Wednesday, July 26, 2017

How to Teach a Kid to Shoot - Part 1 Safety

I am so excited! My kids are finally old enough that I can teach them how to shoot a gun! I have been waiting for this for years!

What I found surprising was how nervous I was for the kids safety the first time we went shooting. I am very comfortable around guns. The safety procedures come second nature to me. However, for them it was all new. Kids can be unpredictable.....



So before we started I drilled into them a few basic rules. I tried not to be too complex, they are kids after all. These are what I cam up with:

1. Keep your finger off the trigger.

I simply taught them to not touch the trigger until they were looking down the sights. I was expecting this to be one of the hard ones to follow, but they caught right on.


2. Never point the gun at anyone. 

This was the hard one. Kids are naturally oblivious to anyone and everything around them. Keeping a gun safely pointed is tough for even most adults I've taught, so this does not come as a surprise.

What ended up helping was when I told them to imagine a laser beam shooting out of the barrel that cut anyone it touched in half. Being Star Wars fans, this game caught on quite well with them.


3. Pretend the gun is always loaded. 

This was another easy one. They don't know enough to tell if it is loaded or not anyway, so treating it as if it was always loaded came fairly naturally.

Using these simple three rules, and going over them religiously, has kept all of us safe and let us enjoy the process without worry.

In Part 2 I am going to talk about the gun I chose to use when teaching them, and why I chose it.

Would you like to see a video of our first shooting session? Here it is! (The shooting is at the end of the video.)




Monday, February 6, 2017

How To Consistently Catch Fish - Step 1: Act Like A Fish

Most people who want to learn how to fish give up in frustration because they do not catch much. It is very discouraging to fish for several days and either catch nothing, or only catch very small fish. For twenty years I tried and failed to be a good fisherman. Oh, some days I would catch a nice one, but most days I would catch nothing. Several times I gave up, going a couple years without fishing.

Things changed about a year ago. I learned a few simple things that has helped me consistently catch fish. I still don't catch monsters, but I do catch keepers every time I go out. Your heard that right, I have not gotten skunked in over a year.

The tips I am going to share in this guide are simplistic, no brainers to some. Seasoned fishermen will scoff, even disagree. However, if you are a beginner fisherman or a frustrated fisherman, I can guarantee you will catch more fish and have more fun if you follow my plan.

There are some things you need to keep in mind:

First, like all hobbies, it takes some money to get good at fishing. You will not need to spend a lot of money, but you will not be able to do it for free.

Second, this guide is for warm, freshwater species and inshore salt water species. If you are want to catch cold water species, like trout or salmon, look elsewhere. Those species require a different technique.

Third, this guide only entails what I did to succeed. Every successful fisherman has their own technique. You will eventually find your own. Don't be afraid to experiment.

On to the guide.....


Step 1: Act Like A Fish

Fish live in the water. In order to catch them consistently, you need to get of the land and in the water.

Now this is not the case for small bodies of water, and I know some people are very successful at fishing from shore. However, your odds go up dramatically when you get off the shore and on the water.

Plus, it's just more fun!

This puts you in control of the situation. No longer do you have to wait for the fish to come to you, you can go to them. You can go out and find the fish. Once you have found one, you are almost sure to find others. It is that first fish of the day that is the hardest.

This means you either need a boat or some waders. Each have their benefits, depending on the situation. I use both. Although, if I could only choose one, it would be the boat.

When I say boat I do not mean a $20000 bass boat (although they are great!). In fact, it is foolish to invest a lot of money into your first boat. The simple fact is that no matter what you choose, you will most likely realize that you want or need something else.

I recommend a kayak as your first fishing vessel. They are inexpensive, can go almost everywhere larger boats can go, and can actually grant you access to places no one else can go.

Easy to transport, easy to use, kayaks rule!
You don't have to spend much money on a kayak, I purchased my first one at Dicks Sporting Goods for just a little over $200. It was not a dedicated fishing kayak, so I added a crate to hold my gear and a couple rod holders. That cheap little kayak has helped me catch more fish than anything else.



I mentioned earlier that I also use waders sometimes. Waders are slightly less expensive that a kayak and much easier to store and transport. If you live in an apartment with little storage, they may be your only choice. You can get a decent pair of chest waders for about $100, expect another $50 -$70 for a good pair of wading boots, a necessity.

Waders works great on rivers and some bays. They let you get out to deeper water and explore the shore line from a different perspective. Fishing while wading takes a little more skill than with a boat. You must move slowly so as not to spook fish. I will say that landing a large fish while belly deep in water is one of the most exciting things a fisherman can do. Being in the water with a large fish is wonderful and frightening at the same time!

There are also more dangers. I've had snakes come right to me, plus there is always the danger of slipping into a deep hole. A very large fish can literally drag you into deeper water. Be careful and act smart while wading.

You are not guaranteed to catch fish just because you have a boat, or wade out to the fish. It is, however, the first step to becoming consistently successful.

How To Consistently Catch Fish - Step 2: Go Small and Use Magic


Most people who want to learn how to fish give up in frustration because they do not catch much. It is very discouraging to fish for several days and either catch nothing, or only catch very small fish. For twenty years I tried and failed to be a good fisherman. Oh, some days I would catch a nice one, but most days I would catch nothing. Several times I gave up, going a couple years without fishing.

Things changed about a year ago. I learned a few simple things that has helped me consistently catch fish. I still don't catch monsters, but I do catch keepers every time I go out. Your heard that right, I have not gotten skunked in over a year.

The tips I am going to share in this guide are simplistic, no brainers to some. Seasoned fishermen will scoff, even disagree. However, if you are a beginner fisherman or a frustrated fisherman, I can guarantee you will catch more fish and have more fun if you follow my plan.

There are some things you need to keep in mind:

First, like all hobbies, it takes some money to get good at fishing. You will not need to spend a lot of money, but you will not be able to do it for free.

Second, this guide is for warm, freshwater species and inshore salt water species. If you are want to catch cold water species, like trout or salmon, look elsewhere. Those species require a different technique.

Third, this guide only entails what I did to succeed. Every successful fisherman has their own technique. You will eventually find your own. Don't be afraid to experiment.

On to the guide.....



Like most long time anglers I have hundreds, even thousands of dollars invested in lures and terminal tackle. I've gone through many fazes. There was my topwater faze where I purchased just about every topwater lure made, from the Jitterbug to the Hula Popper to the Tiny Torpedo. Then there was live bait faze that came with about 20 pounds of sinkers and every hook size and shape possible. At one point I was convinced the only was to catch fish was with carved balsa crank baits. Thanks goodness that one did not last long!  More recently there has been the very expensive fly fishing stage and the productive, but ultimately frustrating ultralight stage.

All of these techniques are fun and can be very productive, but none of them are productive consistently. Plus, if you are going to catch fish consistently you need to carry a hundred or more lures, and the lure specific rods, with you so that you can find what the fish want.

When I began fishing from a kayak I was forced to limit the amount of gear I could carry. I was limited to about 3 rods and two Plano stowaway boxes. Now that I have a little more experience  I carry even less.

You see, I have learned that you only need two lures to catch fish all day, every day.

They are.....

A small crappie jig and a Gulp! swimming mullet on a 1/4 oz jig head.

I know, I know, you don't believe me. But it is true! I catch 90% of my fish on these two lures. The other 10% is caught on live bait. And let me reiterate, I always catch fish and I did not used to before I began to exclusively use these.

One of the best lures ever invented.
Lets talk about the crappie jig first. The lowly crappie jig is most productive in fresh water. It should be fished with a long ultralight rod and with a maximum of 6 pound test line. I prefer 4 pound test. My favorite color is white, but I think the color is less important that its size and action. Be sure the grub tail swims with the slightest twitch.

Caught with a white crappie jig on 4 pound test line.
Many people think that you cannot catch large fish with a lure so small. This is a myth. Next time you catch and keep a large fish, open its stomach. In it you will most likely find all sorts of stuff, most of it small. At first, it will seem like you are only catching small fish, but the truth is you are catching the fish that would have ignored your large bait. The large fish that attack a large bait will also attack your small bait. Plus, you have a smaller chance of spooking a wise, old fish with the small bait.

Another nice fish, courtesy of the white grub.
I switch to the white crappie grub when my magic bait does not work. Magic? Yes, rabbit out of the hat, levitating magic.

There is one lure that out performs everything on the market. I am convinced it works even better than live bait in most instances. It is messy, delicate, and expensive. But, it is also imbued with the magic essence of the fishing gods. What is this wonderful bait? Gulp! Alive. Specifically. Gulp! Alive 4" Swimming Mullet.

Gulp!
Discovering this bait was one of the best things that ever happened to me (from a outdoorsmans perspective). Actually, I take that back. Discovering this bait was one of the best things that ever happened to me period.

fishing october 0191
Gulp!

Just place this lure on a 1/4oz jig head and start using it. You will catch fish. Inshore fish especially love it. I like to slowly retrieve it along the bottom using a medium fast action rod and ten pound test line.

Gulp!

This summer I did several tests with this bait. I rigged two identical poles, one with Gulp and the other with a lure that looked and acted like Gulp, but was not Gulp. I made a cast with the Gulp, then a cast with the Gulp look alike. Each time I did this I caught all my fish on the Gulp, and barely got a strike on the "Not Gulp". The tests were very definitive in my mind.

Gulp!

Gulp is not perfect, however. It must be kept marinading in the special magic Gulp juice. So, every time you have to replace an old one you get all Gulpy. And replace you will. I feel lucky if I catch three fish on one bait. They are very delicate. Small fish will nip off its swimming tail quickly.


fishing october 006
Gulp! (as a trailer on a bucktail)
It is also ridiculously expensive. I use between $10 and $15 of Gulp every time I go out. For me it is the difference between catching fish and not catching fish, so the expense is worth it. By the way, don't think you can cheat and marinade other plastics in the gulp juice and it will work the same. Gulp baits are like sponges that soak up the heavenly Gulp juice. Regular plastics just get coated with the stuff and then wash off after the first cast.

first day of school 083
Gulp!
It should be noted that not all Gulp! products are created equal. Some, like the sand fleas and earth worms are almost useless. Others like the Pogy and Mud Minnow are OK, but not great. Still others like the Peeler Crab and Swimming Mullet are real winners. Gulp has a real problem with creating action, their stuff is stiff.

first day of school 080
Gulp!

Of course, it is not just the bait. You have to find the fish and make a good presentation. We will cover that next.....

The Suicide Of The Small Outdoors Shop

A recent thread on the TKAA forum caught my attention.

TKAA (Tidewater Kayak Anglers Association) is the best place to find information about kayak fishing in the Tidewater area. The forum members are smart and helpful. The threads do not get bogged down with flame wars and there are no overly opinionated, know-it-all-jerk-faces who ruin the experience, like so many other fishing forums have. You should check them out!

Back to the subject:  The original poster stated a desire to start a small business specializing in kayak fishing equipment. He wanted some advice on doing so.

Most of the responses were encouraging, but skeptical. Competition and overhead were two of the obstacles brought up.

I'd like to add another obstacle. It is a roadblock to all small outdoors stores, not just tackle, bait, or fly shops.

Sportsmen are becoming fed up with the uninformed, rude, crappy service commonly found in these small shops.

It is not competition that is going to eventual kill the small tackle shop. Everyone knows when they enter a small shop that their prices are going to be higher and their selection is going to be smaller. I don't patronize small shops for their selection or prices. I do it for their service.

The expectation when shopping in a small shop is that you will be treated with kindness, that service will be prompt, and the sales staff will have a clue what they are talking about!

When I go to Bass Pro, I expect the staff to know nothing about hunting or fishing. Every time I try to ask a question I get a blatantly wrong answer. Once I overheard a sales man trying to convince a hunter that you needed at least a 7mm Mag to cleanly kill a deer in Virginia. (For those who don't hunt, a 7mm Mag is a very powerful round, almost overkill for the small deer in Virginia.)

The other day at Dicks Sporting Goods, I was discussing dolphin fishing with a staff member. He thought I was talking about the porpoise. I could understand this confusion from someone who never fished, buy anyone familiar at all with ocean fishing would know the difference.

In a small shop, I expect the salesman to know his product. However, in recent years I have found this to not be the case. When visiting a tackle shop in South Carolina, I asked a question about a reels gear ratio. The salesman looked at me like I had two heads. In the Outer Banks I asked what bait was recommended for surf fishing. The salesman just shrugged.

An even bigger concern than not knowing the answer to my question is that I have found small shop owners giving me wrong or bad advice. When purchasing a kayak recently, a $1200 purchase, the salesman answered many of my questions wrong. I only found out after doing my own research at home.

If this happened once, I would understand, but is happens every single time I go into a small shop. It does not seem to matter where or when I go.




Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Exciting new adventure!

I just wanted to quickly pop in and tell everyone about a new adventure I am starting! I've started vlogging! I'm not talking about a boring talking head blog, I make entertaining and engaging videos of my family and life. Here is one of my recent vloggs:

 

 I think you will enjoy this journey with me!

 I will not be updating here very often as not every video will have to do with outdoorsy stuff, so head over to my Youtube channel and subscribe to it (it's free!) to make sure you don't miss anything!

Monday, October 26, 2015

So, what happened?

You may have wondered why this blog died. Probably not, but I bet you are now!

The Unlucky Hunter's untimely death was a brought about by a series of dastardly events! Dramatic? Yes. True? Kind of.

It all started with a string of bad luck in the fishing and hunting department. I didn't kill a dear one winter and I didn't catch any big fish. I didn't have anything worthy of a blog post to write about, so why write?

Also, I started this blog with the hopes of creating a second income stream. Well, for all you aspiring blog authors out there, this is not realistic. I got good numbers. Posts went viral. I even had some stuff published in real life, print magazines. I felt successful. However, I could never make money. On my best months I made $100. Most months I lost money. Not much payout for the 40 or so hours of work I was putting into it every month.

So I was in a slump. I fully intended to get back to it eventually, but then my job changed. Where before I could do research and even write rough drafts at work, I no longer had the time.

My wife went back to school to get her doctorate, so now I am the primary caretaker of my kids and house. Which means no time at home either.

Then the disaster struck. I broke my right hand. Well, middle finger technically. It was not a bad break, but it was in a bad place. Right through the joint. Three months of healing and physical therapy completely wiped out my prime fishing and hunting seasons.

And there is permanent damage. I can't do anything that causes a whiplash like throw a frisbee or baseball without stupid amounts of pain. Guess what else causes a whiplash? Casting a rod.

I can do still fishing where you cast once every 30 minutes. But repeated casting of a lure.....not yet, and its been well over a year.

Plus I have early onset arthritis. I'm feeling it now as I type.

So basically, I have not been hunting or fishing in over a year.

In the mean time I have been pursuing other interests. I got a 3D printer which is fun. I make all sorts of inventions. I also have been working on my photography. Specifically black and white portraiture in natural light. I know, it sounds terribly pretentious and artsy fartsy. Here are a couple of my most recent photos:






You can follow my instagram at @timborkert


Since it does not fit the theme of this blog, I have not made a big deal of it, but I am into the fine arts. I go to art museums a couple times a month and dabble in several mediums. Poorly, mind you, but I still have fun. It is something I can do with my kids that does not require strenuous use of my hand.

So anyway, that is the long version of why I let this blog die. Will I ever pick it up again? Maybe. Just writing this post makes me miss it. My wife works in a medical field. When she gets her doctorate her income should allow me to retire or at least semi retire. Being retired before I turn 40 is very appealing and should allow me the time I need to do the things I've been wanting too. Hopefully, by then my hand will have healed by then.

Until then, goodbye and good luck!

Friday, June 28, 2013

YakAttack GTSL versus Scotty Slide Track

A while back, both YakAttack and Scotty announced that they would be releasing a new, inexpensive polymer track. Up until now, if you wanted to use slide rails on your kayak you either had to buy a kayak that had them factory installed, or you had to spend some real money to buy them separately. These polymer rails let you inexpensively add a rail system to your kayak. While they are not as strong as metal rails (like YakAttack's GT90), they are perfect for camera or accessory mounts.



When I learned that they would be coming out, I contacted both Scotty and YakAttack. I told them that I would be doing a side by side comparison. Scotty politely thanked me. YakAttack graciously offered to give me a discount. In an effort to be unbiased, I chose to not take YakAttacks offer. The fishing world is plagued with Prostafers, sponsorships, and paid reviews that make it almost impossible to get unbiased information.

The biggest reason I chose not to take a discount on YakAttack's product was that I anticipated the GTSL to perform exactly like the Slide Track. On paper and in advertisements, they look exactly the same. With the Scotty Slide Track being less expensive, I hate to give a bad review to someone who does me a favor.

Note: after rereading this review I just wanted to clarify. YakAttack was NOT trying to buy me off. They were just being nice. Scotty has sent me free stuff as a thank you for reviewing their products. It is just the way blogging works.

This assumption that they are the same proved to be wrong. There are several minor details that are different. These small differences make one product significantly better than the other.

On to the review:

I purchased a 24" section of Scotty Slide Track on Amazon for $15. I have Amazon Prime, so it was delivered for free. I ordered two 12" sections of GTSL from Hook1. I used the coupon code "UNLUCKYHUNTER" (you can too!)  and had it delivered for just under $30. It looks like the GTSL it twice as expensive, but this is deceiving. The GTSL comes with mounting hardware. I had to buy stainless steel screws, washers, and nuts for the Slide Track. They ended up costing exactly the same.

Left: Slide Track
Right: GTSL

My initial reaction to both products was positive. They were both very sturdy. As far as strength, I'd say they are a tie. The YakAttack GTSL has a polished, glossy look that is more attractive.

Both had a few inconsistencies common in most plastic products. Most people would not notice, but I studied over them very carefully.

Left: Slide Track
Right: GTSL

The Scotty Slide Track is noticeably taller than the GTSL. This would give you a little more room to play with if you make your own slide accessories, but also gets in the way more. It looks like a small amount, but the height difference is very noticeable on the water. Both rails would occasionally get caught on stuff, the Scotty rails did it much more often.

The GTSL came with holes pre-drilled. They were considerably easier to install.

Left: GTSL
Right: Slide Track

The GTSL has small ridges molded into its face. The Slide Track rails are smooth. I initially thought this was just cosmetic, but it actually makes a noticeable difference. Things simply lock down tighter on the YakAttack Product.

GTSL in use

The GTSL is made in America and comes in a rainbow of colors. The Slide Track is from Canada and only comes in black. If you care. I don't.

Conclusion:

The Scotty Slide Track is a good product. It is sold in lots of stores, so finding it is easy. I like that you can get it in long sections. However, it is bigger than it needs to be and is ugly.

The YakAttack GTSL is also a good product. It is beautiful and better designed. Very few retailers are selling it, so you will probably have to buy it online.

For me the choice is a no brainer. Go with the YakAttack product.

That said, if you buy the Scotty product, you will most likely be pleased with your purchase.

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