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06/27/2017 @ 07:11 AM

Better United

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For nearly ten years I was given the opportunity to stand eye to eye with dozens of sportsmen on a daily basis and discuss anything and everything having to do with the outdoors. One thing I learned in all those conversations; we are an opinionated lot. From choice of lure color to which slug to put in a semi-auto for deer, we all have our personal tastes in such matters and no matter the facts, if they contradict our own they are disregarded and we cannot be swayed.

I have noticed this premise while surfing through posts on topics we are passionate about and bring to discussion here, at this wonderful website. The more passionate we become concerning our position the more uncivil our tone and this is something that we all could use a little work in alleviating. The golden rule holds little sway on most topic pages since we are all insulated to some degree from any serious ramifications for the aforementioned tone. A simple rule of thumb for me: how would I respond if the one I direct the response lives next door?

Ethics is a touchy subject but never more so than in conservation issues. Take the lowly sucker. I have watched men grab these off the hook and toss them into the weeds. Now, let’s change the sucker to a walleye…get my point? Each of our perspectives were gained from years of experience whether on our own or in the company of others. When I come upon a spot to fish and spend fifteen minutes picking up diapers, candy wraps, children’s fruit drinks, empty lure packs I can quickly assume that this was not a lone fisherman but had brought his family along and what are the ramifications of his actions?

As we all head into the new fishing season I wanted to voice some observations such as the ones above for all those willing to read this-for contemplation. If I had caught that family red-handed would I have pulled out my phone and called the DNR Officer? What would the outcome have been if I attempted to confront and shame the individual? A couple months ago I was getting ready to leave a borrow pit when a truck came roaring into the parking lot. A man jumped from the truck, quite excited, and grabbed a bucket of trout he had caught earlier in the day and was going to dump them into the pit. I confronted him and he thanked me for informing him that it was illegal to do so and he replaced the fish in the bed and drove away. Where did he go with those trout? Did I over-step my bounds?

Personally, I have a simple equation I use while fishing. I share it with you in the hopes that it will compel you to do likewise, altering my approach to fit your tastes. The first fish, no matter the size or subject, always goes back. After that, every other fish of that species goes back and no sorting. Size limits are strenuously adhered to: for instance, no crappie under ten inches goes on my stringer…ever. All bass go back but for the occasional large mouth of many, it’s the end of the day and I keep one to split between the wife and myself. This might happen a couple times a year. If I only have one of any type on the stringer, it goes back. This happens more times than I care to admit! I never grasp the fish with my bare hands. Always by the lip or under the chin through the base of the gill plate. Most times I do not even lift them from the water but with hemostats, release the jig with a flick of the wrist. These are all simple things that I like to think help to enhance the fishery that I love. They are not cut and dry but they work for me. There are other rules I live by such as the footprints rule. I’ve been a smoker for forty years and can honestly state that I stopped flicking butts years ago…instead, they go in my pocket until I can dispose of them properly. A small thing but worthy of mention. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been driving behind someone who flips a burger wrapper from the window of their vehicle. I would assume they did not give this a second thought.

As sportsmen, we must give everything we do, a second thought. Do you have your conservation office numbers in your phone? Do you carry the regs for hunting and fishing in your vehicle at all times? It’s the simple things that if we all became more cognizant we would all stand a better chance of grand improvements regarding our passions over time. And, isn’t this really all that we want? That each time out will be better than the last? Or, at least the opportunity is there for it to be so?

Iowa has the least amount of public land per capita than of any other state in the Union. More private property signs go up every day. And, when I walk along the rivers of this great state it does not surprise me one bit that this is the case. Our first task is to be good stewards of the land that we come into contact with. Of course, in most instances, I’m preaching to the choir here but this was an issue I needed to get off my chest and to those who already practice all the above conservation measures in even more enhanced fashion, I beg your forgiveness. If we each concerned ourselves a little more with the preciousness of our resources, every time we are partaking of them, I would venture that there would be less opposition to what we are attempting to enjoy…the great outdoors.

I thank you for taking the time to read this and wish you the best in the coming seasons.


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How not to store your artifacts

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This is a true story as told to me by the gentleman that pulled this off. The guy, I'll call Bert, owned a small farm up around Nora Springs. One day he was out with his little Cub Tractor and a small farm wagon picking up rocks on his fields. He had quite a few rocks on the wagon when all of a sudden he lucked on to a beautiful 3/4 grooved tomahawk head. He said, I laid it right down on top of the rocks that were in the wagon, near the end-gate so I could retrieve it when I got ready to unload the rocks back at the barnyard. It just so happens that the wagon was equipped with a hydraulic hoist. As he backed the load of rocks up to a mud hole in the yard, he jumped down off the tractor to lift the end-gate, jumped back on the tractor and pulled the lever on the hydraulics to dump the load. As the last rock tumbled out of the wagon box, a vision of the ax head crossed his mind. Well needless to say, it's still at the bottom of that mud hole in the cattle yard.


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The Best Summer

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The Best Summer

(Picture of bass)
http://rodandrivet.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/182585_721237667111_93297807_n.jpg

Branson, MO was a frequent vacation spot for my family growing up. It was a 5-6 hour drive, cheap, and had plenty of kid-friendly activities. Tradition called for a late afternoon stop in springfield to visit the giant Bass Pro Shops flagship. As a young boy I remember being completely overwhelmed with how big the place was. I could’ve spent an entire day walking the aisles, checking out fishing gear I never knew existed. They had a fish aquarium with several largemouth bass over 15 lbs. If I was lucky, my parents would give me a few quarters to play the gun arcade. In the spring of my junior year in high school we made the trek to Branson. We came back with a boat.

It was a 2003 Tracker Pro Team 185 Silver Anniversary Edition with a 40 horse Mercury outboard. I think it was the first year they used red paint on the exterior. It was the greatest boat in the world, and I had just got my driver’s license. My brother Mitch was three years younger than me, and within a week we had made our first trip to the local lake. From our driveway, we could have the boat in the water in less than 30 minutes. During the first month of summer break we were in the boat no fewer than three times a week. Gas was cheap then, but my parents made me get a job at the local grocery store to pay for it. 20 hours a week isn’t much, but it cut into my fishing time.

I learned a lot about bass fishing that year. My lure of choice was a skirted twin tail grub from Chompers. I would Texas rig it with a 1/4-3/8 oz bullet weight and flip to rock covered banks, drop-offs, points, and sunken trees. Many times Mitch and I would hit the lake in late afternoon and throw plastics until the sun started sinking and the weather cooled off. Then, we’d motor over to a silt dam on the other side of the lake and throw Rebel Pop-R’s. Those bass would go crazy! Few things are more fun than catching bass on topwater lures. There’s so much excitement when they crash the surface. The key is keeping yourself from immediately setting the hook and pulling it out of their mouth.

My dad is a neat freak. He can open the door to his 1000 sq. foot metal building and know if something is out of place before he takes two steps. He had harped on us from the beginning to make sure we didn’t bang up the prop on the boat. One particularly windy day we got in some shallow water and tore up the trolling motor prop really good on some rocks. I was worried I’d never be able to use the boat again, so we made a trip to Wal-Mart to buy a new one. Few people on earth are less mechanically inclined than me, and I couldn’t figure out how to put the stupid thing on. My only play was to man up, and take whatever repercussions I had coming. After coming clean I found out it wasn’t the trolling motor prop he was worried about, but the main engine prop. Oh…

Toby Keith and Willie Nelson had a song called “Beer for My Horses” that came out in April. Many nights that summer I drove my Chevy Blazer home with the windows down and that song playing on the radio. It was the best summer.

http://rodandrivet.wordpress.com/2013/02/28/the-best-summer/


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Tenkara Trout Trifecta by Craig Thor

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Well after a week of terrible weather and temperatures I jumped at the fact is was a whopping 14 degrees out today. Ventured out to Spring Branch Creek as this stream never freezes and is a great place to get some good practice casting in. We only spent about an hour and a half there and I pulled off a trout trifecta with a Brown, Rainbow and Brook Trout all from the same stream all in about 100 yards of each other


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Long Bow Building Course Offered near Cedar Rapids

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Learn a skill, that’s new to you!

When leading fieldtrips at our nature center we often teach participants about the Woodland Culture of the Native Americans. When I discuss the fact that the arrival of the first bows and arrows in the Midwest occurred about a thousand years ago it always creates interest in the group. There is a fascination with the history of these tools, which saw extensive use here.

We will offer some insight into the skill of building longbows with a course that will be held from 8 to 4:30 on February 2 and 3, 2013, at Linn County Conservation Department’s shop near the junction of Highway 13 and County Home Road. The course costs $220 per person. To register for the class interested people need to contact Chuck Ungs by calling (319) 892-6485. Registration is due by the end of the business day on Jan. 30. Class size is limited.

The class will be led by Gene Winter, an experienced bow builder and the instructor for hundreds of students that have built bows over many years. Gene will provide an Osage orange stave for each participant. This is a tree that has been used for a very long while to build longbows. In fact, the French settlers in south central states called the tree Bois d ’arc, which means wood of the bow. It also is called hedge apple due to the fruits it produces.

The process of building your own bow is involved and requires some time and tools to build so participants will need to be at class both days, and due to the physical constraints will need to be in high school or older. The participants should bring pair of leather gloves and a sack lunch if they like and perhaps a water bottle or soft drink each day.

We hope that you will join us if you are interested in building your own bow. I have built several in these classes along the way and found the course and the bows produced to be very enjoyable to shoot and to create. It brings a very unique sense of accomplishment to shoot a bow that started out as a large chunk of wood, and through your own hand work was transformed to a beautiful instrument to fling arrows.


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Rod Building Course Near Cedar Rapids

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Fishing Rod Building Course
Build a fishing rod to your specifications! A fishing rod building class will be held on February 7,14, and 21, 2013 from 6:30-9:30 p.m. at Wickiup Hill Outdoor Learning Center near Toddville, Iowa. Custom rod builder and naturalist Chuck Ungs, will lead participants through the process of building a St. Croix, Rainshadow, North Fork Composites or other brand of spinning rod. When finished with this series of classes, you will have a base of knowledge to move on to other rod-building projects. Of course you also get to keep the rod you build. For additional information or to register, please call Chuck at (319) 892-6485 or e-mail to Chuck.Ungs(at)LinnCounty.org. Registration by January 18 is required. Class size is limited. Class cost depends on the brand and model of fishing rod blank and options selected.


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Balancing Act

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There are those amongst us who will be fortunate enough, in the coming weeks, to receive a gift card for their favorite outdoor store. I doubt that I'll be among them. Hey, I suppose I just ain't loved enough. To those fortunate few, a few words of advice from one who has heard quite a few conversations (not to mention tall tales) over the years while standing in a fishing department at one of the said retailers...that is, don't grab and go.

You see, most manufacturers, even those purported to have achieved lofty respect concerning the level of quality they offer with their wares still hire dunderheads in the marketing department, most especially when it comes to the 'combos' that are offered to those unwilling to take the time to consider what they are truly purchasing.

Deep breath.

In all my years I have yet to see a rod mated to a reel that deserved each other. They are always over-engineered with the bobber guy in mind who must hoist a VW from the bottom of a farm pond. So, where to begin? Let's start with what you're trying to achieve. What are you going to be fishing for? After you've answered that simple question, walk straight to the reel department. Hang on! We'll get to the rods in a bit.

There are several factors that need to be considered when determining which is the 'best' reel for any given job. A short list would include; price, quality, weight classification, feel and believe it or not, word of mouth. That's right: what have you 'heard' concerning the company that wants to take that gift card out of your pocket? Not all reel manufacturers are created equal but, needless to say, a twenty dollar reel today is far and above a better value than a fifty dollar reel twenty years ago. The technology is that great!

Would I spend twenty dollars for a reel? Yes, three times over! You see, I fish almost every day and the reels I choose are an investment in that fact. If you won't fish quite that often, then by all means, go cheaper if you like. But, for me, I won't even glance at a reel if it's priced under fifty...or, over one hundred, for that matter. Like any tool, I only wanna buy one, and never again. Quick, Quality, Price. The old adage, pick two of the three.

There's a myriad of reels for spinning outfits, since you asked, that fall within that price range. Let's be realistic. The other reels encompass roughly 25% of our total sales where I punch a clock, so we'll focus on the spinning here. We'll discuss baitcasters at another date and time. Though some of the rules I list here will still apply regardless.

You cannot buy a 'bad' reel in that price range short of defects that occur at every assembly line in every factory from here to Timbuktu. It's a role of the dice when you buy anything, right? So, let's say you've picked several off the wall, hefted them, turned the handle a few times and decided, "That's the one". Since I'm not being paid to write this, and no one is buying my lunch, and I fear a lawsuit, I will not mention models, let alone makers of reels during our conversation. Whatever you do, do NOT open the bail and turn the handle in order to 'feel' how well it closes, or snaps the bail home. This is, next to backing over it with your truck, the worst thing you can do to a spinning reel. I won't deal in the physics and number of moving parts involved but, it's a sure way to shorten the life of the reel...nuff said?

Now, look at the reel's spool. Almost every reel worth its salt will tell you what line it is designed to hold. My Uncle Bob taught me early on, "Look for the middle number and never go past that when you buy line." That is the optimum line the reel was designed to hold. So, consequently, If I'm replacing an ultralight reel the one I'm looking at better say, "2-4-6" on the spool and then, as an after-thought, the quantity of line (in some instances) that the spool will hold. Medium light will read, "4-6-8" medium, "6-8-10" and so on. At this point some are scoffing. So, I'll ask, "Average weight of every fish you've ever caught?" I once caught a forty pound flathead on 4lb. Triline XL. A 44lb. 4oz. trout was caught in Arkansas several years back, a world record at the time, on the same line. If memory serves me, the guy was over seventy!

Techonology is a given at this price range. I never consider a reel on its heft or, the number of bearings it states to have. I'd rather have four fantastic bearings than eleven bad ones. It's in the 'feel' we discussed earlier. Spin the handle: how hydraulic does it feel? We're talking grease on glass here. If you sense a raspiness or gritty grinding sensation while spinning the handle then, by all means, move on to the next model, or choose the lesser of all the evils. Warranted, some reels may have been built on Monday, but if the grease is missing on the worm gears I'll pass and get one smoother and worry about greasing it myself the following spring. I can't stress this enough.

Now that you've picked the reel, go home. Just kidding...or maybe not. I would rather take two paydays to get my rod to match the reel than run the risk of cheapening the combination I'm attempting to build. Don't skimp. Remember that this is an investment that you do NOT want to need to replace anytime soon. Onward and upward: concerning the rod...same thing applies here. Gimickry and fishing show commercials are all well and good, but, what have you personally heard concerning the product? I would rather buy a rod from a single customer's recommendation than having witnessed it's use on TV.

And, we're back in that same price range again. IM-8 is my personal choice in this matter. You could go more and you could choose less, but bang for the buck, it's hard to beat an IM-8 under a hundred dollars. Do the rods in the two, or three hundred dollar range have their merits? Couldn't tell it by me. Again, we're talking bang for the buck here. And, once again, we're back to 'feel'. Hold it, snap it in your hand, watch the tip and picture your lures of choice. Want to upset the salesman? Tap the tip on the floor.

Heft the rod; attach the reel you're considering and if the balance is right you should be able to place your finger halfway up the cork knob above the reel and balance the rod there. If you must move your finger forward of that point, the rod is 'rod heavy'. If on the other hand, you must move your finger back towards the reel, the rod is 'reel heavy'. This is not a good or bad thing. The reel is to the rod, what it is...period. Or, is it, the rod is to the reel? Never mind.

Line will affect the weight balance a bit but not enough to concern us here. Now, look at the shaft. We're looking for something along these lines...(pardon the pun). In the case of a walleye rod for instance, "Medium Light 4-10 lbs." or, something similar. What this tells us is first, the reel you've chosen should say, "4,6,8, or 6,8,10" on the spool. Second, and most important, the rod mentioned was designed to withstand no more than ten pounds of dead weight hanging from it's tip! So, if you load up the rod with twenty pound super braid and set the drag close to its tensil strength, kiss your rod goodbye and don't come crying to me! We see them, here in the store, every day in the summer. Go ahead, test me.

Sure, there is the occasional defect in the rod that would cause it to snap in half...right. Once in a while, there will be a scratch on the rod that can weaken it's backbone...right. Or, the user set the drag at "crack" and got what he was hoping for. Most likely.

This is the balancing act. Reel to line to rod to drag setting. It's as simple as that...trust me. I got nothing to gain in the truth or the lie...do I? I hope you make some sound decisions in this off-season concerning the disposition of your gift card. And, I pray that you've taken some of this advise to heart and receive years of service from your equipment and smile over your investment and the inherent catches associated with your efforts. Now, rain or shine, go get that State Record!


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A Return to Ragged Mountain

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After a near disaster trip to Colorado elk hunting without me in 2011, Molly, my mare made a return trip with me this year. She seemed none the worse for wear, and though rarely ridden in the year ensuing, was quite bidable. The kick in the chops she gave me while I got her ready for the vet had healed, and been forgiven.

This would be a new era for the Sperry Ranch elk hunt crew. Our long standing chief of operations and guiding, Mr. Jim Scott was developing visual problems, and opted not to go. I had never been there without him, and somehow, it didn't feel right. A goodly crew of returners, including Mel, Tom, Darwin, The Kluss boys, Mitch, Dean, and Willie, Mr Bill Johnson, and Eric the new man made a rather smaller crew than usual. No lack of experience here, but no clear leader of the pack. We would decide goings on by committee, trying to decide WWMSD (what would Mr. Scott do?)

Darwin and I, with Molly and Sonny in tow, lit out early on Thurs. morning. The trip to Fr. Collins to overnight with Darwin's family, was punctuated with 2 Cabela's visits, though not many purchases. We had a very fine accomodation for the horses as well as a fine welcome from the Colorado Snooks. I only wish I was half the hunter Christopher thinks I am.

Day 2's trip was highlighted by having an overheated motor at the Eisenhower tunnel. Many thanks to the local GM dealer for promptly and courteously replacing the fan clutch. Never mind that it was pricey compared to local service. We ascended the McClure pass without any of the frequently falling rocks there displaying themselves for us. The last to arrive, we had plenty of help getting tack, gear, and ourselves settled. The everning's meeting to decide strategy seemed to be without a keel, but we managed to decide what to do. Since we were short, places like the flat rock, and volkswagen rock were stands we left out. No one minded, in that they were always the last to get sun, and notoriously cold. Besides, you just had to cover the most reliable stands, the putting green, pole pile, ant hill, Jim's spruce, and a few more.

Morning brought another great mountain breakfast, and we assembled our mounts in the dark. Seemed chill to me, so I included my rain gear, tied securelly behind the saddle. We heard only the creak of saddle leather, and an occasional bugle as we rode out in the darkness. Once settled, with light approaching, it became evident that I'd better leave my stand and retrieve my rain gear. Having done so, I spent 4 hours watching the mist turn to snowflakes, then a steady snow fall. I didn't see an elk. Our lunch meeting showed me that no one else had either. A few hours into the afternoon we were all cold, and those who hadn't carried their rain gear were wet also. Back to the ranch for warmth and dry seemed to be the consensus. Elk weren't moving, and we would rally to hunt another day. Day 2 we made a mistake as well. Anxious to put some elk in the meat shed, we rode out with fog in the distance. As we ascended it became increasingly thick, and though we knew we pushed several elk off Round hill, we only saw a few and shot only one. After field dressing it, we began to notice clearing, and wondered "what if" we'd not been impatient and could have actually seen more than 50 yards. Afternoon brought little in the way of action, so a halt was called to our organized hunt. Darwin asked me if I would like to see the new path to our favorite spot, "the putting green" where we have combined for half dozen bulls in the past. I agreed and we pushed our flatland horses hard to achieve the top. Once there, I suggested we sit the stand for a while, since the weather was now pleasant, and we were close. Old buddies, we, we found a couple of oakies, tied our horses, and basked in the sunshine, while hearing enough bugles to keep us interested and from nodding off to naps. Just as I wondered if Dar would suggest we leave before sun set, out walked a really nice bull. "kill him Darwin" whispered I, and drop him he did. We got pictures, swiftly as two guys can field dress a 500 pound critter, did so, and mounted for a ride in in the dark. Both horses had been there before so we pretty much basked in our glory, retold the story and how we'd tell it, and let the horses take us off the mountain. Displaying bloodied hands to our campmates gathered waiting for us was indeed a pround moment.

Monday brought relaxed hunting. On the board and with beautiful weather,. We had some luck, and managed to hang a second of our three allowed cow elk. We also had a near miss on what was termed by those who saw him as a really big bull. Maybe tomorrow we'd get him. We chose to alot stands by who'd not killed an elk in the longest, and I was allowed a return trip to the pole pile while we worked Round Hill. This time we were in luck and the hillside became alive with elk. A couple I saw were big white ones, a probable sign of a mature bull. Binoculars confirmed that, and though it took 3 rounds, I put one of them on the ground. Tom had collected our 3rd cow. This gave us 5 of 9, way above average for the state, but shy of our usual success.

The rest of the day, we labored to get the guys with open tags in range of an elk, and even extended it into the morning on Wed. Not to be, we broke camp, reveled in the nice weather we'd finally had, the absence of any injuries ( a fact we do not take lightly any more), and the opportunity we'd had to join with each other, the mountain, and the game. As satiated as hunters get, and with next year already in mind we took off for Iowa. A call to afore mentioned Mr. Scott allowed him to add his thoghts as we discussed out first effort without him. Memories of Don, Max, Eugene and other old campmates, as well as the recent success kept Darwin and me awake as we crossed the area homeward. We'd been in the land of the Chevy commercial "no Service" cell phones for a week, going at horseback pace instead of call waiting, email, text messages, and road rage speed limits. It felt good, and will need frequent repeats.


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Snowshoe Building Course Offered

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This fall/winter Linn County Conservation will again offer the opportunity to build a pair of traditional snowshoes. Conservation Education Specialist Chuck Ungs will guide participants through the snowshoe-building process. Those who have taken the class in the past have been very pleased with the finished shoes and have enjoyed the class. These sets would make a unique gift, functional tools or can be used as a grand decoration.

Participants should plan to attend the evening sessions on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 11, & 18. These evening classes will run from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at Wickiup Hill Learning Center near Toddville, IA. With some time invested at home, kits can be completed around New Year’s. Additional evenings will be needed to varnish the shoes in the evenings at the Conservation Department shop near our headquarters in the week following construction, between the Holidays. For best results, two or three of these evenings will be required to varnish the shoes properly.

Participants must pre-register and pay by November 29, so we can order kits. The $185 class fee includes the cost of a snowshoe kit, a binding set and varnish for each participant. To pre-register or for more details and options, call 319-892-6485. Attendance at all three lacing sessions is highly recommended. Kit building typically requires the manual dexterity of someone high school age or older. Class size is limited to 15.


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GENERAL BANTER TO BE MOVED OFF OF HOMEPAGE

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Over the last several months the popularity of the General Banter Forum has grown exponentially, which is great but in order to keep the integrity of the site of being an Outdoor Related website and to keep the homepage full of outdoor related posts rather than a bunch of General Banter Forum posts this forum will not appear on the homepage anymore. Instead, just like the "Battlefront" all posts that are made in the general banter section will only appear within that category under the forums tab. Again this is to keep the homepage clean for outdoor related topics and to still give the members a chance to discuss non-outdoor related topics behind the scenes.

Thanks,

Patrick


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