ROAD TRIPS: 3 PLACES TO BAG A BUCK
HUNT&FISH OPEN SEASON
LURE OF LEGACY LIVES ON TOP TIPS & TACTICS ESSENTIAL GEAR, GUNS
TOP 10 1
Duck and Goose Hunting on the Eastern Shore
Places to Go Fishing & Hunting in Maryland
Bass Fishing on Loch Raven
Exotic Sika Deer Hunting in Dorchester County
Season: Fall/Winter/Late Summer
Surf Fishing at Assateague Island National Seashore
Season: Fall/Winter/Late Summer
Turkey Hunting in Savage River State Forest
Bowfishing in Indian Head
Fly Fishing Getaway on Casselman River
Deer Hunting in St. Mary’s River State Park Season: Fall/Winter
Kayak Fishing at the Bay Bridge
Black Bear Hunting in Dan’s Mountain Wildlife Management Area Season: Fall
From the rugged Allegheny Mountains to the shores of the Chesapeake Bay to the mid-Atlantic canyons, Maryland has it all for sportsmen and women. So, whether you’re a novice going on your first trip, or a seasoned sportsman on a getaway with some buddies, you’ll find what you’re after right here in Maryland. Start planning today with one of these top places to go fishing and hunting in Maryland.
PLAN YOUR ADVENTURE TODAY
HUNT&FISH SUMMER/FALL 2018
SIBLING REVELRY For Montana sisters Whitney Milhoan and Hilary Hutcheson, advocacy runs in the family
AGENT OF CHANGE Steven Rinella educates the masses, one meal at a time
GRILL MASTERS Top chefs share their favorite snapper, quail and elk recipes
LASTING LEGACIES Traditions passed down through family can extend hunting to the next generation
BAG A BUCK Three destinations to hunt Americaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s favorite big-game animal
HUNT&FISH SUMMER/FALL 2018
Shed Ed Six things you can learn from gathering a bounty of antlers
Dog’s Delight Woodcock are smart, acrobatic and tasty
Protecting the Marsh Ducks Unlimited pairs science, support to help conserve habitats
Back to Basics Bowhunters try their hand at traditional archery, trading speed for skill
Backcountry Bikes Navigate rugged terrain on these two-wheel alternatives
Beagles and Bunnies American hunters have been chasing rabbits with short-legged speedsters for more than a century
Super Snapper Try your hand at catching some of these dinnertime darlings
America’s Fish Scrappy, hard-fighting bluegill are easy to find and fun to catch Midwest Finesse More than a bait or rigging technique, the Ned Rig is a time-tested fishing methodology
ON THE COVER: Steven Rinella harvests a Roosevelt elk on Afognak Island in Alaska. PHOTO BY: Garret W. Smith
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EDITOR’S NOTE GEAR
» Power optics » Cool coolers » Fly-fishing lures » Duck decoys and calls » Folding knives
BEHIND THE BRAND
Kimber’s bolt-action hunting rifles have earned their place at the top Know which grouse is fair game
TRAIN TO HUNT
Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s classes help build your knowledge year-round Three outdoor athletes share how they use fitness to prepare for the season
Off the Hook Texas fisherman turns blocks of wood into beautiful airbrushed lures
CAMPING Down the River Combine river running, fishing and camping Adventure Awaits Great Basin National Park entices with vistas, peaks
LAST WORD American Inspiration Ansel Adams used art to promote conservation
All prices and availability are subject to change.
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Brad Fitzpatrick’s work has appeared in dozens of publications, including Outdoor Life, Handguns, Guns & Ammo and Sports Afield. He’s also the author of five books, including the Shooter’s Bible Guide to Concealed Carry. He was awarded the Professional Outdoor Media Association’s Pinnacle Award for Excellence in 2015. He and his family live on a farm near Cincinnati.
Ed Killer is an outdoors columnist for Treasure Coast Newspapers, USA TODAY Florida Network and TCPalm. com. The third-generation Florida native is raising his family’s fourth generation in the same place where he grew up fishing, boating, diving and surfing. Killer is an award-winning multimedia journalist, photographer and radio show host, affiliated with Stuart News since 1994.
Kristen A. Schmitt lives with her family on a 36-acre farm in northern New York, where she juggles farm life with writing about wildlife, science and the outdoors for a variety of publications, including Smithsonian magazine, Marie Claire, Glamour, National Geographic and Outside magazine.
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David Sikes has been the outdoors columnist and photographer for the Corpus Christi (Texas) Caller-Times for more than 20 years. He has written about fishing, hunting and conservation issues in areas that include Alaska, Colorado, Montana, Louisiana, Arkansas, Idaho, Mexico, Costa Rica and the Bahamas. He lives on North Padre Island, Texas, with his beach-burrowing miniature dachshund.
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Jodi Stemler lives near Denver with her husband, daughter and bird dog. She is a policy and communications consultant for a variety of conservation organizations and is an award-winning freelance outdoor writer. Her articles can be found in The Upland Almanac, Range365, the Beretta Blog, SHOT Daily, Field & Stream and Outdoor Life.
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Get After It
6 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2018
November was three months long. That’s why I’m particularly proud of this issue of Hunt & Fish. In the pages of one magazine we’ve pulled together a giant sampler platter of the best of American hunting and fishing. It’s all right here — big game and small game, wild backcountry fish and farm pond fish, and aspirational and inspirational profiles of American hunters and anglers who are working to make sure these traditions remain as strong in the future as they are today. It’s like holding an entire year’s worth of adventure in your own two hands — a big bucket list of the best this country has to offer. And as much as I want you to savor each story, I want even more for you to put this magazine down every now and then — and get after it.
t’s a question I frequently field: What’s on your bucket list? If you could hunt or fish anywhere, where would you go? The answer I give is often a disappointment, but it’s the truth. What I’d like most to do — at least until I get an invitation for a backcountry horseback elk hunt — is to spend the entire month of November in my home state of North Carolina. It never happens. No complaints, understand, but I’m on the road more days than not in November, because there’s so much hunting and fishing to write about all across the country. But back home in North Carolina, I’d love to be around for the entire deer rut and watch that deep woods pageant unfold step by step. I’d love to spend a week chasing false albacore and redfish at the coast, another week stalking swamp squirrels, and close out the month with a solid week in a duck swamp or marsh. Maybe come out once for fresh coffee. There’s so much to do. I wish
ENGINEERED BY HUNTERS BUILT FOR A LIFETIME
As the World’s Foremost Outﬁtter ®, we engineer, build and use everything we create. It gets put to the test in the most brutal conditions imaginable. This year’s lineup of optics went through rigorous ﬁeld testing and countless reﬁnements before we allowed it to bear the Cabela’s name. It’s the gear we use on our personal hunts. It’s the gear we rely on for success. See cabelas.com/optics for more information.
IT’S IN OUR BLOOD. IT’S IN OUR NATURE®.
PREMIUM LOW-LIGHT VISIBILITY
UP FRONT I N T H E N OW, I N T H E K N OW
BEHIND THE BRAND 20
FIT TO HUNT
Shawn Luchtel, co-host of Heartland Bowhunter, shares how he stays in shape. Story, page 28.
Must-have binos for the upcoming hunting season BY BRAD FITZPATRICK
Zeiss’ Terra ED 8x25 might be the perfect pocket binoculars. Weighing less than 11 ounces, they fit neatly into your hunting vest pocket and offer the kind of optical clarity you’d expect from one of the leading binocular manufacturers in the world. Their Grau-Black rubber armor protects the body and the lens coatings keep dust and moisture at bay. $299.99, sportsopticsshop.zeiss.com
Available in either 12x, 10x or 8x with your choice of 32, 42 or 50 mm objectives, Leupold’s BX-4 Pro Guide HD binoculars are perfectly suited for a wide variety of hunting situations. These ergonomic roof prism magnifiers feature Leupold’s superb Twilight Max HD Light Management System for excellent clarity in various light conditions. Starting at $624.99, leupold.com
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The Leica Trinovid HD is the company’s entry-level offering, but the binoculars are still premium quality. Fidelity and color contrast is superb and the lens coatings protect these optics and offer exceptional viewing in any light conditions. New this year are 8x32 and 10x32 models that are perfect for just about any hunting conditions. Starting at $849, find dealer locations at leica-sportoptics.com
Bushnell’s new Engage 10x42 binoculars feature the company’s new EXO Barrier lens coating that repels water, oil, debris and fog. The lenses offer excellent clarity and brightness, and the lightweight and rugged magnesium chassis keeps weight to a minimum — just 23 ounces. $359.99, find dealer locations at bushnell.com
The handheld FLIR’s Scout TK Thermal Imaging Monocular fits in your pocket and allows you to see game animals up to 100 yards away, even in complete darkness. Plus, they’re made by FLIR, the world’s leading thermal imaging company, so the quality is excellent. $599, flir.com
PROVIDED BY THE COMPANIES
The Nikon PROSTAFF 3S binoculars are made with lead- and arsenic-free Ecoglass and offer exceptional clarity, especially at this price point, because of Nikon’s multilayer lens coatings. The rubber armor exterior can stand up to dings, too. $129.95, nikonsportoptics.com
Hold Everything Transporting game has never been easier BY SARA SCHWARTZ
Keep food and other rations fresh and protected with the Canyon Coolers Prospector 103. The mega cooler can hold four baskets and comes with six tie-down slots.
Go off-grid with the Yeti Hopper Two 30, which keeps contents frosty while withstanding the hazards of the wild. The second-generation Hopper has a new zipper that’s much easier to work than the original. The soft cooler’s straps make it easy to grab and go, and it can double as a carry-on.
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The versatile Silver Horde KatchKooler II doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but it doesn’t need them. The highdensity close-cell foam interior and fully waterproof reflective coating keeps your catch insulated and fresh. Lightweight and compact, it folds to a small size when not in use. $39.99, cabelas.com
PROVIDED BY THE COMPANIES
Ideal for long hunts for big game, the massive Grizzly 400 Outdoor Cooler has a RotoTough double wall UV poly construction with polyurethane foam insulation that can keep ice for more than two weeks. Full-length drain channels and a 2-inch drain plug mean easy cleanup. $724.99,
Cabela’s 100-quart Polar Cap Equalizer Cooler retains ice for up to 12 days and is certified bear-resistant. Rubberized latches and a freezer-grade gasket keep game secure while the elevated, nonskid feet reduce heat transfer.
Rubber feet help keep the KULA 5 from sliding, and the top, which flips all the way open for easy access, doubles as a seat. The round shape fits better on a paddleboard, and the rotomolded plastic inspired the Gator Proof Alliance to certify it “gator proof.” Bonus: there’s an integrated stainless steel bottle opener.
The backpack option on the Trooper LT 30 keeps your catch mobile and you hands-free. Its 30-quart capacity and wide opening make loading easy and quick, and the leakproof latch means you won’t have a mess to fuss with. $299.99 to $349.99, otterbox.com
Brains & Beauty Creative materials and intellect result in smartly designed fly patterns BY D E B B I E H A N SO N
Dan Blanton’s Tropical Punch baitfish has a reputation for juicing up snapper, snook and juvenile tarpon. No need to limit solely to saltwater though; the bright hackle colors and glistening crystal flash do a fine job of attracting largemouth bass.
$5.25, customsaltwater flies.com
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The StrawBoss subsurface bucktail pattern was designed for largemouth bass on the lakes of Florida, but is also effective on snook and redfish in the saltwater backcountry. As it falls through the water column, the buck tail wings produce a back-and-forth tilting motion. $9, joemahler.com
Mama’s Cornbread was baked up by tier Paul Beel to attract largemouth and smallmouth bass in river environments. His proprietary recipe includes a 1/0 90-degree jig hook that bumps along the bottom, spraying the pattern’s fur and rubber legs outward around the body. $3.99, orvis.com
PROVIDED BY THE COMPANIES
Charlie Craven developed the Charlie Boy Hopper while guiding on Colorado’s Tarryall Creek for trout. This dry fly meets all the requirements of a traditional hopper pattern, but Charlie Boy’s supreme flotation and visibility set it apart, making it a wise choice when fishing fast-moving mountain streams. $2.99, theflyfishers.com
Chicone’s Tranqu-Hillizer Shrimp is a saltwater bonefish pattern intended to be fished in deeper water. Weighted with dumbbell eyes, this fly creates an attention-grabbing puff of sand as it’s stripped along the bottom. Chicone’s flies are custom-tied for specific fishing scenarios. $12 to
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CALLS OF THE WILD
Essential gear for the upcoming waterfowl season BY BRAD FITZPATRICK
Based on the popular Yentzen design that originated in the 1950s, the new Sure-Shot Yentzen ONE2 call features the Screw-Lock system for fast tuning and assembly, a new tone chamber that is twice as loud as the previous model and a stylish and classy walnut band. $165,
LiveCraft Final Approach Full Body Geese decoys are life-size and meticulously sculpted. The motion system features heavy shockcord to allow for natural movement in the wind. You can choose from feeding, relaxed/walker and alert positions or purchase the combo pack, which contains all three.
$49.45 to $179.99, fabrand.com
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Each Avian-X Topflight Mallard Fusion decoy is filled with marine-grade foam to 100 percent so they’ll keep floating no matter what — even if peppered with steel shot. These decoys are incredibly lifelike and available in several pose options. $79.99 for six,
With its new hybrid design acrylic tone board, Haydel’s Great White Snow Goose call is one of the loudest and simplest-to-use snow goose calls on the market. Pitch can be easily varied by opening or closing the hand. $49.95, haydels.com
Zink’s Greenhead Rocker call uitilizes an updated version of the Zink PH-2 double-reed system that provides additional volume, improved low-end sound quality and an overall “duckier” sound. Even with its impressive sound quality, this is one of the easiest calls to use.
PROVIDED BY THE COMPANIES
Light and colorful, the GHG Pro-Grade teal decoys come with 60/40 weighted Dura-Keels. Select either blue-winged or green-winged options, and there’s even a special early season decoy pack with all hens. $39.99 for six,
What the folding knife might lack in strength, it more than makes up for in utility BY SARA SCHWARTZ
3 The RedHead Hunt Series folding knife’s drop-point blade is crafted of high-chromium 440 stainless steel. The rubber over molded nylon handle and thumb jimping keep the hand firmly in place. $19.99,
2 The Gungho by CRKT is a tanto-style that easily kicks open smooth and fast. The everyday carry folding knife, in allover black, resists corrosion.
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4 A glass-reinforced nylon handle and partially serrated edge are part of the reason why SOG Knives’ Flash II Tanto is its highest-rated folding knife. SOG Assisted Technology ensures the knife springs open instantly. $85, sogknives.com
5 The Roper Outlaw blends a D2 satin finished blade with serrations, a swift ball-bearing pivot system and an eyecatching Zebrawood handle.
PROVIDED BY THE COMPANIES
The serrated blade on the 3-inch Milwaukee Hardline pocket knife is made of D2 steel, allowing it to hold its edge longer, and the unit’s flipper with bearing gives a smooth and fast opening. Stonewashed in black oxide to prevent rust corrosion. $69.97,
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BEHIND THE BRAND
King of the Mountain
Kimber’s bolt-actions have earned their place at the top of the hunting rifle market BY BRAD FITZPATRICK
KIMBER OPEN COUNTRY (GRANITE)
KIMBER HUNTER (BOOT CAMPAIGN)
Despite having a heavy fluted 24-inch barrel, the Kimber Open Country (Granite) weighs less than 7 pounds, making it accurate and portable. The reinforced carbon fiber stock has a granite finish, and the metalwork is treated with a corrosionresistant gray KimPro II finish. Other key features include a threaded barrel, match chamber, oversized bolt knob and dual-sling studs up front. Accuracy is excellent, and this versatile hunting rifle is chambered in two ultrapopular hunting rounds — .308 Winchester and 6.5 Creedmoor. $2,269
Dressed in Kryptek Highlander camo, the Hunter (Boot Campaign) rifle honors Kimber’s support of the Boot Campaign charitable organization, which offers life-improving programs for veterans and military families. These rifles blend the Kimber model 84M action with a synthetic stock and a sporter-contour barrel. Each rifle comes with a match-grade chamber, stainless steel metalwork with a KimPro II black finish, and they weigh around 5.5 pounds, perfect for hunting in the high country. There are seven caliber options ranging from .243 Winchester to .30-06 Springfield. $990
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rior to the launch of the Kimber Model 84, companies like Ruger, Weatherby, Remington and Winchester owned the lion’s share of the hunting rifle market. So how has Kimber gained traction in this ultracompetitive bolt-action market? For starters, Kimber’s rifles all feature controlled-round feed actions and match-grade chambers. This means unfailing reliability and impressive accuracy. What’s more, Kimber produces some of the lightest hunting rifles on the market, such as the Adirondack and Mountain Ascent, both of which weigh less than 5 pounds. For mountain hunters (who regularly cut their toothbrushes in half to reduce gear weight), a light rifle that is impervious to the elements and shoots accurately is an essential piece of equipment. Kimber is always searching for ways to shave weight off rifles and offers such features as fluted bolts and skeletonized bolt handles as well as ultralight synthetic stocks — all without sacrificing quality and accuracy. Two Kimber hunting rifles, available at kimberamerica.com, for 2018 include:
Be certain the grouse you’ve cornered can be legally hunted BY JOE HEALY
was following my English pointer through a stand of white pine and tamarack trees when the sudden, booming flush of a grouse triggered my reflex to shoulder my shotgun. Reason overpowered instincts, however, and I lowered my gun. Never actually seeing the bird, I didn’t know whether it was a ruffed grouse or the spruce grouse, which is protected in many states, including my home state of Vermont. Here’s how you can tell between the two:
SPRUCE GROUSE PLUMAGE: Male spruce grouse (or black grouse) have a crimson comb, black breast feathers, white spotting and a chestnut band on the tail — quite different from ruffed grouse. The females are mottled gray or brown, similar in appearance to ruffed grouse. Both sexes have shorter tails than ruffed grouse. SIZE: Adult spruce grouse are smaller but more full-bodied than ruffed grouse, weighing in the 1-pound range and are 15 to 17 inches tall. HABITAT: Arboreal and tend to roost in trees, often firs (such as spruce trees). COMMON BEHAVIOR: The birds are called “fool hens” because they show no alarm and often stay roosted when approached. You won’t hear spruce grouse drumming in the spring — in fact, you probably won’t hear them, although they sometimes cluck when threatened.
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Tail plumage is smaller than that of a ruffed grouse. Male spruce grouse have a distinct crimson comb.
RUFFED GROUSE PLUMAGE: Male and female ruffed grouse are mottled brown and gray. From New York through Pennsylvania and the Appalachian Mountains, and in the Pacific Northwest, ruffed-grouse plumage tends to be rusty-reddish. The birds have large fan tails, which the males make good use of while displaying in the spring or when defending their territory. The males also have a dark or black ruff of feathers surrounding the neck. Both have a tuft or crest atop their heads.
Male and female ruffed grouse are very similar in appearance.
SIZE: Adult ruffed grouse are a bit larger than pigeons, weighing 20 to 25 ounces and measuring about 20 inches. HABITAT: Often found near their favored foods, including wild apples, hawthorn, beechnuts, many kinds of berries, catkins and buds. COMMON BEHAVIOR: These birds tend to be ground dwellers, but roost when threatened or in inclement weather. They are often seen along gravel roads in early morning or late evening “graveling” or picking small stones or grit. You’ll know ruffed grouse are near in late spring when males begin drumming to find a mate: They stand on a log or rock and beat their wings against their sides and chest to create an amplified, low-pitch drumming sound.
ILLUSTRATIONS: MIRANDA PELLICANO; MAP AND BIRD ICONS: GETTY IMAGES
YEAR-ROUND RANGE IN NORTH AMERICA
GROUSE SIZE RELATIVE TO OTHER BIRDS:
Cardinal Spruce grouse
Although spruce grouse hunting is not prohibited in Alaska and Minnesota, it is illegal to hunt them in most contiguous U.S. states, and shooting spruce grouse in any state where it’s prohibited is grounds for a hefty fine.
Classes help outdoor enthusiasts stay on top of their game BY KEN PERROTTE
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Professional anglers Bill Dance and Jimmy Houston lead a Bass Pro Shop Fishing Classic seminar. The company offers classes throughout the U.S. headquarters for all Bass Pro and Cabela’s locations. These events have become annual traditions with customers, who enjoy getting firsthand looks at the latest products and learning valuable field tips and techniques during seminars led by professional hunters and anglers at store locations across the U.S. and Canada, Mitchell says. He adds that an estimated 7 million people attend the Spring Fishing Classic each year. One innovative offering is a rod and reel trade-in program. Anglers upgrade to new >
BASS PRO SHOPS
hether you’re a seasoned pro or a novice looking to cut your teeth in the hunting and fishing world, you’ll find not only gear but knowledge at Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shops stores. Bass Pro Shops acquired Cabela’s in the fall of 2017, and changes are ongoing at the corporate level, but one consistent goal is to continue offering relevant, informative seminars at the stores, and much of the seasonal event planning is consolidating, according to Katie Mitchell, Bass Pro Shops communications manager. The Spring Fishing and Fall Hunting classics and the Family Summer Camp events are being planned from the company’s
GOT AN IDEA?
Bass Pro Shops communications manager Katie Mitchell says the company encourages customers to suggest seminar and class topics to store management. To find out what is happening near you, visit cabelas.com/ stores and click on the location or visit basspro. com and scroll to the “Visit a Store” section.
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gear and Bass Pro Shops collects and donates serviceable items (310,000 thus far) to youth-focused nonprofit organizations that include Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the Boy Scouts of America. Seminar programming for the Fall Hunting Classic isn’t available yet, Mitchell says, but previous years have included instruction on improving archery skills, fine-tuning equipment, using scent control and scent products to gain an edge, bagging bigger bucks and properly handling game animals
from field to freezer. A Women’s Hunting Workshop focused on basics, such as how to prepare for a hunt, and introductory tips on how to be safe and successful. The Family Summer Camps typically offer free games, activities and catch-and-release ponds. The events feature workshops where families can learn the skills they need to enjoy great outdoor adventures together, says Mitchell. Twenty-minute sessions, usually conducted by store experts and geared for youngsters, covered local fishing spots, species and equipment, water safety and basic canoe strokes, shooting sports, campfire basics and emergency preparedness, including basic first-aid skills and weather awareness. Family-focused programming covered fresh and saltwater fishing, identifying animals in the wild, camping, hiking, building shelters and using maps and tools. Attendance at Bass Pro seminars ranges from about 30 people to standing-room-only crowds based on the topic, the expert speaker or the appeal of the presenters, Mitchell adds. Celebrity presenters have included Bill Dance, Jimmy Houston and Kevin VanDam from the fishing world. Celebrity hunters have included Ralph Cianciarulo, Mark Drury, Chad Schearer, Jim Shockey, Walter Parrott and Brenda Valentine. Mitchell recommends attendees arrive early — celebrity events garner big crowds. Nathan Borowski, Cabela’s communications specialist, notes that Cabela’s seminars have featured similar topics. Outdoor Basics attendees learned from local experts about seasonal outdoor activities such as kayaking, paddle sports accessories and table-top grilling. Some sessions included how to select the right rod and reel setup, seasonal fishing strategies or fishing with jigs, he adds. l
BASS PRO SHOPS
Kids can learn valuable skills at Cabela’s classes, such as this archery event in Glendale, Ariz.
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Train to Hunt Three outdoor enthusiasts share how they get and stay in shape BY MICHAEL R. SHEA
ant to be a better hunter? Get in better shape. With more strength, you can hold a bow at full draw longer. With more stamina, you can hike into the mountains farther. These three experts can help you get started. They share their tips on motivation, diet and exercise to improve your overall fitness, and ultimately success afield.
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HUNTER AND FILMMAKER heartlandbowhunter.com Instagram: @heartlandbowhunter The key to better fitness, according to this big-deer slayer, is balance. “Be yourself. Go at your own pace,” Luchtel says. “Don’t go flat-out right away or try and copy what others are doing if it doesn’t work for your body.” Luchtel eats lean meats such as wild game, good fats from nuts such as cashews and almonds, and clean carbs such as rice and sweet potatoes. His workout routines focus on light cardio and highintensity interval training (HIIT) — brief, intense movements, with lower weight at higher reps. “Ask yourself what dumbbell feels light, then
go lighter,” he says. As a tuneup to bow season, he focuses on shoulders with a routine that takes less than 40 minutes. Start with a light jog on the treadmill, then increase the elevation and sprint for one minute. Take a rest, then do 20 reps of shoulder presses with light dumbbells, 20 reps of lateral raises, 10 pushups, then a four-minute jog. Repeat the series two more times. “Look for inspiration in music, documentaries, videos, social media,” Luchtel says. “Keep your head in the game.” Or focus on that backpack elk hunt that doesn’t have to be in the distant future.
HEARTLAND BOWHUNTER; MTN OPS (2); BOWMAR FITNESS; GETTY IMAGES
BACKCOUNTRY HUNTER mtnops.com Instagram: @mtnops “In hunting and fitness, it all starts at your core,” Davis says. “The core is the center mass, your being.” Through the nutritional supplement company MTN OPS, where Davis is a vice president, he put together four free 30-day workout plans that focus on losing weight and building strength. Most include body-weight core work such as planks and other static holds designed to engage the midsection. His favorite is the side plank rotation with a reach. To do this move, lie on one side, keep
your knees straight, prop yourself up on one elbow and forearm. Tighten your gut like you’re bracing for a punch, reach your free arm straight into the air, then under your midsection as deep as it’ll go. Davis recommends starting with two to three sets for 30 seconds, as many as you can do, with 20 seconds of rest between sets. Couple this with other exercise basics that can include pushups, situps, lunges, squats, burpees and jumping jacks, and you’ll be better off come fall.
HUNTER AND PERSONAL TRAINER bowmarfitness.com Instagram: @sarah_bowmar “Whether you want to lose 5 pounds or hunt a week in the mountains, the most important thing is to have a plan,” says this extreme bowhunter and fitness coach from South Bend, Ind. Bowmar suggests her clients start by taking a photo of themselves in a bathing suit or workout gear. You don’t have to show it to anyone, but a single picture can act as powerful motivation to stay active, she says. Next, download an app like CalorieKing or MyFitnessPal and start logging all your meals.
“Many people eat healthy, but still eat more calories than they burn, and wonder what’s wrong,” Bowmar says. “In four weeks, you’ll have a crystal-clear picture of why you’re not losing weight.” For workouts, she recommends a mix of cardio and body-weight movements for beginners. Use a time-based approach, she says, starting on a treadmill, stair master, or — better yet — outside on a nearby hill. “Start with five minutes of activity,” she says. “The next day do six minutes, then seven, working up daily minute by minute.”
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y r l e v e r
Two Montana sisters pair passion with advocacy BY T. EDWARD NICKENS
olly had broken through the ice, and the girls called for her to stay calm, but the more the dog struggled, the farther she got from shore. The sisters were alone, playing along a frozen logging canal in the big woods of northern Montanaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Flathead River. But that wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t unusual. The girls were often alone, together, in one of the great wilderness regions of North America. >
So, Hilary and Whitney Langley went to work. They lay down on the ice. Hilary held tightly to her sister’s ankles, and with their combined weight spread the greatest possible surface area, they inched across the ice to their beloved pooch. Hilary was only 12 years old. Whitney was 10. This would work, or their dog would die. “We knew about pressure points on the ice,” recalls Whitney Milhoan, decades later. “We knew we had to get out to where Molly could see us.” Slowly, the girls made their way to the struggling dog. Whitney dragged her off the ice, and they backed their way to shore. They wrapped the shivering dog in dry clothing and calmed the dog’s tremors. “That was the first scary, really intense experience I can remember, when Hilary and I had to rely on our knowledge and experience in the outdoors and not freak out when things got out of control,” Whitney adds. “Looking back, I recognize that we had the capacity to navigate a complex decision-making process. How far out on the ice could we go? How many layers of our own clothing do we put on the dog without risking our own welfare? The event shook us up, but I also re— WHITNEY MILHOAN member a very real feeling of empowerment.”
“Adventure feeds the soul.”
That feeling — of empowerment, competency and willfulness — has marked the careers of these two siblings across the three decades since they dragged Molly from the ice. Today, “the Langley sisters,” as they were known around the Flathead River valley in Montana and the small towns along the edge of Glacier National Park where they grew up, are among the most accomplished fly anglers on the planet. Whitewater and flyfishing guides before they had their driver’s licenses, the
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LEE COHEN; MISSY SPROUSE
Careers in Conservation
bonds formed and forged in the wild have provided a foundation to turn their passion for wild places into powerful platforms to work for larger, deeper causes. Hilary Hutcheson, 40, has worked as a news anchor, reporter, producer and co-host of Trout TV, a subscriptionbased show. She owns Lary’s Fly & Supply in Columbia Falls, Mont., guides, writes and is a forceful advocate for public lands issues and climate change policy through her ambassador positions with major brands, including Patagonia, YETI Coolers, Orvis, Costa Del Mar, Scientific Anglers and Fishpond. She’s a powerful spokeswoman for the nonprofit environmental organization Protect Our Winters and a national board member of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, a sporting conservation group. Little sister Whitney Milhoan, 38, is also on the cutting edge of flyfishing-centered activism. From 2006 to 2012, she worked with First Descents, an outdoor adventure therapy program for young adults with cancer. Soon, she began volunteering for Casting for Recovery, a nonprofit organization that marries education and peer support for women struggling with breast cancer with flyfishing’s therapeutic ability to heal the spirit. Milhoan has served as executive director for Casting for Recovery since 2013 and has led efforts to increase its footprint to 45 states and six international programs. In April 2018, she received the prestigious Orvis Breaking Barriers Award for expanding the scope of flyfishing’s impact on an increasingly diverse participant base. Like many siblings, the sisters are as different as night and day. But each is articulate, outspoken and driven to use flyfishing as a
means to lift spirits, heal hurts and conserve wild places. The kinds of places that feel very much like their home. Their parents had a phrase for it: “on the loose.” Their father was a natural resources management specialist with the National Park Service, and their mother holds college degrees in forestry and botany. In Columbia Falls, on the border of Glacier National Park, the girls were encouraged to be outside often. “On the loose, that’s what Dad called it,” Hutcheson says, laughing. “Dad would put us out on the river when he went to work, and we’d have the entire day, a boat and 2 million acres to roam. We would end up miles downstream and hitchhike home. We were raised with a spirit of adventure.” And as young girls, they were handed down an ethic of stewardship. “We understood very early on that public lands were our birthright, and they are there for our children’s children,” Hutcheson says. “We were raised to believe that the price of admission was stewardship. We were public lands advocates before that was ever a catchphrase.” They shared an initial path to distinction in the outdoor sports. In their early teens, they worked at Glacier Raft Company, in West Glacier, Mont., pulling weeds, washing life jackets and babysitting the owners’ children. Eventually they began guiding whitewater rafting trips on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River. In 1992, the movie A River Runs Through It was released, and the flyfishing world blew up. Glacier Raft Company was inundated with requests. The Langley sisters were the first two female flyfishing guides the outfitting service hired. >
Undergoing a traumatic experience as young girls taught Hilary and Whitney an important lesson in resilience. Today they are among the most accomplished fly anglers on the planet and important voices for conservation.
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“We were public lands advocates before that was ever a catchphrase.” — HILARY HUTCHESON
Guiding Principles For Hutcheson, the life of a flyfishing guide was like a dozen dreams come true. She thrived under the pressure of having to perform as a guide. She never tired of the early mornings and late nights. Her work with Trout TV gave her an international following. And she grew increasingly nimble in yoking her passion for flyfishing with a growing conservation outlook. “A strong stewardship ethic was nothing new to me,” she explains. What was new is how sporting gear makers began embracing issues such as public lands access and the effects of climate change on winter sports and flyfishing. “These companies are putting serious resources into honest partnerships to affect positive change,” she says. Supported by those industry partners, Hutcheson traveled to D.C. in 2016 on behalf of Protect Our Winters to explain to White House officials how climate change is affecting sports in America. Professional football, tennis and soccer players, golfers and stadium owners also attended the meeting. “And this one random flyfishing guide,” Hutcheson laughs. “But I was proud to represent hunting and fishing.” She traveled again in 2017 with Protect Our Winters
to D.C. to meet with the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, and in 2017, sunglass manufacturer Costa Del Mar sent her to Florida in the wake of Hurricane Irma to encourage the sporting community to get involved with storm cleanup initiatives. “When it comes to climate change issues and public lands access, our industry is at threat level fuchsia,” Hutcheson says. “These companies are amazing in their support of ways to channel energy for movement.” For Milhoan, it was the wilder corners of backcountry that called to her. For half a decade, she led multiday deep wilderness river trips. And the more she immersed herself in places void of humanity, the more she realized how affecting those places could be to people in need. Her work with Casting for Recovery has been a natural fit. Weekend fishing events are free for participants. Some are wheelchair bound, others are in the middle of chemotherapy. “We make sure they are safe and comfortable,” Milhoan says, “and we do everything we can to deliver the magic and mystery of flyfishing to them wherever they are in their journey. Some come and have the time of their lives. Others literally nap the entire
weekend. But our retreat participants tell us they didn’t think they had the strength to try something new, that they had given up on making new friends and taking on new challenges until Casting for Recovery. That is powerful and authentic and transformative, and it’s a good reminder that adventure feeds the soul.” It is, in other words, empowering. And that seems to be emblematic of the beginning, present and future for the Langley sisters of the wild waters of Montana. They wear their achievements not as laurels, but as reminders of their commitment to stewardship both now and when they roamed “on the loose.” Their busy schedules haven’t lessened, and the sisters have, literally, surprised each other while crossing paths in airports. “We rarely get to fish together because I’m a rabid angler and running all over the world fishing,” Hutcheson says, “and she’s running all over the globe trying to save the world. And I really mean that. So I get one question a lot, and that’s when people ask me: Where do you dream of fishing? What is your ultimate adventure?” She is quiet for a moment. “I tell them: anywhere with my sister.” l
Hunter-conservationist Steven Rinella educates the masses, one meal at a time BY M I CH AEL R. S H EA
GARRET W. SMITH
teven Rinella doesn’t remember his first hunt, but he does recall that at 13 he killed his first deer. Those details are clear as yesterday: the itch of cheap wool, the sight of fresh blood. But hunting for Rinella — and his legion of fans who follow his MeatEater books, TV show and podcast — is so much more than killing. It’s a way of life. >
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“Hunting and fishing is an act of love. That’s the message to share with people who don’t understand it.”
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His first hunt, like his first fishing trip and his first camp out in the woods, happened before he could walk or talk. In other words, Rinella grew up outdoors. “My dad was an avid hunter,” he says. “He started after he got home from World War II. In the evolution of the modern American sportsman, that was an important time. All these guys had been camping in Europe for years, then they came home.” Rinella trapped his first muskrat at age 10 and ran trap lines hard until he was 22. Across the street from his house in Twin Lake, Mich., was a stand of hardwoods thick with gray and fox squirrels. He chased them almost daily with an old .22-caliber rifle. When logging thinned those woods, whitetail deer showed up, and he chased them, too. “Back then, I thought animals came from the sky,” he says, “but then in my 20s, I realized I love this stuff, so how should I behave toward it? Hunting and fishing is an act of love. That’s the message to share with people who don’t understand it.” And share he does. After a reluctant stint in community college, he graduated with a master’s in creative writing from the University of Montana. “I tried for a long time to be a professional trapper. Plan B was to be an outdoor writer,” he says. A month before graduation, his first piece ran in Outside magazine. “That was the most money I’d seen in one pile in my entire life. I thought I was rich.” He went on to write for Field & Stream and Men’s Journal, The New York Times and The New Yorker. His first book, The Scavenger’s Guide to Haute Cuisine, was published in 2006. It documents his attempt to hunt, fish and trap the makings of a 45-course meal outlined in
a 1903 French cookbook. There are passages on trapping pigeons with a cardboard box and salvaging a roadkill antelope. With the book came TV opportunities. “I tried very hard to become a writer, but had no ideas or ambitions around television,” he says. “What I like about TV now is you can produce so much material. You can put out a halfhour show and more people are going to see it than read a book. And making TV is just fun.” In 2011, his show, The Wild Within, ran for a season on the Travel Channel, then in 2012, MeatEater premiered on the Sportsman Channel and ran for six seasons. After Netflix licensed seasons 5 and 6, it became the first hunting show to become available on the streaming service. The name came to him while reading his son bedtime stories. “He loved dinosaur books, and they always described the T. rex as a meat eater. I took it and ran.” Through its website, on social media and with an extremely popular podcast, MeatEater has become something more than a media platform — it’s a kind of movement, a conservationminded philosophy of fair-chase, backcountry hunting, that’s politically savvy and always ends with a good meal.
ost outdoor television shows rely on a very specific formula: a scout, brief stalk or time-lapse footage of a hunter grinding it out in a tree-stand, followed by a kill shot, the same shot in slow motion, then the obligatory celebration. It’s >
GARRET W. SMITH
Steven Rinella harvests a Roosevelt elk during a MeatEater shoot on Afognak Island, Alaska.
difficult to call most outdoor television educational. It’s tough to believe it helps hunters convert nonhunters. There are exceptions to this, of course. Most notably is Rinella’s show, MeatEater. In an early season, Rinella hunts and kills a Columbia blacktail deer. He assumes position behind the dead animal, hand on horns — the classic “grip and grin” pose of a successful hunter and his kill. What happens next shouldn’t be remarkable on sporting television, but it is. “What they think now with modern genetics work,” he begins, “mule deer are a brandnew species, in a historic sense,” he says, before outlining the evolution of whitetail and blacktail deer, then the hybridization into mule deer around the time humans crossed the Bering land bridge into North America. He explains that muleys and Columbia blacktails are so similar, for hunting record purposes, that what distinguishes them most now is geography. A deer west of Interstate 5 is categorized a Columbia blacktail; east it’s a mule deer. In a more recent episode, he hunts turkeys in New Mexico’s San Mateo Mountains — the arid peaks and rough conifer forests that inspired Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac: And Sketches Here and There, the seminal work of essays that underpins all modern conservation and environmental thinking. “At the time, when (Leopold) was out here hunting turkeys, there were virtually no turkeys left in the eastern U.S.” Rinella tells the camera, adding, “A way to frame and think about conservation and turkeys and Leopold’s legacy, is that in a state like Wisconsin alone they
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1. Rinella and Remi Warren fish for salmon on Afognak Island, Alaska. 2. Cleaning the heart of a freshly harvested Coues deer in Mexico. 3. Rinella in a cove in southeast Alaska. 4. Laying out ducks to be cleaned while filming in Wyoming.
GARRET W. SMITH
annually kill more turkeys (today) than there were left in the U.S. in the low days.” The show ends with his friend Karl Malcolm reading Leopold’s writing, while they cook a fresh-killed jake, prepared with one of Leopold’s only known recipes. “Steven talks about conservation and food in a way that resonates with nonhunters,” says Land Tawney, president and CEO of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA). “Certain perceptions of hunters are played over and over in the media, to our detriment, but Steven presents it in a way that gets people who otherwise wouldn’t hunt to stop and think about harvesting their own meat.” Tawney likes to tell the story of a BHA pint night in Flagstaff, Ariz. A couple showed up. They didn’t hunt, yet, but had binge-watched MeatEater on Netflix then listened to several episodes of the podcast. They drove six hours to see BHA in action — motivated by sustainable food and conservation. UP NEXT “Steve’s appeal isn’t in your face,” Tawney says. Seasons 5, “He shares a tradition, and that resonates. I hate to 6 and 7 of think where we’d be without him.” MeatEater are Rinella considers his work, from articles and now available books to TV and podcasts, as part of the same on Netflix. Riconversation. In the last few years, that conversation nella’s weekly has grown more political. On a recent podcast with podcast is Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, chairman of the House found at Natural Resources Committee, he prefaced the themeateater. com and discussion by explaining that he usually doesn’t through “burden” listeners with his political opinions, “but I services such have no hesitation to give my input when it comes as iTunes, to things like public lands, conservation funding and Google Play attacks on science-based wildlife management.” Music, and Rinella was instrumental in educating followers Stitcher. His about H.R. 621 — a bill backed by Rep. Jason Chafnew book, The fetz, R-Utah, last year that would have disposed of MeatEater 3.3 million acres of America’s public lands — and Game and Fish was integral in rallying opposition on social media Cookbook: Recipes and that ultimately pressured Chaffetz to withdraw Techniques for the bill. He’s taken up the cause of protecting sage Every Hunter grouse, the lack of funding for federal wildlife and Angler agencies, preventing chronic wasting disease, the comes out in farm bill, how climate change affects hunting and November. fishing, plus deep dives on knotty subjects like the Land and Water Conservation Fund. “None of these subjects probably raise his ratings, but he was willing to take them on,” notes Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP). “He is the face of the modern, ethical, responsible, conservation-minded hunter. Not someone just interested in big heads and horns.” Earlier this year, Fosburgh gave the TRCP’s conservation achievement award to Rinella for his willingness to raise awareness. Cited was Rinella’s ability to “bring clarity to complex policy issues and urge rank-and-file sportsmen to become informed advocates.” TRCP described his work as “incredibly meaningful to the American conservation movement.” >
inella is the youngest of three boys. Those early trips outdoors were probably in the company of his brothers, Dan and Matt — a grassland ecosystems researcher and salmon fishery specialist, respectively. They come up in his podcast and during in-person conversations. Rinella looks up to his brothers immensely. “The way I gauge if (a piece) is successful is if my brothers stumble onto it, would they be excited by it, or would I be embarrassed for them to see it?” he says. “These guys are both Ph.D. ecologists. They were inspired as hunters and anglers to go into biology and ecology. They have an uncanny ability to detect bullshit.” If the influence of Rinella’s brothers makes up one side of the MeatEater equation, another is something very different — an appeal to the urban-dwelling nonhunter. There’s an educational quality to all of Rinella’s work — from his book on bison, American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon, to his guidebook series on hunting, butchering and cooking wild game, and everything in between. In a podcast on turkey hunting, he stopped the discussion and explained that jakes are adolescent male turkeys, born the previous spring. “When I’m talking to hunters about hunting, I’m also imagining that I’m talking to nonhunters,” he says. “I want to reflect back a world hunters know well, and indoctrinate a worldview to those that don’t really understand it.” At school and in the publishing world — where he met his wife, Katie Finch, who handled the
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publicity for his first book — he encountered those who not only didn’t understand the outdoor life, but were suspicious of it: “Through engaging in dialogue with (nonhunters), I became sympathetic to their perspectives. These were people I loved and cherished, and explaining what I do became an important element of those relationships — not in a way of justifying something, but a way of explaining.” For a time, he seemed to live this perfectly — hunting 100 days a year or more, and calling a small apartment in Brooklyn, N.Y., home. He then moved to Seattle, and more recently to Bozeman, Mont., where he and Finch raise three kids, and work to grow the MeatEater movement. “My dad was born in 1924, during the dark ages of American wildlife, so I have better wildlife available for me now than he did. We’ve built up this thing better than my father experienced,” he
Hunting Sitka blacktail deer in southeast Alaska.
says. “When the curtains close on my life, I want more robust opportunities for hunters and anglers than I had, more robust wildlife on the ground and more wild places. I agree with pro-habitat arguments because habitat is the thing we’re going to run out of. What I can do, or try to do, is help people understand the value of, and be willing to be inconvenienced by, wildlife and wildlife habitat. It comes at a cost. In trying to preserve wildlife, you’re going to diminish some economic interest somewhere. You have to show people — I’m trying to show people — that it’s worth it.” The woods across from Rinella’s childhood home in Twin Lake is all houses now. Guys he went to high school with built them. “Friends of mine,” he says. “Good guys, but you know what? I’m going to find ways to have that not happen as much, because I love to hunt.” l
SPREADING A WORLDVIEW
Adapted from The Complete Guide to Hunting, Butchering, and Cooking Wild Game, Vol 1: Big Game
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or 2 tablespoons bacon grease)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
MEATLOAF A lot of hunters complain that they use up all their roasts and steaks too quickly and then get stuck with a mountain of ground meat. When Steven Rinella hears this, he starts singing the praises of meatloaf.
Instructions 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
GETTY IMAGES (2); GARRET W. SMITH
2. In a large saute pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until caramelized, about 6 minutes. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Remove half of the onion and garlic mixture and set aside to cool. Add spinach and red chile flakes, salt and toss with tongs until wilted. Sprinkle nutmeg over the spinach. Set aside to cool. 3. Place breadcrumbs, oatmeal and chopped herbs in a small bowl. Pour milk over top and set aside. 4. In a large bowl, combine the ground meat, cooled onion mixture and the eggs. Season well with salt and pepper. Add the soaked breadcrumb mixture and 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper. Combine well.
5. Once the mixture is combined, add a 1-inch layer of the meatloaf mixture to the bottom of a 1- or 2-pound buttered loaf pan. Pat it down so it reaches the corners. Allow it to come up the sides a bit. 6. Lay the cooled sautéed spinach over the meat mixture leaving a ½-inch border of meat around the spinach. Top the spinach with the cheese sticks lengthwise in the pans, forming a stripe in the center that runs the length of the pan. Next, sprinkle pine nuts over each stripe of cheese. Top with the remaining meat mixture and pat down. You want to be sure the top of the meat mixture meets the bottom meat mixture along the sides. 7. Pat the top of the loaf so it’s flat and even. Coat with seedy mustard and bake for 1 hour or until thermometer reads 150 degrees when inserted in the center.
» » » »
Kosher salt Ground black pepper 5 cloves garlic, minced
10 ounces baby spinach (or young spinach leaves, coarse stems removed)
¼ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
¼ teaspoon red chile flakes
» » »
½ cup fresh breadcrumbs ¼ cup oatmeal
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
1 small bunch of flat leafed parsley
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
3 sprigs of thyme, leaves stripped
½ cup milk
» » »
1½ pounds ground meat (90 percent lean game meat, 10 percent pork fat)
Butter for greasing pan
3 ounces provolone (or fontina) cut into sticks about 1/3 inch x 1/3 inch x 3 inches
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
¼ cup seedy mustard mixed with 1 tablespoon honey for coating
GRILL MASTERS B Y JED PORTMAN
You’ve landed your prize, now you’re ready to cook it. Take a few tips from the pros.
44 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2018
GRILLED RED SNAPPER WITH SALSA VERDE
HRIS SHEPHERD can cook a fish as well as anyone in Texas. Just don’t count on the chef — who runs the kitchen at UB Preserv in Houston — to catch it. “I suck at fishing,” says the James Beard Award-winning chef, formerly of Underbelly in Houston. “I love it, but I suck at it. I never know what I’m supposed to do. Do I move the pole around? Do I just leave it in the water?” He’s more comfortable behind the grill, where he knows just >
GRILLED RED SNAPPER WITH SALSA VERDE Serves 2-4 Ingredients 1 whole shallot 2 jalapeños, split and seeded 1 bunch scallions 8 tomatillos, peeled 2 garlic cloves, peeled ¼ cup lime juice 1 bunch cilantro Salt and pepper, to taste 1 whole red snapper, about 2 pounds Vegetable oil, for brushing fish and grill Shaved onion, to garnish Cilantro, to garnish Preparation If using a charcoal grill, light charcoal in a charcoal chimney. Once it begins to look ashy along the edges, create a two-zone setup by dumping the briquets on only one side of the grill. Close grill, leaving vents open, and preheat for several minutes.
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If using a gas grill, turn both burners to high. Close grill, leaving vents open, and preheat for several minutes. Then, turn off one side of the grill. Using tongs, place shallot, jalapeños, scallions and tomatillos on the hot side of the grill. Cook until charred. (“Don’t be afraid to get them dark,” Shepherd says.) The scallions should finish first, followed by the jalapeños, shallot and tomatillos. Allow charred vegetables to cool, then add to a blender with garlic, lime juice, cilantro and ¼ cup water. Blend until smooth. Season to taste. Clean grill grates, then, using tongs and a cloth, wipe them down with oil. Brush cleaned and gutted fish with oil, then season with salt and pepper — inside and out. Transfer fish to the hot side of the grill and cook for 2 minutes on each side. Move fish to the cooler side of the grill and roast for 15-20 minutes, or until white and flaky. Transfer fish to a platter and coat liberally with salsa verde. Garnish with shaved onion and cilantro.
JULIE SOEFER; GETTY IMAGES
how to handle fresh, local fish: with a light hand. “If you’re going to go to the trouble to source a whole fish — or better yet, catch it — you want to taste it. At home, I usually serve grilled fish with a basic salsa verde: herbs, vinegar, oil, salt, pepper, garlic and done.” The south-of-the-border salsa he serves at his restaurant is more complex, but still a light condiment for a special occasion supper. “If you’re having to do more than that, then maybe you don’t like fish, or maybe you shouldn’t eat that fish,” he says. A quality catch might not survive the wild flames of a novice griller, though, which is why the chef recommends the practically foolproof two-zone method: Pile your coals on one side of your grill. (Or, if you’re using gas, turn one side off after preheating on high.) Sear your fish on the hot side, and then slow-roast it to a tender finish on the cooler side. You only need to create one zone to get crisp, juicy grilled quail, according to chef Meherwan Irani of Chai Pani and Botiwalla restaurants in Asheville, N.C., and Atlanta. “I come from the land of 800-degree tandoori ovens, so I like to start by getting my castiron grill screaming hot,” says Irani, a native of India. “I drop the lid and try to get the temperature way, way up.” When the quail hits the grate, it browns instantly. Irani livens up his grilled game birds with sticky, tart pomegran-
MOLLY MILROY/CHAI PANI RESTAURANT GROUP; ILLUSTRATION: LISA M. ZILKA
ate molasses — which you should be able to find at an upscale grocer, or replace with reduced balsamic vinegar — and a blend of cumin, peppercorn, fennel and chile that harks back to Irani’s childhood hunts in the foothills of the Himalayas. For best results, he says, toast and grind your own spices. (Or you can order superfresh, ground-to-order spices from his company, Spicewalla.) “I compare using old jarred spices to using preground coffee you bought a year ago, versus grinding your own beans for a fresh cup,” Irani says. “The question is, how much flavor do you want from your food?” In pursuit of fresh, local flavor, chef Clayton Chapman harvests the elk on the menu at The Grey Plume in Omaha himself, on a game ranch in north-central Nebraska. “The beauty of our partnership is that the animal is harvested in its natural environment, so there’s zero stress,” Chapman says. “I feel like that comes across in the meat.” There are two reliable ways to cook a lean game meat like elk, the chef says: hot and fast, to medium rare, or low and slow. He sears elk steaks directly over hot coals, and accents the wild flavor with simple accompaniments such as garlic oil, lemon zest, salt, pepper and butter. “This is rich, hearty, honest cooking,” he says. Your harvest deserves it.
i , N.C. | BOTIWAL L A,
GLAZED QUAIL WITH GRILLED HALLOUMI AND FIRE-ROASTED TOMATO SALAD Serves 4 Ingredients 6-8 whole quail 1 tablespoon cumin seeds 1 tablespoon black peppercorns 1 tablespoon fennel seeds 1 tablespoon red chile flakes Kosher salt 1 tablespoon garlic powder 1 tablespoon paprika 1 cup pomegranate molasses or reduced balsamic vinegar Olive oil, for brushing and drizzling 8 ounces halloumi cheese 4 Roma tomatoes Fresh basil, torn, to garnish Preparation Place a dry skillet over medium heat. When warm, add cumin seeds, peppercorns, fennel seeds and chile flakes, and toast until aromatic, 3-4 minutes. Cool and
pulse in a spice grinder or coffee grinder until pulverized. Heat a charcoal or gas grill to high. Season quail liberally with salt, including inside the cavity. Dust birds lightly with garlic powder and paprika. Then drizzle olive oil over quail until fully coated, and sprinkle on the toasted spice powder. Add quail to grill, turning when each side is browned, about 5-7 minutes. As quail browns, use a spoon to baste with pomegranate molasses or reduced balsamic. Cut halloumi into ½-inch slices. Brush with olive oil and grill, flipping occasionally, until lightly browned, on each side. Remove from grill. Brush tomatoes with olive oil and grill, turning as each side blisters and chars. When tomatoes are soft and oozing, slice into quarters and mix with grilled cheese. (“Make sure to get all the juices in the mix,” Irani says.) Drizzle with olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar, and garnish with torn basil leaves.
GRILL TALK The chefs recommend their favorite backyard cookers
KAMADO JOE CLASSIC II “Control is key when grilling, and I need to be able to use direct and indirect heat. This grill has a raised rack, so I can start the meat over direct heat, then move it to the upper rack and let it continue cooking with indirect heat. And if I feel like using it as a smoker, it holds temperature so well.” — Chris Shepherd
PLUME THE GREY
Serves 4 Ingredients 4 elk steaks, about 8 ounces ¼ cup roasted garlic oil, from garlic confit (recipe at right) Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper, to taste Zest of 1 lemon Preparation Preheat gas or charcoal grill. Rub steaks with garlic oil and season with salt and black pepper. Cook steaks for 3-5 minutes, or until they have deep black char lines, and then rotate 90 degrees to make diamond-shaped grill marks. Flip steaks and repeat. When the internal temperature of each steak reaches 135 degrees, remove from the grill. Allow steaks to rest for 3-5 minutes, then slice against the grain and season with salt and lightly with lemon zest.
48 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2018
Preparation Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Peel garlic cloves and add to a cast-iron skillet with all other ingredients. Place skillet over medium-low heat until just below a simmer, and then place in oven for 45 minutes or until garlic slightly caramelizes. Transfer all ingredients into a jar, and store in refrigerator until use.
LODGE SPORTSMAN’S CHARCOAL GRILL “I take it with me when I’m traveling. The whole body is cast iron, so it maintains heat well. I don’t need as much charcoal to get it nice and hot, and the coals last longer. It’s portable — or as portable as cast iron can be. And it looks cool.” — Meherwan Irani $157, shop.lodgemfg.com
WEBER ORIGINAL KETTLE “I love the nostalgia of cooking on a Weber. It’s an iconic summer grilling tool; it travels well, and it’s so easy to use.” — Clayton Chapman Starts at $89, weber.com
GETTY IMAGES; BRAD IWEN/ADMIRAL DISTRICT; KAMADO JOE; LODGE; WEBER
GRILLED ELK STEAK
Ingredients 3 heads garlic 2 cups neutral cooking oil, such as grapeseed 4-5 sprigs fresh thyme 12 whole black peppercorns
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SHARING THE LEGACY
Passing the hunting tradition on to the next generation
GETTY IMAGES; PROVIDED BY JODI STEMLER
BY JODI STEMLER
he frost on the evergreens sparkled as the sun slowly emerged, bringing a remarkable sense of déjà vu as I recalled mornings in my youth looking out over the brook behind my parents’ house. Yet, this morning I >
F A M I LY P A S T I M E S
1975 RAISING BEAGLES
Like his father before him, my dad raised beagles for rabbit hunting. Here I am, on the right, at 3 years old with a litter of beagle puppies. I have vivid memories of watching those hounds run and bay as they were chasing rabbits through the fields behind my house.
1980 LEARNING TO LOVE CONSERVATION
2006 CATCH OF THE DAY
When my daughter was just 1 year old, she hung out in the backpack while I caught a striper on the New Jersey shore. Even then, she enjoyed being outside and was fascinated by what we brought back â&#x20AC;&#x201D; she particularly loved posing with the catch of the day!
GETTY IMAGES; PROVIDED BY JODI STEMLER
Along with teaching me about hunting and fishing, my father taught wildlife management at Rutgers University. As a result, our time together included lessons about broader conservation issues, like the importance of feeding wild birds.
was introducing my own child to the goose hunt. My dad was with us, and my daughter was carrying his 20-gauge shotgun, which had plenty of wear after decades of use. “This gun has never missed,” he told her that morning. “Don’t teach it any bad habits.” As a child, I began my journey in the outdoors learning at the hand of my dad and grandfather, who each had learned from their father before them. At the time, it was uncommon for girls to spend time afield, but my dad was an equalopportunity sportsman. In the summer, we’d fish in Great Bay in southern New Jersey. When the tide was right, we’d walk through the mudflats searching for clams with our toes. Back at the dock, we mastered the slow hand-over-hand retrieval of a chicken leg on a string trying to pull up blue crab. Later in the summer, we’d surf cast for striped bass on the Jersey shore. Early fall would find us sitting at the base of a beech tree, listening to the twittering of songbirds, waiting for a squirrel to come into sight. As the days grew colder, we’d follow our beagles chasing cottontails through the Christmas trees on the family farm. In late fall, we’d hunker down in those evergreens on the edge of the brook waiting for ducks and geese to leave the water. These experiences formed the foundation of my affinity for hunting and fishing, but as I entered my teen years, I stopped hunting. Other activities required my time. As I moved on to college and a career, life got in the way of my outdoor pursuits. Those days in the field made an impact, though, as I gravitated toward a career in wildlife policy and communications — and I always considered myself a hunter and angler, even though neither activity found much time on my calendar.
“ This gun has never missed. Don’t teach it any bad habits. ”
STEMMING THE LOSS My story is not uncommon. For many, even though they love these pursuits, other daily
priorities begin to outweigh hunting and fishing. As a result, many who grew up enjoying the sports, experience a lapse and fewer are passing down the tradition of spending time together in the field. With roughly 80 percent of funding for wildlife conservation at the state level coming from the sale of hunting and fishing equipment and licenses, the implications are dire. When I was 10 in 1982, there were 16.7 million hunting licenses sold. In 2015, when my daughter turned 10 and got her first hunting license, 14.8 million licenses were sold. The Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports (CAHSS) and the Wildlife Management Institute are working with state fish and wildlife agencies and hunting organizations to reverse the decline through hunter recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3). Together, the partners have developed a national R3 plan to coordinate efforts, support the most effective programs and share resources to increase participation. There is now a network of R3 coordinators working within states and nonprofit organizations, and in May, 325 individuals came together in the first National R3 Symposium to share data, successes, challenges and opportunities. Their research is moving R3 initiatives beyond youth-oriented individual outreach efforts to programs that can help first-time hunters transition from interest to knowledge and hands-on learning to mentorship as experience grows. Looking at license sales from 26 states, CAHSS found that baby boomers are more likely to hunt than any other generation, but most of them are expected to age out of participation during the next decade. Recognizing that fewer people are being introduced to the sport as children, partners are targeting “adult onset hunters” — mainly millennials and those interested in having a greater connection to where their food comes from. Johanna Dart, an R3 coordinator with the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), is emblematic of the shift. Dart had no experience with guns or hunting, but that changed when she entered graduate school at Michigan State University. During her internship, she participated in a hunt in Kentucky where she shot her first deer using a crossbow. She learned about processing the meat and received recipes to prepare her venison, allowing the experience of providing her own food to come full circle. She used a similar model when she designed the Learn to Hunt program for adults at the university and is carrying that forward in her NWTF role. “Hunting was transformative for me. It truly >
changed my life,” Dart says. “If you’re interested in hunting, there are opportunities and programs to help you get started.” Through their Save the Habitat, Save the Hunt initiative, NWTF is halfway to its goal of reaching 1.5 million new hunters in 10 years. Working with states and other partners, their programs focus on introducing new hunters to the sport, but also providing continued learning experiences and connecting them to a network of other hunters, both new and experienced. Similar R3 programs can be found in every state.
MENTORING THE LEGACY But while many agencies are focused on recruiting new hunters, the importance of passing down that legacy remains — and they’re encouraging hunters to serve as mentors to ensure the tradition continues even beyond the family. Eric Dinger, who grew up hunting with his family and is now teaching his wife and children to hunt, is hoping his online platform and app, Powderhook, can help. Powderhook’s #HuntersWill social media campaign encourages hunters to play an active role in addressing and reversing the decline. Through Powderhook, users can share tips, search locations to hunt and fish, connect with “digital mentor” experts and find local networking events. “The best part of hunting is sharing it with others; it’s about the place and the experience and the animals,” Dinger says. “Being able to hunt together or share stories about your experience takes us back to the legacy that those of us who hunted together as a family remember.” This philosophy is validated by research from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), which found that 60 percent of participants are motivated to hunt because of the time spent together with family.
In 2010, my husband and I bought a new Brittany to train for hunting, which, along with my daughter’s growing interest, became my inspiration to get back in the field again. We hunted for Columbian sharp-tailed grouse on the western slope of Colorado in September 2014, and both the dog and our daughter were troupers walking long distances looking for small groups of birds.
As one of the few female leaders of a hunting organization, NWTF CEO Becky Humphries has a unique perspective on participation. “The concept that you have to be raised in a hunting family to be a hunter isn’t always true anymore, and Johanna Dart is a great example of that,” notes Humphries, who grew up hunting. “But I do believe that if Mom hunts, the whole family hunts. Getting more women into the outdoors helps to create even more hunters.” NSSF found that between 2001 and 2013, the number of female hunters increased 85 percent,
54 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2018
GETTY IMAGES; PROVIDED BY JODI STEMLER
SETTING AN EXAMPLE
2009 AN INTEREST BLOSSOMS
My husband and I were raised in outdoor families, with his father passing on his knowledge to him as well. Grandpa Don lives in Montana, and we often visit him and fish for trout most summers. In 2009, we fished the Ruby River in southwest Montana and my daughter brought in this trout — using her princess rod — all by herself.
from 1.8 million to 3.3 million. Women now make up 19 percent of all hunters. Alexandra Graham was one of those new female hunters. Although her dad hunted, he was worried she didn’t have the heart for it and instead took her brother. But Graham persisted, and when she was 16, he took her to deer camp. Since then, she’s shared three hunting seasons with her father. Seven years later, Graham lives in Colorado, and she and her dad are going on their first elk hunt together in the fall. “I think every child should have a one-on-one special experience with a parent,” she says. “This is our father/daughter ‘trip of a lifetime.’ Hunting is our bonding time, and those days in the woods create lifelong memories.”
PASSING IT ON
2017 BASKING IN SUCCESS
Last year, we spent Thanksgiving with my family in New Jersey and our daughter went on her first goose hunt. My dad joined us for the hunt and lent my daughter his trusty 20-gauge shotgun. After moving to a tree-lined alley, she made an excellent shot as geese flew over us. She made sure that Grandpa’s gun still has never missed!
Now my own hunting story is coming full circle. Having a daughter who loves time outdoors was a big motivation to get in the field again. Sophie was a toddler in the backpack when I caught a striper on the Jersey shore and when we fished for salmon in Alaska. She caught trout on her princess fishing rod. At 6, she was walking with us on pheasant and grouse hunts, insisting on carrying our birds. She passed hunter safety at age 10 and in her first year hunting, she shot a pheasant and a dove. Since then, she’s killed several ducks and three turkeys. Like Humphries noted, in our family, when Mom goes hunting, it’s a family affair. Together we look forward to our expeditions afield, and my daughter’s interests are empowering me to dip my toe even more deeply back in the pool. After an unsuccessful cow elk hunt (as far as putting meat in the freezer, but highly successful as far as creating incredible memories together) for her first big game season, I decided it was time to try my own first big game hunt, and will be pursuing antelope in October at the Wyoming Women’s Antelope Hunt. But the recognition that the legacy was being passed on truly hit home during that goose hunt last fall as my father, husband, daughter and I all crouched among evergreens. When the geese finally lifted off the brook in the direction, we were set up. My daughter made an incredible shot with grandpa’s gun, bringing home her first Canada goose. It was my daughter’s interest and enthusiasm that rekindled the flame in me. And through days like this in the field, three generations hunting together, our family continues to carry on that legacy. l
t a n i t des 56 HUNTNAME & FISHXXXXXXXXXX | SUMMER/FALL 2018 2 MAG
r e e d ion Three fine places to hunt America’s favorite big game BY TERRY WIELAND
THE WHITE-TAILED deer is the most popular big-game
animal in America. It’s found on mountaintops, in river bottoms, haunting the edges of grain fields and in thick Texas mesquite. It’s hunted on foot, run with dogs and shot from stands over feeders with every weapon you can imagine — rifles, shotguns, bows and even spears. These animals are found in backcountry wilds, back-40 cornfields and backyards alike. While deer are hunted in some of the most remote woods in America, the whitetail is perfectly happy living in close proximity to humans. And that sets up an interesting situation for the traveling hunter: Since most folks don’t have to venture far to hunt white-tailed deer, what’s the appeal of hitting the road to hunt them? These three hunting destinations answer that question in different — and very appealing — ways. Whether you’re a city dweller with limited room to roam after deer, or a veteran hunter looking to match wits with a bruiser in unfamiliar country, our trio of deer-hunting destinations has you covered. >
westervelt lodge The Southern Big Woods Classic
Then think about this: Westervelt Lodge, in the Tombigbee River country of west-central Alabama, sprawls across nearly 19 square miles of prime deer country. Westervelt’s parent company is primarily in the logging business, but careful timber operations create fantastic habitat for white-tailed deer. The first formal deer hunt at Westervelt Lodge was held in 1951, and the old lodge, with its tongue-and-groove pine floors and massive stone fireplaces, has been storing up hunting tales ever since. Hunting at Westervelt takes place from stands that overlook food plots, oak flats and other prime habitats. This is the “up before dawn and in your stand in the dark” routine that serious deer hunters know well. The property is intensively managed for deer, and Westervelt’s program has its own requirements and restrictions regarding
what bucks should be taken. Guests are asked to harvest only mature bucks at least 3.5 years old, with eight or more points and an inside spread of at least 16 inches, which tells you about the health of the deer herd there. On a wall in the main historic lodge is a big eight-pointer that was taken in 1956 during a driven shoot with dogs. It’s known as “the big eight-pointer behind the bar,” for obvious reasons, and scattered around the room are a dozen other heads, all taken on the property. Big buck genes are certainly around. The times I have hunted at Westervelt, the other hunters have been mostly repeat guests who come back year after year. The Westervelt hunt is their annual tradition, and Westervelt is their camp. And that’s another great aspect about the best deer-hunting destinations in America: It’s never too late to start your own grand tradition.
58 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2018
Westervelt Lodge actively manages its landscape for hunting free range white-tailed deer.
Because you are most likely to see a big buck during the rut, and demand for that period (Dec. 26 to Jan. 15) is high, prices for a three-day hunt are more expensive for that timeframe ($1,795 per hunter versus $1,550). Deer season in Alabama, including bow season, typically runs from October to early February. westerveltlodge.com
TERRY WIELAND (3); GETTY IMAGES
YOU WANT BIG?
bell wildlife specialties The Hometown Deer Camp DANIEL BELL OWNS most of what used to be downtown in tiny Harveyville, Kan., about 30 miles southwest of Topeka. It was once one of the untold thousands of prosperous prairie farming towns, and Bell has breathed new life into the old crossroads with a nifty idea of turning it into a whitetail-hunting destination. The old limestone bank building, built in the early 1900s, is now Bell’s bunkhouse, and the hunt headquarters spills over into other nearby buildings. Next door is his taxidermy shop, while Harveyville’s old general store and café is now the camp’s dining room. Bell oversees hunting leases on surrounding farms in the hills of east Kansas, so hunting here is a neat mix of hunting a private lodge lease but not having your hand held every step of the way. You check in, get your bunk, and then Bell drives you out to show you your stand. From then on, you rely on your gumption and skills: You head out of Harveyville in the predawn darkness, return for lunch, then hit
the woods again for the afternoon hunt. It’s a great atmosphere and feels like a cross between an oldfashioned deer camp and a meeting place of total strangers. Bell offers plenty of help, but he doesn’t believe in babysitting. To a large extent, you are expected to fend for yourself. One benefit is that a hunt here is more affordable than many other Kansas spreads. For experienced hunters, the autonomy can feel like a breath of fresh air compared with some outfitting services that control a hunter’s every move. In east Kansas, you are almost guaranteed to see plenty of deer, but these aren’t backyard bucks. Kansas has big-bodied deer with antlers to match, but collecting a real patriarch is not easy. For many, however, that’s a part of the allure: Having a big chunk of Kansas where you match wits with the wiliest big-game animal on the continent, and still not have to worry about good food and folks to share your stories with come sunset.
Daniel Bell offers archery and firearms hunting. Seven-day archery is $3,650; five-day rifle, $4,250. Antlerless are $250. Email Bell for details at email@example.com. huntingkansaswhitetail.com
Primland The Old World Revisited many long, steep valleys that cut through the mountains. I prowled old logging roads and trails, and never had to worry about stumbling across another hunter. Time and history seem to freeze in those tucked-away glens. This region was once the province of moonshiners, with whiskey stills hidden deep in the “hollers.” Many of the crumbling stone foundations are still there, along the hidden trails. To be sure, you don’t have to hunt old-school at Primland, despite the old-world approach to hospitality. The resort maintains the typical food plots and deer stands of many deer destinations, which no doubt gives hunters a vastly better chance of seeing animals. But whether you stalk or sit, one thing is certain: There’s nothing quite like deer hunting the Primland way.
60 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2018
Can’t take your meat home? Primland donates venison to a charitable organization to feed the less fortunate.
Visitors can participate in guided or semi-guided excursions when deer, turkey, pheasant, quail or chukar are in season. Whitetail season in Virginia runs from October to January. Licenses are required and can be purchased on-site. Multiple packages are available. primland.com
PRIMLAND (3); GETTY IMAGES
DEER HUNTING AT this Virginia mountain estate feels a bit like time travel. This is a 12,000-acre spread in the Blue Ridge Mountains, a vast resort anchored by a soaring chateau that melds oldworld charm with modern amenities. There’s golf and driven wing-shooting, high-country fly-fishing and sophisticated dining — it feels a bit like hunting with aristocracy. Owned by a wealthy European family with roots in the French oil business, Primland offers lodging in the wonderful main château, secluded cottages and even treehouses perched over the stunning Blue Ridge landscape. What I love most about Primland, however, isn’t the fancy appointments, but the approach to deer hunting. The first time I hunted whitetails at Primland, I was given sole dominion over one of the
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TIP On a latewinter antler hunt, combine shed hunting with scouting to learn about deer bedding areas and travel routes.
Six things you can learn from gathering a bounty of antlers BY KIP ADAMS
hat wonderful time between deer season and turkey season? Shed season. Given that more outdoorsmen and women are picking up sheds today than ever before, here are six things you can learn about the bucks that dropped them:
64 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2018
Most hunting seasons end before bucks cast their antlers, so a shed antler is a strong sign that a particular buck survived the gauntlet of hunters in his neighborhood. He’s not guaranteed to survive winter and escape predation, but research shows if we don’t hit them with a bullet, arrow or Buick, the majority will still be alive on Day One of the next hunting season.
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HUNTING 4. BETTER SCORING SKILLS If you have a trail-camera picture of the buck, you can learn to better estimate the antler score on the hoof. Just as you can estimate a buck’s age by body characteristics and verify that age with his jawbone, you can estimate a buck’s score from a photo and then verify with a shed antler. It’s the best way to become proficient at estimating the score on the hoof.
5. HEALTHY WEIGHT Details about the buck’s health can be learned by assessing the relative weight of the antlers. In general, healthy bucks have antlers that are well mineralized and dense. These antlers tend to feel relatively heavy for their size as compared with nutritionally stressed bucks, whose antlers are often more porous and thus feel light for their size. There’s not a particular weight an antler should reach — rather, it’s clear if you’ve held many antlers when one feels unusually light or heavy.
2. BRAIN ABSCESS CHECKUP
6. DROP TIMING AND HEALTH
Signs of brain abscesses can include an infection around the base of an antler, so you may see a piece of the skull still attached to a shed antler (above) or “pus” on a deer’s head. Brain abscesses have gained a lot of attention from deer hunters and managers in the past few years, and for good reason. Brain abscesses, also known as cranial abscessation syndrome (CAS), are infections in the skull and brain caused by the Trueperella pyogenes bacteria. The infection can cause nontypical antler growth and, in extreme cases, death.
A buck that drops his antlers much earlier than he typically would is likely suffering from an injury or nutritional stress. A buck that holds them longer than normal is likely exhibiting a sign of good health. If you find the shed in April or May, that doesn’t help much with the timing unless you know when the buck lost it from sightings or trailcamera pictures. However, a December or early January shed is nearly always a sign of trouble.
You can learn about the health of the buck by studying the base of his antlers. Healthy bucks have bases that are rounded and convex. Injured or nutritionally stressed bucks often have bases that are irregular, oblong or concave.
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ONE THING YOU CAN’T LEARN One fact that you cannot tell from a shed antler is a buck’s age. You may be able to estimate relative age if you’ve been collecting antlers, trail-camera pictures and jawbones, but there’s too much overlap in the age classes to assign an exact age to a buck based on a shed antler. — KIP ADAMS is the director of conservation for the Quality Deer Management Association, whose nonprofit mission is to ensure the future of white-tailed deer, wildlife habitat and hunting traditions. Learn more at QDMA.com.
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Unfamiliar to many hunters, woodcock are smart, acrobatic — and delicious STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY NANCY ANISFIELD
n a leafy combination of alders, buckthorn and dogwood, my gangly German shorthaired pointer, Scratch, froze on point. The trees were still green despite the midautumn date. I could see Scratch’s orange vest through the brush, but with the mottled mosaic of leaves and mud on the ground, there was no way I’d see the bird. Then I heard the telltale whistle of air passing through rapidly beating wings. My peripheral vision caught the top of the woodcock’s ascent. The bird banked hard left. My shot went right, the gun’s swing stopped by a thick alder branch. Sixty-five yards across the patch, the woodcock settled back down. I gave Scratch his release command, and we moved toward the landing zone. He snapped on point again. As I eased closer, his brow furrowed. His eyeballs darted between me and the ground. He didn’t move, muzzle angled 45 degrees down. I stepped in front, and the bird flushed with a zing. Despite the narrow shooting lane, pellets hit prey. The woodcock dropped with a flip through the trees ahead. Scratch danced a two-step around the area trying to dial in the scent. Sure enough, the bird was settled in the leaves, toes and beak to the sky. With a pounce that cried “eureka!” Scratch grabbed the woodcock and delivered it to my
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hand. Happy hunter, happy dog. American woodcock (Scolopax minor) have gotten a bad rap. For starters, their nicknames — “timberdoodle,” “bog sucker,” “mud snipe” — don’t carry the nobility of birds like grouse (“King of Game Birds”) or pheasant (“longtail”). Some hunters say their dogs won’t retrieve woodcock. Others say the birds are too gamey to eat. Truth is, woodcock are smart, acrobatic targets and
HUNTING WOODCOCK? Some things to keep in mind: SEASON DURATION
45 DAYS DAILY LIMIT
Dogs bred to search, point, track, retrieve and swim are the best choice for woodcock hunting.
taste delicious. Most well-trained retrieving dogs have no problem picking them up. Moreover, woodcock are outstanding wild birds for young dogs because they hold tight and rarely flush far, giving more than one point and shooting opportunity on the same bird. Woodcock look like chubby snipe with big heads. With a bill seemingly too long for its body, ears ahead of its eyes and cerebellum below the rest of its brain, the woodcock is said to have been made with parts leftover after God created all the other birds. According to the Ruffed Grouse Society’s American Woodcock Society, though, another theory for the bird’s unusual anatomy is that woodcock evolved to improve their ground-probing abilities. The eyes and nostrils moved back while the bill lengthened for better access to earthworms, their favorite meal. Woodcock prefer dense young forests, hillsides above moist bottomlands and edges near water, particularly north-south running streams. Ironically, the best woodcock habitat can be a hunter’s worst nightmare — slippery ledges, slick roots, jagged stumps, thorns, vines and briers. Woodcock migrate >
A woodcock’s plumage helps it blend in almost seamlessly on the woodland floor.
in autumn from their northern breeding grounds (prime range: Atlantic Canada to Great Lakes) to their southern wintering grounds (prime range: Mississippi and Louisiana to Texas). The number of days in the woodcock hunting season — usually 45 — is federally set. Each state then determines which 45 days, with the seasons opening later per state as the birds migrate south. In Vermont, for example, a typical woodcock season runs Oct. GOOD TO KNOW 1 through Nov. 15. Currently, the The Ruffed Grouse U.S. limit is three birds per day; Society’s American possession limit is nine. Woodcock Society Early fall hunting is tricky. Thick (ruffedgrousesociety. org) provides foliage makes it tough to see the excellent information birds in flight and tough to get about woodcock, pellets through the leaves. The including updated most fun is when you encounter migration maps a “flight” of woodcock pausing on and charts showing how to determine their trip south. Instead of finding age and sex by the two or three birds at a time, it is woodcock’s wings. possible to get a dozen or more in one spot, popping up like popcorn, flushed on point after point. Versatile dogs — bred to search, point, track, retrieve and swim — are arguably the best choice for woodcock hunting. Most bird dogs have great noses, so the search is universal. Having a dog that points, however, gives you time to get in close, an advantage in dense cover where you can’t move as quickly as you can over open terrain. Having a dog that will retrieve is critical. The
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woodcock’s colors camouflage perfectly on the woodland floor. Without a reliable retrieving dog, shot birds may never be found. Given woodcock habitat’s proximity to water, it’s not uncommon to have shot birds drop in a river or pond, so a dog trained for water retrieves prevents wasting game as it floats away. Hunters should look for the birds’ chalky white droppings, referred to as “splash.” Cast an eye on anthills for drill holes — these look like someone stabbed the soft earth with a pencil. Work your dog at a medium range and pace. Many woodcock hunters prefer 20- or 28-gauge double-barrel shotguns over 12-gauge because they are lighter and easier to maneuver in thick cover. Shooting size 7.5 shot is a good compromise. Spreader loads work well because most woodcock shots are fairly close. Chokes of choice are cylinder/ skeet and skeet/improved. Woodcock often flush straight up then zoom away like a helicopter. Once the bird accelerates, it may zig and zag. Try to take your shot at the top of the rise. Unfortunately, the woodcock’s corkscrewy flight pattern and short landing might make it look like it’s hit when it isn’t. Fortunately, it doesn’t take many pellets to kill them. Always follow up. With a versatile dog, be it a wirehair, griffon, viszla or similar breed, hunting woodcock is a perfect partnership sport. Start to finish — from searching the cover to admiring the strange little game bird in your hand — each task is best shared by hunter and bird dog together. l
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PROTECTING THE MARSH
Ducks Unlimited pairs science, grass-roots support to help conserve habitats
avid Bowers has a passion for the marsh, whether he’s hunting ducks in the fall or photographing them the rest of the year. “My dad instilled in me the importance of being a volunteer for a cause you truly believed in,” says Bowers. “Being an avid duck hunter, I decided many years ago there was no better way to support my passion than becoming involved with Ducks Unlimited. The time in the marsh refreshes our souls, and we should all do something to repay that debt.” Ducks Unlimited (DU) was founded in 1937 after the drought of the Dust Bowl years, which, combined with wetland drainage, lowered duck production to the point where it was possible that waterfowl hunting would have to cease. Eighty-one years later, the organization’s mission of conserving, restoring and managing wetlands and other North American waterfowl habitats is still vital. Not only are wetlands being drained at an alarming rate, high prices for soybeans and corn have led to millions of acres of prairie grasslands — duck nesting habitat — to be converted to agriculture.
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“Waterfowl habitat is facing more challenges than ever,” says Dr. Tom Moorman, the group’s chief scientist. DU has always been a sciencebased organization, and now in a race to save the best of what’s left of waterfowl habitat, they’ve turned to cutting-edge science to focus its efforts.
Big Grass Marsh was Ducks Unlimited’s first project in 1938. “One of our best tools today is GIS (geographic information system) spatial analysis,” notes Moorman. Using geospatial technologies and satellite imagery on the prairie pothole breeding grounds, he explains, “we can predict which habitats will have the most breeding pairs.” Those scientific advances allow DU to map the regions with important wetlands and grasslands — the areas that can produce the most ducks. Once defined, DU plugs in the risks
of these habitats being lost, and how much funding it will take to conserve those most threatened. Similar GIS analysis is used on the wintering grounds, coastal wetlands and the boreal forest, all of which are important waterfowl habitats during some portion of the year. Moorman points to one important research project DU has been working on in Canada, linking wetland drainage to serious water-quality problems for human populations. “We’ll always be a waterfowl group, first and foremost, but ducks are just one product of wetlands,” Moorman stresses. “By showing how wetland drainage is tied to flooding, poor water quality and the growing dead zone in Lake Winnipeg, we’ve broadened the scope of support for wetland conservation. People get better water, and the ducks get wetlands.” It’s that science-based, resultsoriented approach that keeps Ducks Unlimited supporters like Bowers, a member and volunteer since 1985, enthused about the organization. “I find it fascinating that the biologists and engineers use satellite imagery to determine wetland locations to conserve habitat, or restore wetlands >
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that hadn’t seen water in years,” says Bowers. “The fact that all decisions are science-based tells me that the team I support knows what they are doing and how to do it, rather than just going out there to dig a hole and fill it with water.” To date, because of the support of its more than 800,000 members in North America, DU has conserved more than 14
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million acres on the continent, and has influenced (worked with partners to save) another 152 million acres, according to the group. DU raised $224 million dollars in 2016-2017 alone (almost $5 billion since 1937), 83 percent of which goes directly to conservation. Those impressive efforts, though, didn’t happen without considerable grass-roots support.
“I would encourage all hunters to join a conservation group and support the mission by volunteering and contributing money,” says Bowers. “Without this support from sportsmen and women, habitat will continue to vanish. My thought has always been that if you are a hunter or angler, it is your obligation to give back to make sure this legacy lasts into the future.” l
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BACK TO BASICS
Many bowhunters are switching to traditional archery, trading speed for simplicity BY KRISTEN A. SCHMITT
hile he was still wearing diapers, Luke Griffiths tagged along with his dad on hunts. At 13, he started hunting big game with a compound bow, but after 20 years of stalking deer in the California backcountry, Griffiths was ready to trade the bells and whistles of his elaborate wheeled stick for something simpler. “I got really burnt out on all the tuning and tech and stuff with my compound bow,” says Griffiths, who picked up a recurve last January. “Now, tuning my bow consists of twisting a string or messing around with arrow weight or length. There’s still a learning curve, but there’s a lot less to tinker with.” Griffiths is part of a segment of bowhunters who are returning to traditional archery. They’re exchanging cutting-edge compound bows equipped with cam-pulley systems, which reduce the pull-weight of a bow by as much as 70 percent to 80 percent, for recurves and longbows that consist of wooden limbs and a bowstring. In fact, about 23 percent of bowhunters use a recurve or longbow, according to the Archery Trade Association’s 2017 Bow Hunting in the United States market survey. However, while recurves and
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longbows are considered traditional, they do differ in design: A recurve’s bow limbs stay curved regardless of whether the bowstring is strung; longbows stay straight-limbed until the bow string is taut. “I reached a level of proficiency with (the compound bow) where it wasn’t exciting for me anymore,” says Stefan Wilson, who hunted with a compound bow for 22 years before switching to a recurve two years ago. “I wanted to have a new challenge, so I picked up a recurve and, I’ll be honest, it was horrible at first.” It took Wilson four months of daily practice before he began to feel comfortable. He says his experience isn’t rare, and he knows other bowhunters who initially became discouraged when they decided to try traditional archery. “If it took you 15 years to get where you are with a compound, why do you think you can just pick up a recurve and be good automatically? It’s a totally different monster,” Wilson says. “You have to hang up your compound bow and walk away from it for a long time.”
BENEFITS AND DRAWBACKS Traditional archery may require a higher degree of concentration to be accurate, says Griffiths, but when >
PROVIDED BY STEFAN WILSON
Stefan Wilson picked up a recurve to be challenged. “I’ll be honest, it was horrible at first.”
in the woods, “there’s no arrow rest that can get tweaked or bumped that’s going to throw off your shot … there’s no sight pin or dials or anything mechanical on the bow that can fail.” Griffiths believes the lack of gizmos is an advantage because there’s less to go wrong when there’s a deer in sight. A traditional bow setup doesn’t require sights, rangefinders, releases or other gadgets to make it work. Instead, your shooting accuracy is based on your abilities. Your fingers control the string’s tautness, its release and your arrow’s flight path. “Since I shoot mostly instinctive, I no longer need to check and verify yardages,” says Griffiths, who adds that carrying less bow-related gear is an asset. “I can draw and release an arrow more fluidly with a recurve than a compound.” “(Traditional bows) are light in your hand and maneuverable,” says Nick Viau, who didn’t have prior bowhunting experience when he picked up a recurve in 2009. “You have your leather tabs or glove, your bow and your arrow and that’s all you have to worry about.” However, longtime compound bowhunters Griffiths and Wilson did have to decrease their draw weight because traditional bows do not have any let-off, which is the point during the draw where an archer holds less weight and can take the time to aim in full-draw. “I actually went all the way down to a 25 pound draw weight so I could really get a feel for the
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form and my release and not be worrying about my strength,” says Wilson, who typically draws 70 pounds with a compound bow and now draws 48.5 pounds with his recurve. Shooting range also can shrink with a traditional bow. Griffiths says he can shoot a compound bow and confidently hit his target if it is 60 to 100 yards away; however, with a recurve, his accuracy wavers if he is more than 30 yards away from his intended target. Yet, that need for closeness can increase the intimacy of the actual harvest. “There is nothing cooler than when you release an arrow from a recurve and watch it fly through the air and hit the exact spot you were looking at,” says Wilson, who shoots game from 25 yards away with his recurve. And Viau tries to decrease the distance between him and whitetails even further. “Looking through a scope at 200 yards across a farm field at a deer, that’s not what I wanted,” says Viau, who hosts the popular podcast, Traditional Outdoors. “Then I realized I could be as close as 10 yards to a deer before I have to draw.” Viau emphasizes that the traditional archery community is filled with enthusiasts who pursue the activity for enjoyment as well as mastering the skill. Many embrace traditional archery as a way of life. “Nobody shoots a traditional bow just to hunt with it,” says Viau. “Anytime you hand someone a traditional bow, they say ‘This is fun.’” l
— Kristen A. Schmitt
Luke Griffiths says he got burnt out tuning his compound bow and prefers the simplicity of a recurve. “There’s a lot less to tinker with.”
With recurves and longbows available at many sporting goods stores or archery shops, getting started with traditional archery doesn’t have to be expensive. Bowhunter Stefan Wilson recommends that you try a friend’s recurve before buying one. Once you’ve decided that traditional archery is for you, custom bow creators like RER Bows in Montana or Stalker Stickbows in Colorado will build a recurve or longbow to your specifications. You can choose your wood type, which includes unique varieties like birds eye maple, red elm and Brazilian rosewood, and select your limb style, dimensions and riser. Or you can keep your eyes open for a vintage recurve or longbow to customize. Hunter Stefan Wilson shoots a Ben Pearson Mustang, which was made in the 1970s, and appreciates the classic look of the bow. He uses a slide-on rawhide quiver engraved with his children’s names. “There are so many little things with my current setup that I enjoy,” Wilson says.
BACKCOUNTRY BIKING Fat-tire electric rides offer two-wheel alternative to navigating rugged terrain BY GARY GARTH
on Gunderson hunts mule deer and elk in Idaho and Utah. His fat-tire Rambo Bike has become an essential part of his hunting gear. “They’re terrific,” says Gunderson, a regional sales representative for the company, which is based in Minnesota. “They’re quiet. You don’t leave a scent trail. I don’t hunt off one but use it to get to my hunt site and transport meat out.” The distinct-looking electric bike was built for the backcountry with hunters in mind. These hybrid bicycles combine an electric motor with pedal power and are commonly marketed as “e-bikes” or “electric-assist bikes,” and the oversized, low pounds-per-square-inch “fat” tires (with the diameter of a softball) give them tremendous traction across various elements, such as mud and snow, which often stall bikes with narrow tires. Riders can pedal the bike, power it with
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RAMBO BIKE; QUIETKAT
a motor or combine a hybrid pedal/electric powertrain. Rambo Bikes range in price from $1,500 to $5,500. Multiple field accessories are available. Models include cycles built for winter riding and beach travel, be it rocky or sandy terrain, says Matt Falwell, owner of Gear Up Cycles, a full-service bike shop in Murray, Ky., where the nearby 170,000-acre Land Between the Lakes (LBL) National Recreation Area is popular among cyclists. “They have great flotation and traction,” he adds. “The (fat-tire) bikes are a fun choice for the winter months when it’s wet and sloppy.” A full charge will power a Rambo up to 20 miles over flat terrain. They can also be pedaled, although for most riders, leg power is a last resort. Gunderson says he gets 10 to 12 miles per charge but that his use typically covers a challenging landscape with elevation changes of up to 2,000 feet. He has yet to find a landscape the bicycle can’t handle. However, what rugged terrain can’t stop, regulations might. The U. S. Forest Service has determined that electricassist bicycles classify as motorized vehicles and, thus, are limited to where they can be used. Officials at LBL National Recreation Area interpret this to mean that e-bikes are allowed on routes where other motor vehicles are permitted — be it paved, graveled, dirt or specially designated off-road vehicle-use areas — but not on foot or equestrian trails, and not trekking and freewheeling
through the woods. “Each forest has a motor vehicle-use map,” explains LBL customer service manager Jeff Laird. “Riders should check with the area (where) they want to ride. There may be forests that allow them in other areas.” All bikers are urged to check regulations. “They’re not allowed on any wilderness areas anywhere in the country,” Gunderson adds. Falwell says although regulations allow fat bikes, their riders should consider the wear and tear the big-tire bikes can potentially have on the landscape: “For trail preservation, we try to avoid the (mountain bike) trails when they are super muddy to reduce erosion.” Rambo is one of many companies manufacturing several models adequate for hunting — though the bikes have myriad uses. All-terrain e-bikes at the Asheville, N.C.-based M2S Bikes start at about $1,350, and models for QuietKat, an electric mountain bike company in Eagle, Colo., start around $2,200. Eric Crews, founder of M2S Bikes, says about 30 percent of customers use its products for hunting. “We always see a big spike in people looking to purchase bikes ahead of opening day,” he says. “With the electric bike, they can ride up a steeper hill, ride farther in to a tree stand without breaking a sweat.” Mike Foss, a writer for On Wisconsin Outdoors and former bear guide, says his QuietKat Warrior allows him to do more than he could on foot. After an accident, he’s used the e-bike
“I’ve let a few people ride it and the look on their face when they take off and they turn around and look at me is absolutely priceless.” — WRITER MIKE FOSS
QuietKat’s Ambush 750
to get around bear stands quickly — putting 26 miles on it the first day he tried it out. “I’ve let a few people ride it and the look on their face when they take off and they turn around and look at me is absolutely priceless,” he says. “This bike has opened up a whole new world for me.”
BEAGLES AND BUNNIES American hunters have been using short-legged speedsters to chase rabbits for more than a century BY BRAD FITZPATRICK
n many parts of the United States, the late autumn and winter months are a time when families head afield together with their bouncing beagle pack to enjoy the sounds of the chase and take part in one of the region’s richest hunting traditions. Hunting hares and cottontails is a popular New England activity, and the region is home to many of the oldest beagle clubs in the country. Across the Midwest, farmers once kept packs of beagles to control rabbit populations on agricultural land and for recreational purposes. But today, no area of the nation is so steeped in the beagling tradition as the South, where hunters kept large packs and competed to raise the best hounds — and love of the sport continues. A lanky stray beagle, later named Casey Jones, came into our lives when I was about 10 and introduced my family and me — quite accidentally — to beagling. It’s impossible to know whether Casey had any formal training because most beagles will, because of their
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fantastic sense of smell and thousands of years of selective breeding, instinctively follow a scent trail. But Casey seemed to understand that rabbits were preferred to other prey. Since then, I’ve had several very good dogs, and when the air turns cold and the leaves begin to take on shades of brown, red and yellow, I’m thinking about frosty mornings listening to the roar of a pack of well-trained hounds on a fresh trail. Beagles don’t actually “circle” a rabbit as modern mythology suggests, but, like other scent hounds, they simply follow the trail left by the animal. Cottontails (and, to a lesser degree, hares) have a small home range. When they’re being pursued, rabbits tend to stay within that territory, running a path around the perimeter. Getting a shot requires cutting these rabbits off as they circle back. So round up some friends, head out with the dogs and happy hunting!
Man’s Best Friend
Sharpnosed hounds can find even the most well-hidden rabbit.
FIVE REASONS TO TRY BEAGLING Every member of your family can take part in the pursuit, and hunting rabbits with hounds is one of the most enjoyable experiences in the field. Hunting with beagles is generally lowimpact; and it’s not absolutely critical to remain silent in the field.
It’s affordable. You can hunt rabbits with almost any shotgun or rimfire rifle (depending on local regulations), and there’s no special clothing needed (although briar pants are advised and blaze orange is required in many states).
Most public hunting areas with ample cover will hold rabbits, so access isn’t an issue, and there are no special tags or licenses required. In most cases, you simply purchase a small game license, and you’re all set.
BRAD FITZPATRICK (3); GETTY IMAGES
Worried that hunting with beagles will scare away your deer? Don’t be. Whitetail deer live within defined home ranges and will return to an area even if they are spooked, and I’ve killed several bucks in the same areas where I run my hounds.
HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS FROM fifth-century Greece describe small-statured dogs with excellent noses and a proclivity for trailing small game. These dogs became the forerunners of the Saint Hubert hound of the eighth century and, later, the Talbot hound of Europe. William the Conqueror brought the first Talbot hound to England in the 11th century, and while these dogs had excellent noses, they lacked speed. Greyhounds were crossed into the bloodline, and these new dogs became known as the southern hound — the ancestor of all modern beagles. In 1830, the Rev. Phillip Honeywood of Great Britain established the first breeding program for beagles, and in the late 19th century, Gen. Richard Rowett of Illinois brought the first beagles to the U.S. Americans quickly fell in love with the diminutive and jovial beagle, and the breed quickly became (and remains) one of the most popular dog breeds in America. — Brad Fitzpatrick
And of course, rabbit meat, when properly cooked, makes 5 excellent table fare. I often substitute rabbit for chicken in recipes.
SUPER SNAPPER Try your hand at catching these dinnertime darlings
BY ED KILLER
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GETTY IMAGES; SCOTT FAWCETT; JONATHAN EARHART
ome of the most famous fish species are known for their fight, leaping antics, bright colors or trophy status, even when released. But when it comes to snapper, popularity has everything to do with the final destination: the table. Throughout the coastal southern United States, snapper are pursued daily by anglers fishing from inshore waters, piers, bridges, catwalks and aboard boats miles from land. They are the prime target of a thriving party and charter boat fleet fishing from the oil rigs of the Northern Gulf of Mexico to the coral reef lines of the Florida Keys to the deep ledges of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Although there are numerous species of snapper, the larger members of the family garner the most attention and effort from charter boat customers and weekend warriors. The gray snapper, mutton snapper, lane snapper and vermilion snapper are all tough little fighters, which make them fun to catch, plus they make excellent dinner fare. But the red snapper, sometimes called American red snapper or genuine
red snapper, has been a longtime favorite selection at fish markets. The red, mutton and gray make up the big three of the Super Snappers — the most commonly targeted and sought-after snapper species. Red snapper are among the largest, regularly weighing 15 to 20 pounds, but can reach up to 40 pounds. Commercial fishing throughout their range depleted stocks, and since 2007, red snapper harvesting has been tightly regulated by federal agencies, but this has been easing in recent years. Red snapper are most commonly caught in deep waters, from about 90 to 200 feet. Typically, they will school in large numbers over well-developed natural or artificial reefs, shipwrecks or in Gulf waters around the steel superstructure of the oil-drilling platforms. “We’ve got very good red snapper fishing on those rigs,” says Southern Kingfish Association hall of famer Marcus Kennedy, who has won more than 60 fishing tournaments. “We’ve caught them up to 35 pounds, and we’re pretty excited about the recent relaxation of federal regulations, which will allow us >
SNAP HAPPY Cubera snapper are known for their brute size and menacing maw, sometimes wowing crowds at fishing tournament weigh-ins when they top 100 pounds. Anglers who specialize in catching them have been known to use spiny lobsters or whole bonitos as bait. Silk or yelloweye snapper and queen snapper are deep-water species caught in 600 feet of water or deeper, often around the drop-offs of the Bahamas and Florida Keys. Electric reels are a must to win these delicacies. Yellowtail snapper are among the smaller members of the family, averaging about 2 pounds, but when chummed up on the near-shore reefs of South Florida between the Palm Beaches and the Dry Tortugas, they make for great fun on light tackle.
Red snapper are among the largest of the species.
Mutton snapper can be caught as far north as South Carolina, but are more commonly associated with Florida angling pursuits.
to begin targeting them again this year.” Red snapper like bigger baits, such as fresh grunts or sardines, but are known to bite about anything dropped down. In many places, gray snapper are known as mangrove snapper because they often seek the safety of red mangrove roots during their early stages of life. A large gray snapper will weigh about 9 pounds, but some state records for the species are about 17 pounds. The gray snapper is known for being cunning and smart. They will eagerly attack a wide variety of offerings from Johnson Sprite gold spoons in inshore waters to large 1-ounce white-haired jigs in deep water. When fishing for them around rocky causeways or bridge pilings, a cut piece of shrimp on a small 4/0 hook or a live shrimp on a 1/4-ounce weighted jig head is all that is needed. It takes a lot of work to fool a mutton snapper. They have sharp eyes and are wary of anything that doesn’t look right around their prey. Long leaders are often required when fishing for mutton snapper, and fluorocarbon leaders, which are less visible to fish than monofilament lines, increase your chances. “I’ll use a 40-pound fluorocarbon leader as long as 40 feet on a knocker rig,” recommends Capt. Patrick Price of DayMaker charters in Stuart, Fla. “Mutton snapper can be caught best in 40 to 70 feet of water on our natural coral reefs, but they will not take a bait if it is bouncing on the bottom, or if they catch a glimpse of leader.” Mutton snapper are also distinct in that they can occasionally be caught in the shallow crystal waters of Biscayne Bay within sight of the skyline of downtown Miami, offshore of the launch pads at Cape Canaveral and even off the shores of Charleston, S.C. And it’s a safe bet, whatever the snapper species, its flaky white fillet will be well-received on the dinner table. l
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Anglers fishing off the Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic will soon have more opportunities to keep red snapper. A recovering population, as indicated in recent stock assessments, and pressure from a more industry-favorable administration are helping to create more access for recreational anglers. However, length of seasons and bag and size limits vary by state. The new regulations were made possible when National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries allowed states to use an Exempted Fishing Permit process to govern their own seasons for the popular catch. In each case, states set regulations for red snapper fishing in state and federal waters. Anglers interested in participating in the rule-making process for 2019 or who wish to keep red snapper are encouraged to follow the red snapper species directory at noaa.gov. In applicable cases, anglers may need to apply for permits well in advance. Before keeping a red snapper, check each state’s fishing regulations or use a fishing regulations app, such as Fishbrain or SA Fishing Regulations. — Ed Killer
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AMERICA’S FISH Scrappy, widely distributed bluegill are easy to find and fun to catch BY GARY GARTH
s we troll past a couple of the 200-year-old cypress trees that dot northwest Tennessee’s Reelfoot Lake, Alan Clemons gets a whiff of his childhood. It’s a hint of stale sweetness, akin to a slightly over-ripe cantaloupe or watermelon. Not unpleasant and immediately recognizable. Bluegill. “It’s a very distinctive smell,” says Clemons. “It’s different than what people
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know as a fish odor, like at the market or docks. Once you get a whiff and realize what it is, you’ll not forget it.” The aroma is something of a time portal for Clemons. “I learned that when I was about 7 or 8 years old and fishing with my mother and father on Big Nance Creek in northern Alabama,” the 52-yearold married father of two explains. “My mother could smell them. She would say, ‘We need to stop right here.’ And we’d stop and anchor up and start catching bluegill.” That’s what bluegill can do for you. >
GOOD TO KNOW: If you’re not catching bluegill, it’s time to move locations, recommends angler Jeff Samsel. “One of the biggest mistakes is sitting still too long when you haven’t found a fish. When you move along and find them, that’s when you want to stop and capitalize on that spot. But if you get too camped out in an area and the fish aren’t biting, there’s no reason to do that. They’re somewhere.”
KEEPER Half-pound 8 to 9 inches*
CATCH OF THE DAY Pound for pound, bluegill might be one of the strongest freshwater fish.
RARE 1 pound 10 to 12 inches*
CATCH OF A LIFETIME 2 pounds 13 inches*
It binds us to memories that span generations. Clemons’ mother, Ann, died in 1984, but the scent of spawning bluegill pulled her presence into his boat as though she was sitting in the bow seat. “If you’re trolling along a bank calmly and quietly, and if the water is clear enough, you’ll probably smell that sweet smell,” Clemons adds. “And you’ll know you are in the right spot.” Perhaps that’s why bluegill — one of the most widely distributed fish in America and beyond — are so popular among anglers of all ages and skill levels. Or it could be because they’re so darn
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fun to catch. “Nothing will paste a silly grin on the face of even the most seasoned angler than catching a bluegill he or she can barely wrap their hand around,” says Jeff Samsel, content specialist for Thill Floats and a dedicated bluegill fisherman. “I’ve heard people jest that if a bluegill got as big as a bass you couldn’t reel it in, and that’s almost true. They’re flat-sided and all muscle. A bluegill is brutally strong for its size, making for great sport. They don’t draw many headlines, but every angler enjoys catching them. They are every angler’s fish.” Bluegill, like their aquatic cousin, the largemouth bass, and many other kindred species, are members of the sunfish family. They are found across most of North America, and have been introduced to waters in Europe, Asia and South America. They are popular with anglers for several reasons: They swim nearly everywhere freshwater flows, they provide tremendous sport on light tackle and they’re delicious when lightly battered and fried. >
*Illustrations do not depict actual size.
The International Game Fish Association’s all-tackle world record bluegill is a 4-pound, 12-ounce brute — a heavyweight record that has stood 68 years.
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And they are relatively easy to catch, particularly in spring and summer during the spawn. A bluegill spawning bed can contain dozens of nests. Find one bluegill and you’ll typically find several. Presented with bait, they will usually strike hard. While spawning bluegill are found in bunches, they are not inextinguishable, cautions Billy Blakley, head guide at Blue Bank Resort on Reelfoot Lake, a bluegill lodestone. When fishing a spawning bed, Blakley only puts male bluegill on ice. Males typically are darker than females and have an orangishcolored breast. “Don’t keep females off a (spawning) bed,” advises Blakley. “It will dry the bed up.” During the spawn, look for bluegill in 2 to 6 feet of water, often near woody cover or vegetation. Later in the summer, when fish move away from spawning areas, you’ll find them in deeper, cooler water. — ANGLER JEFF SAMSEL “Bluegill can be fished almost year-round,” says retired Kentucky fisheries biologist Paul Rister. “If you are in an area with vegetation or fallen brush, I’d fish the edges of that cover. After the spawn, the bigger bluegill might be found on deeper banks.” Reelfoot Lake is a top destination for big bluegill, and plenty of them. Clemons also recommends Guntersville Lake in northern Alabama and Lake Seminole on the Georgia-Florida line for strong numbers of big ‘gills.
“Nothing will paste a silly grin on the face of even the most seasoned angler than catching a bluegill.”
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I’ve fished for bluegills from the Dakotas to Virginia, including in my home state of Kentucky. But the largest bluegills I’ve caught came from a small remote lake in Ontario, Canada’s Killarney Provincial Park. Samsel suggests South Carolina’s Santee Cooper Reservoir and the Pymatuning Reservoir, which straddles the Pennsylvania-Ohio border about 50 miles northeast of Youngstown, Ohio, as two additional don’t-miss bluegill spots. But good fishing is likely closer than you think. “One of the very best things about bluegill fishing is that the action can be good in so many places — and the best place to fish for many people is as close as a neighborhood pond, county park lake or creek that runs through town,” Samsel says. Successful tactics for bluegill fishing fit most fishing budgets or styles; from a cane pole and a box of worms to a four-figure fly rod tipped with a hand-tied fly. Anglers can also use fly or spinning gear and artificial or live bait via boat, canoe, kayak, float tube or wading. “An added appeal of bluegill fishing is that these fish can be caught so many different ways,” Samsel notes, “including bait fishing or spin fishing with ultralight lures and fly-fishing.” Bluegill aren’t the perfect fish. But they might be close, says Samsel, an internationally traveled angler who has landed dozens of species. “I don’t know of anything else that can make someone who has fished around the world or caught other species of big fish get so happy and excited as when they catch a big bluegill,” he says. l
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More than a bait or rigging technique, the Ned Rig is a time-tested fishing methodology BY DEBBIE HANSON
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had been piqued. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Kehde spent time fishing with friend and legendary bass angler Guido Hibdon. He learned that Hibdon was catching high numbers of fish using Woods’ Beetle Spin on the Gravois Arm of the Lake of the Ozarks. In the 1980s, when Hibdon began his tournament career, he proved to anglers across the United States that finesse lures and methods could catch loads of bass in different waterways. Although it wasn’t until 2005, when Kevin VanDam landed an 11-pound, 13-ounce bass on a shaky head jig and 4-inch Strike King 3X Finesse Worm during the Texas Bassmaster Elite 50 Pro tournament on Lake Lewisville in north Texas, that the bass fishing community started paying attention to finesse techniques. The following year, Kehde interviewed VanDam regarding his tactics at a Table Rock Lake media event in Missouri. After the interview, VanDam handed him a pack of Strike King 4-inch Finesse Worms and Zeros to try out. Within a few weeks, Kehde put the baits to use. On Oct. 12, 2006, he fished with a group of Ozark anglers at a 55-acre reservoir in northeastern Kansas using a 4-inch Strike King green pumpkin 3X Finesse Worm on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher Tackle jig, a 2 1/2-inch Strike King Zero on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom head jig and a 3-inch green pumpkin tube on a >
BEYOND STICKBAITS Midwest finesse fishing certainly isn’t limited to one presentation.
hile many bass fishing aficionados refer to a 2 1/2- to 3-inch piece of soft plastic stick bait threaded onto an ultralight 1/16- to 1/32-ounce jighead as the Ned Rig, there’s more to the story. The technique’s tale began in a Kansas City bait shop and involved some of the biggest names in professional bass fishing, and turned into a style of fishing that just about anyone can use just about anywhere to catch more fish than ever before. Angling icon Chuck Woods started catching numbers of largemouth bass using a 2 1/2- to 3-inch soft plastic cream-colored ‘beetle’ rigged on a jig head at a time when Elvis was emerging on the airwaves and poodle skirts were en vogue. In the late 1950s, Woods created the first Beetle Spin lure based on his successes with these soft plastic baits. Woods’ unique method of fishing soon became fodder for numerous conversations at Fincke’s Tackle Shop in Kansas City, Mo. Fincke’s was the place to be if you were a Midwest bass angler and wanted to hear Woods’ latest fishing reports or watch him craft this new style of lures. The young Ned Kehde, who would become a prominent fishing writer for industry publications, was present for many of those conversations, and his interest in fishing with small soft plastic baits
CREATURES Z-Manâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s TRD HogZ, shown, and Yumâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Wooly Hawgtail are two examples of 3-inch compactprofile soft plastic finesse baits that imitate prey. The tiny appendages quiver with the slightest movement of the rod tip.
CRAWS Finesse craws, such as the Z-Man TRD CrawZ, can be rigged on a weedless jig head. These are made using a naturally buoyant construction, which enables the bait to rise up from the bottom in an alluring defensive posture.
WORMS Finesse worms such as the Z-Man Finesse WormZ have a natural action ideal for subtle presentations. When rigged on a shaky head jig, the tail stands off the bottom to attract even the fussiest of bass.
The Z-Man TRD CrawZ can be paired with the Finesse BulletZ Weedless Jighead for optimal results.
96 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2018
to shake it as the bait sinks down when conditions prove challenging, toward the bottom. Throughout your Kehde insists that it’s worth trying to retrieve, keep the bait swimming boost catch rates. slowly from 6 inches to 1 foot above “I use it every day of the year,” says bottom,” he adds. Kehde. “You don’t need Captain Bryan Honclear water or highly presnerlaw, Lake Okeechobee sured conditions to catch bass guide and Fishing numbers of fish using League Worldwide Series Midwest finesse baits and Pro, says he uses a Ned techniques.” Rig when fishing clear “Sometimes you’ll come water on calm sunny across what we refer to as days. “While it’s not an ‘nothing looking banks’ or effective search bait for areas along the shoreline locating fish, it is effective where you don’t see any at enticing fish to bite in structure or brush piles high-pressure situations at all,” Kehde notes. “The — NED KEHDE when they seem to shut Ned Rig excels in these down on most other baits types of areas. You’ll be and techniques.” surprised at the amount of bites While many bass anglers and touryou can get in places you wouldn’t nament pros turn to Midwest finesse expect.” l
“You’ll be surprised at the amount of bites you can get.”
1/16-ounce jig. As a result, the group of anglers landed 109 largemouth bass — and the tale of modern-day Midwest finesse would soon be told by bass anglers across the nation using Kehde’s first name. Standard Midwest finesse gear consists of short 5 1/2- to 7-foot medium action spinning rods with fast-action tips paired with mediumsize spinning reels that are better suited for lightweight baits. “I always rig using a 5-inch Z-Man ZinkerZ cut down to 2 inches or a 2 3/4-inch Z-Man Finesse TRD on a 1/32- or 1/16-ounce mushroom jig head (size 6 or 4 hook), and apply a swim-glide-shake retrieve a majority of the time,” Kehde says. “This no-feel retrieve is the secret. Once your bait hits the water, immediately begin shaking the rod and continue
OFF THE HOOK Texas fisherman turns blocks of wood into beautiful airbrushed lures BY DAVID SIKES
hen John Garcia approaches a shoreline, he resists the urge to leap from his vehicle and prepare his tackle. Instead, he pauses and carefully surveys the scene. He’s looking for surface activity, perhaps ripples created by nervous mullet or the exposed tails of feeding redfish. Garcia’s father taught his three sons to calmly observe and plan before casting their lines. Fishing is hunting, he told his sons. The Garcias applied this strategy wherever they fished, which was usually near their home in Corpus Christi, Texas — the same city where John now resides. They waded the seagrass and sand of the Laguna Madre and Corpus Christi Bay. And they nearly always used artificial bait, often a curved yellow plug the boys called a banana lure. Most likely it was a Lazy Ike by Pradco. >
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Garcia makes about 15 lures from each 7-foot piece of cherry wood handrailing.
CASEY JACKSON/THE CORPUS CHRISTI (TEXAS) CALLER-TIMES; DAVID SIKES/THE CORPUS CHRISTI (TEXAS) CALLER-TIMES
www.fairďŹ eldchamber.sc 803-635-4242
687 miles rural county with 20,700 lake surface acres
“Giving someone a lure that no one else has or that’s not manufactured by the thousands is pretty special.”
100 HUNT & FISH | SUMMER/FALL 2018
Garcia repairs helicopters during the day at the Corpus Christi Army Depot. But at night, he’s an artist in his backyard workshop.
Later, Garcia began tinkering with some of his old faded fishing lures. His Rapala broken-back plugs had lost their luster, so he fired up his airbrush and brought them back to life. Garcia said he was surprisingly impressed with the results. When a co-worker showed him a homemade wooden lure with an unimpressive paint job, Garcia took a shot at touching up the pathetic plug. This time, other people were impressed. Throughout 2002 and 2003, he and his co-worker created more fishing lures and began selling them at work. Their collaborations sold for $18 each. Soon they were selling two to three dozen a week. His partner soon lost interest, but Garcia figured he could continue alone if he had a wood lathe and time to practice. After purchasing an $80 lathe, Garcia quickly amassed $1,000 worth of woodworking equipment. By 2010, he had experimented with different wood types, ultimately settling on rich-grained cherry, left over from a staircase >
DAVID SIKES/THE CORPUS CHRISTI (TEXAS) CALLER-TIMES
John Garcia, the youngest member of the team, kept one of those banana plug lures. For years, it hung from a shelf in his workshop as a reminder of his dad, who died when John was 16. Many evenings, after repairing Black Hawk helicopters at Corpus Christi Army Depot, Garcia’s skilled and steady hands use a wood lathe to turn blocks of dense cherry wood into the sweetest fishing lures you’ve ever seen. Lures aren’t Garcia’s sole creative outlet; his fanciful airbrushed works of art don’t hang in galleries, but they cover the shiny fuel tanks of Harley Fat Boy motorcycles and grace the tailgates of mud-trucks. Garcia’s creations have included outdoor and wildlife scenes and smoke and flames on vans, lowriders and even airplanes. He learned to use an airbrush when he was 12, but began perfecting his craft in high — JOHN GARCIA school. He worked at a local mall, airbrushing T-shirts with designs such as hearts, popular slogans and beach scenes. He had a knack for painting outside the lines. His freestyle talent developed into a sideline business painting murals, which he still does.
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banister at the federal courthouse. Folks at the lumber yard know Garcia well now. Each annual visit, he buys enough cherry wood to make 500 lures. He can create about 15 lures from 7 feet of handrailing. And through his Instagram page (garcia_lures), folks don’t seem to mind paying $25 for the fancy creations that work just as well as gifts that may never touch water, commemorative retirement mementos and personalized keepsakes as they do fishing lures that twitch or dive in fresh or saltwater. Each lure comes with Garcia’s signature, the date it was produced and its weight. But he’ll paint or include most
Garcia has sold or given away about 2,000 of his fishing lures.
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anything you can imagine, including the recipient’s name, a logo or a custom design. Once, he painted a lure with the U.S. Coast Guard colors and logo for a retired seaman. Another he created with gold leaf as the top prize for a fishing tournament; it included a wooden case. Coincidentally, Garcia’s son was the winning recipient. Some lures include a rigid wire running lengthwise through the center. Hooks and hardware are attached to the wire for extra strength. Others feature glue-reinforced screw-in eyelets for attaching line and treble hooks. His lures have been tested on various catches, including redfish, trout and largemouth and striped bass. Once an oversized redfish straightened a hook on one of his top-water plugs, but he’s never had a hook detach from a lure. Garcia’s research and development team today includes his 18-year-old son, Westin, plus fishermen in Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, Kentucky and Louisiana. He’s sold or given away about 2,000 lures and no two are exactly alike. Even pro fisherman and TV host Jimmy Houston used Instagram to recommend Garcia Lures, though the two have never met. Garcia says receiving a celebrity nod for his work is nice, but nothing is more satisfying than hearing fish stories involving his lures or seeing the reaction of folks who receive a custom Garcia Lure as a gift. “Giving someone a lure that no one else has or that’s not manufactured by the thousands is pretty special,” he says. “People’s faces just light up when they get their hands on one. At that point, the price doesn’t really seem to matter.” l
DAVID SIKES/THE CORPUS CHRISTI (TEXAS) CALLER-TIMES
This torpedo shape is one of Garcia’s more popular topwater plug designs. He sells locally and through his Instagram account.
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All packed and ready to go for a stream camping adventure.
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Get away from it all by combining stream camping, fishing and camping STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRUCE INGRAM
tream camping can be a wonderful experience or a miserable failure. On my fourth date with Elaine, I took her on a combination fishing and camping expedition to gauge her general interest in the outdoors. But I did just about everything wrong. The burgers I grilled over the campfire were overcooked, the roasted potatoes undercooked. I brought along unnecessary things — a heavy frying pan when a simple mess kit would’ve sufficed. And I left important things at home — such as the first-aid kit — so when Elaine developed a migraine headache, I had no aspirin. Nevertheless, on our fifth date, I asked her to marry me. She said yes, and 40 years later, she still teases me about that streamside debacle. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make stream camping adventures memorable instead of miserable.
PLAN AHEAD A quality stream camping excursion happens because of smart planning. Tommy Cundiff, who operates the River Monster Guide Service in Bluefield, Va., and Pigeon Forge, Tenn., certainly believes so.
“Start the planning process by reading any books (about) the river, contacting a state fisheries biologist and obtaining maps on the sections you want to fish,” he says. “Make sure you know where the access points are and how far apart they are. Eight miles is about as far as you’ll want to paddle in a day and have time to fish leisurely and set up camp before dark. And you’d better make sure that the section of the river you’re on has public land for camping.” Some rivers offer plentiful public camping, such as the upper Potomac in West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia. Others vary. For example, the New River offers no public camping in Virginia, but there are several options in West Virginia and North Carolina. One element to look for is national forest land. Most national forests allow camping along waterways. “Another thing to research is the presence or absence of rapids,” Cundiff adds. “I guide in a raft, so a Class II rapid is no big deal. For someone who is a beginning paddler in a canoe or kayak filled with camping gear, a Class II drop with rocks around could be a trip ender. You should also research the U.S. Geological Survey National Water Information System for the state you’re planning to float in. From that, you can learn what the >
Austin Bousman packs up the Wingman Outrigger for a day on the water.
Follow the experts’ advice, and make favorable stream camping memories to last a lifetime.
unsafe water levels are and cancel a trip if a river will be too high. And by all means, check the weather forecast.”
FIND A CAMPSITE If they are publicly owned, midriver islands make superb campsites. “An island campsite should be on a small rise that is far enough from the river that if the water comes up overnight, you won’t wake up in a panic,” Cundiff says. “Also, a small rise catches the night winds more and helps keep down insects. And pebble beaches are better than sandy ones because sand retains moisture more.”
CHOOSE YOUR KAYAK OR CANOE Herschel Finch, a pro staffer for Jackson Kayak in Sparta, Tenn., has paddled rivers across the Mid-Atlantic in kayaks. “With the internal storage now avail-
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able in kayaks, a two- or three-day jaunt down a river is quite doable,” he says. “Sit-on-tops have grown considerably in size and capacity the last six or seven years, making this possible.” Finch says Jackson Kayak’s Big Rig and MayFly are good examples of these larger kayaks, with the former being 13 feet long, and the latter 12 feet, 8 inches. Both feature compartments that offer plenty of storage. However, Finch maintains that the canoe is still king for a four-day-plus river camping trip because of its capacity. “But if you approach (stream camping) like you would backpacking, these boats work great,” he says. “Your gear needs to be lightweight, easily packable and high quality. Freeze-dried foods are ideal for this kind of trip. Pack your potable water in hydration bags; they pack easier than bottles because they lay flat.” Leave the glass or cans at home.
Austin Bousman, co-founder of Wingman Outfitter in Vinton, Va., has paddled many of America’s major rivers. “My favorite river camping canoe is a 16-foot Blue Hole, which is a classic,” he says. “It’s easy to paddle, tracks well and has great secondary stability, meaning it responds well in current. Its ABS construction means its structure can handle banging into rocks.” Bousman has attached his company’s invention, the Wingman Outrigger, to his Blue Hole canoe. The Wingman Outrigger’s 72-inch-long, 24-inch-wide frame rests on the gunnel. On both sides of the frame there are slots where gear boxes rest. “Suspending the coolers outside of the boat provides stability and weight distribution,” Bousman explains.
Don’t Forget Dave Arnold, senior vice president of public relations for Adventures on the Gorge in Lansing, W.Va., and outdoorsmen Tommy Cundiff, Austin Bousman and Herschel Finch, share their essential gear list:
MAXIMIZE SPACE Especially if you’re paddling a kayak, Finch says that gear needs to easily fit into dry bags that will, in turn, also fit into storage spaces. “Check your bag sizes fully packed before you try to load up the night before the trip,” he says. “There is no such thing as dry-storage inside a sit-on-top kayak. If nothing else, your gear is going to get wet from simple condensation inside the hull. Good, dry bags from (brands such as) SealLine or NRS are a must.” Finch suggests you “weigh all the gear you’re going to take with you and then make sure it all fits in your boat. Distribute the weight, including yourself, in the boat for proper handling and performance. Then on a short day trip, go paddle that much weight and make sure your boat — and you — can handle the load properly and safely. Planning ahead is the key to a great adventure.” And always be prepared for adverse weather, or a trip could be miserable. Cundiff adds that he uses a combination of dry bags and hard plastic Pelican brand cases to keep his gear dry. I recommend using a Pelican 1400 Protector Case for your camera, cellphone and wallet, and dry bags for everything else. Fortunately, my future wife forgave the outdoor miscues early in our relationship. Follow the experts’ advice and make favorable stream camping memories to last a lifetime. l
“Travel light” is the mantra for today’s river kayak camper.
Tent and tarp/rainfly
Self-inflating sleeping pad
Flashlight and headlamp
Propane stove and mess kit
ADVENTURE AWAITS Remote Great Basin National Park entices with endless vistas, soaring peaks and underground caverns BY BENJAMIN SPILLMAN
f you’re looking for a national park that puts the adventure in your adventure travel, add Great Basin National Park to your list. In fact, just getting there is an adventure. Located in eastern Nevada near the border with Utah, Great Basin National Park is surrounded by hundreds of miles of desolate terrain. The nearest major highway to the park’s main entrance is U.S. Highway 50, also known as the Loneliest Road in America. But don’t let the wide-open, high-desert terrain fool you. Once you’ve arrived at Great Basin, there are plenty of opportunities for adventure, both above your head and below your feet. Towering overhead are Wheeler and Jeff Davis peaks. At 13,065 feet in elevation, Wheeler is one of the tallest peaks in Nevada. If you go during the winter, the weather can be severe, so plan accordingly. Underfoot is Lehman Caves, a huge underground cavern that extends about a quarter mile underneath the Snake Range. The cavern is home to an extensive mix of stalactites, stalagmites and other mineral formations in limestone and marble. The park service offers paid, guided tours, which allow visitors to revel in an underground environment that most people never get to experience. But keep in mind reservations fill up quickly during peak times. The big adventures at Great Basin, however, await visitors who are willing to ascend the tall peaks. From the top of the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive at about 10,000 feet, there’s a hiking trail that takes visitors the remaining distance to the top of Wheeler Peak. In summer and fall months, the trail is a popular hiking destination because of its accessibility and incredible views. Hikers also enjoy the trail into the bristlecone pine grove, a
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collection of rare trees that live to be thousands of years old. Signs near the trees detail what was happening in history when the trees were just saplings. The upper reaches of Great Basin National Park are rarely visited in winter and spring, especially when there’s snow covering the scenic drive. But for people willing and able to ascend
RICK GUNN; GETTY IMAGES
Wheeler or Jeff Davis in the snow, Great Basin can be a rewarding backcountry skiing experience. And whether you’ve been peak bagging or exploring the cave during the day, the isolated nature of the park makes it a top-notch destination for stargazing, and astronomy parties are a common summertime group activity. For anglers, the park is home to one native fish species, the Bonneville cutthroat trout, and four non-native species: Lahonton cutthroat, rainbow, brook and brown trout. Nevada state fishing regulations apply. If you’re planning to visit Great Basin, it’s important to be prepared. The only development at the edge of the park is the tiny town of Baker,
VISIT SOON Wheeler Peak Glacier is the only glacier in Nevada and among the southernmost in the United States. It’s imminently threatened by climate change.
The trail to Wheeler Peak at Great Basin National Park near Baker, Nev.
Nev., which is little more than a few houses, a bar and a small coffee shop and restaurant. And although the park gets fewer than 170,000 visitors annually, there aren’t many campsites. And most campsites are on a first-come, first-served basis. This means your best bet to snag a spot is to visit on a weekday.
Get in Gear
What you use in the mountains runs downhill into the ocean, so choose wisely. All Good Sunscreen Butter SPF 50+ is reef-safe with five organic ingredients plus zinc oxide. $9.99,
A meal of chili after an evening hike is a motivator. So are overnight oats in the morning. Make either a reality with the 12-ounce leakproof and temperature controlled Hydro Flask for food.
The Scarpa R-Evolution GTX combines a rugged backpacking boot with a nimble trail shoe, featuring outer suede and Gore-Tex to provide a tough, weather-proof layer.
Strands of silver threaded throughout ScentLok’s odor-controlling hiking crew socks prohibit bacteria growth, while carbon fibers absorb moisture. $24.99,
Light and breathable, with dynamic reach underarm panels, Outdoor Research’s Interstellar jackets keep you dry without feeling constricted. $299,
A 40-degree bag for use with or without a separate internal fleece blanket, the L.L.Bean Traverse 3-in-1 Burrito sleeping bag has room for the broadshouldered or tossing type. Blanket and bag zip inside one duffel. $129, llbean.com
PackTowl’s personal quickdrying microfiber towel is fast-drying, super absorbent and odor-controlling, a mix that makes it handy for camping and hiking. $9.95 to $44.95, packtowl.com
The Baltoro 65 is Gregory’s best-selling multiday pack. Spacious and agile, the backpack’s contoured pad and suspension provides adaptive support and ventilated comfort — ideal for any adventure.
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PROVIDED BY THE COMPANIES
The Hubba Hubba NX two-person, three-season tent by MSR was designed for backpackers who need a compact, lightweight tent. The symmetrical design and nontapered floor maximize space, while the integrated, adjustable stake-out loops speed setup.
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Famed landscape photographer Ansel Adams used art to promote conservation ine tree silhouettes stand like soldiers against the crisp western sky. Smooth boulders smolder at the base of Mount Whitney, its jagged peaks lit by the late afternoon sun. Thin feathery ferns fold in reverence to Yosemite Falls, dividing the mountain in two. In the early 1900s, iconic images like these were captured by photographer Ansel Adams. With a 35mm camera and plenty of film, Adams spent most of his life traversing Yosemite and the Sierra Nevadas — where he says he felt most at home. He documented vast and powerful landscapes in black and white, climbing rocky cliffs where he “had no idea of the techniques of climbing, but in some way … survived” and wading into streams to capture close-up, intimate views. Before Photoshop, Instagram and smartphone filters, Adams used f-stops, apertures, shadow and light to capture images that still hold their intrigue.
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An early conservationist, Adams worked with the Sierra Club, leading annual outings and serving as summer custodian of the group’s Le Conte Memorial Lodge in Yosemite Valley. He used his photographic genius to propel awareness of habitat preservation and ecological respect, documenting the sagebrush and juniper-filled terrain that still serves as a critical environment for wildlife, despite continued encroachment and development. Adams died in 1984, but his legacy lives on through photographs, the Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite and published works. Many photographers try to imitate his style, but Adams’ distinct view of landscape has proved difficult to copy. It’s not easy to slow down, but it is often beneficial to deviate from the well-worn path. Take a page from Adams’ playbook: Grab your camera, lace up your boots and follow the foothills into the mountains.
BARBARA ALPER/GETTY IMAGES
BY KRISTEN A. SCHMITT
Fish & Cruise While the 236CC was designed for use as a coastal fishing boat, it's really a multi-purpose boat that can be used for lots of activities — pulling kids on a tube, cruising to dinner, or just a leisurely ride along the waterways.
With seating for up to twelve passengers, rod holders and storage throughout, and a changing compartment that can be upgraded with an optional porta potti, the 236CC is ready for a full day of fun on the water with family and friends! 236CC Deck Boat 23’ 8” | 101” beam | 3648 lbs (w/ popular engine) | 68 gal fuel capacity | 12 ppl, 3250 lbs VISIT STINGRAYBOATS.COM /236CC FOR MORE INFORMATION
Camo Special Edition Notebook
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Look for this hard-to-find notebook and other great HP devices in Walmart stores and at Walmart.com/HP.
Inspired by the great outdoors Official Realtree Xtra® camo pattern
Dependable performance Intel® power and plenty of storage
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Vibrant display Crisp HD screen1