As we embark on a new hunting season I am filled with optimism. I hope to accomplish so much in my life and with hunting and fishing being such an important part of my life naturally, I have goals in accordance with those passions.
A bucket list is a list of things you want to accomplish before you pass on. They are deeply personal and unique. Yet, in the hustle and bustle of our daily routines, it’s easy to lose sight of the incredible adventures waiting to be embraced. That’s why I love the idea of a bucket list to act as a collection of dreams, goals, and desires that serve as a roadmap to a life well-lived. Our unique bucket list(s) is a testament to our individual thirst for adventure. It’s not just a list of extravagant goals; it’s a declaration of our intent to make the most of every moment, to explore, to learn, and to grow. So, whether you’re a seasoned adventurer or someone seeking a little more excitement in your everyday life, let’s try to use this as a powerful tool for transformation and fulfillment. It’s time to unlock your inner explorer, one dream at a time.
I do want to preface that this is MY LIST, and most of the time while fishing or hunting I am looking for contentment. Most days my soul is full when my wife catches a fish or I’m with a buddy who harvests game. It’s the adventure and camaraderie I’m after. So yes, some of these things might seem superficial and maybe a stroke to the ego but they are MY goals in no particular order. Maybe you are content reading 100 books a year and don’t need an adventurous bucket list and that’s fine.
Below is my “realistic” bucket list. If someday I become a hundred millionaire my list will change but here are some of the things I want to accomplish within my current physical, mental and economic state. You might have accomplished things on my list that are laughable. That’s cool. This is my list; I would love to hear what is on your list.
5 pound bass (Personal Best now, about 1 pound)
Fishing Bristol Bay Salmon and Trout
Patagonia/Chile fly fishing adventure. I would love to catch trout and golden Dorado.
Saltwater Gamefish on the fly. I live in a landlocked state. The ocean is foreign and exotic to me.
Help my son catch his first fish
Help my second son catch his first fish
Help others to find a passion for fly fishing (on-going)
Archery 350+ bull elk
Big deep forked mule deer 4 point. Score doesn’t matter much but 180 sounds good.
Sheep, of any kind
Help my sons harvest their first deer
Pheasants in the Midwest
I guess the next thing to do is to prioritize and set a game plan for these. Researching where they are and how difficult it might be to attain sounds like a good place to start. I can certainly harvest some sharp-tail in a weekend. I have all summer and many lakes to try and get a big ol’ bass. But, moose or sheep, those might take some planning both financially and logistically.
As I reach my mid-life I fear I have a lot left to accomplish. That is both invigorating and depressing at the same time. I am so optimistic that these items seem like a wonderful adventure and will happen. Realistically, I get depressed because if I am able to checking off one per year, which is highly unlikely, I will be approaching 50. Mentally and spiritually I can accomplish all of these things. Physically and financially, I hope for all of these. Tomorrow is not guaranteed and health should never be taken for granted. Financially, if you want something bad enough you can make it happen. But what if you want 15 things bad enough? Some things can happen now and some things can happen eventually and some may never happen, and that’s ok. That doesn’t mean my life was a failure.
What’s on your bucket list? Do you have one?
Robert Gillingham, Founder of Karmik Outdoors and Persistent Dreamer
Essentially, Ippy heard about Karmik and wanted to give it a test for the magazine and test his faith in the angling community. He reached out and we jumped on the opportunity.
We reached out our partners at Montana Fly Company (MFC), and they sent us about 20 fly boxes and some flies. We reached out to our local fly shop Anglers, and they donated a pile of flies. Seriously, like hundreds of flies. Big thanks to MFC and Anglers for helping us make this happen.
We filled the boxes and sent them to Ippy. He recorded the information like a true scientist then dropped them and we waited for results.
The return results were what we had expected but was definitely reassuring to have an independent test to prove our communities are good and want to return found items. One of the most profound things I discovered with this test was that people are good and inherently want to do the right thing. This is proven because even thought Karmik offers a 5-point return incentive for finders, nearly every finder refused the reward. Only once we explained it was a test and they can keep the fly boxes as a thank you, did they accept the box as a reward. Another finding I love is how connected our communities are. This was a fly fishing test and as such, fly fishermen knew the value of the boxes and wanted to return them. The same could be said with the snow sports communities as well as paddle sports and golf and photography. We need to give people the opportunity to do the right thing because they want to.
Think of a QR code as a url that you scan instead of type. It saves time and energy. ‘Scanners’ can be directed to the exact page they need to go to. Accuracy, simplicity and speed. The familiarity of QR codes has exploded in the past decade. Karmik uses QR codes for accuracy, simplicity and convenience.
QR (Quick Response) codes are two-dimensional barcodes that can be read by a QR code scanner or a smartphone camera. They are useful for a variety of reasons:
Convenience: QR codes are very simple. QR codes can be scanned quickly and easily with a smartphone camera or a QR code scanner. This makes it easy to access information without having to type in a web address or search for the information manually. Every modern smartphone now has the ability to scan a QR code. Just open your phone’s camera and hover over the QR and a link will popup. Easy as that. QR codes no longer require a special app for you to download thus reducing the barrier for use.
Versatility: QR codes can be used for a wide range of purposes, such as directing users to a website, providing contact information, accessing coupons or promotions, or providing product information. QR codes allow for incredible accuracy and immediate changes. If you go to a restaurant and scan a QR code for a menu you can see the current price, pictures, happy hour specials etc. Historically, if you change the menu, specials, price, add or change meals you needed to print new menus and that gets expensive and cost prohibitive. Same with all businesses where prices can be volatile. QR codes allow you to keep everything exact.
Efficiency: QR codes can be used to store a large amount of information in a small space. This can be particularly useful for businesses or organizations that need to share information with their customers or clients. Karmik puts a QR on most of our decals simply for convenience. It takes our members – and finders – to the exact page they need to be at to complete the registration or return gear. We have gotten a few questions about fear from scanning random QR codes and getting a virus. If you’re walking down the street and you see a QR code printed on plain paper and stapled to the phone pole below a ‘lost kitty’ poster, I probably wouldn’t scan it. But if it’s a branded reputable company that you can clearly view their website and see who they are, then Ya, probably a very low risk.
Data: QR codes can also be used to track the effectiveness of marketing campaigns or measure customer engagement. By using unique QR codes for different campaigns or promotions, businesses can track which codes are being scanned and measure the success of each campaign. QR codes were for marketing purposes almost exclusively for a long time. But the tides are changing and many companies are using them for more aspects of business. They are on everything from fliers to scooters to surveys to menus that the average American has now been so exposed to, they get and trust them (sorta).
Not all surfaces are eligible for a QR code. QR codes can not scan on bent surfaces very well and have a size restriction for most phones. Your handheld radios or GPS or fishing rod simply can’t have a QR code because of surface area restrictions. Karmik has the ‘Anywhere Decal’ for those applications and it’s the one decal in the lineup that doesn’t have a QR.
Do you like Nature? 15 Conservationists you need Thank.
Below is a quick write up of who they are, what they did, why you should care. If not for these people the world would be a much different place, most likely a terrible place. We are responsible for this planet and the flora and fauna of it. At Karmik Outdoors this is not something we give lip service to but actually make important decisions with that notion of responsibility at the top of our mind. The founder, Robert Gillingham is a lifelong outdoor enthusiast and has degree from the University of Nevada, Reno in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Biology. After college he spent many years in conservation sciences. It is our honor to bring this list to you.
Here are 15 important conservationists who have made significant contributions to the field of conservation and to your life whether you know it or not.
1. Rachel Carson: American marine biologist and author of “Silent Spring” which sparked a national debate about the use of pesticides and led to the banning of DDT in the United States. It also inspired the formation of environmental organizations such as the Environmental Defense Fund and Greenpeace, and is credited with helping to launch the modern environmental movement.
2. Aldo Leopold: American ecologist and author of “A Sand County Almanac,” which promoted the idea of “land ethics” and the importance of preserving wilderness. Heralded as the Father of “Modern Wildlife Management”.
3. Jane Goodall: British primatologist and anthropologist who has spent her life studying and advocating for the conservation of chimpanzees and their habitats. Over the years, Goodall has also been a vocal advocate for animal welfare, conservation, and environmental sustainability.
4. E.O. Wilson: American biologist and author who has advanced the field of biodiversity research and conservation biology. Very prominent ecologist (antman), biologist, entomologist sometimes called “Darwin’s protégé” and “Father of Biodiversity” through his many contributions to scientific research.
5. Wangari Maathai: Kenyan environmental and political activist. In 1977, Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, an organization that focused on promoting environmental conservation, sustainable development, and women’s rights through planting trees, and providing education and resources to communities in Kenya. She was the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004, in recognition of her efforts to promote sustainable development, democracy, and peace.
6. David Attenborough: British naturalist and broadcaster who has produced numerous documentaries on wildlife and the environment, and has been a vocal advocate for conservation. If you do some digging you will see he is not simply a TV personality or documentary narrator, but is a lifelong learner and advocate of the planet earth and the animals on it.
7. Jane Lubchenco: American marine ecologist and former administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who has worked to promote sustainable fisheries and protect marine biodiversity.
8. Sylvia Earle: American marine biologist and oceanographer who has spent her life exploring and studying the ocean, and advocating for its protection. Earle has made over 100 expeditions to explore and study the world’s oceans, including leading the first team of women aquanauts in 1970, and setting a record for the deepest solo dive in 1986. She has also served as the chief scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and has been a leader in the development of new technologies for ocean exploration and research.
9. Dr. George Schaller: German-American biologist and conservationist who has worked to protect endangered species and their habitats, and has helped establish numerous protected areas around the world. He has spent more than six decades working to protect some of the world’s most endangered species including pandas, tiger, snow leopards, mountain gorillas and more as well as their habitats. He has played a key role in the development of modern conservation biology.
10. Theodore Roosevelt: Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States and a passionate conservationist. He established the U.S. Forest Service and created numerous national parks, wildlife refuges, and monuments during his time in office. If you have been to one of our amazing National Parks, you have Mr. Roosevelt to thank for the opportunity.
11. John Muir: John Muir was a naturalist and writer who was instrumental in the creation of Yosemite National Park and the preservation of other wilderness areas in the western United States. He co-founded the Sierra Club, which is still a prominent environmental organization today.
12. John James Audubon: John James Audubon was an ornithologist and artist who is known for his detailed illustrations of North American birds. His work helped raise awareness of the importance of wildlife conservation.
13. William Temple Hornaday: William Temple Hornaday was a zoologist and conservationist who founded the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. He was also the first director of the New York Zoological Park (now known as the Bronx Zoo) and was an advocate for wildlife protection and habitat conservation.
14. Gaylord Nelson: Gaylord Nelson was a politician who served as a U.S. Senator and Governor of Wisconsin. He is perhaps best known for his role in founding Earth Day, an annual event that raises awareness about environmental issues.
15. Gifford Pinchot: Gifford Pinchot was a forester and conservationist who served as the first Chief of the United States Forest Service. He advocated for sustainable forestry practices and the conservation of natural resources for future generations.
16. Bonus Alfred Russell Wallace: The Charles Darwin you never heard of but really should give credit too. “Father of Biogeography” and critical to the foundation of evolution through natural selection. Discovered “Wallace’s Line” and potentially ‘speciation’ prior to Charles Darwin. His many voyages around the world discovering plants and animals are the foundation of modern natural sciences.
These individuals, among many others, have made significant contributions to the conservation of the natural world and have inspired countless others to do the same. We are grateful for their contributions as we celebrate Earth Day and continue to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Now go outside.
– Robert Gillingham, Owner of Karmik Outdoors and lover of the outdoors.
Overwhelmingly the biggest reservation we have to customer adoption is “does it work” but often phrased in a more pessimistic tone more like, “Sure, it’s a great idea but no one is going to return something they found. They will just keep it and I’ll never see my XYZ again.”
We struggle with trying to fight this stigma. We simply can not guarantee that you will get your lost Sawyer Kayak paddle back. We can only guarantee that if you completed the simple registration process on Karmikoutdoors.com then your gear is IDENTIFIABLE. Conversely, we can guarantee that without any identification your gear is NOT returnable.
Trying to convey that this program and our service works, and with it you have a 78-90% chance of a successful return is a difficult thing to convey. Here is a quick testimonial of a recent lost and found scenario from a lifelong fly fishermen named Rison. He purchased one of our MFC co-branded decals and activated his pre-paid decal.
Rison’s first sentence was this, “I received my fly box last week from Ian who wouldn’t even let me pay for the postage. A good man.” We believe that most people are good and want to do the right thing they just need the chance. Ian is not the exception to the rule, he is the massive average. Here is the rest of Rison’s story:
My name is Rison. I’m a 69 year old retiree and live in Chatham, in south central Virginia.
I attended the wedding of my nephew in Denver, Colorado in September which was my first time in Colorado. My brother-in-law and I managed to get a day free to fly fish. The day before, we went to the fly shop for some flies and advice. We got both and I also picked up a new fly box. That night, I was looking through all my flies accumulated in over 50 years of fishing. I decided to consolidate three smaller boxes into my new box. I saw the return service that came with the box and thought “what the hell” and registered it, doubting it would ever do any good.
The next day we headed out early and found the BLM campground area that was recommended to us. We suited up and my brother in law headed upstream while I tried the water near our car. I was using a borrowed four piece fiberglass rod. I fished for maybe an hour having no luck, I tried a weighted nymph. After awhile I decided to move. My fly was still in the water and when I tried to retrieve it, I was hung up. Not wanting to jerk on it with a borrowed rod, I reached for the line near the tip and broke about three inches off the tip! While fumbling around with that mess, I must have leaned over and the new fly box fell out of my vest! I was helpless and watched it float down the river thinking how smart I was to consolidate three boxes into one the previous night!
In my younger days, I would have cussed, fussed, stomped around, likely drowning. The older me smiled and thought how lucky I was to be standing in that beautiful part of the world. I retired to a picnic table and took in the fresh air and beautiful scenery. I never expected to see my fly box again.
I was absolutely floored when Karmik emailed me that my box was found much further downstream and the man, wanted to return it! I contacted Ian who refused any reward and mailed the box back to me! Unbelievable!
I want to publicly thank Ian and Karmik for this positive experience. I not only have my flies and box back but I have a renewed respect for mankind.
Rison wanted to thank Ian with a reward and that is always appreciated and sometimes accepted by the finder. Karmik rewards the finder on behalf of all of our users to help ensure your gear comes back.
For businesses, Karmik service helps your product stand out. Rison stated that he is much more likely to purchase an item that has this service built in. If you are a business owner looking to help your product standout in a marketplace, here we are. At Outdoor Retailer (where we won Innovative Product of the Year) the two most common items were insulated bottles of some kind and backpacks or packs of some kind. They are all great products and have high quality construction or components so what makes them standout? Color, brand recognition and all the other marketing things, but what about outstanding and lasting service. Safety and security and standing behind your customer beyond the purchase. We can help with that.
Robert, Owner of Karmik Outdoors and wannabe cultivator of our collective fait in humanity.
I am a resident of 1 state (you probably are too), as such we are non-residents of 49 other states. All states have unique hunting seasons and regulations and costs. It can be overwhelming looking at other states. Hell, it can be overwhelming in our resident state! If you want to hunt in another state, you have your work cut out for you. You need to start educating yourself about the options and deciding what basket(s) you want to put your eggs in. You need to learn what bonus points are, what preference points are as well as various unit/weapon/game draw odds. You have to learn Nevada’s application process and Utah’s application processes because they are not the same. It is not possible (for most of us) to apply for all the cool hunts in all the cool states. Simply put, it costs too much to apply for everything. Let’s start with the most basic question we need to ask ourselves “how much is this going to cost me”?
Most of us are working folk. We have limited time and limited funds to hunt. But I think most of us want to hunt as much as we can and in really cool places chasing really cool game. With the popularity of Western big game hunting on the rise, I thought I would put together a simple spreadsheet for us dreamers to see “how much is this going to cost me”?
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Most Western states have a combination of OTC and or applications to hunt big game. Typically, applications are for trophy units and offer better quality hunting opportunities. Trophy units and/or trophy game species are always draw hunts. I will clarify “quality hunts” as limited entry or drawing hunts in the various states which implies less people, which implies less pressure, which implies greater sightings of game, which implies a better chance at a more mature/trophy animal. These opportunities are not OTC and require a drawing application process. What states and units and species should you apply for?
This Excel started because I could find all the points and odd calculators but I couldn’t find a simple “how much is this going to cost me” calculator that I could download and use. If I want bonus points for elk in Nevada, Montana and Utah, as well as mule deer points in Wyoming, Arizona and Colorado and bison/antelope/moose/goat/sheep points in various states and OTC tags in Idaho and Wyoming how much is it going to cost to hunt and apply for the tags that I know I wont get?
You can use this Excel to help research tags, costs, and other opportunities. How many points do I need to draw archery elk in Nevada on average? How many points do I need to hunt the Arizona strip for mule deer? Those are pretty easy figures to find. But how much does the state charge for an application, hunting license and point? If I have to buy a non-refundable annual hunting license, are there OTC opportunities or opportunities for other cool adventures? Do the hunting licenses come with fishing licenses? When are the application dates and deadlines of the states I want to hunt? When are the results and when will my credit card be charged?
These are all questions I had while looking up the application process. These are all questions you have to keep organized and update annually.
In Nevada for example, if you want to hunt elk with a rifle, you will likely have to apply for 10 years or more. In Nevada, you have to buy a non-refundable annual license if you want to buy a bonus point for future applications. How much is a non-refundable license and bonus point for elk? Figure that out and multiply by 10 then add the cost of an elk tag. Are you willing to invest that much to hunt Nevada Elk? What about deer? If you are going to apply for elk, might as well apply for deer. Oh and while you’re at it, sheep! These costs add up quickly and can really hit your checkbook… look up bison tags… you better have the funds for that! Anyway, “how much is this going to cost me” for one state for one species? How much is it for a second species in the state? If I have to buy a license can I hunt for other game? These are all questions you need to look at answering and my spreadsheet makes it easy to see visually. Because it is a living document you can save it and update it every year. Download one for yourself and each of your children.
First figure out a few basic questions for the state(s) you want to hunt: What states and species do you want to hunt in the next 10 years? How much are the licenses and are they refundable or not with points? Do you want points or do you want to hunt OTC? Can you have points and buy OTC tags concurrently? How much are application fees for the various species? Are there weird stipulations like Nevada where if you don’t apply for a few years you lose all your points? Use this spreadsheet to keep yourself organized.
Some steps or considerations:
Step 1: What animal(s) do you want to hunt the most. Rank them. Then add in the likelihood you will be able to hunt that animal using draw calculators. If it is unlikely you will hunt that animal, are there other opportunities in that great state? Could you chase chukar and huns with your dog? Chase trout in a beautiful mountain stream and look for mule deer while you build a point for Bighorn Sheep?
My animal hit list:
Moose – Bison – Mountain Goat – Archery Elk – Mule Deer – Sheep, in that order. It is very unlikely that I will draw any of those tags next year. I have to apply knowing I’m likely not hunting those animals.
Step 2: What states have those critters and what are the odds you can hunt them? If you live in Florida do you want to drive through three/four states that have elk to hunt in Washington? If you have family in California and think you should apply to hunt elk in California as a non-resident, good luck. This is where a draw odds calculator can come in handy. If you are obsessed with sheep and want a North American Grand Slam then you have to apply for all the states that have sheep hunts and you’ll likely have to apply for a long time.
To make it easier we’ll use bison. What states can I hunt wild-free range bison? There is Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Alaska, Arizona. Should I apply for all those states? Which states have the best draw odds or most opportunities? I would then focus on applying in those states.
Step 3: What weapon do you want to use? Archery and muzzleloaders have better draw odds and longer seasons generally. Sometimes archery will have shoulder seasons after a rifle season. Sometimes you can hunt archery and if you’re not successful you can hunt rifle. Do you want to hunt an elk with archery or rifle?
Step 4: Good, you have your species, state, weapon. Great. Now, what do you want from a hunt because it will guide what units to key in on? Do you want to hunt and don’t really care about trophy units or are you looking for the best units in each state for each animal? Do you want to hunt the strip for mule deer? Do you want to hunt the breaks for Elk? Those trophy hunts are hard to get. Are you ready to drop thousands of dollars over the next 10 years or more for that opportunity?
Step 5: When do you want to hunt or when can you hunt. Those are huge factors. If you get 2 weeks off a year you need to be selective of your season. Some seasons are 10 days or less and you better be sure if you draw that hunt you can actually hunt it.
Step 6: Are you running solo or doing a party hunt? If you are putting in as a group then everyone needs to be on the same page. Someone who has 6 points might not want to put in with a group of two other dudes with zero points. Points get averaged in a party hunt and thus might not be equitable for everyone in the group. But that is your pill to swallow.
Takeaway. I want to hunt Moose, Sheep, Goat, Bison, Archery Elk but the fact is I should have been putting in for them 15 + years ago. Who has that kind of forethought and money? If you have kids, now is the time to start applying for species in states. There are so many variables and after all, “how much is that going to cost me”?!?!
Robert, Owner of Karmik Outdoors and wannabe big game hunter/adventurer.
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Chukar season is starting – or has started- this month and we wanted to give you some tips on how to bag some devil birds. Maybe you have been out and want to be more successful in harvesting. They say the first time you go chukar hunting it’s for fun; all the rest are for revenge. Here are some tips to make your first, or every trip after, potentially more fun and successful.
1. Start your hunt in the correct orientation. Late in the season I like to focus my hunting efforts on the south and west facing slopes. The mid-day afternoon sun burns snow off and leaves south and west facing slopes snow free for the birds to mill around. I like to start my hunt hiking from the East to the West if possible. This allows me to crest a ridge and surprise the birds rather than having them watch me peak a hill and watch me the entire time.
2. Use the cuts and canyons to “gain elevation”. As you enter into the cut, which is “uphill”, move into the canyon as deep as possible which will help you gain, or at least, not lose elevation. When you exit the canyon on the other side, you should have a nice elevation boost.
3. Once I find birds I try to stay at that elevation. If my goal was to get to the top, I abandon that plan for a while and try to find more birds. People say birds move up and down to get water but I’ve found if I find a group of birds there are usually others at that level. If I don’t flush another group for a while I continue my plan to go to the top.
4. If you’re side hilling and it’s easy, you’re doing it wrong. You’re probably slowly losing elevation. Pick something 100 yards away and move toward it, being just uphill from it by the time you get to it. Again, side hilling is hard. Make it less sucky by staying even or gaining elevation rather than slowly going down hill.
5. Observe what everyone else is doing and don’t do that thing. This is a fly fishing tactic I use all the time. Do non-traditional things. Try new stuff. Do an evening hunt in lieu of a morning hunt. Use waders and cross the creek. Use a canoe or boat to access a new piece of land. Hunt the hill that doesn’t have a quad trail. Look at #8 below and find a small public access honey hole.
6. Save a shell for the next bird. I have a 5 shell shotgun. I am nicer than most chukar hunters, I give 3 warning shots. I generally do not shoot 5 times. I like to save 2 for the late flushing bird or cripples. Sometimes when a group flushes there will be a late flush. It’s nice to save a round for the late bird or if I need to dispatch a cripple.
7. Hunt with Binos. I’ve glassed chukar on hills many times. Plus, while you’re out there you can look for sheds or ungulates to hunt during other seasons.
8. Use your resources. OnX, GoHunt, Guzzler Books, State wildlife agencies, Google Earth. We have amazing tools. Let’s use them. You can and maybe should find water and cover and slopes and ridges that hold birds. Use your tools and download offline maps. You could even make a track and use that to hike in the dim light if needed.
9. Get a dog. You will kill more birds, find more cripples, and have a better life. If you want a hunting dog to help kill chukar, get a hunting dog. We all have that friend that has a lab/heeler/shepherd mix that is a great dog. I’d rather know I’m getting a hunting dog from proven hunting lines than hope to get lucky buying a dog in the Wal-Mart parking lot.
10. Don’t get lazy. When my dog goes downhill, I’m reluctant to drop 200 feet and chase her. I know I should. I don’t know why I am often surprised when she goes on point. She has a great nose and instincts. I should just trust her and not get lazy. I have a good hunting buddy who is successful in all of his hunting efforts for all species. When I’m stuck or debating a situation, I think, “What would Joe do?” Then I do that thing and sometimes kill birds. That’s because he’s not doing the easy thing. He goes uphill, or downhill, or over the next ridge, or in the canyon. Don’t get lazy and you’ll kill more birds.
11. Be quiet. You’re hunting. I hate whistles and bells and yelling. I don’t know if chukar can hear that or if they care. It makes me feel better when I’m hunting birds and we are quiet. I’m not sure it matters all that much for chukar, but I bet you see more game if you’re quiet.
12. Open your choke. For years I shot a full choke. It’s not necessary. Now I use a modified and kill birds.
13. Once you get back home, enjoy the fruits of your labor. Even if you didn’t bag any birds you earned a drink and good nights rest. If you did, do yourself a favor and look up some recipes. These birds are very delicious.
The best and worst thing you can say is “Now I have birds to clean.” The second best and worst thing you can say is “At least I don’t have birds to clean.” Either way, it was a pretty good day.
Well, there you have it. A few tips to help with killing some red legs. Do you have some tips you’ve picked up along the way? Maybe a few suggestions? Do you have a honey hole you want to share with me… [email protected]
Robert- Owner of Karmik Outdoors and wannabe upland guy.
After the ‘Fly Fishing Gear’ blog post I figured the next is western big game need and don’t need list.
Everyone loves talking about gear and researching gear and buying new gear but then reality hits with all the options and costs varying so much. If you’re just starting, here are my thoughts about what you need for western big game. The west is wild and can be 60 in the day and 20 at night. It can range from -20 in November to 50. That said, this is not an all encompassing list, rather, a general guideline. Even saying ‘western big game’ we need to classify that by saying deer-elk-antelope as this list will change between Alaska Dall Sheep or Wyoming Bison or Idaho Mountain Goat.
I’m a smaller guy at 5’9” 150lbs and I’m cheap. I tend to focus on weight and cost as my two main points of concern. Obviously, the more you spend the lighter gear is, usually, so I have to find the right middle ground that fits me and my family. I am not a gear junkie and I do not geek out about researching brands and tech specs between object *most of the time*. There are some exceptions for me such as optics and weapons where I try to research as much as I can. Most everything else comes down to a cost and weight ratio that I need to be comfortable with. I always feel guilty buying things for myself because I have a family and not a lot of expendable income. All of these things occupy space in my mind when making a decision.
This is my setup for rifle or archery hunting. It’s my setup for backpacking or car camping. It’s my setup for early season or late season (with some changes). It’s my setup for deer or elk or antelope (with some changes).
Food. Everything for a day in a ziplock bag except a dehydrated dinner. Bags are between 2300-2500 Cal
Elk game bags
2 knives. One is a Havalon with 4 replaceable blades. The other is a fixed blade.
My backpack is secondhand from a buddy who was selling it. I upgraded the bag to the Vapor 5000 at an expo when they were on sale. I love the pack. It is very lightweight and modular and holds all my gear. Being a smaller guy having an adjustable pack is important for me to get the right fit, and this does. I have a really nice upland hunting pack that I take one of the shell pouches off. It attaches to the waist belt of my hunting pack for snacks, bugle tube and other gear. I like having snacks at the ready during a hike. It’s amazing how quickly a little piece of candy can give you a quick burst of energy for a push up a hill.
Favorite piece of gear:
I hate needing to take my bladder out of my bag to refill it; so I got the quick connect in-line filter. The squeeze filter is really light weight, inexpensive, and fast.
The Gamin InReach mini is a game changer also. I would recommend some kind of satellite communication device if you have a family.
I love having my binos and rangefinder protected but quickly accessible. Not much to say here other than the chest pack was a thing I was hesitant to add but am happy I did. Elk calls and wind checkers are often in my pocket or in the pouch.
Favorite piece of gear:
Vortex rangefinder. It has angle adjustment and compensation which is a great feature to have. I cant imagine not having it with me for archery or rifle.
Bow and carry:
Bow: Bowtech Carbon Knight
Arrows. I buy cheaper ones. Not the cheapest, maybe mid-grade.
I shoot a Fletcher J-hook release
Broadheads (Muzzy and shuttle t-lock). Fixed blade.
I love my bow. It is not the fastest or latest cool bow but it is light and shoots well. Hunting is hiking. You will go hiking, you might shoot your bow. You might hike for days and days, miles and miles, without ever shooting your bow. Having a weapon that is light and easy to carry is important for me given that fact.
I first shot Shuttle t-lock broadheads. They were absolutely trash. One or two shots at a target and they were dull. They flew inconsistently and my confidence was very low with them. I switched to Muzzy. They stay sharp and fly great. Can’t ask for more.
Favorite piece of gear:
My bow. I can and will change my arrows and veins and points, both broadhead and field points. My bow is light and shoots great. I feel very confident with it and that is the most important thing with a weapon.
Gun and carry:
Gun- .270 WSM
Scope- Leopold 3×9
Scope Lens Cover.
I bought the gun and don’t love it. It is hard to find ammo and it is very expensive when I find it. I even got reloading supplies but even those are hard to come by sometimes. The bullet is fast and shoots very flat. But it’s loud and kicks pretty good. The scope is a used scope from a buddy and I like it but might upgrade.
Favorite Piece of Gear:
None really. I might add a break to the muzzle and new scope or I might sell it and get something entirely different. I would absolutely recommend some kind of lense cover for rain or snow with any rifle. You can’t shoot at game you can’t see.
I think clothing is worth the investment. I prefer material over patterns and I prefer quality over brands. I’d rather have a nice wool sweater from Kuhl than a camo hunting brand that costs more. The right clothing can make a hunt much more enjoyable and knowing how to layer is a great skill. You can use high quality outdoor brands and despite common beliefs you don’t need matching camo – you don’t need camo at all.
Favorite Piece of Gear:
This is a hard one. My bamboo shirts are my favorite piece of clothing for fishing, hiking, hunting, snowboarding or going to a movie. But having lightweight down jackets and pants for glassing are necessary. Rain gear is a must if you want to be comfortable. If I had to pick one thing I would pick my socks. Good high quality socks are so necessary for western hunting. If you’re climbing 1500 feet and hiking 5 miles or more you need to take care of your feet. I love them.
Equipment I want to upgrade:
Binos. I have 8×42 and want another pair that are bigger. I am thinking 12 or 15 power binos.
Boots. I’ve ran Asolo boots for a few years and they do just fine. I’m looking at Crispi boots. We both sponsor the same conservation groups and if I can spend my money to support a group that supports my interests I like to do that.
Scope. If I keep my rifle I’ll upgrade my scope. A 3×9 scope is fine but there are soooo many great options out there for slightly better distance shooting.
Game Bags (lighter is better). What I have is fine but there are bags that weigh half as much. Ounces equal pounds, pounds equal pain.
Arrow tools to build and work on arrows. I love fly fishing and the intricacies and nuances of it. I love how deep you can get into entomology and tying your own bugs. Archery is a lot like that. You can go so deep as to make your own bow and arrows if you want. I like that I can make and fit arrows to me and my bow and I would enjoy that.
You do not need to drop a ton of money to catch fish.
Starting any new hobby requires buying gear associated with that hobby. It’s kinda fun and exciting looking at all the gadgets and gizmos and whatchamacallits until it becomes overwhelming and daunting looking at all the variations and costs. Below are my thoughts on what you can skimp on and what you really should invest money in.
CAVEAT, years of fishing means nothing… Days on the water means everything. Pre-kid, I was fishing 100 days a year. Post-kid, I’m lucky to get out 15 days a year. Someone who has been fishing for 20 years but only gets over to Montana once a year for 7 days is not the same as a newer angler who is a student at Montana State but can fish 5 days a week and 10 amazing rivers. Days on the water = knowledge = ability to catch fish when others are not. Regardless, there is usually the introductory timeframe and introductory gear then the subsequent graduation to the “next level” of a hobby.
Fly fishing is a sport where you can spend a ton of money in a hurry. It’s also not a hobby where you can reuse or repurpose items. If you’re a rifle big game hunter and want to jump into archery hunting, much of what you own will work for archery. Sure you need a few new things but a lot will transfer. Binos, boots, rangefinder, coolers, tents, many pieces of camo, vehicles, etc. Going from conventional fishing to fly fishing is not that way. When you’re looking at getting gear some items are necessary, some are nice to have, some are silly and useless and pointless. My goal with this is to point out a few key pieces of gear and to let you know you – don’t need a ton of money to catch fish.
CAVEAT, I’m talking about fly fishing for trout. If you fly fishing for bass and carp, those are similar and much of the same gear will work for both species. Saltwater fly fishing is very different IMO. I’m going to go through my gear and my opinions about what’s important and what you can skimp on for trout.
On his hunting podcast “The Rich Outdoors” Cody Rich likes to say, “buy tags, not gear.” I love that. Buy gas and flies and go fishing. Spend money on things that are going to educate you and give you time on the water and experiences. The difference between a high end rod and mid-grade rod is minimal to most of us. But the price difference equals quite a few trips to the river.
Rod. Orvis Recon $450. It’s considered a mid-grade rod. I love it.
Reel. Hardy Ultralite $125. Mid-grade.
Line. Scientific Angler Mastery GPX $75. Mid to high grade.
Fly boxes. Local Fly Shops $20-30. You can support cool companies like Wynd and Brook or big companies like Tacky, Scientific Angler or Orvis. Or you can support your local fly shop. Fly boxes are like ugly people, it’s all about what’s inside.
Flies. Ones that I tied and what the shops recommend $2-8 each. High grade. The highest grade!!
Net. Fishpond Rubber net, long handle. Who cares about grade. Get a net that has a long enough handle and deep enough bag that you can effectively net a trout and it wont flop out all the time. Also, get a rubber net. It’s better for the fish and your flies won’t get stuck. Trust me.
Everything I own is low to mid grade. Mainly because I choose to not afford high grade stuff. I would love to own a Scott rod one day but for now it’s not a priority of mine.
What you can use in leu of buying new stuff
Buy Used. There is so much good stuff on Craigslist or Facebook or Ebay. You can save hundreds of dollars buying used gear.
Backpack. You do not need a fly vest or sling pack or hip pack to carry your gear. Take any bag you have right now and put fly fishing stuff in it. That makes if a fly pack. This is especially true if you are a run-and-gun fly fisher. If you often put a rain jacket, water bottle, lunch and go explore; a backpack is better suited and is more comfortable. Save $150 and use a backpack.
Regular fishing string.If you are fishing streamers or running a nymph rig you can get away with Stren fishing line. You do not need to pay $14 for 30 yards of “fly fishing” tippet. I use this and it works fine. It is a 50 yard roll. I completely contradict myself below, but hey, fly fishing is nuanced.
Fly vise starter.You can spend a lot of money on a good vise. They have lots of features that make them more useful and practical. I would rather spend money on material and a good chair than a vise. After several hundred dozen flies you can upgrade.
Inexpensive drift boat or raft. Safety being the key consideration here. It must float and be safe, and meet the needs of your waters. A skiff is not well suited for class three or four water. You can buy a used drift boat or raft for under $5k. A new boat will run you $12k or more. Or, you can get a SUP or an inflatable kayak. My wife jokes we should get one of those 6’ tall flamingos and fish with it. We float and stop to fish from land so anything that floats will work for us.
Wet wading. Don’t buy waders. They are nice to have from around October to May, but if you’re going to fish May-September you don’t need waders. Also, if you get a drift boat or raft, you don’t need waders or boots, just use flip flops. Use that advice to convince your spouse you need a boat. “Honey, to save $500 I need a boat!”
Accessories. Use toenail clippers. Trust me they cut line just fine. Some of these line cutters are $80 or more. Yes they are cool. No you don’t need them. You can get creative with the “accessories” category. For example: medical hemostats work just fine and many doctors will give them to you.
Flotant. I use Albolene and not flotant. It is 1000x cheaper and works the same. In fact, I refill my small tippet squeezers with it works great.
Expensive reels. Yes they are cool. The truth is you do not need an expensive reel. I’d buy a good fly line and decent rod and crappy reel. Again, this is not at all true for salt water. You can buy a used fly reel or even a new one for $80 or less.
Stuff you don’t need at all
Do not buy a leader straightener. Use your hands and pull the tippet. Give it a little friction. If it burns you, that too much.
Tippet Holders. You don’t need these. They can make life easier, but they are not a necessity. You can keep your tippet in your bag.
Any rod vault. You don’t need these. Unless you’re a guide or fish every day, you don’t need these. Yes, they are cool. Yes, they are convenient. No, you don’t need one.
Thermostats. You don’t need these. If it’s too hot, don’t fish. If it’s too cold, you won’t catch anything. Fly shops and the USGS have temps regularly posted.
Lanyard. You don’t need these. They are really nice in a boat but that’s about it.
Tape measure. You don’t need this. Just do what everyone else does: guess the length and round up to the nearest even number (usually by a factor of 2”). Example- a 13″ trout is commonly called a 16″ trout, 16″ is 18″… You get the drift.
Hook release or “catch and release” tool. You don’t need these. Pinch your barbs and everything falls out, usually in the net.
Pliers. Maybe if you’re saltwater fishing they are nice, but you do not need these for trout. A Leatherman multi tool is cool to have incase you need to fix something but not a high priority item.
Boats. You don’t need a boat to catch fish. In fact you shouldn’t buy a boat. Learn how to row and take care of a boat then borrow your friend’s boat. If you know how to row, you will get an invite. This is kinda contradictory from above. Maybe go 1/2 on a boat with a buddy. Boats are a necessity for lake fishing, but there are dozens of options.
2000 types of flies. We did a fly fishing March Madness bracket where people voted on their most confident flies. The most common flies were no surprise. The top flies were the Stimulator, Chubby, Woolly Bugger, Rainbow Warrior, Hairs Ear, Adams, and Compara Dun. Pheasant tail won overall. If you get those flies in a variety of sizes and colors you will catch trout anywhere in the world.
Fish counter. We get it! You can catch fish. Soooo many that you lose count. Congrats.
First of all, you’re welcome. Secondly, I just saved you a few tanks of gas worth of stuff. Now go fishing!
What you should spend money on
Rods- best you can afford but there are plenty of really really great rods for less than $500. Yellowstone Angler does a great job comparing different rods and brands. They have $199 rods in top spots so you don’t need to break the budget to get a great rod.
Fly line- best you can afford. They are complicated materials and usually higher end ones use more durable materials and are better fitted for your rod. Seriously, this is something that is worth buying. Depending on how much you fish it will last you several years.
Tippet- It does wear out and does weaken in the sun. Tippet is strong and thin and I think Fluoro is worth the investment. For small technical dry fly fishing I do buy fly fishing tippet because of its thin diameter and strength. I go through a good bit of tippet every year. It can make the difference on a tough fishing trip.
Quality hooks (fly tying)- Do not waste your time and resources tying bugs on crappy hooks. They will break or straighten. I bought some on Craigslist thinking “they will work” but they didn’t. It was a massive waste of my time and I lost fish on a pretty tough trip. Sometimes it only takes a few fish to make a trip worth it, and this trip, I lost a few good fish because of crappy hooks. No Mas.
Quality oars and blades for the oars- These are your safety lines in the water. It’s 100% your steering and a good bit of braking. It’s how you control the boat. Don’t skimp on these. Many top manufacturers make an economically friendly oar. Sawyer is the leader in the industry and if you want quality to last, you get these. AND you can add ReConnect powered by Karmik on them to protect your investment.
Wader boots that are eco friendly- You might need 2 pairs. I said you don’t need waders and you don’t, but if you fish in winter months you do. I also like to wear my wader boots when wet wading and not shoes. I have a boat pair and a winter wading pair. The boat pair has the rubber bottom to not scrape the floor of the boat or raft. We fish from the boat a good bit, but we also get out and fish from the bank a lot. It is nice to have a wader boot on your foot while walking. Plus my boat boots are smaller than my winter pair because wet wading socks are thinner than wader and socks. My winter wader boots are Patagonia boots with aluminum tracks on them so I don’t fall everywhere. Felt is the best thing ever for grip but they can transport invasive plants and animals. They are also terrible in the snow.
A good nipper retention system-. I have lost soooo many pairs of hemostats. I got tired of losing them to cheap holders. I have these and I have not lost my hemos since (years!). You can pay a lot less for cheap crap but you will have to pay again- buy nice, not twice!
Conservation– you should invest in the future of your sport. Getting a Trout Unlimited or Backcountry Hunters and Anglers membership will ensure we have trout and spaces in the future. Please spend your money and time supporting organizations that support you.
Education– With soooo much content on Youtube, and podcasts, and books you can be an expert in fly fishing in no time. You just have to be careful for “influencers” and people who maybe do not know fly fishing intimately and are pushing products rather than value. The best education you will ever get is hiring a guide for a day!
12-pack of good beer. You might need a few of these. One for you, your friends and the people you meet on the river and one for the fly shop staff.
There you have it. That is the start of my list. I will put together a list of 201 level fishing stuff to get. Many of them are different and technical but there will definitely be crossover.
Did I get it right? Where did I mess up? Things I forgot? Let me know at [email protected] and we will hash it out. Thanks for reading.
Robert- Founder and Owner of Karmik Outdoors and notoriously frugal person
On the first day I found a fly rod and it was bad. On the second day I lost a net and it was bad. This series of events lead to the genesis of Karmik Outdoors. As a person who has been hunting and fishing my entire life I have lost and found outdoor gear on many occasions. Maybe you have too. I believe that anyone who spends a significant time in the outdoors has encountered the same experience that I/we have. Personally, I’ve lost countless items ranging from fly boxes full of flies to multiple fishing nets. I think I’ve lost two life jackets while towing my boat and having them blow out. I can’t even imagine the amount of coffee mugs and water bottles I’ve lost. Honestly, if I keep a coffee mug for a year that is a major accomplishment for me! You’re probably thinking I’m a very irresponsible person who loses and misplaces stuff all the time. Shoot, when I type it and read it aloud I think the same thing. But – the fact is – you can’t keep your items safe and secure all the time. Inevitably, you will lose something, have it accidentally taken by a buddy, blown away, be rushed for time, let your son borrow it who then loses it, have something stolen, house burned down, be overcome by weather and elements, or a myriad of other situations that are out of your control. Karmik can help with these situations.
At every expo or trade show I attend I have two marker boards that I use to record lost items and found items. They quickly fill up with items. I wrote a blog (here) about the most common lost items in the great outdoors. Sometimes I am surprised by some of the items people write because they are not things you might expect to see on the board. Things like guns and bows and backpacks (both day packs and packs filled with hunting gear), decoys, scuba gear etc. I’m always surprised when I see rangefinders with three tic marks next to it. Then I look at the found board and there are two tick marks. I always wonder if one of the found rangefinders is one of the lost rangefinders. Could be, we’ll never know.
As I was thinking about this business I had to address the question: Do people really lose that much stuff? I looked at Craigslist, Facebook, outdoor chat forums, and even local sporting goods stores for data to see if people lose outdoor gear enough to warrant starting a business. “Is there a big enough problem to solve,” I asked myself. It didn’t take long to discover the answer is a resounding, YES! Even here in Boise, Idaho where our only claim to fame is that one line from the Lynyrd Skynyrd song; there are people losing and finding stuff at an alarming rate. Because of all the scenarios I mentioned above, it is highly likely you will lose something like the other 86% of us outdoorsmen who have. The scenarios I mentioned above are real and can happen to anyone.
A good friend of mine is type A. He does not lose things often. He is military, clean cut, organized and responsible. He keeps his positions in front of him so to speak and takes good care of them. The family purchased a nice fishing raft and all the accessories that go with a fishing raft. Enter his teenage son. He borrowed the boat and took his friend fishing. Well, while loading up all the equipment at the end of the day he left the anchor at the boat takeout. I guarantee you someone found that anchor. They even most likely wanted to return it but how could they? If you have a raft or drift boat or motorboat I bet you have an anchor. Do you have any contact information on it? How much did that anchor cost? If you lose it, it will cost you twice. The original purchase price and the replacement price. That’s the value of our decals, twice the price of the object you put them on. At almost no fault of his own my buddy had to buy another anchor. He did not buy the same kind or type and certainly did not spend the same money the second time (brands keep that in mind).
If you look at your local Craigslist lost and found right now you will see lots of phones, and keys and bags and dogs and cats, even llamas that have gone missing. If you look you will also see skis and ski poles, fishing rods and tackle boxes, drones like crazy, coolers, golf clubs, disk golf disks, tennis rackets, and pretty much anything that deals with water. These might be someone’s most prized possessions. They might have been expensive, or they might have been cheap but that’s not the point. They might have been hand-me-downs from Grandad and have sentimental value. The point is, it pains people to lose items. It causes stress and angst and even anger. The second you lose something the butterflies start flapping their wings in your belly. It simply SUCKS. I know that people are good. I know that people want to do the right thing if given the opportunity. If given the opportunity. That’s the key. I wanted to create a product that helps people and grants people the opportunity to do good. Karmic is the verb to Karma. It is the action or deed that bestows a person with good or bad Karma. Karmik decals or ID tags allow people to do the right thing and get good karma. If you search “found” in your local lost and found page or forum, you will see there are more posts for found gear than lost gear. There are more people trying to return gear than recover gear. Make it easy for them.
Allow me to tell you another story I heard while attending an expo. A lady noticed my booth and the product. We started chatting about lost and found items. She began to get emotional, even shed a tear. She went on to tell me about a net that was lost by her dear friend. The owner of the net recently lost it. Although this was an ordinary net it held great sentimental value to her. It was her brothers. He died of cancer. They used to fish together a lot. Fishing was their connection. That net was the physical tangible memory to her brother and symbolic of their time spent in hobbies and interests together. He was gone but his memory lived through the net. I can only imagine that every time she netted a fish with it, she was reminded of her late brother. Whoever found the net, found a net, but she lost a memory. One of the two individuals valued that net a whole lot more.
Karmik Outdoors is a lost and found outdoor gear company. But, we are more than that to some people and more than that to any finder of gear. We’re here to protect your gear and give people the opportunity to return it if found. Because I’ve been there, I wanted to help. I felt the pain and stress and anger and stupidity caused from losing gear. I don’t want you to experience the same. Plus, I don’t want you to look at your spouse and to explain how you lost an expensive item! Karmik is all about connections: connection to your gear – connections to each other – connection to brands – that’s who we are and what we do.