Posts

January's Outdoor Column

JANUARY’S OUTDOOR COLUMN

January, the coldest, longest month of the year as far as I’m concerned, and it doesn’t appear it will get much better.

The arctic blasts through the Midwest have been extremely bitter this time of the year and the damage to wildlife I’m sure will be apparent as time goes on. The one good thing these frigid temperatures have given us is ice. Ice that we can use to fish on and your local Big R Stores have everything you need to have a great day ice fishing.

I’ve ice fished most all my life and there are some things a novice or even a veteran should know before venturing out on the ice. Never put your life at risk because you don’t know the ice. The difference between good ice and bad ice is generally easy to tell if you scrape the snow off the top and drill a hole.

Good ice is clear and hard like a block of ice we used to get from an ice dealer to put in one of the old refrigerators called an ice box. Bad ice is much more like a snow cone; full of pores (tiny holes) and not tightly compacted together. You can’t get a good look at the ice from above; a snow may have fallen on the ice and then melted turning the top layer into a cloudy, milky looking layer. Once you drill through this top layer you will find some good solid ice particularly now.

Milky rotten ice occurs when the temperatures warm and slush develops on top and refreezes at night. When water comes through your ice hole; when the ice is milky and porous, it’s time to stay off. During a cold winter this usually occurs in mid to late February. During a warm winter it can happen anytime, especially if temperatures reach into the forty’s or fifty’s.
Fish light line tests such as 2, 4, and 6-pound tests if you are after bluegill or crappie; higher if you are after game fish. Use small bobber’s as well!

It is safe for one person to fish on 4 inches of ice, more if the ice is clear and hard. Four inches is iffy if the ice is rotten. Never risk your life for a fish! We hear this all the time yet, inevitably someone drowns every year and we must wonder why? It is simple, they chose to challenge nature and they lost.
Don’t be a statistic this ice fishing season. Learn to read the ice and use good common sense and live to enjoy ice fishing next season. I hope to see you on the ice!

December’s Outdoor Column

The month of December brings us Christmas and sends many of us scrambling to find the right Christmas present.

If you are buying for that person in your life that spends time in the outdoors, the number of possibilities for a Christmas present are tremendous. The upcoming months are going to be cold so outfitting your outdoor person may revolve around the purchase of something that will keep him or her warm in the outdoors. The obvious present is simple; a pair of gloves, boots, jacket, etc.

I encourage everyone to ask before they buy thus making sure the present is what is needed and, don’t forget, your local Big R Stores will have lots of nice items to make your Christmas shopping easy. December makes up a big part of the waterfowl season which is expected to be about the same as last season. Some duck populations have fared well over the years while others have not done as well.

The mallard, the number one duck in the hunter’s bag in this part of the country, is well known to most Americans. Often called “Green Heads”, the mallard is one of the largest ducks using our flyway. The hen mallard is mottled brown with black markings to allow it to hide from predators. The teal, the smallest ducks which come through our area in early September, is a fast flying bird that gives hunters a great challenge.

Waterfowl hunting is tough hunting and requires a lot of time in the cold. Nasty days are many times the best days as is the case many times with early spring fishing. Inexperienced waterfowl hunters need to spend some time with veteran hunters to learn the ropes as, not only is it a tough and cold hunt, but it can be a dangerous hunt.
Which blinds to use and the proper setting of decoys are just some things a novice needs to learn. Staying warm and dry, training dogs, and o shooting techniques are best learned from experienced hunters.

The dangers of hunting around water include drowning and hypothermia so proper care and calculating each move is more important than similar activities done during the warmer months. Being a survivor rather than a statistic is most important to you and your family, so making foolish moves while around water is something you need to consider before you make them. No animal, deer, duck, goose, fish, etc. is ever worth you not coming home so learn the ropes necessary to stay safe while in the outdoors and don’t stray from them!

August’s Outdoor Column

August is upon us, which means it’s time for all the typical fall festivities. Bonfires, tailgating and of course fall hunting and fishing. Several seasons open during August, such as squirrel, Dove and small mouth bass.
While the number of squirrel hunters has dropped from many years ago, the number of squirrel to hunt has not. An active squirrel will challenge the best rifle hunters while a sitting squirrel will test the marksmanship of all hunters.
Doves have long been tabbed the “Gray Ghosts of Autumn”. A dove can be a challenge for the best of hunters, darting and zig-zagging across an open field. Many a dove has looked back and laughed at the person shooting at it. Dove breasts, especially those marinated before frying, are excellent. Look for and remove buckshot before putting the birds on a grill or in a pan. The same goes for squirrels if you are using a shotgun. Many a tooth has been chipped on a buckshot left in the meat.
As the temperatures begin to cool down in August, the fish will begin their quest for food by leaving the deeper waters before winter hits. Perfect time to slip off your shoes and go wading in the rivers while taking advantage of the small mouth bass season that opens in August.
Even though there are cooler days in August, you’ll still find a few of those “Indian summer” days where the temps soar. A few things you’ll want to remember when you’re hunting; 1. don’t lay your game directly on a hot truck bed which can spoil your meat very quickly, throw something in your truck to elevate it, which will allow air to flow under the animal and help keep it fresh. 2. Even though there will be cooler days, there will still be the chance for those bug bites. Grab some insect repellent before heading out. 3. Everyone’s favorite, spider webs are one of those fall nuisance you’ll run into while out. A little tip, if you’re hunting with a firearm, carry it up and down as you walk and it will save you from those big webs.
Don’t miss out on all the outdoors has to offer in August. Get to your local Big R Store and stock up on ammunition, fishing tackle and clothing for the fall months ahead!

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.