To catch nightcrawlers easily, hose down a patch of lawn for 10 minutes at sunset. Once it’s dark out, rubbing a grunt stick will drive them to the surface. Pound a 24-inch wooden stake halfway into the wet soil, and saw a 2-foot metal bar against it for a minute. Worms mistake the vibrations for the sounds of predatory moles. Use a flashlight with a red lens to spot the crawlers without alarming them.
Herons, egrets, cormorants, and some species of gulls commonly perch on roots or logs overhanging water at precise spots where they know that large fish will regularly drive bait within their reach. Birds make a living by locating these fish-feeding hotspots, and you can count on them to be where the action is about to take off.
A Chinese wok is the most versatile cooking utensil you can take on camping trips. This single item can be used for stir-frying, deep-frying, boiling large amounts of water, making soups or salads, mixing dough, cooking pasta, and washing dishes or small clothing items. When you’re traveling, pack the rigid steel wok full of crushable items that require protection.
Don’t fasten the transducer and receiver of your electronic fishfinder directly to your boat. Instead, mount the units on short wooden boards extending below the level of turbulence caused by the hull. Use carpenter’s clamps to fasten the boards wherever you want them. You can move this setup around to establish the best reception points.
To help pass the time when you’re spending long hours in a deer stand, take along a few ounces of birdseed. Scatter the seed on a nearby log or other bare area within a few yards of your stand. Birds, chipmunks, and squirrels are sure to discover the horde and will give you hours of entertainment, and their presence will keep you alert and remind you to remain still.
The standing offhand shooting position is notoriously difficult, yet it accounts for a significant percentage of shots taken at big game. You’ll be more accurate if you instantly drop into a sitting position when an animal appears and rest your rifle on one knee before squeezing the trigger, or move to a solid rest like a nearby tree and brace your gun against it.
If you catch a large bass in midsummer, assume that it’s part of a school of similar-size fish. Mark the depth and continue fishing at that same spot. Bass school by size this time of year, often in 20 to 25 feet of water. To find them, use soft-plastic baits that flutter as they drop. Fish at increasing depths until you get a strike. Dark colors like purple and black work best in deep water.
If your handheld GPS, digital camera, radio, or other electronic equipment gets an accidental soaking, try packing it in a zip-seal bag full of dry, uncooked rice for 24 hours. The grains will absorb moisture without applying heat, which can cause parts to warp. More often than not, your valuable gear will be back in operating condition after this treatment.
Current and boat speed can alter the action of a lure when you are trolling. To check whether yours is running at its best, drag it on a tight line beside the boat and adjust the throttle until you find the speed that makes the lure most enticing. Set the throttle there, or note the engine rpm on your tachometer, and hold it as long as you troll that particular lure.
To keep bootlaces from snagging and becoming untied when you’re walking through brambles and clinging vines, wind them once around the boot top and tie them with a tight square knot at the back. When you’re hunting in particularly brushy country, fold the tops of your socks down over the knots and secure them with a wrap of duct tape.
Branches that you remove to clear a climbing path and shooting lanes at your tree stand should not be left on the ground. They may draw unwanted attention from people who might sit in your stand. Instead, drag them away from the vicinity, or lash some to the trunk above the stand to break up its outline and camouflage your silhouette as you hunt.
Fish prefer prey that takes the least effort to catch. They often refuse to chase after a lure but will take one that swims slowly, rises and falls like a cripple, or moves in short hops close to the bottom. Imagine how the forage your lure is imitating behaves when it’s disoriented or injured, and retrieve your jigs, plugs, and soft plastics accordingly.
To prevent your glasses from fogging up, rinse the lenses thoroughly with water. While they’re still wet, apply two drops of liquid dishwashing detergent front and back. Dry them with a clean lens cloth. Polish the lenses until all the streaks are gone. —Peter Mathews, St. Louis, Mo.
When fish move to deeper water as the days grow hot, change your lure selection. Match the silhouette to that of the local forage, and remember that in the dim light of deeper water, fish can see dark baits better than brightly colored ones. Most fish feed less aggressively as it gets hotter, so make your lure easy for fish to take by reeling slowly with a stop-and-go action.