True Wilderness Freedom: Sleeping Under the Stars

“A great many people, and more all the time, live their entire lives without ever once sleeping out under the stars.” —Alan S. Kesselheim

The narrow, winding roads leading into Johns Mountain WMA near Rome, Georgia take you into a little-known trout fishing haven nestled among the rolling, wooded hills. This small northwest Georgia stream is regularly stocked with plenty of rainbow trout that school up in pools, making Johns Creek one of the most sought after fishing spots for trout anglers.

I joined my brother, Josh, and our friend, Heath, for a camping trip to Johns Mountain where we hoped to kick back and relax at camp, then rise early to see how many rainbow trout we could catch the next morning. It was June and the Georgia heat was stifling.

As we neared the creek, we noticed a small campsite that was absolutely perfect. We pulled in and began unloading our gear to set up camp. The smooth, flat ground was situated just a few yards from a steep hill that overlooked Johns Creek. Only a handful of other trucks passed by our secluded campsite that night. We were all excited to finally be on a camping trip—myself included as this was the first time I had gone camping in years.

Camping was a way of life for me and my two brothers growing up in rural Georgia. During the summer months when we were free of having to attend school, we camped literally every night that it wasn’t raining from May until September. Our mother would make us come in early Sunday morning and shower to wash off the smokey smell before we went to church.

My two brothers and I absolutely loved camping. We practically grew up outside and we were blessed to have a father and grandfather that encouraged us to enjoy our time in the great outdoors. We shared everything with each other sitting by the campfire year after year. If I know my brothers well enough, I know they, too, feel right at home sitting next to a campfire listening to the sounds of the night.

Fast forward 20 years later and my brother and I are as excited as we were during our childhood to be setting up camp, building a fire, and getting ready to cook dinner over the open flame.

As our camp began to take shape, Josh and I both noticed that we had left out a key item from our camping gear….the tent poles.

“Oh well, we’ll just sleep under the stars,” said Josh. “It’ll probably be better since it’s going to be 90 degrees tonight anyway.”

We turned our focus to the night’s meal that Heath was busy preparing. I’m quite sure that Heath missed his calling as one of the world’s true culinary geniuses. We enjoyed what I can honestly say was the best meal I’ve ever eaten next to a fire that night. To find out more about that recipe and how to prepare the legendary Heathro’s Hobo Dinners, click here.

We finished our meal and sat around the fire for a bit, trading stories about our own outdoor adventures and trying to quell our excitement for fishing the following morning. When we finally did retire for the night to the spot where our tent would have been placed, we quickly realized that there was just as much heat in the midnight air as there was sitting next to the fire.

At this point, I realized how thankful I was to have forgotten the tent poles. As I lay there on the ground, I heard the creek gently rippling over the rocks nearby. There was a slight breeze blowing and I gazed up through the limbs overhead into the stars above. So many people forget how beautiful and relaxing it is to look up at the night sky before falling asleep.

As a child, my father always mentioned how he and his two brothers “slept under the stars” anytime they went camping. I always wondered why he insisted on letting us know that he often neglected the use of a tent when he camped. I felt like he was simply bragging about being a little tougher than we were (I’ll admit that I always felt more secure within the confines of a thin layer of nylon).

As I grew older, I realized that he was merely encouraging us to take a slightly more rugged route. Not because it was harder, but because it was a great way to truly connect to nature.

Many people wouldn’t dare to camp without the comfort of a tent. After all, there are plenty of critters, bugs, rain, and even the possibility of being a little too close to unwanted guests like bears or coyotes.

After our camping trip to Johns Mountain, I think I’ll be sleeping under the stars much more often when I go camping. Breathing in the fresh mountain air was soothing for me and I became lost staring into the sea of diamond-like stars strewn across the expanse of outer space.

Sleeping under the stars gives one a sense of peaceful connectivity with the natural world. Instead of shutting the out the wilderness by zipping a flap shut, you can really come to appreciate being a part of the wide-open beauty of nature. There is a peculiar sense of belonging to the outdoors that you won’t experience inside a tent.

So, the next time you plan to go camping, check the weather and see if it’s going to be a clear night. Leave the tent at home and sleep under the stars and you’ll realize that there is more freedom out there than you think.

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity.” —John Muir

Man Can Holiday Gift Guide for 2018

The holiday season is upon us and that means you’re either looking for the perfect gift for your outdoorsman, or you’re a hunter and angler hoping to provide a subtle hint to friends and family members by sharing this list of the the best outdoor gifts for the 2018 season.

We’ve compiled this list and categorized items by cost, selecting the absolute best gift ideas available this season. Tracking down the ideal gift for your outdoor adventurer can often be tough as most they are highly selective when it comes to their gear.

Don’t worry. We’ll make sure your outdoorsman is just as excited to find their gift under a tree as they will be to carry it with them into a tree, or on the water.

1. Magazine Subscription – This gift idea is often overlooked, but is guaranteed to be something that continues to put a smile on your outdoorsman’s face each month for a year or even two if you want. Most outdoor magazines are surprisingly affordable and make great stocking stuffer ideas. One of our favorites is Game & Fish magazine, which produces state-specific editions for anywhere in the country. The best news? A one-year subscription costs less than $10.

2. Wild Game Cookbook – We at Man Can Outdoors are just as enthusiastic about preparing our catches and kills in a tasty cuisine as we are for the preparation, thrill of the chase and the harvest. Get that special someone on your list a wild game cookbook and they might just invite you over for dinner later on.

Check out some of our Man Can Cook articles and videos and you’ll see that the best way to cap off a successful hunt is to prepare a delicious meal. Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast by Hank Shaw is a must-have for any outdoorsman’s bookshelf.

3. LifeStraw Personal Water Filter – Having fresh water is essential and can come through as a lifesaver in some situations in the great outdoors. The LifeStraw Personal Water Filter is a sleek, easy-to-use water filtration system that is easily one of the most important items on our list. The LifeStraw removes 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria and even exceeds EPA water filter standards. This item is perfect for the hardcore adventurer or the casual outdoorsman.

4. Goal Zero Solar Charger – Getting to some of the best hunting or fishing spots sometimes requires us to go off the grid. A solar charger is a great way to keep your gadgets charged. From keeping a daily log on your laptop to making sure your phone is charged so you can capture that perfect photo right when you need it, a solar charger is a handy tool for any modern outdoorsman. Goal Zero makes some of the most reliable chargers on the market.


5. Gerber Controller Filet Knife – No angler’s arsenal is complete without a proper filet knife. The Gerber Controller is an 8-inch workhorse a workhorse among filet knives. The HydroTread Grip™ helps you keep a hold on things despite slime and wetness while cleaning your catch. The knife’s custom-fit sheath comes with a built-in sharpener that makes it ready to cut at a moment’s notice.

6. Bubba Blade Fishing Pliers – A high-quality set of fishing pliers is invaluable for serious anglers. The Bubba Blade Fishing Pliers features everything you need for safety and control and is able to cut, crimp and pull any and everything. These pliers come with a lanyard and sheath for quick and easy access.

7. The Browning Jackson Carry-On Travel Pack – To the average person, the many nooks and crannies in a quality outdoor backpack might never be utilized, but serious hunters and anglers can visualize just how they will fit every piece of gear inside those compartments. Having a good backpack is essential to moving with speed and efficiency.

Packing everything into a compact, waterproof backpack will keep your gear dry and allow for quick, easy access. The Browning Jackson Carry-On Travel Pack is an ideal choice for any adventurer.

8. Wild River Tackle Tek Frontier Tackle Bag – This compact tackle bag is easy to take anywhere and serves as an angler’s one-stop fishing shop. With a bright, LED light system mounted on the handle, you’ll never have to fumble around with a flashlight in hand while you tie on baits or unhook your catch. With waterproof pockets and plenty of compartment space, this tackle bag is our top choice for the 2018 season.

9. SHIMANO Curado DC – Our list of the best gear items of 2018 would not be complete without the year’s hottest fishing reel, the SHIMANO Curado DC. This reel features the best in anti-backlash technology, Shimano’s new Digital Control braking system which utilizes a microcomputer to monitor spool speed 1,000 times every second. This reel is ideal for anglers of all experience levels and is available at many fishing retail stores and websites.

10. GoPro Hero7 – Capture your catch and harvest with the latest in compact camera technology with professional 4K HD video quality. The GoPro Hero7 is waterproof and voice-controlled, making it easy to use in a variety of outdoor situations. With live-streaming capabilities, this compact camera is perfect for capturing all of your outdoor adventure footage and photos.

An Outdoor State of Mind

We’ve all heard the saying “get your mind right” at some point in our lives. Lately, I’ve been devoting every waking hour to the hustle and bustle of work and also trying to be the best husband and father to my two young children that I can. Every day seems like a non-stop whirlwind of tasks and rushing to meet deadlines.

I finally had a few hours this past weekend to slip into the woods and do some hunting. It wasn’t until I got in the treestand that I realized just how badly I needed to take some time to really slow down and enjoy the little things that I had been in too much of a hurry to notice.

Sometimes we forget that just being in the great outdoors can be the best therapy we can get. I sat and watched squirrels chase each other, spiraling up and down a large oak tree. I noticed the many different hues of the leaves as they rustled with the wind and the sunlight glistening off a spiderweb near the trail where I had walked in.

I thought about what it must have been like for hunters hundreds of years ago before the world seemed to move at 100 miles per hour every day and night.

I recently read an article about Cherokee hunting traditions and how they approached hunting. To the Cherokee, hunting was a serious matter that was vital to their survival. While most of us today get so caught up in chasing trophy animals, we sometimes forget that our true purpose in the outdoors is connected to an instinctual need to harvest animals in order to survive and feed our families.

Historians say that most Cherokee hunters would abstain from intimate relations with their wives for four days prior to embarking on a hunting trip. They did this in an effort to purify themselves and to please the spirits.

Cherokee hunters worshipped two “gods” with one representing the sun and fire and the other being the river or water god. Hunters would go through a specific ritual process during the four days before the hunt which consisted of dipping in water at sundown while singing an ancient chant and other rituals that involved fire and prayers.

During the hunt, it is said that the Cherokee hunters would pray to the wind, rivers, and mountains for success. After killing an animal, the hunters would ask for the gods’ forgiveness for taking the animal’s life while also giving thanks for a successful harvest.

I found the practice of Cherokee hunters to be especially interesting and it helped me realize that sometimes we don’t take hunting seriously enough. After reading this article about Cherokee hunting traditions, I resolved to put part of this mindset into practice and focus more on immersing myself into the hunt.

I put my phone settings to “silent” and tucked it away in my bag so I could sit and take in all that nature had to offer. I found that hunting is as much of a spiritual experience as it is a physical effort to obtain meat for one’s own wellbeing.

There is a sense of peace that comes from silently observing nature and all it has to offer. It has a mysterious healing power for our souls that is somewhat tough to describe to those who spend little time outdoors.

There have been many times that I’ve spent hours in a treestand with my focus on my phone’s screen instead of the world around me. I wonder how much of a more skilled outdoorsman I would be if I put my phone away and immersed myself in the outdoors.

If you’ve read this far, you probably can relate to what I’m talking about. I challenge you to find out just how much you can immerse yourself in nature the next time you go afield for a hunt. You may find that a good hunting trip doesn’t always have to end with a kill.

Fred Bear, a famous bowhunter, once said:

“Go afield with a good attitude, with respect for the wildlife you hunt and for the forest and fields in which you walk. Immerse yourself in the outdoor experience. It will cleanse your soul and make you a better person.”

I didn’t see any deer that day, but the trip was a success in my opinion because it had brought me back down to Earth and reminded me that sometimes, the best state of mind is an outdoor state of mind.

5 Steps for a Productive Food Plot

With hunting season peeking around the corner, it is high time to begin preparing your land for late autumn success. A well-planned, well-planted food plot can be the difference in a memorable hunting season or a dismal disappointment.

Seasoned whitetail hunters know that it is essential to brave the late summer heat to take care of necessary duties in food plot preparation and other work around their hunting property.

Food plots do not always have to be a vast swath of green fields to be productive. Simply following your land’s natural contours and even planting small strips of crops can pay off in a major way.

1. Locate the Best Site

If you don’t already have a food plot on your land, look for one that deer will be attracted to. Deer are naturally skittish creatures and a square or rectangular food plot isn’t always appealing to them as they seek the most cover possible while moving through the woods.

Rounded food plots that follow the contours of woodlines and other features will offer optimal cover for deer and make them feel more comfortable to explore. One other important note is to try, if possible, to create your food plot as far as possible away from roads or trails in order to avoid tempting trespassers to venture onto your property.

Many veteran hunters will attest to the fact that a long, narrow food plot being the most productive strategies as opposed to planting a wide-open field. Deer will be more likely to use the plot if they can quickly dart into the cover of the nearby woods.

2. Prepare the Soil

There are many steps to take to prepare the soil for planting, but some hunters only have the means to throw down some fertilizer, plant their seeds, and hope for the best. A soil test can indicate needed minerals and fertilizer amounts, which will produce the best results when those seeds start to sprout.

If you can’t run a soil test, then simply use a pre-mixed fertilizer and also apply heavy amounts of lime to the soil. Lime is a key ingredient to creating a productive food plot.

Proper soil prep also includes the removal of larger rocks and other debris from the dirt in order to ensure your seeds can sprout and grow with nothing hindering their progress. Also be sure to kill off existing grasses or weeds well before planting.

3. Ensure Your Plot Has Optimal Cover

It is tempting to clear out as much obstructions around the edges of your plot as possible in order to spot incoming bucks from your stand. However, clearing away too much undergrowth may make your plot too open and will cause a buck to shy away from stepping out into the plot to feed.

If the edges of your food plot do not offer enough cover, think about planting wheat, sun-hemp, or some type of native tall grasses that will grow tall enough to create plenty of cover for a buck to be encouraged to venture into the plot during daylight hours.

4. Don’t Take the Cheap Route

Using cheap fertilizer or seeds will risk yielding a plot low in nutritional value. Purchase quality seeds and other items to use on your food plot and seek the advice of other hunters in both planting and preparation to ensure yielding a vibrant, lush crop that deer will find irresistible.

5. Wait Until the Time is Right

This one is perhaps the most important tip we can provide, yet it may not be something most hunters will have the patience to do.

Do NOT hunt over the food plot until the rut begins.

By waiting and allowing the deer to become comfortable stepping out into your food plot, you will capitalize on the element of surprise when you finally do climb into that stand overlooking the plot. Giving deer a few months to get used to regularly using the food plot during daylight hours is key.

It is tempting to hunt over the plot early in the season as you’re very likely to see deer in or around the edges of the plot. However, if you exercise patience and wait until the rut, it will certainly pay off in the long-run.

Bucks are not likely to use a food plot at all until after dark. Does, on the other hand, will begin to step into the plot during daylight hours and grow accustomed to feeding during the day. Does will stay close to the food plot throughout the hunting season as it will continually provide a place for them to safely feed.

Once the rut kicks in, where will the bucks know to find the does on your property?

Use these tips to start planting a food plot that will maximize your hunting efforts and produce the best results from your land. Remember, it may take a few years and some trial and error to gain knowledge and insight on just how to prepare and plant your specific food plot, so be patient and happy hunting!

Passing It On

Recent data suggests that the number of hunters and anglers are declining steadily. As our society progresses toward a more digital, connected world, the number of outdoorsmen and women are dwindling. As lovers of all things outdoors, we are at a crucial time in history where it is up to each one of us to pass on the love and respect for the great outdoors to our youth.

I was fortunate to be practically raised in the woods and on the water by my father, grandfather and uncles. I was taught from a very early age to respect nature and treat it as if it were something I owned and would one day pass down to my children.

I was taught to never kill anything I did not intend to eat or use in some way. I was also taught to respect all wildlife and other hunters, anglers, and landowners. And I was taught to always leave a place better than you found it.

We, as outdoorsmen and women, hold these values in very high regard. Passing on the love for the outdoors—the exhilarating rush when you shoot your first deer, and the excitement you feel when you have a fish on the end of a line—are easily passed on to the next generation. But, a wholesome respect for the great outdoors is something that must be taught to newcomers.

Now, more than ever, we must take initiative to pass on our love for the outdoors in the right way. And to not only pass on our love for the outdoors to our children, but to other youth and friends who we can introduce into the awe-inspiring natural world that is also dwindling as mankind further encroaches upon the wild.

At Man Can Outdoors, we encourage you to do something this summer to help pass on our love for the great outdoors in the right way to someone. Take a child fishing, take your spouse on a mountain hike to a waterfall, take your friends on a river kayak trip. Do something in the great outdoors and use that opportunity to help instill the same love and respect for nature that was once instilled in us by someone we hold dear.

As our world continues to change, join us in the revival and rediscovery of modern man’s sense of outdoor adventure. In an age where men are accustomed to the frills of civilized life, we seek to encourage an exploration of the great outdoors. There is a primal urge that calls all of us out into the wild. Cast civilization aside and discover the vast oceans, rivers, and lakes, rugged mountains, wide-open plains, and dense hardwoods. While the world, and its closed-minded inhabitants tell you man can’t, we are here to tell you…Man Can.

The Sleeping Bear


This article was written by Jason Swindle and was originally posted on the Swindle Law Group’s official website here. 


In 1979, an epic story about brothers, war, and life in the Montana wilderness was written that no one would hear about until 1994.

Some American Indians in the Montanas believe that an encounter with a bear in the wild changes a man. The bear becomes part of him. While the bear may sleep, he is always with the man. The bear can awaken at any time.

I believe the bear is also a natural part of few men when they are born.

I have known such men.

Because of betrayals the United States government perpetrated on the American Indians, Col. William Ludlow left the army and moved to a remote part of Montana. Along with One Stab, his friend from the Cree Indian Tribe, he built a ranch and raised his family.


Ludlow had three sons: Alfred, the oldest who unsuccessfully sought his father’s approval his entire life, Tristan, the Colonel’s favorite son, who was wild and well-versed in American Indian traditions, and Samuel, the youngest, who was constantly watched over by his brothers.

Ludlow’s wife did not adapt to the harsh Montana winters and moved to the East Coast; Tristan vowed never to speak of her again. At age 12, Tristan touched a sleeping grizzly bear. The bear awakened and injured him, but he stabbed at the bear’s paw and cut off a claw.

From the age of 12, Tristan Ludlow would adopt the ancient ways of the Cree, battle the bear inside of him, and try to protect the ones he cared for the most.

When the boys went to Europe to fight Germany during World War I, Samuel volunteered for a dangerous reconnaissance mission and was killed by enemy gunfire. A devastated Tristan, who arrived too late, held Samuel until he died. Then, as he was taught, cut out his brother’s heart and sent it home to be buried at the ranch. That night, he single-handedly raided the German lines. After his attack, he returned to camp with the scalps of numerous German soldiers.

When Tristan came home, he and Susannah, Samuel’s fiancee before he died, began a relationship. Although he cared for her deeply, Tristan’s guilt over Samuel’s death forced him to leave Montana again. During his absence, Col. Ludlow suffered a stroke, the ranch deteriorated, and Susannah married Alfred, now a congressman. Tristan would never be able to save her from the misery of living with Alfred. She committed suicide just a few years later.

Tristan returned during Prohibition. He married and had two children. Like many folks during that era, became involved in small-scale rum-running, finding himself at odds with a powerful bootlegging family; the O’Banions. When his wife was accidentally killed by an associate of the O’Banions, Tristan took the lives of those responsible; beginning a feud that would end up costing the lives of all the O’Banions.

Years and people passed away. But, Tristan lived to become old in the North Country. While One Stab believed Tristan would die as a young man, it was the people he cared for and wanted to protect most that died young. In 1963, he was once again confronted by a grizzly bear. The old man drew his knife. One Stab would say, “It was a good death”.

The story told in Legends of the Fall was from a different and lawless era. Today, Tristan Ludlow would be in prison for numerous crimes. But, the story provides the best example of those rare men who are inherently good, care more for others than themselves, risk their lives trying to protect others, but also commit violent, vengeful or bad acts along their life journey.

One Stab provides the simple reason. “I think it was the bear, growling inside him. Making him do bad things. Nothing that Tristan did was truly his own fault. It was the bear.”

Yeti vs. NRA: Cool Your Guns

An Opinion Piece

National_Rifle_Association_official_logo.svgThis weekend, I spent most of my time off the internet and enjoying my break from the weekday work grind. On Sunday night when I got home, it came as a surprise to me to read that Yeti had cut ties from the NRA. My first source was a Facebook post, and I felt skeptical in the validity due to Yeti’s target audience being mostly conservatives. After researching some more, the NRA President, Marion P. Hammer, did in fact release a statement on Friday saying, “They(Yeti) will only say they will no longer sell products to The NRA Foundation. That certainly isn’t sportsmanlike. In fact, YETI should be ashamed.” Basically, Yeti was condemning the 2nd amendment by the internet’s and my personal interpretation.

After reading that statement, I felt hurt and disturbed that a brand I trusted would betray me. Yet, I still wanted to hear Yeti’s side of the story before making my mind up about leaving a brand that I supported for years. All night, I looked for their counter statement, and to my dismay, I found nothing on the subject.

It was Monday evening when Yeti release their statement citing a removal in a program that effected the NRA and other companies. They also reinforce their pro 2nd Amendment stance in that post,but three days is a lifetime in the social media world. The delayed statement condemning the NRA’s message and promoting the 2nd Amendment was too little, too late. The damage has already been done to the brand, and Yeti’s competitors were ready.


58198254-D052-46C4-9563-42139B1D0FBDRTIC, ORCA and Pelican brand coolers circled like hungry lions with their pro 2nd amendment posts and campaigns. Brand loyalty is hard to earn but opportunities like this for Yeti’s competitors are essential to gain market share.  Personally, I will not blow up or sale my Yeti, but like the rest of their disgruntle customer base, I will probably not buy Yeti again, and these companies are making the transition easier to another brand.

Charitable Giving for the Outdoorsman

As the year comes to an end, we enter the season of giving with Christmas and Hanukah. During this time, I reflect on the important things in my life, family and the outdoors. The tranquility of the hunt or the quiet reflection on the lake brings my senses to a calm. Warming my heart, the thoughts of my little cousins first season hunting and his successful first kill. This is what truly what is important in life to an outdoorsman, legacy and sustainability.

Sustainability is very important to me because I love to get lost in the untouched playground of the wilderness and reap nature’s bounty in ways that God blessed me to do so. I volunteer and join several organizations to help sustain our waters, forests and wildlife for future generations.

One way that we all can help during this time of giving is with a monetary donation to an organization that supports sustaining your outdoor passion. Just like tithing, the donation can be tax deductible. I support Trout Unlimited, Chattahoochee River Keeper and the CCA because my passion of fishing. Here is a list of organizations that you could donate to as well.


Ducks Unlimited
Hunting organization | Website | $35 annual membership fee


National Wild Turkey Federation
Hunting organization | Website | $35 annual membership fee


Boone and Crockett Club
Hunting organization | Website | $35 annual membership fee


Trout Unlimited
Fishing organization | Website | $35 annual membership fee


Pheasants Forever
Hunting organization | Website | $35 annual membership fee


Safari Club International
Hunting organization | Website | $65 annual membership fee


Delta Waterfowl Foundation
Hunting organization | Website | $30 annual membership fee


International Game Fish Association
Fishing organization | Website | $40 annual membership

Whitetails Unlimited
Whitetail deer hunting organization | Website | $25 annual membership fee (adult)


Chattohoochee Riverkeeper
River Conservation | Website | $35 annual membership fee (adult)


Coastal Conservation Association (CCA)
Coastal Conservation | Website | $30 annual membership fee (adult)

Outdoorsman’s Christmas Gift Ideas


It is so hard to buy for the Outdoors person in your life. The Man Can Outdoors writers brainstormed what an outdoors enthusiast would want for Christmas. After a few conversations, we came up with a top Here is a quick rundown.

  1. Gift Card to Cabela’s, Bass Pro or any outdoor store is always a safe bet but is not as a personal as actual gear.
  2. Fishing Line, lures or Hooks are essential for every angler and make a great stocking stuffer. Take a sneak peek into his tackle bag for size or style.
  3. Ammo can be another great stocking stuffer. Go to your local gun shop if you know what he carries in the woods.
  4. Filet knifes or skinning knifes are great mid-grade gift ideas. A quality knife can help any outdoor adventure.
  5. Guided Hunting or Fishing Trip is a higher end gift but several outfitters offer black Friday or holidays deals to get people introduced to their service.
  6. Boots/Boat shoes/Wading shoes are another mid-grade gift that outdoors folks will be very grateful to receive.
  7. Sunglasses are essential for any outdoor activity and could be a stocking stuffer to premium gift depending on brand.
  8. Headlamp/Flashlights are always needed for fishing and hunting, and your outdoorsman could never have too many.
  9. Binoculars are used in sight fishing and hunting. They will be a great midrange gift for your outdoorsman.
  10. Raingear is a great gift idea for your outdoorsman. A lot of times, we do not think about the elements and where a simple poncho.
  11. Broad heads for the archer in your life make another great stocking stuffer.
  12. Camo helps the hunter blend with outdoors during his adventure. Check out his closet for his preferred style.
  13. Hats/Beanies/facemask are great idea for a stocking stuffer. The elements are the outdoorsman’s greatest foe at times.
  14. Fishing Shirts with UV protection are essential for your angler. The sun can damage their skin and cause skin cancer and uv-rated fishing shirts are a great solution.
  15. Cover Scents to help your hunter stalk their trophies is another great idea.
  16. Calls for any wildlife that your hunter stalks make a wonderful smaller gift idea.
  17. Tumblers are very popular with outdoorsmen. From keeping their coffee hot or adult beverage cold, they are an awesome gift.
  18. Licenses and Preferences Points help outdoorsmen do what they love legally. If you are bold enough, get them a lifetime license.
  19. Books on fishing, survival and hunting make great gifts for your avid outdoors reader.
  20. Cast Iron Cooking Ware for those camping adventures will make a great gift that will be used for years as the cast iron ages well with time.

As a bonus, I also listed what the Man Can Outdoor writers wanted for Christmas. May our wish lists be a guide to help you shop for your outdoorsman.


  1. Lew’s Lazer Carbon RZ Casting Combo – All fishermen are always looking to add another rod and reel to their arsenal. This baitcasting rig can be purchased for around $100 at most big outdoor retailers. the Lazer Carbon RZ comes with the latest magnetic casting brake system to prevent backlash and birds nests. This rod and reel combo is perfect for any angler.
  2. Pair of Waders – After trout fishing on a few rivers in the Chattahoochee National Forest this summer, I quickly learned the value of a good pair of waders. While the cool mountain water is refreshing in the month of July, it can put a damper on all-day fishing trips. You can actually find a decent pair of waders online at Cabela’s or Bass Pro for fairly cheap. Some are even as low as $15.
  3. Case Lightweight Hunter Fixed-Blade Knife – This hunting knife if perfect for any big game hunter. The blade is 4-inch stainless steel, and fixed with a gut hook for field-dressing animals. This quality knife is one that would last a lifetime, and can be purchased for under $50.
  4. Black Diamond Storm Headlamp – This headlamp is one that can be used in all outdoor scenarios, from finding your stand before daylight on a cool autumn morning to night fishing, or even camping. This light is equipped with 3 LEDs for 350 lumens, which is bright enough to light up any nighttime activity. The headlamp is also waterproof, and features 3-color RGB mode. This headlamp is usually priced at around $45.
  5. Lowrance Hook-4x Mid/High Sonar – This is a quality sonar fish-finder that can be found for just over $100. The Lowrance Hook-4x has brilliant, high-resolution color display on a 4-inch screen. This model combines CHIRP Sonar with Downscan Imaging technology to help anglers distinguish between structure, baitfish, and those lunkers that hangout deep below the surface.


  1. Dexter Outdoors UC133-8-WS-1 PCP Dexter-Russell Flexible Fillet Knife with Moldable Handle & Sheath, 8″ – This fishing filet knife is ideal for the angler in your life. I prefer items that custom fit and the moldable handle makes each knife a perfect fit for their owner.
  2. Columbia Men’s Bahama Vent PFG Slip-On Boat Shoes – A pair of non-slip boat are essential for your angler to keep them on his feet without marking their boat. The Omni-Grip: non-marking rubber outsole is specifically designed for wet surfaces with razor siping.
  3. Rebel Wee Crawfish – I use this lure for trout, bass and panfish. It can work as topwater or diving crankbait. This lure in red is deadly in my small lake, and I have gotten stringers upon strings of shellcracker off one.
  4. SF Fly Fishing Landing Soft Rubber Mesh Trout Catch and Release Net – A rubber net works great to catch and release trout without harm and rubber also does not catch those pesky thrown hooks.
  5. Outdoor Gourmet Deluxe Fryer Stand – For low country boils, chili cook-offs, turkey frying and fish fries, you will need a good propane fryer. I have used outdoor gourmet for years and I need a spare one now.

I hope all the suggestions help you out this holiday season while shopping for your love ones.



How to Stop a Cruising Buck



Just a few days ago, I was hunting in a great spot and had what many hunters have likely experienced—a big buck came within view, but he was cruising for does, and headed away from my position. He was walking along a creek-bottom nearly 100 yards from my stand, and getting further away with each passing second.

The deer was making his way through some thick underbrush, which blocked my opportunity for a good shot.

Desperate to draw the buck back into range, I grabbed a doe bleat can from my pocket and hit the call. The bucks’ ears perked up, but his legs continued to move. Frustrated, I waited a few seconds and again sounded the bleat. The deer was having none of it, and trailed off into the brush.

As my heart raced, and my hands begin to tremble in excitement, I searched in the direction where I last got a glimpse of the buck, but saw no sign of his return. Weighing my options, I reached for a grunt call, hoping to stir him into investigating another male suitor in his turf. After sounding a few grunts, I waited…


We’ve all probably experienced something like this while hunting. It’s the peak of the rut here in Georgia, and bucks are “cruising” around, looking for does. These bucks are moving at all hours of the day and night, and bagging a monster buck is most likely to happen when he’s lovestruck and casting caution aside to find a mate.

I consulted with my father, Keith Karr, who is one of the most knowledgeable hunters I know, and asked for some tips on stopping a cruising buck if I have a similar encounter in the future. My Dad has killed more bucks than I’ve ever seen, and has accumulated a wealth of experience and wisdom over the years related to whitetail deer hunting.

Here are some key methods he pointed out that can be used to get a cruising buck to stop in its tracks, and—if you’re lucky—draw him back into shooting range.

First, let’s define what a “cruising” buck is. A buck is considered cruising when looking for a doe in heat during the rut. These cruisers are moving at a good enough clip that you’ll completely miss the opportunity for a shot if you’re not prepared.

These bucks will be moving faster than usual, and not interested in stopping to smell the roses. He won’t be in a flat-out run, but more of a trot.

“I’ve learned over the years of a few methods that can stop a buck and present you with a shot, but I’ve also found that sometimes these methods work, and other times they won’t,” Dad says.


“Assuming a buck is close enough to hear a bleat call, that’s the first thing I would do,” he says. “Sometimes you might not have a chance to reach and grab an actual bleat call, so I’ve actually just made a similar noise with my mouth and stopped a buck in its tracks.”

A cruising buck is already searching high and low for does in heat, so a bleat call could make him think you’re the answer to his prayers.A buck will need to be within about 100 yards to really have a chance to hear a bleat, especially if he’s moving along at a fast rate.

Sometimes you won’t have a chance to grab a bleat call. Dad said a simple “baa” sound (similar to a sheep) is usually close enough to the real thing to get a buck’s attention.

Whether using a bleat call, or trying to mimic the sound with your mouth, be sure not call too loud, as you might actually startle some bucks.  

It’s important to practice these calls before your hunt to ensure you can properly execute the sound you want when the time comes. There are loads of videos online that offer instructions on deer calls, so be sure to do your research.


“Second, if I can’t bleat, or if the bleat call doesn’t stop him, I would grunt,” says Dad. “If you don’t have a call handy, you can also make this call with your mouth. You’ll want to make an “oink” sound, just like you would if you were snorting like a pig. It might sound different to you, but a buck on the move won’t really be able to tell the difference in this and using an actual grunt call.”

Grunting should only be used when the deer is headed in another direction and you’re looking to get him to stop, or draw him back toward you.

In the experience mentioned above, after giving careful thought to the events, I realized that I may not have grunted loud enough for this buck to hear.

Be sure to consult with fellow hunters, or simply watch some videos online to get a better understanding of how to properly execute an effective grunt call.

Hunters will tell you that all bucks are different. Many have reported hearing a monster buck having a wheezy, nasal grunt while some younger, and smaller bucks sound like a blue-ribbon hog grunting.

A grunt call can be one of the most useful tools in a hunter’s arsenal if used correctly.

Remember, the closer the buck is, the softer the grunt should be. Grunting too loudly at a buck within 75 yards is likely to spook them.

When grunting at a cruising buck, be sure to keep it short and sweet, but don’t be shy with it either.



“Third, if a bleat or grunt won’t stop the buck, I would give a good, sharp whistle,” says Dad. “This is not something you might ever think to do to get a buck to stop, but the sound of a human whistling is a good way to stop a buck—especially if he is within range.”

A buck might be so zoned-in that grunts and bleats won’t phase him. But, a well-timed whistle is something that can often get his attention.

If All Else Fails, Yell

“If nothing else has worked at stopping the deer, I’ve made sort of a last-ditch effort, and yelled at a buck to get him to stop,” says Dad. “This is just a short, but loud verbal command like “hey” or “whoa” that is sure to get a buck’s attention.”

When using this method, Dad says there is one important point to cover.

“Be ready to pull the trigger,” he says. “Ninety percent of the time, this is sure to stop a buck, but you’ll only get a few seconds before he either runs, or continues on his path. Be ready for him to stop on a dime.”

Dad recalls using this method once, and missing a prime opportunity on a nice buck.

“I was sitting on a really pretty oak ridge when I heard a deer trotting toward me,” says Dad. “I looked, and it was a really nice 8-point buck coming right by my stand. I got up and grabbed my bow in time to draw back, but the buck was already very close to my stand. I yelled at him, and managed to get him to stop and present me a shot, but I made one mistake—I didn’t have my hand anchored in, and my sights weren’t lined up. Just that little bit of movement after he stopped was enough to spook the buck. He ran off, and I missed a good opportunity.”

You might use all four of these methods to no avail. Sometimes—especially in the rut—a buck is so crazed that nothing will stop him. But, if you do encounter a cruising buck, be sure to keep these methods in mind.

You might just get a shot that could be the difference in a wall-hanger and just another hunting story.