Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

New From Winchester…

For all those shotguns owners out there like myself, we’re always in search of the latest and greatest. Well everybody, for those who haven’t heard, there have been some new gadgets added to the toy box of shotgun goodies!

No longer do you have to hassle with multiple barrels if you switch between shot and slug depending on the season. Winchester has just released a Non-Lead Zinc Slug! At last, a slug that is fast, effective and most of all usable in all states! Non-toxic bullets are a requirement in many parts of California as part of the fight to keep the Condors safe. Now you can buy both shot and slugs that are safe for the condors and the environment.

The other benefit to these new zinc slugs is that aside from being lead free, they’re usable in Smoothbores! No need for rifled barrels just for slugs. These 12-gauge slugs are 3/4oz, .72 caliber and a muzzle velocity of 1400 feet per second! They don’t expand a lot but they do penetrate deeper which make them great for larger game, and the price is reasonable. Check out these new slugs at Winchester today, New for 2011!


Always Come Prepared!

When it comes to camping one can never be too prepared. Though most trips go off without a hitch, things do happen. Here are a few things that will come in handy when it comes to tent tears, bad lantern mantles and any other small mishap.

Sewing Kit

Tent Repair Kit

Cable Ties

1” Webbing

Seam Sealer

Duct Tape (which fixes just about anything)



Cord Locks

Replacement Zippers

Lantern Mantles

Parachute Cord

Shock Cord

Shoe Goo

Spare Buckles

Safety Pins

Stove or Lantern Repair Parts

Tent Pole Splints

leatherman tool (this has pliers, screwdrivers and small knife)

First Aid Kit

This little kit of goodies can help you enjoy your trip and allow you to stay longer as those pesky little mishaps can be fixed and won’t spoil the fun of having to go home due to a broken zipper or lantern mantle. As you put together a pouch of these items, and the more use you get out of them you can expand your kit to include the things you find you need. Happy Camping!


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Keeping Your Flies In "Mint" Condition

If you love fly-fishing then you know the perils of keeping your flies straight. Well here’s a simple and inexpensive way to keep your flies organized. This is a great beginners fly box for those young and old.

Take an Altoids box and clean out any mint dust of course. Then take a section of cardboard from an old shoebox and cut 3 strips one- 3 ½” x ¾” this will fit lengthwise inside the tin. Then two pieces- 2 1/8” x ¾” these will fit across the width of the tin.

Next cut two notches in the longest piece and one notch in the center of each of the smaller pieces. Cover each of the three pieces with duct tape. This will keep things waterproof and make the cardboard fit snugly in the tin. After you wrap the pieces in cardboard and re-snip the notches lay the long piece lengthwise in the tin and the two shorter pieces widthwise.

This will create 6 individual compartments to keep your flies organized! You can also embellish your tin by adding pieces of magnet or foam to further organize your flies. With the inside dimensions given here you can customize your tin to fit your needs and various size flies!

This makes a great project to get your junior fly-fisher started and give he or she a place to start their own collection of flies that will catch them a whopper!


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Edible Plants & Tasty Garden Treats

Before we had supermarkets, we had to grow our own food.

And before we even had farms, we had to gather our meals from the forests.

But while we have evolved to Hunters of bargains and deals, and Gatherers of Hummel figurines and Beanie Babies… Our forests have evolved very little from the early days of humanity.  There’s a whole feast we can gather in our forests, we only have to learn what they look like and how to use them!

Dandelions: The broad leaves of these plants can be eaten like lettuce, or steamed. The blooms are sweetest when they are young – unopened and close to the ground. These too can be eaten raw or steamed. Be sure the dandelions you are picking are far from roads and homes- since they can be considered weeds, they could have been sprayed with pesticides and weed killers.

Cactus: The large, wide paddles of certain Cacti (called nopales in Spanish) can be boiled until soft and eaten- they taste similar to green beans. Wear gloves when picking cactus paddles and removing the needles- there are small hairlike needles that are a pain to remove from skin and clothing. Remove the needles by shaving them off with a knife.

Many cacti also grow prickly pear (called tunas in Spanish) – a grainy, seedy fruit with the texture of a pear that tastes like fruit punch. You can shave the needles off of these and eat raw.

Miner’s Lettuce: This plant is common in mountainous areas all over the country. It gets its name from the California Gold Rush men who ate it to prevent scurvy. Eat it raw in salads, or cook like spinach, as its taste is similar but rougher in texture. Collect and consume before the flowers bloom for best flavor.

Marigolds: This common garden bloom’s petals can replace expensive saffron in a variety of dishes. It can also be used in salads as it has a citrus flavor.

Lavender, Roses and Violets: You know they all smell great, did you know they taste delicious too? They taste just like they smell- Lavender and Violets are sweet with a hint of citrus, and rose is rich with berry and apple flavors. They are a great garnish or additive to desserts and mixed drinks- roses need their petals trimmed of the bitter white end before using. The unique flavor of Lavender will also work well in savory sauces and stews. Violet leaves can be eaten- cook the heart-shaped leaves like spinach.

The Internet is full of advice on how to test your own local plants for edibility. Recipes for how to prepare your favorite plant edibles are also online. You don’t have to have a garden to enjoy Nature’s bounty; you just have to know where to look!


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5 Easy Steps To Fillet Your Catch

For those who love to fish or those who would like to start but have no clue what to do after you land one, here are 5 simple steps to clean and fillet your fish. A sharp knife will keep you from tearing up your meat and make the entire process cleaner and easier.

1. First you want to start with a very sharp knife. Cut your fish from the tail to the head and remove all innards. Rinse thoroughly. Place your blade behind the gills and slice inward towards the head until you reach the backbone and spine.

2. Next turn you knife around and slice towards the tail gliding along the backbone and exiting at the base of the tail.

3. With the skin still on, insert the blade tip just below the ribs and carefully remove the rib cage.

4. Now to remove the skin. Grasp the skin as the tail and run the blade away from your body at a shallow angle to avoid puncturing the skin.

5. This should have freed your first fillet. Now turn your fish over and repeat on the other side.

Remember that if you plan to transport your fish across state or country borders, to leave a piece of the skin attached for identification purposes.

Fish are an incredibly healthy, low-calorie source of protein. Many worry about mercury levels in fish, but researchers still advise two servings per week (unless you’re pregnant than just one). Fish have been shown to reduce the incidence of heart disease, combat depression, improve skin health, relieve arthritis pain, and even prevent cancer. When fishing, keep moderate-sized fish, older fish contain more mercury.

Tip: Using a cloth around your hands can help steady your fish and keep it from slipping out of your hands and causing an accident seeing as you are using a very sharp knife. Another tip that rids your hands of that odor that never seems to dissipate: Hold a steel blade under running water! You’ll never know you touched that fish!


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Thankfully This One Is Rare and Hard To Find

Poison Sumac! A woody plant that is found among wetlands is a rare sight to be seen and for good reason. With a range to grow up to 20-feet tall this is one plant that is best admired from a great distance or not at all. Similar to Poison Oak and Poison Ivy, Poison Sumac contains an oil known as Urushiol that causes an allergic reaction and a rash of the skin.

Besides it’s size, poison sumac contains 7 to 13 leaflets on each leaf and they are oblong and taper to a point and the branches are smooth with no hairs. See image below. Poison Sumac lives mostly in the Eastern and Southern regions of the United States and stays in wet areas where its roots can stay in the water. Beware of this unfriendly tree, and be very careful if it is burning; smoke inhalation of burning Poison Sumac can cause severe respiratory irritation and can be fatal.


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Protect Your Best Friend From A Potentially Fatal Situation

We love our pets, no doubt about it. We take care of them and do our best to protect them when at all possible. But what happens if your dog or cat is bitten by a Rattlesnake? If you live or frequent areas that have these slithering savages, then a vaccine may be in order.

My family owns a ranch in the hills an hour and a half from a veterinary hospital. As the owner of a boarder collie that herds cattle at our ranch and is VERY active and curious, I knew this vaccine was necessary. The Rattlesnake Vaccine gives my pup a fighting chance should she come in contact with a rattlesnake.

In 2003 Red Rock Biologics created a Rattlesnake vaccine to help dogs and cats build up the antibodies that will ultimately help them to fight off the infection that occurs when bitten. It is not a lifesaver, but it does give them a fighting chance especially in instances like mine where I may not be able to get my dog to a vet immediately.

So if you are in a rattlesnake area where you live, where you hike or walk your dog, where you like to go camping or where you hunt with your dog, then consider this inexpensive vaccine. To learn more about this great vaccine visit Rattlesnake Vaccines For Dogs and talk to your Vet. Shots run about $20 per shot and after the intial shot a booster shot is given within 30 days of the first shot and a booster is given 1-2 times a year depending on how often your pet is exposed. $40 a year can help save your pet from a lot of pain and save you from a very expensive vet bill.


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Poison Ivy, Another Unfriendly Visitor

With the ability to grow up to 10-feet and the skills to climb trees, walls and fences, Poison Ivy could be lurking beneath your feet as it trails the ground awaiting a chance to cause you an allergic reaction. Unlike Poison Oak, Poison Ivy is poisonous from root to leaf. Every part of the plant is poisonous all year round. If you do come in contact with the plant, immediately wash all exposed areas, including your clothing, and get rid of any oils the plant has left behind. If you are able to wash the contaminated area within 5 minutes, you may be able to stop the irritating rash that follows.

The reaction someone gets when coming in contact with Poison Ivy can vary year to year. Beware- the oils from this plant can not only be transmitted by your clothing, but can also hang on pet fur and be carried in smoke if the plant is being burned. If you are burning an area of land where this plant grows DO NOT stand in the way of the smoke! By inhaling the smoke you can spread this rash into your respiratory system and cause serious problems.

The following are images of what Poison Ivy looks like and the common plants that it is confused with. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on January 26, 2011 in Outdoor Living, Tips and Tricks


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Leaves of 3…Let Them Be!

Poison Oak can be spread to you or others by touching the plant directly with your skin or by coming in contact with clothing that has been contaminated. So be sure to watch out and be aware of your surroundings while you’re out on the trail or enjoying the outdoors. It is also important to wash clothes immediately after returning home and bath to help prevent contamination. If you do come in to contact with the plant, it is the oils or urushiol that causes the itchy and annoying rash. Though not everyone suffers from an allergic reaction to poison oak, however, we don’t recommend testing that theory. Rashes or hives may not become apparent for 4-5 days after coming in contact with the oils.

When it comes to Poison Oak you can never be too careful. No matter the time of year, poison oak is always out to make you itch. Though many believe that summer is the worst or only time you can get poison oak, it may come as a surprise that you can get poison oak rashes at any time of the year. Here we take a look at this nasty plant’s four seasons of growth. When you are able to effectively identify this plant, you will have a better chance of avoiding and preventing the irritating, itchy rash that can follow an unfortunate encounter.


Posted by on January 14, 2011 in Outdoor Living, Tips and Tricks


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Christmas Napkin Rings

Not sure what to do with all of that tissue paper after you’re finished wrapping your Holiday gifts? Here’s an easy way to decorate your Christmas table, while using up that leftover tissue paper.

All you need is scissors, at least four sheets of tissue paper, wire or floral wire, and a ruler.

1. Stack at least four sheets of tissue paper and cut a 10-by-5-inch rectangle though all four layers.

2. Make 3/8-inch-wide accordion folds.

3. Fold an 18-inch piece of wire or floral wire in half. Slip the wire over the center of the tissue and twist tightly, but be careful not to tear the delicate paper.

4. Trim the ends of tissue. You may wish to trim an inch or two depending on how large you’d like the tissue flower to be.

5. Separate each layer of tissue by gently pulling one layer at a time.

6. Bend the wire or floral wire into a loop and slip the loop around your napkin.

Now you have a beautiful napkin ring that is perfect for the holidays. Don’t worry if you don’t have the time to make your own Christmas decorations, we’ve got lots of holiday decor items in our Rustic Christmas Store.


Posted by on December 18, 2010 in Rustic Decor, Tips and Tricks


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