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If you want to introduce a youngster or friend to deer hunting, take a cue from professional sports.

If your goal is to be the varsity kicker for the football team, you’ll want to get lots of kicking practice ,including realistic field goalsWV Deer 2013 040 with plenty of interference, even if you have to stack plastic garbage cans to simulate defensive linemen jumping to block the kick.

Similarly, if you’re a new hunter’s coach, you’ll want to make practice sessions as realistic as possible.

Shooting at paper targets is sufficient for the first few sessions, but you’ll quickly move to a 3-D target with an emphasis on shot placement and animal anatomy.

Matt Wettish is the host of Real OutdoorTV and had the chance to introduce Michael Lavalee to bowhunting. After taking the aforementioned steps, Wettish had the lad practice shooting from a bucket to simulate the unsteadiness of a tree stand.

Next, he asked Lavalee to do wind sprints and then shoot from the bucket so that he could experience the sensation of a quickly beating heart and shooting under duress.

As the top image shows, Lavalee had success on his first outing with this mature doe and is now firmly a member of the hunting fraternity.

His coach could not have been more proud.


WY Elk 2014 176Many hunters perceive a Western hunting vehicle as a tall four-wheel-drive pickup that will tackle monster mountains and deep-timber terrain, yet I’ve learned over the years that a quality SUV or crossover can access some of the best Western elk herds. Why? How? Fire access. Because western timber resources are so at-risk to fire danger, many (if not most) public land access roads throughout the West are managed for the quick deployment of resources. A vehicle with moderate ground clearance and all wheel drive will handle the job nicely.

For the past three years I’ve tested Nissan products in hunting situations and put the much-advertised Rogue SV AWD to the test on this year’s Wyoming elk hunt. I’m not a technical writer for automotive magazines, but I know if a vehicle will get the job done. I found the Rogue to be surprisingly versatile.

First, I was surprised to find that the crossover had three-row seating. I was traveling alone, yet for the person looking to gain hunting access and take the family along, the third row option is a huge advantage, especially when siblings need space.

I drove 400 miles from Boise to the Star Valley region of Wyoming and despite the 80 mph speed limit (honest) got 23.9 mpg, twice the mileage of a big 4×4 rig, and mileage that would surely increase at more reasonable speeds. For a person who must balance outdoor ambitions with the reality of a family, this rig has lots of room and comfort, plus the back seats slide forward for easy gear access without lifting the hatch.

Safety is a huge concern when purchasing a vehicle and I found the Rogue to handle very well at speeds far greater than I normally drive. On one occasion, I was driving the speed limit (80 mph) in the fast lane when a large bugling-bull-elk-2-d-robert-franz[1]whitetail doe appeared directly in front of me. It had been killed by a previous vehicle, yet I had to act fast. With traffic to my right, I couldn’t dodge the deer, but slowed as much as possible to straddled it.  The undercarriage touched the dead animal, yet I was able to maintain control with no seeming damage to the car. I hated to see the dead whitetail in the roadway, but was glad the Rogue had helped me through a dangerous situation.

This Rogue SV AWD had the SV Premium Package, which included things like Blind Spot Warning, Lane Departure Warnings, and Moving Object Detection, along with a very easy-to-use-navigation system. This was my first experience with the warning systems and they often “nudged” me into being a more alert driver with subtle beeps as I crossed a line. I’m very conscious of drivers behind me and the Blind Spot Warning wasn’t needed, but it’s a great safety addition. The Rogue had a most unique back-up monitor that gave me an “aerial view” of my vehicle and surrounding objects. I had to back the Nissan tightly between two trees and past several rocks to get close to the tent, and the back-up displayed showed the car’s position relative to each object. It was like having a GoPro camera in the tree above me.

AK Nissan Elk and Alex 910Our camp consisted of two Turbo-Tents and a cook tent. I used the Rogue in a unique capacity that will work with any vehicle in camp. At the end of each day, instead of storing gear in my tent or hanging it outside, I used the hatch of the Rogue to keep things organized. In this way, I ended each hunting day with all of my gear in one place and knew exactly where it was the next morning. In hunting camps with multiple participants, gear is easy to mix up. Stashing things in the Rogue helped keep me prepped and organized.

In general, the Rogue proved to be a reliable and capable hunting partner. With great gas mileage, it’s economical to drive, carries the whole family or hunting party, and its AWD gets you into the back country, even through the mountains of the West. I loved it! For full details of the Rogue go to nissanUSA.com.


Wahoo, known in Hawaii as “ono” or within fishing circles as “skinnies,” are typically the domain of the long-range luxury fishing boats out of San Diego. They’re headed to spots like Alijos Rocks, off the Baja, Mexico coast to fish for this warm-water ocean predator.

In this most unusual of Southern California fishing seasons, the unthinkable has already happened. Wahoo have been caught on boats leaving from San Diego on as short as a 3/4-day trip (which typically run from 5:30 am to 5 pm).

For many of us who lack the time or funds to ride the long-range boats, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a shot at this most exotic of fish. This article by Dennis Braid of Braid Products is a good primer on wahoo fishing.

wahoobombsWahoo fishing reminds me of the lightning and thunder storms of Summer, all flash and pandemonium, only a hell-of-a lot more fun! These silver streaks of the ocean usually gather in packs and when the dinner bell rings, they slice and dice just about anything that looks edible.

Trolling is one of the most productive methods of fishing for wahoo, but trolling catches can be augmented by the simple, and very effective, art of the drop-back. Give me a few minutes to explain an your catches will increase dramatically, guaranteed!

In many areas of the Atlantic and Gulf Coast, the favorite trolling offerings for striking gamefish, including wahoo, is rigged ballyhoo or mullet, sometimes with plastic skirts or chugger-type lures over the heads. While these baits work well, they require a considerably slower trolling speed than artificials which restrict their productivity for the king for the high-speed predators, the wahoo. For that reason, you’ll read a number of excellent articles in this issue of The Journal which will demonstrate the move to high-speed lures and plugs taking place for these great gamefish, even in places where rigged baits are considered end-all and be-all of big game fishing. This same move to high-speed lures, especially plugs, took place many years ago on the long-range boats out of San Diego that encounter big pods of Pacific wahoo found off the Baja and further south.

Photos: Malihini Sportfishing (top); Braid Products (above)


Fishing with bait, especially live bait, is typically the most effective way to catch fish. More and more, though, this notion is being challenged. The fishing tackle companies have invested millions of dollars in perfecting artificial lures that attract more than fishermen…they catch fish, too! Often, these new lures must be fished with high-speed reels or attached to rods with very specific actions. While this can be an expensive proposition, some of these new jigs (and associated gear) are worth exploring.

This article from Florida Sport Fishing discusses some of the new jigs and techniques being used successfully today.

IMG_4555Metal jigs are nothing new. For as far back as I can remember, diamond jigs have been a staple in saltwater fishing. The craze started sometime after the industrial revolution and variations of the lure have killed about a billion fish since. Enhanced with a tubular tail, the artificial quickly proved its worth in salt across the Northeast against codfish, pollock, bluefish, tuna and striped bass. Fast forward a number of decades and metal jigs are now available in a whirlwind of configurations and are deadly in nearly every arena.

After many years with little change, the diamond jig revolution finally took a giant leap forward with the introduction of an innovative new tactic called high speed vertical jigging. Originating in Asia where waters are highly pressured, this latest technique employed slender, counterweighted lures rated by grams rather than ounces. Instead of the steady retrieve or yo-yo action imparted on typical diamond jigs, vertical jigs sink incredibly fast and are worked through the water column at high rates of speed. Speed jigs, as they are often called, are typically 4- to 10-inches in length with assist hooks on the top of the lure rather than trailing behind the bait. The technique and the expansive arsenal of specialized equipment that accompany it have caught on worldwide and have proven to be highly effective against a long list of prized deep dwelling predators and highly migratory pelagics. Skeptics who aren’t already equipped with an array of vertical jigs and aren’t taking advantage of this killer tactic are missing the boat on exciting action.

Photos: Lure News (top); SoCal Salty (above)


Typically when the words “fall” and “turnover” are used in the same sentence, it’s a discussion involving football. To freshwater anglers, “fall turnover” refers to the time of year when the water is circulating from top to bottom and the temperature is uniform throughout.

Understanding the implications that the turnover has on fish is key to successful fishing during this often difficult fishing time of year.

Since I do almost all my fishing in saltwater, I’m definitely not the person to help you understand fall turnover in your lake fishery. It’s a good thing that the editors of Field & Stream are there to bridge that gap. Understand what the turnover means to you in this informative article.

fall_fishIn my earlier life as a fisheries biologist, the question most often posed to me was: “When is my lake going to turn over?” I’d ask some questions about the depth and location of the lake, but then the caller would invariably interrupt me with a comment like, “I thought lakes were supposed to turn over at 58 degrees.” Anglers are interested in lake turnover because they know it can foul up fishing. But from what I’ve seen, the mechanics of the turnover process and exactly how it affects fish might be the least understood aspect of freshwater fishing. Here’s a simple definition: Turnover is the period of time when the lake is circulating from top to bottom and the water temperature is uniform throughout. Okay, so there’s a little more to it than that. Before you can understand the turnover phenomenon and what it does to fishing, you need to know about some of the unique physical properties of water.

Water is densest at a temperature of 39.2 degrees F. As water gets warmer-or colder-it becomes less dense. Because of this difference in density, most lakes stratify into distinct temperature zones (see illustration) and layers. With these properties in mind, the mechanics of the turnover become a lot less murky. The temperature layers remain intact through the summer as long as the air temperature is warm enough to keep the surface water several degrees warmer than the water in the depths. But when the air temperature cools enough that the upper layer of water reaches the same temperature as the depths, the fall turnover begins. That’s because all of the water in the lake is now at the same temperature and density, so the wind can circulate the entire mass. As the surface continues to cool, the water in the top layer becomes more dense than that in the depths, so it sinks, which further accelerates the overall mixing process.

Photos: Fish Strong (top); Field & Stream (above)


Everyone’s who’s taken a Psychology 101 class is familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow’s theory seeks to explain the motivation of human behavior. In a nutshell, it says that humans seek to satisfy their basic needs (food, shelter, etc.) before they can even consider loftier pursuits.

Fish are simple creatures; they never really get beyond those basic needs. They seek food and safety, and then at certain times of the year, they are motivated to reproduce.

With these principles in mind, you can make sense of fishing behaviors for any fish in any fishery, and use them to catch more fish! In this article from Outdoors Unlimited, Maslow’s theory is applied to walleye fishing.

Maslow's_hierarchyA well known psychologist, Abraham Maslow, developed a theory called the “Pyramid of Needs” in order to explain why people do what they do.  He refined his theory by representing it as a triangle divided in tiers.  Survival needs are at the bottom.  Food, water and oxygen are critical to survival.  The next need is to feel secure, free from fear and threats.  Social needs are next, the need for love and affection.  The fourth is the need to feel fulfilled, respected, and well-liked.  On top is self-actualization, the need to develop one’s self as an individual, to make a mark on society.

Why talk about what makes people do what they do when it comes to walleye fishing?  Simply this, our most basic needs are not so different from other living creatures.  By understanding what motivates walleyes, and envisioning a walleye’s pyramid of needs, we can develop a list of key factors to help anglers catch more fish.

Photos: White Birch Lodge (top); Wikipedia (above)