is not a good decision.

How About the Family? If your spouse or children don't like dogs, no matter how much you love them, you should pass on owning a hunting dog. However, if you can figure out a way to make this lovable creature into a family-friendly pet AND a hunting dog, then you could be golden. The challenge of this ingenious scheme lies in the nature of some hunting dogs. Some are highlystrung and make very poor house pets. The same type of hyperactive spirit that makes for a wonderful dog in the field can wreak havoc in the house. Conversely, a mild-mannered, sweet-natured house pet might not make the best hunting dog. It is possible to find a hunting dog that will be a great pet, but be forewarned that it could be a challenge.

Which Breed is Best for You? Once you've made the decision to get a hunting dog, the next tough decision is what kind? Hunting dogs are divided into three basic groups - pointing, flushing and retrieving- each of which have attributes that you might be looking for. It ultimately comes down to the type of hunting you are planning to do. If you like to hunt upland birds such as dove, quail or pheasant you will probably want to consider the pointing and flushing breeds. Pointers are trained to sniff out the hidden birds and literally point them out to the adrenaline-juiced hunter. Flushing dogs zigzag through the cover find and then flush birds, allowing the skillful hunter to make two perfectly brilliant passing shots to nail both birds. There are several popular pointers breeds. These include English or German short-hairs, English setters or European hunting breeds such as Vizsia and Weimaraners. Spaniels, Labradors and Chesapeake retrievers are great flushing dogs. Waterfowlers usually choose a retriever such as a lab or golden retriever. Several hunting dog websites note that Golden retrievers, Chesapeake Bays, flat coated and other retrievers all have their advantages but each breed has a few flaws. But then, don't we all? In general, the best family dogs/pets are the goldens and the flat coated labs. Dog training has improved over the years and as a result, many dogs that are recognized as being adept at one aspect of hunting can also be good at another. For example, retrievers such as labs can be trained to be good upland bird dogs. Also, hunters can find pointing labs that can hold a point for pheasant, grouse and quail. Spaniels, known for their crashing through the brush and flushing birds can also be trained to be great waterfowl dogs. Choosing a hunting dog is a lot like choosing a spouse. In fact, many hunters have better relationships with their dogs than they do with their spouses. This is due to their lack of planning before that big step of commitment…with the spouse, not the dog.

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OPTICS FOR EFFICIENT WESTERN HUNTING Patrick Meitin, Sportsman of North America Contributing Writer Optics and glassing are a huge part of every Western big game hunt, from the smallest javelina to the largest elk, they’re as indelibly yoked as eastern whitetails are to tree-stands. The West’s a land of wide-open spaces and vast vistas where game can be highly scattered and difficult to locate due to rugged terrain and sometimes formidable topography. Only the foolish hunter goes it by brawn alone. Savvy western hunters use their head, and quality optics, to cover considerably more country in a shorter duration of time. Without quality binoculars you’re simply not hunting the West at peak efficiently. Binoculars are used to find distant game initially, follow game movements until they bed and invite a stalk, to carefully field judge a trophy animal, check on a bedded mule deer during a stalk or a bugling bull elk while dogging him through thick northern blacktimber or Southwest PJ (pinon-juniper) cover. Without binoculars you’re simply adrift and wandering aimlessly, depending more on luck than skill to create a successful outcome. The binocular design you choose can very well determine the outcome of your Western hunt as well. While Eastern hunters normally choose glass for compactness and an ability to be easily stashed while working in the tight confines of a tree-stand or blind, used only to quickly inspect a suspicious flicker or shadow or watch a buck after a hit, the West offers much more challenging circumstances. While hunting the West, no matter your weapon choice, glassing distances are more likely to be measured in thousands of yards rather than in farm field or woodlot widths. The West asks for something inherently steady, something that will not induce eye strain and nausea after a couple hours behind them. They will also see some rough and tumble use, requiring rugged dependability. The vast distances normally found in the West also call for more powerful optics. Something in the 10-power range is standard, instead of 8-power models normally chosen by Eastern hunters. The combination of steadiness and high power automatically points to large objective lens. The numbers will look something like 10x40, 10x42, or 10x50 – to name a few common configurations – and also mean



they will better gather light during the edges of day when game moves best, penetrate shadow better while probing for bedded game, and in general are simply sharper and brighter. Look for a glass that allows objective to be divided by power at least four times. Increased objective size, 42, 50, provides additional steadiness and light-gathering ability, but also comes slightly heavier payload. In many Western hunting situations glass with even more power are highly welcomed. Binoculars in the 12- to 20-power range are used by hunters in open country where glassing distances can stretch into miles, where vegetation, terrain, and the game itself can prove tedious and a closer look is necessary for success. This describes quarry such as the Southwest’s Coues whitetail in particular, mountain mulies anywhere their habitat is wide open, and prairie pronghorn. Wild sheep and mountain goats constitute their own class, treacherous terrain influencing a need to sit tight and glass as far as the eye can see before investing more treacherous climbing to reach a new observation point. A 15x60 binocular, for example, is a highly common open-country glass used by many professional guides and outfitters. Such glasses are normally mounted atop a tripod via special binocular mounts that help steady these big glasses for long-distance reconnaissance. Any glass greater than 12 power simply can not be held steady by hand, each heart beat creating blurred images that with time will induce raging migraines.

In the West your binoculars will practically live around your neck. They’ll receive plenty of hard knocks. They will be bumped against rocks while climbing, thumped against saddle horns, rained and snowed on, ride on dusty dashboards. This is no place for a wimpy set of discount-class binoculars. Unfortunately, in optics you basically get what you pay for. There are no true bargains in optics, unless you depreciate a high-quality set of binoculars over a lifetime. You might buy five sets of budget-priced binoculars to get you through as many seasons as a single set of top-quality glass. Viewed from this perspective, quality glass costs no more over the long haul. It seems $750 to $1,000 is the base price for a truly useful pair of rubber-armored Western binoculars today. There are a few shinning stars in the American arena, but the Germans and Austrians have typically dominated the high-end binocular market. The best names are well known to any hunter -- and worth every penny. Even if you aren’t a trophy hunter, toting a spotting scope makes plenty of sense. They can be used to inspect a distinct lump too distant to discern clearly with binoculars alone, confirm those are antlers you’re seeing and not tree branches behind a bedded animal’s head – and, of course, to determine trophy quality when you are holding out for something exceptional. The spotting scope is a time saver, allowing you to cover in seconds what might require hours of hiking to move close enough to receive a detailed look with binoculars. Again, quality comes at a price, though unless you’re an outfitter mid-priced scopes will normally suffice. Variable models are the most versatile, dialed down low to quickly locate a spotted animal or during periods of intense heat shimmer, cranked up when more detail is wanted on demand. A sturdy tripod is essentially mandatory, though laying your scope across a daypack can suffice when weight limits are at a premium or high winds buffet even a tripod-mounted scope. Top-quality Western optics come with a price, no doubt, but to make every hunting foray as successful as possible invest in the very best you can possibly afford. Quality optics nearly guarantees you will see more and bigger Western game every time you take to the field.

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Name: Phil Rushton Harvest Location: Humphreys, TN Size: 15 Point Shot Distance: 40 Yards Harvested With: Rifle


I know all you serious deer hunters are going to hate me, but here it goes. I’m a duck hunter by nature, but as a tradition, I get together each deer opener with my cousins in Humphreys County. That morning, I couldn’t find the stand that I was supposed to be in so I searched a good while on my 4-wheeler with my hand-held spotlight frantically looking for it before sunrise. After locating my stand I proceeded to dip my first can of snuff in which I spit on the ground, remember, I’m not a serious deer hunter. The first buck I saw came through at 6:30 am. I was trying to shoot him, but the gun wouldn’t fire due to the bolt not being pushed up far enough. At 7:15 am two does walked past my stand. I know you real deer hunters are going to cringe, but I took a leak (on the ground) just before the does arrived and another shortly after they left that coffee was just too much I guess. At around 7:30 am I heard something coming from the same direction the does had come from. I thought it was a pretty nice buck, but I couldn’t really tell since I don’t have a scope on my rifle and use only the iron sights. I shot the buck and he dropped right in his tracks. I waited up in the stand another hour, just to enjoy the rest of my can of snuff before climbing down. When I approached the deer, I was really surprised at how his rack grew with each step closer I drew. When my cousins arrived, needless to say they were mad at me for killing “their” deer that they had seen several times but never been able to get a shot off. They are still pretty hacked off at me. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. P.S. I’ll bet you folks will be interested to know that my orange hunting vest was my wife’s bikini top left over from our trip to Panama City last summer - Happy Hunting! We, here at The Outpost love good “Fish Tale”. Send your story with a photo and you might just be in the next issue. Email your story to:


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Having arrived at the edge of the river, the fisherman soon realized he had forgotten to bring any bait. Just then he happened to see a little snake passing by who had caught a worm. The fisherman snatched up the snake and robbed him of his worm. Feeling sorry for the little snake with no lunch, he snatched him up again and poured a little beer down his throat. Then he went about his fishing. An hour or so later the fisherman felt a tug at his pant leg. Looking down, he saw the same snake with three more worms in his mouth‌ Do you have a funny hunting or fishing picture? Do you have a joke that everyone should hear? Email them to:


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Hunting, Fishing and Outdoor Magazine