Archive for the ‘Boats’ Category

CONCEALED CARRY AND THE OUTDOORSMAN   1 comment

Kevin and his two pre-teen sons find a scenic camping location with a waterfowl in a remote location. As they pitch their tent, have dinner over an open fire and settle in for the night, four drunken teens announce their presence.  The location is a favorite drinking location for them.

The teens, embolden by their drinking decide to evict the family. As the discussion becomes more threatening and the teens encroach on the campsite.  Kevin pulls his pistol and points it suggesting that perhaps the teens may want to find another location.  They decide to leave rather than risk a shot from an angry father.

Once the invaders are safely out of sight, Kevin packs up his children and gear. They safely leave what could have been a very serious situation.

This parent protected his family thanks to his right to concealed carry.

Stories such as this spotlight the need for concealed carry for the outdoor recreationist as well as potential victims of crime in urban areas.

However, before you carry your concealed weapon on your next outing there is some precautions needed.

To begin with some states have laws prohibiting carrying while in the field. For instance a state might ban bowhunters from carrying a firearm in the field regardless of the reason.  Some governmental agencies prohibit handguns at all times on their parks and refuges.  Still other states do not recognize concealed carry permit from other states.  This is reciprocity.

If you are traveling from one state to another it is important to know the law in all the states through which you are traveling. Your permit might be valid in your home state and the destination state but you might be traveling through another state where it is not valid.

How can you keep up with the ever changing laws that might affect your carrying protection while in the field? One of the best sources of current information regarding concealed carry is the website of United States Concealed Carry Association (www.USCCA.com).

They also have an App there as well so that you can access the information on your phone while in the field.

One of the easiest ways to get information on reciprocity is the State Reciprocity Map (www.usconcealedcarry.com/travel/).

Another valuable website is the Safe Gun Travel site (www.safeguntravel.com/).

THE LEAN MEAN FISHING MACHINE   1 comment

When man first crossed over the Bering Strait and began to settle North America he brought with him the kayak. It was nothing more than animal skins stretched across a wooden frame.  The fragility of this craft no doubt cost some lives.  But it was portable and could portage ice pressure ridges.

The kayak is no longer a means of transporting people across arctic waters or down raging rivers. Anglers are turning to the kayak as a lean mean fishing machine.

The modern kayak is for all waters and particularly for the angler in search of quality fishing time. They come in a variety of lengths and widths and made of a variety of plastics, nylon and fiberglass.  Some are best for running fast river currents while others will stand the rigors of ocean travel.  The seating also can vary from one placed on the bottom of the hull to those with a mesh armchair like apparatus.

Kayaks will never replace the bass boat for travel and stability. But there are places where the fishing kayak reigns supreme.  This might come in backwater coves, bayous or a farm pond.   In other words they are great for “skinny water.”  Kayaks come in a variety of models with relatively low price tags that make them an affordable option for the crappie angler.

Tournament anglers are turning to kayak divisions in such events. They compete in their own divisions.

Modern kayakers have adapted many of the features of power boat angers to their crafts. There are mini-power pole units just like the normal size ones.  Water tight storage areas, live wells and pole racks can aid in the storage of tackle and rain gear.

Today’s kayak constructed of manmade materials is much safer. Some are even available in inflatable models.  Their crafts are more stable thanks to wider beams and built in floatation systems.  Topside water-tight compartments permit the stowing of gear and rod holders.  Additional gear can be attached using bungee cords.  For the angler there are kayaks with live wells and numerous racks for additional rods.  It is usually heavier than its predecessor and some even have carts that allow one to wheel the craft right up to the shoreline.

The inflatable kayak provides a “luggable” aspect to construction. Usually constructed of PVC-vinyl they have a reinforced underside.  They are ideal for quick trips after work.  Once the fishing trip is over, the inflatable can fold into an easy loading rolling travel bag with a high capacity hand pump or an optional powered one.

The addition of comfortable low profile chairs with mesh seating allow anglers to sit comfortably while fishing skinny water and gliding over brush, weeds, snags, laydowns and rocks. The ones have decks wide enough to allow for the fly anglers to stand up to cast while maintain stability.

Kayaks allow one to have access to bodies of water that hold fish, but do not have boat ramps such as a farm pond or a small creek. It also allows one to access waters beyond small openings in the reeds or that would otherwise require portaging over shallow riffles.  Skinny water is often over-looked by those who do not want to get weeds and junk in the props of their motorized craft.

In addition to the ease in preparation for a day on the water, they are relatively maintenance free and there is no fuel needed. They are easy to transport in the bed of a pick-up.  Anglers find that they end up going fishing more often even if it’s only for a couple of hours after work.

The lack of mechanical power limits the speed and range of the craft. If fish are not biting in one spot it may mean reloading the kayak and driving to the next honey hole.  Another limitation is they do not allow one to carry as much gear as would be the case with a larger craft.  Stability may become an issue.  You will never find one as stable as a bass boat.

Despite the practicality of the modern kayak, one still needs to consider safety precautions on the water. The PFD (life preserver) is mandatory on some waters but essential for all water.  It is important to go out with at least one other person for safety’s sake.  Kayakers need a certain level of physical conditioning and ability to swim with confidence.

It is also advisable to have clothing that dries quickly. A dry bag can be stored on board either in below deck compartments or on deck with the use of bungee cords.  The dry bag also doubles as a storage compartment for valuable electronics.

Regardless of its limitations, the kayak is a lean mean fishing machine.

MAXIMIZE YOUR OUTDOOR SHOW DOLLARS   Leave a comment

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Going to the outdoor show is always a hoot.  It is a chance to see what anglers from all over are buying.  It brings up visions of upcoming trip opportunities and it is a learning experience.

The key to maximizing knowledge from a boat show is advance preparation.  A game plan will allow you to learn with a minimum of exhaustion.  Begin on the Internet.  Most all of the exhibitors web pages.  So too do the sponsors of the show itself.

Most shows are composed of thousands of square feet of products, places to go, and other bits of knowledge.  Covering the entire show and still being able to focus on your favorite aspect of outdoor recreation takes effort.  Some shows are so large that one feels the need of a GPS just to get around.

Once you select the show, check the ads that appear in newspapers, magazines, on radio and television for specific information as to when the show coming to town.  Look for the products and seminars that interest you.  If planning to make purchases, make a list of the items you are seeking.

Make two lists, one that you have to buy and the second of things you would like to examine.  Perhaps you will buy something from the second list and maybe you just want to see it.

Week day traffic is lightest and exhibitors can spend more time with you.  Arrive early to allow maximum time to spend getting the information you seek.

If you are with a group make arrangements to meet at a specific location and time.  You may want to see different things.  Kids do not want to spend the same amount of time at a booth as an adult.  Wives want to see different things than do husbands.

Once at the show, take time to look over the program you usually receive as you enter.  It often has a floor plan and list of the exhibitors.  Use a pen or highlighter marking pen to mark the exhibits and seminars of major interest to you.  Make check marks beside the names of exhibitors who might stock the things you want to purchase.

Make note of the time and location of seminars you want to attend.  Some shows announce the seminars as they are taking place while some do not.  Be sure you have a watch so that you do not miss your favorite speaker.  Make note on the program of any last minute substitute seminar speakers or exhibits.  Look for such changes the entrance to the show or at the seminar area.

Take a cassette tape recorder to the seminar.  Most speakers have no problem with your taping their speech, but it is important to ask permission first.  Take notes in a spiral notebook.  You might even have some questions that you hope the speaker will answer, prepared in advance.  That way if he does not cover the subject, you can ask during the Q & A that usually is part of any seminar.

Pay attention and avoid side conversations with your companions.  If the subject is one in which you are intensely interested, sit near the front so that you can concentrate.  If you are only passively interested, sit in the back or on an aisle.  That way if you decide to leave during the presentation, you will disturb only a minimum number of other people.

Wear comfortable shoes.  You will spend most of your time walking on concrete.  Hiking boots or a new pair of athletic shoes is a good idea as they provide support and cushioning for the feet.  Older athletic shoes are not a good idea as they lack the support necessary to cushion your feet.  They are like walking barefoot and can lead to foot problems as well as fatigue.

If the outside weather is cold, then you need to do something with your coat.  Carrying it is a nuisance.  If the show provides a coat checking service, it is worth the cost.  If not, perhaps you might want to leave it in the vehicle.  A third alternative is to put it in a backpack.

Backpacks are also a good place for brochures that you pick up at the show.  You can acquire a considerable number of them in the course of visiting all the booths.  Although the weight of a brochure is not much, the weight of many brochures is a lot.  If you do not remember to bring your backpack, then look for a booth that is passing out plastic “shopping bags”.  Look around at the other people carrying bags and check for reinforced handles.  They are the ones you want.

Another help is to take frequent breaks and examine what you accumulate.  Sometimes it is stuff that you do not really want.  You can stop for a soft drink and a hot dog while culling your materials.  If after reading the brochure you still have some questions, go back to the booth and get answers.  It is easier than calling or writing from home later.

Finally, check your notes.  Did you miss anything that you had intended to see?

Attendance at sports shows is a great opportunity to gain a maximum benefit from your money.

 

HOW TO LAUNCH A BOAT WITH EASE   Leave a comment

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At first glance, launching a boat from a trailer looks like a simple procedure. But, anyone who has tried it knows full well that it takes some practice to back up to the ramp, drop the boat in the water and them scramble to get out of the way of the next guy.

There are three phases.  With practice you can easily master the pre-launch, launching and retrieving a boat but it does not come automatically.

Boat trailers come in a variety of configurations. They do have some things in common.  There is a winch post and winch.  Most have fenders over the tires, and most have submergible taillights.  If the taillights are not submergible disconnect them prior to backing into the water and reconnect when taken out.

At the ramp, before you actually launch, it is a good idea to pull off to the side. Transfer gear such as coolers, fishing tackle and safety equipment to the boat.  Make sure you have at least one Personal Floatation Device (PFD) for each person in the boat.  Later make sure everyone wears them.  Install and/or tighten drain plugs.  Check batteries.  If necessary hook up and pressurize fuel lines with a couple of pumps of the primer blub.

Next check the ramp itself. Look at how steep it is and how deep the water.  Is the ramp slick or dry?  Is there a dock where you can tie up?  Or will you have to beach the boat after launching?

Returning to the boat, remove the tie downs. Be sure to keep the bow winch line attached to the bow hook.  Make sure there is at least one docking line attached so that the boat is controllable once it is afloat.  Two lines are better as they afford better control over the boat once it is in the water.

Before launching, raise the motor so that the prop and lower unit will have ample clearance as you back down the ramp.

Phase two is the actual launch. It is best to allow the most experienced person in your group to back the trailer down the ramp.  It can avoid damage to the boat and/or trailer from unseen obstacles.  On a multilane ramp, be sure to remain in your lane.

Backing up is easy if you just place one hand on the bottom of the steering wheel and look in your mirrors. Then as you back you move your hand (and the wheel) in the direction you want the trailer to travel.

Back down until the front of your trailer fender is even with the surface of the water. On very flat ramps you may need to back it in further on steep ramps not so far.  The type of boat can also make a difference on how far you need to back into the water.

Once in position, set the parking brake on your vehicle. Grasp the winch handle before you release the ratchet mechanism.  You may need to give the boat a push.  If it still will not move out into the water, then re-lock the winch and back up the trailer a little further.  Then repeat the procedure.

Some boaters can use the motor to power the boat off the trailer. If you do so make sure there is enough clearance for the prop to clear the bottom of the water.  The intakes of the motor must be below the surface to avoid damage.

Once the boat is afloat tie it off to the dock. Remove your vehicle and trailer to the parking area immediately.

The final phase is the retrieval of the boat at the end of the day. It is common courtesy to tie your boat to the dock or circle on the water until your trailer is in place on the ramp.

As you drive your boat onto the trailer, be sure to center it. Drive up to whining a few inches of the winch stand.  Attach the winch strap to the bow eye and take in any slack.  Tilt your outboard motor up and be sure the winch strap is secure before driving up the ramp.  Otherwise you might find your boat does not follow you up the ramp.

Once up the ramp pull back into the parking area so as to be out of the way of others. Once there secure your tie downs and pull the drain plug.  Transfer gear back into your vehicle and dispose of accumulated trash in proper receptacles.  Secure any gear left in the boat to avoid not losing it on the road going home.

It is a good idea to stop at a car wash to pressure wash the boat and trailer on the way home or before another launch. Invasive species and vegetation are a problem when boats are launched in more than one body of water.  Cleaning the hull will go a long way toward avoiding transfer from one lake to another.

 

TRAVELING ANGLERS BE AWARE   Leave a comment

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A courser exploration of the social media these days provides traveling anglers a sorry commentary on safety from criminals. Recently this came home for an acquaintance.

He was planning to fish a tournament at a lake far from home. Not usually thinking of a criminal stealing from his boat, he left some tackle in it during a stopover.  In the morning all of his rods were gone and he had to skip the tournament and return home.

Why does this happen. After counseling criminals for some 30 years I feel uniquely equipped to provide an insight into the way they think.

Stealing from travelers provides the criminal with a certain amount of safety from prosecution. Think about it.

You are a criminal in need of money for drugs or just in need of money. If you rob from a local store, commit a burglary or mug a local, you are likely to be recognized and capture is more likely.  However if the victim is a stranger that chance of being caught is much less.

From the thief’s point of view, what happens is someone catches you?

You prosecution is less likely if the victim is not in court. If they live a long way away the chance of their coming back to the area just to prosecute you is almost non-existent.  End result all the thief is out is come court appearances.

Sophisticated thieves know this and they look for vehicles with out of state license plates.

If you want to protect your equipment, lock it up or take it into your motel room with you. It is inconvenient but not as much as buying new equipment and missing your fishing opportunity.

Another precaution is to park your vehicle in well-lighted areas and ask the motel desk the location of their security cameras. You can bet the thief knows what areas the cameras cover.

If you have items such as fish locaters or other items on the deck that are liable to theft, it is a good idea to mount them on removable mounts. Take them inside or store them out of sight in your locked vehicle or dry storage.

Place locks on anything you value. I learned the hard way by delaying the installation of locks on a new boat I lost an outboard motor to thieves.  I should have known better but like so many I never gave it a thought.  The boat was sitting less than 10-feet from where I was sleeping.

REELFOOT BOAT   2 comments

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Due to the abundance of submerged trees and stumps in Reelfoot Lake, necessity is the mother of invention. Early on the Calhoun Reelfoot Boat became a reality.  The craft is a rather nifty local product in the area surrounding this lake in western Tennessee.   Over the years the construction of these boats passed along from generation to generation until recently.

Although there is talk of resurrecting the business of building these interesting craft, no particular plans seem to have emerged. The boats have become collectors’ items as they vanish from the lake.  The best preserved one I have found is at Blue Bank Resort on the shore of the lake in Hornbeak, TN next to the state park..  There is one in the museum on the refuge but it is in rather shabby shape.

Invented in the 1800’s to cope with the huge amount of submerged timber and relatively shallow nature of the lake, the boat is particularly adapted to such conditions. It is 17-feet in length and canoe shaped.  The original boats were only 12-feet in length.

The bottom of the flat bottom craft is of 7/8th inch lumber. Over the years they were made of a variety of locally grown lumber the cypress is preferred.  The side boards are only 3/8th inches thick.  They have to be steamed and then bent to form the curve required when nailed to the frame.

The Reelfoot boat also has a unique oarlock system. In 1880 an Illinois duck call maker and avid duck hunter designed and patented it.  The Calhoun family purchased the patent for the oar locks 1959.  They system permits the anglers to sit facing and row in the direction in which they row.  In conventional systems the rower faces away from the direction he is heading.

The addition of handmade boat sets and oars for the oar lock system completes the finished product.

Propelled by a single cylinder engine, it is steered by a unique rudder mounted that tilts up when coming into contact with an object beneath the water.

The propeller protection by a sheet of plate steel keeps it from sheering off the prop in contact with solid objects so often found in these waters.

 

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SOUTHERN ILLINOIS CELEBRATION OF NATIONAL HUNTING & FISHING DAY   Leave a comment

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Each year on the fourth Saturday and Sunday in September 25,000 to 40,000 sportsmen and their families travel to the campus of John A. Logan College for The Southern Celebration of National Hunting and Fishing Day. They are attending an event designed to teach hunting and fishing skills as well as the ethics, safety and conservation issues associated with them.

Last year’s attendance set a record of 44,000 people attending this, the largest National Hunting & Fishing Day celebration in the nation.

This year’s event takes place on September 26 and 27, 2015. Admittance and parking is free. Food is available from a variety of venders on the campus at nominal prices.

This year Pappy’s Outdoor is the official title sponsor. Other major sponsors include Williamson County Tourism Bureau, Good Guys Motors, McDonalds, Black Diamond Harley-Davidson and the Friends of Crab Orchard.

Children’s activities include a youth goose calling contest as well as archery, shooting sports and fishing. Local sponsors provide the activities free. Volunteers provide instruction and adult supervision.

Dogs and waterfowl activities figure prominently in the celebration with demonstrations by dock dogs, agility dogs, retrievers, search and rescue dogs, police dogs as well as coon and fox hounds. Instruction on training and nutrition for dogs is also available.

The waterfowl calling series begins with the Don Gasaway Youth Goose Calling Contest on Saturday. A number of duck and goose calling contests attracting youth, professional and amateur callers follow during Saturday and Sunday.  They end with the Tim Grounds Southern Illinois World Open Goose Calling Championship on Sunday. A variety of cash and merchandise prizes are available to the contestants.

The High School Bass Fishing Contest involves individual as well as team competition in a fishing contest held on Crab Orchard Lake with the weigh-in held at the Celebration grounds. Area high schools can enter two boats with four anglers and two coaches. The coaches are in the boats but do not fish. The school with the heaviest total weight of bass wins a trophy. There is a penalty for any fish that die. The angler with the largest bass also wins a trophy. Other trophies go to second, third, etc.

Tents erected on the college campus will house some 200 venders. New this year will be an archery tent sponsored by Kevin’s Archery Center, Ava, IL. An adult and a youth shooting range will be inside along with a number of archery manufacturer’s representatives. Instruction will be available along with a chance to get questions answered.

Other activities include wildlife and nature art show, seminars on fishing, game preparation and outdoor cooking as well as a buck skinner’s village with tomahawk throwing area. Displays provide instruction and information about Taxidermy, ATV, RV, boats, deer antler measuring, trapshooting, archery, and a special fishing display.

The Outdoor Art & Heritage Show returns this year inside the college Gymnasium, Skylight Lounge and front lobby. It promotes participation in outdoor recreation through artistic, cultural, natural history, entertainment, and an expanded deer display. Exhibitors include artists, taxidermists, museums, collectors, authors, musicians, not-for-profits, and makers of specialty foods.

Vendors interested in participation should contact Ron Allen as soon as possible. Vendor space is limited and sells out each year. Ron is available at 217-725-7602 (cell), 217-787-8862 (home) or by email at allen92@comcast.net.

Free information regarding motel accommodations and points of interest is available from Williamson County Tourism Bureau, 1602 Sioux Drive, Marion, Illinois 62959 or by calling 1-800-GEESE-99. Information is also available online at VisitSI.com, the Williamson County Tourism Bureau website. The e-mail address is info@VisitSI.com.

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