January’s Outdoor Column


The new year brings new opportunities for outdoorsmen and women throughout the area as new Christmas gifts are ready to be used and thoughts of warm spring weather loom in the minds of most people that love the outdoors.

I use my winter time to organize and clean my fishing equipment so that the first day on the water is not a nightmare. It is always wise to have your trolling motor and start batteries on your boat tested before you take your first fishing trip. Boat and tackle shows throughout the area generally find anglers with spring fever out and about buying new items for the season ahead. Being it is still winter there are still some late hunting seasons that you can finish up with and there are always those put and take areas that you can still hunt. But then it is time to put your hunting gear away! Whether you are oiling a fishing reel or a gun, remember that a little oil goes a long way. A small drop here or there will oil many mechanisms of a gun or fishing reel. Never over-oil or over-grease because it can harden and create problems when it does. I apply grease with a small hard-bristle brush. Find one that the bristles will not break off and end up where you don’t want them. Hooks on your lures or hooks for bait fishing need to be looked over and either sharpened or replaced during the winter months. This can be done with a good hook hone or by using a file or sandpaper. Making sure the points are sharp may mean the difference between you landing or losing a good fish. If your tackle box looks like mine at the end of the winter, it’s a mess! I learned about cleaning vinyl and rubber skirts several years ago. I keep my spinner baits looking nice by putting them in a pot of boiling water, using a pair of needle-nose pliers and then shaking them several times before pulling them out. After doing this I place them on a paper towel to dry. I then take a blow dryer to them and they fluff out. It’s amazing how clean and nice they come out. If your spinner bait blades have melted skirt or worm material on them, use Goo Gone and it normally takes this stuff off. I then hit them with a metal polish if they need it.

Keeping your knife sharp is another great project for winter. Being a wood carver I know that a sharp knife is necessary to remove wood. I also know that being cut with a sharp knife is much better than being cut with a dull one. Sharp knives leave a clean cut that will heal much more quickly than the cut made by a dull knife. A hunter or an angler both need to carry a knife and it needs to be sharp. There are all sorts of methods for sharpening a knife and all kinds of gadgets to do it with. The key is the angle when bringing it across the sharpener. Keeping it at a 45 degree angle to the stone or ceramic is key to getting it sharp. Never go outdoors without a sharp knife! Your local Big R Store will have all of the items mentioned to get these above mentioned things done so get in and get ready. Ask them also when their spring fishing items will arrive.

About Sam Van Camp

Born: Danville, Illinois | Married: Pam Van | Lives: Georgetown, Illinois | High School: Danville High School | College: Danville Area Community College, Eastern Illinois University | Degree: Bachelor’s Degree in Zoology with Minor in Botany | Specialties Areas: Master’s Degree – Fisheries Biology, Mammalogy, Herpetology | Previous Jobs: School Teacher – Basic Biology 36 years Outdoor Writer – 38 years (1 Book Published “Jitterbug Collector’s Guide State and Federally Licensed Taxidermist – 35 yearsWood Carver specializing in song birds, birds of prey and waterfowl 46 years | Hobbies: Bass Fishing, Hunting, Collecting Fishing Lures