For a cheap, yet effective, bobber for light-tackle fishing, use a foam earplug. Just thread the hook through and slide it to the desired position on the line. You can make it a slip bobber by inserting a length of plastic coffee stirrer. –David Kretzschmar, Highland Lakes, N.J.
Make easy-to-pack decoy weights by filling empty plastic snuff cans with concrete. Drill two small holes into the bottom of the can first to attach a wire loop large enough to fit around the decoy’s head. Let cure, cover, and wrap one or two in camo duct tape. –Jon Durand, Mansfield, Texas
Shave the Years Off Your Guns
When I’m finished hunting or handling my rifles and shotguns, I use an old-fashioned shaving brush to cover them with my favorite gun protectant. I apply the protectant right to the bristles. The brush gets into all the little tight areas and distributes the protectant nicely, so my guns go back in their safe fingerprint-free, protected from rust, and looking almost like they did the day I purchased them. –George P. Sougeron III, New Orleans, La.
Sip, Soak, Scrub
If you forget to pack a pot scrubber to clean your dishes in camp, remove the plastic rings from a few six-packs of canned beverages and bundle them tightly together with a zip-tie. It’s very effective at scraping off food residue baked onto pans. Just make sure to dispose of the plastic rings properly at home. –Greg Martin, Eau Claire, Wis.
Stop Rust With Rice
For ammo storage in a bug-free environment, use uncooked rice to prevent moisture buildup. Wrap it in a single layer of tissue paper and store inside your ammo boxes. It works just as well as desiccants like silica gel but is much easier on the wallet and the environment. I also place a packet of rice in with ammo and firearms I’m shipping to an outfitter. –Levi Garrett, Girard, Pa.
Slip a Cork
Save your wine and champagne bottle corks–they make great slip bobbers. Drill a small hole through the cork’s core, insert a broken rod tip (every angler has a few of those) or even a stiff plastic coffee stirrer cut to size, then epoxy in place. Paint with oil-based paint (nail polish works in a pinch). –George Lambrecht, Buffalo, Minn.
Revamp a Rack
Whether it’s an antler mount hanging outside on the barn or a shed found in the woods, antlers that have been bleached by the elements can be restored to a natural color with Minwax Golden Oak stain. Rub it on with a cotton cloth and let dry. One coat usually does the trick, but you can repeat until you’ve achieved the desired coloration. –JHawes, via fieldandstream.com/tips
If I need to inspect my rifle’s bore in the field (I’ll admit that I’ve slid down a hill or two) or while cleaning it at home, I open the action and set a shiny dime on the bolt face. It reflects enough light from my flashlight into the bore for me to see if it’s clear or clean. –Patrick Edmonds, via e-mail
Stick It in the Bank
An inexpensive and easy-to-carry alternative to stake-in-the-ground rod holders is the screw-together stakes from a set of solar-powered lanterns. The upturned lip on the shepherd’s hook neatly cradles the rod, and the sturdy aluminum construction makes it easy to embed in hard ground. –David Spletzer, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Keep Your Skirt Up
A lot of spinnerbaits come with a little rubber band holding the skirt in place, but a fish can still hit hard enough to pull it down around the hook. I reinforce the hold by wrapping dental floss around the skirt 12 to 15 times right under the rubber band and tying it securely. The floss is strong and fairly water-resistant, so you can even cut the rubber band off. –Bayne Petrey, Andalusia, Ala.
Sip, Then Seal Your Stinkbait
I rinse out the silvery pouches that my son’s fruit juice comes in and reuse them to store stinkbait. They are airtight, waterproof, and more durable than a zip-seal plastic bag. Cut across the pouch directly under the straw hole, then wash, dry, and fill. Reseal the pouch with a heat tool, like a hair straightener or an iron set on medium, by running it across the top edge. You can cut a notch in the resealed edge for easy access on the water. –Victor Chin, Longwood, Fla.
Charge It Up, Don’t Fall Down
Being a natural-born klutz, I place small solar-powered lights near my tent stakes, so I don’t trip over the guylines at night. Purchased in bulk, they can cost less than $4 each, and they have many other uses around the campsite. –Tom Adair, Highlands Ranch, Colo.
Wrap Your Rods With Bungee-Balls
When my canopy tent was destroyed by a storm, I salvaged the bungee-ball cords that held the roof and sides to the frame. Now I bundle my fishing rods with them. They are really easy to wrap or remove one-handed, and they are available in various sizes at the hardware store. –Ron Brown, Pitman, N.J.
Flag Small Gear
While hunting, fishing, or camping, I put a piece of fluorescent orange ribbon or tape on my knife and anything small that I might drop or lay down, so that I can spot it against the leaves and rocks. –Donald Jones, Red Lion, Pa.
Shake a Tail Feather
The best container for storing loose feathers for fly tying is an empty Parmesan cheese canister. You want the type with the large opening for spooning that allows you to grab or shake out a single feather. They are ideal for marabou, soft hackles, and peacock herl. Once you discover how perfect they are, your family may need to eat Italian food every night. –Jeff Schaeffer,Manchester, Mich.
Pick Your Line (and Teeth)
A dental pick is a great tool for handling backlash on a baitcaster. The pick works well without cutting the line. I carry mine, capped, in my pocket, and I’ve had many fishermen ask to use it. –James Richard Propp, Fort Myers, Fla.
Holster Your Cleaning Supplies
Instead of trying to cram my oily bore brushes and swabs back into the original cleaning kits, I store them all in an old foam ammunition block that I got with a 50-round box of Remington .223 cartridges. –Michael O’Donnell, Las Cruces, N.M.
Keep Bait Fresh
Protect your cutbait from the sun, bugs, and birds with a sanitary-wipes container. First, remove and discard the soft rubber dispenser flap under the lid. Next, fill a sandwich bag three-quarters full with water, burp and seal it, and put the bag in the box before freezing. Access your bait through the small door on top. –Dennis Polini, West Chester, Pa.
Carry Seasoning in a Straw
Use straws to store salt, pepper, and spices for camping trips. Heat one end of a clear plastic straw with a lighter, then crimp it with your fingers or a multitool. Fill the straw with the desired seasoning, and repeat the process on the other end. Just snip off one of the ends when you’re cooking, and reseal it when you’re done. Store in a plastic bag in case of a leak. –Tristan Laughlin, Independence, Mo.
Water Your Dog Easily
Recycle a plastic syrup bottle by using it to give your dog water during outings. Simply wash out the empty bottle, fill it with water, and attach it to your pack or belt with a carabiner through the handle. When you stop for a water break, just flip open the cap, tip the bottle toward Fido’s mouth, and gently squeeze. –Kevin Pinson, Zanesville, Ohio
Cushion Your Canoe
Use foam pool noodles to help load a canoe and protect your vehicle from scratches. The oversize fat noodles work best. Just cut a notch about an inch wide down the entire length of the noodle, to its center. Work the sliced foam over the gunwales of the boat. The noodles will clamp on securely and allow you to easily slide the canoe over your car’s roof before strapping it down. It’s great for vehicles with no roof racks._ –Todd Fisher, Hackettstown, N.J._
Trap Loose Trash on Your Boat
To corral all the small trash that normally blows around the deck of your boat, use a large plastic coffee container as a trash receptacle. First, cut a 2-inch-diameter hole in the lid. Then, drill a small hole through the handle and the lid. Thread a piece of cord through the holes to serve as a lanyard. Now you won’t have to worry about used monofila-ment, candy wrappers, and other garbage blowing into the water.
–John Slota, Forked River, N.J.
Make a Mini Saw
For a lightweight, compact saw, attach half of a hacksaw blade (a blade from a reciprocating saw also works) to a 6-inch strip of wood using a bolt and wing nut. I use a small lock washer under the nut–tightening it will hold the blade in place. I’ve used this for clearing light brush around a blind, and it’s nice to have in case of an emergency. It won’t crowd your pack, either.
–Tom Stumm, Richmond, Va.
Zoom in With Your Camera-Phone
A neat wildlife-viewing trick if you have a smartphone is to employ your binoculars as a magnifier. Using the camera function on my iPhone, I line up the lens with one of the lenses of my binoculars and use the phone’s screen as a viewfinder. I spotted this buck, which was easily 125-plus yards away, and was able to snap several scouting photos and even some video.
–H.C. Hines, Dallas, Texas
Keep Live Bait on a Leash
Use a 2-liter bottle to hold minnows when you’re wade fishing. Poke small holes in the bottle and add minnows. Tie one end of a cord to the neck, the other to your waders. The bottle should stay afloat while you fish.
–Darrel Otten, Sioux Falls, S.D.
Make Your Zipper Easier to Use in Cold Weather
When it’s really cold outside and you have on a lot of layers, it can be hard to find your zipper—especially with frigid hands or while you’re wearing very thick gloves. As a simple solution, just hook a 3⁄4-inch key ring on the handle.
–Stanley Elnikar, Streetsboro, Ohio
Store Tinder in a Chew Tin
If you dip smokeless tobacco, you can use one of the empty cans–which are fairly watertight–for storing tinder. Split fatwood into pencil-size sticks, then shave off small pieces using a standard pencil sharpener or your knife. Continue shaving until you end up with smaller and smaller pieces. When you need it, take out a pinch and it will start with ease._ –Paul Thompson, Sumter, SC_
Make a Fire Log Out of Newspaper
You can make a lightweight, compact fire log using just an old newspaper, water, and string. Take your paper and roll it into a tight cylinder and tie it with string. Next, soak it in water. After a couple of days of drying, the brittle paper will catch a flame quick, and the “log” will keep its form for a longer burn.
–Michael McGilvrey, Littleton, Colo.
Chill Your Bore Snake in a Cooler
To keep your barrel from overheating at the range, bring along a cooler. First, put your bore snake inside a zip-seal bag, and then place it on ice. Between shots, insert the chilled bore snake in the barrel, where it will absorb the barrel heat. After letting it sit for a few minutes, return it to the baggie and the cooler where it will be ready for the next shot._ –Jim Ryan, Muscle Shoals, Ala._
Carry a Backpacking Boat Anchor
I portage my canoe a lot, so I know how much precious room a heavy folding anchor takes up in my pack. But I also don’t always want to drift-fish. Solution: a basketball net. Tie off the bottom with a short piece of rope. When you need it, fill with a few large rocks, and tie off the other end with a drop line. I use poly rope because it’s a good general-purpose rope for around camp._ –Joe Doss, Columbus, Ind._
Float Sunglasses With a Wine Cork
After buying an expensive pair of polarized sunglasses, I decided I would minimize the risk of losing them in the water. To make an eyewear retainer that floats, drill two holes into a cork from a wine bottle. Thread your keeper through, and you’re set. I painted the cork a neon color. This way if my glasses fall into the water, they will not only float but will be highly visible._ — Mark Kehoe, Wantage, N.J._
Store Doe Urine in a Spray Bottle
I always keep doe and buck urine in small spray bottles. These are re-fill-able, don’t make a mess, and make an easier job of dispensing the liquid.
–Trent Wolter, Northville, Mich.
Wear a Nightlight as a Necklace
I developed this easy-to-make “nightlight” for bowhunting (the blue LED doesn’t affect night vision), but it’s also a great camping tool. Plus, the pale blue light won’t disturb your tent mates if you need to get up in the middle of the night. I found the disposable light keychain at a trade show, but you can find a similar version on eBay or Amazon.com. My lanyard is knotted rawhide, but a stout piece of string will also work. Loop it over your head and you’ll have light 24/7.
–Ric Riccardi, New York, N.Y.
Fill Your Nalgene With Trail Mix
I’m an avid catfisherman and there is nothing I love more than spending all day out on my boat chasing blue and channel cats in central Texas. But after handling shad, catfish, and stinkbait, my hands are in no condition to eat a sandwich. I found that taking a package of trail mix and putting it into an empty water bottle lets me enjoy a snack without having to use my dirty hands.
–Josh Wells, Killeen, Texas
Add Flash to Your Stacker When Spinning Deer Hair Flies
When stacking deer hair for bass flies, add small bunches of Krystal Flash or Flash-a-bou accent before spinning the deer hair. You can also add the flash material after you’ve secured the deer hair to the hook and spun it. This is especially effective on diving flies.
–James Masaoka, Fresno, Calif.
Store a Hook and Leader in a Matchbook
A simple and safe way to carry a hook is by wrapping it inside a matchbook. This way you’re never without a line when you’re backpacking, ice fishing, etc. And you’ll always have a backup fire starter, too. Slide the point of the hook behind the matches at the base, and wrap the line around several times. On the last wrap, lift one match and secure the line behind it.
–Howard Gibson, Las Vegas, Nev.
Keep Matches Dry by Recycling Tablet Containers
I’ve found that the plastic containers from Airborne tablets, and the similar store brands, are perfect for storing matches and tinder. I usually keep 20 to 30 strike-anywhere matches and some tinder in one all year long and carry it with me into the field. The lid is watertight, and the tubes will hold water at bay even when submerged for several hours.
–Brandon Wertz, Anderson, Calif.
Organize Fly-Tying Thread Using Spent Cartridges
Spent rimfire cases make great spool holders for fly-tying thread and wire. I epoxied several cases onto a short strip of pine, 11⁄4 inches apart. The thread spools slip on perfectly (.22 magnum and .17 HMR work the best, but .22 LR will work, too). I also glued several spent shotgun shells onto a block of wood to hold my scissors, bobbins, and whip finisher.
–Thom Romelli, Cincinnati, Ohio
Keep Bait in a Tic Tac Box
For a really convenient waxworm dispenser when I’m ice fishing, I keep them in a Tic Tac container. The case probably holds about 30 waxworms. Plus, it’s easy to open and shake one worm out at a time without having to take off my gloves._ — Carl Dixon, Bethalto, Ill._
Start a Fire With Pencil Shavings
When I have trouble finding dry tinder for a fire, that’s when I reach for a couple of the secret weapons that I keep inside my survival kit: a pencil and pencil sharpener. All you have to do is sharpen the pencil (dead pine also works), and collect the wood shavings to use as dry tinder. The pencil shavings light easily.
— Ron McLane, Thomasville, Pa.
Carry TP in a Tin
One problem I come across during hunts is when Nature calls, and I have no toilet paper. So I started carrying an Altoids tin stuffed with TP, plus matches or a lighter so I can burn it. I like to keep some parachute cord and a small pocketknife in the tin, too. I guess you could say it’s a survival kit in more ways than one.
— Ryan Adam, Harper, Iowa
Make an Inescapable Mouse Trap
Here’s how to catch mice that steal the bait from a trap without setting off the trigger: Tie some yarn onto the trigger, leaving the cut ends about 1⁄4 inch long. Roll the ends to make them fuzzy. Work some peanut butter into the yarn and set the trap. The bait is tougher to get out of the yarn, and the mice will be more aggressive trying to get at it.
— Richard J. Moncsko, Wilmington, N.Y.
Protect Your TP at Camp
Two of the most annoying problems at my hunting camp are: wet toilet paper and mice getting into toilet paper. But there’s a solution. Cut a long slit in one side of an empty plastic coffee can. Stick a roll of TP in the can and pull a bit of the paper through the slit. Make a hole in the lid and the bottom. Run string through the holes and hang the can out of reach of mice.
— Mark A. Clark, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Get More Life Out of Hand Warmers
More times than I can count, I’ve decided against opening a pack of chemical hand warmers because I knew I’d only use them for an hour or so and I didn’t want to waste them. But after an experiment, I’ve found a way to preserve used ones. I placed two partially used hand warmers inside an airtight container for a week. When I took them out, they still had some heat left. Oxygen is needed for the chemical reaction to work, so cutting off the air supply helps them last longer–and saves you a bit of money.
— Robert R. Salter, Libby, Mont.
Craft Your Own Spool Dispenser
Here’s how I turn my spools of line into handy dispensers: First, cut a strand of elastic that’s the width of the spool and long enough to stretch around it. Make a loop with the elastic by gluing each end along the sides of a plastic bead (available at any crafts store). Next, cut a piece of heat-shrink tubing a tad larger than the bead. Slide the tubing over the bead and shrink it with a blow-dryer. Finally, thread your line through the bead and cover the spool with the elastic. Now you can pull out line while keeping it wrapped tightly on the spool.
— John J. Matousek, Owosso, Mich.
Make On-the-Go Repairs With a Glue Stick
A glue stick offers countless solutions to problems encountered outdoors–patching a hole in your canoe, repairing fishing-rod tips, reattaching arrow nocks. I poke a hole through one end with a heated paperclip, and attach it to the key ring on the emergency compass in my survival kit. That way, I know it’s always there. When I need to make a repair, I just heat the end of the glue stick and apply where needed. _ — Ken Holtz, Belleville, Mich._
Save Your Shells—and Memories
Over the years, I’ve saved the cartridges and shotgun shells from some of my hunts. Reminiscing, I realized I was starting to forget which one was which. To add a new dimension to my memories, I write down the date, weather conditions, and who I was hunting with on a small piece of parchment paper. I roll it up, place it inside, and save it as a keepsake.
— Darryl Orr, Independence, Ky.
Get Rid of Coffee Stains in Your Thermos
I buy generic-type denture cleanser tablets from the store (they usually come in a box of 90), and use them to clean my stainless-steel thermos. Fill up your thermos with warm water, and add a couple of the tablets. Allow them to fizz for about 15 minutes. Dump out the solution, and clean with soapy water and a bottle brush, then rinse. You may need to repeat the process for heavy stains.
— Greg Locy, Canonsburg, Pa.
Make a Tackle Box That Fits in Your Pocket
An empty Tic Tac box makes a great miniature tackle box for baitfishing. First, I crazy-glued a small, circular-shaped box cutter (for cutting line) to the side of the con-tainer. Then I filled it with hooks, snap-swivels, and weights. Carry it in your pocket, or your glove compartment. _ — Ray Koch, Bullard, Texas_
Add a Fire Starter to Your Knife
A small replacement flint–the kind used with a striker that you squeeze to light a blowtorch–makes a backup emergency fire starter. I drilled a 1⁄16-inch hole in the threaded end of the flint, passed a small split ring through the hole, and attached it to the lanyard hole on my Swiss Army knife. Just strike your knife against the flint for a spark. This wouldn’t be my first choice for starting a fire, but it works, and a backup never hurts.
–Mark Crowe, Grande Cache, Alberta
Use a Cap Gun to Train a Gun Dog
You could train your dog with one of those expensive starter pistols, or you could use what I’ve found to work: a children’s cap gun. I have one that looks like a revolver and takes the circular caps; it worked perfectly. Plus it saved me money on the starter gun, not to mention what I would’ve spent on blanks.
–Mark Hurtado, Whittier, Calif.
Keep Bullets Quiet In Your Pocket
During whitetail hunts, I use one of my wife’s hair ties to keep my shells from rattling in my pocket. I wrap the elastic band around four cartridges. This stops the cartridges from rattling around and possibly spooking the deer. I have been able to sneak up on quite a few whitetails using this method.
–Matt Scott, Clymer, Pa.
Keep Doe Pee In a Film Canister
Take a film canister, glue a clothespin to the outside, and stuff a cotton ball inside. Pour in your doe urine, and let the cotton absorb the urine. Then, simply clip the canister to a tree limb near your treestand. After the hunt, simply snap the cap back on and hit the trail. This has worked for me more times than I can count. It’s small enough to keep in your pocket, and it won’t spill.
–Chris Coble, Lobelville, Tenn.
Keep Your Bobbers In One Place
If you have loose bobbers rolling around your tackle box, put them in an egg carton. They will not roll around and will stay in place with the cover latched.
–Shawn Hanley, Cashton, Wis.
Store Broadheads In a CD Container
An empty 50-count CD case is a great place to store broadheads. First, cut a 1⁄2-inch-thick piece of cedar in the shape of a CD. Then drill a hole in the middle that’s large enough to fit around the case’s center post. Mark spots on the wood where you’ll want to drill holes for arrow inserts. Drill the holes, and glue the inserts in place. Now, glue the wood to the base of the CD case. Screw your broadheads into the inserts, then replace the plastic cover.
–Sam Ratermann, Wichita, Kan.
Turn a Straw Into a Grunt Call
Next time you’re at deer camp, make a bet with your buddies that you can make a grunt call with a straw. Once the money is on the table, do the following: Rip 2 inches off one end of the wrapper and pull the straw out about an inch or so. Poke a hole in one side of the wrapper 2 inches from the opposite end and insert the end of the straw through that hole. Fold the flapping end of the wrapper so it’s standing vertically and blocking the end of the straw. Suck air through the straw. The flap hitting the straw will mimic a grunt. If the flap gets stuck, inhale with less force or move the flap so it’s farther from the end. Collect your winnings.
–Casey Russell, Leivasy, W.Va.
Never Dig For Nightcrawlers Again
When I fish with nightcrawlers, I store them the old-fashioned way, in a coffee can filled with soil. I -remove both ends of the can, however, and cover each with a plastic lid. This way, the worms are -always accessible–I never have to go digging to the bottom. –Lowell Harner, Wabash, Ind.
Never Lose Another Fillet Knife
I never have to worry about losing my knife if it falls in the water because I threaded rawhide through the handle, flattened the ends, and attached a large cork bobber.
–Chuck Martel, Holyoke, Mass.
Sling a Chum Bomb
An effective way to chum for catfish, trout, and other species is to sling globs of chum with one of those “chuckers” designed to throw tennis balls for dogs. Just load up the cup–I use canned corn or cat food–and heave it. I can get chum out as far as 75 feet this way.
–Mark Cerulli, Mashpee, Mass.
Slice Braided Line With a Letter Opener
When I switched over from mono to braided line, I found that my nail clippers just shredded the braid. And scissors were hard to keep at the ready, not to mention dangerous to carry. So I purchased a letter -opener–the type that has the blade safely concealed. This makes a quick, clean cut in any type of line, and it works so well that I threw my nail clippers away.
–Edward P. Watcheski Jr., Millsboro, Del.
Make Your Water Bowl Fit the Jug
It’s important to have plenty of water for your dog in the field. To make a handy lightweight bowl, cut off the bottom third of an empty gallon jug. Take another empty gallon jug and fill it with water. The “bowl” will fit snugly over the bottom of the water jug, which makes it convenient to bring both the water and the bowl on a hunt.
–Jim Rucker, Lancaster, Ky.
Make a Wind Checker With Baking Soda
Pour some baking soda into an empty, dried-out nasal-spray bottle until it’s almost full, then reattach the nozzle. Just squeeze the bottle and you’ll get an accurate wind reading in the field.
–Mitchell Saur, Gaithersburg, Md.
Dry Your Boots With Newspaper
I stuff my boots with newspaper, which absorbs the moisture. Then I keep repeating with dry pages every 45 minutes, and they’re good to go the next day. _ –Marck Schwarze, Elk River, Minn._
Keep a Spool Wrapped Inside a Koozie
An aluminum-can Koozie isn’t just for keeping a cold one cool. To keep a large spool of mono fishing line from unraveling, I tuck it inside a Koozie. I leave a piece of line hanging out, so I can strip off as much as I need without making a mess of the spool.
–Michael Willsher, North Branford, Conn.
Make a Waterproof Shell For Your Matches
I rely on an old but still useful tip to keep my strike-anywhere matches safe and dry. I place them inside a spent 16-gauge shotgun shell capped off with another spent 12-gauge shell. This keeps my matches in a compact, rugged, water-resistant, floatable container for whenever I’m ready to use them.
–Ryan Arch, Galva, Ill
Make a Golf Club Gaff
You can turn an old golf club into an ice-fishing gaff: Cut off the club head and attach a large fishing hook (bend down the barb) to some stiff wire. Run the wire up the shaft and out the handle. Pull the wire until the hook is snug inside the shaft, and secure it to the grip with duct tape.
–Shannon Borer, Big Lake, Minn.
Haul Firewood With a Web Strap
I took a broken 1-inch ratchet strap, cut off the end with the hook, and tied a loop at that end. I use this to gather firewood whenever I’m camping. I just lay the strap on the ground and pile sticks on it. Then I pull the male end through the female end and throw the bundle over my shoulder. I can carry twice as much wood in half the time.
–Eddie Crane III, Richmond, Ill.
Make a Handy Container For Surveyor’s Tape
A plastic 35mm film case can be made into the perfect container for surveyor’s tape. Simply cut an X in the snap-on lid and thread some of the tape through the lid from the bottom. Then stuff as much tape as you can inside the case. I use the tape to mark trails, and the container is small and fits comfortably in a pocket.
–Joe Nowak, South Holland, Ill.
Improve Your Fly-Line Memory With a Coffee Can
If I know I won’t be flyfishing for a straight month or so, I wrap the first 40 feet of my fly line around a large coffee can. The diameter of the can prevents tight curls from forming in the line, which helps it lie straight on the water the next time I go fishing.
–Stephen Miller, Riverton, Utah
Organize and Separate Fishing Hooks With Safety Pins
Use safety pins to keep the fishing hooks in your tackle box organized. I got tired of hooks getting mixed up, so now I use safety pins to keep them separated. Simply feed the point through the eye of the hooks. A lot of hooks fit on one pin, and it’s an easy way to keep the different kinds sorted.
–Stephen Elliott, Visalia, Calif.
Cork Your Calls to Keep Them Clean
Here’s a great reason to save the cork from a bottle of wine: To keep dirt, dust, and grime out of my duck, goose, owl, and crow calls, I plug them with wine corks. It’s simple, cheap, and really does the job well.
–Nathan Miller, Wexford, Pa.
Avoid Thread Tangles When Fly Tying
When tying flies, I used to have trouble with a thread loop forming around the spool as I made wraps with the bobbin. The loop would then come off the spool and become wrapped around one of the bobbin arms. So I took a plastic coffee stirrer-straw and inserted it in the back of the bobbin tube, extending almost 1⁄2 inch to the spool. This keeps any slack from forming and eliminates thread tangles.
–Richard Rehm, St. Louis, Mo.
Mark a Blood Trail With Glow Sticks
On deer hunts, I always keep a few glow sticks in my pack. If I down a deer at dusk and it gets dark while I’m tracking it, I’ll tie the glow sticks to branches to mark the blood trail. Doing this makes it much easier to find my way back once the dragging starts. Just be sure to retrieve the glow sticks on your way back out. _ –Jason Coyle, York, Pa._
Turn a Lure Into a Tree-Stand Retrieval Tool
I use a barbless Dardevle Spinnie to retrieve items that I drop from my treestand. To make it, just tie some nylon cord to a split ring at the top of the lure. I store mine in a plastic bottle with cotton balls to keep it from rattling.
–Ron Mattic, Beaver, Pa.
Vacuum-Seal a First-Aid Kit
I use my vacuum sealer for more than just venison steaks. Bandages, gauze, and other first-aid items can be sealed and shrunk inside a small plastic bag, keeping them dry and giving you more space in your pack. This also works great with matches.
–Jeff Orr, Stony Plain, Alberta, Canada
Spool Monofilament in a Floss Dispenser
I wrap monofilament around the small spool inside an empty dental floss dispenser. This makes for a handy mono carrier, and the built-in cutter works great for snipping leader.
–Donald Wier, Lititz, Pa.
Carry Duct Tape Minus the Bulky Roll
Duct tape can be a lifesaver. But carrying an entire roll takes up valuable space inside a backpack–and you probably won’t need that much tape. Instead, I wrap a couple feet around a Bic lighter, so I always have a short supply inside my pocket. If you need more, you can also wrap some around a Nalgene bottle.
–Ben Wagner, Bozeman, Mont.
Hunt In Stealth Mode With Candy
On still-hunts for deer, I used to worry about whether I was walking too fast. So to make myself slow down, I started keeping a half-full Tic Tac box in my pants pocket. This way if I can hear the candies jiggling, I know I need to slow the pace.
–Tom Charlton, Muscatine, Iowa
Keep Parachute Cord Tangle-Free
The best way to store 550 parachute cord is in an empty plastic peanut butter jar. Drill a 3⁄16-inch-diameter hole in the lid. Stuff the cord into the jar (careful not to overlap it), and thread the end about 4 inches through the hole you made. Screw the lid back on, and pull out as much cord as you need. Kiss tangles good-bye.
–Jim Ratermann, Tipp City, Ohio
Track Your Kill With a Compass
Whenever I hunt deer from a treestand–with either a bow or a rifle–I always keep a compass handy. After taking a shot at a deer, I keep my eyes fixed on the last spot where I saw it, then I take the compass bearing in degrees on that location. I climb down and follow the compass bearing to the blood trail. This increases my chances of recovery in thick cover or as foul weather approaches.
Protect Your Turkey-Call Strikers With Pen Caps
To ensure that I get the best sound from my slate turkey call, I keep a pen cap on the tip of the striker whenever I’m not using it. The cap guards against the oils on my hands or anything else that could harm the tip and compromise the friction of the striker against the slate.
–Terry Stoddard, Martville, N.Y.
A Spill-Free Way To Fill Your Chain Saw’s Oil Tank
Instead of recycling that used dish-soap bottle, rinse it out and fill it with oil. Then use it to refill the chain oil tank on your chain saw. When your tank needs reloading, squirt the oil into the tank. There is no need for a funnel, and there is never a mess to clean up.
–Clay Pennington, Asheville, N.C.
Keep Your Salmon Eggs On Your Hook With Salt
Have you ever wondered how to keep from losing your fresh salmon-egg bait to a strong current? Simply empty your jar of eggs on a saucer and sprinkle lightly with table salt. Return them to the jar and go fishing immediately. Your eggs will seem to have become “rubberized” and will stay on the hook.
–John Minerly, via e-mail
Carry a Bird on Your Back
Use a 5-inch dowel or a piece of an old broomstick to make a turkey sling. First, drill a hole through the middle of the handle. Next, tie a loop in one end of a piece of rope. Thread the free end through the loop and through the handle, tying a stopper knot on the other side. Put the noose around the turkey’s feet to carry it out of the woods more easily. Just be sure to drape an orange plastic streamer over the bird first.
–John Rosemurgy, Wausau, Wis.
Some of the best hunting and fishing tips that appear in
Field & Stream every month don’t come from the editors or writers at the magazine. They come from you, the readers. We get so many good tip submissions, in fact, that it’s sometimes tough to select the greatest ones. But there was never any doubt about the tips in this gallery.