Monthly Archives: May 2014


I remember one time as a kid, my dad took me and my cousin to the dock to fish. In my haste to cast my little Zebco spinfisher, I hooked my cousin in the cheek. Oops! That was a lesson learned. Thankfully, the hook was removed by Dad without much incident, my cousin was fine, and we were able to continue on with our fishing. It’s important to always look behind you before you cast to prevent hooking someone in the first place, but mistakes will happen.

If you ever wind up in a similar situation, you’ll want to know the following information. Check out this nice illustrated guide and watch the video below; it’s not for the squeamish, but some really good information is shared.

Photo: Fish With JD; Video: Total Fisherman


As an avid angler and father of two children, I try to pass along habits on the water that contribute to sustaining this delicate resource. Whether that means practicing catch/photograph/release (CPR) or policing our trash so that it doesn’t go in the water, I do my best to practice behaviors that contribute to the long-term viability of the sport I love so dearly.

There are other issues, however, affecting fishing that are out of my hands. Thank goodness there are organizations like Take Me Fishing and the Coastal Conservation Association that fight the good fight for us anglers. Here are some of the big issues we face affecting the future of fishing.

Invasive species like the snakehead are an issue
Invasive species like the snakehead are an issue

Why do we fish? For food. For fun. For relaxation. Because your dad took you when you were little and his dad took him before that. We fish because it’s a way of life for most of us. And when we fish, the last thing we want to do is worry. But these days, fishermen have some pretty significant issues that keep our minds off of the tranquil, meditative sport we love.

1. Access to water:
 It stands to reason. If you want to go fishing, you have to have access to water. Sounds simple, but in actuality it can be a complex subject which has spawned key court rulings and extensive law reviews. Each state has its regulations regarding which waterways are navigable and which are not. And on top of that are the federal guidelines. It’s enough to make an angler snap his brand new Ugly Stick in half. But have no fear. If you are looking to expand your fishing radius, most states maintain websites solely dedicated to water access. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and state wildlife services have sites devoted to information on water access. Many have interactive maps of selected waters, as well as information about fishing rules, fish stocking, game fish, and other species

Photos: Heal the Bay (top); BBC (above)


Agagia 2012 2 045There’s no denying that a big kudu bull is the most glamours of all African plains game, yet once you’ve downed your trophy, which animal is next? An exciting answer is to try for a “slam” of beests: the blue wildebeest, the black wildebeest, and the red hartabeest.

Each of these animals have distinctive horns and coloration and they are often found in the same area, although the black wildebeest is more of an open-plains animal than its blue cousin. The “beesty slam” was my goal on a recent safari; here’s how it went.

The “beests” of Africa are as amazing as they are different. The blue wildebeest, sometimes called the poor man’s buffalo, is as tough as a tank and ruggedly handsome, while its cousin, the black, often seems not to be playing with a full deck, and is very unpredictable. The third member of the “beest” fraternity, the hartabeest, is racy red with motorcycle-handlebar horns and speed to match.

Agagia 2012 2 113Jere Neff and I booked with Agagia Safaris in Namibia because they have, hands down, the best bowhunting operation in my 21 African safaris. That said, they can’t control the weather; this year they had double the rain of a normal year, as well as a downpour the day before we arrived. The result: Only a fraction of the usual animals came to drink. The exceptional rainfall didn’t affect rifle hunting and we did very well in the few days we used the “long bow.” Yet bowhunting was our priority and Jere took a great, wide-horned bull blue widebeest on the third day of the safari. He was so excited, he could practically fly.

Agagia Safari 2012 057The next day, I took the black species of the slam when a big bull came to drink in late afternoon. On my previous Agagia safari, I took the blue and the black wildebeest and had several opportunities at medium red bulls, but could not pull the release on a big bull. This year, I left our safari a couple of days early to take my wife to Victoria Falls and Jere mentioned that he only needed the red for his “beest slam.” I hope he succeeded.

In any event, my name is already on the Agagia schedule for mid-August of next year. That way, I’ll be assured of dry weather and great action at waterholes. Any animal that has “beest” in its name and comes to drink had better beware.


The ocean is a never-ending source of fascination. I grew exploring the beach and tide pools along the south end of Puget Sound in Washington State. Now that I’m an adult living in Southern California, that salty water continues to flow through my veins. Whether I’m out on a boat or on the beach, there’s always something new to observe… the changes throughout the day as the tide ebbs and flows, or how things develop day to day over the course of the year.

And then there’s the deep ocean. Deep-water beasts have fueled our collective imagination from ancient mythology to Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, to Finding Nemo. Maybe that explains our fascination with creatures like this crazy-looking fish from the deep ocean, the barrel eye fish.

fish-transparent-head-4_21054_600x450With a head like a fighter-plane cockpit, a Pacific barreleye fish shows off its highly sensitive, barrel-like eyes — topped by green, orblike lenses — in a picture released today but taken in 2004.

The fish, discovered alive in the deep water off California’s central coast by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, is the first specimen of its kind to be found with its soft transparent dome intact.

Photos: National Geographic



“The will to plan to succeed is more important than the will to succeed.”  This oft-quoted statement explains whey some hunters are very successful and always seem to take great adventurous trips, while others consistently talk about “next year.” The folks at Hadley Creek Outfitters urge you to plan now for to make the most of your hunts this fall.

HadleyCreek IMG Deer-2Serious whitetail fanatics know that you can’t count on just luck to bag a great buck on your next hunting trip. A successful hunt isn’t determined only by what you do while you’re hunting; it depends on the work you do before the season even begins. Whether you plan to hunt your own land, or you hope to book a dream trip with an outfitter, it’s important to start planning early.

Plan Ahead
It’s never too early to start planning for your deer hunt. In the off-season months, hunters can check, prepare, clean, and repair gear; read instructional books or watch videos; replace or charge batteries; renew or obtain hunting licenses; and get in some target practice. You can even get your gear packed and ready to go, weeks before opening day. Many hunting websites offer helpful deer-hunting checklists so you can be sure you’ve gotten everything done (and taken care of any glitches) before you set off for the treestand.

Choose Your Location
If you have your sights set on a guided hunting trip, do plenty of research, both online and by phone, so you know HadleyCreek IMG Deer-3your options and so you’re sure of what to expect and what you’ll get before you pay for it. Spend some time scouting a few websites. Look for updated information and photos; check out policies and services; find out how many acres and how many stands they have; and inspect the quality of the deer that the clients are taking.

It’s also important to know how the land and the herd are being managed. Outfitters like Hadley Creek, who offer fully guided archery and firearm hunts on thousands of acres in Illinois’ Pike County, manage so that the age structure and the trophy quality of their herd improve each year. For instance, in their earlier years of operation, with a 130 minimum in place, a 150-class buck was cause for celebration. Now that a 150-class buck is close to their average size, clients often take home 160s and above.

To find out more about Hadley Creek Outfitters, visit


Deer season is still months away, but it’s not too soon to scout your stands for opening day. You’ll need to consider such varibles as wind, height, concealment, and deer movement, a challenge that can seem overwhelming. Luckily the folks at Mossy Oak are quick to the rescue with these six tips to get you started.

Agagis Posts 2621Many hunters have questions about treestand placement. “How high do you go in the tree” is one of the most asked questions on the topic. Every situation is different and there aren’t any rules where there aren’t exceptions. However, there are some general practices that will help in most situations when placing a treestand.

1) Play the wind and thermal

Once you have your general area selected, pay heed to the wind and thermal current in the area. You want to remain downwind or cross-wind of where you think the deer will be. This is the most important of the six.

2) Place your stand high

Every situation is different, but, in most cases you’re best to place your stand as high as you can go in a tree without limiting your shot opportunities. If you’re uncomfortable with heights, go as high as you dare. Getting up the tree higher usually lets you see further, makes it harder for the deer to see you, and most importantly, your scent isn’t concentrated at their “nose level.”

3) Use the available cover

This kind of goes hand in hand with treestand height – in a bald tree you’re more likely to go higher than in a tree with good cover. Look for trees that lose their foliage late, clusters of trees, or trees with a “Y” in the trunk for concealment.


Claire Eckstrom (below) is a Nebraska native who is just as comfortable in stilettos as she is in her hunting boots. She will graduate with a degree in fashion design and an emphasis in entrepreneurship in December; Claire then plans to pursue her masters in fashion business in either London or New York City.

d7c8322f-9705-4ad9-a22f-0deb3d40db84Hunting is part of her family heritage, having grown up in fields and blinds throughout the state, but western Nebraska captures much of her outdoor spirit. In addition, she has also been blessed with a keen sense of wit. To that point, here are her top ten reasons every woman should be a hunter.

1. Coming face-to-face with a bull elk could add that necessary element of danger your day job is lacking – because avoiding Steve from accounting has become too easy.

2. It’s a much cheaper way to get organic meat than Whole Foods.

3. All of your friends think that you’re a real-life Katniss, which reminds them why it’s in their best interest to stay on your good side.

4. It opens a whole new realm of possible comebacks to “make me a sandwich.”


The past extremely cold winter may have kept you away from the barbecue grill, resulting in more venison than usual in your freezer. Now that summer has arrived, this is a great time to raid that frozen venison and treat your friends and family to a meal they won’t forget. Bernie Barringer lays out two easy-to-prepare venison recipes in this OutdoorHub post.

Meat-2-400x266[1]One of the best things about hunting is, of course, all the great meat free from preservatives and any other chemicals that might be found in store-bought fare. Wild game meat is organic, it’s “green,” and it’s really good! I put three deer in the freezer last fall, and I am lamenting the fact that my supply of venison is almost gone. I make a lot of roasts in the slow cooker and a good portion of my venison was made into breakfast sausage and burger. I also make a lot of sausage out of bear meat. But one of the best delicacies of all is deer loin. Some people call them backstraps, but whatever you want to call them, they are tender and juicy and delicious—if you fix them properly.

Photos: OutdoorHub


Many hunters prefer one method of hunting over another  Archers live for the thrill of being close to game and the heart-pounding excitement that only comes with proximity. Gun hunters crave marksmanship and the spotting and stalking challenge that a longer range weapon provides. But can you have the best of both worlds?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf ever there was a benefit of combining hunting tactics, Jere Neff of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, experienced it on our recent safari to Namibia. We primarily planned to bowhunt, but remained open to the option of rifle-hunting. I took four boxes of premium ammunition to improve our chances.

Namibia is an arid country and rain rarely falls outside of January, February, and March. “You really ran into an unusual situation this year,” said Agagia Safaris owner T.J. Neethling. “We got twice as much rain this year as normal and had a downpour the day before you arrived. It’s very unusual.”

Jere and I spent most of our time in bowhunting hides, where we took several trophies — despite the abundance of water throughout the environment. However, we kept the rifle option alive and enjoyed it just as much. I took a warthog and an oryx while Jere had the hunt of his life when he stalked a OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAzebra and a black wildebeest in the same morning as the featured picture displays.

Some U.S. states and seasons are weapon-specific, but you can often use archery or black powder gear in rifle seasons. When hunting in such states as Alaska, you can use your choice of method unless the licence specifies one device.

Be sure to check with your guide or outfitter to make sure such options are legal and consider using one of the camp’s rifle. We learned ahead of time that Agagia had rifles in .308 and .30-06 and brought ammo with us.

Photos: Jere Neff


018Accuracy is the most important aspect of a bowhunting set-up. It matters little how fast the arrow flies at any range unless the broadhead strikes point-of-aim. Penetration is a close second. Unless your hunting arrow penetrates the vitals, the harvest will not occur. Generally, the more kinetic energy behind an arrow, the better it penetrates — but draw weight is not the most important variable. I have a 275-lb. crossbow that gets about the same penetration as my 60-lb. compound on a GlenDel rutting buck target. The crossbow launches a thick arrow with a short power stroke, while  the compound fires a micro-thin Easton shaft and a very pointy field point. Broadheads make a difference as well. Generally speaking, mechanical heads will not penetrate as well as a cut-Agagia 2014 4 118on-contact head of similar diameter because the mechanical expends energy in the opening process. If this sounds a bit theoretical, here’s my experience. Using a Limbsaver Proton compound bow set at #55, Easton Injection shafts, and NAP Big Nasty broadheads, I took two animals on a recent safari with Agagia Safari Company. The first opportunity came when a mature oryx bull came to our blind. It showed up so quickly I didn’t 013have time to get excited. Literally in seconds, the arrow was on the way and passed completely through both shoulders of a 500-lb. animal. Ironically, in the next ten minutes a big bore warthog rushed in to drink and gave the classic quartering away shot. I put the shaft behind the front shoulder and the Big Nasty nearly cut through the other side and left a blood trail like a highway. Shooting 65, 70, and up to 80 pounds certainly adds kinetic energy to arrows, yet that kind of energy can come at the cost of a shaky draw, sore shoulders, and greater bow vibration. Max out the penetration gear and you can have great success with a moderate, accurate, and comfortable set-up.