Okay, lets be honest, we have gone into some of our favorite trendy stores and tried on some of the coolest sunglasses we could find. Its a lot of fun playing ‘Fashion-ista’ but lets not forget that wearing a great pair of shades is about a lot more than looking really cool. To be honest, according to my ego I look great in pretty much anything, but because I spend so much time in the great outdoors, especially on the ocean, I need to take special care in protecting my eyes as well as looking good at the dock. The new Tuna Alley sunglasses from Costa del Mar are everything I could ask for.
Protecting your eyes from the harmful effects of the sun requires a bit of understanding of just what you are protecting yourself from as much as selecting the perfect pair for you. I have tried many different brands, shapes and lenses and have always found myself picking the Costa Del Mar brand. They have been with me high in the Himalayas of Nepal as well as Surfing in Costa Rica and of course all over my home state of Florida. The Tuna Alley model seems to cover all of my needs. In addition to being very stylish, one of my concerns was coverage, and just as scientists are telling us that we should wear sunscreen whenever we go outdoors, it’s also vitally important to protect not only the eye itself but the sensitive tissue around it as well. The large frame of the Tuna Alley does just that.
When I’m fishing on the boat or skiing in the winter, the polarized lenses on the Tuna Alley are perfect for reducing the glare from reflected sunlight coming off the water or snow. I also love them for long drives too as they filter out the sunlight bouncing off the highway causing my eyes to tire quickly. Another feature of the Tuna Alley model that I really like their patented vent system which helps keep these shades from fogging during some of my most strenuous activities.
The UV filtering capabilities of the 580G blue mirror lenses that I chose are perfect for my offshore adventures. The color of your lenses should coincide with the activities that you will be engaging in the majority of your time outdoors. The Sun’s UV radiation can cause a multitude of medical issues ranging from cataracts to photokeratitis (aka: snow blindness). Many Doctors suggest that long term exposure to ultra-violet radiation from the sun can due cumulative damage to your eyes and that just as you should begin using sunscreens starting at a young age, so should you also wear protective sunglasses.
The bottom line is that you need to protect your eyes from the harmful effects of the sun. You need to have the best vision possible to really enjoy whatever outdoor activities you choose. Why take chances with the only set of eyes you will ever have. The Tuna Alley Model by Costa del Mar are perfect for all your outdoor needs, just choose the lenses that best fit your lifestyle and remember that you can either live your life behind your computer, Flat-screen television or Smart Phone, or get out there and enjoy!
Important Info on the Tuna Alley Blackout from Costa Del Mar!
•Lightweight, impact-resistant polycarbonate lenses
•Blocks yellow light
•Repels water and oils
•100% UV protection
•Durable nylon frame
•Patented vented system
•Manufacturer’s lifetime warranty
Costa’s Tuna Alley 580P Polarized Sunglasses feature a durable nylon frame with integral hinges and a patented vented system. Impact-resistant polycarbonate lenses repel water and oils, and feature 580 technology to block yellow light and enhance reds, blues, and greens for sharper clarity and greater definition. Costa sunglasses are backed by a manufacturer’s lifetime warranty. Imported.
How to choose your Costa lenses:
Heighten your visual acuity with a lens color that suits your outdoor needs.
Amber is an excellent all-around lens color that delivers the brightest field of vision; a great choice for sight fishing, driving and everyday activities where high contrast is needed.
Gray maintains color saturation and natural contrast in medium to bright sun conditions; a good all-around pick that’s great for water or land sports.
Have you ever hiked just a little bit further than your comfort level would allow? Or Perhaps you have taken your boat further out than your cell signal could reach in search of that once in a lifetime catch, but you really couldn’t enjoy the moment because you were beginning to get just a little bit nervous? All of us who love the outdoors, whether climbing a mountain, hiking in a forest or somewhere on a deep blue sea have at one time or another wanted to push on just a bit further. Unfortunately we were just a bit uneasy with our ability, the equipment or perhaps the weather. A healthy respect for your ability and the great outdoors is a good thing, but now you can take along a device that will, to a great extent, not only lessen your fears but those of family and friends as well. The Spot 2 Satellite GPS Messenger has given us a lot more peace of mind!
This light-weight device is very simple to use and I either clip it to my pack or wear it on my arm whenever I feel I need that little bit extra sense of security. Many people tell me that they see no point in it because their cell phone is their means of contact if a problem arises. It’s a lot of fun to see them scurrying about trying to get that elusive cell signal when in marginal areas, or really start getting nervous when we are fishing offshore and their smart phone becomes nothing more than an MP3 player. As long as I have a good view of the sky I am relatively certain that within a few minutes I’ll have acquired a satellite signal and can send my location and a preset message to family and friends or call in the Calvary should the situation become dire.
My most used function on the Spot 2 is the Check-in function that allows me to send the aforementioned preprogrammed message and current location to specific individuals. I also like the similar custom message function that is basically a secondary check-in feature. I used this function to let my brother know that I am OK and on schedule along with my GPS position. Although these two functions are similar, you can basically use them to send different messages to up to 10 different contacts. These messages can be sent to their email, as a text message to their phone or both along with your waypoint at that particular time.
To let a greater number of friends know where I am and what I am up to I can also link to Facebook and Twitter, reminding the masses that while they are sitting behind their keyboards and smart phones, “ I am out there!” This Spot Track Progress feature allows pretty much anyone I want to see my locations on a Google Map.
Sometimes, you get yourself into a non-life threatening situation that really doesn’t require calling out Search and Rescue but you definitely need a bit of assistance; clicking the help button will let specific land or water based service providers of your location and send help.
If you are in a life-threatening situation pressing the SOS button will alert closest emergency responders worldwide through the GEOS Emergency Response Center. You can rest assured that if a situation arises where you need immediate help, it’s available.
A few people might suggest that they would not want to pay a service to utilize this product and that their cell phones are okay for their needs, but I feel that the abilities of the Spot 2 far outweigh the nominal yearly fee and the peace of mind I get by knowing it’s there makes my travels much more enjoyable. My family has always been a bit concerned by my extreme adventure lifestyle, and although I cannot completely make them feel at ease, the Spot 2 gives them a greater degree of peace of mind, knowing that they can pinpoint where I am and that I am always within a button click of help.
The days are longer and the smell of adventure is in the air, so why are you and your kids gathered around the television when there is so much fun to be had outside. Not all kids are made to play baseball or enjoy spending time at the lake fishing; they are more likely to found with a video game controller in their hand and weary look in their eyes. So what types of activities will test their intelligence, utilize cool technology and offer them a sense of adventure such as a treasure hunt? The answer is simple Geocaching!
What is Geocaching you ask? Well, basically it is a high tech treasure hunt that utilizes GPS (global positioning system) enabled devices. You know that voice in your car that tells you when to make a turn and how far you are form your destination? That is utilizing GPS technology. Geocaching is using hand held devices that assists you to navigate to a specific set of coordinates where someone else has hidden a geocache. The geocache itself need not be anything elaborate and quite frequently is nothing more than a waterproof container such as Tupperware or old used 35mm film canisters, which are called micro-caches. The may contain nothing more than a pencil and paper for you to record your name and the date you found the treasure or they may contain a various assortment of goodies. The rule of thumb when taking something from a geocache container is to place something else of equal or greater value in return. You can then go home and comment on your find and log it in your account on a geocache-listing site. It is at these listing sites that you can obtain the list of coordinates of geocaches that are in your area. Geocaching is a worldwide adventure so even if you are traveling you can enjoy the thrill of the hunt.
If you really get into the world of Geocaching you may consider leaving personalized trinkets for others to find and move around the world, taking one thing from one geocache while leaving a trinket taken from a different geocache somewhere else. Items called Geocoins and Travel Bugs are known as ‘hitchhikers” and are commonly moved from one place to another. On the listing sites you will be able to see when the last person to find that geocache logged it in and what the condition of that cache is. Geocaching began to increase in popularity near the same time that the movie “Harry Potter” became popular so those non Geocachers’ mulling about while you are on the hunt are referred to as ‘muggles’ and a vandalized cache is said to have been muggled or plundered.
The great thing about Geocaching is that it really doesn’t cost a great deal of money to get started, in fact many of the smart phones on the market today are equipped with GPS and there are many mobile apps for these phones that can be easily downloaded. Any of the major outdoor and camping stores will have a wide variety of GPS units to choose from so you really need to just concern yourself with your budget and what features are most important for you and your area. Some important factors to ask the sales person are how quickly the GPS unit acquires the satellite signals. It’s no fun to be standing in a field waiting for your GPS to be ready to get you right on the spot. Another factor that I feel is very important is battery life, its easy to carry extra batteries with you, but with most electronics, the longer the battery life the heavier the unit.
Finally make sure that you can read the screen well. Numbers will be changing and many units have the ability to download detailed maps so screen size and clarity is of the utmost importance. Make sure your Handheld GPS is waterproof as I have gotten caught in rainstorms and fallen in puddles more times than I care to remember.
If you have any preferences on which handheld GPS unit you feel is best for newbies up to advanced please feel free to voice your opinions here as enquiring minds need to know!
I’ve been slowly transitioning my friends from spending their weekends at the gun ranges to actually going out hunting with me depending on the seasons, and it’s been fun. They are not getting to the point where the questions they are asking are very much on topic when it comes weapons and ammunition for hunting certain types of game. During the current ammunition “shortage” a lot of times I find people purchasing more of what is available then what is best for their quarry and a common element of the conversation is whether they should be using hollow points or soft points. This is really a very good question and the answer depends on a few different factors, so lets get into a few important points to help with your decision. One other thing to note is that the ammunition that I use for practice is not always what I use for the actual hunt, however you should be familiar with how your hunting ammunition performs by using a few rounds during practice. I generally use less than a box of the ‘good stuff’ during an entire season or two, so keep this tidbit in mind when and why you are buying your ammo.
Whether to go for Hollow points or soft points will depend on what your purpose is. Hollow points are quick expanding bullets, but due to this they will not penetrate as deeply as soft points. Hollow points will also cause sever tissue damage which may be of concern to those who are harvesting game strictly for table fare. They have incredible stopping power for most game but would not be my first choice when hunting especially tough animals such as wild pigs, as the it may not penetrate deep enough to hit any vital organs. A big hog or bear might get back up and you then need to take additional shots to put it down for good and thereby destroying even more meat. I also should remind you that pissed off bears and hogs are not especially fond of getting shot and can turn on you in an instant. Smaller game animals are not great quarry for hollow points either, also for the reason of too much tissue damage on any game heading to the frying pan. If you were a farmer and merely trying to rid your land of problem animals, etc, then you would not be worrying about the meat but more about stopping power.Soft point bullets will probably not use all their energy shortly after impact and you run a risk of not doing enough tissue damage to put the animal down. There is nothing worse to a hunter than the feeling of wounding an animal and then not being able to track it down knowing that it will more than likely not survive. So, if taking into consideration the need for penetration the soft point will retain more energy longer and penetrate deeper while the Hollow point will use up most of it’s energy at impact. Again, take into consideration what you are hunting, a soft point on a rabbit will kill just as easily as a Hollow point with less meat being damaged.
Okay, so you have a lot of very general information, but a reasonably simple explanation of the difference between a hollow point bullet and a soft point. The first thing to remember is that either bullet will do the job if you are proficient with your gun. Velocity, how many grain bullet and distance all come into play in some fashion but that is why we practice and learn. What is perfect for one hunter may not be the ammo or gun of choice for another. Those using their weapons for self-defense or those in the military and law enforcement may also choose differently depending on their needs and conditions.
My person choices as someone that shoots wild boar in the swamps from within 50 yards is to go with the soft point in order to penetrate the tough hide, muscle and bone of the evil beasties, but I practice enough to hit where I aim and am patient enough to wait for my shot. Smaller animals I may choose to go hollow point and for those critters that I want to fill my freezer, probably go with soft point. Listen, you may choose otherwise, but generally speaking you won’t go wrong with this philosophy. Get out there, hunt, learn and have a great time. Let us know what your preferences are as a comment to this article.
This article is being written for a friend who is soon to be making a journey along that great North-South highway known as the Appalachian Trail. The reason I am not going to spend a great deal of time telling you of how to outfit yourself, what shoes to wear or the essential elements of hiking and camping, as you should already be proficient in such areas if you are taking on such an adventure. What I am going to explore are some elements that the novice hiker may not think about and give you a better understanding of what lies in store for those who are ready to get up and go. First what the AT or Appalachian Trail is before you decide to tackle it. It is roughly a 2000 thousand-mile trail following the crest of the Appalachian Mountains (this means that its not just long, but high as well) from Springer Mountain in the state of Georgia and terminating at Mt Katahdin in Maine.
Those who have made hiking trips of more than a few days understand that it is not all a bed of roses, for all the talk of beautiful sunsets and sunrises, the waterfalls, spectacular views and great experiences along the trail, there are the also the tales aching knees that no aspirin can cure, the insects that make you want to jump off a cliff and the mornings that you just can’t seem to get out of your sleeping bag. I remember a trek in the Himalayas on the route to Everest base camp, I wouldn’t have traded it for anything, but along the way, at times I just wanted to survive it. For everything that is worthwhile, it seems you always have to take the good with the bad. I’ve read somewhere that the vast majority of those who being a thru hike finish it. This is not a camping trip, it is a hiking adventure. For those merely taking a week out their busy schedules to hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail, it’s still hard! Its not like you can check into a motel 8 if the weather turns bad, be prepared, always be prepared.
When preparing for your Appalachian Trail adventure, don’t go into it without training. Spend a few weeks walking on relatively flat ground with a light pack to get the feel of it. Adjust the straps and other components to give you the most comfortable positions. As you get closer to your hike add some weight to the pack and find some hilly areas to walk. By the time you are ready to go you should feel comfortable with a full pack and able to walk uphill relatively easily. If you are not prepared and push too hard early in the hike you may develop overly sore muscles and blisters, which can make the adventure feel like a trip through purgatory. Start your trip easy to ensure that you have enough left in the tank to finish.
As you get more acclimated to the trail and you own abilities, you can gradually increase the pace, but here is a good piece of information, if at all possible, hike with other that are of your own level. No one wants to fall too far behind or have to slow down too much to wait for others. It’s always a great idea to set goals for the day and adjust these goals depending on conditions, such as weather, injuries or the all too frequent, unexpected incident. Realize that you may have to hike through inclement weather and sore muscles.
The Appalachian Trail is a spectacular hike, not only will you get the chance to see magnificent scenery but an abundance of wildlife as well. It’s a smart idea to become familiar with the flora and fauna of the area you will be covering and what types of creatures to avoid. If you really want to see some incredible wildlife then you must be on the move at the same time they are, most commonly early in the morning and first light. Yes, there is a chance that you will see bears, but for the most part, they will leave you alone if you do the same to them. Just don’t startle or surprise them on the trail and don’t leave food open in and around your tent, that’s like a neon deli sign to a bear. Many people carry bear spray, but I feel its just extra weight and fairly unnecessary if you just use common sense, and can run faster than those you are hiking with, Just Kidding!not really).
This is a hike that you want to have fun with, don’t be concerned with anyone’s habits but your own. Find a good pace and enjoy it. Before you set out on your journey do some research and find out where the shelters are along the trail in the areas you will be hiking. Although occasionally crowded and musty they can be a great port in a storm. Check by distance and elevation on the Appalachian Trail where these shelters are located to find them. You can also find via the Internet, food re-supply locations, but make sure you know how far off the AT they are. All in all, prepare well and you will have a great Hiking trip!
I was all settled in ready for a great night of reality television. I had my appetizers all laid out and was just about to flip on the channel that had an Alaskan Gold Mining marathon ready to start when my brother stopped in to a watch a few shows with me. A few episodes into the all day marathon we took a break, and then my brother turned to me and said “why aren’t you doing that?” I looked at him and didn’t say a word, I knew what he meant. Throughout my younger years I could always be found on some unique adventure, sometimes it was climbing the highest peaks of the Himalayas while other times I’d be diving some shipwreck in the Florida Keys, but what it really was about was the quest, or the pursuit of treasure. Prospecting for gold is something I always wanted to try but after watching some of these shows I was kind of turned off by the idea due to the extreme risk, expense, and the fact that those on the shows seemed a bit, well, off their freaking rockers! And of course the fact that I live in South Florida where the only major concentrations of gold is found either on centuries old shipwrecks or on centuries old women wintering in West Palm Beach. Well, a little research on the Internet and I had a plan all figured out to have some great fun and learned a bit about prospecting, specifically panning for gold.
After visiting some websites on the subject and watching several YouTube videos on panning for gold I decided it was time to go for it. Well, going for it as much as I could for the moment. I came across a website called Addictedtogold.com that offered great paydirt and reasonable prices. Paydirt! I recognized that term from the gold mining shows, it’s the actual dirt that that one digs out of the ground in hopes it contains gold. Now I’m not a complete moron, I’m not the type to by a deed to the Brooklyn Bridge or anything so I did a bit of research and found that AddictedtoGold.com had done quite a bit of business on eBay and other online sites and enjoyed a very high feedback rating. I’m also not naive enough to think someone is going to sell me something that I can get rich on and not keep it for them self, but I did think that I could have some great fun, relax and learn a new hobby, and that’s exactly what happened!I had ordered some inexpensive equipment used in panning for gold, basically, a pan, a pair of tweezers and a little glass vial to store my pickings. The shipping on my order of 20 lbs of paydirt was lightning fast and I had to wait two more days for my other order from a different vendor to arrive. Now there are no guarantees that I would find much although I had high hopes. I set up a little tub on my front porch and got right to work. Not really knowing what I was doing made the process painfully slow but I was determined not to screw up. Jonathan, the owner of AddictedtoGold.com, had suggested that I use a tub or large bucket to work over so I could go through the paydirt a few times to ensure didn’t miss anything. About thirty minutes into my very first pan of paydirt and down to just some black sand and…nothing! I took a deep breath and regrouped and put another scoop of paydirt in my pan and began the process all over again, dipping, swirling looking and repeat…wait! What is that shiny little thing? It was no bigger than the head of a pin but gosh darn it that was gold! I really wasn’t sure what I was looking for but when I saw it, I knew exactly what it was. All the videos I had watched and the coaching that Jonathan had given me describing the specific gravity of gold and the size and shape of what I may find was dead on.
OK, so now picture this, there I am sitting on my front porch placing scoopfuls of paydirt into my gold pan and going through the motions that I saw while watching gold mining shows like “Gold Rush” and “Bering Sea Gold.” I was having a blast! My neighbors were thinking I was a bit insane by now as every so often they’d here me shouting Eureka! Something that I learned after just a few hours of panning is that you need to find a comfortable position when bending over your pan as it took me almost as long to straighten myself out as it did to find the days gold, which by now was almost enough for a cheeseburger at MacDonald’s…on cheap burger day. But that was not the point, I was finding gold and relaxing and learning how to separate gold from dirt. I was practicing for going out and finding my own claim.Let’s be honest, the chances of you even coming close to making back what you spend on paydirt is probably better than winning the lottery but still highly doubtful. If you are going to purchase from a miner, do a bit of research on that company like I did on AddictedToGold.com. Check for their past feedback ratings and try and email the owner for a bit of information, most honorable miners will get back to you quickly and be happy to offer assistance. They realize that if you are anything like me, and if they treat you right, you will be a repeat customer.
So, now that I know how to pan the stuff, I started accumulating more equipment for prospecting and practicing with more paydirt and running the old dirt through various other apparatus. I have also decided to join a gold prospecting club to meet other like-minded folks and perhaps make a few new friends along the way. I hear they have some great outings!
Just a quick note about the neighbors who were so quick to look at me like I was a crazy man; well it’s amazing what putting some barbed wire around a hole in my front yard with a shovel and sign saying “claim jumpers will be shot” can do, not to mention the several phone calls I received this week about where they can get a gold pan of their own!
I’ve been spending quite a bit of time lately with my good friend Jack Hays at the local gun range. Jack has always had an adventurous nature to him but to be honest, he is among the most stubborn men I have ever met! He, like many others, (especially business owners) have gone on a gun-buying craze over the past year, spurred on by the constant political discourse regarding gun owner rights and possible bans to various types of weapons. Jack, like many others has gone out and purchased guns that are mostly tactical in nature. Not exactly the type you find in the hands of a deer hunter sitting in a tree stand on a cold fall day. So as part of my master plan to have my good friend become my local hunting buddy, I began having contests with him at the range (whenever I could persuade him to put down his beloved Glock 19), and pit my Ruger Super Red Hawk .44 mag at 15 yards against him shooting slugs at a marginally shorter distance. Although I primarily enjoy bow hunting, it was time to get my close friend out hunting any way I could. Thanks to outfitters Bob Cain and Jon Slick of Boarsight Outdoors, I was able to do just that, in a way that I knew would excite him and create an urge to take hunting to the next levels.
Hunting seasons in South Florida can be a difficult proposition for a newcomer, as much of the public land is overrun by hunters, many of whom are seasoned veterans. To be fortunate enough to apply for, and win a drawing for a quota hunt permit for most species and seasons is like playing the lottery and can be very frustrating. I had to think of something that would be filled with adventure and excitement, yet would be an experience that would make a newbie want to learn more about the sport and lifestyle. It also had to be simple and easy, with some greater chance of success than that of sending a person who just purchased their first shotgun into the woods to hunt an Osceola Turkey on their own. It came to me as I was looking through some pictures of my favorite past hunts and saw a few pictures of a hunt I had done last year thru Boarsight Outdoors. A Wild Hog hunt is about as exciting as it gets!
South Florida is overrun with wild pigs and many landowners will lease out the hunting rights to their property to outfitters, for a fee and the chance to curb the massive destruction done by these animals. Although I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to hunting and rarely hunt with dogs or guns, I always jump at the opportunity to go after Wild Hogs. The adrenaline rush of riding in a swamp buggy while specially trained dogs search the palmetto thickets to find the pigs is incredible. This is the perfect type of hunt for those who are just beginning and need the supervision of a qualified guide and are not ready or willing to be sitting in a tree or blind an hour before first light.
Two phone calls later and my buddy and I were all set for a Wild Pig hunt just outside of Okeechobee, Florida on what turned out to be a spectacular Sunday morning. There was a chill in there air when we arrived and were greeted by Blaine, who would be our guide for the day. Blaine was a very personal fellow with a great laugh who taken part in a team rodeo event just the night before, but still was ready and willing to be part of our adventure. I was so happy with Boarsight Outdoors for being able to put this together with a great guide on such short notice. So after getting the dogs into the buggy and giving Jack some last minute instructions we were off to the lush thickets and Cyprus Hammocks where we would hunt. Of course Blaine and I couldn’t help the good-natured ribbing of our new hunter Jack and his SWAT team style shotgun.
Before I go any further I’d like to say that setting up a hunt with an outfitter such as Boarsight Outdoors is the perfect introduction to hunting in South Florida. It’s difficult for a new person to get started and with these guys Hunters of any level are welcome. You can use whatever weapon you choose within reason, there are even those who like to live on the edge and go after Wild Boar with a spear. These guys really go out of their way to make it an enjoyable experience, whether you are alone or making it a family outing. Kids love to sit and watch all the excitement from atop a swamp buggy and learn as they observe. Bob Cain has often arranged for me to simulate my other big game hunts by setting me up in a tree stand with my bow or .308 at O’dark-thirty in the morning to practice well in advance of any specific hunting trips I may be considering. Since Hogs may be taken on private property all year long they are the perfect game for not only sharpening your skills but to add tasty meat to the freezer as well. The guide will skin and quarter your animal right there so be sure to bring a big cooler!
Okay, back to the hunt. We were cruising in the buggy watching the dogs work the dense brush when all of a sudden they started howling! A large boar broke out of the brush and Jack was out of the buggy in a flash and in perfect position for a shot. The dogs were barking…Jack had his finger on the trigger…the boar was now only 10 yards away and had to pass him to get to safety! Jack had the boar in his sights, the boar had Jack in his sights…Jack then began to squeeze the trigger and brace himself for his first shot at a angry Wild boar…we waited for the shot with the anticipation of watching Jack harvest the pig, then… Nothing! With the classic rookie mistake of forgetting to take the safety off, we watched a 150lb hog run by Jack, run through the palmetto, through the fence line and just keep going. We reassured him that he was not the first person to make this error and it was better than the other classic rookie mistake of forgetting to load the gun.
It wasn’t much longer before the dogs had found another large Hog deep in the brush and shortly after that with a big bang my good friend had taken his first Wild Pig. The look on his face was priceless, and he learned of the elation and sorrow that only a hunter that has harvested an animal can feel. My buddy has now asked me to schedule another hunt and is bringing along another friend who has never hunted before. This other friend is also at the range every week practicing with guns that would never see the light of day without South Florida Hog hunts.
Outfitters such as Boarsight Outdoors can schedule all types of hunts, from year round hog hunts to Spring Turkey, as well as Alligators and exotics. I love the Hog hunts as they are relatively inexpensive, can be done with any weapons at any time you and your friends feel the need to have an adventure, while filling the freezer with excellent meat. With the abundance of Wild pigs in South Florida, Bob Cain and John Slick of Boarsight Outdoors have also been able to set up unique hunts to offer me the opportunity to practice long range shooting to practice for my Fall Wyoming Antelope hunts. If you are itching to get out and use that assault weapon that never sees the outside of your neighborhood range, or want that extraordinary adventure for the entire family, or just can’t wait for the fall hunting season to begin. Give these guys a call, because when everyone else is sitting behind their computer or lying on their recliner watching television…We Are Out There!
Even with the unseasonably warm temperatures in many of our favorite hiking destination, we know that eventually it gets cold, and many people lock themselves away on their treadmills and stationary bikes to await the return of the warmer weather and more outdoor activities. But with the weather acting as irrational as my college sweetheart, it reminds us that we must be prepared for a variety of weather when hiking local trails or the backcountry in winter. This October I was hiking in Wyoming on a ridiculously warm 82-degree sunshiny day and pelted by snow and sleet the following morning. Preparation can turn a disaster into a fun outing no matter what the conditions. OK, 28 degrees and driving sleet is not going to be fun under most conditions but if you are already out there, you still need to give yourself the best chance of making it back safe and sound. Day trip or overnighter.
Some of my favorite hikes have been the morning after a light snow and the Trees and hills are covered with a thin blanket of white, and there is that remarkable fresh smell to the air. Winter Hiking is so much fun and you will find that some of your favorite spots are not only less crowed but can take on a different look entirely from the spring and summer. Winter Hiking brings with it a need for different equipment and depending upon the length of the hike it could be merely a matter of clothing, or the need for specialized shelter and food preparation equipment. With all the weather sites on the Internet and the availability of real-time weather apps for most smart phones those who hike in the winter can do so more safely and enjoyably than ever before.Clothing is the most important thing to understand when winter hiking, that is of course after proper safety precautions such as weather checks and giving someone you trust a hiking plan and route. My Wyoming trips saw several major changes in the temperature and winds during the day, and although this type of fluctuation is not all that common, you still need to be prepared for weather conditions to change quickly. You may begin the day at a higher elevation or start by hiking along a river, understanding how to dress is the key to comfort and safety. One morning I was hiking in the Adirondack Mountains of New York state and our cabin was near the summit of a decent sized mountain, I started out the day with a Mountain Hardwear Gore-Tex, my favorite fleece jacket and the usual essentials, fast wicking long undies and the usual hat and glove combination. It was blowing a bit at the higher elevations and the wind chill was fierce, but after the sun came up a bit higher and I got a bit further down the trail towards the river the Gore-Tex was gone along with the hat and gloves. I also traded in the long underwear for some technical climbing boxers with fantastic wicking ability.
This is a good time to talk about the wicking properties of your clothing. I found this out the hard way along with my friend and renowned climber Alan Burgess in the Himalayas about 12 years ago. DO NOT WEAR COTTON! You will sweat and when you do you want to be wearing a material that can wick moisture away from your skin and dry quickly. To put it mildly, cotton isn’t it! In cold temperatures you want to be as dry as possible and synthetic fibers is the way to go. I wore cotton for a day on my way from Lukla airport which is the usual starting point for treks to Everest Base Camp and other peaks along the way and I can tell you that no matter how cold the temperature may drop, you are exerting yourself and will sweat. Combine that damp icky feeling with a strong wind as you climb to higher elevations and you will not only feel like a piece of meat in a freezer, you have the possibility of hypothermia.Basically, layering is the way to go weather you are hiking, hunting or even running trails near your home in the wintertime, but there are other precautions that need to be addressed as well. It’s the winter and you must pay attention to potentially icy conditions. If you are like me, I can take a good spill just walking on the sidewalk if I’m not paying attention. Running trails in the winter or hiking on narrow trails near cliffs can make this disastrous. Consider using some type of snow or ice traction equipment such as crampons or studded trail shoes if the conditions warrant it. You may also consider various types of snow traction devices such as those that can simply be attached over whatever type of shoe you are wearing. Walking sticks and hiking poles are also very good tools to have whether you are out for a day hike or deep in the snow of the backcountry in winter.
As a native Floridian, I have to pay particular attention to the weather and trail conditions in winter as I will almost assuredly come across conditions that I am not familiar with and must proceed with caution. For this reason I make certain that whoever I am on winter hiking with is not only adept at colder weather hiking but is a good mentor as well. Winter or cold weather hiking is not for everyone, but you can beat the spring and fall crowds and still have a great day in the great outdoors as even in the dead of winter there are some days that are just spectacular.
I was on may way to Wisconsin in January last year because I was foolish enough to tell my good friends that I would love to learn about ice fishing. Since I live in Miami, Florida most of my local friends and family thought it was a bit foolish as well. But always up for a challenge and to learn new outdoor adventures I packed up pretty much every article of clothing I owned and headed north. I was told the ice was sufficiently thick enough to make fishing safe and I should get up there. I now pass onto you this information in the hopes that you can have as much fun as I actually did. Go figure!
Ice fishing is not only a thing you can do to get away from the phones and confusion of work for a bit but it in some areas is a social gathering place as well. The lake I was fishing near Eau Claire, Wisconsin was set up like a little community. Small structures known as ice shanty’s or ice huts were scattered around like tents in a camp ground with bunches of guys and gals making the rounds, spreading fishing news of the day, discussing the Green Bay Packers and sharing are shot of their favorite schnapps. Some of these ice huts were permanent requiring trucks or snowmobiles to move them while others were pop ups, and easily moved. One gentleman even had a bed and satellite television in his shanty! It should be noted that these huts are not place over just any spot on the frozen lake, but over areas that have produced fish in the spring and summer and marked with a GPS. For my initiation into this type of fishing I was forced to sit on a plastic bucket outside the hut.The first thing I realized that very few of the techniques I use for offshore fishing would help me out here, as ice fishing is very specialized and requires special tackle and gear. The number one thing you need to ice fish is an ice auger or something to cut a hole in the ice. You can get a power auger or one that you work by hand, but the bottom line is you need to create a hole (or several holes) in the ice that are about 8-10 inches in diameter. Once the hole is drilled, have a skimmer ready (looks like a soup ladle with holes in it) as its frickin’ freezing out and you need to keep the hole from freezing over. There were several holes drilled and my buddies each would try different methods to try and figure out what the fish were hitting best on.
At first I thought they were joking with me when I was handed a very short rod only about a 2-3 feet long with only two guides on it, but this made sense to me as I looked at the hole I was fishing through, and there is no need to cast. Ice fishing rods are made of material that can handle the cold temperatures (such as composites). The ice fishing reels are suited to the types of fish we could catch and the pound test line used. Some reels may have a closed face to protect the line while others may be spinning or baitcasters. The type of reel depends largely on the type of fish and depth of water.
A gadget called a tip-up is an important device for ice fishing with live bait such as worms, waxies or minnows that suspends the bait at a preset level under the ice. When a fish strikes it triggers a trip bar that is basically a short pole with a flag on it that alerts the fisherman to the strike. It’s usually a bright colored flag so that an angler fishing several holes can spot the triggered tip-up at some distance.These short rods are actually pretty good for using lures through the hole or colored jigs, often tipped with some bait (waxies, worms, minnows). This was my method as I sat on my bucket rod in hand, occasionally raising and lowering the rod tip to create action of the jig. I now prefer to use brightly colored lures and jigs, sometimes also using a glow in the dark hook made by a company called “Flirty Girty” as it seems to out produce others. When fishing in a dark and cold time of the year.
Small sonar systems called flashers are often used to locate fish or bottom structure much like I use in the ocean looking for wrecks, reefs and schools of fish. These units can detect fish instantly and even show your bait in relation to the fish when used properly. Even newer technologies such as underwater cameras are being used to scout fishing areas. Combine all this with the ability to pinpoint spots with your GPS and the newest maps and you have a major advantage of those ice fishing just a decade ago.
One of the things I like most about ice fishing is that when I am visiting my friends I can get out on the frozen lake at pretty much anytime of the day. A quick call to the local tackle shop and I can have a good idea of what types are fish are active and at what times of the day. I will dress according to how I will be fishing, inside a big ice shanty complete with heater, a small pop-up tent or sitting on my bucket freezing my gushy off. If you are by yourself, which is not always recommended when fishing the ice, you can get a plastic sled to pull all your gear. There are times of the year where you can drive across the ice as well. There are risks with ice fishing, falling through the ice is merely one of them. Proper ventilation in ice shacks and frostbite are just a few others.
So now you basically have enough information to get you started ice fishing. It’s a lot of fun if you are dressed for the cold, and prepared with the specialized gear needed for this type of fishing. Many of the fish you will catch you are already familiar with if you have fished that area previously. Whether it’s a social event such as a tailgate party on the ice or just to get out of the house in between football games, Ice Fishing is definitely worth the effort and preparation.
Busted! That’s the thought that goes through my mind on those occasions that I see a beautiful buck walking down a game trail towards my tree stand with his head down feeding on whatever may be along his way. Then all of a sudden, his head comes up, there’s a slight twitch, and in 3 great strides he is into the dense brush or over a fence, leaving me cursing under my breath. It’s my own fault as it is quite obvious he caught my scent and took off like a bat out of hell. Whether you are hunting with a bow from a tree stand, or at greater distances with your favorite deer rifle, not understanding how wind direction and velocity plays a crucial part in hunting Whitetail Deer, Elk or just about any similar game animal, is probably one of the greatest reasons for going home disappointed. Using the wind to your advantage just requires a little understanding and some common sense.
Wind velocities also have a great effect on how scent disperses, light winds and thermals can dictate which tree stand, or direction you enter a hunting area from as opposed to winds of greater speeds. Thermals are usually lighter winds that are generated from air that is warming or cooling, often depending on the time of day. Much of the land I have access too is in hilly areas or in valleys, so understanding thermals is of great importance. In the morning when it begins to warm, this warming air will tend to rise and move up a hill, while in the evening a cooling trend will let air drop back down the hills and into valleys. By understanding this you will know whether to hunt above or below specific areas or deer trails.
When wind is moving at higher velocities, it’s important to understand how the topography can affect its movement and thereby the scent that this wind carries. Look at a stream and see how various rocks and obstructions change the course of the water before it converges again. Now picture that as wind moving around hills, cornfields and stands of trees. Trees and foliage can push air higher or force it down quicker along with your scent. Get the picture? For this reason I usually have several tree stands set up so I can take advantage of the current and prevailing wind conditions. I may also consider several possible directions to get to that stand as well. If it gets too windy or blustery then its quite possible deer will feel more comfortable staying bedded down to avoid make a mistake as its harder to pick up scent and sound in really windy conditions of perhaps over 20 mph.
Try and do as much scouting as possible before the season begins. Using Game camera’s that log the time and temperature can actually be a great help, especially if you log your results in order to figure out the Whitetail Deer movement patterns in specific conditions. By doing this and setting up several stands or blinds to take advantage of your recognition of these patterns you can really enhance your chances of a
successful hunt. Don’t forget that humidity will also play a huge part in the deer’s ability to not only pick up scent in the air, but on the ground as well. Humid air or a slight mist will hold scent on the longer and also give a Deer a better idea of the direction and movement of any potential danger. Think of an old fashioned Television antenna that when turned around a bit, the picture becomes clearer. Older, Trophy Deer have learned how to use their senses better, that is how they grew to be Trophy Deer and harder to harvest. This doesn’t always hold true during “the Rut” as adult Bucks can become just plain stupid when their need to reproduce takes over for common sense.
Let’s briefly talk about what we wear when going into the woods hunting. The bottom line is although we can minimize our scent to a great extent we really never completely eliminate it, so no matter what products you use, it important to use it in conjunction with an understanding of wind direction. When you wash your clothes make certain you are using a scent free or scent eliminating detergent, meadow fresh ultra-Tide will not do! Make certain all your clothes are scent free and its best to place them immediately in a sealed plastic bag to avoid them being contaminated with any household scents. I prefer to put on my layers of clothes once I get to where I am parking the car and do it outside. I also make sure I take a shower before I go Deer hunting and use only scent free soaps and shampoos. Remember, the less attention you pay to clothes and hygiene, the more you need to pay to wind direction. They even have scent eliminating chewing gum. Once you are geared up and ready to move into your hunting area, it’s always a good idea to spray down with a scent eliminating spray. Don’t forget your boots as they will give you away to any Whitetail Deer that cuts your path. Many people prefer rubber boots to minimize this possibility.
Ok, you are now ready to move to a deer blind or tree stand but which one? You should have already chosen this by checking wind directions. There are even apps for smart phones that use GPS and weather stations to give you wind direction at your location, but I still prefer a Puff bottle filled with some type of scent free powder that when squeezed will show you the direction of the wind at your location. Watching leaves and grass works too. Move towards the stand that will place you on the downwind (or semi-downwind) side from the Deer trail you are covering. Deer coming from the upward side will have difficulty smelling you if you have prepared properly. I have had Deer walk right under my tree stand when I was positioned properly in regards to wind direction. I have seen them walk by me and then pick up my scent about 20 yards downwind and then take off like a bat out of hell!
Like the wind these rules concerning wind can change quickly depending upon velocity and other conditions and terrain. These are just some general rules to assist you in understanding how to hunt Whitetail Deer by understanding wind.