Throwing an axe?

I recently received a press release about the WOOX Thunderbird Throwing axe. I never have gotten into the axe throwing world but have been hearing more and more about it and that the sport is becoming popular. I thought that would be a fun article so I ordered a WOOX axe. I have a dead tree in my backyard to I thought I’d go practice throwing at it. It soon became apparent that I needed some instructions.

Years ago I met a girl that was the knife throwing expert for SOG knives at the SHOT Show. She was really good. The traffic at her booth was slow so she took some time and worked with me. I learned quite a bit from her.

I’m not a knife throwing expert but from what I can tell, here are the basics. It’s imperative to release the knife at the exact same spot every time. You can’t release it one time with your arm fully extended and the next time with your elbow half bent. Or else one time the knife will hit on its point and the next time on the back of the handle.

The next big pointer. If your knife hits the target on the hilt of the handle then you need to step either backwards or forwards which will correct the point of impact. So really in a nutshell it is that simple.

Now let’s switch gears and jump into axe throwing. I liked throwing an axe more because since it has a convex cutting edge it has a larger sticking surface. So even if my throw isn’t dead on it is more likely to stick.

By chance this week I was over in South Dakota and while eating dinner I was reading a local publication and noticed that there was an axe throwing facility named “Hub City Axe Throwing” and is located in the Aberdeen mall. In a short amount of time I was meeting with the owner Ryan Perrion. He is No. 75 in the WATL (World Axe Throwing League) standings. There are two major leagues. The other one is IATF (International Axe Throwing Federation).

When I first started writing 20 years ago, I was assigned an article on boots. I told Vickie, the editor at that time that I didn’t feel qualified to write on that topic. She told me that would happen throughout my writing career and not to panic. She taught me that in those situations to interview an expert and quote them. So with that said, I interviewed Ryan. Here are a few insights he shared.

1. He affirmed what I stated above that due to the convex edge, an axe is a little easier to stick than a throwing knife.

2. If you want to buy an axe, he suggested getting one to fit you. Look for the proper weight, handle thickness and length of handle that fits you personally. And if you plan on throwing competition, different leagues have different axe specs so buy accordingly.

3. In competition they throw from 10 feet and 15 feet.

4. The WATL has four seasons per year and 28 games per season and then the end of the year is the World Axe Throwing Championship.

I don’t foresee me doing competition axe throwing but it was interesting talking to Ryan and I learned a lot from him. If you’re interested in axe throwing competitions I Googled it and it looks like there is at least four axe throwing venues in the Valley. But more than likely you’re like me and would just like to throw one and mess around. When you’re up in the mountains camping you need to have some activities for everyone to do when lounging around camp. I think it’d be fun to set up a log to throw at. Or you could cut a wafer out of a log and spray paint some circles on the end and throw at that. That’d be a great way to pass time in camp. In a few weeks I think I’ll take it up to elk camp and practice in the middle of the day.

(I’ve got a nephew-in-law (Is that even a word) that has a traveling circus group. They do fire breathing stuff, acrobatics, axe throwing demos etc. Maybe next time I see him I can have him teach me more on axe throwing. Their group is Norsefyre if you want to check them out).

So I think throwing an axe would be great fun while hanging out in camp. Or even in your hunting camp during the middle of the day. I’d recommend you also get a leather sheath for safety reasons and to keep from dinging up the edge. So grab an axe and who knows, you may be the next modern day Davy Crockett and start elk hunting with an axe!

Tom Claycomb lives in Idaho and has outdoors columns in newspapers in Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Louisiana. He also writes for various outdoors magazines and teaches outdoors seminars at stores like Cabela’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Bass Pro Shop. He can be reached via email at

Changing tackle boxes is traumatic

This article will be geared toward old timers with old school tackle boxes or newbies moving to Idaho that want to get into fishing.

Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying: “Don’t be the first to embrace the new nor the last to discard the old.” The latter would be me. I’d still be using a flip phone if my dead battery hadn’t been discontinued. And then my daughter gave me an iPhone. Now of course I love iPhones due to their awesome filming abilities. So it goes without saying, it’s hard for me to upgrade gear unless it flat out breaks/wears out.

I remember decades ago, Cotton Ward, who I think was the first Idaho Press outdoors writer, wrote an article on replacing his old fly-fishing vest. I forget all of the gory details but the gist of it was that it was tough to get rid of his old worn-out vest and replace it with a new one. He knew where everything was in it plus, it held a lot of memories.

So with the above said, I understand how us fishermen can get emotionally tied to our traditional gear. But come on, even Huckleberry Finn and Jim would have ditched their cane poles and evolved to using a modern rod and reel by now if they were still alive! Today we’re going to talk about upgrading your tackle box. When I was a kid the old flip top boxes were the only option. Then the flat ones with little compartments that had a see through top emerged. They were nice because you could see where your lures were.

Then a few years ago canvas tackle boxes that held plastic treys became popular, and for good reason. You can compartmentalize your lures. Carry your jigs in one trey, plastics in another. Plugs in one and weights in another. This allows you to be more organized which provides for faster access. Another big advantage is that instead of needing 10 tackle boxes you have treys designated for crappie fishing, bass, yellow perch, Northern, bass, walleye, catfishing and whatever else you want to fish for. Let’s say you’re going crappie fishing this afternoon. All you have to do is to throw your crappie trays into your canvas tackle box and off you go. That’s a lot better than years ago when you had to carry three to four on every trip to be covered.

My old tackle box is getting threadbare after many years of fishing so I’ve been in the market for a new box. I’ve been looking around for the last two years but hadn’t found what I wanted.

A couple of weeks ago I found what would fit my needs. It is the Largemouth Tackle Bag made by Evolution Outdoor. I got the 3600 which is what I’d classify as a smaller/medium sized bag. If you have a big boat, you may want a bigger bag but there’s not a lot of extra room in the Black Pearl so the 3600 is the perfect size for me.

Also, I’ve been doing a deal over in South Dakota. I’m doing mainly bank fishing and wading there so I thought a backpack tackle box would work better there so I ordered an Evolution Outdoor Largemouth Double Decker Backpack. It uses the same size treys as the Largemouth Tackle Bag so I can interchange treys between both boxes.

As stated above, I got both bags but I also ordered nine extra trays. I can throw my specialty fishing gear in those treys and grab them if going on a walleye, catfishing, bass or gar fishing trip. Or if I’m going crappie fishing and there’s a chance I might want to catch a few bass, I can take along one to two of the bass plug trays, which won’t take up much room.

So if you’re one of the last to embrace the new, make the switch and grab a new style of tackle box like the Largemouth Tackle Box and get rid of your old grandpa style flip top tackle boxes and be a pace setter.

When I started writing this article, I thought I’d have it done in one to two hours but then I spread all of my tackle boxes out in the front yard. Wow, I had way more than I thought. I had to set-up a card table to work on so I could consolidate my lures into the trays. Gee, I had enough lures and jigs ratholed to last me until I’m 99 years old!

Suddenly a one to two hour article turned into a six- to eight-hour project and I’m still not totally organized. I left my salmon gear in my old green tackle box but I am a lot more organized now. I have all crappie gear in trays in the new Largemouth Tackle Box, my striper jigs/plugs in plastic trays which I can grab next time I fly to Texas for a striper fishing trip.

I may start a new career and become a Tackle Box Organizing consultant! You can pay me for my services in cash or lures.

Tom Claycomb lives in Idaho and has outdoors columns in newspapers in Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Louisiana. He also writes for various outdoors magazines and teaches outdoors seminars at stores like Cabela’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Bass Pro Shop. He can be reached via email at

It’s already August?

Wow! It’s already August. I don’t know about you but my life has been passing by in a blur lately. I’ve been flying out for three weeks and home for one week this year and I don’t hardly know what season it is, much less what month it is. With that said, let’s plan out our month so we don’t wake up and see snow outside the window and wonder what happened to our summer.

OK, I’m super busy right now. We just finished my daughter’s wedding, redid the floors throughout the whole house, I have to get in all of my July invoices and I just flew back home Friday. It is Monday and I have to get in this week’s article right fast. What should I do? I’ll tell you what I need to do! I’m going to get this article finished then I’m going to go grab Orin & Josiah and go crappie fishing. Whew! That decision took a lot of stress off of me. Now I can get my focal point on the far wall and breathe deeply. No wait, that’s the Lamaze recommendations when you’re having a baby. But men have a lower pain tolerance; it is almost that painful having not been able to fish for three weeks.

I think we’ll fish until midnight, put ice on the fish and then fillet them in the morning. If the fishing is still good then I think I’ll go fishing twice more this week.

Oh, but the huckleberries ought to be out by now. You don’t want to miss the huckleberry season. That’d be a colossal mistake. Huckleberries are the best berries in the world. If you’ve never picked them you have to go. They make the best ice cream in the world. Make sure to wear a pistol in case you run into an aggressive bear. I remember one year there was a cute little fuzz ball cub about 14-inches long eating them by me. I saw him and figured it was time to scatter.

Katy starts school in a couple of weeks. We need to take one last camping trip, don’t we? Think I’ll try to do a low-profile camping trip. Maybe just go to the mountains and throw up a tent by a river and burn some steaks over a fire. Or maybe I can talk her into camping on a lake and us crappie fish for a couple of days.

Or something I’ve been wanting to do for a couple of years is to go get a room at the Big Creek Lodge in Yellow Pine. The original lodge burned down years ago but they rebuilt another one. That’d be fun to go stay there and hike and pick berries.

After the floor was laid in my office, I spent two days getting my office back in order. I ran across a business card that I’d picked up at the Great Northwest Outdoor Expo from the Thousand Springs Boat Tours. I don’t know for sure what all they do but it sounds like they cruise by a lot of springs and have an onboard lunch or dinner. That should be a fun date. I’ve got to check that out.

My four-wheeler has been in the shop. I think the bears poured sugar water in the gas tank to keep me from being up in the mountains chasing them. Pretty ungrateful huh, seeing how many hundreds of pounds of bait I feed them every year.

But despite the bears (there are haters everywhere, you can’t let them bother you) with the heat pounding us like it is, Katy wants to go up high where it’s a little cooler and do some trail riding. Hmm, not a bad option anytime a good-looking girl wants to go four wheeling with you.

And lest I give you a big list of outdoor things to do and you get sidetracked don’t forget, it is backpacking season. I haven’t got to go yet. I just got me and Kolby some new Alps Mountaineering day packs and HybridLight flashlights I want us to test out. Oh, then Kolby and I also have some Danner and La Crosse boots that we’re dying to go backpacking in. Backpacking is a big daddy/daughter event every summer.

What’s more fun than to hit a wilderness with a backpack on your shoulders? You can momentarily forget about the skyrocketing inflation, installing new flooring in your house, $5/gallon gas and whatever else is bothering you. Set up a camp and take off on day hikes and view awesome country. Build a fire at dusk and cook dinner over it and then watch the stars. And finally crawl off to your tent dead tired.

Gee, I’ve got to get in gear. This is quite a list of activities that I have to get accomplished before summer is over. Luckily we have Global Warming so summer should last until December this year so I’ll be able to fit it all in.

Tom Claycomb lives in Idaho and has outdoors columns in newspapers in Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Louisiana. He also writes for various outdoors magazines and teaches outdoors seminars at stores like Cabela’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Bass Pro Shop. He can be reached via email at

Jump Creek Falls trail

I’ve only been to the Jump Creek Falls once. My daughter got married on July 7 so a lot of out-of-state relatives were flying in. We had a great time. I have awesome relatives on both sides of the fence. That’s one thing that I regret — we never get to see them all enough. Of course, a lot of families all live semi close to each other and tell me that they get busy and don’t get together enough. That’s not good. You can always count on your family when you encounter trouble. I remember one time I got hung on a cliff. A thing that brought me great hope was that I knew, even if Search & Rescue gave up, I knew that my brother and brothers-in-law wouldn’t.

So with that said, it was great to have everyone here. But when everyone is around you don’t just want to go out to eat in some restaurant where they’re playing some loud obnoxious song and no one can even talk, do you? No! On July 4, we grilled ribeyes on the grill and then popped fireworks. My neighborhood was a war zone. I love it. Everyone grilling and popping fireworks celebrating the birth of America. It drives me nuts all of the naysayers that want to outlaw all fireworks. Get a life! Or at least let the rest of us live ours.

And if you have relatives from out of state visiting, why sit around the house with everyone bored stiff? Come on, we live in Idaho. Even though we were in the middle of organizing the wedding, etc., and all of the hectic activities surrounding that, I wanted to take them out and showcase Idaho!

The next night we had a big fish fry with some of the crappie we’ve been catching and had enough left over to make fish tacos the next day.

Enough on the eating. There are a million zillion things you can do and cool places you can take relatives to when they visit. I’m going to write articles on a couple of deals we did. To begin, Colter and Christy Bowers flew in Monday. Colter is a nephew on Katy’s side of the family and Christy is almost five months pregnant, so I was hesitant to take her on any death-defying activities.

One morning the girls were all doodling so Colter and I ran out to check out the Jump Creek Falls. Since they’re from Nebraska I thought he’d enjoy the hike and the falls. I was thinking it took 30 to 40 minutes to hike up to the falls but it’s only about a five-minute hike. If you’re not in shape, don’t worry, it’s pretty much a flat hike up.

We hit the trailhead and threw on our packs with our water bottles. I always take an Aquamira filtered water bottle in case I need more water. An empty filtered bottle is a lot lighter than packing extra water!

It was a hot day but, on the hike up, half the time you’ll be shaded by the shrubs along the creek. It is an easy trail to hike but like while doing all Idaho hikes, I’d recommend wearing hiking boots with good ankle support so you don’t slip. I just got a pair of Danner Recurve Mo Toe boots. I love them. They’re super lightweight and comfortable.

I’d also suggest that you wear good hiking socks while hiking/hunting/backpacking. Granted, forever I’ve just worn cheapo white socks but as I get older, er, I mean more mature, I’m becoming a whiner and like a few luxuries. They’ll make your feet feel 100 times better at the end of the day.

Like I said above, I was remembering it being a longer hike but I don’t think it took us much over five minutes to get up to the falls. As is the norm, there were a lot of kids and a few dogs swimming and having a ball.

There are a few rock formations you’ll want to climb up on. We observed the beauty of the waterfall for a few minutes and took some pictures. To me the Jump Creek Falls is a unique Idaho gem. It seems totally out of place being in the Owyhees. You’d more expect it to be in Bolivia or somewhere.

After taking some pictures we climbed up a trail or two and then went back to the trailhead to catch the trail that heads up above the waterfall. That trail is a little more strenuous than the trail to the falls but nothing drastic by any means.

We took more pictures and then figured we’d better head home and torment the girls. You can’t leave them unattended for too long or they might become complacent and happy. Katy’s sister Shayla and her husband Tim had also flown in and were coming over for crappie and homemade cherry ice cream. Fun trip.


Take Interstate 84 and get off on Highway 55 at exit 33A in Nampa. Head towards Marsing.

Go through Marsing. A couple of miles out, 95 South will run south (left) at the gas station. Keep going straight on 95 North.

In about a mile at the spot where 95 takes a pretty hard right, take a left (straight) on Cemetery Road.

Go a bit and then take a left on South Jump Creek Road.

Follow the signs.

Tom Claycomb lives in Idaho and has outdoors columns in newspapers in Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Louisiana. He also writes for various outdoors magazines and teaches outdoors seminars at stores like Cabela’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Bass Pro Shop. He can be reached via email at

The dreaded Mormon Cricket

If you suffer from Bug-a-phobia disorders then you might want to skip over this article! My wife suffers from it to the extreme level and wouldn’t even get out of the truck while I was gathering the material to write this article. I’ve been traveling a lot lately and have only been home three days in the last 32 days. So it was nice to be home this last week.

I submitted an article last week for this week but Saturday Katy and I were driving down towards Jordan Valley and saw the annual Mormon Cricket migration and I bumped this article ahead of the previously designated one.

Here’s why I say the above paragraph. In the original article I told how I’d flown home and my daughter had gotten married. Due to that we had quite a few relatives fly in. You may have become complacent as an Idahoan and forgot how much cool stuff goes on here. So with that said, if you have relatives visiting at the moment you ought to run down and show them the Mormon Cricket invasion. Or maybe you’re new to Idaho and never seen it before yourself.

I hate to call it a banner year but I guess from a cricket perspective that’s what you’d call it. Some years I don’t see mass amounts of them and other years I do but I guess according to weather conditions it fluctuates. I remember one year on Memorial weekend we were going up to Paddy Flat to camp. Right before we got to Horseshoe Bend there were a million trillion crickets crossing the road. That was the first big swarm of them I’d ever seen.

There were so many crossing the road that they had up a flashing “SLICK ROAD AHEAD” warning set-up. The road had a slick mahogany colored covering due to all of the smushed crickets. It was like driving on an oil slick. When you drive over them it sounds like popcorn was popping.

Years later I was fly fishing the stonefly hatch behind Anderson Ranch dam and there’d been so many crickets migrating that the swirl pools and back eddies in the river were 1-inch deep in dead crickets. There were so many dead ones that there was a stink in the air.

This year is not a total banner year but still, there are a lot of them out right now so if you’ve never seen them, you ought to take a drive down towards Jordan Valley. I didn’t notice the exact mile marker but it’s about halfway down to Jordan Valley where the concrete barriers are on the left side of the road. They are swarming over the barriers thick as a herd of ants.

I always have to stop and take a few pics and observe them whenever I see them. Yesterday I noticed a few dragging dead ones that had been run over. I don’t know why they didn’t just eat them right there? Maybe they were dragging them home to feed the family for a July 4th reunion? I also observed a live one and there was a cricket on each end of him trying to eat him. Maybe that’s why they keep moving? If they stop someone will eat them!


They are not actually a cricket but are a katydid or a grasshopper.

They can’t fly but do walk and can climb things.

They can cover about 1-mile/day.

They thrive out in the Southwestern Idaho area.

It seems they move in the Spring.

Their numbers are cyclical. There may be a lot this year and then next year you don’t see many.

It is said that they can get up to 3-inches long.

If you’ve never seen the Mormon Cricket migration before, you ought to check out the on-line version of this article. I’m going to send Jeanne a couple of short reels showing some of them on their migration. It will amaze you how thick they are and like I said above, this isn’t even a banner year.

If you have a free hour, you ought to run down and see this weird phenomenon. I’ve never documented how long it last but it’s not too long so you probably better hurry and see if you can make it down to observe them this year.

Tom Claycomb lives in Idaho and has outdoors columns in newspapers in Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Louisiana. He also writes for various outdoors magazines and teaches outdoors seminars at stores like Cabela’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Bass Pro Shop. He can be reached via email at

Hog hunting, Part II

Last week I talked about hog hunting on the 24 Outfitter Ranch. Wednesday morning, we woke up and took off for North of Abilene to meet up with an old buddy Junior Walker and hog hunt with him. When we got there, we also met Ryan Long, a buddy of Juniors that has a website called Ryan and his wife do some YouTubes on hunting, how to cook what you shoot, etc. and I look forward to doing some stuff with him as soon as I can get free for a few minutes.

On these two hunts I was hunting with an open sight Henrys USA 45-70. With my shooting abilities that limited me to 200 yards or less. I’m old school so I just couldn’t bring myself to mount a scope on my lever action. It just seems sacrilegious or something.

But six years ago, I did put on Skinner sights which I’d recommend on your lever actions instead of the old buckhorn sights. I find it a lot easier to hit smaller targets and get better groups with the Skinner sights.

This hunt was sponsored by Henrys USA who makes the best lever actions in America and using their 45-70 shooting Hornady LEVERevolution ammo. And Knives of Alaska/Diamond Blades, the premier knife companies in America. I was using the Diamond Blade Surge, The Pinnacle II and the Knives of Alaska Boar Magnum knife.

While stalking some hogs, Ryan stepped over a coiled-up rattlesnake. That will wake you up. I pinned him down with my shooting sticks and cut his head off (the snake, not Ryan). The Magnum Boar hunter may have been made to stick hogs but it would also be a good snake knife. I didn’t measure him but he was probably pushing 3½ feet long.

I left 60-degree Idaho and was met by a blistering 107-degree wall in Texas. At first we set in good passage ways until dark but due to the heat Junior said the hogs probably wouldn’t be moving until 2 a.m., which was indeed the case.

If I had of mounted on a scope, I could have had another 20 minutes of hunting at dark and of course with night vision gear we could of hunted in the dark. Next time I’m going to get some night vision gear. That’s the No. 1 way to hog hunt anymore.

We were seeing hogs at daylight feeding and moving back to their bedding grounds so we decided the best method of hunting would be to drive around until we saw a sounder of hogs and then try to sneak in on them. Spotting/Stalking is a whole lot more fun than setting in a blind anyway and we’d usually stumble on four groups every morning hunting like this.

One morning we saw a sounder of hogs a few hundred yards away feeding. Ryan and I took off after them. They went down into a drainage behind a stock pond into some thick mesquite brush. The wind was perfect so we moved along slow until we came upon them.

I excitedly popped out my shooting sticks and got ready. The hog I saw was about 90 pounds which would be great eating. It was back in the brush and covered by tall grass. I waited a few minutes for it to turn broadside and then touched one off. I can’t remember now but it was something like 50-70 yards, so plenty close. But … I missed.

The next morning we saw some hogs running through the brush when we stopped to open a gate. Junior and I took off after them. We got into the thicker mesquite and Junior motioned that we needed to head up the rise. We didn’t go very far and saw two hogs feeding ahead of us. One started feeding towards us. When it came out from behind a small mesquite bush, I squeezed the trigger. It let out a squeal and took off.

Like I stated earlier I love Skinner sights on my lever actions but when trying to take running shots I’d like to have on a buckhorn sight. The Skinner sight is a peep sight so it’s hard to get a running shot.

I couldn’t believe that I’d missed the first hog but later after the hunt I looked down and noticed that my peep sight had been knocked sideways and was canted out of whack. Uggh, no wonder I’d missed.

I flew home from the hunt and had to fly out again right away but I flew home again this past Friday. My youngest little princess is getting married this week but sometime this week between the festivities I’m going to sneak out on the high desert and shoot my 45-70 and see how far off it is.

To be honest, I think the rotten little porkers slipped in at night while we were sleeping and tweaked my sight. They’re devious little creatures you know!

We’re out of room but sometime I want to write an article about all of the cool night vision gear that Junior and Ryan have. It’s amazing what is on the market now.

Tom Claycomb lives in Idaho and has outdoors columns in newspapers in Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Louisiana. He also writes for various outdoors magazines and teaches outdoors seminars at stores like Cabela’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Bass Pro Shop. He can be reached via email at

Texas hog hunting

Bill Olson, the publisher of “Texas Outdoors Journal” called me a while back and told me that he had a Texas hog hunt lined up for us and asked if I was in? Of course! We were soon lined up with two of my favorite outdoor companies — Henry Repeating Arms and Knives of Alaska. What’d be cooler than hunting hogs in Texas with a lever action? And then of course KOA makes the best outdoor knives on the market.

Bill was soon picking me up at DFW in Air Olson (his Ford pick-up) and off we went to 24 Outfitters in West Texas which specializes in providing dove hunts, sandhill crane hunts and also have a long-range shooting facility. We arrived there Monday afternoon and met owner Ryan Gardner and the ranch foreman and shooting coordinator/trainer John Joeris. We unloaded our gear and then hit the gun range to sight in our rifles.

Bill and I were going to be shooting Hornady LEVERevolution 325 gr. ammo in our Henrys 45-70s so we needed to get them sighted in. Bill also had to sight in a new rifle he’d just bought. John was a big help and taught me a lot about what it took to reach out to 1,200 yards. I knew wind can play havoc with your bullets but I didn’t realize how much it can out at 1,200 yards.

John also enlightened us as to some of the necessary gear that it takes to compete in the long-range competitive world. I don’t perceive that I will ever be in that world but it was good to learn so I can estimate the windage factor more accurately in my shorter-range hunting situations.

We then went out looking for hogs at dusk and found a few but couldn’t connect with any with our Henrys 45-70 since they were 350 yards out in a wheat field. I walked across the wheat field and hid while Bill hunted from the other side. All I saw was a coyote and a few deer. After dark we made it back to the lodge (which was originally Ryan’s grand folks house) and were greeted with the best barbecue brisket that I’ve ever had. Ryan can smoke a brisket. On top of hunting and shooting, I also learned some new barbecue tricks.

The next day we got up before daylight and went looking for hogs. That’s one good thing about hunting by the shooting range, the hogs were used to being around shooting. I hiked across the wheat field and set up again. After 20 minutes I thought I’d better step out a couple of feet and glass and see if I saw anything to spot/stalk. I eased out and to my right a coyote was trotting towards me working the brush line. He wasn’t 150 yards. Dang, if I’d of waited two to three more minutes he’d of walked right past me. That’d of made a cool picture with my Henrys Golden Boy.

After the morning hunt, we ran back up to the lodge and Ryan whipped out a big ranch breakfast. I definitely gained weight on this hunt. For sure, after you throw in the pies that John’s wife made. Her coconut cream pies were like my grandmom’s. I told her she needed to cook one or two more for me to finish determining if I approved of them.

Right after breakfast I saw a coyote trotting across the pasture in front of the lodge. Everyone scrambled and we surrounded the cattails by the pond where we figured he was hiding. We threw rocks into it and eventually I spotted his head coming out and took a quick shot with my Henrys but missed. He scattered.

When I left Boise, it was 60 degrees but it was over 100 there. That afternoon we hunted again but only saw a coyote and a couple of whitetails. That night Ryan spoiled us again but this time with the best smoked spare ribs you’ve ever had. They were awesome and we ate a whole chocolate cream pie that John’s wife had made. When I got home, I was definitely going to have to go into training to get back to my fighting weight!

The next morning we were heading north to meet up with Junior Walked for more hog hunting. I got up before daylight and hiked across the wheat field again to try to intercept some hogs as they migrated to their slumber party. I walked across the big wheat field where we’d seen our first sounder of pigs. It seemed the pigs would head west at night to feed and wallow in the stock ponds and then head back east at daylight to lay in the brush all day. I was trying to intercept them as they moved back to their daytime shelter.

I saw one hog before I hiked over but that was it. But there were two coyotes and about 30 huge buzzards eating on a dead hog out in the wheat field.

I hunted a few hours and then ran back to the lodge to head out. We said our goodbyes to John and Ryan and hit the hot and dusty trail up north.

Tune in next week for Round Two with the pigs.

Tom Claycomb lives in Idaho and has outdoors columns in newspapers in Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Louisiana. He also writes for various outdoors magazines and teaches outdoors seminars at stores like Cabela’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Bass Pro Shop. He can be reached via email at

Father’s Day gifts

So much is going on in the outdoor world that I almost forgot that Father’s Day is barreling down on us. I’d already written and submitted another article and suddenly remembered and had to cancel the first one to slip this one in.

I’m lucky; I had the best mom and dad in the world and I hope you did, too. But even if they aren’t perfect, your dad still holds the position of the most influential man in your life. But if you’re like me, I never knew what to get dad. He seemed to have everything he needed. When he got older, he didn’t hunt and fish as much and pretty much just wanted to work on the farm and fix fences and feed cattle. So all he’d ever ask for is a pair of leather work gloves.

Come on, you can put a little more effort into buying your dad a Father’s Day gift than I did. Now for the good news. If your dad is an outdoorsman then take heart: Outdoorsmen are easy to buy for. We love our gear and gimmicks. And due to a deluge of advertising we’re convinced that if we could just have this lure or that bullet that our life would be great and we’d be successful.

You don’t have to spend a fortune to light up his eyes BUT, you do have to buy exactly what he wants. His tastes/needs will be very, very specific. So do a little research. Ask him what he wants. Get a list so it will still be a surprise as to what he gets. Or talk to a local outdoor store and ask them what is hot.

Or, I get to test a lot of gear every year. Here are some items that have caught my eye.


— Mister Twister plastics

— Mister Twister jig heads

— Flies from These are very economical

— New fishing rod/reel. Buy him a good one that will last for a long time and he’ll remember you every time he uses it.

— Frogg Togg rain gear

— Dip net

— ProLine Baits Spray this in a bag of his Mister Twister tails and it will increase his catch.

— 5.11 tactical pants. Great for fishing due to having multiple pockets.

— Electric fish filet knife from Smith’s Consumer Products

— Heybo fishing shirts


— Smith’s Consumer Products and Knives of Alaska both make the two top boning knives on the market.

— Ammo-this one will be very specific. Ask him what he’d like-5.11 tactical pants. I wear these when hunting.

— Smith’s line of knife sharpening gear

— Day packs


— Fire starting gear. Waterproof matches, fire starting tender and I always carry a few cheap Bic lighters.

— Blue Book of Gun Values

— Bowden Tactical. They offer a lot of accessories to dress up his AR

— CLAMTAINERS offer plastic containers to carry his ammo.

— Alien Holsters

— 5.11 their tactical pants are great for hunting

— UMAREX Airguns. Airguns are wildly popular right now and Umarex offers a plethora of options

— JSB makes the best pellets

— XGO base layers

— Otis Lead Remover hand wipes

— Otis Elite Range Box

— Axil hearing protection


— Alps Mountaineering “Dash” backpacking chair.

— Alps Mountaineering tents. They offer all sizes.

— Garmont makes some awesome hiking boots. Italian boot companies are legendary for mountain climbing boots.

— Fire starting gear.

— I just found some flashlights. They utilize solar charging so you don’t have to carry a lot of batteries plus, you can also charge other gear off of them. How cool is that? Check out

— Small aluminum coffee pot. I pick these up at garage sales.

— Alps sleeping pad

— Hiking socks

— Backpacking meals

— Smith’s Consumer folding knives. They offer a lot of options.

— Adventure Medical Kits gear. I love their moleskin for blisters when hiking

— Aquimira filtered water bottles


— BRG9 Elite 9mm. Very economical. $399.99 16+1 Great EDC gun

— Guided fishing trip

— Go fishing with him this summer. That will be the best gift you could ever give him. I love it when Katy or my girls go fishing with me.

— 5.11 wrist watch

— Diamond Blades Surge knife

Tom Claycomb lives in Idaho and has outdoors columns in newspapers in Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Louisiana. He also writes for various outdoors magazines and teaches outdoors seminars at stores like Cabela’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Bass Pro Shop. He can be reached via email at

Crappie recipes

I recently had a reader write in and said they’d been reading my crappie fishing articles and had been prompted to go out themselves and had caught a good mess as well. They requested that I write an article and list some of my favorite crappie recipes. So, that was what prompted the topic of today’s article.

Crappie are a light flaky white fish and provide for some awesome table fare. To begin though let’s touch briefly on preparing your fillets. As a kid, dad made us save the whole fish, he thought too much meat was wasted if you filleted a fish. (And actually, I don’t think I ever heard of filleting fish until after college while fishing with a guide).

Dad made us scrape the scales off of our fish with a spoon then cut off the head and gut them and fry them whole. Don’t go that route; fillet your fish. It’s a whole lot faster and it’s a lot easier to fry fillets than it is whole fish.

To fillet your fish is easy. If you only have a few, then buy a Smith’s Consumer Products 6-inch Boning Knife. If you’re catching a whole cooler of crappie, then also buy a Smith’s Electric fillet knife to fillet your catch and use the boning knife to remove the rib cage. Using an electric knife is the only way to go.

OK, let’s get to cooking! These recipes will work for many species of fish but are some of my favorites for crappie.


This is the most popular way to cook crappie. Most of the time, I will just roll them in corn meal and throw them into a hot skillet of oil. I like frying them in a cast iron skillet for better heat distribution properties. I like the oil to be hot but not smoking hot. I don’t like them too crispy. I like the finished product to be moist inside. While frying, I sprinkle on Tony Chachere’s seasoning. My family loves Tony’s.

Periodically, I will mix it up and use a different batter such as Panko or mix-up some pancake batter and dip the fillets in it. As with all fried food, serve hot. Usually, we eat French fries and fish. We may also whip out some fresh asparagus when in season.


I got a variation of this recipe from a Cajun years ago while fishing in Louisiana but she cooked speckled trout like this. Lightly dust fillets in flour and throw into a hot cast iron skillet. In the skillet you want a little oil so they don’t stick. Pour in a few tablespoons of Worcestershire Sauce and a few of Balsamic Vinegar. Sprinkle on some Tony’s spices. Also throw in a few tablespoons of Capers. This is good.


Early this year my brother gave me this recipe. It is easy peasy and awesome! It may be my favorite recipe now. I can’t believe how simple it is and yet how good the end product is. You can use a baking sheet but I use a brown stone cookie sheet. (I think my wife’s is a Pampered Chef Rectangle Stone or something like that).

Preheat the oven to 350. Lay the boneless fillets on the pan. Spread Mayo over the fillets. Semi heavy. Sprinkle with Tony’s. Slide into the oven. I put a cookie sheet under the stone pan for it to drip into. I started sprinkling a few capers over the fillets now. I think it sets it off well.


This is a good one, too! Fry your fish like in the first recipe. I like to heat my tortillas up before eating. We’ll put a little bit of grease in a skillet or butter and heat on both sides. We like flour tortillas. As the tortillas heat up, lay them out and put one-and-a-half fillets on them. Sprinkle on a little cheese and lettuce (we use a salad mix out of a bag).

Then squirt on some Sweet Baby Ray’s Secret Dipping Sauce. I don’t know what is in their sauce but it is perfect for fish tacos. Then fold over the tortilla and indulge! You’re going to love these fish tacos. I’ll usually fry up more than enough fillets and that way I have enough leftovers to make tacos for lunch for a couple of days.

Well, there you have it. My favorite crappie recipes. Enjoy.

Tom Claycomb lives in Idaho and has outdoors columns in newspapers in Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Louisiana. He also writes for various outdoors magazines and teaches outdoors seminars at stores like Cabela’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Bass Pro Shop. He can be reached via email at

Crappie fishing, Round II

If you read my articles then you know that I took Katy crappie fishing last Saturday and we had the best fishing trip ever. We found one spot and out of 125 casts only four to six casts didn’t produce a hit. It was the best fishing trip that I’ve ever had.

Then Monday I went mushroom hunting and only found one morel! Tuesday I went to my hotspot whistle pig hunting and either the plague had run through and wiped them out or the birds of prey had eaten themselves out of house and home but I literally did not see one whistle pig in this spot. That has never happened before.

Which brings up a word of advice. Nature has ups and downs and we need to adjust accordingly. Here’s what I mean by this. I may have wanted to hit all three activities this week. Crappie fishing, mushroom hunting and whistle pig hunting. But if only crappie fishing is good, then I need to hit the crappie. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone out fishing for this or that species and stumbled upon the mother lode of a different species. Be fluid. Adjust. Don’t be so regimented that you can’t enjoy a different agenda.

I could give a million examples but one time I was teaching a junior high Sunday school class. I had off a day and had taken the boys out doing something or another. We found a sandpit that had a mulberry tree on the dam. The kids (not me of course) were picking mulberries and painting up themselves.

After squeezing the mulberry and painting ourselves we flipped it out in the pond. A fish hit it. This repeated itself a few times and it soon became apparent what was happening. As the wind blew, it shook loose mulberries which fell into the water and the fish were setting under it feeding. I told the boys to jump in the T-Bird. We raced home and grabbed an armload of fishing rods and raced back.

Over the course of the week after this discovery I think I caught 75 carp and a bass or two and maybe a catfish. We’d hook a squeezed mulberry on a bare hook with no weight and flip it out in the water under the tree. It’d slowly sink and as soon as it disappeared, we’d have a hit. Numerous species of fish were lying in wait under the tree feeding on falling mulberries.

I forget what we were doing that day but we improvised and had a memorable experience. This will happen to you when you’re outdoors. If you see a once in a lifetime event happening, drop what you’re doing and improvise. Don’t be a stick in the mud and say nope, here’s what is on the agenda today or you may miss a once-in-a-lifetime outdoor event.

So with that said, I improvised and dumped the whistle pig and mushroom hunting this week and ran back out Wednesday by myself and boated 277 crappie. Wow! The fishing is unbelievable right now. I didn’t keep track but I bet for one to two hours I got a hit nearly every cast. It was totally unbelievable.

Then Saturday, I took Kolby (my daughter) and her boyfriend, Joe Chappell, crappie fishing. We fished for a few hours and then it started storming with lightning, which is never a good thing while out on the lake in an aluminum boat.

I remember once I was fishing in Nebraska with a guy and a storm blew in. My line was floating about 10 feet high due to the static electricity in the air. Pretty soon, I noticed that when I moved my rod it’d make a sound like a Star Wars sword and shock you if you touched it. Wuh row, we were about to get zapped with lightning. We fired up the motor and zipped to shore.

So this trip we hid underneath a rock column and waited until the lightning stopped and then headed in. I was wanting the kids to rack up like Katy and I had done, but still, I guess we had a good day. We boated 85 in a few hours and I think the kids had fun.

So, you get my drift. You can want to do whatever you want but, if it isn’t in season then you’re barking up the wrong tree. Do what is in season and right now crappie are in season.

Used to, when I got home from a fishing trip I stayed up until some ungoshly hour fileting fish. Now, I throw a bag of crushed ice over the fish. Then the next day I wake up refreshed and filet my catch. In the past I’d stayed up until after midnight fileting them while Kolby held the flashlight.

So, even though the numbers are down, I’d still recommend you go crappie fishing. And now that it has slowed down a bit, start using an attractant on your jig like the ProLine Baits Crappie Series. Crappie makes some super table fare. Good luck.

Tom Claycomb lives in Idaho and has outdoors columns in newspapers in Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Louisiana. He also writes for various outdoors magazines and teaches outdoors seminars at stores like Cabela’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Bass Pro Shop. He can be reached via email at