Outdoors, Hunting, Fishing

SEPTEMBER’S OUTDOOR COLUMN

 September is here and Labor Day Weekend seems to be the turning point from fishing to hunting for many outdoors men. Many will put up their fishing gear and break out their hunting gear once the holiday passes. After the Labor Day weekend, many find themselves fishing on area ponds and lakes totally alone.
If you have smallmouth bass, big bluegill or even crappie in your area, fall is a great time to go after these resources. Especially crappie, since there’s always a good crappie run in the fall. Which makes fall a great time to stock your freezer with fish filets before the hard winter sets in.
Before you pack your tackle away at the end of the season, remember to take a little time checking your equipment over. Make sure you check for broken eyes on rods, bent or broken hooks on lures and reels that need cleaned. Then before you store them all away for the season in a moisture free location, make a list of what you’ll need come spring. If you take a little time now, you can avoid hassles when the season opens next year.
During the month of September, many hunting seasons occur such as Canada goose and teal seasons just to name a few. The waterfowl flight forecast is a great tool for a waterfowl hunter since many species are slightly down in numbers but ahead of the long-term forecasts. If you’re unsure of the season dates for your area, check your Natural Resources website. They’ll have season dates and other information you’ll need on these early seasons.
And if you’re interested in your local youth deer seasons, you can find those dates on your local National Resources website as well as all the requirements. Youth seasons is a great time for dad or grandpa to spend some time with their young hunter and pass down the traditions of the family.
September is also time for trappers to get their license and prepare for the season ahead by boiling their traps, cutting stakes, finding sign and preparing all the equipment to get ready for the season ahead.
Don’t find yourself frustrated with gear that isn’t working, things your forgot to repair or parts you need for this year’s hunting season and next year’s fishing season. Check out your Local Big R stores where you’ll find everything you’ll need to make your hunting, fishing and trapping seasons a success!

 

February’s Outdoor Column

febraury-in-the-woods-ffsgsWhen the month of February comes around it brings about a transition period between hunting and fishing and, with the warm weather we have had this winter, many of the local ponds and lakes are free of ice and fishing will begin early this year.

Hunters have that one last season ahead as the wild turkey season is just around the corner in Illinois and Indiana. Hunters and anglers alike are reminded to renew their licenses before the seasons begin and Big R Stores are a place to not only get your licenses but also many of your hunting and fishing necessities.

Looking back at the deer seasons always brings about some analyzing of figures to find what the season results show. The final tally for the Indiana seasons were not available at the time of this article but Illinois figures were down approximately 9 percent which is a substantial drop. Given the fact that the crops were out of the field and the weather was pretty decent, the drop in numbers should have hunters concerned.

These figures really stand out since the 2005 season when over 200,000 deer were harvested.

The hunt for antler sheds has now begun as bucks have dropped their antlers and hunters love to hunt for them to give them an idea of what bucks in their area survived the hunt. The hunt for these sheds is sometimes hampered by the fact that rodents gnaw on them to get calcium so their is a race between the shed hunter and the rodents within the area.

Of course a deer can drop its antlers anywhere but logical places include water areas where they lean over to get a drink and a side of the antlers drop off. Areas where deer jump fences and look an antler are also good as are deer trails through the woods where deer travel and catch an antler on a tree branch and lose it.

Look for sheds in your hunting areas, you might be surprised at what is running your area that you haven’t seen.

If you are lagging behind in cleaning your fishing equipment, time is fleeting! I clean all of my own reels and lures. This is the time to get your tackle organized in your tackle boxes. There is nothing worse than to go on your first fishing trip and find that your tackle is in the same condition and in the same mess as it was last fall. I like everything in its place when I go. New tackle is coming into our stores right now so get in a get the first picks.

Remember to attend some of the big fishing shows close to you to kill the cabin fever you might be experiencing. Many people within the area like the Indianapolis Boat, Sport and Travel Show at the Indianapolis State Fairgrounds February 17-26.

December's Outdoor Column

December’s Outdoor Column

December's Outdoor Column

December marks the beginning of winter for most of us even though we have a few weeks to go before winter officially begins. This also begins the cold period of the year and it won’t be long and here comes Christmas.

If you have an outdoors person in your family and you are considering getting him or her something for Christmas you might want to consider a gift card as a way of gift giving. Being an outdoorsman all my life I am very particular about what gun or fishing rod I buy, what boots I wear along with a few other things. Many outdoors people are the same way; they are particular about what they like and surprising them with a gift may end up in a Christmas return.

The one thing every outdoors person wants in winter is to keep warm. Whether you person is a waterfowl hunter, a deer hunter, an ice angler or a hiker, keeping warm and keeping dry are of utmost importance. Remember that when you go out to buy!

Hint around or ask an outdoor companion what your person might want or need and don’t be surprised if you find out they like to pick out their own things for Christmas.

My wife learned a long time ago not to shop for me. Instead she gives me a Big R Gift Card every Christmas because I have taken so many “I bought this for you” gifts back.

I do have some personal suggestions. I was a trapper for most of my life spending my trapping hours in a swamp-like setting and working primarily at night. I also hunt, ice fish, bass fish, and cut firewood as well as work in the outdoors.

I like to layer myself with T-shirt, thermal shirt, sweatshirt, and then cover this all up with a hooded sweatshirt during the real cold times. Your Big R Stores have great selections of all these items. A pair of warm gloves and warm socks will always be welcome at Christmas.

I personally love the disposable hand warmers and foot warmers and usually go through two or three bags each year. These make great stocking stuffers.

Whatever you decide to give as a gift to your outdoors person you need to check out the great selection at your local Big R Store.

November’s Outdoor Column

stand-alone-tree-in-fogIt is November and it is time to think about the big deer hunt coming up on us very quickly.

I get a weekly update of the archery deer harvest in Illinois and, with this warm weather I have to wonder how it will affect this year’s rut. I’ve been following these weekly results for quite a few years now and the increased rut activity is reflected in the ratio of does to bucks shown as the season progresses.

As the rut nears, the number of does taken by archery hunters tends to fall off and the number of bucks taken increases. This happens as hunters now begin to see more bucks and quickly shift their sights to taking a racked deer verses a doe.

So far this season the percentages have not changed much through the last part of October leading me to wonder if the rut will correspond with the Illinois firearm season this year. Illinois’s season is projected for the third weekend in November, a time when the rut should be nearing its peak. Harvest figures thus far have not supported that the rut is near at hand.

I listened to a news broadcast which stated that the earth has not seen these kinds of overall temperatures for the last 10,000 years. How true this is I do not know but I do know it has been warm and a concern I have is how will this affect the wildlife and how will these temperatures affect the deer season?

If you take a deer on a warm day during this year’s season there are a couple of things some hunters just don’t think about.

Don’t lay your deer on the floor of the bed of your truck. The metal floor, even with a bed liner above it absorbs heat and radiates it back into the meat of your deer. Carry something that will raise the deer’s body above the truck bed such as a skid, boards, or plywood. This keeps the deer off the hot metal and does not allow the meat to get hot.

When hanging your deer to cure, hoist it up with a rope around its antlers and not its neck, especially if you intend to mount it. Placing a rope around the neck to hang the deer will tear the hair which is almost impossible to replace. Also, never use a rope to drag your deer out of the area where you took it. Dragging the deer will cause major damage to the hide and many times will allow dirt into the check cavity which is then hard to clean out.

Make a trip to your local Big R Store and check out the many hunting items that will help you through this hunting season. Check out their line of outdoor clothing, boots, archery and firearm equipment as well as their meat processing equipment. Have a Safe and Fun Hunting Season this fall and winter.

Man hunting with his dog

Preparing for Opening Day of Hunting Season

Preparing for Opening Day

Attention hunters! You’ve been patiently waiting for almost an entire year to put your ammo and decoys to good use again – and soon your patience will be rewarded. While there are still a few days left before opening day, time’s sure to fly by quickly and there are some very important tasks to check off before the big day. Pass the time with some much needed preparation!

 

Hunting Gear - Prep for Opening Day Blog

Prepare Your Location

Before you can bag any ducks and geese, make sure the spot you have in mind is the perfect location for you to go on opening day. How do you make sure it’s the perfect spot? SCOUT! Visit your location in advance and check out what surrounds the area. Create a checklist of things you might need in response to the environment.  If you are planning on taking a boat out, make sure the water levels are compatible with that. Scouting could be the difference between coming home empty-handed or pulling in the drive with the full bag limit!

Prepare Your Hunting Equipment

It might have been a while since you last hunted waterfowl and small game – your equipment will probably need some TLC. Take your shotgun out of the safe, clean it fully, and take it to a range to get a little practice in. If you are planning on using decoys, make sure you have a new braided decoy cord that’ll be able to rig large numbers of decoys so you don’t lose any of them on opening day. If you plan to use your waders, pull them out and make sure there’s no rot or infestation. Throw out unusable waders and grab a reliable wader (like the bootfoot chest wader found in any Big R) for a successful opening day!

Prepare Your Hunting Sidekick

A hunting sidekick on opening day (and throughout the season) can be a very valuable resource. Your sidekick is your #1 helper and needs to be just as prepared as you. If your ideal hunting spot is in the middle of a lake or river, then you’ll need to have a trusty boat as your sidekick. Examine your boat before opening day to make sure it’s performing at the top of its game. Check the oil and make sure all the levels are correct so it’s running smoothly. Plan to do this soon in case you need to head to the store to grab marine oil or other boating essentials for your aquatic sidekick.

 

Another sidekick you may have out on opening day is your faithful dog! It’s sure to be an exciting day for both of you, which is why it’s essential to prep him for the big day.

Visit the vet for a quick check up to make sure he’s healthy and able to keep up with you. Make sure he’s been treated for fleas and ticks to prevent any unwanted “friends” from making a home on your furry companion. If he has one, pull out his hunting vest and give it a quick check to make sure it’s good to go!

 

Prepare Yourself

Now that everything around you is 100% ready, take some time to make sure you are prepared for that day. Think about what items you need to pack up for opening day. Prep your cooler and stock up on water. Pick out your camo gear and bring along some camo makeup for your face and arms if you’re planning on wearing a short-sleeve shirt. Brush up on the season dates and regulations for duck, geese, or small game hunting in your area to be completely safe and well-informed on opening day. If it’s your first time hunting, pick up a waterfowl ID book to study the different species. So when you’re out there, you’ll know every single species you come across.

 

Opening day will be here soon enough! Use this time to get all prepped for a successful hunting season. Though it may seem like there’s a lot to cross off on your checklist, you’ve got another sidekick to help you out – your local Big R Store! Stop by before opening day and grab all your hunting essentials in one place.

 

2016 Indiana Deer Hunting Season Dates

Indiana Hunting Schedule 2016

Getting ready for the start of Deer or Duck Hunting season in Indiana? Whatever your game of choice may be, stay on track with this handy Indiana Hunting Schedule from Big R: Read more

2016 Illinois Deer Hunting Season Dates

Illinois Hunting Schedule 2016

Getting ready for the start of Duck or Deer Hunting season in Illinois? Catch the game you’re looking for with this handy Illinois Hunting Schedule from Big R: Read more

Best Father’s Day Gift Guide

Father’s Day is just around the corner and we know it’s difficult to pick the perfect gift for the best Dad around. Luckily, Big R’s great selection of gifts will make it easy to find the gift Dad will love. Spoil Dad on his special day for all his hard work, effort and dad jokes throughout the year. Here are a few of our favorite gifts for Dad:

Gun Safe

When he’s not out hunting or at a range, Dad needs a safe place to store his guns. That’s why a high-quality gun safe is a perfect choice for a gun-enthusiast like Dad. A high-quality safe is tamper-proof, drill resistant and can endure fire so that only Dad can access his guns. Choose a safe that looks good and takes up the right amount of space to seal the deal. With a sleek design and space for up to 10 long guns, our pick is the Winchester Safe Bandit 9

Carhartt Hoodie

Carhartt is a Dad-approved brand. So, there’s no better way to celebrate his day by gifting him one of their extremely comfortable sweaters. The 50% cotton, 50% polyester material blend feels like a dream. The corded hood and handwarmer pockets will help make this sweater one of Dad’s favorites. Just pick his favorite color

Drill Drive Set

For the handy Dad who always knows how to fix anything and everything, a drill drive set is the gift that keeps on giving. With a trusted brand like Irwin, Dad will be grateful for all the new ways he can use his power tools. The set includes 20 different multi-purpose pieces

Coleman 4-Person Tent

This four-person Coleman Sundome tent is an amazing steal for the adventurous Dad. After a great day of enjoying the outdoors, the spacious tent is welcome retreat that will fit the whole family. The tent also has built-in anti-rain technology that keeps the whole family comfortable and dry. Help Dad become one with nature

Cordless Grass Trimmer

One of Dad’s many chores includes cutting the grass. With a new cordless grass trimmer, it’s made easier! This Father’s Day gift is designed to help dad work as little as possible when he’s outside. The cordless trimmer is easy to use, effective and requires no extra tools. Get Dad a gift that simple and efficient

Char-Broil Gas Burner Grill

When he’s making BBQ or burgers, Dad is in the zone. Why not equip him with a top notch grill he’ll love? This traditional Char-Broil gas burner grill has two burners with plenty of space for Dad to create his masterpieces. The Piezo ignition system is efficient and provides a powerful spark with every push. Porcelain-coated grates add a finishing touch that Dad will appreciate. Help Dad make tasty BBQ every time with a new grill

How to Clean a Gun

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You’ve officially purchased your own firearm and ammo. Besides knowing how to store it and use it, do you know how to properly clean it so that it functions properly? Cleaning a firearm doesn’t have to be difficult, and even if you’re new to firearms, keeping your guns clean should be an absolute top priority. You should be cleaning your gun after each and every use! Here are some tips on how to keep your firearms in excellent condition:

First, remember the 3 rules of gun safety.

This will likely be a reminder for those that are experienced with guns, but these rules are ones that can never be said enough. First and foremost, make sure that the gun is unloaded. Open up the chamber and look down the barrel to be absolutely sure that no ammunition is present. The second rule is to never aim the gun at anybody or anything – determine a safe zone and always keep the gun’s nozzle aimed that way. Third of all, never put your finger on the trigger until you’re ready to shoot. All three of these rules are extremely important and should be practiced each time you handle a gun.

1. Ensure the gun is unloaded.

 Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for people to get hurt while cleaning their firearms because they forgot to unload it. Double check that there isn’t any ammunition around, and even if you think your gun is unloaded, always check again for safety and good practice. Point the gun away from you as you are cleaning it. Also, wear safety gear, like goggles and gloves, to protect yourself from solvent debris.

2. Clean in a well-ventilated area.

 This is important for your own well-being and safety, considering that the chemicals produced during firing can remain in your gun and release toxins. The cleaners and lubricants can also be harsh on your body, so make sure to wear protection while cleaning in a well-ventilated area.

3. Protect surfaces with plastic bags and newspapers.

To protect your tables and other surfaces, it’s important to separate the solvents from the cleaning chemicals and the lubricants from whatever surface you’re working on. First, cover the area you’re working on with a plastic cover, like a trash bag. Then, scatter newspapers and other miscellaneous papers around so that everything has a protective paper layer over it. Not only does this protect the surfaces that you are working on, but it also makes it easy to throw everything away at once when you’re all finished!

4. Disassemble your gun according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

You will rarely need to break down your entire gun for cleaning purposes. Guns should be treated with the utmost care and should be handled slowly and carefully during the disassembly. The field-stripping process is different for semi-automatics and double revolvers, so make sure that you have done your research on the process for your particular pistol, rifle, or other firearm.

5. Put in the effort to clean the bore of the barrel.

This is the most important part to clean because it is such a major component of your firearm. When fired, material can be left over and potentially corrode the inside of your barrel. It is extremely important to take your time cleaning this essential part of the gun with a cleaning bore and a cleaning product, like this Tipton Bore Solvent. To clean, place the solvent onto a towel or wire brush and slowly scrub the inside. Afterwards, check with a light to see if the inside is all clear of debris and cleaning solution.

6. A little goes a long way with solvent.

After you’re done cleaning the barrel, use a nylon brush, dab on some solvent, and scrub the other surfaces of the gun. You may use a cotton rag to scrub off any excess residues. Keep an eye out for buildup around the forcing cone if you have a revolver; this can dull your pistol. Before you lubricate, make sure you’ve completely dried your gun of solvent.

7. Reassemble and preserve.

After lubricating, carefully put the pieces of your gun back together, making sure everything fits back together correctly and is sturdy in its place. To preserve your gun’s surface and to protect it from any damage, a light coat of preservative is recommended. Apply a metal preservative or any gun oil to the surface with a rag. Then place it  into its designated container.

For more tips on how to store and clean your firearm properly, visit the experts at Big R! We have a variety of solvents, oils, and brushes to help you maintain your gun’s appearance and lifespan for years to come!

17 Hunting Tips That Will Sharpen Your Hunting Skills

hunting-tips-tricks

Hunting Tip #1: Where To Hunt

Do some scouting before hunting season begins and during the season to learn where the game is migrating! Proper scouting never stops.

If the game is changing landscapes, it might change the hunter’s luck. An experienced hunter would have a game plan of multiple areas to stakeout.

Try to avoid hunting in the same area over and over. As the wild game adjusts, so should the hunter.

Hunting Tip #2: Wild Game

Choosing an area to stakeout all depends on what kind of animal you are hunting. When hunting deer, look for areas with cast agriculture and creeks.

Finding an area with a food source is key. The deer will spend most of their time in that spot.

You want to stakeout in areas that the wild game will be, not where they are. When hunting for duck, check areas with bodies of water, such as lakes or ponds.

Consider hunting duck in the early morning or evening when the birds are searching for food.

Hunting Tip #3: Choosing A Gun

Having the right tool for the right job is crucial when hunting. Depending on what you are hunting, there are different factors that go into choosing the right gun.

If you are planning on making long shots, consider using an extra-accurate rifle.

If you are planning on hiking a lot or hiking uphill, look into getting a lightweight rifle to haul.

Archery is becoming popular amongst turkey hunting. The advantages of using bow and arrow are cheaper and quieter. However, it requires more skill.

Otherwise, using a shotgun would be another option. It does not require much skill and it is as equally accurate.

Big R’s Hunting Bows start as low as $49.99.

Hunting Tip #4: Laws Of The Hunt

Before you start hunting, double check with the state’s hunting laws. Each state has different guidelines governing hunting and they vary by season.

Look into which guns you are allowed to hunt with, as well as the limit of game you are allowed to kill. It is important to stay up-to-date with regulation changes.

Officers are allowed to approach you at any time. Make sure you always have the proper paperwork on you, such as your hunting license.

Hunting Tip #5: Shooting Practice

Whether you are hunting with a rifle or a bow, the more you shoot, the better your accuracy will become! Hit the shooting range for a few weeks in preparation for the upcoming hunting season.

Take the time to familiarize yourself with the weapon. If you are planning on shooting from a long distance, practice some long range shooting.

Also, you can consider practice shooting on flying disks to prepare for duck season.

Hunting Tip #6: Four-Legged Companion

If you are a bird hunter, spend the weeks before hunting season getting your dog into top form. Just like an avid hunter, dogs can get a bit rusty during the off-season.

Make sure you put your pup through the paces before opening day.

Practice and reinforce the commands, and your dog will remember just how much fun it is to find and retrieve birds.

Hunting Tip #7: Get Organized

One way to ruin a perfectly good hunting trip is leaving an important piece of equipment at home or finding an item in poor quality or not working.

Make a checklist; lay out every piece of equipment on the list and look it over and double check everything is working properly.

Also, do a dry run of packing and loading the car. Half the battle is playing Tetris with all of the luggage that you need for your trip!

Hunting Tip #8: Getting In Shape

Some of the most successful hunters are those who can cover the most ground in a day, whether the ground is flat or on a steep slope.

If you are in good enough physical condition to hunt from early morning to late in the evening, your odds of hunting success increase.

Shaping up before the hunt is important. You need the stamina to be on your feet all day and lugging the dead weight of the animal.

Start walking, jogging, or climbing stairs – try doing this while wearing boots to break them in. By opening day, you will be in-shape and totally prepared.

Hunting Tip #9: Dress Appropriately

Proper clothing can make a significant difference in the enjoyment, safety, and success of hunting.

It is important to wear clothes that are tailored to the climate you will be hunting in.

Big R offers clothing options from matching camouflage suits to windbreaker jackets, starting at $49.99.

Do not forget about shoes. They need to be reliable, support your ankles and knees, and be sturdy enough to endure the terrain.

Also, a hat or cap, gloves, and layering up on socks are essential. You can find a wide range of headgear ranging fromcamouflage beanies to leafy facemasks, all starting at $4.99!

Hunting Tip #10: Proper Equipment

Once you’ve outfitted yourself with the proper clothing, the next step is to start looking at hunting gear.

Pack all of the appropriate hunting equipment and ensure you’re never stuck out in the field without something you need.

Having a pair of binoculars to spot game from longer distances is a huge benefit out in the field.

A hunting knife may also serve as a crucial survival tool.

Other basic, important items to always carry on you: your phone or walkie-talkies, a flashlight, gloves, a first-aid kit, a map, and of course your hunting weapon.

Big R is your one stop shop for hunting accessories – $12.99 gloves and $7.99 flashlight!

Hunting Tip #11: Share Hunting Plans

The number one biggest hunting mistake is not telling someone where you will be.

Not everything goes to plan.

Getting caught up in the excitement of the chase or change of weather may play a factor in your plans getting turned around.

Before setting out, share your hunting plans with someone and keep them informed with a change of plans. This will help the search-and-rescue team if you are reported missing.

Hunting Tip #12: Wait For It

Do not be fooled by the animal once it falls from a shot. It might seem the animal is dead, but sometimes the animal falls to the ground from shock, then recovers itself and runs off.

Other times the animal that was shot runs off, then later falls. You do not want to be next to the animal once it leaps up, at that point you are too close to take action.

When the animal drops instantly, wait a few minutes and prepare for a follow-up shot. It also helps to toss some rocks at the animal to get a reaction.

Hunting Tip #13: Patience

Hunting is a sport that requires a lot of time and patience. The number one skill a hunter can have is to sit still and remain as motionless as possible.

A lack of patience can lead to an increase of anxiety for when the opportunity arrives. A hunter must learn not to overreact.

Deer are extremely in-tune with their surroundings. Any fidgeting will send them running away.

It is important to find a stand to be comfortable waiting in for long periods of time.

Hunting Tip #14: Check The Weather

Be sure to check the weather report before heading out. The weather conditions have an enormous influence on duck hunting.

Foul weather is actually considered a duck hunter’s greatest blessing. However, if the weather intensifies, rain and/or sleet, the ducks will scramble for shelter.

To be a successful duck hunter, you must remain mobile and be able to adapt to wind change. Ducks will fly lower to the ground to get around in the slower air. Changing of the winds can actually work out in the hunters favor!

Hunting Tip #15: Skinning The Kill

You want to skin the smaller wild game, such as rabbit, as soon as possible. The skin peels easily when it is warmer.

It is common for the game to harbor fleas; so the quicker you skin it, the least likely the fleas will migrate to you.

You can find different types of hunting knives at Big R starting at $12.99.

Hunting Tip #16: Watch Out for Bears

Be careful if you are hunting in grizzly country. Most bear confrontations with hunters occur around meat or a run in with a cub.

Whatever you do, DO NOT run. Bears can outrun Olympic sprinters, so your chances of getting away are very slim. Steer clear of bears when you can, but if you are unable to avoid coming face to face with a bear, be human, wave your arms, shout loud, and show that you have the potential to do damage to the bear.

Hunting Tip #17: Call and Scent

Scents and calls are valuable tools for the hunt. The most effective time to use deer calling and scents are during the breeding phase.

Utilizing scents helps to lure the wild game into your stand. However, saturating an area with scent day after day is not very productive, and is not fooling the deer.

Big R carries different forms of wildlife scents starting as low as $3.99!