November’s Outdoor Column

When November rolls around the major hunting seasons of deer, upland game, trapping and waterfowl begin to open.

The seasons differ if you live in Illinois or Indiana so hunters need to be aware of the laws that govern their hunt. Your local Big R Stores offer you most everything to outfit your hunt, whether it be clothing, footwear, ammunition, heaters, traps, or items for processing your game. Making the most of your hunt requires preparation prior to the hunt or the setting of a trap-line.

Don’t fall victim to assuming everything you put up last winter is in tip-top shape for this fall. Check every item you are taking with you and make sure it is ready to go before you head out. Tree stands need to be carefully checked. If you are an archery deer hunter you probably have already done that.

If you haven’t done that yet, do it now while you still have time. Most accidents involving a tree stand happen on the way up or the way down. Check your steps going up and down the tree carefully. Check the strength of the limbs you might use to secure yourself climbing up or down. Check the security of the stand itself to make sure bolts or screws haven’t come loose during the months it has set idle.

Waterfowl hunters need to do the same. Many times, these hunters find themselves out in extreme environmental conditions and, if something goes wrong or doesn’t work, the problems begin to mount for the hunter. Trappers need to have their traps ready to go. This means boiling and dyeing the traps and making sure all springs and triggers are working properly.

Scouting is most important in all phases of winter hunting and trapping. If you don’t scout out your area and just go in cold turkey, you may find your hunting or trapping season is over before it starts. Locating sign, finding feeding, roosting and sleeping areas is a must for most forms of hunting. Staking dens and setting wires ahead of the season can making trapping much easier, especially if it turns bitter cold.

Don’t forget the fishing gets good when the water turns cold. November has long been a good month for taking a big bass, walleye, trout or musky. Big fish prowl late looking for that last meal ahead of the hard freeze. Safety is a must during the cold weather whether you are hunting or fishing. Most accidents that happen to the hunter or the angler can be avoided by using a little care. Don’t become a statistic this winter; live to enjoy the spring!

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!