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Alright, I love being on the water. Kayaking was always a personal goal of mine, but I will be honest when I say, that part of it was the desire to go fishing. Kayak fishing seemed like a great way to get out and go to the fish. Actually find where they ere as apposed to sitting on the shore.

Well, as it turns out, it is harder than it looks.

So I actually invested in a fish finder to help in my search.

I use a Hummingbird. I know Hummingbird makes better models, but this was was relatively inexpensive, at $150, you can find them for a few dollars cheaper. I assume the more expensive models are better since this one can be a hassle sometimes. I have noticed that it doesn't work well until about 8 ft of water, which has been confirmed to me by other fishers.

Pole in hand

Since I hadn't used a fish finder before I want to keep things affordable. That and I don't have the money for expensive equipment. Color, DSI, and GPS are all nice additions that will each add about $100 to the price.

Newer models with CHIRP are an advanced form of color and add about $200 to the price. Side scan also adds about $200 to the price as well. They get more advanced from there with multiple transducers and GPS positioning receivers, 10" screens, and huge batteries to power it on the kayak. This is all fine and good, but not for me, it's only going to help an extremely sophisticated angler that wants to mark very subtle structure and be able to return to it.

Most of the time people will be happy with a cheap unit that gives depth and basic subsurface structure. It is more important knowing the depth that surface structure anyway. You may be 50 ft from shore, but knowing if you're in 5 ft of water or 20 ft of water can make a big difference in your lure selection and retrieve.

And for that Humminbird and Lowrance are both sure bets for inexpensive units. I want something that I can use to say that looks like a place a fish might want to be rather than messing around with settings trying to find suspended fish and what have you.

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I have people ask me from time to time what is a good way to get closer to nature. Two words: bird watching.

It is easier than you think. As easy as putting a bird feeder in your own yard or window. Also a bird bath -- you don't need to spend a lot of money, any shallow pan filled with water will work as long as it isn't any deeper than 2 inches.

For more advanced outing you can stay local. Whether you're urban or rural there'll be so much more birdlife close by than you think. Get a field guide to your country and a pair of binoculars that suits your budget and then get out there. Watch out for habits of common birds as well as just trying to tick them off a list. Some of the best bird watching can be watching a new behaviour of a species you've seen a thousand times before.

Contact your local nature center or Parks dept. and ask them if they have birding walks in your local parks. Often, especially during migration season, local bird experts will host birding walks in birding "hot spots" in your area. These are usually free and open to the public. Contact your state's ornithological society and find out if they are hosting bird walks in your area. They will either be volunteers or experts - both happy to help. This is the best way to learn about birds. And it is fun to walk with someone who can teach you about what you are seeing and hearing.

Beautiful blue

Identifying Birds

If at all possible, you should invest in a pair of binoculars. You don't need expensive ones to start, but out in the field so many birds will be too far away to see clearly without binoculars. I keep my binoculars and a bird book next to the window.

That's why back yard birding is fun, watching birds at your feeders--you don't need binoculars!

I also use the Merlin bird ID app to identify birds, in addition to the book. So much fun of birding is learning bird songs. What I like to do is record unfamiliar bird songs on my phone, then try to match the bird song.

  1. Where did you see the bird? Habitat:
    • Forest
    • Shoreline
    • Open field
  2. What was the bird doing? Behavior:
    • Soaring overhead
    • Hopping around the treetops
    • Scratching around the ground
  3. Size & Shape?
    • Get started by using comparisons to birds you know to fit it into size ranges.
  4. Markings (Note all markings that stand out, like stripes or bright colored areas or spots?
    • Predominant color
    • Secondary colors
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Good boots are what makes being out in nature comfortable. Well, they are one of the things, but they are also the big thing.

Shoes with a Gore-Tex barrier are truly waterproof. Shoes with XCR (Extended Comfort Range, another Gore-Tex product) are merely water-resistant. But my shoes with XCR have never let water in, even while quickly crossing shallow streams. Waterpoof boots don't breath as well as non-waterpoof boots so your socks may have just been wet from sweat, and there's a huge hole on the top of ever single shoe where water can get in.

I've been using Vasques for 10 years now, highly recommended them since they are great boots. As are nubuk leather boots with a rubber seam above the sole and and a gore-tex liner.

The thing to remember about any shoe that is supposed to keep water out is maintanace. Reproofing boots, like with jackets, is really important to keeping the performance up. 3 years of heavy use is the best you can hope for from a pair of boots even with regualr care.

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ECHOs are fine saws and Huskys are on par with STIHL but the truth is you are never going to see a 20-30 year old ECHO sell for the same STIHLs do. My local STIHL dealer sells 90s era mid range pro saws for more than a new ECHO.

STIHL is number one in chainsaws in my opinion, but there are some good Echo & Husqvarna saws out there and in most circumstances they hold their own. You should never compare a Stihl to an ECHO. Echo makes some great saws, but the comparision is like saying a Honda is the same as a BMW, the scale is way off.

A lot of people look at a STIHL and see the price first and don't even consider the quality. Then they see that they only give you a 1 year consumer warranty, factory defect only. ECHO offers a 5 year consumer warranty, also factory defect only. However, you can purchase a 6-pack of the STIHL ultra synthetic oil blend to extend it to 2 years.

But those are just numbers and a saw that is used day in day out is going to have problems. But, you can limit them. Make sure that you do not run it with a dull chain since this will kill any saw. Don't overheat it (limb it). And no matter what you do, always make sure that you use good quality fuel and keep up on maintenance.

Fuel is a biggy. And that is why the warranty (anywarranty) does not cover fuel related issues.

No matter what saw you choose it is important to invest in proper safety gear. Make sure you read the manuals, and watch and talk with the pros that you can find before you get to work. It can be exciting to get started, but you're never fully prepared.

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I firmly believe that WMAs should be used as much as possible for all allowable purposes, because more demand creates a push for more supply. Camping for many though takes things too far. Nobody wants a bunch of drunk kids running around. And hunters will in general get pissed.

It is important to contact your local DNR office and ask them what is permitted and where.

They will be happy to give you info on each particular area you're interested in.

From my experience I made sure I checked with the DNR first. Some WMA's might allow having a fire if you follow proper "leave no trace" rules, which of course should be followed no matter where you camp. But most will have an issue with it.

Definitely go into your counties DNR office though and talk to them in person, they'll be happy to help. At least they were when I went in to the office.

And for those of you who are serious, here is the link to the DNR recreation Atlas online map. You can use it to find these areas in, well, your area.

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Pruning lemon trees can be a fun task. For many a lemon tree is exotic and has the sense of mystery around it. But clarification is the key to any task. And the more you learn, the more you will enjoy because lemons are a really fun tree to have around.

The limbs that grow vertically will flower just like the other limbs but generally won't bear any fruit.

Just trim them to the desired length, I usually make the cut right above a leaf node, some people suggest cutting at a 45° angle with the cut facing up to promote branching. I usually prune about 1/4 inch above the node. You'll be able to see where it was pruned, no matter where you choose to cut. But the branches are small so it won't be that noticeable. Lemon trees love to be pruned, you'll notice lots of new leaf growth a month or so after pruning.

There's some in depth pruning information avaialbe for the different types of lemon trees so find the one that works for you.

Meyer lemons are grafted, rather than being grown from seed.

The bottom half is called the rootstock and the top is the scion. The rootstock is chosen for its hearty root structure, likely from an orange or some other variety of lemon, and the scion is a cutting from a Meyer lemon which is a really exceptional type of lemon.

You can try and angle it a little so that the tree is sitting a little more vertically if you want. Also, you'll want to prune off anything that grows below the graft line. Anything that grows below the graft line will not be a lemon baring.

There are so many ways to work with these remarkable trees, more than are within the scope of this text, so I really suggest looking for the information that is suitable for your area and your type of lemon tree.