First Archery Buck…

– By Jennifer Danella

During the first cold front of the year, I shot this buck with my bow in Washington County, Pennsylvania. My first archery kill! He walked by my stand and stopped about 38 yards away. He was quartered away from me when I shot him. He jumped and ran 50 yards before crashing. I found him with my arrow still in him. I am very proud to have harvested this deer after all the hard work I’ve put into this season!

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Big Catfish… Put A Hand N1

– By Charles Farmer

Summer is upon us and in Southern Illinois, and that means it’s time for catfish to start spawning. They swim up in holes under all sorts of things such as stumps, boat ramps, and rocks. The first thing you do is feel around with a stick in the hole because fish this big will be in holes 15, maybe 20 feet, back.  We found a big flathead under a boat ramp and we knew it was time to Noodle1. So I went under the murky water and put my arm in the hole waving it around inside there and Bam! I get bit. So I grabbed its bottom jaw and ripped it out of the hole while putting under my other one. We run a stringer in it and we see how big he is once it breaks the surface. A monstrous 40+ pounder that put up a good fight.

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When the Moment is nearly a new state record…

– By Harrison Brandt

It was on the very first day of summer that I would almost break the Texas state record bluegill at 2.02 pounds.

My dad and I had been fishing for about 1 hour and 30 minutes until finally, my dad pulled up a bass. I picked up his rod to test it out, and on the first cast I had a fish.

I thought it was about a 3 pound bass but when I flipped it into the boat I realized it was the biggest bluegill I had seen in my life. It weighed 2 pounds on the dot. So close to the state record.

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Turkeys, coyotes, and a moment with a friend

– By Cody Price

After 5 or 6 days in the woods and fields I was fortunate enough to take a jake in the early portion of the season to break the ice for 2017. But, like so many of us, I was eager to get a chance at a nice, mature gobbler. I had been planning a hunt with a good friend of mine in Peterborough, Ontario. When the chance came up, I loaded up the truck and headed west to meet up with him for a Friday night scout, to try and find the tom we would want to chase. We found some birds, where they were going to roost for the night, and set a game plan up from there. On Saturday morning, we made our way into our spot in between a cow pasture and corn field where we knew the birds had gone to roost. The woods were loud with gobbles from the roost as the sun started to break on the horizon. But, when 2 coyotes decided to make an appearance and attack our hen decoy, we started to get nervous the birds might have spooked. About 30 minutes later a young jake and mature tom came on a rope down the edge of the corn field to our set up, but stopped just shy of in range and decided to head back to the flock of about 12 turkeys. Once again, our hearts sank. But, I think that’s why so many of us love the thrills of hunting. After a short discussion, we decided to crawl back, jump the fence and put a spot and stalk on the birds, as I only had limited time to hunt that day. We made a  mad dash through the woods on the bottom end of the cow pasture, through thick cover, for about 120 yards before crawling the final 60 straight up a hill to the corner of the corn field where we thought the birds would be.  As I crawled to the cedar rail fence and slowly moved the grass to take a look, we were RIGHT ON TOP of the birds! I had 4 hens less than 10 yards and three toms at 25. I raised up the barrel of my 12-Gauge Benelli Supernova and let a 3-1/2″ Winchester longbeard shell fly. At 25 yards laid my turkey, a great tom with a 10″ beard and 1″ hooks. It was a successful hunt with ups and downs, but the best part was adding memories with a great friend in the field.

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When Your First Turkey Hunt Is A Success

– By Lindsay Smith

This was my first season turkey hunting. Well, any kind of hunting, really. I’ve been elk, antelope and whitetail hunting with my boyfriend, but I never actively participated. It was always more like camping to me.

I had tons of butterflies in my stomach the night before. My alarm was set for 3:30 am (way earlier than I have ever woken up for fishing). We layered up our camo, loaded up the truck with our gear, and headed east. We were lucky enough to get access and permission to hunt a small piece of private land along the river bottom of the Arkansas River. After a short drive we arrived at our “home base location,” gathered everything up and started hiking in to were we would set up.

After we were all set up and situated, we still had about 40 minutes before the sun came up. I could see the turkeys still up in their roost for the night, and I didn’t have to wait long before they started gobbling and yelping. I had never heard a wild turkey gobble like that so close, so it was an amazing and unforgettable experience. After about 20 minutes of listening to them, I watched them start to fly down from their roost. I was getting more and more excited after watching nearly 30 wild turkeys fly down and in our area. 

We could see at least three big toms and ten or more jakes. They started heading out away from us, but with our decoys and great calling from my boyfriend, they became interested and headed back our direction. It took them another five minutes (seemed like another hour) to mosey along our way, and get within my shooting range. I raised my shotgun, found a jake, took a breath and pulled the trigger.

BANG! My first turkey down! I will never forget that day!

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When The Moment Makes You Thankful For A Friend

– By Dale Smith

Thursday, July 28th 2016, is a day two people will never forget. 

I awoke that morning at 2:58, the alarm was set for 3:00, I guess anxiety woke me up early. I was meeting my friend Tim at Stater Harbor in Auke Bay at 4:30 to head out halibut fishing. We had gone on this trip a few times together. Today we left early because he had to get back by noon to take his kids to an afternoon doctor’s appointment.

The coffee came on automatically and I proceeded to make breakfast. After breakfast, I took our two dogs out for their morning walk and then took out a friend’s dog that was staying with us. My wife, Stacy was out of town for work and then vacation in Los Angeles with her brother’s family and friends. She knew I was going fishing and told me to leave my plan with someone we knew. I explained to her not to worry, If I went with one friend, his wife would know and if I went with Tim, he’s in the Coast Guard and I was certain his wife and the Coast Guard would know. I assured her, nothing would happen, Famous last words, right?

I had everything loaded and ready to go and hopped in the truck at 4:00 and headed to the harbor. It was a very quiet journey with few cars on the road. Tim and I got there at about the same time, we paid for parking and unloaded our gear into the cart and made our way down the ramp to the docks where the boat was moored. We loaded our gear on the boat, untied the dock lines and pushed off. A normal weather day it would take us about 30 minutes in the boat to get to our fishing spot, today was not a normal day.

The sky was overcast and rain was in the forecast, that isn’t odd for Juneau. The wind was forecast at 10 to 12 Kts and we were expecting 3-foot seas. The waves were bigger than I had ever been out in, Tim on the other hand, works for the Coast Guard and is used to being in rough seas. We took our time and the closer we got to our fishing spot, the rougher it became. Tim mentioned that these weren’t 3-foot seas, they were more like 5. Even with the 5-footers we made it to our location in about an hour, we were anchored up with lines in the water.

We had moderate success; I landed the first fish in about 10 minutes. It wasn’t a halibut, but instead a cod. As the next hour progressed we had landed a couple of cod and a halibut. It was still early and we needed more halibut to reach our limit. We deliberated on whether to stay or move to another spot. We fished this spot a little longer and the longer we stayed the rougher it became. We were in a location that is normally busy with boat traffic, it is a popular whale watching and charter fishing area. We saw one charter boat go by us, we decided we would go farther north and see if it was smoother on the other side of the island. I jumped in the bow and released the anchor line from the bow so we could pull anchor. We had about 250 feet of anchor line out (this is common) so I started the process of hand reeling in the line and lifted the 22-pound anchor and mooring ball up and over the rail and into the bow of the boat.

I went back to the cabin, sat in my seat and off we went to find smoother water. We were heading north between Shelter island and the mainland and the water was starting to smooth out. We saw the charter boat that went by us earlier anchored in a popular halibut hole called halibut cove. We didn’t want to fish right on top of him so we went on north. We finally stopped just short of Benjamin island in Favorite Channel. We decided to drift fish there.

Drifting is where you fish the bottom but don’t drop anchor, you let the current take you along. We started getting bites and fish, and Tim ran to the front to drop anchor. If we were sitting over a school of fish, we didn’t want to drift passed them. We ended up with 3 cod and 2 halibut in the boat and the seas were getting worse. You could see the rain approach us from the south coming up the channel. The closer it got, the rougher the seas were. I have to say, I have never been sea sick in my life but I could tell that I was starting to get a little queasy feeling in my stomach. I took in a few deep breaths and it went away, we kept fishing. Light rain started coming down and you could feel the air temperature drop a little. It wasn’t bad, low to mid 60’s with light rain is normal for Juneau this time of year.

The wind had picked up and was coming north up the channel, our bow was facing due south and the anchor line  was tight and extending out, off the bow around 300 feet. The waves were really starting to get big and crashing into the boat. We had noticed many of them were starting to white cap. With all the weather going on we decided it would be a good idea to either move to a calmer spot if we could find one, or, call it a day and head back to the dock.  We were keeping an eye on the clock, we knew it would  take us longer to get home than it did to get here because we would be going against the waves and we were farther  North than where we started fishing. We made the decision to pull anchor and move on. We reeled our lines in and Tim went to the captain’s seat and I, like I have numerous times before, went to the bow to pull anchor.

I guess this is where I tell you that these boats we fish on in Alaska are 25 to 60 feet long, the all have deep sides and enclosed cabin areas. The boat we were on was only 26 feet. Usually, when anchored up fishing, we rarely wear a life jacket even though we know we should. I normally put a jacket on if the seas are rough or I am in a spot on the boat where there would be an easy chance of falling over the side. For some reason, today, I didn’t put a jacket on, I guess I had got comfortable and thought this was no different than fishing on a boat in the lower 48. I had on hiking pants, two pairs of wool socks, over the calf rubber boots, rain pants, two shirts and a rain jacket. I had a Tilley hat and my glasses on. My pockets had my wallet, car and house keys, our only boat keys (not to the boat we were on) and a multi-tool. I also had a Buck 110 folding hunter knife in its sheath on my leather belt. This is important for other reasons than I was wearing 15 pounds of clothing. Which I will get to later.

This is where things start to get fuzzy… Here is what I remember.

I grabbed the anchor line and untied it from the bow cleat, we were going to have to move the boat backward because the wind and seas had pushed the mooring ball up next to the bow of the boat. I then gave the line a couple of hard yanks to release it from the front chuck. I got it part of the way out but there were a couple of inches still in the chuck. There was a lot of tension on the anchor line so I gave it one more yank with all I had. The second it released, it threw me forward into a front flip and into the ocean. My last two thoughts before blanking out were “s–t… This is going to be cold!” and “I hope I clear the boat”. The force at which it threw me was unbearable. I do remember feeling my feet leaving the surface of the boat and me trying not to leave my feet, but I had no chance, I couldn’t let go of the anchor line fast enough

I don’t remember the tumble through the air or hitting the water, I have either blocked that or I blacked out, I am not sure which. The next thing I remember was being submerged, I could feel the water making its way from my neckline and cuffs of my shirt all the way down my pants and filling up my boots as if I were in slow motion. The water was cold, but surprisingly I wasn’t shivering from it. I think the adrenaline had already kicked in full gear. I remember realizing I was under water and swimming to the surface with my hat and glasses still on and in place. Now on the surface, I knew I had to somehow get to the boat and it wasn’t going to be easy. I started to try and swim, something that comes very natural to a former competitive swimmer, but the weight of my boots and clothing was dragging me back under. For a second I thought I would start taking off my clothes but I quickly realized I was running out of time. I looked up and I saw Tim leaning over the bow with a handout. The waves pushed me toward the boat as I swam and was treading water to keep my chin above the waterline.

I reached up and grabbed the boat rail or Tim, I can’t remember which but at some point I know Tim had a hold of me re-assuring me by telling me “I got Ya!”, and we started trying to get me in the boat. At this moment I thought, wow, that was a close call, now just get in the boat. First, we tried to pull me out by the hands, then we tried with Tim grasping hold of my coat. He was pulling so hard that my coat was beginning to come off. We stopped and I grasped the railing again. We both tried to catch our breath. Tim asked if I could clasp my hands around the back of his neck and he would lift me up that way. I reached around him and held on as Tim tried with all his might to get his legs underneath himself so he could stand up. The waves were pounding me pretty hard at this point. And the current and waves were pushing my legs under the boat and I probably gained an extra hundred pounds of water weight. Tim had to lean over so far so I could reach his neck he could only lift with his back and neck. We both knew he could not chance me pulling him in too as he was my only hope for rescue. At one point Tim almost had me up where my elbows were above the rail but I didn’t have the strength to kick in the water to raise myself out. We tried and tried, but nothing was working. I was calm enough that I held on with one hand and took my glasses off and handed them to Tim to put in the boat. I should have handed him my hat too, as I would lose it a short time later. It was my favorite hat after all. What I thought at first was a close call but no big deal was starting to turn into a very bad ordeal in my mind. Though I still knew we would find a way to get me in the boat. He asked me if I was OK to hang on before he rushed to grab a life jacket to put on me, I told him I was. He got back and I hung on with my left hand as Tim put my right hand and arm in the jacket. Then I swapped hands on the rail and Tim put my other arm in the jacket. This was just in time. The waves were so big and constant that I felt like every wave I was under water. I had already swallowed a couple of gulps of sea water, I was trying to breathe in between the sets of waves, but they just kept coming, one after another, after another, and another. It was relentless. I kept trying to hold on and at the same time, keep the waves from bouncing my face off the side of the aluminum boat. I remember Tim telling me we had to get me to the back of the boat. It didn’t register at first, I was thinking, the back side of the boat is just as tall as the front side we are on and it doesn’t have a hand rail? Then it hit me, the back of the boat silly, the engine sits on a swim step that is at water level. If I could get back there, I could climb in the boat just like I had done a thousand times growing up water skiing. I can’t remember if he asked me if I could make it to the back of the boat or told me we had to get to the back of the boat, whichever the case, I believe I responded with; “I don’t think I can scoot back there because I don’t have the strength to hold on without the rail”. Next thing I knew, he asked me if I was OK to hang on another second, I told him I was. Tim said he would be right back. Now I don’t know how long he was gone or how many waves crashed over me but It seemed like a blink of the eye and I heard his voice ask me if I could grab this. He was leaning over the rail, holding the mooring line loop end in front of my face.

I am not sure my exact words to him at this point but seeing that loop was like opening your first Christmas present. I grabbed the loop and pushed off the boat to make my way to the back. I was doing a poor version of the side stroke and I almost let go of the rope at this point. I had a wave crash into the back of me and it finally knocked my hat off. I wanted to look for the hat but noticed I couldn’t feel the rope in my hand so I pushed my fingers through the loop to grip it better and with the help of Tim pulling me to the boat I made it to the swim step. Tim was there on the step wrapping is arms around me pulling me up. I am still not sure how Tim made it to the back of the boat with the rope. There was a cabin he had to go around or through. I assume he went around on the rail (Think of Sheriff Brody from the Movie Jaws tip toeing to the back of the boat on the small walkway). Anyway, I had my right foot on the anti-ventilation plate that sits right above the engine propeller. I was thinking at the time; I hope the engine is off in case I slip. I didn’t want to get caught in the prop. With my foot in place, Tim pulling me on board, my right arm grasping the motor I tried to stand and pull myself up. I could tell I was spent. I didn’t have the strength to straighten my leg. Tim helped hoist me on the swim step. I told Tim I was good, I was going to sit on the step a second and catch my breath. Even there, we were being pounded by wave after wave. I finally got up and crawled onto the back deck. I had trouble lifting my legs due to the extra 50-pounds of water in each of my boots. In all the chaos, my hat was the only thing the ocean claimed, I still had keys, knives, wallet, money, oh and my life.

Once back at the harbor we filled the boat up with fuel and parked. We still had a boat to clean and fish to process. I told Tim I would do the cod at the house rather than there on the dock. I think that was my mind telling me I had enough fun for one day. We started planning our next trip before we got in our cars to leave the harbor that day.

I am thankful that I had Tim in my corner on that day, without him, I would not have been able to tell this story. I can’t repay Tim for his heroics, but I can pay him the gas money I still owe him for the trip.

(You can read more About this Ncredible story at

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When Your N1 Moment™ Is Brown

– By Brittany Pass

After 12 long days of hunting, I finally got my first archery bull. I had passed on a few bulls that were bigger then this guy, but with the rut never really picking up, and realizing the right one might not step out, I followed the old “if it’s brown it’s down” motto. I had a lot of fun, but it was by far the toughest hunt I’ve ever had.

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Big Bass Moments

– By Joshua Velloff

It was pre-spawn time here in Memphis, Tennesee, and that means it’s time to catch some big bass. My favorite thing to use this time of year is a swimbait, fished nice and slow. On this day, I decided to mix things up a bit and fished a candy craw-colored Z-man chatterbait with a small mouth magic colored bass pro speed shad swimbait as the trailer, with a slow retrieval. It wasn’t but 10 minutes into fishing the lure when I had a hard strike and I knew it was a giant! She put up a great fight. She jumped five times out of the water and each time my heart stopped because I did not want her to shake my lure. But after 30 seconds or so she was in my grasp. Weighing in at 8 lbs, 13 oz and 24 inches!

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When The Moment Requires A Second Try…

– By Keeley Sanders

This was my first year hunting, and to say I was excited was an understatement. We had gone out scouting and sat for awhile the first night when a monster buck came out. I was so excited and filled with adrenaline that I ended up missing. I was devastated and was so down on myself that I wasn’t sure I wanted to try again. My husband had to give me many pep talks to get my moral back up, but when I got the courage to go back out, that’s when we came across this awesome guy. I got my gun ready and shot. I ended up dropping him and 320 yards with my 22-250. I dropped to my knees just as I was told would happen! I shed a few tears of pure joy as I knew I was able to provide food for my family. Such an amazing experience!

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When The Moment is Bigger Than You Think…

– By Hunter Mueller

It was a very warm day in the swamp of south Arkansas. We loaded up the boat and truck and waited for nightfall. As the sun went down, the team and I set out for an adventure we will never forget as long as we live. We backed the boat into the lily pad infested water and began the search for an incredible species. I will never forget the first time we shined the light and saw the red dots floating on top of the water. We passed up multiple nice-sized gators because greed drove us to chase a trophy. As we slowly motored through the lily pads, we spotted a giant. We cut off the outboard motor, started the trolling motor, and began the stalk! My heart started throbbing as we inched closer and closer. We were just 15 feet away when he slowly faded away under the murky water. Our hearts sank. We were just seconds away from fighting one of the biggest creatures we had ever seen! We continued scanning across the surface when he popped back up! The stalk was on for a second round! We trolled after him for what seemed like forever. As soon as we were close enough, we stuck him with the first harpoon. We hung on for dear life as the gator took us everywhere across the bayou. Not yet tired, we stuck him with two more harpoons to seal the deal.  Now that we had the beast worn down, we slipped a noose around its neck. We grabbed the shotgun and put one in the chamber.  With the squeeze of the trigger, we had ourselves’ a gator that wouldn’t even fit in the boat with us and had punched the tag of this magnificent creature! We soon realized, with only half of the beast in the boat, that this thing was even bigger than we thought. As soon as we reached land, we heaved the gator out and stretched him as far as we could. When the tape measure hit 12′ 4″, we realized we had an N1 Moment™ to remember for as long as we live!

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