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The Total Outdoorsman: Hunt Better, Fish Smarter, Master the Wild

By T. Edward Nickens
10/10/2012 1:51:37 PM

A little bit here and a little bit there. You keep your eyes open. That's how you learn. You pick up a new knot from a new fishing buddy, or try a decoy trick you saw in a magazine. You make mistakes. And if you're lucky, like I was, there will be a mentor along the way. An unselfish someone who cares enough about you that he wants you to know everything he's ever learned.

That's the good thing about hunting and fishing and camping: You can never know it all, and you're never as good as you could be.

Over the years, I've learned from the best-mentors, buddies, guides, story subjects, and some of the most dedicated outdoor-skills competitors this world has ever seen. Put them together, and they've got a half dozen different ways to shoot a double or cast a fly rod. Here's the best of what I've learned from them, and on my own, in 35 years of hunting and fishing. And this is what all sportsmen should do with such knowledge: Pass it on.

Photo courtesy of dglassme

HUNTING

Good Dog

The best trick I ever taught my dog was to sit and stay for practically forever. A quiet, rock-solid sitter will be quickly forgiven for other minor trespasses.

A Predator's Pace

My earliest hunting memory was of a squirrel hunt in the snow. We found where a fox was trailing a rabbit, and I saw how the fox placed its hind foot almost on top of the front track to make a single line of tracks and preserve energy. That's called perfect stepping, and I'll never forget how the trail ended perfectly in a scuffle of dirt and leaves and blood-speckled snow.

My Do-It-All Winch

A come-along can haul your ATV up a steep hill, free a stuck truck, winch a boat to a trailer when the trailer winch fails, help straighten a smashed gunwale, and get a deer out of the creek gully. Mine is stashed behind the truck seats, so I always have it.

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