Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Finding Late Season Pressured Steelhead on the Alsea


With the final hatchery stockings on a pair of small streams ending in 2013 as part of the Coastal Multi Species Plan and a bridge being out in the Siletz gorge, the Alsea River has received a lot more fishing pressure than usual this season. Factor that in with a stretch of bank access historically known as the "tree farm" becoming restricted to a private fishing club with hefty dues a couple years ago, and it makes more sense to see why the North Fork is still crowded as hell in spite of very poor returns. The South Fork flows into the mainstem on that property as well, contributing a lot of runoff and silt, staining the water in the lower river. When the water is high, what's left are some private stretches of land, a few scattered access points, Clemens Park, and Hatchery Rd.

Clemens Park is a well kept and cared for area with nice trails and lots of bank access. A portion of the tail end of the park trails are now Weyerhauser permit access only as well. If you decide to sleep in, chances are you'll be targeting water that's already seen quite a few different anglers and presentations during the course of the day. With bead fishing being the predominant go-to method of most anglers, fish get wise to the one-trick-pony, and it can create a real challenge to give them something they haven't seen before.

As a general rule, when the water is high, fish higher in the river. However, given the current state of the public access, sometimes you just have to have to get in where you fit in. With high flows, it helps to slow down your presentation. This could mean using more weight as usual, or fishing right at your feet and staying out of the main channel. When you're fishing the seams, a bobber dogging yarnie/bead presentation will grab a fish's attention that might ignore a single bead. Where shallow water near the banks slows down, you'll find a lot of fish taking those routes, sometimes swimming at your ankles while you're standing in the river. If you can help it, stay out of the water. Any grassline or edges that soften the flow will be good holding points for fish to rest and move upstream. Jigs and plastic worms suspended in eddies will often draw a bite when more subtle/common presentations are ignored. Adding a bead trailer to a jig or worm also has a similar "attractor" quality to it as the yarnie/bead combo. Any combo with a loud presentation that grabs their attention followed by a subtle trailer that draws the bite will bring results.

Low water is a different story all together. Start dialing down with the hooks, then everything else above it. Subtle colors and small presentations draw bites from fish that have largely ignored the louder, larger presentations. Towards the end of the season, the typical forage egg is that of another steelhead, rather than a larger salmon egg, so matching that size is also key. Blood-dot patterns, mottled beads, and 50/50 patterns produce better later in the season.

As the season continues to progress, you'll notice few and fewer anglers on the river as the meat-seekers have filled their freezers and other anglers have shifted towards early spring chinook fisheries. This time of year, there are still late returning hatchery fish, and wild fish around. While you might have to sort through them to find a keeper, it can be a lot of fun, and that's what it's all about.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

ODFW's Wild Broodstock Programs

Published on OutdoorHub: https://www.outdoorhub.com/news/2018/03/02/video-behind-scenes-look-oregons-wild-salmon-steelhead-broodstock-program/

With all the obstacles and adversity that our salmon and steelhead populations face, hatcheries are a necessity in order to have sustainable populations that allow for harvest. In order to have the best genetics possible for hatchery production, the capture of wild broodstock is also a necessity. Capturing wild broodstock is done by two different means. Ideally, the wild broodstock are line-caught and collected by anglers. Supplemental wild broodstock are collected when they are caught in hatchery traps and fish weirs.


Assistant Hatchery Manager Eric Hammonds prepares to collect a wild broodstock fish caught by an angler​

The hypothesis being tested at the Oregon Hatchery Research Center in Alsea, Oregon is that using line caught wild broodstock develops the genetic disposition for their offspring to be line caught as well. Wild broodstock are caught by anglers and placed in tubes for pickup by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife hatchery personnel. The tubes are placed with the fish facing upstream so that a constant supply of fresh water flows through. The tubes themselves are somewhat constricting to the movement of the fish, but this also prevents them from injuring themselves. The enclosure also reduces stress on the fish by acting as a visual buffer for environmental disturbances. "The fact they can't see anglers or potential predators makes them feel safe and keeps them calm inside the enclosure," says hatchery worker Eric Hammonds.

Once they arrive at the hatchery, they are placed into a small container with an anesthetic that makes the fish easier to handle without causing physical damage to the fish. Once the anesthetic has taken effect, the fish are given an antibiotic injection to prevent them from picking up diseases or fungus growths while being held at the facility. This precaution is taken because the process of handling the fish removes some of their protective slime layer that defends them from these infections. They are tagged and placed into circular tanks and held until they are "ripe" to be spawned with a paired mate at the hatchery, and then released back into the river. The program typically shoots for a goal of 40 pairs of wild broodstock fish, but rarely reaches that goal due to the combination of low returns and lack of participation in the program.


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Traditional hatchery broodstock tend to have muddy genetics. Because they are spawned from the same pool, they lack the genetic diversity of a first generation wild broodstock fish born from wild parents. The theory behind the OHRC "Biter Study" is that decades of spawning hatchery fish that return to the trap has evolved that stock to become less likely to be angler caught, because most hatchery fish caught by anglers are harvested, rather than spawned. 

An ODFW volunteer places a wild broodstock fish in a tank on a truck bed for transport to the hatchery facility​


Traditional hatchery broodstock and first generation wild broodstock (or "F1" fish) are marked with an adipose fin clip, and separated by maxillary clips that differentiate returning hatchery adults as traditional broodstock or F1. Unlike the collected wild broodstock fish that are returned back to the river after being spawned, the returning traditional hatchery broodstock bucks are typically killed when they appear in the trap, while the females are stripped of eggs and returned to the river to swim back to the salt and return again. This practice ensures that the two groups of fish are less likely to spawn with each other in the gravel.

Opponents of the program argue that wild steelhead populations can't sustain being farmed to create hatchery fish for harvest. It is also undeniable that there is room for human error in this process. While the success rate for wild broodstock collection is extremely high (in the upper 90 percent range) there are accidents that happen. Adult fish left in collection tubes are susceptible to theft by poachers. Reporting the collection of a wild broodstock fish to hatchery personnel as quickly as possible is the best way to prevent these kinds of incidents.


This fish was phoned in by guide Ryan Beck 20 minutes prior to arriving at the next boat ramp at Farmer's Creek on the Nestucca River. The fish is being placed in a larger livewell in a truckbed for transport to the Cedar Creek facility.​

Some wild broodstock collection programs employ the use of livewells complete with battery operated water circulation to aerate the water and keep oxygen levels high during transport. However, battery failures, or contamination of the livewell can also create problems and cause casualties. Even still, such incidents are extremely rare and represent less than 1% of the wild broodstock adults collected.

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Wild broodstock programs are typically funded and operated by volunteer organizations. The Alsea Sportsman's Association provides the collection tubes for the Alsea Hatchery and the OHRC biter study project. Tillamook Anglers and Nestucca Anglers provide livewells for the Nestucca River and surrounding Tillamook rivers that participate in the Wild Broodstock programs. While personnel from the Alsea hatchery handle collection during business hours, the Cedar Creek hatchery on Three Rivers (a tributary of the Nestucca where hatchery operations are conducted) has a self-service option for wild broodstock that are collected and brought to the hatchery after hours. There, they are placed into a raceway and marked by quantity and sex on a self-service report form. 
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The Nestucca wild broodstock collection program quota is 65 pairs. Fish that are placed into the raceway are given Parasite S (Formulin) 5 days a week administered by a flow-thru treatment in order to keep fungal growth at bay. The raceway is fed through an up-welling system, rather than fed from one end to the other. This prevents fish from following their natural jumping instincts, and reduces physical stress. When it's time for pairs to be spawned, the fish in the raceway are collected by the use of a "crowder" which essentially functions similar to a seine net that allows personnel to net the individual fish for spawning, and pass fish that aren't ripe back over the crowder and into the raceway.


Guide Ryan Beck pulls up to the Cedar Creek raceway to drop off a ​wild broodstock fish

The quotas for wild broodstock collection are determined by the number of required adults to produce the required amount of eggs to produce the required amount of smolts for release within a margin of loss during the process. These quotas of adults collected for the program are determined to be 1-2% of the wild population, mostly by historical data from redd surveys.



A clipboard displays the date, sex, and quantity of wild broodstock fish that are placed in the raceways by participants in the program​
While the survival and success rates are high at the Cedar Creek Hatchery program with less than 1% of wild broodstock adults lost, (most and most of those by angler error) the Alsea Hatchery program has endured some challenges in recent years through equipment failures. The chillers that keep the water at necessary temperatures to prevent loss of eggs failed two consecutive years in a row before being upgraded and replaced with new wiring and equipment. New collection cages for wild broodstock collection were installed at boat ramps on the nearby Siletz River, where the Alsea also handles wild broodstock collection and spawning at their facilities. Several adults were lost at the hatchery due to complications with the sharp, abrasive edges on the metal inside the cages at collection sites, which caused severe physical damage and unnecessary stress to the fish that were collected. The cages have since been sprayed with a material used for truck bed-liner to prevent future complications and casualties. Unlike the Cedar Creek facility, the Alsea hatchery uses a circular PVC tank system that is intended to cause less harm by using smooth surfaces and removing the concrete corners that are typically standard with the construction of rectangular raceways. In recent years, additional circular tanks have been added to the facility in an effort to reduce crowding of the fish.

Circular holding tank used by the Alsea Hatchery​ for holding wild broodstock fish

As of a week prior to this story being written, the number of wild broodstock fish being collected by anglers at the Alsea Hatchery pales in comparison to the numbers at Cedar Creek's facility. At a recent Alsea Sportsman's Association meeting in Waldport, a hot topic of discussion was the lack of angler participation in wild broodstock collection due to mistrust in the handling of the program by the Alsea Hatchery in recent years.  Even with upgrades and equipment repair, the wild broodstock programs that operate at the Alsea Hatchery are still trying to repair their public relations. Hopefully learning from some past mistakes will help the program continue to improve, and regain the trust and participation from local anglers and guides. In the meantime, the program is trying to portray a positive image in negative time.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Portland Sportsman's Show Products 2018

Published on OutdoorHub: https://www.outdoorhub.com/news/2018/02/13/best-new-products-revealed-portland-sportsmans-show-expo-2018/

Every year, the Sportsman's Show at the Expo center showcases some of the newest fishing, hunting, and outdoor products on the market. It's difficult to see everything even if you're there, and for those who couldn't make it, these are some my personal picks for some of the best new products showcased this year.

Beau Mac has been producing salmon, trout, and steelhead gear for quite some time, but this year they pulled out all the stops combining some of the best elements from other product manufacturers in recent history to develop their own line of innovative products. Kiley Brehm showed me a few of these products in the Beau Mac booth, including his personal favorite float for small water.

Along with the clear, line through stem float, Beau Mac also introduced a similar clear, line through float product that mimics the traditional Beau Mac foam floats, a new sleeker designed foam float, a line trough foam stem float, and a line of bobber dogging floats in a variety of sizes. The plastics used in the construction of these stem floats have a little more give than the typical clear floats that tend to crack.

Beau Mac also introduced their new line of stickweights to the show as well.


Every steelhead angler knows by now that bead fishing is no longer a secret. The growing popularity of this lure has opened the door for a lot of new innovations in the past year. BnR Tackle revealed a couple new items this year, including a few new colors of their soft beads in a 50/50 pattern.

The new BnR Troutify Bead Paint line is perfect for any angler that customizes their own beads with a coat of nail polish. These colors are specifically designed to cut out the guess work for what bottle might have the right pearl sheen or UV coating out of the hundreds of colors available on the shelf at Sally Beauty Supply. Best of all, these coatings are specifically designed to be used on both hard and soft beads.

Cleardrift Products also makes a wide variety of soft plastic beads and offers a large spectrum of colors as well. This year, several new colors featuring a blood dot pattern were a big hit among salmon and steelhead anglers at the Reeds Rod Wraps booth, which also distributes and sells Cleardrift Products on their website.

Thirsty Beads are a newer innovation from the guys at Oregon Rod Reel and Tackle. These new "Scent-Flo" beads are made from a sponge-like material that soaks up scent, and slowly releases a trail of it behind your presentation. These are a great new invention for fishing outside the box of traditional steelhead bead presentations, and a complete game changer for salmon anglers.

For warmwater anglers GLoomis and Lamiglas both brought new lines of rods to this year's show. The GLoomis IMXPRO and GLX series are great options for fishing soft plastics or jigs, with a highly sensitive taper and beefy backbone. The fast action of these rods loads up nicely for casting accuracy and better hooksets. Both of these high end lines are built with the needs of professional tournament anglers in mind.

Lamiglas brought their new XP Bass series to the show, which are a less expensive alternative to their higher end infinity series. Each rod is designed specifically for different techniques.

For archery and rifle hunters, Bill O'Neill showed me his Ultimate Sling designs that are specifically made in the USA to meet the needs of each individual weapon of choice. The slings are constructed to have some give and reduce fatigue from carrying a weapon all day on a traditional sling with material that lacks elasticity. The design also doubles to act as a harness that spreads the weight across both shoulders, making it easier to carry a weapon for the long haul.

For waterfowl hunters, Final Approach displayed some of the finest and most realistic decoys on the market. Each of their field model lesser Candadian goose decoys feature a felt surface that not only looks, but even feels more realistic. Chad Carlson walked me through their display and explained how their felt-coated decoys do not reflect light the same way that traditional decoys with a painted finish will, pointing to a line that shows a painted black neck vs. their felt necked decoys. The paint jobs on the rest of their decoys are done with extreme care for the craftsmanship, built to last, and come with competitive pricing for cheaper alternatives. They displayed some of their lightweight, portable blinds as well.

Last, but certainly not least, I was able to speak with Pat Hoglund from Brookwood Press about the new Western Hunting Journal magazine. Pat has done excellent work at Salmon and Steelhead journal providing a professional print publication marketed towards experienced anglers who want to keep up with the latest in product innovations and fisheries advocacy. Western Hunting Journal is no different, and is a very professional publication marketed towards a niche group of Western hunters. I originally grew up in Alabama, and spent several years marketing Buckmasters Magazine, at times to Western audiences. The biggest complaint was always the lack of coverage of species specific information regarding blacktail, mule deer, and elk. Ducks Unlimited's regional focus lies mainly with Southern States and exotic destinations. This publication is an answer to that problem that also fills a gap that has begged for attention for many years from regionally specific publications that view hunting coverage as secondary to fishing. This magazine is the publication that Western Hunters have been waiting for that encompasses professional writing, gear reviews, and regionally specific coverage, stories and information.

Bowhunting Outlet's Line of Liquor Hits Right on Target with Sportsmen

Published on OutdoorHub: https://www.outdoorhub.com/reviews/2017/11/20/droptine-spirits-hits-right-target-sportsmen/

Bowhunting Outlet's Line of Liquor Hits Right on Target with Sportsmen


Len and David Eder are brothers, hunting buddies, and founders of Eders.com, one of the largest archery bowhunting online retailers. One day while in the field discussing food plots and the variety of food sources that deer are drawn to, they jokingly brainstormed over what flavors would go into a drink if it was made by a deer. Corn would provide the perfect foundation for a variety of spirits. Apple would give it hint of sweetness. Finally, the non-typical taste of persimmon would stand out among the vast expanse of flavors that belong to the palate of a deer. Len decided it should be named "Droptine Moonshine."

Recently named as one of the top 5 drinks to pair with venison by Deer and Deer Hunting Magazine, the fall harvest theme of this flavor trio is now three years into development with a distillery that creates small batches of Droptine Moonshine along with Droptine's Vodka, also made from American corn. The carbon filtered sweet corn vodka gives it a distinct flavor that stands out from the typical middle shelf varieties and can hang with the crim de la crim, Boone and Crockett's of booze. To get a few second opinions, I shared both of Droptine's Flagship products with some well-respected alcohol industry folks to see what they thought.


Yancy Faulkner is no stranger to seeking out the story behind a great beverage. As executive producer for hopstories.com he's highlighted many stories behind the creation of craft beer, mead, and cider. As a hunter himself, the story behind Droptine Spirits got his attention like a rattle during the rut. Faulkner said the flavor combo of the Droptine Moonshine was "Only mildly fruity, not too terribly sweet, more like an old fashioned, or even a brandy liqueur." Being a 50 proof drink, it's certainly not weak, but also not overpowering. He also thought "The distilled sweet corn really gives it a unique style that sets it apart, and it's evident from the smooth flavor that care has been taken in the filtering process."

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Matt Dickason was personally responsible for talking me into joining Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, but between hunts, he's the cellar manager for 2 Towns Ciderhouse. Given his extensive knowledge of apples and alcohol, Dickason was able to identify some of the unique notes from Droptine Moonshine. "It's got a very interesting blend of warming seasonal fall flavors. The fruit flavor is very mild, and highlighted by notes of allspice, mild cardamon, with the sweet corn whiskey almost being a secondary aftertaste." He also said the vodka was "Smooth, very clean, neutral even, and comparable to other top shelf premium vodkas."

(Insert Nicole Garrett Bar Photo)

Nicole Garrett is an experienced bartender with an affinity for all things wild, and creating cocktails at the Downward Dog. Her creativity spans beyond the bar, as an artist that often highlights her imagination and fascination with wildlife. Given her background, having her taste Droptine's spirits offers some insight into their cocktail potential. "The apple makes it a little sweet, but the persimmon is what gives it a little bite," she says. "There's a plethora of liqueurs out there, and although it resembles one, it's really unlike any of them." Garrett explained that in the summer it would pair well in a glass with ginger ale or ginger beer, but noted it's potential for hot drinks like a spiked, spiced cider as well. The notes from the American sweet corn in the Droptine Vodka she joked, "Doesn't taste Russian. I don't like Russian, I'd rather feel like I'm not in a hurry. I could chill with this!" Being an Idaho native, she said she'd compliment the vodka with a piney tincture and a sage simple syrup over cranberry to create a trifecta of Northwestern flavors, almost like a buffalo plaid martini, if such thing could ever exist.

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Gifting the right Gun for a Youth Hunter

Published on OutdoorHub: https://www.outdoorhub.com/how-to/2017/12/12/purchasing-young-hunters-first-firearm/

This year's Black Friday marked a record number of FBI background checks for firearm purchases. USA Today reported that the agency received 203,086 requests for background checks, which broke the record set on last year's Black Friday with 185,713 requests, and the previous record of 185,345 requests on Black Friday the year before that. It's needless to say that many of these firearms are being purchased as gifts for minors during the holiday season. Technically, minors under the age of 18 can't legally possess a firearm, so while the intentions are to gift the gun, it's still your responsibility to make sure the person you're transferring ownership to can legally own it.

California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington State and the District of Columbia require transfers through local firearms retailers with an instant background check to verify whether or not the purchaser is legally prohibited from owning a gun. Maryland and Pennsyvlania require background checks for private party transfers of handguns. Ask your local firearm retailer for a clarification of local laws before "pulling the trigger" on your purchase, so to speak.

The ATF recommends giving gift cards for the purchase of firearms, so there's no question about who the actual purchaser is on the Federal Form 4473, which states in Section 11.a.
Actual Transferee/Buyer:  For purposes of this form, you are the actual transferee/buyer if you are purchasing the firearm for yourself or otherwise acquiring the firearm for yourself (e.g., redeeming the firearm from pawn/retrieving it from consignment, firearm raffle winner). You are also the actual transferee/buyer if you are legitimately purchasing the firearm as a gift for a third party 
Beyond all the legal jargon, it's important to recognize that safety comes first, and that as much care should go into purchasing the right gun for the right age group.

Derek LeBlanc is a youth gun safety instructor that operates Kids S.A.F.E foundation (Safety Around Firearms Education), a 501(c)(3) non-profit out of Eugene, OR. LeBlanc suggests his firearm and safety education courses for ages 5 and up, and range courses for ages 7 or 8 and up, "depending on their maturity level." I asked him what suggestions he might have for those who are gifting firearms for boys and girls this holidays season.

Emphasizing safety first, LeBlanc says that protective eyewear and ear protection are important pieces of equipment for those beginning shooting sports (both parents and children), as well as blaze orange clothing, which is required by law for youth hunters. Proper storage and security tools like trigger locks and safes to store both guns and ammunition (LeBlanc also suggests storing them separately) are an important part of providing a safe, accident free home environment.

Once that foundation is prepared, you're ready to start shopping for a gun. LeBlanc says that much like baby clothes, "you're better off getting something they can grow into, and continue to use as they get older." Making the right purchase the first time so they haven't outgrown it in their first year is key. He also emphasizes that "their size is as relevant as age when it comes to gifting the right gun that will have some longevity," further explaining that an 8-11 year old that's a bigger kid might be able to utilize a slightly larger gun that they will get more use out of down the road.

The versatile utility of a shotgun is a great place to start. LeBlanc suggests a 28 gauge as an ideal youth starter gun for upland game birds and shooting sports. The Stevens Model 555 Over & Under is a very lightweight and stylish gun that comes complete with five interchangeable choke tubes, which adds some versatility. However, a 20 gauge will have a more diverse range of uses for youth hunters and better longevity as a gift. The Remington Model 870 Express Compact series is specifically designed for small-framed, or young shooters. The Mossberg Model 500 Bantam Youth series includes a very practical feature of an adjustable stock that can grow with young shooters. The Field/Deer Combo includes a 22" vent rib barrel with dual bead sights and interchangeable chokes as well as a fully rifled slug barrel with adjustable sights. If you're on a budget, or prefer a single shot model, the CVA Compact Hunter Single Shot is available in a 20 gauge model, as well as a .410, both with an adjustable stock. It's ambidextrous design is a nice feature, and the automatic hammer blocking safety feature prevents the firearm from discharging before the trigger is pulled. It also comes with a fixed full choke and a manufacturer's lifetime warranty. The Hatfield U SH410 Single Barrel is a very inexpensive and affordable option for starter gun with break-open action and classic exposed hammer, as well as additional safety features for added security and peace of mind.

Youth hunters going for big game typically begin with a .243, and the Savage Axis Youth Compact is an inexpensive, lightwieght bolt-action rifle in a recoil-friendly caliber.

The .22LR is probably the most popular youth starter gun, and LeBlanc suggests either a Savage Arms Mark II or the Ruger American Rimfire, both bolt action rifles. One advantage to the Ruger American (which he uses during range courses) is that it will fit the same magazines for a Ruger 10/22.

LeBlanc emphasizes to those concerned about children and gun safety that his courses are non-political, and intended for everyone, including households that don't own or intend to own guns. His material focuses on differentiating real-life situations from video games, television, even nerf guns and airsoft. He values the importance of instructing kids about what to do if they encounter an unsecured firearm in another household. As far as hands-on range instruction is concerned, targets are placed down-range with a safe backstop, and children learn to differentiate the reality of firearms from their own misconceptions through the tangible experience of aiming real guns at their intended targets, rather than aiming toys at screens or each other. Being able to participate in shooting sports helps young people not only build confidence, but a healthy discipline, and foundation for proper gun-handling safety procedures. "Children's safety is our #1 priority," says LeBlanc. If you want to support the Kids S.A.F.E. foundation, you can make a contribution through his  website, kidssafefoundation.org. All proceeds will go towards scholarships, training materials, and supplies to further the program so that no child will ever be turned away from participating.

Gift Ideas for the Outdoorsman you can buy online

Published on OutdoorHub: https://www.outdoorhub.com/reviews/2017/11/29/6-outdoorsman-themed-gifts-can-find-online/

As the holidays approach, and gift shopping commences, most of us would rather spend our time in the woods or on the water than in line during a Black Friday event. The information age has made holiday shopping available at our fingertips, but now is the time to do your shopping if you want to get those gifts wrapped and under the tree. If you don't know where to begin, or you're trying to find a gift for someone that already has everything, here's a few ideas that are great for any hunter, angler, or outdoor enthusiast.

Nikwax Waterproofing and Cleaning Products


While you can always add another jacket or pair of boots to someone's wardrobe, most of us are pretty particular about tastes in our outdoor gear. However, a treatment for those products is a one-size-fits-all approach. Nikwax products are designed to extend the life of synthetic base layers, GoreTex shells, and leather, making it the gift that keeps on giving.

On X Maps

Sometimes it's difficult to read a digital map on your cell phone when you're in an area that you need it most. A handheld GPS is a great tool to have, but it's one more gadget to lug around. On X Maps is an app that allows you to save areas of maps ahead of time and even navigate with your phone's location while offline or in airplane mode, to save battery. With the ability to place and share waypoints, read topo, see the geological makeup, and even differentiate private from public lands, it almost makes GPS devices obsolete.

Droptine Spirits

If the hunter in your family already has all the calls, camo, decoys, game cameras, and tree stands they'll ever need, you can always stuff a stocking with some celebratory spirits. Droptine Spirits are the brainchild of Len and Dave Eder, founders of Eders.com, where you can shop for everything else a bowhunter might want or need.

Zombait

While it may not be practical to cover fresh bait in wrapping paper, the Zombait is an electronic device that brings bait back to life, by reanimating it's natural movements. The product made it's debut at ICAST earlier this year, after a kickstarter campaign got the device off the ground, onto the market, and into the hands of anglers.

Bell and Howell TacLight

Even though most outdoor enthusiasts probably already own a flashlight, this particular light is a much higher quality piece of outdoor equipment that comes with a lifetime guarantee. The TacLight is 22 times brighter than an average flashlight, waterproof and tough as nails. Used by law enforcement and military personnel, this light is a reliable and durable product. While it's available from many online outlets, purchasing directly from the TryTacLight.com website gets you a second light for free. You can keep them in separate places, or spread a few amongst family and friends this holiday season.

Ruffwear

Don't forget the pooch! If you're looking for a canine gift, check out the goods at Ruffwear. The company not only practices using sustainable sourced materials and reduces waste, but was also named by Outside online as one of the top outdoor companies to work for. The quality construction that goes into their products will stand the test of time, and they have a variety of useful backpacks, life jackets, and toys that will make a great gift for a canine companion.

New Years Resolutions for the Hunter/Angler/Outdoor Enthusiast

Published on OutdoorHub with photos and full text here: https://www.outdoorhub.com/news/2018/01/01/10-new-years-resolutions-hunterangleroutdoorsman/

Become an advocate for public land

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Join organizations like Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. Call or write your elected representatives to preserve access to public lands and National Parks. Get involved and network with other public land advocates to work towards common goals.

Clean up the mess others leave behind

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Take the time during each outing to not only leave areas as you found them, but to improve their existing conditions. Picking up after yourself is not enough. Take a few pieces of garbage with you from the beach, river, or the woods and dispose of them properly.

Study hard

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Do your homework. Put in the time and effort to learn more about animal behavior patterns, new areas, changes in landscape, regulations, and new techniques or gear to improve your success. Don't just read a few articles online, but go to the library and check out a few books on different subjects that are pertinent to your outdoor experience.

Take up a new hobby

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If you're a target shooter, take up hunting. If you shoot a rifle, take up archery. If you fish with a baitcaster, try out a fly rod. You don't have to be an expert at everything, but diversifying your portfolio will prevent you from becoming limited to enjoying only a small facet of one particular activity that can be done in more ways than one.

Bring a friend

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Introduce someone to an outdoor activity that you love. Share the joy that it brings you with someone else, as well as your knowledge. Pass your wisdom on to someone younger. Experience the rewards of being a mentor.

Document your experiences

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Leave more footprints, take more pictures. Sure, you can share them on Instagram, but make it a point to take some photos worthy of printing and framing. Compile some of your video clips into a short film. Write about it in a blog or a journal. If you really want to get creative, capture some of your favorite scenes and memories by turning them into works of art.

Make more time for the outdoors

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Whether you need to re-arrange your schedule or simply commit to staying motivated to devote a little time after work to get outside, rain or shine, make it happen.

Get more exercise

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Sure, this is a bit of a cliche New Year's Resolution, but there are plenty of ways to apply it to your existing outdoor activities. Walk a little further down the riverbank. Use your oars instead of your motor. Pack a lunch and track your animals a little longer on your hunts. Push yourself to the limit, and then go just a little bit further.

Reflect on your own behavior and improve your ethical standards

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You don't have to open a self-help book for this one, just take a moment to reflect on mistakes you've made or things you regret from the past year and make a promise to yourself not to repeat them. Did you lose an animal? Did you mishandle a fish you intended to release? Did you throw out freezer-burned meat because you harvested more than you could eat? How can you prevent yourself from making the same mistakes this year?

Waste less, enjoy more

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Instead of breasting out your ducks and geese, then tossing the rest in the trash, check out some of Hank Shaw's recipes for legs and wings. Save the livers for making ravioli. Use the caulfat from your big game to make crepinettes. The possibilities are endless, explore new culinary territory and expand your palate.