IBEW, USA Member Aids Fishery Research That May Benefit Anglers Nationwide

August 17, 2018 in Articles, Fishing, General

fishery research

USA member Dave Halverson holds a healthy Iowa muskie captured for tagging and future study.

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance member Dave Halverson is helping complete ground-breaking fishery research that could help other anglers catch more muskies and walleyes on reservoirs across the continent.

Halverson, 35, hails from Truro, Iowa, a short cast south of Des Moines. A member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 347, the hard-working electrician has been charged up over muskies for years.

“I love their absolute power and elusiveness,” he explained. “The feeling I get from watching a giant muskie chase down and inhale a lure at boatside is incomparable—and watching the fish swim away after release keeps me coming back.”

Halverson’s passion for muskies led him to help launch the Mid-Iowa chapter of Muskies, Inc., a national nonprofit dedicated to improving muskie fishing.

“One of our main goals is promoting muskie conservation through catch-and-release,” he said. “We educate people that these fish are much better off in the water, where others can enjoy them for years to come, than they are on a dinner plate or a wall.”

fishery research

Halverson assists researchers inside a tagging station.

But Halverson didn’t stop there. He and fellow club members donated time and financial support to a 5-year fishery research study by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Iowa State University that could have implications for muskie and walleye management across the country.

“We provided volunteers to help biologists capture, tag and release fish this spring,” Halverson said. “To date, we’ve volunteered approximately 35 hours, but expect that figure to reach 200 hours by the project’s completion. We also secured a $2,000 Muskies, Inc. grant and used it to purchase 1,200 tags for the study.”

According to Iowa DNR biologist Ben Dodd, the research targets the dynamics of fish loss in man-made reservoirs due to escapement over dam spillways and is being conducted on central Iowa’s Brushy Creek and Big Creek lakes.

“Muskie abundance in Big Creek Lake declined following heavy spring rains from 2007 to 2010,” said Dodd. “The fish were going over the spillway and scattering downstream. In 2012 we partnered with the Corps of Engineers, Big Creek State Park, Recycled Fish and Central Iowa Anglers to install a fish barrier at the Big Creek spillway.”

The barrier proved effective, but Dodd and Dr. Michael Weber of Iowa State University suspected some fish were still going with the flow. “To manage the lake so that it provides quality muskie fishing without throwing the food chain out of balance, we needed to know more about the number of fish lost and the variables related to escapement,” he said. “Walleyes are another important gamefish species affected by this issue, so we are studying them as well.”

fishery research

The study aims to determine the effectiveness of this fish barrier placed at the spillway Big Creek Lake.

Fishery research began in the spring of 2016, as DNR biologists and Iowa State researchers captured muskies and walleyes in both lakes and implanted tags that can be detected by automated readers located on the spillway of each lake. “Big Creek has a fish barrier and Brushy Creek does not, so the findings will help us compare the two scenarios and evaluate the effectiveness of the barrier,” Dodd said.

Halverson and other Mid-Iowa Muskies club members joined the fishery research effort in 2018. “Dave and other volunteers assisted us with electrofishing and netting fish, transporting them to a tagging station on shore and releasing them back into deep water in the middle of the lakes,” said Dodd. “These guys have been great to work with. It’s a nice partnership that enhances our ability to conduct valuable research with limited resources.”

While the study still has two years to go, Dodd said early results are already enlightening. “We’ve lost 170 tagged walleyes and 25 tagged muskies from Brushy Creek (no barrier), compared to just 13 walleyes and 5 muskies on Big Creek,” he said. “So, the barrier is definitely making a difference.”

The fishery research data also provides a wealth of useful information on each escapee. “We can tell the size, age and gender of the tagged fish that pass through the readers. We are also gathering data on other pertinent environmental factors, including water level, time of year and water temperature,” said Dodd. “On Big Creek, we’re really only losing a small number of younger fish and the larger, more valuable fish are staying in the lake.”

Dodd believes the study’s results could someday guide walleye and muskie management on impoundments far from the Iowa study area. “We will eventually present our research, which could help other fisheries biologists and ultimately improve fishing opportunities in reservoirs around the country,” he said.

For Halverson, such a prospect makes time spent volunteering even more rewarding. “It can seem like a second full-time job now and then,” he laughed. “But it’s definitely worth the effort.”

Halverson also has a message for his union brothers and sisters. “If you’re passionate about an outdoor sport or pursuing a particular species of fish or wildlife, get involved with an organization to protect that tradition and pass it along to future generations,” he says. “The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and Muskies, Inc. are two examples of groups that can help you make a difference.”

Written by Dan Johnson

Catching Summertime Crappie and Catfish Day and Night

August 16, 2018 in Articles, Fishing, General

 

Summertime is made for inviting friends and family for a fish fry. Two delicious fish to catch day or night are crappie and catfish. These fish bite best when the current is running. Or, in a lake without current, both crappie and catfish will hold on the thermocline, a place where cool water from the bottom and the warmer top layer water meet along the edges of underwater creek and river channels, humps, drop-offs, brush and ledges.

Taking Summer Crappie Day and Night Crappie and Catfish

Avid crappier Jonathan Phillips of Wetumpka, Alabama, knows that summertime crappie will relate to underwater structure that can’t be spotted without a depth finder and uses these tactics when he fishes crappie tournaments all across the nation.

“I like a Humminbird Helix 10 HD side scanning and down scanning depth finder,” Phillips says.

Since Phillips generally fishes offshore in a main lake or the main part of the river where jet skiers and pleasure boaters create waves, he explains, “Instead of using multiple poles and spider rigging during the summer, I’ll fish with a single pole with either a double- or a single-minnow rig straight down to where I’ve located the crappie with my depth finder.”

He also uses maps like Navionics and Humminbird’s LakeMaster, searches for contour bottom changes and scans with his depth finder around underwater structure to know where crappie are ganged-up.

Phillips compares catching summer crappie in deep water to picking cotton. “Start at the top of the school, catch as many crappie as possible, move deeper into the cover or the ledge, and then catch the center of the crappie school to keep from spooking other crappie.”

Phillips usually has 50-100 crappie locations identified and says, “I never try to catch all the crappie on any Crappie and Catfishlocation.”

When he drops a buoy on top of a school, he explains that he wants his minnow, “dancing right above the crappie. I’ll tight-line with live minnows and fish larger-profile jigs, due to the big size of the spawned shad. You must keep your minnows alive with a battery-powered aerator in a cooler containing ice treated with Better Bait Systems to get rid of chlorine and the minnows’ ammonia problem.”

The amount of weight Phillips fishes depends on depth and current, primarily 1/2- to 3/4-ounce on 8-pound-test hi-vis main line with a slip sinker above a barrel swivel and 18 inches of 6-pound leader with a #1 wire crappie hook at its end. If vertical jigging, Phillips fishes a chartreuse-colored jig or a jig with a chartreuse tail, doesn’t tip his jigs with minnows and uses fish attractant.

To avoid the heaviest boat traffic from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm, he often fishes with his wife Alicia at night near deep-water boat docks with lights that attract baitfish and crappie. However, they’ve learned the best summer crappie bite often occurs from just before daylight until 10:00 am.

Crappie fishermen across the country use these methods of catching crappie as well as longline trolling with jigs and/or crankbaits, fishing small inline spinners, side-pulling hair jigs tipped with minnows, shooting docks with jigs and fishing shallow water and deep water blowdowns with minnows.

Catching Daytime Summer CatfishCrappie and Catfish

Everyone knows tailraces are productive places to catch summer catfish in the daytime. Dams are summertime catfish-catching sites, and locks offer long concrete walls leading into the lock where baitfish and catfish hold. Motor up to the lock wall, run beside the wall with a depth finder to spot baitfish and structure, kill your motor and start fishing.

Most dams have wing walls in front of their floodgates, coming from the base of the dam out into the water, with the concrete above the water extending below the water. The end of an underwater wing wall often will have a hole that’s been created due to the tremendous amount of current at the end of the wing wall when the floodgates are open, and/or water comes over the dam. Below the dam too, the underwater rock piles will yield catfish.

Catfish may hold in the slack water created when turbines run side by side, and the underwater rocks break the current, forming a slack-water groove or seam. Bumping the bottom for catfish there is very effective.

Many anglers fish for cats with abrasion-resistant 15-20-pound line and check their lines every time they catch a catfish to identify the damage done by the catfish. The sharp, bony spines on a catfish’s dorsal and pectoral fins will nick and cut line. Some catfishermen will move 10 – 12 inches up the line, pinch on a 1/2-ounce split shot, tie a #2 Eagle Claw Pattern 84 hook onto the end of the line, and fish with live threadfin shad minnows. This size hook allows you to hook the threadfin shad through the nose without killing it.

Taking Big Catfish by Day and NightCrappie and Catfish

During the summer whether the current’s running or not, Phil King of Corinth, Mississippi, who’s won numerous national catfish contests, as well as participated in international catfish competitions, searches for monster sized catfish – 12–100 pounders – in holes in the bottoms of lakes and rivers by day and at night.
“I use my depth finder to locate holes in the bottom and often can spot catfish holding in front of a hole, in a hole or in a second drop-off in the hole,” King explains. “I define a hole in the bottom as a small depression that may only be 4–5 feet wide and 6–10 feet long, or it may be a deep bottom break that runs for 1/2-mile downriver.”

To fish the holes, King likes a two hook rig baited with fresh chicken livers, sometimes dipping them in red food coloring. Here’s how King rigs to fish holes. His main line is 60-65-pound test braided line with a heavy duty three-way swivel tied to it. Coming off the second eye of the three-way swivel, King ties 2 feet of 60-pound monofilament line and a No. 5/0 or a No. 8/0 circle hook. On the bend of the hook, he attaches 2-4 inches of 60-pound monofilament line and adds a second hook, since he fishes for very large catfish. Coming from the third eye of the three-way swivel, he ties 2 feet of 60-pound monofilament and attaches a 1-4-ounce lead sinker, depending on the current.

“When I go downriver to fish holes, I think about how to position my boat and how to fish those holes,” King reports. “I’ll start fishing above the hole and bump my baits back with a controlled drift, using my trolling motor, so that I can catch fish in front of the hole first. If the cats are in a feeding mode, they’ll be out of the hole and from 5–10 feet out in front of the lip of the break. If they’re not in a feeding mode, they’ll be down in the hole.Crappie and Catfish

“Let your lead and your bait drift back about 40 to 60 feet from the boat as you bump the bottom and while you’re holding your boat against the current with your trolling motor. You want to feel your lead tag the bottom slightly as you walk the bait back to the edge of the hole and allow the lead and the bait to fall into the hole. Continue to bump the lead back along the bottom of the hole.”

To catch the very big cats, remain silent in the boat anywhere around the hole. King has discovered that the bigger a catfish is, the more sensitive it is to sound. Then you can catch, photograph and release a monster catfish.

*** Be sure to check the regulations in your state about the sizes of catfish you can keep.

Written by John E. Phillips 

Union Volunteers Expand Boy Scouts’ Camp Meriwether Shooting Sports Facilities

August 14, 2018 in Conservation News, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Camp Meriwether

Union volunteers helped construct three new ranges at Camp Meriwether.

Union volunteers recently teamed up with the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance to help complete an ambitious range-expansion project at Oregon’s Camp Meriwether that gives Boy Scouts from across the West Coast an enhanced shooting sports experience.

Sixteen volunteers from the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers (RWAW) Local 49 and Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) Locals 737 and 296 donated 260 hours of skilled labor to help complete the $800,000 project, which added three new ranges to the popular camp.

The project was organized under the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program.
Located in rugged coastal wilderness along the Pacific shoreline near Cloverdale, Oregon, 790-acre Camp Meriwether is considered the flagship of the Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) Cascade Pacific Council and can accommodate more than 500 campers each day.

Shooting sports including archery, air rifle, rimfire, shotgun and larger caliber firearms are collectively among the Boy Scout’s most popular activities. Yet for years, Camp Meriwether’s facilities were limited to just eight rifle shooting stations, eight archery stations and two shotgun stations.

Camp Meriwether

Sixteen volunteers representing the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers (RWAW) Local 49 and Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) Locals 737 and 296 donated their time and talents to the project.

In 2013, the council launched an effort to expand the facilities with a 24-lane rifle range, 24-lane archery range and 10-station shotgun range. After years of planning, fundraising and site prep, the project’s final phase began in 2018. This spring and summer, union volunteers assisted in the framing, sheeting and underlayment for the three new range structures—more than triple the camp’s capacity to introduce youths to the shooting sports.

“The involvement of skilled trade volunteers is so important when a BSA camp takes on a major project,” said Frank Reigelman, BSA’s team lead for outdoor programs and properties. “Volunteers from the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance enabled Camp Meriwether to expand its shooting sports ranges to serve members with updated facilities. It’s a win-win as union volunteers enjoy an opportunity to help their communities and the camp receives a high-quality program area.”

“Kids from southern California to Washington get together here to learn about the outdoors and experience activities like archery, trapshooting and riflery,” added USA project leader Travis Hopkins, of RWAW Local 49. “This teaches them pastimes they can enjoy for a lifetime. But it also encourages them to expand their horizons and gives them confidence to try new things—which ultimately helps them become strong members of a healthy community.”

“The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance is proud to help hardworking union volunteers expand Camp Meriwether’s facilities,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance. “The Boy Scouts of America will use these new ranges to teach thousands of youths safe and responsible firearms and archery skills each season for years to come.”

An official dedication ceremony is planned as part of a grand opening celebration at the new range later this summer.

This isn’t the first time the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance has worked with Boy Scouts of America, and it certainly won’t be the last.

8 Ways to Connect Kids to the Outdoors

August 13, 2018 in Articles, General

Growing up in a little northern Wisconsin town, my brother, John, and I were wild kids that spent all of our free time in the woods and waters near our home. There was no internet then, we didn’t have cable TV and we lived to be outside. For us, every day was a new and exciting adventure of our own choosing—we swam, climbed trees, caught frogs and snakes, built stick forts and let our unbound imaginations steer our lives. We were untamed and unencumbered by all of the woes of the world. We were wild children!

Our kids today have it much tougher. The invention of the internet, smart phones, Netflix and 200 channel TVs are robbing them of the wild upbringings we had. Today’s plugged-in, tuned-in, logged-on world is inhibiting their natural adventuresome spirits. The good news is that it’s not too late—grand adventures still await those who seek them. Here are 8 Ways to Connect Kids to the Outdoors.

8 Ways to Connect Kids to the Outdoors:

1. Camping8 Ways to Connect Kids to the Outdoors

Camping is simple, easy, affordable and fun. A cheap tent, a couple sleeping bags and, most importantly, a positive attitude and you can turn an overnight in the backyard into a wild adventure to a new, undiscovered place. If your kids are really young, start with a night in the tent in the living room, then in the backyard and then to an actual campground. Ease into it, and avoid camping if it’s wet or cold until they are seasoned campers. A roaring campfire and headlamp for each kid helps ease the fear of the dark. Lots of food and snacks keep tummies quiet and happy too. Campgrounds are plentiful and easy to find with a little research. Our family prefers National Forest campgrounds because they are typically more remote and have more distance between the campsites. Most feature a lake or other natural point of interest that can provide additional opportunities. Check out www.reserveamerica.com to find a campsite that suits your comfort level.

2. Kayaking8 Ways to Connect Kids to the Outdoors

The surge of interest in small kayaks is easy to understand once you paddle one. People young and old love being on the water, and a 10 or 12-foot kayak is affordable and easy to paddle. Their small size, slow speed and quiet propulsion provide a more intimate connection to the water and the wildlife that surrounds it. Our family frequently paddles the rivers around our home. Getting a few friends to join in adds to the enjoyment and helps with pre-positioning vehicles. We typically plan two to four hour paddles starting upstream and ending at a bridge or take-out where we can leave a vehicle. Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy in a scenic spot and a waterproof camera to capture the scenery. Websites like www.paddling.com can help you find a paddling adventure near you.

3. Geocaching

Geocaching offers a simple but thrilling premise to kids. Use a simple GPS device to find hidden treasures! Kids and adults love the allure of navigating and searching not knowing what will be found at the cache. Geocaches are everywhere; I bet you have one within a few blocks of your home. Visit the website www.geocaching.com and set up a free account. Then search for caches that you would like to look for. Typically, most caches will have marked trinkets that you can take and then relocate to a different cache. You can log your finds on the website and begin marking off geocaches found on your family trips. Plus, it is a good excuse for you to get that new GPS you have been thinking about too.

4. Campfire Cooking8 Ways to Connect Kids to the Outdoors

Cooking over a campfire brings out something primal in kids. The simple act of cooking a meal becomes a lesson about where their food comes from. There are lots of fun campfire recipes, but simple hobo meals like a hot dog on a stick or s’mores make it fun and easy to cook over an open fire. If you take the time to plan ahead and do a little of the prep work ahead of time, cooking over a campfire can be enjoyable for adults too. Always have a backup plan to feed the hungry if things get burned or don’t turn out. In Boy Scouts, we start the kids with basic, fun foods and, within a couple years, they are making gourmet meals in Dutch ovens over open fires.

5. Fly a kite

Modern kites have come a long way from the old cross framed ones we used to make from dowels and paper and then promptly crash. The new aerodynamic delta designs make modern kites easy to fly and beautiful to watch. For a young child, it is hard to beat the magical experience of holding onto a string while a kite pulls and dances in the sky on the other end. Kite flying is affordable, and the equipment can be used over and over again. Pick up a couple of kite kits and help the kids build and decorate them. They will love the time spent with you in anticipation of watching something they have made soar high into the blue sky. Have the kids help watch the forecast for a day with some steady winds. Then head to the local park or open space for a couple of hours of fun.

6. Rock Climbing 8 Ways to Connect Kids to the Outdoors

Getting into rock climbing is not difficult, and good spots can be found all over. Rock climbing doesn’t need to be as extreme as highly technical climbs on steep pitches. Instead, think about climbing lower angle rocks and hillsides. With some basic safety training, single belay line, a simple harness and helmet, you can be off for a grand adventure. I recommend hiring a guide the first couple of times to learn the basics and experiment with equipment. Typically, they are affordable and excited to teach the sport to newcomers. The big thing to remember is not to over complicate it. Kids naturally are curious climbers. Just add in a measure of safety, and the enjoyment of a day exploring rocks will trump Snapchat any day.

7. Take a hike8 Ways to Connect Kids to the Outdoors

Turn a simple walk in the woods into an adventuresome hike exploring a new and wild place. Bring the camera, binoculars and a birding book to maximize the time on the trail. Make a game out of who can spot the most bird and wildlife species. The level of enjoyment on a hike is totally set by you. If you bring a level of excitement and discovery, the kids will too. Bring along a pack with plenty of snacks, water, sunscreen and bug spray. Each hike can be framed as a new journey with untold wonder with you as the guide. Point out things that might be obvious to you but not the kids, such as plants, animals or landscape features. This is your chance to impart your woodsman knowledge onto the next generation.

8. Photography

Photography is a way for kids to look at the outdoors through a totally different lens. A camera can steer kids to discover new and beautiful things they might not normally notice. Tell them you are taking them on a photo safari. Then go to a local natural area to explore with camera in hand. Set out on your safari to discover and document bugs, birds, flowers, landscapes, sunsets and wildlife of all kinds. Digital cameras can be found in a variety of price ranges to fit your budget. I recommend spending as much as you can afford on a camera. Cell phone cameras still lag in picture quality when compared to a quality DSLR camera, and the point is to get the kids away from their phones and connected to the world around them. The photos you take together while on your safari will forever remind you about your time together venturing into new and wild places.8 Ways to Connect Kids to the Outdoors

Take this list of ideas to the kids. Then, hide their smart phones and get outside to pursue some adventures in the great outdoors. Fun, exciting and engaging outdoor activities bring out their imaginations and will help them find their inner wild child.

Written by Bob Barteck, IAFF Local 425 Alumni

 

Shotgunning Tips to Help You Break More Clays and Drop More Birds

August 7, 2018 in Articles, General, Hunting

shotgun shooting tips

Accuracy doesn’t happen by accident. Whether you’re on the firing line at a trap range or taking aim as a rooster pheasant flushes in the field, there are tricks to hitting the target.

To boost your odds of making every shot count, we offer the following five timely shotgun shooting tips. Keep in mind there’s no time like the present to put these shotgun shooting tips into practice, since August is National Shooting Sports Month, organized by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance allies at the National Shooting Sports Foundation. For more information and to locate a shooting facility in your area, CLICK HERE.

Get Fit

It doesn’t matter whether you’re gunning for upland game or clay pigeons, proper shotgun fit is crucial to consistent success. The reason is simple: If your gun doesn’t fit, it might not shoot where you’re looking.

A number of factors come into play, including length of pull, pitch and drop at both comb and heel. Good news is, simple tests can help you check fit, such as lining up the beads to form a figure-eight and making sure you’re not crawling up a short stock or over-extending your form due to a protracted length of pull. If you have any doubts about a shotgun’s fit, work with a reputable gunsmith for a solution.

Make Yourself Comfortable

Shooters who find their comfort zone hit more targets. One of the best ways to achieve stress-free shotgunning is to become intimately familiar with your firearm, so there’s no fumbling or hesitation at the moment of truth. Practice is key to making this happen, so don’t skimp on range time.

A comfortable shooting position also boosts success. Shooting coaches like the legendary Rick Marshall Jr. recommend finding your most comfortable position and then assuming it whenever possible, so you can swing the barrel with no restriction of movement.

shotgun shooting tips

Trap shooting ace Rick Marshall advises shooters to stay focused and be comfortable, confident and familiar with their firearms.

Stay Focused

Total concentration helps avoid misses fueled by distraction. When you begin to mount the gun, focus on seeing what you want to hit. Toward that end, Marshall suggests using a catch phrase to keep your mind on point.

The words are up to you. Since the goal is to help you focus, short and sweet phrases are best. For example, when trapshooting, Marshall tells himself to “see the target” right before he calls pull. “That way, when the target comes out, I see it and break it,” he says. “It’s as simple as that.”

Chin Up

A poor attitude can kill your accuracy faster than almost anything. “Shooting is 90 percent mental, 10 percent physical,” Marshall tells students. ““Keep a positive attitude and believe in yourself, even after you miss a shot. I’ve seen too many shooters get discouraged after missing a target, then miss two or three more shots because the negative energy drags them down.”

In a similar vein, staying positive in the face of adversity such as inclement weather, strong winds or other challenges serves you better than complaining or worrying about them.

Practice With A Planshotgun shooting tips

Practice makes perfect, but the goals of practice are more important than just shooting. The secret to productive practice is not shooting as much as you can, but practicing with the goal of improving what you do. Otherwise you just repeat the same mistakes over and over.

Next time you head for the range, identify an area of your shooting you’d like to improve, then figure out how to fix it.

 

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Expands Communications Team

August 3, 2018 in General, Press Release

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) has expanded its communications department with the addition of Dan Johnson as the organization’s new public relations manager.

Created by and dedicated to union members and their families, the USA is stepping up its communications efforts to keep pace with a record-setting increase in projects and events aimed at uniting union members for conservation, outreach and community service.

“The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance is committed to extending our conservation impact, serving our growing community of union members, and calling attention to the increasing influence organized labor and union volunteers are having in the battle to preserve our outdoor heritage,” said Brian Dowler, the USA’s director of membership, marketing and communications. “With his union background, communications experience, and love of hunting, fishing and the outdoors, Johnson is a great asset to our communications team.”

A veteran communications and marketing professional, Johnson served as communications director of the North American Gamebird Association, senior editor of North American Fisherman magazine and public relations manager for Lindy Fishing Tackle.

He has worked closely with outdoor industry clients including Pure Fishing, Savage Arms, Federal Ammunition, The Bass Federation and Cabela’s, and collaborated with organizations including Wildlife Forever, Pheasants Forever and the National Shooting Sports Foundation to increase public awareness of the many threats to North America’s natural resources and outdoor traditions.

Johnson is also a proud past member of United Auto Workers Local 879, having worked three years on the assembly line in the body build department of Ford Motor Company’s Twin Cities Assembly Plant in St. Paul, Minnesota.

“I am honored at the chance to support the USA’s efforts to preserve our outdoor heritage, while sharing with the world all the great stories of hard-working union brothers and sisters volunteering their time and talents in the name of conservation, mentorship, public access and the betterment of their communities,” said Johnson.

The USA recently marked a number of milestones, including its 10th anniversary, 100th Work Boots on the Ground project and a decade of the USA Shooting Tour. The organization eclipsed all records for mission delivery and fundraising in 2017 and with the completion of a number of major projects across the country is on track to establish new benchmarks in 2018.

In addition to this historic growth, the USA recently forged strategic partnerships with the National Wild Turkey Federation, Pure Fishing, Pheasants Forever, Outtech and the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation, which will allow the USA to supply critical funding, materials and skilled union volunteer labor to a variety of conservation, recruitment and retention efforts.

12 Tips to Help You See More Deer on Archery Opener

August 3, 2018 in General, Hunting

Archery Opener

1) Have Your Eyesight Checked and Improve Your Vision

Often hunters overlook the most critical tool to successful hunting – vision. I’ve always thought if you wear glasses, you can see better than people who don’t, and 20/20 vision and experience in hunting and shooting are enough to make someone a productive hunter. However, no matter how well you see, you can be taught to see better and to recognize what you see more quickly and accurately. According to optometrists I’ve spoken with, vision is the ability to use what you see to perform some task. For example, you use your eyesight to see a truck coming your way, but by using your vision, you know what to do to keep from getting run over.

“Being able to see deer in the woods, distinguishing bucks from does, perceiving direction of flight and then reacting quickly enough to take a shot are learned skills that can be developed and improved,” said Dr. Gary Etting, a developmental optometrist in Encino, California, who has worked with sports vision skills for U.S. Olympic teams.Archery Opener

2) Spend Twice as Much Time Scouting as Hunting

Bowhunter Dr. Robert Sheppard of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, says that to know you’ll have a buck in front of you on opening day, “Spend at least two hours scouting for every one hour hunting. Then less time is required to bag a buck.”

3) Pick Up Sheds and Use a Spotting Scope

Wildlife biologist Bob Zaiglin of Uvalde, Texas, reports that searching for shed antlers in the spring and the summer helps you to learn the numbers and sizes of bucks on the land you hunt. “Look for sheds and deer at naturally-occurring and manmade mineral licks in the summer to identify where deer are staying, besides watching farm crops, food plots and pastures to spot velvet anglers. I also use a spotting scope with a window mount to see deer from my truck in the summer.”

4) Meet the People Who Know Deer Where You Hunt

These people may see and know the locations of bucks on private and public lands and lands available for leasing – landowners, farmhands, wildlife biologists, foresters, timber cutters, school bus drivers, town barbers, bankers and postmen.

5) Know What Deer EatArchery Opener

Since deer are browsers and feed on more than 600 various types of plants, nuts and crops, you often can locate deer at many places. The local wildlife biologist for private and/or public lands can give you ideas of what the deer in your area prefer to eat at different times of the year.

6) Diagram a Green Field and Prepare Tree Stands and Shooting Lanes

First determine if a green field has quick access to dense cover, experiences little hunting pressure and is close to a place where deer travel. Identify the deer trails, pinpoint the best places for tree stands, and determine which way to approach a green field without your scent being carried there. Note that information in your GPS or logbook. Cut shooting lanes.

7) Pinpoint a Buck’s Core Area

“A deer must have three elements in its core area: food, water and cover, with cover being the most important,” Dr. Grant Woods, wildlife biologist from Reeds Spring, Missouri, says. “I define cover as a place where a deer feels secure and can avoid any disturbance that disrupt him by making him uneasy or raising his metabolic rate. Also constant wind direction influences the site a buck chooses for his core area, since deer use their noses more than their eyes for protection.”Archery Opener

8) Study Maps to Save Time Scouting

To look for places deer likely will be at the beginning of deer season, use Google Earth www.google.com/earth, Huntstand http://huntstand.com and OnX www.onxmaps.com maps. With your cell phone’s GPS, you can get to the sites where you want to hunt with Huntstand and OnX, even in regions with no cell service. Also MyTopo.com (www.mytopo.com) produces custom topographical maps, revealing where the high and low ground and water sources are. The aerial views can show you how much of the area is forested, nearby water sources and any development not visible from roads.

9) Set Aside a Sanctuary for Deer

The older, bigger bucks are the first deer to escape hunting pressure and move to sanctuary areas. One of the most common types of sanctuary areas are regions too hard to reach or too far away from an access road for most hunters to get. The second are little patches of thick cover that hunters walk past or don’t consider that they’re holding nice bucks. Alex Rutledge, nationally-known deer hunter from Birchtree, Mo., says, “Effective sanctuaries must have little or no human traffic.”

10) Choose Your Stand Site Last at Hunting Camp

Dr. Keith Causey, a retired professor of wildlife at Auburn University, once told me, “When I’m hunting private lands, I let everyone I’m hunting with pick the stand sites they want to hunt from that day. Then I take the area that no one else wants to hunt, and that’s often where I encounter bigger bucks – particularly on opening day.”

11) Use Attractants and Feeders Where Legal and Trail CamerasArchery Opener

To locate a buck to hunt on opening day, you need to be able to stop him, take a picture of him, watch him as his antlers grow and see where he goes after he leaves your attractant or feeder. Walk the edges of green fields to discover deer trails, and ask others about traditional deer trails.
A trail camera will help you determine what time of day or night the deer are appearing, as well as give you an idea of the buck-to-doe ratio on the property. Several cameras on the land will enable you to learn what trails bucks travel and where they are bedding.

12) Consider Hunting Cattle Farms

Alex Rutledge prefers to hunt cattle farms with their highly-nutritious soils that produce grasses and hay year-round and have water and pastures with thickets and shade trees. “The same needs of cattle equal all the same needs deer have.”

Written by John E. Phillips

Choose The Right Softbait For Better Summer Bass Fishing

August 2, 2018 in Fishing

Summer’s swelter doesn’t stop bass from biting. In fact, savvy anglers armed with the right lures and tactics can enjoy great hot-weather bass fishing for largemouths, smallies and spots.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s tackle-crafting friends at Pure Fishing offer a wide variety of products to help us get the job done, including a fistful of bass-catching softbaits made in Spirit Lake, Iowa, by the company’s Berkley brand.

bass fishing

PowerBait Power Worm

The Berkley softbait arsenal is broken into three separate families: PowerBait, Gulp! and Havoc. Knowing how the baits in each of these lineups excel in different fishing situations can help you catch more bass all summer long.

PowerBaitInfused with a bass-busting cocktail of natural attractants, PowerBait is a great all-around option and exceptional when finicky largemouth bass play hard to catch—such as in heavily pressured lakes or whenever the fish aren’t in the mood to bite. PowerBait also makes bass hang onto the bait longer after striking, giving you extra time to set the hook.

Gulp!Designed to flood the strike zone with tempting attractants,
Gulp! baits are ideal for slow-moving presentations such as drifting and
dropshotting. A Gulp! Leech or Minnow on a size 1 to 1/0 dropshot hook is hard to beat for summer smallmouth bass.

bass fishing

Gulp! Leech

HavocWhile PowerBait and Gulp! products are rich in scent and flavor, Havoc baits are built to trigger bass that are using their vision and lateral line system to capture prey. They excel for fast presentations aimed at aggressive bass, but can be equally effective pitched, punched and twitched.

Havoc baits also bring a variety of colors, shapes and actions to the table. Tailoring these particulars to the conditions and mood of the fish can be critical to success, especially in clear water—which is just another example of how choosing the right bait for each situation or presentation can help USA members catch more bass on every trip.

bass fishing

Havoc Pit Boss

 

Nichols Park Restoration Receives USA 2017 Conservation Project of the Year Award

August 2, 2018 in Conservation News, General, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Nichols Park Restoration

Oklahoma AFL-CIO President Jim Curry and Communications Director Debra Wojtek accepted the 2017 Conservation Project of the Year Award from USA CEO & Executive Director Scott Vance (L) and Director of Conservation Forrest Parker (R) on behalf of the many union partners involved in the Nichols Park restoration.

Union volunteers’ restoration of historic Nichols Park in Henryetta, Oklahoma, as a community gathering place in the great outdoors has garnered the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) 2017 Conservation Project of the Year Award.

Including follow-up work in 2018, more than 100 union workers from 23 union locals donated over 2,475 hours of skilled labor valued at nearly $91,000 and raised in excess of $13,000 for materials to complete a variety of critical improvements to the popular park.

Among the upgrades, volunteers replaced a pavilion roof, improved lighting, replaced picnic tables, cleared overgrown areas and replaced a dilapidated fishing dock with an ADA-compliant floating pier. Union volunteers also built and installed a new flagpole at the park entrance and constructed new camp-style barbecue grills.

Part of the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) conservation program, the Nichols Park restoration project was a team effort by the USA, the Oklahoma AFL-CIO and Oklahoma State Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC).

“This project is a picture-perfect representation of what drives the USA’s mission and how the union community eagerly embraces the opportunity to unite for conservation and community service,” said USA Director of Conservation and Community Outreach Forrest Parker, who announced the award July 24 at the USA’s annual Conservation Gala in Washington, D.C. “Union volunteers completely transformed an aging, poorly maintained city park into a place where the community can once again come together to enjoy the outdoors.”

Nichols Park Restoration

Union volunteers donated more than $100,000 in labor and materials to restore Nichols Park as a community gathering place in the outdoors.

Henryetta Mayor Jennifer Clason hailed the project and declared a special “Union Day” in its honor. “Restoring this historic park, which was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1941, was fabulous for our city,” she said. “What union volunteers did would have taken months for city crews to even begin to accomplish. The fishing dock would have been years out, if even on the radar due to the dilapidated infrastructure our city faces.

“We will be forever thankful to the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance for making this project happen without cost to our city,” Clason added. “It was truly amazing to see our park transformed from a work in progress to a dream getaway.”

Volunteers from the following unions and groups donated their time and skills to the Nichols Park restoration project: Oklahoma State AFL-CIO; Oklahoma BCTC; OPEIU Local 381; IAHFI Locals 94 and 64; TWU Local 514; UA Locals 344 and 430; IBEW Locals 584, 1002, 1141; NALC Local 442; GMP Local 48; SMART Locals 124 and 270; IUOE Local 627; BAC Local 5; IAMAW Local 850; Professional Fire Fighters of Oklahoma; LIUNA Local 107; USW; Roofers Local 143; and the city of Henryetta.

“It feels good being part of something that benefits your community,” said Oklahoma BCTC Executive Director Jimmy Fish. “I’m proudest of the new pier, which gives people a place to fish in the local area. It was very rewarding to see all the kids come down here and catch fish on it during the dedication celebration.”

Nichols Park Restoration

Among the many improvements to the park, union volunteers replaced a dilapidated fishing dock with an ADA-compliant floating pier.

Bow Season Starts Now: Summer Prep for Serious Hunters

July 31, 2018 in Articles, General, Hunting

Bow Season

The very first time I shot a “real” bow, I missed. When I say I missed, I mean the entire target… at 10 yards. I can still hear the sound of that Easton Gamegetter XX75 arrow skipping off the trees and rocks, breaking apart to its final resting place in the woods behind my childhood home. Maybe an archaeologist will find the mangled aluminum wreckage someday… I sure couldn’t.

It was my brother’s High Country Sky Force, some of you may remember that bow. It had dual-hatchet cams and that unmistakable early-90s camo. It was, for seven-year-old me, the most beautiful thing in the world, despite the fact that I couldn’t hit water in the middle of the Atlantic with it. I learned a few valuable lessons that day. First, if you want to be good at something, you need to work at it. Second, I don’t like to miss. Some may say it crosses the line into loath. Lastly, I wanted to know why I missed.

A few months later, my dad scraped up the money and bought me my very own bow. Thus began my journey into all things archery. Bowhunting, 3D, target, indoor, field, if there was a bow involved, I wanted to be signed up. Honestly, I’m glad I missed that first arrow. It ignited a desire to get better, develop my shooting and bowhunting skills, and it allowed me to learn why I missed.

Speaking of bow season, as hunters, we spend thousands of dollars on leases, countless hours setting treestands, setting trail cameras, planting food plots, scouting and much more leading up to bow season. We spend more time, effort and money than we care to admit in preparation of setting ourselves up for the perfect situation. Now, how many of us put that same amount of time and effort into the one factor we can actually control in this situation: shooting our bows?

This isn’t a “shoot your bow more” article, although we all should. This is the nuts and bolts of practicing more effectively and preparing your equipment for the moment of truth, and there’s no time like the present to prepare for bow season.

BOW SEASON PREP:


BACK TO BASICS:

The most basic of the previously mentioned processes are your points of contact: feet to the ground, release hand, and grip position on the bow. You wouldn’t guess it, but just slightly changing the position of your feet (from neutral to open or closed stance) can drastically change impact points. Essentially, you are changing everything about your form from your hips all the way up to your shoulders, which will alter your orientation to the target. Find a stance that is comfortable for you and make sure your feet are in the same position, or as close to it as possible depending on terrain, each time you draw your bow.

Release hand position—or more importantly the consistency of that position— is important, but so is how you activate the release. You’ve probably heard about back tension, hinge releases, trigger releases, hand held releases, half-moons, click or no click, and the list goes on and on. At this point it’s important to find what works for you and what you can do every time you shoot your bow. Repeatability is the absolute key to accuracy in archery.

A repeatable grip position (with minimal lateral torque on the bow) is also important, but I’ve found through my own failures and testing that I have to make serious errors with my bow hand to have any noticeable impact differences inside of 50 yards, but the smallest deviation in form and position in my release hand can cause “flyer arrows” at 20 yards. Focus on how your release fits into your hand and how you are applying pressure to make the release fire.

INTRODUCE SOMEONE NEW 

Introducing someone new to the sport is a more than worthwhile venture in the summer. Not only do you get another shooting partner and someone to enjoy archery and bowhunting with, but it also helps you work through your archery frustrations prior to bow season.

TIP: You inherently have to break archery down into individual components when bringing someone green into the bowhunting fold. Doing so will not only help the newcomer, but it will also help you get back to those basics and take stock of the necessary things we all take for granted with archery.

WHAT HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL CAN TEACH YOU ABOUT ARCHERY

There is a disconnect between every other organized sport and shooting a bow. In those organized sports, training is broken down into individual elements. It would be unheard of for a football team to scrimmage every minute of every practice without working on the fundamentals of the game. However, this is precisely what most of us do for archery. We draw our bow, make some shots, pull the arrows, and repeat. In essence, we are learning how to score arrows on the target, not how to shoot them in the middle and why they go in the middle.

Try breaking archery into the processes necessary to shoot a bow and work on a specific aspect of archery each time you find yourself at the range this summer. In simple terms, if you don’t break archery down into individual components, you’ll have nowhere to go when you miss— no way to get better because you land on, “I missed and have no idea why.”

TIP: Focus on one specific process at a time. Figure out where your weaknesses are and tackle them in training.

PUTTING THE BOW BACK IN BOWHUNTING

I don’t like the word practice—perhaps one of the few things I have in common with the great NBA player, Allen Iverson. To me, shooting my bow is about building confidence in myself and my equipment. You can’t control the weather. You can’t control the rut. The only thing you can 100% control is how prepared you are to execute the perfect shot when the moment comes. No one makes perfect hunting shots every time they are presented an opportunity. The point is to be as prepared as possible to increase your odds of making a perfect shot during bow season.

TIP: Pick up a shot counter from your local sporting goods store and record the number of perfect shots you make in a practice session. Be honest with yourself. When I say a perfect shot, I’m not talking about where the arrow lands, I mean how it got there. More on this later.


IN THE WOODS:

SHOOTING A SIDE HILL

We all know real-life hunting situations do not equal perfect shooting situations. Shooting side hills, where you have uneven footing, affords one of the more technically tricky hunting shots with a bow. Limited hand-torque and keeping your sight bubble level is easier said than done, but keeping your bow level is key to downrange accuracy.

TIP: Make leveling your sight easier when shooting on a side hill by slightly tipping your top cam up the hill while drawing your bow. This allows the top cam to “fall” down the hill, to level, at full draw rather than fighting it “up” the hill to level. How you get the sight level has a significant impact on the amount of torque you are adding to the riser and by letting the top cam fall, you minimize the risk of adding unwanted torque.

SHOOTING OUT OF A BLIND

If you are hunting out a blind, yes, you should practice sitting down while drawing your bow and executing a shot. We all know this. One thing that many bowhunters have overlooked, myself included, is how differently peep sights and pins look in a dark blind. Aligning your peep sight to your scope housing is critical for repeatable accuracy. It is also very easy to misalign your peep in a dark blind during bow season.

TIP: Paint the inside ring of your scope housing white so you can see it in ultra-low light. Nail polish and whiteout both work great here. Just make sure to give the correct one back to your wife.

SHOOTING FROM ELEVATION

Shooting on perfectly level ground is excellent for building proper form, but shooting out of a treestand or from any elevation is an entirely different ballgame. Most hunters have high misses from extreme angles because they have a breakdown in basic form and upper body alignment. Practice bending at the waist rather than bending at the shoulders to maintain proper alignment in your upper body. As Chubbs from Happy Gilmore would say “It’s all in the hips…”

TIP: Bending at the waist also serves to keep your eye-peep-scope housing alignment identical to flat ground. A tiny variation in peep alignment equals massive point of impact differences down range.


AT THE RANGE:

JUST AIM, DON’T SHOOT

Whether you are trying to cure target panic or just can’t seem to hold the pin in the middle long enough, aiming your bow without executing a shot actively works to remedy these problems. I particularly like doing this drill after a day of shooting. Draw the bow, hold the pin in the middle of the target for as long as you can and let your sight picture tell you when you need to let down.

TIP: Repeat this process 5-10 times at the end of a practice session. You’ll be amazed at how difficult it is, at first, and how quickly your stamina and aiming improves leading up to bow season.

ARROW WEIGHT CRAZINESS

A recent trend in bowhunting is to shoot ultra-heavy arrows. To do this effectively, you’ll need to hit the gym—lifting weights so you can draw 90-pounds and shoot arrows that are heavy enough to nearly be classified as rebar. Or so some say… There are more factors to penetration than a heavy arrow. The most important of these, from my testing, is arrow flight. I’ll take a 50-pound bow with a light arrow flying perfectly and delivering all its energy on the tip of the broadhead over a 70-pound bow with a 600-grain arrow flying like a sputtering bottle rocket. Drawing more weight and having a perfectly tuned arrow is ideal, but you don’t have to run out and drop $180 on ultra-heavy arrows to get the penetration you need on most North American game.

TIP: Tuning your bow for perfect arrow flight with broadheads, broadhead design, and shot placement are far more critical, in my opinion, than slapping a heavy arrow and a setup and calling it good.

THE MOST IMPORTANT, MOST OVERLOOKED PIECE OF EQUIPMENT

What’s the most critical part of a bowhunting setup? Is it the bow riser? The broadheads? Making sure your accessories match the color of your fletchings? Kidding. Without a doubt, strings and cables are the most critical and overlooked piece of equipment on a setup. They are the engine that drives the bow. They are also the most fragile and prone to wear. How often you need to change them varies significantly from person to person, depending on how much you shoot, how well maintained they are, how they are built, etc.

TIP: If you can’t remember the last time, if ever, you changed your strings and cables, change them over the summer. This way you’ll have enough time to get your bow shooting at tip top performance rather than changing them mid-bow season.

HOW IT GOT THERE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN WHERE IT WENT

Arguably the most crucial piece of summer practice advice: count “good” arrows by how they got to the target, not where they land on the target. Proper form and executing the same shot, every shot, is the key to consistent accuracy. There are many ways to shoot a bow, but only one right way for you, and that comes down to shooting the same “shot” every time you draw your bow. Figure out what is most repeatable for you and build your form around that. You’ll be ready for bow season before you know it.

Written by Matthew Bray


You can find more hunting and fishing articles by clicking HERE.

Photos courtesy of Realtree

IUEC Member Pursues Trophy Kentucky Whitetails On Brotherhood Outdoors TV Series

July 25, 2018 in General

whitetails

IUEC elevator tradesman Dave Morin of Oak Grove, Minnesota, pursues trophy whitetails in the rolling countryside of Kentucky when he appears in an episode of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) Brotherhood Outdoors television series airing the week of July 22 on Sportsman Channel.

Morin, a lifelong outdoorsman and member of the International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) Local 9, was chosen to appear on the show based on his union work ethic and commitment to sharing the outdoor experience with others.

Morin’s on-the-job duties as a modernization mechanic focus on decommissioning outdated elevators in everything from two-story apartments to downtown high-rises. He’s passionate about taking old elevators out of service so newer, safer equipment can take their place. “It’s not just a job,” he explains. “It’s a way of life. Choosing this career was the best decision I ever made.”

In his spare time, Morin organizes an annual walleye tournament for fellow union members. “The event is for fun,” he explains. “The main purpose is to bring people together outside of work, in the great outdoors.”

Morin grew up pursuing all types of game and fish with his brother and sister in the wilds of northern Minnesota. During his Kentucky whitetail adventure with Salt River Outfitters out of Lawrenceburg, he relies on skills and patience learned in the Northwoods as countless whitetails parade within range during the height of the November rut.

Whitetail bucks were on the move during Morin’s Kentucky dream hunt.

Catch all the exciting action when Morin’s episode airs Wednesday at 11:30 a.m., Saturday at 1:30 a.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m. Eastern.

Award-winning Brotherhood Outdoors is currently in its 10th season of whisking hardworking union members away on action-packed hunting and fishing adventures. Produced by creative powerhouse Rusted Rooster Media, the series puts the spotlight on union members who are as passionate about the outdoors as they are on keeping the country running. Each episode takes viewers to the homes, communities and jobsites of these tireless American workers for an inspirational glimpse at their backstories before heading onto the water or into the field.

The 2018 Brotherhood Outdoors season also features union members in pursuit of New Mexico elk, Wyoming pronghorns, Mexican permit and bonefish, Saskatchewan waterfowl and black bears, Louisiana redfish and trophy whitetails in Illinois and Ohio. Along the way, the show also offers snapshots of the USA’s community-based conservation, public access, outreach and mentorship efforts, which are executed by an all-volunteer union labor force.

For a complete listing of upcoming episodes, CLICK HERE. To watch episodes online, visit www.myoutdoortv.com.

Presented by Bank of Labor, Brotherhood Outdoors is also sponsored by the following unions, contractors and corporate partners: Buck Knives, Burris, Carhartt, Flambeau, Steiner, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, National Electrical Contractors Association, and United Association/International Training Fund’s Veterans in Piping Program.

IBEW Member Enjoys Wild West Pronghorn Hunt This Week On Brotherhood Outdoors

July 18, 2018 in General, Hunting, Press Release

IBEW Member

Julian Smith, an IBEW member of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, enjoys a thrilling Wyoming pronghorn hunt when he appears in an upcoming episode of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) Brotherhood Outdoors television series airing this week on Sportsman Channel.

A U.S. Army veteran and member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 405, Smith was selected to appear on the show due to his union work ethic and commitment to the service of his country and community.

Smith is an active member of the Cedar Rapids Grants and Programs Citizens Committee, as well as the local Veterans of Foreign Wars. “These are great avenues for lending a hand and connecting with the community and other veterans,” he explains.

When not on the job, volunteering or spending time with family, Smith savors time spent outdoors, fishing or hunting. During his Wild West pronghorn adventure, he quickly develops an appreciation for the fleet-footed pronghorn’s ability to elude predators—as well as a love for the breathtaking scenery of the open country it calls home.

Catch all the exciting action when the episode featuring IBEW member, Julian Smith, airs this week, including Tuesday, July 17 at 4 p.m. Eastern, Wednesday at 11:30 a.m., Saturday at 1:30 a.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m. Eastern.

Award-winning Brotherhood Outdoors is currently in its 10th season of whisking hardworking union members away on action-packed hunting and fishing adventures. Produced by creative powerhouse Rusted Rooster Media, the series puts the spotlight on union members who are as passionate about the outdoors as they are on keeping this country running. Each episode takes viewers to the homes, communities and jobsites of these tireless American workers for an inspirational glimpse at their backstories before heading onto the water or into the field.

The 2018 Brotherhood Outdoors season also features union members in pursuit of New Mexico elk, Mexican permit and bonefish, Saskatchewan waterfowl and black bears, Louisiana redfish and trophy whitetails in Illinois, Kentucky and Ohio. Along the way, the show also offers snapshots of the USA’s community-based conservation, public access, outreach and mentorship efforts, which are executed by an all-volunteer union labor force.

For a complete listing of upcoming episodes, CLICK HERE.

To watch episodes online, visit www.myoutdoortv.com.

Presented by Bank of Labor, Brotherhood Outdoors is also sponsored by the following unions, contractors and corporate partners: Buck Knives, Burris, Carhartt, Flambeau, Steiner, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, National Electrical Contractors Association, and United Association/International Training Fund’s Veterans in Piping Program.

Brotherhood Outdoors TV Series Chronicles Arizona SMART Member’s Elk Hunt

July 12, 2018 in Brotherhood Outdoors TV, Press Release

Brotherhood Outdoors TV

Lindsay Lanning of Glendale, Arizona, enjoys a thrilling New Mexico elk hunt when she appears in an upcoming episode of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) Brotherhood Outdoors TV series airing the week of July 8 on the Sportsman Channel.

Lanning, a Union Pacific railroad worker and member of SMART Transportation Division Local 1629, was chosen to appear on the show after winning a guided, five-day elk hunt in New Mexico’s Gila National Forest through a sweepstakes for union members sponsored by the USA and Carhartt.

During her adventure, Lanning sets her sights on a trophy bull elk while accompanied by her father, Dana, and brother, Dalton.

Lifelong hunters, the Lannings know tracking down one of these majestic animals in the rugged New Mexico backcountry won’t be easy. But they aren’t counting on unexpected challenges that put their outdoor skills—and determination to make Lindsay’s dream come true—to the ultimate test.

Catch all the action when the Lannings’ episode airs Tuesday, July 10 at 4 p.m. Eastern, or when it re-airs Wednesday at 11:30 a.m., Saturday at 1:30 a.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m. Eastern.

Award-winning Brotherhood Outdoors TV series is currently in its 10th season of whisking hardworking union members away on action-packed hunting and fishing adventures. Produced by creative powerhouse Rusted Rooster Media, the series puts the spotlight on union members who are as passionate about the outdoors as they are on keeping this country running. Each episode takes viewers to the homes, communities and job sites of these tireless American workers for an inspirational glimpse at their backstories before heading onto the water or into the field.

The 2018 Brotherhood Outdoors season also features union members in pursuit of Wyoming pronghorns, Mexican permit and bonefish, Saskatchewan waterfowl and black bears, Louisiana redfish and trophy whitetails in Illinois, Kentucky and Ohio. Along the way, the show also offers snapshots of the USA’s community-based conservation, public access, outreach and mentorship efforts, which are executed by an all-volunteer union labor force.

For a complete listing of upcoming episodes, visit www.thesportsmanchannel.com/shows/brotherhood-outdoors. To watch episodes online, visit www.myoutdoortv.com.

Presented by Bank of Labor, Brotherhood Outdoors TV series is also sponsored by the following unions, contractors and corporate partners: Buck Knives, Burris, Carhartt, Flambeau, Steiner, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, National Electrical Contractors Association, and United Association/International Training Fund’s Veterans in Piping Program.

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance & Union Veterans Council Collaborate To Service Union Veterans

July 3, 2018 in General, Press Release

Union Veterans

The USA’s Capital Area shoot celebrated the newly announced collaboration between the USA and UVC, along with the event’s 10th anniversary where more than 250 participants raised over $125,000 for conservation over the course of two days.

The Union Veterans Council (UVC), AFL-CIO and the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), an affiliate organization of the AFL-CIO, recently committed to working together to support each organization’s mission and have identified a liaison who will help keep the partnership running at peak efficiency.

The announcement was made during the USA’s Capital Area Sporting Clays Shoot at Prince George’s County Trap and Skeet Center in Glenn Dale, Maryland.

“The UVC is proud to have forged a working partnership with the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance that will allow the two organizations to support each other’s mission by connecting our memberships with two very important parts of the labor community, Veterans and Conservation/Sportsmen,” said William Attig, UVC Executive Director. “Sam Phipps, who is both a veteran and a strong union member, has stepped up to become our volunteer Liaison.”

The volunteer liaison position will allow each organization to expand capacity, to engage members and build a strategy to connect our union veterans with the outdoors.

“The USA reaches a lot of union members annually through our shoot tour and conservation dinners,” said Scott Vance, USA CEO & Executive Director. “We are taking steps to engage our veterans and say thanks for their service. Working with UVC, we’ll be able to reach out to a lot more of the veterans and give them a chance to come and fellowship with their brothers and sisters across the United States.”

Phipps is a UA member of local 562 in Saint Louis, Missouri, and is a combat infantry veteran and an avid outdoorsman. Upon returning home from his military service he entered the UA’s Veterans in Piping program and now works as a heating & air technician.

His unwavering support for his fellow veterans has driven him to work with his local to support programs that give veterans an opportunity to enjoy and use the outdoors as a way to better transition back to civilian life and build comradery on the home front. That is why the UVC is pleased to announce that Phipps will be the first Union Veterans Council-Union Sportsmen’s Alliance liaison.

Within this roll, Phipps will work to forge a working partnership with the USA in a variety of ways. “I am eager to take on this role with the Union Veterans Council and look forward to connecting with my fellow veterans through conservation and the outdoors,” said Phipps.

Photos courtesy of Pepper Ailor at Freedom Alliance

 

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Brotherhood Outdoors TV Kicks Off 10th Season

June 27, 2018 in General, Press Release

Brotherhood Outdoors TV

UA Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 598 member Jason Lee of Richland, Washington, enjoys epic Saskatchewan waterfowl hunting in the season premiere of Brotherhood Outdoors.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance invites outdoors enthusiasts to catch the excitement when award-winning Brotherhood Outdoors TV kicks off its 10th season of whisking hardworking union members away on action-packed hunting and fishing adventures.

Produced by creative powerhouse Rusted Rooster Media, Brotherhood Outdoors TV puts the spotlight on union members who are as passionate about the outdoors as they are on keeping this country running. Each episode takes viewers to the homes, communities and job sites of these tireless American workers for an inspirational glimpse at their backstories before heading onto the water or into the field.

Up first in this year’s lineup, the feathers fly in the legendary farmland of Saskatchewan when UA Plumbers and Pipefitters representative Jason Lee hits the fields for a dream waterfowl hunt. Locked and loaded, Lee enjoys epic duck and goose gunning while bonding with guides and fellow hunters he meets on the trip. But it quickly becomes apparent there’s more to this Navy veteran’s story than his obsession for waterfowling.

Brotherhood Outdoors TV

AFSCME Council 13 member Stephen Knoll of Lemony, Pennsylvania, targets Ohio whitetails during his dream hunt with Brotherhood Outdoors.

As the Brotherhood Outdoors TV season unfolds, viewers join union members in pursuit of New Mexico elk, Wyoming antelope, Louisiana redfish, Mexican permit and bonefish, Saskatchewan black bears and trophy whitetails in Illinois, Kentucky and Ohio. Along the way, the show also offers snapshots of the USA’s community-based conservation, public access, outreach and mentorship efforts, which are executed by an all-volunteer union labor force.

The 2018 season includes nine original episodes, which will air on Sportsman Channel in the third and fourth quarters beginning July 3. Airtimes are Sundays at 11 a.m. Eastern, with additional airings set for Tuesdays at 4 p.m., Wednesdays at 11:30 a.m. and Saturdays at 1:30 a.m. Eastern.

Brotherhood Outdoors TV

IBEW Local 405 member Julian Smith of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, heads west for the Wyoming antelope adventure of a lifetime.

For a complete listing of upcoming episodes, CLICK HERE. To watch episodes online, visit MyOutdoorTV.

Presented by Bank of Labor, Brotherhood Outdoors TV is also sponsored by the following unions, contractors and corporate partners: Buck Knives, Burris, Carhartt, Flambeau, Steiner, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, National Electrical Contractors Association, and United Association/International Training Fund’s Veterans in Piping Program.

 

 

 

 

 

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, National Wild Turkey Federation Join Forces For Conservation

June 26, 2018 in Conservation News, Press Release

NWTF

(L-R) USA Director of Conservation and Community Outreach Forrest Parker and NWTF VP of Conservation Ross Melinchuk signed the agreement pledging the organizations’ cooperation on conservation and the protection of North America’s outdoor heritage.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding pledging cooperation on a variety of efforts benefiting conservation and the preservation of North America’s outdoor heritage.

Finalized June 26, 2018 at the 85th Annual Midwest Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies Directors’ Meeting in Bismarck, North Dakota, the agreement outlines strategies to collaborate on campaigns targeting wildlife habitat protection and enhancement, public access, mentorship, outreach and education.

“This partnership is a perfect example of how two very different organizations can unite to influence the future of conservation while increasing mission delivery for both,” said Forrest Parker, USA director of conservation and community outreach.

“We are blessed with highly skilled union volunteers, who each year donate thousands of hours to conservation projects and outreach events across the nation,” he continued. “Our friends at NWTF are also doing amazing things in communities around the country. We are honored to help increase the impact of these efforts, while showcasing the dedication and unwavering commitment of the American union worker.”

The two groups are already joining forces in Michigan, where USA volunteers from the United Auto Workers’ (UAW) Ford Michigan Ramp Team are building NWTF Turkey Tract Kiosks for placement on game management areas around the state. The kiosks, created as part of the USA’s flagship conservation program—Work Boots on the Ground (WBG)—promote public access to quality turkey hunting, educate the public on the benefits of habitat management and conservation, and help build a connection between hunters and the local community.“

We are excited about formalizing our partnership with USA through this MOU and look forward to accomplishing great things together across the landscape via conservation delivery and in support of our hunting heritage,” said Brian Zielinski, senior director of conservation operations for NWTF’s Eastern Region.

Zielinski added, “This is a unique opportunity to combine resources as both organizations have a dedicated base of members and volunteers who are passionate about leaving a legacy and ensuring that both conservation and hunting traditions remain intact for future generations.”

The USA-NWTF alliance comes on the heels of similar agreements between the USA and other conservation partners including fishing industry powerhouse Pure Fishing and upland conservation champion Pheasants Forever. The USA also recently forged partnerships with industry leading product sales group Outtech and the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation, which is dedicated to protecting and restoring the nation’s aquatic resources by increasing participation in fishing and boating.

“We are excited to see where these partnerships lead,” said Parker. “Thanks to the dedication of our skilled union volunteers, the USA is uniquely positioned to be a ‘power’ partner for our allies. There is no doubt that a decade from now, these American union workers will be recognized as a driving force for conservation, who played a profound role in preserving our outdoor heritage.”

USA’s Take Kids Fishing Day Events Introduce Youth to Joys of Fishing

June 22, 2018 in Conservation News, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Kids Fishing

Take Kids Fishing Day events pair local union volunteers with youths from their communities.

More than 700 youngsters were introduced to the joys of fishing in June 2018 during free, community-based Take Kids Fishing Day events orchestrated by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and teams of dedicated union volunteers.

A total of 738 youths participated in five USA Take Kids Fishing Days, held in Barboursville, West Virginia, and Eau Claire, Janesville, La Crosse and Madison, Wisconsin. Much to their delight, each youth received a free rod and reel courtesy of Pure Fishing, a game call from Plano Synergy and a chance to put his or her new fishing gear to the test against a variety of freshwater gamefish.

After fishing, the budding anglers and their families were treated to a picnic-style lunch, which provided the perfect opportunity to swap fish stories with their union mentors.

One-hundred twenty volunteers representing 38 local skilled trade unions donated 472 hours of time to make the events a success. Their duties ranged from planning to cleanup, but favorite tasks invariably centered on providing fishing instruction and assistance—which included setting up and baiting the participants’ new fishing poles and offering sage advice on how to hook the big one.

Kids Fishing

USA Take Kids Fishing Day events are free of charge, and participants receive rods and reels courtesy of Pure Fishing.

The events were part of Work Boots on the Ground—the USA’s flagship conservation program—and sponsored by union partners including the Building and Construction Trades Council of South Central Wisconsin, Western Wisconsin AFL-CIO, Building and Construction Trades Council of Western Wisconsin, Greater West Central Area Labor Council and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

“Take Kids Fishing Day events aim to educate a future generation of American anglers from diverse communities and backgrounds,” explained USA Conservation Manager Robert Stroede. “With more than 40 million anglers generating $35 billion in retail sales and $600 million for fisheries conservation and public water access through special excise taxes each year, it’s critical to continue recruiting new anglers.”

Stroede noted additional benefits of teaching kids to fish. “Research has shown that outdoor-related activities such as fishing create participatory pathways for children to experience nature and help kindle a lifelong interest in environmental conservation,” he said.

Madison-area Take Kids Fishing Day leader Dave Branson, executive director of the South Central Wisconsin BCTC, explained the allure of volunteering at a youth fishing event. “It’s rewarding to teach children about the sport, then see the smiles on their faces as they reel in their first fish,” he said. “Plus, holding events like this helps build relationships between unions and the public, by reminding people that union members are friends and neighbors who enjoy giving back to our community.”

The nonprofit Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) organizes union volunteers to donate their time and unique trade skills to conservation, outreach, public access, mentorship and education campaigns that preserve North America’s outdoor heritage. Working with union partners and industry allies including Pure Fishing and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, the USA promotes and protects the sport of fishing nationwide through a variety of mentorship, outreach, public access, research and fisheries enhancement projects.

 

11 Activities to Get Your Family Outside for Great Outdoors Month

June 13, 2018 in Articles, General

Great Outdoors Month

Summer is one of the best times to escape the indoors and connect with nature, and June just so happens to be Great Outdoors Month! We’ve compiled a list of various outdoor activities that you can enjoy with your family and friends, not only for Great Outdoors Month, but all summer long– so get ready for some summertime adventures!

11 Great Outdoors Month Activities:

Water SportsGreat Outdoors Month

Water sports are a great way to get outside and cool off on a hot summer day. Whether you have a small pond to yourself or want to go to the great big blue, there are multiple ways to get on the water. You can take it easy and canoe or kayak, or hop on a jet ski or tube and feel the adrenaline rush of flying over the water and waves. Fishing boats are another great way to get on the water, even if you turn it down a notch and just want to relax on the waves.


Great Outdoors MonthBiking

Biking is a family friendly activity that everyone can participate in. It’s also a great workout to keep you in shape for the upcoming hunting season—talk about an added bonus! There are multiple trails around the United States that also feature multiple terrains. Some will be paved and some will consist of dirt. Whichever you prefer to ride on, grab your bikes, round up your family and try viewing nature from two wheels for Great Outdoors Month!


PCamping Great Outdoors Month

Camping is an amazing way to get in tune with your true outdoors side. Our great country features some pretty incredible State and National Parks, and almost all of them offer some sort of camping. You’ll find places deep in the park that are compact and only have enough room to feature a tent, but you’ll also find campsites that are big enough for you to pull your fifth wheel camper into and set up a full campsite for a great trip with your family.

Pro tip! If you’re on a road trip, make sure to pack your tent! This will make for virtually endless car camping locations!


Great Outdoors MonthConservation

Caring about the well-being of America’s fish, wildlife and the lands and waters that support us all is something everyone who loves the great outdoors has in common. Participating in conservation efforts is one of our favorite Great Outdoors Month activities because it encourages us to escape the indoors and help preserve what we all love the most, the outdoors. There are many ways to volunteer for conservation. For example, you can clean up trash throughout a park, trail, beach or other body of water. A simpler example is to pick up any fishing line you find when you’re at your favorite fishing spot and recycle it at a nearby line recycling center, and if there isn’t one near you can always just put it in the trash can.

You can even work with the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) to complete a conservation project with your union local. Our conservation program, brings together union members willing to volunteer their time and expertise to conservation projects that improve and enhance public access, wildlife habitat and outdoor experiences for communities across America. USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program works closely with federal, state and local agencies and other conservation groups to provide manpower needed to complete critical projects that may otherwise go undone.


Campfires Great Outdoors Month

Campfires are always an easy go to for anyone who wants to sit outside with their family and friends on a nice summer night. They can also get you to adventure into the wilderness to collect the wood you need for your fire and the sticks for everyone to cook their marshmallows later that night for a great snack. However it is always important to know the fire regulations in your area. Also make sure to build your campfire in a well ventilated area and to keep it enclosed so it doesn’t spread.


Great Outdoors MonthFishing

Fishing is an all time favorite outdoor sport for all of us at USA, during Great Outdoors Month AND the entire summer! There are so many species to fish for—it’s truly impossible to get bored! You can catch anything from river cats to giant bass and bluegill. Some State and National Parks are having free fishing days as well that can be found here.

If you’re at the beach on vacation and want to get out and see what the ocean has to challenge you with, just head to a pier and rent a pole. If you’re really dedicated you can always hire a guide to help you try to catch sharks, stingray, and other species you may not be used to in your neck of the woods.


Hiking
Great Outdoors Month

Hiking is a very calm and relaxing outdoor activity that many enjoy, and your location choices are nearly endless—if you have enough space you can even go for a family hike on your own property! Many State and National Parks also have hiking trails already ready for you to go adventure on, and you could also take your own route of a trail and go deep into the wilderness, just make sure you don’t get lost! And always make sure to clean up the trails you venture onto to keep our great parks preserved and pristine.


Great Outdoors MonthHorseback Riding

Now you’re usually either a horse person—or you’re not. For those of us that love horseback riding, you never go back. If you have your own horses and enough land to really get out and ride, then you already have a great option to go get outside and enjoy the wilderness. If you want to load up the horses and head somewhere new, there are many parks that allow horseback riding. Some beaches even have designated horseback riding areas if you ever wanted to know the feeling of riding a horse down the beach with the sounds of the ocean in the background and waves at your side.

No horses? No problem! There are tons of places across the country that offer affordable horseback riding lessons and trail rides for the whole family. All you have to do is put in a little time to research your best options.


Hunting PreparationGreat Outdoors Month

Hunting preparation is a must for anyone who wants to have a great season next fall, but it’s also a great way to get outside and do something that can be fun and also productive. Head to your go to spot and set up your trail cameras to find out what’s spending time in your food plots and at your mineral stations.

When you get home, don’t forget to spend a little more time outside for Great Outdoors Month and shoot your bow. You may need to sight in your bow and make sure that your shot is still as good as it was last season, but hopefully you’ve been shooting routinely all year!


Great Outdoors MonthGeo-Caching

Geo-Caching is an interesting activity where you go outside and find containers that contain random objects that could have been put in the container by anyone. All you need to do to find these containers is download the geo-caching app on your smartphone, use your GPS to find the caches near you, and then share your findings on social media for everyone to see. You can even get your whole family involved in this fun outdoors activity. You never know where geo-caching will take you, so it helps to be up for anything!


Off-Roading Great Outdoors Month

Off-roading can be a great way to spend time with friends and family, and a good adrenaline rush for anyone who loves the outdoors. Anything from dirt bikes, ATVs, and even trucks can be used for this fun outdoors activity. Some parks even have trails for these vehicles and can be rented sometimes. If you have enough space in your own backyard you can even make your own trail. Just make sure you wear your helmet and are following any regulations listed for the area you’re enjoying this activity in.


 

7 Foolproof Father’s Day Gifts for Outdoorsmen

June 5, 2018 in Articles, General

Father's Day Gifts

Still searching for the perfect Father’s Day gift for that dad who just can’t get enough of the outdoors? Whether he enjoys fishing, hunting, or just relaxing in the great outdoors, we’ve got you covered! Checkout our list below of seven foolproof Father’s Day Gifts for any dad who loves the outdoors.

7 Foolproof Father’s Day Gifts for Outdoorsmen:

FLAMBEAU T4 PRO MULTILOADER – $56.97 Father's Day Gifts

Flambeau’s T4 Pro Multiloader Tackle Box is the perfect size to suit all of your storage needs. Featuring a front load or top load system, you can access your gear quickly. The Multiloader comes with four line dispensing ports, six compartments and a sturdy handle, conveniently providing you with everything you need all in one place.


Father's Day GiftsCARHARTT FLAG PATCH CAP – $29.99

Help dad show his USA Pride in style with the Carhartt Flag Patch Cap. The adjustable cap features a Carhartt Force sweatband and moisture-wicking fast dry technology, helping keep dad cool in the summer heat.


BUCK KNIVES 363 RIVAL SS KNIFE – $22.50Father's Day Gifts

Gift dad with the smallest edition of the Rival family, the 363 Rival SS Buck Knife. Compact, but powerful, the drop point blade on this knife has a tumbled finish, making it even more corrosion resistant. Featuring Buck’s advanced Edge2x blade technology, this made in the USA knife is unbelievably sharp right out of the box. Give your dad the gift of having a lightweight, EDC Buck Knife he can throw on his keychain, lanyard or even in his pocket.


Father's Day GiftsOTTERBOX VENTURE 25 COOLER – $209.99

Head outside for the day with Otterbox’s Venture 25 Cooler. This product has a 25-quart capacity, anti-slip rubber feet, a bottle opener and tough latches. Most importantly, Dad will never have to worry about his favorite drinks going warm with its ability to keep drinks cold for 10 days, making it ideal for all his outdoor adventures. If you want to make this gift extra special for your outdoors dad, order it in tan/Realtree camo/orange!


MILWAUKEE TOOL M12 FUEL 2-TOOL COMBO KIT – $229.00Father's Day Gifts

Upgrade your dad’s tool kit with the best of the best Milwaukee Tool M12 Fuel 2-Tool Combo Kit. This Combo Kit is the most capable and compact 12-Volt Hammer Drill Driver and Impact Driver Combo Kit on the market. Included is the M12 FUEL Hammer Drill Driver, the lightest weight and most compact 12-Volt Hammer Drill Driver. Also included is the M12 FUEL Hex Impact, featuring the best in class driving speed, power, and size. What more could he want for Father’s Day?


Father's Day GiftsSUREFIRE TITAN ULTRA-COMPACT DUAL-OUTPUT LED KEYCHAIN LIGHT – $69.99

Surefire’s Titan LED Keychain light is just what every dad’s keyring needs. Featuring a high-performance LED, stainless steel keyring, and rechargeable battery (charger sold separately). This product is conveniently lightweight and indestructible, allowing it to be carried anywhere.


COSTA SALTBREAK SUNGLASSES – $169.00+Father's Day Gifts

Every dad needs a cool pair of shades to hit the water with, and Costa has you covered with their Saltbreak Sunglasses, featuring seven different lens color options to help you choose the best color for your needs. Adorned with scratch-proof lenses, a lightweight design, and excellent glass clarity, this product is the perfect accessory for all your outdoor activities just in time for summer.


 

Union Volunteers Completely Transform Vilas Park Fishing Pier

May 31, 2018 in General, Wisconsin, Work Boots On The Ground

Vilas Park

Union volunteers from the South Central Wisconsin Building Trades Council (BTC) teamed up with the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) to renovate and reinstall the Vilas Park fishing pier in Madison, Wisconsin, providing better access to the lake for all.

Utilizing nearly $22,000 in funds raised by the USA’s Madison Area Conservation Dinner, union volunteers teamed up with the USA and the city of Madison to take the original floating fishing pier, which was sitting in a state of disrepair in one of the city’s materials yards, and restore it for the public’s use.

“This project was a great opportunity for multiple Union trades to come together and benefit our local community,” said project leader and South Central Wisconsin BTC President/Executive Director Dave Branson. “It’s rewarding to know that this revitalized pier will provide safe and easy access for all to participate in the sport of fishing at Vilas Park.”

Volunteers coordinated transportation of the pier to one of the local union shops where over the course of the cold, harsh Wisconsin winter repairs were made, including the installation of new decking. In preparation for installation of the renovated, now handicap accessible fishing pier, volunteers and union contractors also designed and constructed a pier abutment as well as a new sidewalk and steps on the edge of Lake Wingra in Madison’s Vilas Park, which have greatly increased accessibility to the fishing pier.

“This project is an excellent example of the impact that USA’s skilled union volunteers bring to the future of conservation and preserving our outdoor heritage,” said USA Conservation Manager Robert Stroede. “If it weren’t for their dedication to conservation and their community, there is a very good chance that this pier would have never made its way back to the water for the public’s use.”

More than 30 union volunteers from Ironworkers (IW) Local 383, International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC) Local 13, United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (UBC) Local 314, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers (IAHFIAW) Local 18, International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) Local 132, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) District Council 7, Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) Locals 113 and 330 and Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 18 donated nearly 200 hours to rebuild and install the previously dilapidated pier.

After completing restoration of the pier, it was transported and installed at its new location at Vilas Park. Volunteers will soon install a new handrailing on the pier to complete this project.

USA and NSSF Team Up to Thank Hunting and Shooting Sports Mentors

May 16, 2018 in General, Press Release

mentors

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) have joined forces to identify and reward union members who become mentors to newcomers in hunting, target shooting or firearms safety in 2018.

The USA will work through its grassroots support system, its international union partners and their locals to identify those who take the time to introduce someone to hunting or the shooting sports in 2018. As a way of saying thanks, the USA and NSSF will send those mentors a complimentary Buck 364 Rival I knife customized with both organization’s logos.

Recent research from NSSF shows there are 24 million Americans who have expressed an interest in learning how to get started hunting or target shooting.

“Recruiting new participants to the shooting sports is a crucial element for growth, and mentoring is a rewarding way to introduce newcomers to these fun and social activities,” said Jim Curcuruto, NSSF’s director of research and market development. “We are excited to be working with the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance on this important initiative and thankful for their leadership in this effort.”

To claim the knife, all the mentors need to do is visit powderhook.com/contests/usa-mentor, answer yes to one of three questions, and provide contact information and date of birth. Mentors 18 years of age and older will qualify to receive the knife.

“We ask current hunters and target shooters to share what they know and love and become a mentor to someone new in 2018,” said Brian Dowler, USA’s director of membership, marketing and communications. “One of the best ways to activate these interested folks is by having someone they know mentor them and teach them how to get started.”

The USA is a nonprofit conservation group created for union members and their families. The organization’s mission is to unite the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage. In only 11 years, the USA has amassed more than 250,000 members from more than 25 different international labor unions.

What makes the USA truly unique is its ability to harness the power of skilled union volunteers who put their professional knowledge to use by tackling projects that create or improve public access to the outdoors, improve wildlife habitats, mentor youth in the outdoors and restore America’s parks, which are in disrepair. The USA also raises funds to cover materials and equipment.

The NSSF is the trade association for the firearms industry, and its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 12,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers.

“Partnerships play a vitally important role in our industry, and we are always open to combining forces for conservation with a great partner like the NSSF,” said Scott Vance, CEO and executive director of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance. “Our hardworking union members are very active in their communities, and we believe they are active mentors as well. This partnership will allow us to get a handle on our members’ current mentoring activity and encourage them to pass on their love for the outdoors to the next generation to ensure a bright future for America’s outdoor heritage.”

Union Led Wolftever Creek Project Enhances TN Fishing And Boating Access

May 11, 2018 in General, Work Boots On The Ground

Spanning more than 36,000 acres, Tennessee’s Lake Chickamauga is a popular destination for anglers and other watersports enthusiasts from within the state and around the country.

Fishing is a prime draw. The scenic reservoir is consistently ranked among the nation’s top bass fisheries and currently holds the Tennessee state records for both largemouth and spotted bass. Recreational boating, waterskiing, kayaking, swimming and camping also attract thousands of visitors each year. Unfortunately, funds to maintain and enhance public access to this crown jewel of the Tennessee River system are chronically tight.

To help remedy the situation, the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and a dedicated team of union volunteers stepped up to complete a major overhaul of one of Chickamauga’s busiest access points, the Wolftever Creek Boat Ramp adjacent to Harrison Bay State Park just outside of Chattanooga.

The renovation expanded year-round public access by replacing an existing dilapidated dock with a brand-new, 104-foot-long, handicap-accessible floating pier.

Before Photos:

Union volunteers donated approximately 300 hours of labor to demolish the old dock April 7, install the new pier April 21 and align the structure on April 28. Volunteers also replaced damaged and unsafe floor boards and the top rail of a fishing pier adjacent to the boat launch.

The final phase of the project, set for completion by the end of May, includes the installation of an additional handrail on the pier abutment and transition plates between dock sections. In the meantime, the pier is open for use.

The project was part of USA’s Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) program, which brings together union members willing to volunteer their time and talents to conservation projects that improve and enhance public access to the outdoors, conserve wildlife habitat, restore America’s parks and mentor youth in the outdoors. The WBG program works closely with federal, state and local agencies and other conservation groups to complete critical projects that may otherwise go undone.

The Wolftever Creek project was conducted without the use of state game and fish funds. Materials were purchased with $10,000 raised by United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 42 and $22,000 in federal marine fuel tax revenues from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA). All union labor was donated.

The project originated when UAW Local 42 expressed interest in taking on a community-based conservation project, and USA research revealed strong public support for improvements to the Wolftever Creek ramp.

Demolition & Renovation Photos:

“Unions are always looking for ways to get involved and improve their communities,” said UAW Local 42 President Steve Cochran. “The Wolftever Creek boat ramp was one of the most heavily used access points to the lake, but it was really unsafe and unusable in the winter due to low water levels. Replacing the boat ramp is a project that UAW Local 42 really wanted to get involved in to benefit the public and demonstrate that we care about our community.”

Along with UAW Local 42, participating union members also represent the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 175, Ironworkers (IW) Local 704 and Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 5.

“The Wolftever Creek project is an excellent example of how local unions are positively impacting their communities and the future of conservation through the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s Work Boots on the Ground program,” said USA Conservation Manager Robert Stroede. “This dock benefits thousands of fishermen and other recreational boaters who use the Wolftever Creek boat ramp. It not only improves the aesthetic value of this location but provides improved and safer access to all who utilize it.”

TWRA officials were grateful for USA and union volunteers’ assistance in making the Wolftever Creek ramp renovation a reality faster than limited state budgets and manpower could have allowed.

“The donations and hard work of the Union Sportsmen allowed us to accomplish this project more quickly,” said Capt. Matt Clarey, who oversees boat access areas and ramps for TWRA Region III. “We’re pleased to work alongside such great citizens. This partnership will benefit Tennesseans for years to come.”

UAW Local 42 Vice President David Gleeson noted the added benefits of having union members from different trades join forces in pursuit of common goals such as conservation and community service.

“Volunteer projects like the one at Wolftever Creek build comradery and enable members of various union trades to discuss issues,” he said. “We had ironworkers, sheet metal workers and auto workers. But at the worksite, we were all just workers. Nobody had a big head. We just helped one another out with what needed to be done.”

After Photos:

6 Last Minute Mother’s Day Gift Ideas for Outdoorsy Moms

May 9, 2018 in Articles, General

Mother's Day Gifts

Still in search of the perfect Mother’s Day gifts for that mom who just can’t get enough of the outdoors? No worries, we have you covered! Whether she enjoys hunting, fishing, or just relaxing in nature, these products aim to please. And even if it shows up late, she’ll be so happy with her gift she won’t even be upset. Check out these six last minute Mother’s Day gifts for outdoorsy moms!

6 Last Minute Mother’s Day Gifts for Outdoorsy Moms:

St. Croix Avid Pearl Fishing Rod – $230.00+

Mother's Day GiftsSt. Croix’s Avid Pearl spinning and casting rods feature high-modulus SCIII graphite blanks and a full complement of premium components that will elevate Mom’s fishing experience to all-new levels. Featuring a striking fuchsia-metallic finish and beautiful mother-of-pearl reel seat insert, these beauties are specialized, hard-core high-performance fishing tools with a feminine edge. Looking for a great all-arounder? Check out the two-piece spinning model # APS66MLF. This 6-6” rod is rated for 4-10-lb. line, and will handle everything from panfish and pompanos to bass and bonefish.


Mother's Day Gifts

Carhartt Realtree Xtra Phone Clutch – $44.99

Carhartt’s Realtree Xtra Phone Clutch is the perfect size to carry with you anywhere. Featuring five credit card pockets, phone pocket, leather wrist strap, and two additional pockets, there’s no need to carry around that heavy purse anymore. This product comes adorned in camouflage with a pink stripe to add that feminine touch.


Nano Bantam Knife – $19.50+Mother's Day Gifts

Man or woman, no one can argue the importance of owning your very own everyday carry knife. As Buck Knives says, “ONE TOOL FOR A LIFE LIVED OUTDOORS.” While there are many options to choose from at Buck Knives, we recommend the Nano Bantam Knife for that special mom in your life. The Nano Bantam is small and lightweight, allowing it to fit into virtually any carrying configuration she prefers: key rings, pockets, backpacks, lanyards, etc.


Mother's Day GiftsFlambeau Graphite 400 Tackle Bag – $40.50

Moms are great at keeping their family’s lives organized, so treat your mom to this Flambeau Graphite 400 Tackle bag to store all her gear on the water. Featuring 4 Tuff Tainers that fit in the top loading compartment, 4 exterior accessories zipper pockets, an adjustable shoulder strap, and a carry handle, this product will not only help her stay organized, but look stylish while doing it.


Mother's Day Gifts

ORCA 20-Quart Cooler – $189.99

Whether a day on the boat, a weekend of camping or a day at the park, ORCA 20 quart cooler is the perfect gift for that mom in your life. Featuring stainless steel handle, cargo net attachment, and cold retention up to 10 days. Orca Coolers come in a variety of colors to be sure she finds one that will stand out at her next outing.

 


Mother's Day Gifts

Thermarest Slacker Single Hammock – $69.95

Help her slack off in style with the Thermarest Slacker Single Hammock. This product features 100% soft polyester fabric making it the perfect lounge spot. It stuffs into its own attached pocket that doubles as a place to stash a book or tablet to help that special mom in your life get even more relaxed.


 

USA And Pheasants Forever Complete First Collective Conservation Project

April 30, 2018 in Press Release

Forever Fields

“Forever Fields” Observation Platform Helps Public Enjoy Wildlife

A team effort by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), Pheasants Forever (PF) and local union volunteers created a new viewing platform and observation deck on PF’s “Forever Fields” property in Knox County, Illinois, that will help visitors enjoy and better understand wildlife that relies on grassland and wetland ecosystems.

“This new structure will increase public awareness about conservation and educate visitors about a variety of wildlife species and their habitat needs,” said local Pheasants Forever biologist Scott James. “It will also provide users a higher quality experience for observing nature. Visitors can listen for singing birds and croaking frogs, watch wildlife, observe prairie grasses swaying in the wind, and overlook the peaceful landscape.”

The USA and Pheasants Forever signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in March 2017 allowing the two organizations to team up on conservation and habitat projects, mentored hunts, volunteer training and education. The first joint project to be completed since the MOU was signed, the new tower includes an ADA-compliant, handicap-accessible ramp, 4-foot-high wildlife viewing deck, and stairway leading to an observation platform that rises 11 feet above the surrounding landscape.

“The property is open to the public and we encourage everyone to visit,” James added. “We also plan to accommodate schools, groups of people with disabilities, scout groups, and other community organizations, specifically by hosting events on and next to this new platform.”

PF began construction of the project and purchased the materials with funding support from the USA. The USA brought together volunteers from the United Brotherhood of Carpenters (UBC) Local 237 and International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 649, who were instrumental in helping complete the project in time to qualify for Illinois Clean Energy grant funding. Union volunteers donated 16 hours of labor while building a stairway to the observation deck and railing along the deck.

“It’s a blessing to share our God-given skills and time with our community,” said Matt Bender, a carpenter and business representative with UBC Local 237 who took the lead to recruit volunteers and complete the project. “This is a beautiful area. We’re glad to be part of making it accessible for everyone to enjoy.”

James said his organization is thankful for such support. “The time volunteers spent on this project is greatly appreciated,” he said. “The support from USA allows the construction expertise of its union members to supplement the biological and conservation expertise of Pheasants Forever so that higher-quality projects can be achieved. Pheasants Forever is very grateful for the support of USA and union volunteers on this project, and we are excited to work together on future projects. This partnership can only strengthen conservation and our hunting heritage.”

“The Forever Fields project is a great example of how partnerships, like the one formed between the USA and Pheasants Forever, result in more on-the-ground impact for conservation while opening up new opportunities for unions to improve their communities,” said Forrest Parker, USA director of conservation and community outreach. “We are grateful for our partnership with Pheasants Forever and for the members of Carpenters Local 237 and Operating Engineers Local 649, who volunteered their time and skills to complete this first joint project.”

USA Family Outdoors Day Celebrates Ron Schneider Boat Ramp at Minnie Ha Ha Park

April 30, 2018 in Missouri, Press Release

Ron Schneider Boat Ramp

More than 250 people gathered on Saturday, April 28 at Minnie Ha Ha Park in Sunset Hills, Missouri, for Family Outdoors Day, hosted by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and Missouri American Water.

The community event included fishing, lunch, live music by the Greg Haney Group and kid’s activities, and the first 150 youth received a fishing rod and reel, courtesy of Pure Fishing.

A ribbon cutting ceremony at 1 p.m. marked the official opening of the park’s new, non-motorized Ron Schneider Boat Ramp constructed by union volunteers from Missouri American Water and Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) Local 335, through the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program.

The Ron Schneider Boat Ramp was funded through a $35,000 grant from the American Water Charitable Foundation to improve access to water-based recreation activities. It was named to honor a long-time UWUA Local 335 member who led the first ramp rebuild.

“City parks play a vital role in providing large populations with access to the great outdoors, yet tight budgets can make it difficult to maintain park infrastructure,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance. “American Water and our skilled union volunteers worked hand in hand to complete the new boat ramp despite weather-related setbacks. The project and Family Outdoors Day are a testament to their commitment to improving their community.”

The Ron Schneider Boat Ramp was completed for the second time on August 13, 2017. In early 2017, union volunteers donated approximately 250 hours to tear out and replace the original ramp, which was built in the 1940s and in poor condition. Less than a week after it was completed in May of 2017, catastrophic flooding damaged 90 percent of new structure beyond repair. Undeterred, project leaders devised a new design to stand up to flood waters from the Meramec River.

“The American Water Charitable Foundation and the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance have really done something great for the community of Sunset Hills with this boat ramp,” said Cheryl Norton, president of Missouri American Water. “I am so proud of the work of Missouri American Water’s employees in helping to get this new boat ramp built – not just once, but twice. Having the flood wash away the first boat ramp was disappointing, but to see the way all the groups came together to persevere and rebuild really shows our collective commitment to this project and this community.”

Wolftever Creek Boat Ramp Receives Complete Renovation

April 23, 2018 in General, Press Release

Wolftever Creek

Anglers and recreational boaters will enjoy improved access to Tennessee’s Lake Chickamauga, thanks to a major overhaul of the Wolftever Creek Boat Ramp, including the installation of a new pier on April 21, by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and a dedicated team of union volunteers.

Wolftever Creek Boat Ramp is located adjacent to Harrison Bay State Park just outside of Chattanooga and is one of the area’s most heavily used public water accesses. The renovation expands year-round public access to the 36,000-acre Tennessee River impoundment by replacing an existing dilapidated dock with a brand-new, 104-foot-long, handicap-accessible floating pier.

Union volunteers donated approximately 300 hours of labor to demolish the old dock April 7 and install the new pier April 21. Volunteers will return to install an additional handrail on the pier abutment, align the floating section of the pier and install transition plates between dock sections. In the meantime, the pier is open for use. Volunteers also replaced damaged and unsafe floor boards and the top rail of a fishing pier adjacent to the boat launch.

Before Photos:

Part of USA’s Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) program, the project was conducted without the use of state game and fish funds. Materials were purchased with $10,000 raised by United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 42 and $22,000 in federal marine fuel tax revenues from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA). All union labor was donated.

The project originated when UAW Local 42 expressed interest in taking on a community-based conservation project, and USA research revealed strong public support for improvements to the Wolftever Creek ramp.

“Unions are always looking for ways to get involved and improve their communities,” said UAW Local 42 President Steve Cochran. “The Wolftever Creek boat ramp was one of the most heavily used access points to the lake, but it was really unsafe and unusable in the winter due to low water levels. Replacing the boat ramp is a project that UAW Local 42 really wanted to get involved in to benefit the public and demonstrate that we care about our community.”

Along with UAW Local 42, participating union members also represent the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 175, Ironworkers Local 704 and Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 5.

Demolition & Renovation Photos:

“The Wolftever Creek project is an excellent example of how local unions are positively impacting their communities and the future of conservation through the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s Work Boots on the Ground program,” said USA Conservation Manager Robert Stroede. “This dock will benefit thousands of fishermen and other recreational boaters who use the Wolftever Creek boat ramp. It will not only improve the aesthetic value of this location but provide improved and safer access to all who utilize it.”

TWRA officials were grateful for USA and union volunteers’ assistance in making the Wolftever Creek boat ramp renovation a reality faster than limited state budgets and manpower allowed.

“The donations and hard work of the Union Sportsmen allowed us to accomplish this project more quickly,” said Capt. Matt Clarey, who oversees boat access areas and ramps for TWRA Region III. “We’re pleased to work alongside such great citizens. This partnership will benefit Tennesseans for years to come.”

After Photos:

 

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Celebrates Milestone Conservation Achievements

April 12, 2018 in General, Press Release

conservation

Franklin, Tenn. — In 2017, the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) eclipsed every mission-delivery and fundraising record ever set in the history of the conservation organization.

Throughout the year, the USA’s staff of 18 dedicated professionals joined forces with union volunteers to complete 27 conservation infrastructure projects in 15 states through its Work Boots on the Ground conservation initiative. These projects provided a value of more than $240,000 in skilled labor and a total project value of nearly $500,000.

“This past year has been nothing short of amazing for the USA, and we owe it all to our dedicated members, skilled union workers and extremely hard working staff,” said USA CEO & Executive Director Scott Vance. “We celebrated numerous organizational milestones, including our 10-year anniversary, but we also set records in the areas that are most important for a nonprofit— we put a ton of resources on the ground and saw our mission delivery work truly make a difference.”

The USA was created in 2007 with a mission to unite the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage. Over the past 11 years, the organization has rapidly put that mission and powerful workforce into action.

With volunteers that both raise funds to improve access to the outdoors, conserve natural resources and pass on our outdoor heritage and put their union trade skills to work on the ground, the dollars raised become substantially more impactful. This unique skill set and the ability to access millions of skilled union workers across the nation makes the USA’s potential impact unmatched in this arena.

“The USA is in a unique position in that our volunteers are skilled workers who can take a pile of materials and turn them into something meaningful for other hunters and anglers,” said USA’s Director of Conservation and Community Outreach Forrest Parker. “This year we had 646 volunteers who provided 7,445 hours of volunteer service— 5,400 of which were skilled work hours.”

One USA milestone came to fruition in November when the organization finished its 100th Work Boots on the Ground project. Volunteers from the Washington DC area spent six weekends tearing off 60-year-old boards, carrying 200 pound timbers and reconstructing a dilapidated fishing pier at the National Park Service’s Jones Point Park in Alexandria, Virginia. The value of this project alone was worth more than $100,000 of skilled labor, materials and volunteer time that the National Park Service did not have available until they teamed up with the USA.

In addition to growth in its mission delivery, the USA took on several strategic partnerships in 2017 that will allow the organization to be even more impactful in 2018. The USA’s new partners include Realtree, Worldwide Trophy Adventures, Pure Fishing, Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever, OUTTECH and Milwaukee Tool. Even though the USA experienced a record breaking year of fundraising and mission delivery, it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

“The USA is in a strategic growth period,” said Vance. “We will remain a lean organization in regard to staff size, but we are executing a plan to significantly grow our mission delivery efforts. Fueling our hardworking union members’ efforts through partnerships with like-minded conservation powerhouses allows us to focus on, and increase, the great work that’s being done every day by union men and women across the United States.”

Lyme Disease – A Chronic Battle I Never Saw Coming

March 15, 2018 in Articles, General


There it is—my alarm waking me before the sun has risen. I pry my eyes open, groggy and a bit confused, but then I remember where I am. I’m camped at 9,500 feet with my dad, uncles and cousins in the Rocky Mountains. Any pain I feel this morning is pushed aside as I rush to get my hunting clothes on and grab my gear.

As we drive the truck up the dark mountain, my anticipation builds along with extreme nausea and dizziness for no known reason. I try to block it out of my mind, as I have far more important things to focus on.

Finally, we reach our stop and begin our trek deeper into elk country. “Yikes! Even going downhill is hurting my muscles a lot,” I think. “Focus… focus!”

lyme_diseaseDad leads the way as I push myself to keep up, following closely behind. He is the expert, and I am the novice, imitating his every move. This was what I had been dreaming of since I was a little girl. It was finally my year to be in elk camp with a tag of my very own, and to top it off, I was blessed with the best guide I could ever want.

We walked and walked, tip toeing through patches of woods to peek into the meadows, hoping to catch some elk feeding. Something still doesn’t feel right. My neck feels like someone put their toughest boots on and stomped on it, my lower back is tight and aching, my feet are throbbing, my head is pounding, I’m nauseous, my heart feels like it might explode, and I feel like I haven’t slept in weeks.

“Focus Courtney!” I scream in my head, afraid to admit how bad I feel.

The first day of the elk hunt is over, and we return to camp with an un-punched tag. My dad is still in good spirits, but I can’t help but realize my body is deteriorating more with each day of the hunt, each mile hiked, and my chance of punching my elk tag this year is deteriorating with it.

I go back to my tent and pray to God that He will give me the strength and endurance to continue on this week long hunt and that I might be blessed with my first elk.

The Answers to All My Questions…

I returned to Minnesota with no elk meat for my family that year. Miraculously, I survived two weeks in the Colorado backcountry with a group of men who had never had a woman in their elk camp before. That, in itself, was a huge blessing. I also managed to keep up with my dad, who is as healthy as a horse, covering more than seven miles together on the last day of the season. No one would have realized the condition I was in unless I told them. I’ll share it with you in hopes that you never have to go through what I am fighting to this day.

lyme_disease

With a fever of 103°F and severe pain and stiffness throughout her body, Miller was poked and prodded at the ER, but doctors couldn’t identify the problem.

About two and a half weeks prior to my first elk hunt with a tag, in September 2016, I was admitted to the emergency room due to a severe fever and excruciating pain in my neck, back, legs, jaw, head, etc. You name it, and it was killing me. They did a spinal tap and hooked me up to IV fluids but could not figure out why I had a fever or why I was in so much pain. They sent me home with more questions than answers.

I had experienced some ongoing symptoms prior to the ER visit. I was constantly sick with colds and coughs. I grew extremely tired and weak, having to take naps in my car on my lunch break, and fighting falling asleep at my desk. I started getting a throbbing pain in my head, and felt like I was stuck in a strange brain fog in the mornings. One of the scariest symptoms I experienced was fainting twice while alone in my apartment. The one time, I even collapsed into wooden doors and lost my vision for a bit, but not consciousness.

My body deteriorated to the point that my mom had to stay with me in my apartment and help me in and out of the bathtub and my bed (the only two places I really went). If I so much as sneezed, coughed, or yawned I would start crying from the pain in my head and jaw.

I had seen my primary doctor fairly early on, but she couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. We did tons of blood work and tests but got no answers.

Fewer than 50% of patients with Lyme disease recall a rash.

Then it happened. I started to get discoloration on the top portion of my left thigh. Over a few days, it grew to several inches in length and felt hot to the touch. I also began getting bright red patches across my back and stomach.

Once my doctor saw the bullseye and disseminated red lesions, she said there was a good chance I had Lyme disease, especially given my outdoor lifestyle. Then I recalled finding a decent number of ticks on me while turkey and deer hunting that year.

I did all the blood tests for Lyme disease, and they came back negative. Yet after researching symptoms online, I was certain that’s what I had. My doctor put me on two weeks of doxycycline. That’s routine practice for doctors in typical health care system, but it’s not effective for everyone, even if you catch it early. Eventually, I was tested a second time for Lyme disease, and this time it came back positive.

A couple weeks after my ER visit, I convinced my family to let me go on my elk hunt. I was just over a week or so into my doxycycline treatment and slowly starting to feel more normal. I was determined I would be ready to roll by opening day of elk.

lyme disease

Miller and her dad chasing elk in the Rockies.

While I had many ups and downs physically throughout this hunt, I wasn’t consumed by pain the entire time. There were plenty of moments I pushed it out of my mind and enjoyed my time hunting with my dad and the other men in our camp. I learned that I am truly capable of overcoming many obstacles if I put my mind to it. My dad and I had many great moments on this trip that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

However, shortly after finishing my first round of doxycycline, all my symptoms returned, and with a vengeance. They put me on a second round of doxycycline, but this time, my symptoms started getting worse while I was still taking the medicine.

My primary physician later sent me to an infectious disease specialist, which was a complete waste of my time and money. The specialist confirmed I had Lyme disease but said the couple rounds of doxycycline were all they could do for me. She even said, “Maybe over time, it will just heal on its own.”

Unfortunately, Lyme disease can escalate into chronic Lyme disease if not treated early enough or properly, which is exactly what happened to me. Lyme disease is an epidemic issue in the United States and many other countries. It is difficult to test for and widely misunderstood by both medical professionals and insurance companies. This is why I’ve had such a difficult time finding the appropriate treatment that I can afford.

lyme_disease

This isn’t even the HALF of it.

While the standard treatment for Lyme disease is 14-30 days of antibiotics, many times it is ineffective. Lyme spirochetes have the ability to “hide” from antibiotics, and standard treatments often only mask the disease rather than cure it.

This chronic disease has impacted my life in many ways. I used to be able to workout on a daily basis to get in shape for various hunting seasons. I boxed, lifted weights, did cardio, and more. Now, I resemble a couch potato much more than the girl I once was. Even hunting and fishing have become more of a challenge due to my lack of energy, sore muscles and other symptoms. Because of the way Lyme disease is classified, I’ve also spent thousands of dollars out of my own pocket to treat myself, with no guarantee of ever being symptom free again.

I experienced all the symptoms of early Lyme disease and the majority of the symptoms for chronic Lyme disease listed HERE, as well as light/sound sensitivity, tingling/numbness and shooting pains, night sweats, irritable bladder, exaggerated symptoms from alcohol and stomach/abdominal cramps.

An LDo published survey of over 3,000 patients with chronic Lyme disease found that patients suffer a worse quality of life than those with most other chronic illnesses, including congestive heart failure, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and arthritis. Doctors don’t agree about the cause of these ongoing symptoms, and the primary cause of this debate is flawed diagnostic testing. There is currently no test that can determine whether a patient has an active infection or whether the infection has been eradicated by treatment.

I’m 23 years old, and right now, my quality of life isn’t looking all that bright. If I’ve learned one thing from this journey, it’s that if I’m ever blessed to be healthy again, I will never take it for granted. I’ll also forever hold onto the memories from that first elk hunt with my dad, and pray to God that Lyme disease won’t make it my last.

To learn more about Lyme disease symptoms click HERE.

Lyme Disease Symptoms – What to Watch For

March 15, 2018 in Articles, General

lyme_disease_symptoms

If you’ve been bit by a tick, you may start to experience Lyme disease symptoms typically anywhere from 2-30 days after the initial bite. Lyme disease is a clinical diagnosis, meaning that your treating physician will take into account your past medical history and your current symptoms. Additional laboratory tests can be run to determine a Lyme diagnosis, though many tests currently being administered by general practitioners are not very reliable. Many experts believe that less than 25% of patients with early Lyme disease and less than 10% with chronic Lyme are being properly diagnosed.

Also keep in mind that you may or may not even be aware that you were bitten. Ticks inject an anesthetic to numb the bite area so you rarely feel the bite and in some cases they can bite, feed on your blood and drop off without you ever knowing they were there!

If you have ANY of these Lyme disease symptoms or live in an area with a high prevalence of Lyme disease (make sure you read to the end!) then go get tested and request a Polymerase Chain Reaction test, which is currently the most accurate determination of Borrelia infection.

Lyme Disease Symptoms

Always listen to what your body is telling you. Pay close attention to your symptoms, and if you think you have Lyme Disease, don’t ignore it.

Early Lyme Disease Symptoms: 

• Bullseye rash (rash occurs in
less than 50% of patients)
• Flu-like symptoms
• Lack of energy and fatigue
• Headaches, especially at the
base of the skull and neck
• Muscle and joint pain
• Stiff neck
• Swollen lymph nodes

Chronic Lyme Disease Symptoms:

• Extreme fatigue
• Unexplained rashes and allergies
• Migrating pain in arms and legs
• Weakness and/or numbness in the arms
and legs
• Twitching and severe muscle and
joint pain
• Severe or recurring cervicogenic
headaches
• Vertigo, dizziness and poor balance
• Tinnitus or ringing in the ears
• Fainting
• Poor memory and concentration
• Insomnia
• Extreme irritability and frequent
confusion
• Vision problems, including blurred
vision, double vision and floaters
• Heart conditions, including pericarditis
and extreme palpitations
• Panic attacks and mood disorder
including severe depression
• Problems speaking, word retrieval
problems, word block
• Progressive dementias
• Motor neuron disease, similar to ALS
• Gullain-Barre-like syndrome
• Multiple sclerosis-like syndrome

Chronic Lyme disease can manifest itself as nearly anything as you’ll see from the extensive list of Lyme disease symptoms. The bottom line is, if you have any unexplained neurological, muscular, vision or mental issues and you suspect you’ve been bitten by a tick, GET TESTED for Lyme disease, and demand the right test!

HOW DO I GET TESTED?Lyme Disease Symptoms

First, go to your general physician armed with knowledge. The vast majority of general practitioners know very little about Lyme disease or it’s detection and unfortunately what they do know is largely inaccurate. There are direct and indirect tests that can be used to test for Lyme. Direct tests such as the Lyme Dot Blot Assay (LDA) or the Lyme Multiplex Polymerase Chain Reaction – PCR) look for the presence of Borrelia antigens or nucleic acids. Indirect tests (such as Elisa, IFA and the Western Blot) look for the patient’s immune response to Borrelia. It is important to note that not all ticks are infected with the disease, however, the ticks themselves can be tested for Borrelia and other tick borne diseases using the PCR test.

The indirect testing methods are the most commonly used by physicians in the United States and they are highly variable in their accuracy. This is because they look for your immune response to the Borrelia organism and not the actually “bug” itself. Demand the direct testing methods which are much more effective at detecting the Borrelia pathogen and giving you a clinical and accurate diagnosis.

THE BOTTOM LINE…

Lyme disease is a very serious threat to those of us who love the outdoors and spend lots of time enjoying it. I can tell you from personal experience that arming yourself with a great deal of knowledge and being extremely vigilant and careful not to be bit by a tick is vitally important.  I have spent the last 20 years of my life experiencing the long list of Lyme symptoms.  I was misdiagnosed dozens of times and had two “falsely” negative tests that delayed my diagnosis for nearly 15 years.

If you are in the woods or even your own backyard protect yourself. Use tick repellent sprays and wear tick-proof clothing. If you find or even suspect that you or a family member have been bit by a tick, be very diligent for the symptoms of Lyme or other tick borne disease. If you have any suspicions at all, go to a health care provider and get tested using the right test.

If I had known these things 20 years ago I could have avoided literally tens of thousands of dollars in medical costs and my quality of life would have been tremendously better. Lyme disease is scary and it takes a toll on your life and your family. Please take the precautions to avoid getting it at all costs and seek the correct treatment if you suspect that you have this egregious affliction.

Learn how to prevent tick bites and remove ticks HERE.

 

Written by Scott Vance, Union Sportsmen’s Alliance – CEO

Get Hooked on These 5 Spring Break Fishing Destinations

March 15, 2018 in Articles, Fishing

Spring Break Fishing

When you start planning that next family vacation, you may want to include a day or two on the water. Nothing adds to a family vacation on the coast like taking everyone out for a day or two of spring break fishing. Fishing is a great way to bond with the spouse and kids, and being able to take home some delicious fish is an added benefit. Below are five great spring break fishing destinations to consider when planning a beach vacation if you want to include world-class fishing.

Cabo San LucasSpring Break Fishing

Cabo San Lucas has long been known as a top Spring Break tourist destination. This resort city on the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula offers just about everything for the outdoor enthusiast, along with countless beachfront resorts and hotels. The area is known for its amazing beaches, water-based activities, fine restaurants and fun-filled nightlife. The area also offers incredible offshore spring break fishing, some of the best in the world. In fact, it is home to one of the largest billfishing tournaments in the world each year. To the north is the Sea of Cortez, which also offers action-packed offshore fishing plus incredible inshore fishing opportunities including tuna and roosterfish.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica should also make the short list when it comes to planning a spring break fishing vacation. This Central America country offers four-star resorts and miles of white sand beaches. Activities for everyone such as surfing, diving, snorkeling, white water rafting, eco tours, shopping and nightlife are all readily available. Costa Rica is also home to some incredible offshore fishing for blue and black marlin, Pacific sailfish and other pelagic species. The remote Caribbean side of the country, while more remote and undeveloped, is home to a myriad of freshwater jungle rivers that spill into the Atlantic. These waters are home to some of the best tarpon fishing in the world. Nothing is quite as thrilling as battling a 100-pound or larger silver king!

FloridaSpring Break Fishing

Florida is always a top vacation destination for those wanting to stay a little closer to home. Whether it’s the Florida Keys or the Atlantic or Gulf coast, there are plenty of locations and activities to choose from in the Sunshine State. For those looking to spend a day or two spring break fishing, the Keys are home to one of the largest migrations of tarpon in the spring and summer, while the Everglades running up the Gulf Coast offers incredible backcountry fishing for snook, redfish, tarpon and a host of other gamefish. Let’s not forget the freshwater fishing opportunities inland. Some of the best largemouth bass fishing anywhere is found on the many lakes just a short distance from Disney World.

Bahamas

The Bahamas are an easy hop from most major airports along the east coast. The capital city of Nassau on New Providence Island as well as Freeport on Grand Bahama offer incredible beachfront resorts and activities for all ages. However, it is some of the smaller “out islands” such as Abaco, Exuma, Andros and Long Island that can offer more of an intimate setting and vacation. If you’re seeking more of a private vacation, these smaller islands are a step back in time. Smaller boutique hotels and private houses and villas can often be rented on incredible beaches. The Bahamas is also home to some of the best bonefishing in the Caribbean. Do yourself a favor and take a day or two to explore with a local guide and pursue the “gray ghost” of the flats.

New OrleansSpring Break Fishing

New Orleans is another excellent choice for those looking to stay a little closer to home. With great weather and everything from Mardi Gras in February to Jazz Fest in April, Cajun eats, river cruises and historic tours, there’s always plenty to do in this culture-filled city. A little more than an hour south of Bourbon Street lies the redfish capital of the world. The Mississippi River Delta and vast marshes of southwest Louisiana is home to the finest fishing for trophy redfish anywhere, not to mention world-class offshore fishing for yellowfin tuna.

To learn more about one of these destinations, contact the experts at Worldwide Trophy Adventures (WTA), the preferred booking agent of Cabela’s and a proud partner of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance. WTA’s professional staff can handle all aspects of your trip from initial consultation, detailed pre-trip planning, airline travel, trip cancellation insurance and much more. Plus, their services are free of charge. It costs you no more to book a trip through them than it does booking direct with the lodge or guide. In fact, they will save you time and money.

Learn more at www.worldwidetrophyadventures.com or call 800-346-8747 to plan that family fishing vacation.

Written by Travis Baker

USA Celebrates Nichols Park Transformation + Hosts Family Fishing Event

March 15, 2018 in General, Oklahoma, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Nichols Park

Henryetta, Ok. — (March 10, 2018) The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), Oklahoma AFL-CIO, Oklahoma State BCTC, and a crowd of more than 250 gathered at Nichols Park in Henryetta, Oklahoma, today to celebrate the park’s transformation through the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) conservation program.

Prior to the dedication, volunteers completed one final project at Nichols Park, installing the new pavilion roof. The USA and local conservation partners then hosted a family fishing day full of educational activities and served a free lunch.

Nearly $13,000 was raised for the Nichols Park restoration project at the USA’s Oklahoma AFL-CIO Conservation Dinner held in Tulsa in October 2016. Using funds for materials and equipment, more than 100 volunteers from 23 Union locals and community groups donated approximately 1,325 hours to make major improvements to the park.

Projects included replacing the pavilion roof, improving lighting, replacing and fixing park benches and picnic tables, clearing overgrown areas, and replacing an unsafe fishing pier with an ADA compliant floating pier.

“What was done in a few hours by the Unions would have taken months for the city crews to complete or even begin to accomplish,” said Henryetta Mayor Jennifer Clason. “The fishing dock would have been years out, if even on the radar due to the dilapidated infrastructure our city faces.”

“The public should know that Unions unite for common goals and advocate for workers in both the public and private sector,” concluded Mayor Clason. “We will be forever thankful to the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance for making this project happen without cost to our city. It was truly amazing to see our park transformed from a work in progress to a fairy tale dream getaway.”

In an outstanding display of solidarity and community, more than 100 volunteers from the following Unions and groups donated their time and skills to this project: Oklahoma State AFL-CIO; Oklahoma BCTC; OPEIU Local 381; IAHFI Locals 94 and 64; TWU Local 514; UA Locals 344 and 430; IBEW Locals 584, 1002, 1141; NALC Local 442; GMP Local 48; SMART Locals 124 and 270; IUOE Local 627; BAC Local 5; IAMAW Local 850; Professional Fire Fighters of Oklahoma; LIUNA Local 107; USW; Roofers Local 143; and the city of Henryetta.

“Public parks are a resource that all Americans should cherish and be good stewards of,” said USA CEO & Executive Director Scott Vance. “Parks provide a variety of benefits including creating safer neighborhoods, engaging local communities and promoting public health in the outdoors. This project is a prime example of what our community-based conservation projects should look like.”

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Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA): The USA is a union-dedicated, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose members hunt, fish, shoot and volunteer their skills for conservation. The USA is uniting the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage. For more information, visit www.unionsportsmen.org or connect on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Work Boots on the Ground (WBG): WBG is the USA’s flagship conservation program that brings together union members willing to volunteer their time and expertise to conservation projects that improve and enhance public access to the outdoors, conserve wildlife habitat, restore America’s parks and mentor youth in the outdoors. The USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program works closely with federal, state and local agencies and other conservation groups to provide manpower needed to complete critical projects that may otherwise go undone.

SMART Union Member Wins Elk Hunt of a Lifetime

March 14, 2018 in Articles, Brotherhood Outdoors TV, Hunting

Elk Hunt

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) member Lindsay Lanning was flipping through her International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) magazine when the words “Stalking Your Dream Hunt?” caught her attention. It was a page about the USA and Carhartt Ultimate Elk Hunt Sweepstakes—a trip to honor the American worker by awarding one union member and a guest with a guided, five-day elk hunt in New Mexico’s Gila National Forest, valued at approximately $22,000.

“You can’t win if you don’t play,” she thought as she entered.

As a member of SMART Transportation Division Local 1629, Lindsay’s job primarily consists of switching cars in the rail yard using a remote control box to control the locomotives, but she also loads and unloads an auto facility.

“Railroad unions are the oldest unions, and my union is very important to me,” Lindsay said. “The union is constantly negotiating and fighting for things like our pay, healthcare and laws to keep two-person crews. The union also protects us from unlawful termination due to injury, they guarantee due process and investigations before any discipline, and they fight for lost wages.”

Lindsay learned that her union benefits go well beyond the workplace when she was selected as the grand prize winner of the USA/Carhartt sweepstakes from nearly 5,000 entrants. The elk hunt was an amazing opportunity that got even better when Lindsay made an unexpected discovery about the outfitter.

Elk Hunt

Lindsay and her father Dana scouting for elk.

“When I won the elk hunt, I contacted long-time family friend, Danny Parker, who lives in Chino Valley, Arizona, to ask if he knew the guides with Big Chino Guide Service,” Lindsay said. “To my surprise, he said he knew them well; he grew up with the owner, JP, and watched JP’s boys, who are now the main guides, grow up.”

Lindsay chose to bring her father Dana Lanning of Phoenix, Arizona, on the elk hunt with her. Dana was a member of Operating Engineers Local 428 for more than 30 years and is currently a member of Electrical Workers Local 769.

When Lindsay learned Parker would be helping on the hunt, she asked if her brother, Dalton, could tag along too. Dalton is in the Air Force and, until recently, was stationed out of the country, causing him to miss many family hunts. With the help of Parker, that was made possible for the Lanning family.

During the five-day hunt, Lindsay’s father and brother took turns joining her in the field. Whoever wasn’t with her, the guide and the camera crew, glassed with Parker and the other guide on a different ridge.

“Ultimately, bringing home meat and enjoying quality family time outdoors are the most important things about hunting to our family, and we never expect to bring home a trophy,” Lindsay said. “This New Mexico hunt differed greatly in that we saw elk every day but could pass them up in hopes of finding a bigger bull.”

By luck of the draw, it was Lindsay’s brother’s turn to go with her and their guide to a blind overlooking a water hole where a nice bull had been spotted. It was the last evening of the hunt, and they were waiting as patiently as they could.

“We had one cameraman on the left end, a guide in the middle, and myself on the right end with the muzzleloader on a tripod in front of me,” Lindsay said. “We were all sitting on the ground in this small blind. My brother sat right behind us, leaning against a tree.”

The wind was in their favor as they quietly watched the water hole. And then it happened. Dalton caught sight of giant antlers coming from behind the left side of the blind.Elk Hunt

“My heart immediately began pounding out of my ears, and I was certain the elk could hear it,” Lindsay said. “We all sat perfectly still, frozen in awe of this magnificent creature, cautiously making his way to the water hole in front of us.”

The elk made it far enough for a 45-degree angle shot to Lindsay’s left, but she couldn’t move the gun in his direction or he would see it.

“Whether the elk winded us, saw us or just got nervous, he turned and bolted straight back to where he came from, completely opposite of where I was positioned,” Lindsay said.

The guide jumped up and whistled in an attempt to stop the bull, while simultaneously grabbing the gun and re-positioning it straight left through the blind.

“Miraculously, the bull stopped, and I was able to get down in the scope and take a shot—right between the guide and the camera guy!” Lindsay said.

The bull took off, but only a few seconds later, Lindsay’s brother said he heard him crash.

“Had Dalton not spotted the bull out of the corner of his eye and alerted us early, we could have easily blown our cover,” Lindsay said.

Lindsay had never seen her brother so excited before. Her dad and the rest of the crew arrived within 10 minutes to join in the celebrating.

Aside from going home with elk meat for the freezer, Lindsay and her family were treated to free gear from several companies including Carhartt, Burris Optics, Flambeau Outdoors, Buck Knives and Thompson/Center Arms.

Elk HuntWhile this may have been Lindsay’s first time hunting with a muzzleloader, it was not her first time big game hunting. She began putting in for junior elk hunts when she was around 12-years-old, and got her first cow tag at age 15. Lindsay has two cow elk to her name from previous hunts, and now can proudly add a bull to the list.

“I owe my hunting background to my dad,” Lindsay said. “As far back as I can remember, my dad would go hunting with his brothers or friends, and I was always so excited to see what was in the back of the truck when he came home!”

In their earliest hunting experiences, Lindsay and her brother played the role of bird dogs. Their dad would hunt dove and quail while they ran around picking up the birds and shotgun shells.

Being the grand prize winner of the USA and Carhartt Ultimate Elk Hunt Sweepstakes provided the perfect opportunity for Lindsay to experience an amazing elk hunt with two of the most important people in her life.

“This elk hunt was a once in a lifetime opportunity and something we never would have treated ourselves to, at least not without winning the lottery,” Lindsay said. “We owe the biggest thanks to Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and Carhartt for organizing this elk hunt and to Big Chino Outfitters. Without their extensive knowledge and sense of dedication to my father, brother and I, we wouldn’t have brought down this awesome bull elk.”

You Could Be a Guest on Brotherhood Outdoors! Apply HERE.

Lyme Disease Facts & Myths You NEED to Know

March 10, 2018 in Articles, General

lyme_disease_facts

Until a few years ago, people probably thought Lyme disease was something that happened when you had too many “bottomless cup” margaritas at the local watering hole. But Lyme disease is no laughing matter. Educating yourself on Lyme disease facts and myths can be the difference between you continuing to enjoy a life full of the outdoors, and battling a chronic illness.

According to the Center for Disease Control, Lyme disease is the fastest growing and most prevalent bug-borne disease in the nation with more than 300,000 people diagnosed each year. Many experts estimate less than 25% of new cases are being accurately diagnosed, and only a fraction of chronic Lyme cases are positively identified.

Lyme is one of the most misunderstood, misdiagnosed and, unfortunately, mistreated diseases in the U.S. It is caused by a bizarre organism called Borrelia burgdorferiBorrelia is a corkscrew-shaped bacterium referred to as a spirochete. Because of its unique shape and properties, this bacterium can bore itself into muscles, bones and even nervous system tissues and wreak havoc on its host (you and me).

Lyme is often called “The Great Imitator” because its symptoms mimic many other diseases. It can affect any organ of the body, including the brain and nervous system, muscles, joints and heart. Patients with Lyme disease are frequently misdiagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, crippling arthritis and various psychiatric and mental illnesses, including severe depression.

I spent the last 20 years of my life experiencing the long list of Lyme symptoms. I was misdiagnosed dozens of times and had two “falsely” negative tests that delayed my diagnosis for nearly 15 years. Educating yourself on Lyme disease facts can prevent you from ending up in a situation like mine.

Most people get Lyme from the bite of the nymphal, or immature, form of the tick. Nymphs are about the size of a poppy seed. Because they are so tiny and their bite is painless, many people don’t even realize they have been bitten. Once attached, an undisturbed tick may feed for several days. The longer it stays attached, the more likely it will transmit Lyme and other pathogens into your bloodstream.

9 Lyme Disease Facts:

  1. According to the CDC, Lyme disease is the fastest growing vector-borne, infectious disease in the U.S.
  2. The number of cases reported annually has increased nearly 25-fold since National Surveillance began in 1982.
  3. There are five subspecies of Borrelia burgdorferi, over 100 strains in the U.S., and 300 strains worldwide.
  4. CDC estimated cases: 25,000 cases per week, 5,770 cases per day, 822 cases per hour (many experts believe less than 10% of Lyme cases are reported)
  5. There are no tests available to prove that the organism is eradicated or the patient is cured.
  6. Fewer than 50% or patients with Lyme disease recall a tick bite.
  7. Forty percent of Lyme patients end up with long-term health problems.
  8. Fewer than 50% of patients with Lyme disease recall a rash.
  9. Up to 70% of ticks in Lyme-endemic areas are infected.

Find more Lyme Disease facts HERE.

3 Lyme Disease Myths:

MYTH: Everyone with Lyme disease gets a telltale bull’s-eye rash.

Actually, many never develop a skin rash and those that do may not get a bull’s-eye rash.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that only 70% develop a skin rash (erythema migrans), but this can vary by region. For example, a 2010 study showed that in the state of Maine only 43% of Lyme patients exhibited this particular type of rash. There are a range of symptoms and it is critical that you are alert to all of them.

MYTH: Antibiotics cure everyone.

While an estimated 329,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year, statistics show that as many as 20% of patients continue to exhibit symptoms even after antibiotic treatment. While there is controversy about the cause of this symptom persistence (e.g., residual bacteria or auto-immune response), for these patients, the suffering continues.  As many as a million Americans are estimated to be suffering with this condition, referred to as post-treatment Lyme disease (PTLD).

MYTH: If the test is negative, you don’t have Lyme. 

Not so fast … The current “gold standard” diagnostic for Lyme disease is a two-tiered blood test requiring a positive ELISA result. The ELISA measures infection-fighting or memory antibodies against Borrelia burgdorferi, and it misses up to 60% of acute cases of Lyme when antibodies may not be high enough to detect.

Myths courtesy of Bay Area Lyme Foundation

Think you may have Lyme disease? Check your symptoms HERE.

 

Written by Scott Vance, Union Sportsmen’s Alliance – CEO

A Tackle Box Full of Tips for Spring Crappie Fishing With Kids

March 8, 2018 in Articles, Fishing

Crappie Fishing

The slip cork had just hit the surface. With a popping sound and a rush of fishing line through the water, it was gone. There wasn’t even time for the bobber to stand up straight before it disappeared into the tea-colored lake, stained by warm spring rains.

I didn’t have to tell the 10-year-old holding the rod to set the hook. The fish had done that work when it hungrily inhaled the minnow. With a bent rod and squeals of delight, another 1-pound crappie was on its way to the ice chest.

Nothing is more exciting for me than to see a young person catch fish. After many years of taking kids fishing—and many lessons in trial and error—springtime crappie fishing is my first choice for almost guaranteed fun and fishing success. Two or three consecutive warm days in the early spring draw crappie from the deeper river and creek channels to the shallow flats. These prespawn crappie are hungry. A slip-cork with a live minnow will produce easy hook-ups.

When crappie fishing with kids, I prefer the slip cork rig over a clip-on bobber because the slip cork is easier to cast, especially if crappie are holding in water five feet deep or more. A slip cork has a hole through it that the line runs through. When casting, the cork—or float or bobber—is against the sinker near the hook. It’s a nice, tight package that is much easier to cast than a bobber clipped five feet above your hook.

A knot tied above the cork controls the depth you dangle your minnow or jig. Dental floss works well for the knot, or you can use a strand of fishing line. The bead goes below the knot, and the bead protects the knot from wear by the cork after repeated casts. The knot is big enough to stop the bead but not too large, so it easily passes through the rod guides. Below the bead, the cork is slid onto the line. Finally, a small split shot a few inches above a No. 6 long-shank, thin-wire hook completes your rig. When the slip cork rig hits the water, the line passes through the cork until it reaches the bead and knot, which control the depth. The knot can be quickly adjusted up or down if the fish are not at the depth you expected.

Crappie Fishing

A springtime trip for crappie, when they are shallow and biting, can provide a memory of a lifetime.

The Kid Kit

The goal for a trip to the lake with a child should be to instill a love of crappie fishing, so make sure the day is fun and comfortable. I will never forget my grandfather taking me on one of my first fishing trips. The preparation began weeks before with casting practice in the yard, and then he gave me my own little tackle box. I didn’t even notice there were no lures with hooks in the box—the plastic worms, stringer and a pair of pliers might as well have been made of gold. I felt so proud carrying my own tackle box.

When taking children fishing, take plenty of snacks, particularly snacks you might not let them eat at home. Make their trip to the lake a special treat.

You’ll also need sunscreen, hats, a light jacket for the morning boat ride, wipes to clean their hands before they dive into the snacks, and water. Try to leave the video games and smart phones in the car.

Refrain from too much instruction during those first fishing trips with a child. An 8-year-old doesn’t want a lesson on how to tie a palomar knot. There will be plenty of time for instruction later, once a love of fishing has taken root.

Crappie Fishing

Guide Sonny Sipes loves to take families fishing for crappie, and he particularly loves to see the kids catch their first crappie.

Consider a Guide for the Kids

One of the most important keys to a successful fishing trip with kids is to make sure they catch fish, and the quickest, most consistent way to ensure success is to hire a guide. Most guides are on the water almost every day. They know where the crappie are holding, and they have boats, depth finders, rods and reels, bait and ice chests. All you have to do is climb in the boat and enjoy catching crappie, while your guide helps teach your child or grandchild how to catch fish.

Tony Adams is a full-time guide on Lake Eufaula, a fantastic fishing reservoir located along the Alabama-Georgia border on the Chattahoochee River.

“Before every trip, I go out the day before on the lake, locate the crappie and identify the best place for my customers to catch the most and biggest crappie in the shortest time,” Adams said.

Adams, like most full-time guides, is confident he can put clients on crappie any time of the year, but springtime is special.

“The temperature of the water dictates where the crappie will be,” Adams said. “If the water temperature is 50 to 56 degrees, the crappie probably will be holding in six to 10 feet of water, indicating they are in the prespawn mode. If the water temp is 57 to 69 degrees, the crappie will be in spawning mode and holding close to the bank. To fish for crappie, you need to know the water temperature, the water depth, where the crappie are, and the site where you’ll have the best chance to catch crappie.”

A good crappie fishing guide should have all that information before you arrive at the lake. If crappie are spawning in the spring, then you’ll fish from three inches to three feet deep. Regardless of the stage of spawn the crappie are in, a guide can put you and your youngster in the right place with the right equipment to catch fish.

“When the crappie come into the banks to spawn, they’ll usually be around some type of structure like grass, stumps or rocks,” Adams said.

Over the years, Adams has learned that for mom and dad to have a good time crappie fishing and for the youngster to catch lots of crappie quickly, the guide generally keeps the child close by to teach and coach.

Crappie Fishing

Crappie have paper-thin mouths, hence the nickname “papermouths.” Bring a net to boat those big slabs.

Hire The Right Fishing Guide

There are some standards by which to judge a fishing guide. A guide should have good equipment, a clean and well-kept boat with the trolling motor and outboard in good repair. The guide should know the lake and the most productive crappie locations and be able to put you where you can catch fish.

The Internet is a great resource for information on fishing guides. A guide with poor equipment or a bad attitude—or inability to put clients on fish—will leave a trail of comments on fishing message boards. Don’t base your decision on one bad comment, but if you see quite a few, know that anglers spent their hard-earned money and didn’t like the results.

Steve McCadams, a guide on Kentucky Lake and Barkley Lake on the Kentucky-Tennessee border, said a lot of work and preparation goes into giving his clients the best chance to catch fish. He has built and placed more than 100 fishing reefs where his clients can catch fish.

“I don’t fish my spots every day. I do let them rest,” McCadams said. “When people hire a guide, they expect to catch fish. My job is to do all in my power to ensure they do.”

A guide should have a pleasant attitude and make the trip fun and enjoyable for his clients. A guide also should be willing to patiently teach youngsters and novices how to catch fish.

Crappie Fishing

Make sure to take plenty of pictures during your fishing outings this spring.

Questions to Ask Before a Guided Trip

Problems arise when you don’t know what to expect from your guide. Ask these questions before you book:

* How much will the trip cost?

* What is a reasonable tip if we have a good day?

* What equipment is furnished on the trip, and what do clients need to bring?

* What time does the day of fishing begin and end?

* Who cleans the fish, and is there an extra charge for fish-cleaning?

* How many people are allowed to fish from your boat, and how does that affect the price?

* Do you fish with children, and are you willing to help teach children to fish?

* What are the chances of catching a limit of crappie or of catching big crappie?

Crappie Fishing Tips

Crappie Fishing

A crappie fishing trip helps create a special bond between parents and children.

When the crappie are biting really well in the spring, you don’t need to bother with minnows. A 1/16- to 1/32-oz. crappie jig like a Hal-Fly can be very effective. To make the jig easier to cast for a youngster, clip on a very small bobber about 18 inches above the jig. Cast the jig and bobber into the shallow spawning area, and reel it very slowly, pausing often.

“To increase our odds of catching crappie, I usually put a scent attractant like a Magic Bait Crappie Bite or Berkley’s PowerBait Crappie Nibble on the bend of the hook,” Adams said. “These not only cause the crappie to bite better, but they also tend to make the fish hold onto the jig longer, allowing more time for my fisherman to set the hook.”

“If the youngster can’t cast a spinning rod, I pull the line off the reel on a jig pole, add a cork to the line two to three feet above the hook, and teach the youngster how to swing the line with the jig and the cork on it. Before long, most kids will be able to drop it in next to the structure,” Adams added.

Crappie are a great tasting fish, and the meal your kids helped provide will be a life lesson about the bounty available through the wise use of our outdoor resources. A crappie fishing trip with a good guide can provide limits of crappie for everyone in the boat. After a fun day of crappie fishing, the work begins when the fish are prepared for the skillet or the freezer.

Although Adams schedules his trips for four hours, generally two children with two adults can catch their limits of crappie in two to three hours. No time is wasted looking for crappie when you fish with a good guide, since the guide will already have them pinpointed.

During March and April when crappie are moving into the shallows to spawn across much of the U.S., head to your local river or lake with your favorite young angler. A little Internet research will point you toward the best waters for crappie fishing, or you can hire a guide to help ensure the kids catch plenty of fish and have a great time.

Don’t forget to read our article on getting kids interested in hunting HERE.

Written by John E. Phillips

5 Tips for Buying a Used Boat You Won’t Regret

March 8, 2018 in Articles, Fishing, Tips

used boat

This 1988 Astro Glass was our first used boat. We purchased it from a dealer in 2010 for $4500 and sold it in 2014 for $5500 to upgrade. It was a great investment.

As we rounded the bend into the wide open water, I eased the throttle forward on the 20-year-old fiberglass boat. We cruised quickly and smoothly across the flat water on our way to our favorite fishing hole. The whole family was enjoying the simple trill of a boat ride, and we were soon enjoying a warm summer evening catching a few fish and spending quality time together. In that moment, I proudly reflected on our decision to buy a used boat.

Since that first fiberglass boat, I have bought and sold several used boats, each one a small step up on the bigger, nicer, newer scale. By doing my research, being patient and using some basic negotiation tactics, I managed to sell each of those boats for more than what I paid for them. Now, I’m happy to share some lessons I learned along the way when it comes to buying a good used boat.

  1. Get the Family Involved

    used boat

    Kids don’t care about how new or modern the boat is. They just love to spend time on the water with you.

By getting input from the whole family, you can narrow down the type of boat you want to focus on. My family wanted a boat we could fish out of but also use for tubing or water skiing. It needed to be rated for at least 6 occupants, so we could fit lots of kids on board.

  1. Research

Picking the best style of boat can be the toughest decision. Take your time and choose a type of boat that will best meet your family’s expectations. The options seem endless: fiberglass or aluminum, bass boat, Deep-V full windshield, single console, double console, inboard, outboard or a tiller model. Once you hone in on the style you want, spend lots of time researching the different models available.

  1. Set a Budget

A good used boat can be found in everyone’s price range. One of my son’s friends recently found a small boat, motor and trailer for $500. With a little work to fix it up, he is now the captain of his own vessel. Of course, the more you can spend, the bigger and better quality you will find, but there is no need to spend an excessive amount. When calculating your budget, take into account the taxes, registration and any equipment needed, such as life vests, anchors, electronics and more.

used boat

Single console models like this provide ease of operation and lots of space to fish.

  1. Start the Search

Looking for your new, used boat has never been easier. Dealer webpages, Craigslist, Boattrader.com, Facebook Market Place and even EBay are excellent resources. While I have purchased some excellent boats through Craigslist, I prefer to buy used boats from dealers when possible. Many dealers sell used boats at very reasonable prices because they would rather spend their time selling new inventory at a higher profit margin. Dealers also ensure the boat operates as it should or disclose problems before the sale. Many even offer short warranties.

  1. Prepare to Purchase

    used boat

    When well cared for, older outboard motors have lots of life left. Be sure to fully inspect the outboard and watch it run.

When you are ready to buy a boat, prepare yourself with as much information about the boat before looking at it. Many manufactures have old catalogs posted on their websites that provide specific details. Search similar models to see what prices they are selling for. Always take a buddy—ideally someone who knows something about boats. Having two sets of eyes on the inspection really helps. It also gives you someone to lean on during negotiations.

Thoroughly inspect the boat, systematically, bow to stern and bottom to top. Pay special attention to the bottom of the hull. Crawl under the boat and look for dents, scratches, gouges, loose rivets, cracked welds and signs of previous repair. Closely inspect the motor, lower unit, prop and skag as they are the most likely locations to have damage. Always insist on listening to the motor run. They make attachments for a garden hose, so the outboard motor can be run properly. If possible, ask to do a test run with the boat at a nearby lake or other body of water.

Go prepared to take the boat home that day. Nothing kills a deal faster than asking the seller to wait. If you are considerate of the seller’s schedule by being prepared to pay cash that day and take the boat home, the seller will be more inclined to accept a lower price. Be polite but make your first offer low. Point out defects and your tight budget as the reason for the low offer. Be willing to negotiate but also be willing to walk away; there are lots of boats out there, so wait for the right boat for a great low price. Take enough to cash to cover the amount you are willing to spend and no more. Once the price is set, ensure the title work is in proper order before making the payment.

used boat

Fishing and tubing are the most popular family boating activities.

Last summer, I took my 14-year-old daughter with me to look at a 2000 Lund Angler that a large dealer was selling. Her job was to find any dirt, filth or problems in the boat, while I inspected the hull, motor and trailer. She did a great job and found lots of things that were overlooked, which soon had the salesman rambling about how he had not taken the time to detail the boat because he was only selling it on consignment for someone who bought a new one. It was obvious to us that he was more interested in selling new boats and this older used boat. In the end, we scored a great boat at an unbelievably low price, basically, because we were willing to buy a dirty boat. A few hours of elbow grease in the driveway and we have a beautiful “new-to-us” boat. The next day, I took my daughter and her cousins tubing, and we went fishing that evening. The kids could care less about how old the boat is or if it has the newest gadgets; they just want to get on the water and have fun. With spring here, this could be the perfect time to promote yourself to Captain and buy a good used boat for the family.

Don’t forget to check out our article on 5 WORM TRICKS FOR BASS.

Written By Bob Barteck— IAFF Local 425 Alumni

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance to Dedicate Newly Restored Nichols Park & Host Family Fishing Day

March 6, 2018 in Oklahoma, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Henryetta, Oklahoma — Union volunteers in the Henryetta Area will volunteer their time and trade skills through the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) program to complete one final project at Nichols Park in Henryetta, Oklahoma, that will increase public access to the park and lake. To celebrate the newly restored park, the USA will host a family fishing day and a formal dedication following the completion of the project.

WHAT:
Union Sportsmen’s Alliance volunteers from the Oklahoma AFL-CIO and Oklahoma State Building and Construction Trades will complete the installation of the new pavilion roof. The completion of this project will increase overall use of this resource, promote conservation and the outdoors, encourage participation in fishing, and unite the community through volunteerism. The restoration of Nichols Park will be celebrated with fishing, a free lunch and a formal dedication. View the work day flier here.

WHEN:
Saturday, March 10
Work begins: 9:00 a.m.
Fishing begins: 10:30 a.m.
Lunch served: 11:30 a.m.
Project dedication: 12:00 p.m.

WHERE:
Nichols Park
New Lake Road
Henryetta, OK 74437

DEDICATION SPEAKERS:
Jennifer Clason, Mayor of Henryetta, OK
Jimmy Fish, Project Leader
Jimmy Curry, OK AFL-CIO President
Forrest Parker, USA Director of Conservation & Community Outreach

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Union Sportsmen’s Alliance: The USA is a union-dedicated, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose members hunt, fish, shoot and volunteer their skills for conservation. The USA is uniting the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage. For more information, visit www.unionsportsmen.org or connect on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

Work Boots on the Ground: WBG is the USA’s flagship conservation program that brings together union members willing to volunteer their time and expertise to conservation projects that improve and enhance public access to the outdoors, conserve wildlife habitats, restore America’s parks and mentor youth in the outdoors. WBG works closely with federal, state and local agencies and other conservation groups to provide manpower needed to complete critical projects that may otherwise go undone.

5 Ways to Prevent Nasty Tick Bites + How to Remove Them

March 1, 2018 in Articles, General

tick_bites

The news hit me like a sucker punch in the gut. As I worked to overcome the shock, the words of the person on the phone began to sink in. One of the toughest, most enigmatic men I’d ever known was dead. My eyes filled with stinging anger as the murderer’s name was articulated. Tick Fever. That was nearly four years ago. A man whose life had led him down many paths filled with tales of dogged stamina, perseverance and extreme risk was killed by a tiny arachnid not much larger than a poppy seed. Tick borne diseases are a very serious threat to people who enjoy the outdoors and, quite honestly, anyone who spends time outside. Avoiding tick bites is relatively simple and are worth the extra time and effort

Ticks can even hitch a ride into your home on your pets. According to the most current information, tick bites in the United States can transmit more than 20 different bacterial and viral diseases to the people bitten. While these diseases are rarely fatal, they pose a significant health implication to those of us who love to hunt, fish and be outside. You’ve heard the old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and that could not be more true when it applies to avoiding tick bites. Taking a few simple precautions before you go into the field can significantly lower your vulnerability to lurking ticks.tick_bites

SPRAY DOWN – One of the most effective ways to avoid tick bites is to “pre” treat your clothes and boots with a permethrin based spray like Sawyer Premium Insect Repellent. Avoid direct contact with your skin by allowing the product to dry on your clothes several days before your outdoor trip. The spray will last for months on your boots and for several weeks on your outer garments. I spray every piece of my outerwear, including my boots, gloves and hat, prior to spring turkey season, and I have not been bitten by a tick or a chigger in more than 10 years. You can even spray it on your dogs. NOTE: This product is extremely toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms, as well as cats, when wet. Read application instructions carefully before use.

COVER UP – Wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants that are light colored and lightweight to cover exposed skin. Tuck your pants into your boots, and thoroughly spray the tops of your boots with a permethrin spray to avoid tick bites.

STEER CLEAR – Avoid areas with high grass and stay in the sun when possible. Ticks love high thick grass and tend to congregate in shady areas.

SUIT UP – Several companies now make “tick proof” clothing and, by all accounts, it is extremely effective. Some of this clothing has permethrin bonded into its fibers, which repels ticks, mosquitoes and chiggers and also maintains its insect barrier through dozens of wash cycles. Other clothing types create a tight, tick-proof barrier next to your skin that does not allow ticks to crawl under it.

BE DILIGENT – If you don’t like the idea of special clothes or insect repelling sprays, then be extremely diligent. Wear light colored clothing (this allows you to see tiny ticks crawling on your clothes) and cover all bare skin. Tuck your pants into your boots and socks, and tape the sleeves of your long-sleeve shirts tight around your wrists. Shower and search for ticks immediately after returning indoors, and throw all your clothes in a high heat dryer to kill ticks that may have hitched a ride. These precautions are relatively simple and are worth the extra time and effort. Take it from someone who is still fighting Chronic Lyme disease and alpha gal red meat allergies, do whatever you can to protect yourself and your family from tick bites. Don’t let these nasty little suckers ruin your outdoor experiences or, worse, take your life.

Think you may have Lyme disease? Check your symptoms HERE.

 

Written by Scott Vance, Union Sportsmen’s Alliance – CEO

USA Signs Strategic Agreement With OUTTECH at Archery Trade Association show

January 11, 2018 in Press Release

(L-R) Brian Dowler, USA Dr. of Membership, Marketing & Communications; Jay Scholes, OUTTECH founder & president; Tom Stuckey, OUTTECH Director of Coalitions; Walt Ingram, USA Dr. of Union Relations; & Mike d’Oliveira, USA Deputy Director.

Franklin, Tenn.—(January 11, 2018) The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and OUTTECH INC. announced a strategic partnership between the two groups last night during the Innovations party at the Archery Trade Association show in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The companies signed a Memorandum of Understanding in front of hundreds of archery and outdoor industry executives, manufacturers and retailers.

The basis of the partnership is a new concept to the industry. The USA is a nonprofit conservation organization, and OUTTECH is an industry leading product sales group. The USA doesn’t have a “product” to sell. How could a partnership possibly work?

“Each of the industry nonprofit organizations have hundreds of thousands of members who love to hunt and fish,” said Jay Scholes, OUTTECH founder and president. “The face of outdoor retail is changing; it’s important to us to strategically partner with an organization like the USA. We want to bring benefit to their members and keep them engaged in the outdoors. Our ability to introduce new and innovative products helps retain and introduce new hunters, anglers and shooters to products, which is important to all of us.”

The USA is a nonprofit conservation group created for union members and their families. In only a decade, the USA has amassed more than 230,000 members from more than 25 different international labor unions. A little more than a month ago, USA’s leadership celebrated its 100th Work Boots on the Ground project by dedicating a restored fishing pier in Jones Point Park in Alexandria, Virginia. Jones Point Park is a National Park Service property.

The project is a great example of how private and public partnership can help restore and maintain our treasured parks when money and resources are not available through traditional sources. Since 2012, the USA has provided more than 21,000 hours and nearly $800,000 in skilled volunteer labor to restore and maintain public access across our nation.

What makes the USA truly unique is its ability to harness the power of skilled union volunteers who put their professional knowledge to use by tackling projects that create or improve public access to the outdoors, improve wildlife habitats, mentor youth in the outdoors and restore America’s parks, which are in disrepair. The USA also raises funds that cover materials and equipment through local conservation dinners, sporting clays and trap shoots.

“Partnerships will play a vitally important role in our industry, and we are always open to combining forces for conservation with a great partner like OUTTECH,” said Scott Vance, CEO and Executive Director for the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance. “Our hardworking union members are very active in their communities. Fueling their efforts through partnerships with industry giants, such as OUTTECH, allows us to focus on, and increase, the great work that’s being done every day by union men and women across the United States.”

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About the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA): The USA is a union-dedicated, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose members hunt, fish, shoot and volunteer their skills for conservation. The USA is uniting the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage. For more information, visit www.unionsportsmen.org or connect on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Brotherhood Outdoors Field Producer Wins Outdoor Sportsman Award

January 10, 2018 in General

Today Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) would like to thank and congratulate Brotherhood Outdoors’ lead field producer Lee VanDenBrink, who was just honored the 2018 Outdoor Sportsman Awards Production Crew MVP.

Nearly a year ago, USA enlisted outdoor television powerhouse Rusted Rooster Media to take over production of Brotherhood Outdoors. Rusted Rooster, founded and operated by brothers Chris and Casey Keefer, is the production house behind TV shows Sheep Shape and Dropped. The group produced nine original episodes of Brotherhood Outdoors for the third and fourth quarters of 2017, and will produce nine episodes in 2018. Rusted Rooster also works with industry giants such as Buck Knives, PSE and Winchester.

Brotherhood Outdoors takes real, hardworking, American union members – selected through an application process – on a hunting or fishing trip of a lifetime, while highlighting their home and work lives. The show gives viewers a look at everyday people on realistic excursions. The show also offers a glimpse of the USA’s conservation efforts, which are executed by an all-volunteer union labor force.

“Lee has been the Brotherhood Road warrior and the man behind the lens on most of our shoots last year,” said Brad Walch, Strategic Account Manager for Rusted Rooster. “He captures the story and makes sure the guests are having a good time! Since we had such a late start last season he was able to accomplish a lot in a very short window. Still keeps in touch with all of our guests and has done a great job for Brotherhood Outdoors.”

Lee captures the inspiring stories shared by hardworking Union Sportsmen’s Alliance members across the nation. Thanks to Lee’s undeniable work ethic and passion for storytelling, Brotherhood Outdoors shines a well-deserved spotlight on the men and women who are the backbone of this great country.

Outdoor, Sportsman Channels Announce 18th Annual Outdoor Sportsman Award Winners

January 10, 2018 in Press Release

Best of Outdoor Channel and Sportsman Channel Receive
Coveted 18th Annual Outdoor Sportsman Awards

#OUTDOORSPORTSMANAWARDS Winners Announced

DENVER, COOutdoor Channel and Sportsman Channel, part of Outdoor Sportsman Group – Networks, presented their annual Outdoor Sportsman Awards for the outdoor lifestyle industry’s best producers, talent and production for the 18th consecutive year.

Twenty-nine Outdoor Sportsman Awards were presented in Best of and Fan Favorite categories.

The following were honored with Outdoor Sportsman Awards:

  • BEST BIG GAME: Jon Baker’s Guide 4 Adventure
  • BEST CONSERVATION: Nick’s Wild Ride
  • BEST DEER: Drury’s THIRTEEN
  • BEST SHOOTING: GunnyTime with R. Lee Ermey
  • BEST SMALL GAME: FOXPRO Furtakers
  • BEST TURKEY: Avian-X TV
  • BEST NEW SERIES: West of Texas
  • BEST OVERALL SERIES: The Obsession of Carter Andrews
  • BEST WINGSHOOTING: Benelli presents To Kill A King
  • BEST ORIGINAL: Hollywood Weapons
  • BEST OF MOTV: Bone Collector
  • BEST EDITING: Addicted to the Outdoors
  • BEST GRAPHICS: Heartland Waterfowl
  • BEST SOUND DESIGN: YoungWild
  • BEST VIDEOGRAPHY: Driven with Pat & Nicole
  • BEST PRODUCTION CREW MVP: Lee Vandenbrink, Rusted Rooster/Brotherhood Outdoors
  • FAN FAVORITE SHOW –

SPORTSMAN CHANNEL: Relentless Pursuit

  • FAN FAVORITE SHOW –

OUTDOOR CHANNEL: Red Arrow

  • FAN FAVORITE HOST –

SPORTSMAN CHANNEL: Tim Wells – Relentless Pursuit

  • FAN FAVORITE HOST –

OUTDOOR CHANNEL: Kip Campbell – Red Arrow

  • FAN FAVORITE COMMERCIAL: Remington
  • FAN FAVORITE EDUCATION

ENTERTAINMENT: Jim Shockey’s UNCHARTED

  • FAN FAVORITE COMEDY: Primos TRUTH About Hunting
  • FAN FAVORITE DEER: Crush with Lee & Tiffany
  • FAN FAVORITE TURKEY: Crush with Lee & Tiffany
  • FAN FAVORITE

CONSERVATION: Wild Ops

  • FAN FAVORITE WATERFOWL: Small Town Hunting
  • FAN FAVORITE BOWHUNTING: Red Arrow
  • FAN FAVORITE BIG GAME: Jim Shockey’s UNCHARTED

The entire ceremony was live-streamed for the first time ever and seen on Outdoor Channel’s Facebook page on Tuesday, January 9.

About Outdoor Sportsman Group: Outdoor Sportsman Group is comprised of the world’s foremost media and entertainment brands for outdoor adventure enthusiasts. It includes three leading multichannel networks: Outdoor Channel, Sportsman Channel and World Fishing Network, as well as MOTV, the world’s leading outdoor television content platform. The Group also consists of a number of established publishing assets: 15 outdoor magazines including Guns & Ammo, Petersen’s Bowhunting and Florida Sportsman, and 19 top websites, including BassFan.com. Additionally, Outdoor Sportsman Group includes television production operations, Winnercomm. For more information, visit www.outdoorsg.com. #MyOutdoorTV

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About Outdoor Channel: Outdoor Channel has been taking viewers across America and around the world on unparalleled adventures since 1993. Dedicated to the outdoor lifestyle and conservation, the independent cable network is a division of Outdoor Sportsman Group and provides a complete spectrum of riveting hunting, fishing, shooting and adventure entertainment. Outdoor Channel is the largest outdoor TV footprint in the country and is available in more than 50 countries internationally. Outdoor Channel can be viewed in HD and is accessible by broadband and mobile platforms. For program times and other information, visit www.outdoorchannel.com. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.#WhatGetsYouOutdoors. #MyOutdoorTV

About Sportsman Channel: Launched in 2003, Sportsman Channel/Sportsman HD is a television and digital media company fully devoted to honoring a lifestyle that is celebrated by millions of Americans. A division of Outdoor Sportsman Group, Sportsman Channel delivers entertaining and informative programming that showcases outdoor adventure, hunting and fishing, and illustrates it through unique and authentic storytelling. Sportsman Channel embraces the attitude of “Red, Wild & Blue America” – where the American Spirit and Great Outdoors are celebrated in equal measure. Stay connected to Sportsman Channel online at thesportsmanchannel.com, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. #MyOutdoorTV

About Outdoor Sportsman Group Publishing: As a premier destination for the most avid outdoors enthusiasts, Outdoor Sportsman Group’s publishing division is widely recognized for its strong special-interest multichannel brands, includingPetersen’s Hunting, Guns & Ammo, In-Fisherman, North American Whitetail, Game & Fish/Sportsman and 10 other leading magazines that reach more than 28 million readers. Outdoor Sportsman Group’s network of websites, includingBassFan.com, Outdoorchannel.com, Sportsmanchannel.com and WFN.com, attracts more than 78 million annual unique visitors, and OSG TV produces hundreds of TV episodes of original branded hunting, sport shooting and fishing programming that airs on Outdoor Sportsman Group’s broadcast entities. Visit http://outdoorsg.com for more information. #MyOutdoorTV

About MOTV: The global, subscription-based, video-on-demand service provides the best outdoor programming, lifestyle content and access to favorite Outdoor Channel, Sportsman Channel and World Fishing Network television shows and is the pre-eminent voice for all outdoor enthusiasts. MOTV – powered by the three networks – accomplishes this with an expansive acquired library of the best hunting, fishing and shooting programming in long and short form, recipes, tips and tricks, how-to instructional videos, as well as educational and exclusive content focusing on improving success in the field and waterways. Along with the three networks, content is available from Outdoor Sportsman Group’s established publishing arm that includes 15 outdoor magazines, such as: Guns & Ammo, Game & Fish, In-Fisherman, Florida Sportsman and Wheels Afield and 19 top websites, including: BassFan.com. Exclusive episodes, as well as live event coverage and behind-the-scenes footage will be added in the future.

Media Contact:
Tom Caraccioli | Outdoor Sportsman Group | 212.852.6646 | tom.caraccioli@outdoorsg.com

Hints for Drawing the Tag of a Lifetime

December 19, 2017 in Articles, Hunting

Since 2003, I’ve been completely immersed in the world of trying to draw the tag of a lifetime– limited-entry, high quality big game tags. I consider myself an expert in this field… probably the only thing I’ve ever really reached expert level at. I’m often asked by friends and clients something like this: “Eric, how is it possible that the biggest names in the outdoor industry always seem to draw the very best tags?” There always seems to be a touch of sarcasm in their tones, as if there is some conspiracy between these specific high-profile sportsmen and the Game & Fish Departments across the country.

I completely understand how these thoughts arise. In fact, in my younger years, I had these same ridiculous suspicions. Year after year, people are inundated with images of “the pros” sitting behind giant elk, record-book antelope, magnificent bighorn sheep and completely insane mule deer. Many of these trophy shots are the direct result of drawing some super tag, in a dreamland GMU, with almost impossible drawing odds.

As the Director of the TAGS division at Worldwide Trophy Adventures (WTA TAGS) and handling the application portfolios for many of world’s most recognizable sportsmen, I can promise you without even the slightest shadow of a doubt – there is no backroom deal, conspiracy or intrigue going on.

Realtree’s David Blanton has been playing the application game for years. Patience paid off when he drew a Montana bighorn tag.

HOW THEY DO IT
In late 2003, the executive management team of Cabela’s invited me to join their world-class organization to develop a big-game application service for their best customers. Then in January 2004, we released our first Cabela’s TAGS catalog (now WTA TAGS). I immediately signed up some of the biggest names in the industry. Long before I got to them, these devoted sportsmen already had multiple points in multiple states. When I write, “multiple points in multiple states,” I mean these guys have WTA TAGS application portfolios that span three pages or more. They apply for dozens of limited-entry tags. Most importantly, they renew their portfolios year in and year out. They never miss a year of trying to draw these primo tags. They are completely loyal to applying year after sometimes frustrating year. They do it exactly as it should be done—they follow the “helpful hints for drawing the tag of a lifetime,” below to a “T”.

In my early 30s, I made it a life goal to become a very serious North American big-game hunter. I decided to emulate the greats who came before me, so I ramped up my portfolio of Western big-game applications tenfold. Also, over these past 15 years, I have remained completely faithful to this process. I am “pointed up” in the majority of the Western states on multiple species. While I still have a long way to go in this wonderful world of North American big-game hunting, I definitely feel that I have a huge jump on my goal because of these critical decisions. If you have a similar life goal regarding big-game hunting in North America, I am positive that participating in the draws in the Western states and building valuable points will help, but you must get started now, and you must remain diligent. WTA TAGS would love to help you draw the tag of a lifetime.

HELPFUL HINTS FOR DRAWING THE TAG OF A LIFETIME:

1. SUBMIT AS MANY APPLICATIONS AS POSSIBLE
Don’t make the mistake of only applying for one tag. These quality tags are extremely difficult to draw. For example, let’s say there is a certain game management unit in Arizona, where your odds of drawing a rifle elk tag are 1 in 10. This means statistically, if you applied every year for 10 years, you should only draw a tag 1 time in this area – not very good. Now take a similar unit in New Mexico with the same 1 in 10 odds of drawing. If you applied for rifle elk in both Arizona and New Mexico, your odds of drawing one tag slightly improve. Not bad. Now add a mule deer Nevada application at 1 in 10, and your odds of drawing one tag improve yet again. It’s these slight draw odd improvements, gained by applying for multiple species in multiple states, which separate the people who get to go hunting in an awesome limited entry area from the hunters who have to tough it out in an overcrowded public land unit, where tags are sold over the counter. Some people fear that by applying for multiple species in multiple states, they will draw multiple tags in the same calendar year. This is a very unlikely. Using the scenario above, your probability of drawing two tags in the same calendar year would be 1 in 100. Your probability of drawing all three tags would be 1 in 1,000.

2. DON’T PROCRASTINATE AND BE PERSISTENT
Drawing a tag of a lifetime may take a while. The sooner you start applying, the sooner you’ll be hunting in a quality area. This is the most critical advice to follow. Also, don’t give up if you’re unsuccessful the first few years. I cannot stress this enough. Be persistent, and incredible tags should come your way.

3. ALWAYS USE THE PREFERENCE/BONUS POINT PROGRAMS AVAILABLE
Many states reward the people who have been waiting to draw a tag the longest. In other words, every year you are unsuccessful in drawing your tag of a lifetime, your odds improve for the next year. Some states charge for this advantage. It is well worth the investment. Under certain scenarios, this investment is essential to drawing the tag.

4. APPLY WITH THE MOST PRIMITIVE WEAPON YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE USING
Another way to increase your odds of drawing a tag of a lifetime is to apply muzzleloader or, better yet, bow. Muzzleloader and bow tags are typically easier to draw than rifle tags. If you feel comfortable hunting with a muzzleloader or bow, apply for that tag.

Applying for the most sought after, highest-quality tags in the country can definitely brighten your hunting career. Whether you decide to use a professional service like WTA TAGS or do the research and apply on your own, persistence is key. Building-up your bonus points is the name of the game, and good things come to those who wait. There is no better feeling than seeing the word SUCCESSFUL after your name the day a state posts its drawing results. I wish you all the best of luck in the draws and in the field. If you need any help with the application process, call our office in Sidney, Nebraska. We’re here to help! 1-800-755-TAGS (8247).

Written by Eric Pawlak, WTA TAGS – Director

Start Planning Your 2018 DIY Elk Hunt Now

December 18, 2017 in Articles, Hunting

DIY elk hunt

Quietly, we crawled to the edge of a tall ridge. Taking care not to reveal our silhouettes on the skyline, we set up to glass the magnificent country for the elusive wapiti. Daylight waned as we began to pick apart the meadows and timberlines. Slowly panning the spotting scope over a gap in the trees, I picked out an elk; closer inspection revealed a herd on the move. Soon we were watching 30 elk calmly grazing in a distant meadow. It was the night before Colorado’s second rifle season, and we were six miles deep into the Flat Tops Wilderness. The sight of two bulls in the herd only a mile from camp had us skipping down the mountain to our cozy camp to dream of what tomorrow would bring on our DIY elk hunt.

As a young boy, I consumed books and articles with tales of wilderness hunts and dreamed of hunting in truly wild and remote places. In 1995, I went on my first elk hunt and have been blessed to hunt in many wild places since. In 2016, I joined four friends for a hunt in Colorado’s third largest Wilderness, the famed Flat Tops Wilderness. We enjoyed a great hunt and filled two of four tags. I will carry the memories of hunting with great friends in that stunningly beautiful place for the rest of my days.

A DIY elk hunt in a Wilderness area should not be intimidating; with lots of planning and hard work, it is achievable. In fact, today it is easier than ever because of the technology, information sharing and equipment that has developed in recent years.

Here are the basics to help you plan your own DIY elk hunt:

DIY elk hunt

The Flat Tops Wilderness is big rugged country. With proper planning and a tenacious attitude hunting wilderness areas is an achievable dream.


RESEARCH

Begin researching your DIY elk hunt at least 12 months in advance. Colorado is typical of most Western states in that you can find a great deal of valuable data on Fish and Game websites. If you are short on time, there are magazines like Huntin’ Fool and web-site memberships like Gohunt.com that summarize much of the information. Start by looking for a unit in a Wilderness that has better than average success rates and good elk densities. However, these numbers should not be your only source of information while picking a unit.

Everyone will tell you to call the local biologist or warden, but I prefer to call the district Forest Ranger for the area. Rangers spend lots of time in the area you want to hunt and typically don’t get pestered by hunters. If you call them in the winter, they have a lighter workload and will happily take time to help you. Ask them about trailhead locations, trail conditions, recent fires and their advice on places to look for elk.

Reach out to hunting buddies or members of your local hunting club too. Keep relationships fresh and be willing to help others once you have a few years of experience to reflect on. Some units may require preference points to draw at tag, but there are many over-the-counter hunts as well. Several states have generous allotments of over-the-counter tags for Wilderness areas because not many hunters venture into them.

SCOUTING
If you don’t live near your hunting destination, it might not be possible to visit the location prior to your hunt. If that’s the case, plan to arrive at least two or three days before your hunt. Use one day to pack in and one or two to scout ahead of the season opening. On-line scouting can be a tremendous help too. Google Earth, Colorado Hunting Atlas, onXmaps Hunt and similar technologies provide the ability to scout and hunt in a way never imagined a decade ago. From the comforts of home, you can pour over maps and satellite pictures of the exact locations you plan to hunt. You can even pre-program locations of interest into your GPS. Call me old school, but I still carry a compass and maps of my hunting areas. I like laying out the map to view the entire hunting area rather than just relying on the small screen of the GPS. I order the 7.5 degree quadrangle maps from the USGS. I lay them out and mark them up with notes at home. They are cheap and easy to use. Plus, if the GPS quits working, maps are a reliable back-up navigation device.

LOGISTICS
Logistics separate the amateurs from the seasoned veterans. The movement of hunters, water, food, gear and meat in and out of the Wilderness is never easy, but lots of options are available to suit your style of hunting. Wilderness areas have a strict no engines rule. No 4-wheelers, dirt bikes, generators or chainsaws. Everything you pack in must be on a horse, llama, or your back, and making firewood requires an ax and crosscut saw.

DIY elk hunt

A small, sturdy wall tent and wood stove made for comfortable DIY elk camp.

In 2016, we paid a local outfitter to rent three of his pack horses for the week with all the tack we needed. The horses allowed us to pack in our canvas wall tent and small wood stove. This provided us with a warm comfortable base camp in the middle of the Wilderness for our DIY elk hunt. Other options include renting llamas or going light-weight and backpacking in. I have backpacked on several hunts and like how that style forces you to downsize to just the basics. Backpacking gives the advantage of not being tied down. You can hunt with your camp on your back or move it closer to where you are hunting. If you kill an elk while backpack hunting, plan on four to five backpack loads of meat. Another option is to have a horse packer available on-call when you kill an elk. Some outfitters provide this option. You will have to carry a satellite phone or coordinate another way to communicate with the packer to make the request to get packed out. No matter which logistical options you choose, resist the urge to over-pack. Cut your gear down to the lowest safe level. Your back will thank you.

THE HUNT
While it’s easy to imagine big bulls in every meadow of a remote Wilderness, the reality is that elk per square mile numbers do not increase at all. The advantage of hunting remote country is cutting the number of hunters you are competing with and increasing your enjoyment by having more real estate to yourself. My advice for any over-the-counter hunter is to kill the first legal animal you can. Two of my friends had cow tags on our hunt. They wasted no time and killed two cows the second day of the hunt. We were all excited with their success and quit hunting until we had those elk broke down, bagged and loaded on the horses. We shared the meat between everyone, so even though I struck out on finding a bull, my family enjoyed lots of delicious elk this past year.

Make the best of everything. It is a lot of work to hunt this way, so find enjoyment in all the details. While in camp, share the chores of making firewood, cooking meals, doing dishes, etc. Remember to have a contingency plan if someone gets hurt or sick. Talk about who will go for help, who will stay back and care for the one who is hurt.

For the best chance at killing a bull, plan on at least seven hunting days. Add two or three days on each end of that for 12-14 days total. Unfortunately, our hunt was cut short by bad weather. We used a weather band radio to get daily

DIY elk hunt

(L-R) Bob Barteck with brothers Ben and Brian Weideman.

weather reports. When the forecast turned to slushy, sleeting snow with accumulation building for several days, we knew we had to bug out.

PERSPECTIVE
While a DIY elk hunt in a Wilderness is challenging, it is also incredibly rewarding. From base camp, you can explore ever deeper into a place void of other humans. It is refreshing to spend time alone hunting—slipping through dark timber, having lunch on a high ridge and filling a water bottle from a thread of a cold mountain stream teaming with trout. A year later, I can picture every detail of being in the Flat Tops, and my heart yearns to return. In the end, a DIY elk hunt in the Wilderness isn’t about killing an elk. It’s about the journey that wild wapiti leads you on within the unbroken, savage landscape. It is in those places that man truly finds himself and his purpose on this earth.

This article was written by Bob Barteck, IAFF Local 425 Alumni

Looking for more info on elk hunting for beginners? Read our article “FIRST ELK HUNTING ADVENTURE IN THE ZIRKEL WILDERNESS”

Think Small for Hunting Heritage

December 14, 2017 in Articles, Hunting

Written by: Scott Vance

It was a gorgeous October afternoon, and the crisp fall air had moved in overnight. The leaves were turning brilliant hues of garnet and yellow and that “feel” was unmistakable for someone who had been deer hunting for over 30 years. It was time to deer hunt, and I was ready to go! Only one thing, I really wanted to spend time with my little guy that day.

“Hey Dman, let’s go sit in your new box blind this afternoon,” I said, as he rounded the corner with a toy sword. “Uh, well, yeah OK dad, can we take some snacks and games?”

My son Damon was 5 years old, and while he had a keen interest in being outside, I knew he was far from ready to shoot a firearm capable of killing a deer. However, I also know the take one, make one mantra when it comes to hunting, fishing and shooting. I wanted him to hunt with me to learn the ropes and, hopefully, witness his dad in action.

As we drove to our hunting property, Dman talked non-stop. He was excited, and by the time we got out of the truck, he was ready to burn off some energy. On the walk to the stand, we saw deer tracks and a big hawk that screamed his welcome in our direction. Once we got in the stand, it all started to unravel.

Damon’s grandpa built him what we call the Taj Mahal shooting house. It is a 4X10 fully enclosed, insulated, carpeted, sound proof shooting house complete with retractable Lexan windows. It was cozy as the fall sun cast a warm light, and I wondered how long Dman would be awake. We had been there 10 minutes when Dman looked at me and said, “dad, can we get out and walk around?”

“Well son, we can, but we are a lot more likely to see a deer if we just sit still over a nice food plot like this one,” I responded. “Ok dad.” Five minutes later, Dman asked again to walk around to try to see a deer. By this time, I’m was getting a little frustrated. “No son, if you want to kill a deer, we’ve got to sit here and wait.”

He looked down with sad eyes and zipped his jacket up. After 45 minutes, I was just starting to feel like a deer could walk out when Dman looked up and said, “Dad, I would really like to get out and walk some.”

This time, I felt pretty frustrated. I had given up most of the fall hunting season already coaching him in baseball and going to conferences for work. I really just wanted to enjoy a nice sunset and see some deer.

“Damon, don’t you want to kill a deer?” I asked. Why did you come with me if you didn’t want us to kill one?”

He looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Daddy, I came because I wanted to spend time with you.”

As the tears streamed down my face, I gave him a big hug and told him I’d meet him at the bottom of the stand. As I watched him carefully climb down the steps, I thanked God for giving me a swift reality check and asked him to forgive me for being a selfish fool. I’m certain God was smiling as we spent the rest of the evening walking along the field edges and talking about baseball.

It was that day that I decided we needed a squirrel dog.

Start with Small Game

Some of my earliest childhood memories are of following my grandpa through the woods as we “hunted” for squirrels. Looking back, I realize he had little intention of actually finding and shooting a squirrel on those trips, but as a three or four-year-old boy, it was as if we were on a great African safari. We had a little feist dog who mostly just followed us around, but occasionally, would stumble on a squirrel. Those are memories I will treasure forever and a big part of why I became a hunter, angler and conservationist.

When I was young, the deer and wild turkey populations had not rebounded in the mountains and foothills of western North Carolina where I grew up. The majority of people still pursued squirrel and rabbit as their primary game. Simply knocking on the door and respecting a landowner’s property was usually enough to gain full permission for small game hunting.

Times have changed in terms of access and the game we pursue. Deer and wild turkey have both made unprecedented comebacks across our nation due largely to the efforts of hunters and wildlife agencies. At the same time, access for hunting is ever more difficult. The number of people pursuing small game has plummeted as they choose deer and wild turkey as their primary quarry.

Along with these changes comes the loss of a vitally important introduction for young and new hunters. Small game hunting affords the opportunity to learn so much about the outdoors, wildlife and hunting safely. Most young and new hunters are missing this introduction in today’s deer focused hunting community.

Don’t get me wrong; I love to deer hunt. It’s one of my favorite pursuits. However, I truly believe that squirrels and eventually rabbits are much more conducive to creating a lifelong, safe and ethical hunter. No one gets too upset about missing a squirrel, and nearly all public lands offer at least a decent opportunity for small game.

Squirrel hunting also requires very simple equipment and apparel. During the warm days of early fall, a good pair of tennis shoes, old jeans, a dark colored jacket, and a .22 caliber rimfire rifle or small gauge shotgun are all you need for most squirrel situations. I always recommend a blaze orange cap, just so other hunters clearly know your location. Squirrels are plentiful and, in most locations, you’ll find that they aren’t pursued by many people. Early mornings and late afternoons on days with little or no wind will be your highest activity times for bushytails, If you are lucky enough to bag a few, they are excellent table fare. Fried squirrel quarters with gravy ranks right up there with some of the best food you’ll ever consume.

This fall, make yourself a promise. Take your son, daughter, nephew or niece—or even the neighbor’s kid—squirrel “hunting” with you. As you watch them enjoy the woods without being particularly quiet, sitting stone or the pressure of harvesting a big buck, you’ll remember and appreciate what got you started in this great pursuit as well.

As I pass through the seasons of life, I realize that killing an animal or proving that I’m a great hunter is much less important to me. As a mentor and a role model, I recognize that the most precious things that I can provide are my time, full attention, knowledge and the deep love and respect I have for the resource and God‘s wonderful creation. My job as a mentor is not to ensure that someone harvests an animal. My job is to make sure they leave their experience with me in the outdoors with a deeper love, respect, admiration and knowledge for all that it offers and that they cherish the life they can lead by glorifying God’s creation.

5 Hot Winter Fishing Destinations

December 14, 2017 in Articles, Fishing, General

Written by: Travis Baker

This past February found me boarding a flight to Houston, escaping the cold northerly winds of western Nebraska en route to the “Sailfishing Capital of the World.” I was tired of hearing stories of 50 fish days, double and triple hook ups, “hot” sailfish lit up as they literally chase teasers to the back of the boat. It was time to experience it for myself.

As my two hour flight from Houston touched down in Guatemala City, to say I was anxious would be an understatement. As my driver met me at baggage claim, we escaped the congestion of the city and headed south for a 90-minute drive to the small beachfront community of Iztapa. Billfisherman have been fishing these waters for years, but only in the past 10 years or so, has Guatemala earned the enviable reputation as the premier sailfish destination.

After a freshly brewed cup of Guatemalan coffee and a five minute drive to the marina, I was greeted by Captain Chico and two mates. No time wasted. I stepped into the boat, and we were off. One of the highlights (besides the amazing fishing) of the trip is that fish are often found less than 20 miles from port, which means more time fishing, and the waters can be as calm as a lake.

The mates were always busy rigging baits and checking teasers, but I didn’t have to wait long to hear “pez vela, pez vela!” Our first sailfish was hot on the left teaser, and as the mate slowly pulled it away from the fish, a perfectly casted ballyhoo soon replaced the teaser and my first sailfish was on. A short while later, fish number one was safely released. I lost count of how many times we repeated that process, but it was well over 20 before noon. After an unbelievable lunch of freshly caught tuna ceviche and an ice cold Gallo, I got to thinking about all those stories I had heard about the obscene number of sailfish in Guatemalan waters. I realized they were not stories at all. The fishing here continues to amaze me, and I often find myself anxiously waiting for winter to roll around.

Fall is upon us and winter isn’t far behind. Before cabin fever sets in, start planning a warm weather fishing getaway like the one I experienced. Here are five hot destinations you should add to your fishing bucket list.

Belize – This English speaking country in Central America, tucked between Mexico and Guatemala, has always been a hot spot for some of the most diverse flats fishing in the Caribbean. Belize is known as the best place to land a “saltwater grand slam,” a bonefish, tarpon and permit in the same day. The gin clear waters offer perfect sight fishing opportunities for these elusive game fish. Offering convenient access from major cities such as Houston, Dallas, Miami, and Atlanta, Belize is a year round fishery and also a great destination for non-anglers. It has the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere, making it one of the top dive and snorkeling destinations in the world. Accommodations consist of intimate waterfront resorts to the most comfortable fishing lodges. It’s a great destination for anglers and non-anglers alike.  Reduced rates are available during the summer and fall months.

Costa Rica – When it comes to combining fishing, adventure, and an assortment of non-fishing activities, Costa Rica is tough to beat. Costa Rica’s pacific coast is an excellent destination to combine a billfishing trip with a multitude of non-fishing and family activities, such as enjoying the beach, surfing, diving, snorkeling, white water rafting, and eco tours. Don’t forget Costa Rica’s Atlantic coast. The remote Caribbean side of the country is still pretty much undeveloped and home to a myriad of freshwater jungle rivers that spill into the Atlantic. This is home to some of the best tarpon fishing in the world.  Nothing is quite as thrilling as battling a 100 plus pound silver king!

Guatemala – Known as the “sailfishing capital of the world” Guatemala has produced more records for sailfish landed than any other place on the planet! Another location that is easily accessed from most major cities, Guatemala’s peak billfishing season runs from December – March with very good fishing year round.  Reports of landing upwards of 50-60 sails per boat in a day is not uncommon during peak season. Blue and striped marlin are also available. The ocean is relatively calm here, which makes for very enjoyable fishing conditions. The accommodations and lodges offered are very comfortable and located in a safe and friendly environment. Guatemala should be on every saltwater fisherman’s radar.

Argentina – Reminiscent of Wyoming, the Patagonia region of Argentina is a trout fisherman’s paradise.With a peak season of December – April, Argentina is a great excuse to escape the North American winter and cast a fly to rising trout in the South American summer. The fly fishing for rainbow and brown trout here is some of the best anywhere with an assortment of world-class rivers with the Andes Mountains as your back drop. Whether wade fishing a spring creek or floating a picturesque freestone river, Argentina offers everything for the freshwater fishing enthusiast. The accommodations here will rival that of any five-star fishing lodge with delicious meals and fine South American wines. It’s also a great destination to bring the non-fishing companion. A stop in Buenos Aires for some shopping and a tango show is a must.

Mexico – If you’re a bass fisherman, you owe it to yourself to experience the trophy lakes of Mexico. No other area consistently produces more largemouth bass and the biggest largemouth bass than old Mexico.  While it’s a year round fishery, the winter months can produce some heart pounding top water action.  There’s nothing like the strike of an 8-pound plus largemouth on top water! Initially stocked with Florida-strain bass several decades ago, the fishing here seems to get better each year with many fish in the double digit class recorded each season. Accommodations are fantastic with four-star lakefront lodging and delicious meals served daily. Anglers are met at the dock with an ice cold margarita after a day on the water. Plus, Mexico is a terrific value and makes for an easy 3-4 day fishing getaway. This is the ultimate “bucket list” destination for largemouth bass.

The hardest part about planning one of these fantastic winter fishing getaways should be choosing between them. The rest of the planning can be a breeze with the help of the experts at Worldwide Trophy Adventures (WTA), the preferred booking agent of Cabela’s. WTA’s professional staff can handle all aspects of your trip from initial consultation, detailed pre-trip planning, airline travel, trip cancellation insurance, and much more.  Plus, their services are free of charge! It costs you no more to book a trip through them than it does booking direct with the lodge or outfitter. In fact, they will save you time and money.

Learn more at www.worldwidetrophyadventures.com or call 800-346-8747 and leave that cabin fever behind.

USA Dedicates Pier at Jones Point Park: Hosts Youth Fishing Event

November 9, 2017 in Articles, Conservation News, Press Release, Virginia, Work Boots On The Ground

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), American Water Charitable Foundation (AWCF) and a crowd of more than 200 union and community leaders, volunteers, park staff and youth gathered at a newly restored fishing pier at historic Jones Point Park in Alexandria, Virginia, on November 3, 2017 to celebrate the USA’s 100th conservation project.

Prior to the dedication, the USA and local conservation partners hosted 75 students from Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy for a morning of educational activities and fishing from the new pier as part of the National Park Service’s Every Kid in a Park initiative.

“Ten years ago, I said that the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance would bring more muscle to the conservation movement,” said Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO president and USA chairman of the board. “As we celebrate the USA’s 100th conservation project, I’m proud to say the USA has become a conservation powerhouse with union volunteers around the country rallying together to benefit our communities and protect, preserve and pass on America’s outdoor heritage while demonstrating what it truly means to be union.”

The restoration project was funded by an AWCF grant of $22,500 along with contributions from the USA Capital Area Conservation Dinner. The pier restoration would not have been possible without the support of many other organizations including: Smoot’s Lumber, Culpeper Wood Preserves, Simpson Strong-Tie, Guest Services Inc., Ullico, Pure Fishing and the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation.Jones_Point_Park

More than 100 volunteers from Electrical Workers Local 26, Elevator Constructors Local 10, Iron Workers Local 5, Bricklayers Local 1, Roofers Local 30, Virginia American Water (employees are part of SEIU Local 32BJ), Ullico, Calibre and the Student Conservation Association donated 864 hours to restore the pier. The pier, built in the 1950s, is located on the George Washington Memorial Parkway and managed by the National Park Service. The value of materials and labor for the project topped $50,000.

“Because of rotten wood, loose railings, mismatched boards, uneven surfaces and other hazards, Jones Point Park was in dire need of work to repair the pier and bring it into ADA compliance,” said Allison Silberberg, City of Alexandria mayor, who spoke at the dedication. “Thanks to the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, the American Water Charitable Foundation and all the dedicated volunteers, the pier will once again provide safe fishing and viewing access to the Potomac River for generations to come.”

To retain the pier’s historic feel, the joists and deck boards were specially milled for the project. The pier’s new handrails contain several specialized locations to accommodate fishing from wheelchairs.

“The American Water Charitable Foundation is proud to have supported the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s 100th conversation project with the $22,500 grant,” said Barry Suits, president, Virginia American Water. “Built with the help of Virginia American Water employees, the new pier will encourage greater interaction with, and appreciation for, the Potomac River—one of the sources of Alexandria’s drinking water supply—and an important water resource for our nation.”

This conservation project is the USA’s 100th since it launched its Work Boots on the Ground program in 2010. The program brings together union members willing to volunteer their time and expertise to tackle hands-on, community-based conservation projects.

“Our public lands are a treasure for all Americans, but they’re at risk of falling into disrepair with budget cuts and a $12 billion maintenance backlog,” said USA CEO & Executive Director Scott Vance. “Our 100th Work Boots on the Ground project is a shining example of public and private partners and dedicated volunteers coming together to restore, conserve and protect our parks, their legacy and critical infrastructure for all Americans to enjoy for generations to come.”

USA Partners with Worldwide Trophy Adventures

October 16, 2017 in Press Release

October 19, 2017

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and Worldwide Trophy Adventures (WTA) recently teamed up to provide USA members with better access to quality hunting and fishing destinations, while raising funds to support the USA’s conservation mission.

As part of the partnership, WTA will offer USA members a 10% discount when they apply for a game tag through its TAGS service, exclusive hunting and fishing opportunities, and informative articles in the USA’s magazine. WTA also will donate a portion of any trip booked by a USA member back to the USA to support its conservation mission.

“We are very excited about our partnership with Union Sportsmen’s Alliance,” said WTA owner Mark Peterson. “Both the USA and WTA share the same vision of conservation through education and engagement with the outdoors, ensuring the heritage of hunting and fishing is passed on for generations to come. We look forward to providing top quality service and specials for USA members and hope to help spread the word about all they do for everyone who enjoys the outdoors.”

A non-profit organization created in 2007, the USA is uniting the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage. With a membership of more than 200,000 union members who share a passion for the outdoors, the USA will celebrate its 100th community-based conservation project near Washington, D.C., in November with a free, youth fishing event.

“The latest U.S. Fish and Wildlife survey shows that the U.S. has experienced a net loss of two million hunters in the last five years.  This is an alarming decline, and it should make all of us stop and take notice.  Lack of access for quality hunting experiences and limited time to hunt are two of the biggest reasons hunters stop hunting,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance. “We are excited to improve our members’ hunting and fishing opportunities by partnering with WTA and connecting them with the outstanding opportunities they provide.”

To help support the USA’s mission, WTA will be fully integrated into the organization through its popular shooting tour, conservation dinners, magazine and website. In addition, WTA will support the USA’s annual fundraising calendar.

As the USA continues to gain momentum among its peers, new partners – including Pure Fishing, Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever, Realtree and now WTA –  are noticing and committing to help the organization become a greater force for conservation, fueled by skilled union volunteers.

Union Volunteers Revitalize Dayton, Ohio’s Lakeside Lake

October 15, 2017 in Conservation News, Ohio

Dayton, Ohio, Mayor Nan Whaley joined the Ohio AFL-CIO, Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and local volunteers and community leaders on the shore of West Dayton’s Lakeside Lake on October 11, to celebrate recent improvements and amenities.

USA Conservation Manager Rob Stroede, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, PineView Neighborhood President Lisa Rucker and Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga dedicate the new floating fishing pier at Lakeside Lake.

As part of the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground conservation program, members of the Ohio AFL-CIO partnered with the City of Dayton and CityWide, the City of Dayton’s development partner, to restore and improve Lakeside Lake as one phase of a broad redevelopment plan for West Dayton.

“Lakeside Park historically was a popular amusement park for Dayton. Local citizens are working to bring Lakeside back,” said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley. “The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and its coordination with the Ohio AFL-CIO have made the restoration of Lakeside Lake possible. Our community is honored to have support from the Ohio AFL-CIO and Union Sportsmen’s Alliance in this effort to revitalize West Dayton.”

Over the past six months, more than 100 volunteers from local unions and the community participated in four cleanups to clear out invasive honeysuckle and trash along the water’s edge to restore the beautiful vista. In September, volunteers from Ironworkers local 290 constructed two custom park benches, which were painted by IUPAT Local 249 members. Volunteers from OPCMIA local 132 and LIUNA Local 1410 poured concrete pads for the two benches and a pier abutment for the new fishing pier. Union volunteers then assembled and installed a floating fishing pier on Oct. 11, before a dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of this phase of the lake’s restoration.

More work is scheduled to take place at the site over the coming months including improved pathways, lighting, parking and signage. In addition to volunteering their time and skills, local union members raised more than $25,000 through the USA’s Ohio State Conservation Dinner to contribute to the restoration project.

“The Ohio AFL-CIO is pleased to advance the mission of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance that celebrates the great outdoors and supports local communities in the city of Dayton,” said Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga. “We are grateful to Mayor Whaley, the local building and construction trades, the local labor council, union volunteers and city employees that made this project a reality for all to enjoy.”
The Lakeside Lake project was made possible by the following unions: Dayton MV Regional Labor Council, AFSCME Council 8, IBEW Local 82, Laborers’ Local 1410, Ironworkers Local 290, IUPAT Local 249, OPCMIA Local 132, USW Local 5541, UA Local 189, Dayton Newspaper Guild.

“The USA’s Ohio State Conservation Dinner is the perfect example of how USA dinners rally local unions in solidarity for community service,” said USA CEO & Executive Director Scott Vance. “We couldn’t be more proud of all the unions and union members that have contributed to the success of the Ohio State dinner and the many conservation efforts they have supported.”

Many Dayton residents have fond memories of visits to Lakeside Lake, which offered fishing and scenic views before it became overgrown. CityWide made the restoration of the lake part of its community development strategy, believing its beautification is essential to community confidence and the ability to attract additional investment to West Dayton.

Hurricane Irma Relief Effort at Florida House on Capitol Hill

September 12, 2017 in General, Press Release

CONTACT: Jordan Pic/ Manager of Operations, Florida House on Capitol Hill
202-546-1555 or jordan.pic@floridahousedc.org

Connie Parker/Director of Stewardship and Government Relations, Pure Fishing
703-624-1811 or csparker@purefishing.com

Florida House on Capitol Hill, Pure Fishing and the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance are organizing an effort to collect and transport supplies for the Hurricane Irma relief effort.

Florida House will collect items from Tuesday, September 12th until Friday, September 15th. Supplies can also be shipped to Florida House via Amazon Prime. The items will depart Washington, D.C. for Orlando, FL on Saturday, September 16th.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management and Volunteer Florida have identified the following items as most essential:

• Toothbrushes, toothpaste, and mouthwash
• Buckets and mops
• Garbage bags
• Toilet paper
• Baby Diapers
• Pediasure and Ensure
• Feminine care products

Drop off for donations will be from 9am to 6pm Tuesday, September 12th to Friday, September 15th. Volunteers interested in helping box and load supplies can reach out at the contact information above. Please feel free to share with those who are interested in helping Florida.

# # #

Florida House on Capitol Hill is a nonprofit 501(c)(3), nonpartisan organization that provides cultural, social, educational and economic resources; showcases Florida’s culture and diversity; maintains and operates Florida House; and provides opportunities for Floridians to enrich their appreciation and knowledge of our nation’s government. www.floridahousedc.org

Union Volunteers Rebuild Boat Ramp Destroyed by Floods

September 6, 2017 in Conservation News, General

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, Missouri American Water and Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) Local 335 union volunteers completed construction of a non-motorized boat ramp at Minnie Ha Ha Park in Sunset Hills, Mo., for the second time this year, on August 13.

The ramp was less than a week old when catastrophic flooding destroyed the newly poured concrete in May. Undeterred, the three project partners devised a design they believe will stand up to flood waters from the Meramec River.union volunteers

“Flood waters destroyed nearly $12,000 of volunteer labor and materials invested at the Minnie Ha Ha Park and resulted in the cancellation of our dedication ceremony and paddling event, but it didn’t dampen the spirit of our dedicated union volunteers and partners at American Water,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance. “American Water pledged an additional $15,000 in grant money to repair the ramp, and volunteers once again gave their time and skills to reconstruct it for the benefit of the entire community.”

During the original project, Union Sportsmen’s Alliance volunteers spent approximately 250 hours tearing out the original ramp, which was built in the 1940s and in poor condition, and then grading, framing, laying rebar and pouring new concrete. The project was finished in late April and mere days later, historic flooding damaged 90 percent of the structure beyond repair.

Union volunteers returned to Minne Ha Ha Park in early August and spent another 260 hours completing the project once again. To help the ramp weather future flooding, volunteers poured more, deeper footing all the way up the ramp and placed larger rocks on its upriver side.

“A lot of people kayak and canoe the Meramec River, and the old boat ramp at Minnie Ha Ha Park was in pretty bad shape for the past 10-15 years,” said UWUA Local 335 President Allan Bathon. “Union members make a decent living, so we are able to give back by donating our trade skills and money to projects like this that benefit our community.”

“I am proud of the way Missouri American Water, Local 335 and the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance came together to build this boat ramp,” said Cheryl Norton, president of Missouri American Water. “It says a lot about the determination of those involved that they wouldn’t let Mother Nature and severe flooding defeat their efforts to get this boat ramp built.”

The new ramp was one of six projects funded through a $150,000 grant from the American Water Charitable Foundation (AWCF) to support USA Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) conservation projects that improve access to water-based recreation activities. A ramp dedication and paddling event, originally scheduled for May 2017, is being planned for the spring of 2018.

See Project Photos HERE.

American Water Charitable Foundation Awards $22,500 Grant for USA’s 100th Conservation Project

August 25, 2017 in Conservation News, Virginia

The American Water Charitable Foundation (AWCF) has provided a grant of $22,500 to support the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) 100th Work Boots on the Ground project at the historic Jones Point Park in Alexandria, Va.

Jones Point Park fishing pier

The USA will support the National Park Service by replacing a fishing pier at the park originally constructed in 1950 that is in critical need of repair.

The AWCF grant helps cover expenses to rebuild the fishing pier. Virginia American Water provides drinking water service to the City of Alexandria, and the company’s Alexandria District employees will help rebuild the pier by supplying some of the skilled union workers to complete a portion of the project. SEIU Local 32BJ covers Virginia American Water field operations employees in Alexandria.

“The American Water Charitable Foundation is proud to again support the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance with this grant, which is vital to rebuilding the fishing pier at Alexandria’s Jones Point Park,” said Laura Martin, AWCF president.

Located on the George Washington Memorial Parkway, Jones Point Park is just a few miles from Washington, DC, and is an important urban park with fishing and boating access to the Potomac River.

“Built with the help of Virginia American Water employees, the new pier will encourage greater interaction with, and appreciation for, the Potomac River—one of the sources of Alexandria’s drinking water supply—and an important water resource for our nation,” said Barry Suits, president, Virginia American Water.

This conservation project is the USA’s 100th since it launched its Work Boots on the Ground program in 2010. The program brings together union members willing to volunteer their time and expertise to tackle hands-on, community-based conservation projects.

“Our public lands are a treasure for all Americans, but they’re at risk of falling into disrepair with budget cuts and a $12 billion maintenance backlog,” said USA CEO & Executive Director Scott Vance. “Our 100th Work Boots on the Ground project is a shining example of public and private partners and dedicated volunteers coming together to restore, conserve and protect our parks, their legacy and critical infrastructure for all Americans to enjoy for generations to come.”

National parks are funded through multiple sources in congressional appropriations, but in recent years have been insufficient to keep up with the deferred maintenance on park roads, bridges, trails, historic structures, campgrounds and other facilities. As recently as 2015, the National Park Service received just 58 cents of every dollar it needed just to keep the repairs backlog from growing.

The Jones Point Park project marks the seventh joint conservation project between the USA and AWCF since 2015. In total, the USA has received $175,500 in AWCF grants for projects that improve public access to water-based recreational opportunities or enhance the environmental sustainability of existing recreational areas in Tennessee, Illinois, West Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

A formal pier dedication is planned for November 2017.

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Communications Team Grows to Meet Mission Needs

August 25, 2017 in Press Release

FRANKLIN, Tenn. —The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) is pleased to announce its recent hire of Courtney Miller as Communications Coordinator, adding to its growing team of dedicated conservationists.

Created by and dedicated to union members and their families, the non-profit conservation organization is escalating its conservation efforts, partnerships and memberships and expanding internally to keep pace.

USA

Courtney Miller

“The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance is committed to growing our community of union members who share our passion for hunting, fishing, shooting and the great outdoors,” said Brian Dowler, the USA’s director of membership, marketing and communications. “There’s no better way for us to push forward in this effort than by growing our staff of outdoorsmen and women. As we work to bring greater awareness to the good work of USA volunteers, we are confident Courtney’s strong background in conservation will help support our communications department.”

Miller brings a versatile background to the USA, having previously served as an editor for a marketing firm specializing in the outdoor industry. She’s worked with numerous leading outdoor brands and has a strong background in public relations and marketing, offering expertise in content creation, magazine production, editing and social media management.

“I’m excited to join a team so passionate about preserving North America’s outdoor heritage and for the opportunity to help expand the USA’s communications reach,” said Miller. “I’m especially interested in utilizing social media marketing to grow an organization’s brand and community and look forward to applying my skills in that area at the USA.”

Born and raised in a family of conservationists, Miller has always been committed to supporting efforts aimed at making a better future for wildlife, increasing public land access, and keeping those efforts alive by introducing future generations of hunters, anglers and trappers to the outdoors. Miller has volunteered for a number of conservation organizations, using her communications background to grow social media presence and manage events by organizing and executing fundraisers, banquets and trade shows.

Miller, a passionate hunter, angler, camper, and second amendment advocate, joins the USA from central Minnesota. She graduated from the University of Northwestern with a bachelor’s degree in public relations.

Miller can be reached at courtneym@unionsportsmen.org.

USA and UAW-Ford Michigan Ramp Team Construct Accessible Hunting Blinds

August 15, 2017 in Conservation News, Work Boots On The Ground

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) volunteers from United Auto Workers (UAW) Ford Michigan Ramp Team in Michigan began construction to build accessible hunting/wildlife viewing blinds for the Sharonville State Game Area in Grass Lake, Michigan.

The USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program brings together union members willing to volunteer their time and expertise to tackle community-based conservation projects. This project was developed in partnership with Michigan Operation Freedom Outdoors (MiOFO) and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR). It will utilize funds raised at the USA’s Greater Lansing Labor Council Conservation Dinner along with materials and labor donated by UAW-Ford under the direction of Vice President Jimmy Settles and Bill Dirksen.

Materials for the project will top $3,000 and take more than 45 hours of skilled labor to complete. After the blinds are constructed, three 8 ft. x 8 ft. box blinds with custom features, including window ledges at wheelchair height and a 4-foot door for track chair entry, will be delivered and used by guests recreating through MiOFO events on the state game area this fall.

A dedication for the project will take place on August 24, 2017 at 11 a.m. near the shooting range at the Sharonville State Game Area. Action track wheelchairs will be available for use, courtesy of Brian Reno of Michigan Outdoor Mobility, who has donated use of the chairs for other MiOFO events for the past three years. Following the dedication ceremony, attendees are invited to stay for a BBQ style lunch and trap shoot.

Conceptualized in 2013, MiOFO improves outdoor recreation opportunities for wounded veterans and individuals with health challenges and coordinates a support network that facilitates their recovery through connecting with nature.

“The work of Michigan Operation Freedom Outdoors to provide the public – including those with special needs—with the opportunity to enjoy nature compliments the USA’s efforts to improve public access to the outdoors,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance. “We are thankful to all the groups involved, especially the Lansing Area AFL-CIO and UAW- Ford Michigan Ramp Team, for working with us to support MiOFO’s mission.”

MiOFO President and Founder Thomas Jones planted the seed of a joint project after learning about the USA through the Michigan BCTC. Glenn Freeman, president of the Lansing Area AFL-CIO, connected the USA with Sheila Pedersen, UAW-Ford community service liaison at the United Way of Washtenaw County, and she secured UAW volunteers to get the project underway. As a result of the project, Defender Mobility, a veteran charity, has agreed to donate a brand-new Track Fab chair to MiOFO, and Garmin International is working with MiOFO to introduce new technologies on the track chairs and blinds this year.

“It’s really awesome how so many groups have come together on a project that will benefit the entire community,” Pedersen said.

“The work these volunteers are doing is a great service to their country,” said Thomas Jones. “By reintegrating those we serve to the outdoors, we are reintegrating them to a quality of life they may have lost. Disabled veterans and individuals with health challenges deserve access to the same areas as the general public. These blinds are in the three best areas to harvest a sunrise or a trophy buck. We are giving them community, comradery and the independence to enjoy freedom outdoors.”

As the USA celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, it is nearing its 100th Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) project. The WBG program brings together skilled union volunteers to tackle community-based conservation projects that improve public access to the outdoors, conserve wildlife habitats, restore America’s parks and mentor youth in the outdoors.

Take the Pledge to Involve Someone in Hunting or Fishing and Enter to Win!

August 4, 2017 in Articles, General

Richard Childress, NASCAR legend and honorary chair for NHF Day

National Hunting and Fishing Day (NHF Day), an annual celebration of hunters and anglers, features a new twist this year. Richard Childress, NASCAR legend and honorary chair for NHF Day, is asking hunters and anglers to participate in the new NHF Day Challenge by taking someone hunting, fishing or target shooting. By pledging to introduce someone to the outdoors between now and NHF Day on Saturday, Sept. 23, participants will be eligible to win a Richard Childress Racing VIP race weekend package or the Ultimate Outdoor Experience in America’s Conservation Capital from Big Cedar Lodge and Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium.

“If you are a sportsman, sportswoman or an angler, you can make a difference and support National Hunting and Fishing Day by becoming a mentor,” said Childress. “Mentoring is critical to ensure our outdoor tradition lives on through future generations. Make the commitment to take someone outdoors and show them why you value hunting, fishing and target shooting.”

For millions of Americans, time spent hunting and fishing are treasured moments. Hunting and fishing brings friends and family together and provides one of the most immersive outdoor experiences possible.

“Today fewer people are connecting with nature through hunting and fishing,” said Childress. “As outdoorsmen and women, we are one of the keys to reversing this trend. Help a friend, family member, neighbor or co-worker learn how to hunt, fish or shoot. Introducing someone to the joys of the outdoors not only enriches their life, it creates a future conservationist.”

Each new hunter and angler created helps fund conservation. Every time someone buys a firearm, ammunition, archery equipment or fishing tackle, they contribute to habitat conservation and science-based wildlife management through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) program. The WSFR is the cornerstone of fish and wildlife conservation in North America because it brings funding from the sporting arms, archery and fishing industries and sportsmen and women back to state wildlife management agencies. These monies, in addition to hunting and fishing license fees, are critical for conserving fish and wildlife across our nation.

Those who pledge to take someone hunting, target shooting or fishing will be entered for a chance to win two amazing prize packages. The first grand prize is two HOT passes to a future NASCAR race, which includes pit and garage passes, garage and team hauler tours, and an opportunity to meet team owner Richard Childress. The second grand prize package is a trip to America’s Conservation Capital: Missouri’s Ozark Mountains. A passion of Bass Pro Shops founder and Ozarks native Johnny Morris, the destination spans multiple properties and thousands of unspoiled acres, making it the ultimate destination for anyone who loves the outdoors. The package includes a two-night stay in a log cabin at Big Cedar Lodge, America’s premier wilderness resort, and nature-based excursions including guided bass fishing on 43,000-acre Table Rock Lake; Adventure Passes for the Lost Canyon Cave and Nature Trail and Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum at Top of the Rock; shotgun sports at Bass Pro Shops’ Outdoor Shooting Academy; and passes to Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium, the largest, most immersive wildlife attraction in the world, opening Sept, 21, 2017.

TAKE THE PLEDGE & ENTER TO WIN

Swagger Bipods 40% Discount (Limited Time)

July 21, 2017 in Deals & Discounts, Gear

No firearm can be shot accurately if it’s moving, and a solid base at the moment of the shot is imperative to putting the bullet onto its mark consistently. Swagger Bipods take a different approach to helping long gun shooters become more stable for the moment of truth. The legs utilize a shock cord system that retracts into the base of the bipod, minimizing the bulk of the bipod but keeping the legs accessible at a moment’s notice. The bipods offer a greater range of motion than traditional units and can be adapted for any terrain in any situation—whether being used prone, sitting or standing. Swagger Bipods offers two versions. The Field Model weighs in at 23.6 ounces and lists its most effective range as 6 ¾ inches to 29 inches. The Treestand/Blind Model weighs 25.78 ounces and lists 9 ¾ inches to 41 ¼ inches as its most effective range.

swaggerbipods.com

Swagger is proud to offer USA members a 40% discount on online purchases through December 31, 2017. Limit one bipod per user, max. spend of $439.97.



Whoops, this perk is for members only. If you have a membership, please log in. If not, you can definitely get access! Join today.

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Grows Conservation Team

July 6, 2017 in Press Release

FRANKLIN, Tenn. —The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) has hired Robert Stroede as its new conservation manager, adding to its growing conservation team.

Created by and dedicated to union members and their families, the non-profit conservation organization is escalating its conservation efforts, partnerships and memberships and expanding internally to keep pace.

Robert Stroede

Most recently, Stroede served as the National Archery in the Schools Program State Coordinator/Facility Manager/Biologist Supervisor for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF). During his five years with LDWF, Stroede’s responsibilities included the administration, growth, fundraising, facilitation, training and event planning of the statewide Archery in Louisiana Schools (ALAS) program as well as management and use of the state-owned Outdoor Education Center and Shooting Range. Stroede increased participation in the ALAS program from 30 to 200 schools, increased public use of the Woodworth Shooting Range from 2,000 to 10,000 users per year and developed both the ALAS equipment grant and scholarship programs.

Prior to working for LDWF, Stroede spent five years as a union laborer with Laborers’ Locals 464 and 2 working gas/oil pipeline construction in Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Louisiana. During that time, he worked as an environmental compliance laborer and straw boss.

In his role as conservation manager, Stroede will support the Director of Conservation & Community Outreach by working closely with wildlife resource conservation staff, local officials and union volunteers to identify, organize and execute USA conservation projects across the country. He will also develop and evolve the USA’s conservation programs and policies, funding sources, partnerships and volunteer recruitment and retention programs.

“As we celebrate the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s 10th anniversary and look toward the future, we are committed to growing our conservation impact by expanding the scope of our Work Boots on the Ground program and connecting more local communities to conservation through outreach events,” said Scott Vance, the USA’s CEO and executive director. “With his background in union construction, conservation, program development and management and outreach, Stroede makes a great addition to our conservation team and will help propel that expansion.”

Born and raised in a union household in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, Stroede is an avid fisherman and hunter with a passion for bow hunting. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point with Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife Resource Management/Biology. He currently lives in Spring Hill, Tennessee, with his wife, Jessica, and 12-year-old son, Jackson.

Stroede can be reached at roberts@unionsportsmen.org.

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Hosts Family Campout at Montgomery Bell State Park

June 20, 2017 in Conservation News, General, Press Release

More than 200 youth and adults turned out for a weekend packed with outdoor activities at the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) first Family Campout at Montgomery Bell State Park in Burns, Tenn., on June 10 and 11.

According to the Outdoor Foundation’s study on youth participation in the outdoors, the U.S. is facing an unprecedented public health and conservation problem as the American childhood has rapidly moved indoors amidst changing technological and social landscapes. Reconnecting youth with the outdoors is critical to the health of future generations as well as the health of our natural landscapes.

The USA’s Family Campout engaged both youth and adults in hands-on activities including a youth fishing derby, wildlife calling contest, snake and birds of prey exhibition and conservation education. Many youth got the chance to shoot a bow for the first time thanks to a mobile archery unit provided by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA). Participants also enjoyed delicious meals, and youth received fishing gear and t-shirts.

The free, public event was made possible with support from the Nashville Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC), Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council, Pure Fishing, Montgomery Bell State Park and the TWRA. Nashville BCTC President Anthony Nicholson and Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council President Billy Dycus were instrumental in the success of the event from promotion to volunteer recruitment to coordination.

“As we grow our community outreach programs, we want to create fun, safe learning environments that enable families to spend more time enjoying the great outdoors,” said Scott Vance, CEO & Executive Director of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance. “Our first Family Campout at Montgomery Bell State Park accomplished just that. We’re thrilled to have brought together more than 200 youth and adults for activities that will leave a lasting impression and inspire a love of the great outdoors.”

Less than an hour drive west of Nashville, Montgomery Bell State Park has been the site of several USA Work Boots on the Ground projects, which bring together union volunteers to tackle conservation projects that improve and enhance public access to the outdoors, wildlife habitats and outdoor experiences for communities across America. In 2013, USA volunteers rebuilt a bridge at the park that was washed away in the 2010 flood, and in 2015, they restored a cabin utilized by local Boy Scouts that was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1937.

Click HERE for more photos.

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance to Host Family Campout at Montgomery Bell State Park

June 7, 2017 in Press Release

MEDIA ADVISORY

WHAT:
The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and a team of union volunteers will host a free family campout at Tennessee’s Montgomery Bell State Park packed with outdoor activities including a youth fishing derby, wildlife calling contest, snake and birds of prey exhibition and conservation education. Meals will be provided, and youth will receive free t-shirts and fishing gear while supplies last.

WHEN:
June 10 – 11, 2017
Check in: June 10 at 9 a.m.
Check out: June 11 at Noon

WHERE:
Montgomery Bell State Park
Group Camp No. 1
1020 Jackson Hill Rd.
Burns, TN  37029

WHO:
This free, public event is made possible by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, Nashville Building and Construction Trades Council, Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council, Pure Fishing, Montgomery Bell State Park and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

WHY:  
According to the Outdoor Foundation’s study on youth participation in the outdoors, the U.S. is facing an unprecedented public health and conservation problem as the American childhood has rapidly moved indoors amidst changing technological and social landscapes. Reconnecting youth with the outdoors is critical to the health of future generations as well as the health of our natural landscapes. The USA’s Family Campout will engage both youth and adults in hands-on outdoor activities that leave a lasting impression and inspire a love of the outdoors to help ensure the future of America’s outdoor heritage.

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Union Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance  (USA) is a union-dedicated, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose members hunt, fish, shoot and volunteer their skills for conservation. The USA is uniting the union  community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage. For more information, visit www.unionsportsmen.org or connect on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

USA and Kentucky American Water Dedicate New Pier with Ribbon Cutting & Family Fishing Day

May 16, 2017 in Conservation News, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Franklin, TN — More than 180 youth wet their lines at a fishing event at Jacobson Park in Lexington, Kentucky, on May 13 hosted by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and Kentucky American Water to celebrate the park’s volunteer-constructed fishing pier, which was dedicated on May 12.

The new handicap accessible/ADA compliant pier and sidewalk, valued at more than $33,500, was a joint effort between the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) program and the American Water Charitable Foundation’s (AWCF) Building Better Communities Initiative. The pier is one of six projects funded through a $150,000 grant from AWCF to support USA volunteer projects that improve access to water-based recreation activities.

Union volunteers from the National Conference of Fireman and Oilers (NCFO) Local 32BJ SEIU, Central Kentucky Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC) and Laborers Local 189 donated approximately 414 hours to excavate and form the site, pour concrete, assemble the pier sections and install handrails, wrapping up the project in December 2016.

On Friday, USA, Kentucky American Water and Lexington Parks and Recreation staff along with union volunteers gathered under a pavilion, due to heavy rain, to dedicate the fishing pier with a speaking presentation, ribbon cutting and plaque unveiling.

“The ribbon cutting marked the completion of the fourth project the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance completed with funding from American Water Charitable Foundation,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance. “USA conservation projects and accompanying community outreach events like the free family fishing day allow union members to give back to their local communities – something they are passionate about.”

On Saturday morning, youth and adults from across the community lined the banks of Jacobson Park reservoir to cast for channel catfish and trout with new fishing rods and reels, tackle and tackle boxes provided free to all the kids who attended through the USA’s partnership with Pure Fishing. USA, Kentucky American Water and Lexington Park and Recreation staff along with volunteers from Kentucky Laborers’ District Council and LIUNA Local 189 provided instruction and assistance to participants, including many first-time anglers.

As the USA celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, it is nearing its 100th WBG project. The WBG program brings together skilled union volunteers to tackle community-based conservation projects that improve public access to the outdoors, conserve wildlife habitats, restore America’s parks and mentor youth in the outdoors. The fishing event at Jacobson Park marked the USA’s 15th youth fishing event and the first in Kentucky.

“Kentucky American Water is committed not only to providing safe, clean drinking water to its customers but also to being a good corporate citizen,” said Nick Rowe, president of Kentucky American Water and senior vice president of American Water’s Southeast Division. “We appreciate the unique partnership we’ve had with the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, the American Water Charitable Foundation and our employees in making the new fishing pier at Jacobson Park a reality and hosting the Kentucky Fishing Derby. Our collaboration will have a positive impact on the community for many years to come.”

“The new pier provides safe and easy access for citizens with handicaps and families to enjoy the fishing available at Jacobson Park,” said Brian Rogers, deputy director of Parks and Rec, Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government. “We are so thankful to the USA, Kentucky American Water and the union volunteers who donated their time and skills to complete the project and organize the event that introduced families throughout Lexington to the joy of fishing.”

Speakers at the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony:
Mike d’Oliveira, USA Deputy Director
Nick Rowe, President of Kentucky American Water
Michelle Kosieniak, Lexington Parks and Recreation Superintendent of Planning & Design
Jeremy Jenkins, Business Manager of Laborers Local 189
David Winer, Chief Union Steward for National Conference of Firemen & Oilers Local 32BJ SEIU
Robert Akin, Central Kentucky Building & Construction Trades Council President
Mark Isaacs, Kentucky Laborers’ District Council President/Business Manager

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS FROM THE EVENT.

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Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA): The USA is a union-dedicated, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose members hunt, fish, shoot and volunteer their skills for conservation. The USA is uniting the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage. For more information, visit www.unionsportsmen.org or connect on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Work Boots on the Ground (WBG): Work Boots on the Ground is the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s flagship conservation program that brings together union members willing to volunteer their time and expertise to conservation projects that improve and enhance public access to the outdoors, conserve wildlife habitat, restore America’s parks and mentor youth in the outdoors. The USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program works closely with federal, state and local agencies and other conservation groups to provide manpower needed to complete critical projects that may otherwise go undone.

Kentucky American Water:Kentucky American Water, a subsidiary of American Water (NYSE: AWK), is the largest investor-owned water utility in the state, providing high-quality and reliable water and/or wastewater services to approximately half a million people. The company earned Best Place to Work in Kentucky honors in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. For more information, visit www.kentuckyamwater.com.

American Water Charitable Foundation:Established in 2010 with a founding contribution from American Water, the American Water Charitable Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that provides a formal way to demonstrate the company’s ongoing commitment to being a good neighbor, citizen, and contributor to the communities where American Water and its employees live, work and operate. The Foundation helps support American Water employee-identified nonprofit endeavors. More information can be found at www.amwater.com.

Competition & Camaraderie Through the Years

April 6, 2017 in General, Press Release

The 6th Annual Roofers & Waterproofers Shoot set an attendance record with 228 shooters.

By: Kate Nation

USA Events connect union leadership, like retired IAMAW International President R. Thomas Buffenbarger (front) with members.

When we held our first sporting clays shoot in Maryland in 2009, 152 shooters were chased to the pavilion by a torrential downpour. Instead of dampening spirits, it set the bar for the USA’s highly successful events program. Whether the sun is out, it’s pouring rain, the wind is blowing or there’s snow on the ground, union members show up at our shooting events for fellowship and fun. Bringing together everyone from veteran to novice shooters, union presidents to apprentices, retirees to children, service members and the occasional Super Bowl champion, shoots are one of our most effective tools for uniting the union community and fundraising.

In 2013, the USA shooting tour raised more than $1 million, and it has continued to grow. New records set last year include most funds raised (single event) at the Boilermakers’ shoot in Kansas City with $159,000 and highest attendance (single event) at the Roofers’ shoot in Minnesota with 228 shooters.

The Des Moines Area Conservation Dinner raised the bar in 2016 with 663 guests and raised $148,000.

The introduction of conservation dinners in 2012 bolstered the USA’s events program not only as a critical funding source, but also as a foundation for USA’s local conservation projects. Organized by union volunteers with support from USA staff, the dinners are a true testament to the dedication of USA members and volunteers. The conservation dinner season broke the $1 million milestone in 2015, and the program has grown from three dinners in 2012 to 22 dinners in 2016. Last year, the Des Moines dinner hosted 663 guests and raised a record $148,000.

As staples in the USA community, shoots and dinners raise critical funds to support our mission and operations while educating union members about the organization and recruiting volunteers for conservation projects. The growth of USA events in the past eight years has been nothing short of amazing thanks to our members, volunteers, sponsors and friends.

Union Members Volunteer to Tackle Conservation Infrastructure Crisis

April 3, 2017 in General, Press Release

By: Kate Nation

Watching Old Faithful blast boiling water more than 150 feet into the air at Yellowstone National Park or listening to the thunderous roar of 3,160 tons of water per second pouring over Niagara Falls State Park are experiences you will never forget. If you haven’t visited America’s first national park or oldest state park, there is still a good chance you’ve spent time exploring one or more of America’s 59 national parks or 6,624 state parks. The U.S. national system of parks is the envy of the world and part of our national heritage, yet it’s easy to take for granted the natural beauty, diverse wildlife and recreational opportunities those parks provide without giving thought to the impact of more than a billion annual visits.

America’s National Park Service turned 100 years old last August. While that is reason to celebrate, we must face the reality that the infrastructure of our national and state parks is deteriorating faster than it can be fixed. For more than a decade, Congress has declined to provide adequate funding for national park infrastructure, resulting in a $12 billion maintenance backlog. State parks face a similar funding crisis – $18.5 billion in unmet repairs – as spending on education, health care and corrections takes priority over “nice-to-have” amenities.

For the public to enjoy the natural beauty of America’s parks, they require roads, bridges, water and sewer systems, buildings, trails and other infrastructure. Putting off basic maintenance leads to bigger, costlier repairs in the future and steadily degrades the parks and visitor experience.

As a newly-formed Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable works to ensure recreation is included in infrastructure legislation, union members are battling the crisis on the ground through the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) program, demonstrating the centuries-old American spirit of rolling up one’s sleeves to solve the country’s problems.

Last year, 863 union volunteers donated nearly 6,800 skilled man-hours to complete 18 USA conservation projects in 15 states, saving state parks, wildlife refuges and other public land agencies a whopping $210,910 in labor costs.

For the first time this year, Wyoming’s National Elk Refuge has a central and secure facility to store thousands of pounds of dropped elk antlers – an important funding source both for the refuge and local Boy Scouts – thanks to volunteers from IBEW Local 322 who built the 20×26-ft. storage shed.

“We had these skilled tradesmen working alongside a Boy Scout, who was getting his Eagle Scout honor by participating in this project, alongside refuge staff,” said Natalie Fath, visitor services manager and volunteer coordinator at the National Elk Refuge. “This is really the first time this refuge has had a project this dynamic. I certainly have a better sense of the expertise union workers bring to federal lands. This project would not have been possible … if not for all of their involvement.”

That same level of teamwork and collaboration was illustrated in Texas last spring when the USA, AFL-CIO, U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service joined together to dedicate a boardwalk connecting the city of Liberty with the nearby Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge. Built by volunteers from the Houston Gulf Coast Building and Construction Trades Council who spent a grueling 950 hours battling heat, mud and mosquitos in the swamp, the 500-ft. elevated boardwalk and observation deck provide refuge visitors with access to more than 13 miles of trails and a more intimate view of the bayou.

“This project is a success story about how partnerships among agencies, communities and volunteers working together can accomplish great things,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest Regional Director Benjamin Tuggle, Ph. D.

Through a partnership between the USA and Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources, volunteers from the Southcentral Alaska Building and Construction Trades Council began construction in 2016 on two cabins at the headwaters of Eklutna Lake in Chugach State Park – the third-largest state park in the nation. Unlike existing cabins, which are only reachable by foot, ATV or boat, the new drive-up accessible cabins will provide greater access for families with young children and people with disabilities.

At another lake in the Lower Forty Eight, 44 volunteers from the Ohio AFL-CIO volunteered an impressive 1,255 total hours – an average of 30 hours each – to replace dilapidated decking, railing and benches on a fishing pier at Ohio’s Antrim Park. Volunteers also installed a section of railing at a lower height to improve fishing access for youth and those with physical limitations.

In other parks and public recreation areas across the country, volunteer projects ranged from repairing horse stables and paddocks, painting Boy Scouts cabins, replacing windows, installing fishing piers and upgrading shooting facilities.

In addition to construction and maintenance projects, USA volunteers provided youth with fun and instruction at three annual Take Kids Fishing Day events in Wisconsin, a first time fishing day in West Virginia and the USA’s annual Get Youth Outdoors Day in Minnesota.

As we celebrate the USA’s 10th anniversary this year, we are closing in on our 100th WBG project. Since WBG’s launch, dedicated union volunteers have donated more than 18,000 hours, worth more than $600,000 in labor costs, and we are just getting started. Though dark clouds may loom over parks faced with financial crisis, union members offer a ray of hope as they flex their muscles and wield their tools to ensure America’s public lands and outdoor recreation infrastructure remain for generations to come.