Archive for the ‘Bowfishing’ Tag

CONCEALED CARRY AND THE OUTDOORSMAN   Leave a 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/).

TOWING TIPS FOR BOAT OWNERS   1 comment

DSCN4047Most freshwater boats are trailered from one body of water to another with little regard to the trailer maintenance.  Although the investment in the trailer is less than what most people have tied up in their boats, it is still considerable.

A little trailer maintenance goes a long way.  Many older trailers have survived 50,000 miles in cross country travel.  Not without some work by their owners.  Trailer maintenance is not costly nor is it complicated.  Common sense and a few bucks will go a long way.

To help protect the trailer’s value, keep it clean.  After each use, wash it clean.  If the trailer is painted, a good car wax application will help protect the finish.  Use touch up paint from the dealer to repair the nicks from rocks thrown up from the roadway.

Check the air pressure and wear of the tires regularly.  Also check the lug nuts on the wheels.  Check the lights and electrical components.  Hook the trailer to your tow vehicle and make sure all lights are working.  That includes both the running lights and turn signals.  Also check the lenses over the light bulbs for cracks and holes.  Replace them if necessary.  You can spray the connections with contact spray to keep them clean and free of corrosion.

Be sure to check the hubs and lubricate the wheel bearings.  Look for any unusual wear or damage.  Trailers can have either grease pack hubs or the newer oil bath hubs.  Stick with the grease pack hubs.

According to them Oil bath hubs work well on the highway with trucks.  However, boat trailers are in a different environment.  The hubs can heat up on the highway and then they dip into cool lake water.  The sudden temperature change creates a vacuum inside the hub.  The vacuum will draw condensation, moisture or impurities directly into the bearing.  That leads to premature bearing failure.

Using oil bath hubs on trailers stored over the winter, or only used a few times per year, also promotes condensation.  With many oil bath hubs, it becomes necessary to rotate the wheels every other week to prevent rusting and pitting of the bearings.  Not a popular chore for the owner.

The use of grease-packed hubs provides dependability and reliability.

Before taking to the road, check the inch strap and any tie downs for worn or frayed sections that might fail.  Inspect the safety chains and make sure they are connected.  Check any rollers or bunks for excessive wear.  They are usually OK for many years of use but accidental damage occurs.

Check the hitch and test the breaking system.  On the road allow more time for stopping than would be the case without towing a boat.

Be sure that the boat is level on the trailer and the boat/trailer combination is level when hooked to the tow vehicle.  Proper boat and trailer adjustment reduces wind resistance and improves fuel mileage.  If the boat has pedestal seats, take them down and store out of the wind.  Wind resistance against the seat can cause unnecessary stress to the pedestal mount and decrease its life span.  Boat covers also cut down on wind resistance.

On the road maintain a constant speed.  Accelerate slowly and steadily from a stop.  In areas with speed limits less than 65 mph, maintain a steady and constant speed at the posted limit.  In areas over 65 mph try to maintain speed at about 5 mph under the speed limit to improve mileage of the tow vehicle.

Paying attention to some of the details mentioned above can help to keep costs down and reliability up for your boating pleasure.

GAR HOLES MAKE GREAT BOWFISHING   Leave a comment

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To some the “gar hole” is an area void of game animals and worthless to the hunter.  Not all gar holes are equal.

To the fishing archer, there is something peaceful about bowfishing for gar.  This fish from the Pleistocene age can trace his existence back to a time when man was just beginning to make his appearance on the earth.

Today they are often in quiet backwaters with low oxygen levels.  But, more and more are in tailwaters below dams.  They are everywhere in our waters of the Mississippi river flowage.

Gars are physically distinguished with an elongated body, a greenish black upper body and a yellowish lower body.  The overall shape is like a torpedo or submarine.  Large dark spots on the snout and body in a lateral line form a kind of natural camouflage.  The prolonged snout of the gar is full of teeth.

Not particular in what they eat, gar can and will devour anything alive or freshly killed that even remotely resembles food.  Frogs, fish, small mammals, birds and even turtles are prey to the gar that is able to lunge at them and snatch them with a sideways jerk of the head.  Gar cruise on or near the surface of water taking in air and feeding on small fish.  They are usually a night feeder but will not pass up a meal at other times.

Covering the fish skin is an armor-like layer of scales that are large and heavy.  It protects them from attack by other animals.  More than one gar has escaped form hook and line anglers by rolling and cutting the line on either the sharp scales or the toothy mouth.  The scales provide a formidable surface to penetrate with an arrow.  Fishing archers need to use sharp arrow points.

Basic bowfishing gear alone works to take gar or one can combine it with rod and reel spooled with heavy line.  In the latter instance, the line runs from the bowfishing set up to the rod and reel.  When the quarry is shot, and swims off with the arrow, the archer puts down the bow and takes up the rod and reel, playing the fish as he would any rod and reel caught fish.  This procedure is usually limited to shooting very large fish.

Purists fishing anglers use reels mounted to their bows either by tape to the back of the bow or by reels mounted on stabilizers.  Once a fish is shot, retrieve it by reeling in the line in the case of the reel mounted on a stabilizer or by hand lining in the case of the reel taped to the back of the bow.  For anyone interested in taking up this sport, you can purchase bowfishing kits that contain all the elements necessary to take fish with bow and arrow.  They usually also contain instructions on mounting the equipment and how to use it.  These kits are available from sporting goods stores ad by mail from such places as: GanderMountain, Bass Pro Shops and Cabelas.

Once struck by an arrow, a gar will make haste in getting away from the area.  They twist and turn until they tangle themselves in the line.  Exercise care as the armor-like scales can cut the line.  Gently retrieving the line will increase chances that the archer will be successful in landing his trophy.  Some archers actually use a heavy glove to protect hands from line cuts or from scales cutting fingers.

Once in the boat or on shore, a short length of pipe can quiet him with a single blow to the head.  A fish thrashing around can cut legs.

Contrary to popular opinion, gar is edible.  To preserve the catch for the table it is a good idea to keep them in a large plastic garbage tub with ice on the top.  The ice will keep the fish fresh for a period until the fisherman can get them home.  Live wells in most boat are too small to keep these fish for any length of time.  A big gar mounts made by a taxidermist and make a startling addition to the trophy collection of an archer.  The meat is edible but the eggs of a gar are not.  In fact, the eggs are poisonous.  Do not eat them or feed them to a pet.  Marinate the meat in Orange Crush soda overnight, drain and deep fry.

It is best to immediately clean Gar taken for the table after catching.  A hacksaw blade works well to get through the tough scales.  A knife used to take out the meat as one would most any fish.  The mean on either side of the backbone makes great gar steaks.

Gar holes to the fishing archer means a worthy opponent and an interesting study of a dinosaur age fish.  Evenings on quiet water or wading below dams for the quarry to surface is fun.  It is also good for the soul as well as a great summer time escape for bowhunters in search of another challenge.  Action is sometimes slow in coming, but then when it does the action is great.  Gar holes are great fun.

CHICAGO SPORTSMENS SHOW IN ROSEMONT ILLINOIS   Leave a comment

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During the 30 years I lived in Chicago, I usually attended what would become known as “The Rosemont Show.”  It was originally held at the International Amphitheater on the Southside.  When the building was torn down the show moved to what is now called the Donald Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL on River Road near O’Hare Field.  It is a great example of the hundreds of outdoor shows that are open this winter across the nation.  This one is open today through Sunday.

All the hoop-la this week about the closing of the Eastern Sports Show in PA I thought about the old Rosemont Show was once owned by the same people, and how they almost destroyed it with mismanagement.  The Rosemont Show is now back and open this weekend.

For more information on hours and ticket promos check out their website at www.chicagosportsmenshow.com.  There is a Ticket Promo Food Drive for Discount Tickets.  All the food goes to Charity.  Kids under 11 get in FREE.  If you buy tickets on line for a discounted price you will receive a 1 year free subscription to Field and Stream or Outdoor Life.  Kids coming to the show in scout uniforms also get in FREE.

WHATS GOING ON AT THE SHOW

Hall of Fame Spence Petros Speaking and giving away marked lake maps of Lake Geneva and Lake Delevan on Friday.

Hall of Famer Bob Mehsikomer Speaks at the show with added discounts each day from A TEAM TACKLE.

Musky Panel on Sunday of the show features SPENCE PETROS, BOB MEHSIKOMER, DON PURSCH from Neilsons Fly In  and is moderated by Steve Sarley from the Outdoors Experience.

Grandt Rods release of their 30th Anniversary Limited Edition Series Rod line.  Thirty years of technology wrapped up in one special piece.

Speakers will include Jonathan VanDam Bassmaster Champion will be present. Tommy Skarlis All Time Money Winner in the Walleye Circuit. Mike Mlednick Smalllmouth bass expert from WI, Writer and full time guide.  Greg Bohn Mr. Walleye and Slip Bobber Techniques and Gene Ellison The Fishing Machine Bassmaster Champion.

MIDWEST OUTDOORS will present cooking segments and will be live at the show.

HUNTING EXPERT from the Outdoors Channel Mark Millis adds his expertise to the discussions.

Kids Zone is a real attraction to preserve our next generation of Anglers.

Illinois DNR Booth and Seminars are always popular.  Illinois Conservation Foundation Giving away Rods and Reels to the kids.

Chauncey’s Great Outdoors Programs present several hundred FREE TACKLE BOXES to the Kids on Sunday.  There is also the Kids Treasure Hunt on Saturday.

OSG TROUT POND has special promotions for the kids every day. Sponsored by Pure Fishing 50 packs of swim baits given away each day at the OSG TROUT POND.

3-D Archery Shoot at the show .

The Gun Show Presence at the show provides Education on Guns and Safety as well as some gun dealers and support.  This is the first ever gun show in Chicago Rosemont on Saturday.

RV DEALERS and BOAT DEALERS display their products, as do many retailers in Fishing and Hunting.

Lodges and outfitters from all over are present to answer questions and book that next vacation.

SAVE YOUR GLASSES   1 comment

Watching those expensive prescription sunglasses sink away into the clear depths of Lake of Egypt is not a pleasant experience.  In fact it gives one a sickening feeling in the pit of the stomach.

It was on the first cast of a bass fishing trip that they just slipped off nose before anything was possible to stop them.  Attempts to snag them with a crankbait proved unsuccessful.  If only I had not taken the eyewear retainer off because it was a nuisance.  Besides somehow it just did not fit the image.

Fast forward to October 2012 and the annual fall conference of the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association breakout day.  J. Kevin Spencer was there as a rep for FloatEyes (www.FloatEyes.com) a Little Rock, Arkansas company specializing in eyewear retainer systems that actually float.  He explains, “The retainer adds enough buoyancy to keep glasses from sinking.”  They also go around the back of the head to help avoid having them fall into the water or in the boat.

Another of their products is a vinyl Coated Steel Cable system.  It is lightweight, durable and ridged.  The later keep the system off of the neck and avoid irritation to a sunburned area.  It holds a semi-circle shape allowing its use for both active and casual wear.  It is available in both black and clear coated steel.

They hold glasses from becoming a nuisance when boating a fish or just casting.  The system allows hands free hanging the glasses around the neck clear of the face during camera sessions.

The vinyl Coated Steel Cable system shown in the photo above is really neat.  Virtually no weight and not very visible, the system protects sunglasses on the water and has reduced sun glass replacement costs significantly.

FALL BOWFISHING IS DIFFERENT   Leave a comment

Bowfishing archers find it is a year around sport.  Tactics might change a little but the hard core bowfishermen enjoy the sport anytime of the year.  Fall bowfishing is becoming increasingly popular. 

Time was when archers thought the only time for bowfishing was the carp spawn in late spring.  Gone are the days when archers hang up their tackle after June 1st and turn to practice in the field in preparation for deer season. 

The basic tackle for bowfishing is: a bow of hunting weight, a solid fiberglass arrow with fishing point, (one with retractable or reversible barbs), a bow reel, and fishing line.  With the exception of the bow the remaining tackle can be purchased at a sports shop in a kit form.  The kit also contains a brochure with basic instruction. 

In fall shots at fish tend to be a little longer requiring a slightly heavier arrow.  Use an arrow a couple of inches longer with a heavier head.  The added weight makes for a more stable arrow at a longer distance. 

With longer shots and heavier arrow a heavy monofilament line is a good idea.  The mono gives lighter weight and still maintains the strength required for accurate shots and reliable recovery. 

I prefer to wrap the mono around the spool type of bow reel.  The cranking types, such as fishing reels, tend to be more problematic with long shots when the monofilament line is used as opposed to braided line.  In cold weather the reels with mechanical parts can freeze up and cause problems. 

With the spool type of bow reel the hand is used to wind the line.  The line is held in place by a small metal clip.  Simplicity in action leads to fewer problems down the line. 

Changing weather conditions also mean a need to change clothing.  In cold weather insulated waders are helpful.  It is wise to carry an extra shooting glove or tab.  If the glove gets wet it can be changed.  It is important to stay as dry as possible in cold weather.  Not only is it uncomfortable to be wet it can lead to hypothermia. 

One way to stay dry is to do all the shooting from a boat or on shore.  Most anglers like to use the shore in stalking fish in rivers and lakes.  Slews and swamps force one to wade or use a small boat. 

Fall bowfishermen find the rough fish they pursue are in deeper water.  They are cold blooded animals that become inactive in cold water.  Shallow water is the first to cool in the fall. 

Since deep water tends to vary less in temperature during the day fish find refuge there.  They will venture forth to the shallow water as it warms.  But, they spend most of their time in the water which is most comfortable. 

One advantage to bowfishing in the fall is that the water is generally clearer.  Archers can see fish at deeper depths than in spring.  The heavier arrow allows you to shoot deeper into the water with more impact.  This does aggravate the light deflection. 

As light rays enter the water they are deflected.  It makes objects beneath the water appear closer to the surface than is reality.  You must shoot below the target in order to compensate for light deflection.  Getting the correct aiming point is very difficult.  Only practice will give you the knowledge of where to aim. 

Fall fish are less spooky.  They present a better target in the clearer water.  Because of the cold water they tend to be a more stationary target. 

Locating fish in fall takes stalking skills.  Small streams with deep pools are a good bet.  Even the driest of years will result in some deep pools containing fish.  If the pools have weeds or other cover it is all the better.  If the fish is in an abundance of vegetation the importance of sound is reduced.   When a fish hears a sound via the lateral line they are more alert.  A quiet fish lies still in the water. 

Other things to look for are man made structures such as dams and bridges.  They are usually located near deep water.  Concrete tends to hold the warmth of sunny days.  Water around such structures moves rapidly which in turn increases the oxygen.  Fish love that water. 

Rock outcroppings and bluffs that extend into the water also hold the heat of fall sun.  They heat the water.  Large boulders in the water will hold fish in the area for the same reason. 

Fall bowfishing is a ball.  Why not give it a try?

I HATE MOSQUITOES   2 comments

Mosquitoes are probably the chief anguish in my life as an outdoor writer.  Here is the mid-south are some of the buggiest areas according to a survey by SC Johnson, the makers of OFF products.  

Eighty-five percent of people prepare for mosquitoes when engaging in outside activities ranging from picnics, fishing excursions to back yard parties.  Once the flying terrors appear on the scene, 23 percent of people seek the refuge of buildings, 54 percent use insect repellents, and 22 percent tough it out by doing nothing. 

When asked what is most likely to ruin a summer’s trip, 38 percent say mosquitoes and other biting insects.  In second place with 32 percent is sunburn. 

Seventy-eight percent of Midwesterners wither use some form of mosquito repellent or go inside when flying insects appear on the scene.  Add to that the fact they are known to spread the deadly West Nile Virus and you have an insect you do not want around. 

Outdoor activities at the recent Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA) Business Meeting provided an opportunity to test out some of the OFF products.  Summer in Mississippi where we were meeting is one of high humidity, rain and high temperatures.  The mosquitoes are legendary. 

I tried several of the products.  One thing I noticed on the packaging was the contents.  These products contain 25% DEET while ones I have used in the past were nearly 100%.  I found the Dry Insect Repellant the most effective but the Clip-On Mosquito Repellant was the longer lasting and easiest to use.  I normally would have 15 to 20 mosquito bites and countless Chigger bites following such an experience.  This time I got away with just a couple of Chigger bites and about 5 or 6 mosquito bites. 

For more information about OFF products check out their website at www.off.com or http://www.keepsbugsoff.com.

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