404 Error - page not found
We're sorry, but the page you are looking for doesn't exist.
You can go to the homepage

OUR LATEST POSTS

9

Brush up on the history of camping.

The surest sign that a society has attained a certain level of affluence is when its well-to-do members turn the life-or-death labor of the past into their recreation.

Food gathering, once the great struggle of humanity, becomes weekend fishing or hunting trips. The slow plodding progress of boots pounding the ground between point A and point B becomes hiking. The jarring management of an unruly and remarkably stupid ungulate becomes horseback riding.

Perhaps most “primal” of all is total emersion into the landscape, actually uprooting oneself from the air conditioning and plumbing of the suburbs to live in the wilderness. This ultimate rebellion against modern softness is what we term “camping,” and it remains one of the most popular outdoor activities in the US.

Fundamentally, “recreational” camping is a recent invention, existing only in opposition to our relatively modern idea of housing. If you’re a hunter-gatherer or a nomadic horseman riding the steppes, it’s not camping, it’s just bedding down for the night.

Similarly for pre-industrial societies, with their wood-fired heating, walls and roofs made of insulation-free natural products, and lack of indoor plumbing, camping was not a recreational activity; it was a (hopefully temporary) hardship you endured if you didn’t have any better shelter. But, beginning in the mid to late 1800s, our concept of how people and nature should interact changed, and the idea of camping as an enjoyable and indeed important part of life infiltrated the public psyche.

The Victorian era in Britain (roughly 1830s-1900) was marked by the rapid industrialization of many manufacturing and extractive processes, and concomitant with this revolution was an explosion in urbanization, with power, money, and population becoming more and more centrally located in cities. This process, begun in England, soon expanded to the continent and, eventually, America.

This “progress” was met with some ambivalence by many people who felt that capital-M “Man” was somehow diminished, not merely physically but also morally and spiritually, by his estrangement from the countryside and the outdoors. Out of this this uncomfortable milieu of rapid social and economic change comes much of our great outdoor writing and philosophizing, things like Thoreau’s Walden, Emerson’s transcendental naturalism, and a whole slew of manuals and guides to the “Manly” outdoor sports of mountaineering, hunting, boating, and hiking.

The first manual on camping was produced by an Englishman, although his formative camping experiences all occurred in the American West. The man who would become the “Father of Camping,” Thomas Hiram Holding (1844-1930), began his outdoor life in 1853 when, with his parents, he camped for five weeks along the banks of the Mississippi before embarking on a wagon train trip westward.
Camping on the plains, they encountered buffalo herds, soon to be hunted nearly into extinction. They continued on into the Rocky Mountains, eventually coming to a stop in August, and then the next year travelled back east as part of another wagon train.

Harding returned to England and became a tailor in the vast smog-choked metropolis of London. Seeking refuge from the urban chaos, he and friends would canoe or bicycle through the countryside, hauling their gear and camping out as they travelled. One such trip through the wilds of Ireland in the 1880s became the basis for Holding’s book “Cycle and Camp in Connemara” in 1898. This work established Holding as the preeminent expert on camping in the UK, leading him to write the first guide to recreational camping ever written, the aptly named “The Camper’s Handbook” in 1908.

The “Father of Camping,” Thomas Hiram Holding (1844-1930)

The “Father of Camping,” Thomas Hiram Holding (1844-1930)

In addition to being an entertaining and well-written bit of camping advice, the book is an interesting historical document that provides a unique glimpse into the world of camping before our high-tech, specialized gear came onto the scene.

Not coincidentally, 1908 also saw the foundation of the Boy Scout Association in England, under Robert Baden-Powell, who would eventually become the President of the society founded by Holding, of the Camping Club of Great Britain and Ireland. The scouting movement was founded on the core idea that outdoorsmanship, camping, and woodcraft were an important part of a boy’s moral development, and quickly spread to the United States.

By 1910, the Boy Scouts of America had been founded and granted a congressional charter; the Girl Scouts of America followed soon-thereafter in 1912. Both these organizations introduced a range of American children and their parents to the world of camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities, coinciding with the establishment of some of the first National Parks.

The next great boost in American camping culture came as a result of the Great Depression. Part of Roosevelt’s New Deal was the establishment of the Civilian Conservation Core, a government work relief program that employed, at its height, 300,000 people. The CCC specialized in providing unskilled manual labor for a variety of conservation and natural resource development programs.
The CCC would go on to produce more than 800 parks, many still in use today. All of these parks received improvements, including trails and developed campgrounds with amenities like shelters, fire pits, grills, and restroom facilities. The popularity of the CCC with the public resulted in increased awareness of the outdoor recreational available to American citizens. Camping soon became one of the quintessentially American vacations.

Camping as recreation continued through the post-WWII economic boom, particularly through car camping and with hard-top campers. The environmental movement of the 60s and 70s had some roots in camping culture as well, and increased interest in conservation and the appreciation of the outdoors fed back into increased interest in camping.

According to the Outdoor Industry Association’s 2012 Special Report on Camping, 42.5 million Americans over the age of six camped in 2011. It’s a remarkable testament to how rapidly our society has changed in just a short 150 years, and how human’s fascination with the outdoors and “getting back to nature” has tracked our simultaneously increasing reliance on modern technology and conveniences.

When did you start camping? What are your favorite things about it?

Photo (above): Wikimedia

34

Scoot and shoot turkey hunting can get you closer to your game bird, but is it worth it?

Turkey hunting is like any other game hunting these days: the innovations and new techniques are increasing fast, sometimes quicker than regulations can keep up.

But the scoot and shoot technique, actually revived from a much older hunting strategy, is bringing safety into question. Watch this video from MOJO TV and ask yourself, Would I do this?

Scoot and shoot hunting, or “flagging,” is becoming more popular by the season, but articles like this one from the Missoulan are analyzing its safety, especially if used outside of private property.

It adopts a Native American practice of mimicking the appearance of a game animal while in pursuit, employed in America’s early history for bison hunting. But when combined with today’s high-powered weaponry and lifelike decoy technology, the chances of being mistaken for a game animal by another hunter has increased considerably.

The video above shows hunters getting extremely close to turkeys, some even able to nearly grab them with their hands. But it also depicts plenty of running shots taken after the hunter spooked the bird, which is less than ideal.

The private land-only argument for scoot and shoot hunting may not hold enough weight either, as just about any landowner will attest to the trespassing and poaching issues.

Whether this style of hunting becomes something local and federal rule makers feel is necessary to involve themselves in remains to be seen.

Though the Missoulan article included various perspectives on the practice of scoot and shoot, we’ll leave you with one poignant one from National Wild Turkey Federation assistant vice president and wildlife biologist Ton Hughes, who said “I can’t really think of a better way to assure that someone’s going to get shot while turkey hunting.”

What’s your opinion? Is scoot and shoot hunting safe enough to trust? Or should there be regulations attached to it?

9

The drop shot is a rig I picked up from reading about bass fishing. I haven’t actually used it to catch freshwater bass, but I’ve employed it to catch saltwater bass and halibut. I like to use it when there isn’t a lot of water movement to make a bait move, or the bait that you’re using doesn’t move a lot on its own. When you have your hook tied directly to the line as it is in the drop shot rig, any little twitch of your rod will have an exaggerated effect on the bait you have attached to the hook.

In order for it to work effectively, you have to tie it correctly and use the right kind of hook. This article from American Legacy reviews how to do it.

drop-shot-001I probably hear about a drop shot more than just about any other technique. It seems like drop shot is a pretty big buzz word in the fishing industry. There are tons of different ways to rig a drop shot and a myriad of rod and reel combinations to accommodate this finesse application, but I am going to outline the set up that works best for me.

There are basically two different ways to fish a drop shot: dropping on fish directly beneath the boat (video game fishing) and casting a drop shot and finessing it back to the boat. Both have their time and place. One of the most fun ways to use modern electronics is graph until you find a school of suspended fish, then get up front with a drop shot and let your bait fall through the school hoping one will follow it to the bottom or come up for an easy meal. You can shake it, pop it, drop it, or dead stick it to try and get one of these fish to commit. The whole time you are staring at your graph almost begging a fish to bite. Often times, you can see a fish leave the school and follow your bait (hence being referred to as video game fishing).

Photos: SoCal Salty (top); American Legacy (above)

21

There are certain fish that spark fear and, sometimes, even hate. Sharks are a good example. We used to catch them from time to time when I was a teen, fishing with my buddies. We’d mistreat the fish and send them back into the deep to be eaten. It wasn’t until I started fishing here in Southern California and started to be plagued by sea lions that I appreciated the role that sharks play in the ecosystem.

The bowfin is a fish known by many names: grinnel, chopique, and mud pike, among others. Many anglers consider it a trash fish, but in this article from Fishing Tackle Retailer, author Joe Sills describes how he learned to appreciate this ancient fish.

bowfin3-298x300The strike shook our canoe like a violent hiccup from the deep. Suddenly there were voices shouting. Equipment shaking. Drag screeching.

We weren’t prepared for this.

The fish presently devouring a white and yellow Bandit crankbait was no bass. And we should have known it from the beginning—all of the warning signs were there.

A buddy and I had journeyed into the river bottoms just after a major flood. The water had only days earlier receded enough for roads to be opened back up; and it’s a well-known fact among anglers that strange creatures often make their way into oxbows during a flood.

Given the conditions, our choice of craft was especially poor: a leftover 1970′s era Boy Scout canoe. A few weeks ago I had spotted its aluminum husk hiding under a vine-covered peach tree on the family farm and decided to rig it into a free, portable adventure-mobile. Part of the stern was made from plywood and silver spray-paint.

Seconds earlier, a man-sized gar wallowed up to my paddle just to take a look before flashing his teeth and receding down below.

Now, we were in chaos as another monster spun our plywood stern around and headed for deeper water.

Photos: Fishing Headquarters (top); Fishing Tackle Retailer (above)

26

A lot of people are content catching one certain species of fish. They may be geographically constrained and have access to only one fishery, which is fine. I’m lucky that I live somewhere with a diverse fishery and enjoy learning how to catch new fish. In the last few years, I’ve caught several new species. I love the process of learning to catch them. It starts with understanding the target species: Where do they live? What do they like to eat? How do they like to hunt?

When you have an understanding of what the fish is doing, it reveals how best to present a bait or lure to them. Once you have that understanding, all that’s left is to understand how they bite and fight to get them in the boat (or to shore… whatever the case may be).

I recently came across an article in Outdoor Life. Bass guide Steve Chaconas has a similar viewpoint in talking about how to catch bass. Learn what Steve calls the three sides of the triangle for successful bass fishing.

bass_kidlmbWhen someone catches a fish, you might say he or she has “come full circle” in the learning, application and success of the sport. Potomac bass guide Steve Chaconas does not disagree, but he prefers a different geometric allusion. He calls it the “Triangle of Fishing,” the three sides of which are as follows:

1. “The base is casting, because if you can’t make a cast, it doesn’t matter where you are, what you’re using or how good the fish are biting,” Chaconas said. “If you can’t put your bait where it needs to be, you’re not going to catch a fish.”

2. Next is lure presentation. Chaconas includes prudent selection and conditional adjustment, along with the main principle of making the lure do something that would attract a fish.

Photos: Outdoor Life (top); Wired2Fish (above)

A clear, bright pair of binoculars, an accurate rangefinder, and a user-friendly trail camera are essential tools for many whitetail enthusiasts. If you’re a fan of Michael Waddell and his Bone Collector gear, you’ll be triply excited as Bushnell and Bone Collector introduce a trifecta of products for the aggressive whitetail hunter. Here’s a quick look at all three

13698735-standard[1]One hundred percent waterproof and fog proof, the new Bone Collector Trophy XLT 8x 42mm binocular is housed in a Realtree Xtra dura-grip rubber coating that protects the binocular for years of worry-free performance. The binocular features high quality lead-free glass, BaK-4 prisms and fully multi-coated lenses, which work in combination to deliver clear, ultra-bright images. The Bone Collector binocular also features soft-touch thumb grips and twist-up eyecups for added comfort in the field. (shown above)

Expertly engineered for lightning fast target acquisition, the new Bone Collector Laser Rangefinder is a rainproof laser rangefinder capable of achieving +/- one-yard accuracy at targets from 10-600 yards. With its simple one-button operation and four-power magnification, the Bone Collector LRF helps shooters quickly and confidently acquire distance readings.

Built on the industry-leading Trophy Cam HD platform, which features 0.2-second trigger speed, a one-year battery life and one-second recovery speed, the new Bone 13698735-standard[1]Collector edition incorporates some of the finest scouting tools on the market. Utilizing black, no-glow LEDs and a new hyper passive infrared sensor (PIR) that captures motion up to 60 feet away, the Bone Collector Trophy Cam HD is able to capture eight megapixel images and record 720p HD video with audio. Following each trigger, hybrid mode captures a still image immediately followed by an HD video clip while the integral Field Scan 2x technology allows users to program two windows of time lapse capture and improve game monitoring at dawn and dusk.