Tag Archives: Recreation

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A new outlook from full-timing in an RV

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My husband and I took annual vacations and weekend trips in the past, but when we started full-timing we slowly changed our way of looking at life. The choice of living in an RV and traveling the country opened us up to new ideas and ways to see the world. You may have seen these changes in yourself.

More knowledgeable

You can read books or watch documentaries to learn about history or nature, but the knowledge by visiting the actual sites and living among nature stays with you more. We understood the difficulties of battle more by visiting Gettysburg in Pennsylvania or the Chalmette Battlefield in Louisiana.

Walking through the doorways of ruins gave me a feel for the height of Native Americans and the size of the rooms. Taking a coal mine or iron mine tour gives you a feel for the atmosphere and the work involved in mining. Seeing mule deer in Utah versus white-tailed deer in Florida vs. black-tailed deer in northern California makes me realize the variety of animal life.

Having to pull out cactus spines of the Teddy Bear Cholla from my body made the plant unforgettable. The best part of all of this information you pick up is that you want to keep learning more (but not the feeling of cactus spines!).

Antelope Canyon on our first kayak trip

More exercise and experiences

It is very easy to sit back and watch TV for hours when you are living in a home in one place. When you are traveling the country, you want to get out and see the area before you move on to the next spot.

Hiking trails can start literally at your front door or the view outside your window draws you into a short walk around the campgrounds. You aren’t going to visit Zion National Park and not take at least one of the various hiking trails. When you are visiting a place like Page, Arizona, taking a four-hour raft trip down the Colorado River or a kayak ride or paddleboard up Antelope Canyon is a must.

More adaptable to problems

Living in an RV full-time means problems are going to show up. Maybe the roof leaks or maybe a tire blows. Perhaps it is driving a narrow winding road while you are pulling a toad. Sometimes the campground you plan to camp in is full or even underwater after the most recent rains.

Sometimes it is just the issue of how to handle paperwork when you are on the road. Over time, you learn how to handle most situations. Even more, you learn that none of these problems are a catastrophe, but they will make great stories … after you’ve solved the issue.

A bicycle is a “want” but it is very nice to have!

More understanding of needs vs. wants

We used to think a big home, two cars, a closet full of clothes, and the latest toys were “needs.” You learn you can enjoy life with just what you carry with you in your RV. We found that having fewer things simplifies our lives and reduced our stress.

More unconventional

When we announced to our friends and family that we were selling our home and traveling the country, there was some jealousy but mostly it was disbelief. How could we live without a homebase? How could we survive without all the stuff in a house?

People couldn’t understand our desire to travel like this and we were termed the vagabonds and gypsies of our families. After a few months, we realized we would survive quite well. It was OK to live differently from most people.

More contemplative

It is hard to see a sky full of stars and not wonder about the universe. Sunset at the beach makes you think about the beauty in this world. The view from the top of a mountain makes you step back with wonder. Even an evening sitting outside your RV with a beer and watching birds and deer allows you to slow down and enjoy life.

We’ve moved back into a home now, but full-timing has changed us … and in a good way.

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What would you use if you were a one-rifle hunter?

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As the old saying goes, you should beware the man with only one gun because he knows how to use it. A person who shoots hundreds or thousands of rounds through a particular rifle and spends countless hours carrying that same rifle afield becomes intimately familiar with it. That sort of familiarity quite often means that the rifle almost becomes an extension of the hunter, which usually translates into good results afield.

Now I’m not the kind of guy who will try to talk you out of buying a gun. If you’re the sort of person who enjoys owning, shooting, and hunting with several different firearms, then by all means have at it.

On the other hand, what cartridge would you select if you were a one-rifle hunter?

Would you choose something like the .30-30 Winchester or .35 Remington that’s perfect for hunting in thicker timber? Those cartridges don’t have quite the reach of some of the other options out there, but they’re perfect for game like whitetail deer, feral hogs, and black bear at short to moderate range.

Or do you prefer a classic cartridge of a slightly different flavor? Maybe something like the tried and true .270 Winchester or .30-06 Springfield? Either will perform extremely well on game like deer, pronghorn, bear, sheep, and mountain goat all the way out to several hundred yards. With appropriate bullets, both (but the .30-06 in particular) are also good choices for things like elk in the Rocky Mountains, African plains game, or a Canada moose hunt.

Perhaps you want something that hits a little harder or is a little better suited for longer range shots? In that case, cartridges like the .280 Ackley Improved, the 28 Nosler, the 7mm Remington Magnum, the .300 Winchester Magnum, and the .300 Ultra Mag all offer hunters a little more reach and still retain plenty of energy at extended range.

The 7mm Rem Mag and .300 Win Mag in particular are both especially popular among hunters who want a cartridge with easy to find and reasonably priced ammo, but will still get the job done on almost every species of game this side of cape buffalo and the really big bears.

Speaking of cape buffalo or the big bears of Alaska and Canada, you’ll need a bigger bore rifle chambered in something like 9.3x62mm Mauser, .375 H&H Magnum, or .375 Ruger at a minimum if those creatures are on the menu. If you never plan on hunting Africa but want a good all-around cartridge for hunting in places like Alaska, then something along the lines of the .338 Winchester Magnum is another really good choice.

Of the four in that group, the .375 H&H is just about perfect for a hunter who wanted to hunt virtually every species of game on the planet from whitetail deer to cape buffalo with just one rifle. .375 ammo isn’t cheap, but it’s pretty widely available. At the same time, while the .375 does kick more than many other popular hunting cartridges, it does not have an especially punishing recoil either.

Unfortunately, there’s no perfect rifle cartridge, and you must balance the various trade-offs offered by each one to come up with the ideal solution for the situations you’re most likely to encounter. Many hunters will never hunt buffalo or brown bear, so something like the .270, 7mm Mag, .30-06, or .300 Win Mag will fit the bill nicely for the vast majority of hunting situations. There’s also nothing saying you can’t choose something I didn’t mention here either.

So, what about you? If you could only hunt with one rifle, what would it be chambered in?

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7 tips to clean and maintain a bolt-action rifle

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Cleaning and maintaining your bolt-action rifle require a lot of things to take note of. There are things that you need to prepare beforehand. Handling a bolt-action rifle improperly may also cause it to malfunction. Therefore, following the tips below ensures that you have a smooth experience in cleaning your bolt-action rifle.

Remember that Safety is Your Priority

First and foremost, you need to make sure that your gun and workplace is out of reach from children. Your safety should always be your first priority when handling weapons. For instance, unintentional injuries caused 169,936 fatal unintentional injuries in 2017, and 486 came from a firearm.

You also need to avoid using TCE-based products for cleaning your bolt-action rifle. Scientists linked TCE exposure to abnormally low sperm counts. New Jersey’s Public Employees Occupational Health and Safety even issued an alert to law enforcement regarding the use of TCE.

Have Something to Hold the Bolt-Action Rifle in Place

You need something to hold your bolt-action rifle in place. A good gun vise makes cleaning easier. It keeps your rifle stable during the whole cleaning process.

Before placing your bolt-action rifle on the gun vise, make sure that it’s not loaded. The gun vise does not only hold your gun in place but also has additional features to make gun cleaning fast and convenient to work on.

Make Sure You Have the Necessary Materials

Before cleaning your bolt-action rifle, you need to prepare the necessary materials to help you with cleaning. This includes:

  • Cleaning rod: cleaning rod make the best cleaning tool for your rifle barrel
  • Gun cleaning patches: for wiping off the gun powder and dirt residue
  • Solvent: sometimes refer to CLP meaning clean, lubricate and protect
  • Rust protector: most people use gun cleaning oil to keep off rust

These are the necessary materials that help you with cleaning your bolt-action rifle.

Follow the Disassembly Guide

Most bolt-action rifles come with a manual on how to disassemble your rifle. Make sure you follow the instructions word for word. You can also get some disassembly manual at local gun stores specific to your firearm model.

There are even manual and guides available for you on the internet for gun disassembly and even guides on how to clean a bolt-action rifle. If you don’t like reading instructions and guides, you can look for instructional videos on the internet for a visual guide on proper gun disassembly.

Secure a Place to Store Small Parts

Your bolt-action rifle contains small parts that may be hard to keep track of. Prepare a number of small containers to put these small parts while you continue disassembling your rifle. It’s also better to have them labeled so you don’t get confused when reassembling the rifle.

Create a Clean Place to Work

Having a private room makes gun cleaning a lot safer for your kids. The room or area needs to be clean in case the small parts get lost you would be able to find it easier. A clean environment also makes you motivated to clean and maintain your bolt-action rifle.

A private room exclusive for gun cleaning and maintenance would be ideal but if you can’t have that, a simple table would do just fine. Just make sure that you exercise extreme safety steps like locking the room and ensuring the gun isn’t loaded when you do clean your bolt-action rifle.

Store in a Secure Gun Safe

Gun maintenance doesn’t end with just cleaning your bolt-action rifle. Where you keep your gun when not in use also affects the longevity of your gun. Humidity can cause guns to form rust and ultimately affect the effectiveness of your bolt-action rifle.

Storing your bolt-action rifle inside a gun safe would be your best option. The gun safe has low humidity inside that ensures your bolt-action rifle won’t form rusts. It’s also great for keeping your guns away from children or from thieves.

You can even store your gun cleaning equipment inside as they are also susceptible to rust. Overall, gun safes make the best safe and secure storage equipment for anything gun-related.


Owning a bolt-action rifle requires regular cleaning and maintenance. Following the tips above will ensure that you are safe and doing the correct way of cleaning your bolt-action rifle. Make sure you make time to clean and protect your bolt-action rifle or it will form rust and may shoot inaccurately or won’t even shoot at all.

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A look at 2 alternative cartridge options for the AR-15

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While the majority of rifles built on the AR-15 platform still use the ubiquitous .223 Remington and 5.56x45mm NATO cartridges, hunters and shooters do have a couple of other options if they want to use a different cartridge in their AR. Today, we’ll discuss two in particular: the 6.5 Grendel and the 6.8 Remington Special Purpose Cartridge.

Gun designer Bill Alexander successfully developed the heavy hitting .50 Beowulf cartridge in the early 2000s, which is one of the largest caliber cartridges that will function in an AR-15. Fresh off that success, he helped design the new medium bore cartridge for the AR-15 that we now know as the 6.5 Grendel a few years later.

Built by modifying a 6.5mm PPC case, the 6.5 Grendel functions very well in an AR-15 and is known for outstanding accuracy and mild recoil. While cartridges must fit within relatively strict dimensional constraints to function in an AR-15, the 6.5 Grendel uses a pretty efficient design and shoots aerodynamic bullets that retain energy, resist wind drift, and minimize bullet drop very well.

The 6.5 Grendel also offers a significant step up in power compared to the 5.56 NATO cartridge. Exact figures vary depending on barrel length and the specific load used. However, Hornady’s load featuring a 123gr SST at 2,580fps is a good example of typical 6.5 Grendel ballistics with modern factory ammo. With just over 1,800 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle, that load has approximately 40% more muzzle energy than the M855 5.56x45mm NATO load commonly used by the various branches of the United States military.

Around the same time Alexander was working on the 6.5 Grendel, the United States Army Marksmanship unit was working in tandem with the Remington Arms Company to accomplish a similar goal of building a more powerful alternative to the .223/5.56 cartridge that would still function in the M-16/M-4.

Essentially, they shortened and necked down a .30 Remington case to shoot a 6.8mm bullet. Officially designated the 6.8mm Remington Special Purpose Cartridge (also known as the 6.8mm Remington SPC or 6.8 SPC), the new cartridge is another bigger bore alternative to the .223 Remington that functions reliably in an AR platform.

Like the 6.5 Grendel, the 6.8 SPC is also considerably more powerful than the 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge. Hornady also manufactures a load for that cartridge using their SST bullet. This particular load pushes a 120gr SST at 2,460fps using a 16-inch barrel. That’s not quite as powerful as the 6.5 Grendel, but it still produces over 1,600 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle, which is nearly 30% more than the M855.

Keep in mind that the 6.8 SPC produces those ballistics with a relatively short 16” barrel as well. While the 6.8 SPC does not use extremely aerodynamic bullets like the 6.5 Grendel, the Remington cartridge actually functions remarkably well with shorter barrel lengths without nearly as much of a drop off in performance as many other comparable cartridges.

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Float through the end of summer on these terrific tubing rivers

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We can’t think of a better summer pastime than floating down a scenic river in a big rubber donut — with a frosty brew in hand. And with America the Beautiful blessed with so many idyllic rivers, we’ve taken on the task of searching out eight of the country’s best rivers for tubing.

We’ll start out West. But first, here’s a bit of information about tubes. Rental tubes are available at each of these rivers, but if you wish to have your own personal tube, you should buy one that’s specially made for tubing rather than trying to adapt a truck or tractor inner tube.

Intex, Caddis Sports, Realtree and Trans American are among popular brand names turning out tubes with such safety and comfort features as handles, back supports, cup holders and mesh bottoms for cooling and better seating. Prices start at about $50.

Snoqualmie River, Washington

This leisurely, four-mile-long float begins a half-mile from Snoqualmie Falls and continues down river to end at Fall City Bridge. A shuttle transports floaters up the river for trips that usually last 4-5 hours. The water is a bit chilly for some visitors, but you’ll rarely hear them complain as they float through some of the most spectacular scenery in the Pacific Northwest.

Russian River, California

This wine country river flows gently into the Pacific near Guerneville. It’s a favorite among floaters — most of whom launch at Steelhead Beach and take out some three hours later at Mother’s Beach. Others float another hour or so to Sunset Beach.

There’s no transportation here, so you’ll have to park a vehicle at your final destination or arrange a rideshare or pick-up by Monte Rio Taxi. Rental tubes are available at Johnson’s Beach in Guerneville or you can buy your own at King’s Sport & Tackle. Pack a lunch to enjoy at one of the many beaches along the way.

The Truckee River in Nevada

Truckee River, Nevada

The Truckee River runs right through the heart of Reno where it has always attracted rafters, kayakers and floaters. But a few years ago, the city had the brilliant idea to develop the Truckee River Whitewater Park. This $1.5 million project enhanced the river running experience along a 2,600-foot section that flows virtually in the shadows of the city’s numerous casinos.

A fun 2-3-hour long trip starts up river at Mayberry Park and leads downtown to Wingfield Park, where the Truckee River Whitewater Park originates. You can tube the river on your own, but you might also consider investing in a Tubing Adventure Package from Sierra Adventures, the region’s most experienced outfitter. Prices range from $29 to $69 and include a tube, life jacket and shuttle service.

Yampa River, Colorado

By Colorado standards, the Yampa is a fairly calm river and arguably is the best river in the state for tubing. As the Truckee does in Reno, the Yampa bisects the ever-popular outdoor sports haven of Steamboat Springs. Rental tubes and guided trips are available through several local companies, including Backdoor Sports, The Tube Shack and Bucking Rainbow Outfitters.

The drill, according to those in the know, is to park at the downtown Community Center/Stockbridge Transit Center and ride the Red Line bus to Fletcher Pond (for the longest ride) or Dr. Rich Weiss Park — and enjoy a 2- to 3-hour float back to town. City regulations say no alcohol, (or dogs) on the river, but there are plenty of bars and breweries along the Steamboat riverfront that are most anxious to serve you.

San Marcos River, Texas

Not far from Austin and San Antonio, the Hill Country college town of San Marcos has been dubbed the “coolest small city in Texas,” and it’s a hardy party town to be sure. The river of the same name plays host to plenty of that partying as it flows gently through town, carrying with it a flotilla of tubes, rafts and kayaks.

The spring-fed waters of the San Marcos remain at a constant 72 degrees and boast a level of purity ten times that of the EPA standards for drinking water. Most visiting tubers take advantage of the cheap rentals and shuttle service offered by the Lions Club. Trips typically start at City Park and end at Rio Vista Falls — a scenic run of a little more than a mile.

Meramec River, Missouri

Once a setting for wild partying, public nudity and various kinds of risky and offensive behavior, the Meramec has been substantially tamed in recent years owing to a law enforcement crackdown. Cliff or bluff jumping and rope swings are prohibited, as are beer kegs, bongs and other drinking devices.

There are no restrictions on alcohol itself but the minimum age for consumption (21) is strictly enforced. College kids may not be happy with the rules, but the Meramec has become much more family friendly. Fed by Meramec Spring and many smaller springs, the Meramec is good for floating from early spring to late fall. The most floated section is between Meramec Spring and Meramec State Park. Rental tubes, kayaks and canoes are available at the state park and at Old Cove Canoe & Kayak.

French Broad River, North Carolina

Float right through the center of artsy-craftsy Asheville on this easy-going river. Social more than secluded, this sunny setting boasts a variety of riverfront pubs, restaurants and craft breweries. Arrange a rental with French Broad Outfitters and splash in at the River Arts District. Trips (moderately priced at $20 for adults, $10 for kids 6-12) cover about four miles of river and last 2-3 hours.

You might spot some rare wildlife on the Ichetucknee.

Ichetucknee River, Florida

Fed by nine bubbling springs, this startlingly clear north central Florida river is a throwback to unspoiled Old Florida. Most of its six-mile length is protected within the bounds of Ichetucknee State Park near High Springs and it is open to a daily limit of 750 tubers.

Rental tubes are available at the park or from vendors located outside the park entrance. Some pandemic-related restrictions are presently in effect but two floating options are currently available: following a quick tram ride from the South Entrance, there’s a 45- to 60-minute float from the Midpoint Tube Launch to Dampier’s Landing — or continue an additional hour and a half to South Takeout Point. Wildlife is surprisingly abundant here.

You’ll see fish jumping, turtles basking, herons, egrets and wood storks wading — and possibly even the more elusive bobcat or wild boar lurking among the oaks and pines.

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The touchless future of our airports

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One thing that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought us is a step up in technology, particularly in areas that affect our travel and interaction with the world. When the downturn in the aviation industry has crippled many airlines and airports, anything that can be done to tempt passengers back is considered worthwhile for the future of the industry.

Now it seems the technology to allow the process of transiting an airport from door to gate could become as close to “touchless” as possible thanks to innovations in technology being fast-tracked by different companies.

The first point of contact for most of us when arriving for our flight is the check-in process. If you haven’t already checked in on an app, then check-in desks or machines are the place to announce your presence and print your boarding pass.

American Airlines already introduced a new touchless check-in for customers in July, whereby passengers need only to scan a bar code on an app, or printed at home, to produce tags for bags.

United Airlines have also introduced a similar scheme using their own app and trialing at London Heathrow airport, and Air Canada is now using touchless bag checks on all domestic flights.

Image courtesy Japan Airlines

Similarly, Japan Airlines recently announced its own trial of touchless check-in technology at Tokyo Haneda’s Terminal 1 from Aug. 24 to Sept. 15. Using infrared technology, simply holding your finger close to the screen will be enough to make selections and complete the process.

Yet beyond the check-in, passengers experience many places throughout the airport experience where touch has so far been necessary.

This is where a range of providers are stepping in to offer solutions.

At Abu Dhabi, 53 elevators are being switched to touchless technology to avoid contact with buttons. Its Etihad Airways check-in kiosks have also been upgraded to monitor a passenger’s temperature and heart rate to flag up anyone who is potentially unwell.

Many airports are introducing some kind of temperature screening, and this is likely to become automatic, scanning crowds for signs of carriers of the virus.

Airport food outlets are also giving customers the chance to order using apps, and hubs in Hong Kong and South Korea have introduced robots which will sanitize restrooms and other public areas.

Biometric boarding was already being trialed by airports before coronavirus hit but is now likely to be rolled out much faster. It allows passenger identification to be processed by scanning their retina, rather than presenting a passport or other ID.

It has the side benefit of speeding up boarding and could further be adapted in the future to include detailed medical histories of passengers, which is potentially a privacy minefield.

“Automation is of paramount importance. Contactless, self-service technologies at every step will facilitate passenger flow, cutting queues while ensuring a social distancing-friendly passenger experience through the use of secure biometrics and passenger mobile devices,” says SITA CEO Barbara Dalibard.

As yet, the touchless experience seems somewhat fragmented, with certain airports and airlines offering a solution to one touch experience, but none yet offering the whole range. But this is undoubtedly to come.

Many airlines will, despite costs of tens of thousands per machine in the case of those which monitor vital signs, roll out touchless check-in across their entire network once the results of trials are complete.

Touchless, clean security screening protocols will become standardized across all airports fairly soon, and concessions — particularly among the larger chains — will no doubt unveil touchless ordering and collection across their portfolios very quickly.

It seems unlikely this will become 100% touchless across the board, particularly in smaller airports which cannot justify upgrading elevators or hiring robots, or with airlines which do not offer check-in machines or apps. It is in these examples that the cheaper, easier-to-implement heightened cleaning protocols and passenger temperature screening will remain the norm, at least for the near future.

Nevertheless, COVID-19 has been a catalyst for technology in many areas, not least the airport experience, surely urged on by the ailing air travel industry’s need to see passengers flying again.

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Dig this: Get in the garden for a long, healthy life

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Getting to work in the garden can bring homegrown nutrition, but it also can improve your physical fitness and maybe extend your life.

In this era of work-from-home and Zoom meetings, a garden provides a hobby that will get you up and moving, and give you a place to take a break from the keyboard.

Those minutes outdoors are productive. Cornell researchers recently reported that 10 minutes in a natural setting can act as stress relief. The study focused on college students, but the results translate to all walks of life. We’re better off when we can embrace and interact with nature.

We’ve established that being outside is good for us, but where does the longevity come in? A researcher named Dan Buettner took up a National Geographic expedition to determine secrets of long life in different parts of the world. He and his team identified five Blue Zones, regions where longevity was common and living past 100 wasn’t unheard of.

One of the Blue Zones is located in the United States: Loma Linda, California. The others are scattered across the globe: Nicoya, Costa Rica; Sardinia, Italy; Icaria, Greece; and Okinawa, Japan.

The seniors in these locations had another link beyond longevity: gardening. Many of the elements in gardening are fitness attributes in a variety of activities. Gardeners use their legs, back and upper bodies regularly in repetitive motions, stretching and strengthening the muscles in those areas. Breathing fresh air can improve lung function as well, which supplements overall health.

Instead of considering it a workout, the residents in those regions incorporated healthy activity into their daily tasks.

“None of the spry 90- and 100 year-olds I met exercise in the way we think of it, like spending half an hour on a treadmill,” Buettner later told National Geographic. “The secret they teach us is the importance of engineering ‘nudges’ for physical activity into our daily life, like planting a garden, which sets up a nudge for the entire growing season to be out there watering, weeding or harvesting.”

As the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic changed lifestyles and highlighted food security, the advantages of eating homegrown foods was underscored. When home improvement stores across America remained open and were considered essential during lockdowns, do-it-yourselfers stormed the aisles, many installing backyard gardens, playing off coronavirus’ timing of early spring, perfect for planting.

The scene recalled the days of the previous century when America was at war and victory gardens sprung up to help the cause and keep the nation fed and healthy. Since then, cities across America have recognized the value of gardens, not only for produce but for the social networking aspects.

Healthy citizens tend to lessen the demands on a nation’s healthcare industry. Great Britain’s Royal College of Physicians encouraged an increase in gardening to help alleviate strain on the nation’s NHS services. The research also cited reduction in air pollution.

Doctors on either side of the pond are cognizant of the positives. They’re prescribing gardening and time outdoors for better health.

As Buettner pointed out, the physical benefits of gardening last beyond the planting or harvest.

Gardening can be a year-round hobby, from growing seeds in pots indoors, to planting, to watering and weeding, to harvesting, and finally to conditioning the garden for next year’s crops. Additionally, cooking with the garden’s bounty also results in physical activity, supplanting a phone call from the couch to order takeout.

In the Cornell study, researchers targeted individuals aged 15-30 and determined that up to 50 minutes in nature helped with factors such as blood pressure, attention span and mood. That doesn’t mean you need to limit your time outdoors to less than an hour.

“It’s not that there’s a decline after 50 minutes, but rather that the physiological and self-reported psychological benefits tend to plateau after that,” said co-author Donald Rakow, associate professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science. “While there is a lot of literature on longer outdoor programs, we wanted to quantify doses in minutes, not days.”

From a health standpoint, putting your hands in the dirt might be as good for your soul as sticking your toes in the sand.

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What to know about protecting yourself in the outdoors

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While the vast majority of sportsmen will never need to protect themselves from a predator of any sort while afield, this is an area where it’s especially important to heed the Boy Scout motto and prepare for the worst. After all, while it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll ever need to use a weapon in self-defense, you’ll be really glad you were appropriately prepared if that time ever comes.

In order to ensure you’re prepared, you should analyze the overall situation first.

Are you going to be outdoors hunting? Or will you be doing something else like hiking, camping, or fishing? If you’re hunting, what weapon are you planning on using: a bow, a handgun, a shotgun, or a rifle? Are you going to be walking a long distance? Or will you be riding in a boat, ATV, or truck for long periods of time? Will the situation permit you to openly carry? Or will you need to carry concealed?

The answers to those questions will all dictate the best course of action.

Centerfire rifle cartridges like the 7mm Remington Magnum, .30-30 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, or .45-70 Government are considerably more powerful than just about any handgun. A rifle also has a longer effective range and is easier to shoot accurately. So, using long gun is a great idea if possible. However, the situation doesn’t always permit their use.

For one thing, compared to a handgun, long guns are more difficult to maneuver in tight conditions for a fast shot at close range. Additionally, most hunters don’t always have their rifle immediately accessible.

At the same time, very few people carry a rifle while doing things like fishing, cutting firewood, camping, hiking, or bow hunting. So, handguns are a good personal protection option for all of those people, to include rifle hunters.

Handguns that are popular for concealed carry will absolutely work for protection while partaking in many outdoor activities. Indeed, this is the route most people take and there’s not necessarily anything wrong with that. Whether or not it’s the best tool for the job all depends on the person, the exact handgun, and the activity in question.

Larger framed handguns are generally easier to shoot more accurately and precisely than smaller pocket pistols. Unfortunately, they’re also larger, heavier, and more of a hassle to carry. They’re also more difficult to carry concealed.

With those things in mind, you should evaluate the threats you’re most likely to encounter while afield.

Are you recreating in bear country? If so, is this black bear country, or do grizzly bears or brown bears live there?

You have quite a bit more leeway if you’re in an area where you just need to be prepared to deal with things like coyotes, snakes, or even other people. On the other hand, the calculus changes quite a bit when you need to be appropriately armed to deal with bears of any sort, especially grizzly or brown bears.

A handgun chambered in something like .38 Special, 9mm Luger, .40 S&W, or .45 ACP will do just fine for most predators. You should consider carrying something more powerful if you’re likely to encounter a bear though. Something like a .357 Magnum or a 10mm Auto will work for black bears, but cartridges like the .44 Magnum and .454 Casull are more appropriate for brown or grizzly bear.

It doesn’t matter how great your firearm is if you don’t have it easily accessible when you need it. With that in mind, it’s better to carry something a little smaller and/or a bit less powerful than nothing at all.

At the same time, shot placement and bullet performance are both extremely important. So, regardless of what you plan on carrying for defense, take your preparations seriously, select high quality ammunition tailored for what you plan on using your firearm for, and diligently train with your chosen means of defense.

Practice getting your firearm into action under realistic conditions until you can quickly and unfailingly place your shots exactly where they need to go. If that means stepping down to a less powerful cartridge that you can handle a little better, then do it.

Remember: a firearm doesn’t do you any good if you can’t hit what you’re aiming at or if it’s in your gun safe when you need it.

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3 classic books for outdoorsmen

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As Robert Ruark once wrote: “The old man used to say that the best part of hunting and fishing was the thinking about going and the talking about it after you got back.” I certainly see where both Ruark and the old man were coming from on that point.

It’s also tough to go wrong with a good book about hunting or fishing. Fortunately, some of America’s greatest literary icons have produced some outstanding works on the subject over the years. Here are a few of my favorites.

The Greatest Fishing Stories Ever Told” edited by Lamar Underwood

While he makes a bold claim with the title of this book, Lamar Underwood did compile 28 exceptional stories written by incredibly gifted writers like Zane Grey, John Gierach, Thomas McGuane, and Ernest Hemingway. Underwood is the former editor-in-chief of Sports Afield and Outdoor Life, so he knows a thing or two about good writing. At least in my opinion, I’d say he stands on firm ground here.

These stories encompass everything from childhood memories fishing for bass and panfish in small ponds to fighting giant marlin on the high seas. The book should bring back fond youthful memories and excite your imagination for adventures you’ve only dreamed of.

And by the way, Lamar Underwood also edited a hunting book written along those same lines titled “The Greatest Hunting Stories Ever Told.” That book is also well worth a read if you’re craving some entertaining and thought-provoking stories of adventures afield by talented writers.

The Old Man and the Boy” by Robert Ruark

One of Ruark’s most famous works (and the source of the quote at the beginning of this article), “The Old Man and the Boy” is a compilation of autobiographical articles he wrote for Field & Stream in the 1950s about his boyhood adventures in the company of his grandfathers. Written in an easy prose, Ruark shares those experiences along with the important lessons he learned along the way.

Hands down, this is my favorite hunting book of all-time and reading it brings back treasured memories I have of camping and hunting with my grandfather as a boy that mirror those that Ruark describes in the book.

The Old Man and The Sea” by Ernest Hemingway

Perhaps the most famous fish tale ever told, “The Old Man and The Sea” is definitely one of Hemingway’s most celebrated books and it’s a classic fishing story if there ever was one.

That said, the powerful story of the old man and his struggle to bring the giant marlin he caught far out in the ocean back to port should resonate with everyone, even those who are not serious anglers.

I first read this book about 10 years ago just to see what the fuss was all about and was not disappointed. If you haven’t read it yet, you really should.

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Optimism beckons for 2020-21 deer hunting season in Texas

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It’s always nice to get a little bit of good news, and that’s especially true with everything that’s been going on lately. Though 2020 has been an eventful year to this point, hunting season is fast approaching in the Lone Star State and things are looking great for both whitetail and mule deer.

Texas received plentiful spring rains this year that were well-distributed across most of the state. Those rains came just in time to provide plentiful food for wildlife as the state transitioned from winter into spring, which should bode well for both fawn recruitment and antler growth.

According to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) White-tailed Deer Program Leader Alan Cain:

“From a statewide perspective, hunters might expect to see a higher proportion of bucks in the 6.5 to 8.5-year age classes as a result of above average fawn crop in previous corresponding years while other age classes reflect a more even distribution. While doe harvest has been down slightly in the last couple of years, which is likely contributing to a widening ratio of does to bucks, the good news for hunters is that there should be plenty of carryover from previous years.”

On the mule deer front, TPWD implemented new regulations that prohibited hunters from harvesting bucks with a spread less than 20” in Briscoe, Childress, Cottle, Floyd, Hall, and Motley counties back in 2018. Lynn County joined that group in 2019.

TPWD implemented those restrictions in order to improve buck to doe ratios as well as the buck age structure in the deer population. Basically, hunters were shooting far too many bucks (primarily young bucks) prior to the implementation of those restrictions. This resulted in an age structure skewed heavily towards younger deer and a buck to doe ratio of around 5 to 1.

In each county, overall buck harvest dropped in the first year of restrictions. However, things improved rapidly: reduced hunting pressure on younger deer resulted in many bucks that would have been harvested prior to the restrictions reaching older age. This has helped improve buck to doe ratios (now around 3 to 1) and the overall health of the deer population in the area.

Year two of the antler restrictions saw older bucks comprise a significantly larger share of the harvest with 5 ½ or older deer now making up about 51% of the harvest (up from 33%). Hunters are also reporting seeing more as well as larger and more mature bucks. Recent TPWD aerial surveys back up these observations.

Hopefully, these trends will continue and, combined with favorable weather across the state in the spring, will result in a great 2020-21 deer season in Texas.

Archery season opens for both whitetail and mule deer on Oct. 3. The general season opens on Nov. 7 for whitetail deer and on either Nov. 21 or Nov. 27 for mule deer.

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