Budget Beaters

The times are a little tough right now, but hunters and fishermen are better able to get through these rough times than many other Americans. Consider the following wise ways to better enjoy the outdoors during the recession. Pool Your Resources An obvious and good way to reduce fishing and hunting costs--if you usually fish with one pal, try making trips with two or more buddies. Fuel, bait, ice and food split three or four ways, saves a bundle--and you can afford to fish or hunt more often, too.
Join A Sportsman's Club There's never been a better time to join a sportsmen's club. You'll meet new friends with like interests, and likely will increase the pool of pals with whom to fish and hunt. Many active clubs, especially fishing ones, have regular outings where a couple dozen or more anglers venture out. These junkets save money on all fronts, and often resorts, motels, even guides, offer reduced rates when a couple dozen or more people are booked.
Save Gas and Buy a GPS First off, run your boat wisely, saving gas and oil by running at ¾ throttle. You can save a bundle by not powering a boat flat-out, wide-open whenever scouting around your favorite fishing spot. Pop the boat up on plane, but don't bury the throttle, and you'll save big bucks in gas. This also saves wear on the motor, boat and accessory fishing equipment. Next, buy a GPS in order to plan fishing trips more carefully, too. You can launch closer to hot fishing sites, avoiding long runs over rough water or strong current, and get to your hotspots more quickly.
Pick a Panfish Bass or trout fishing may be your passion, but most such fish rightfully are catch-and-release targets for many thoughtful and conservation-minded anglers. But look a little closer at putting fish in the boat to eat, too. Spend time locating bluegills, crappies and catfish. Put a few panfish or rough fish on ice and help build the homefront larder.
Bait 'Er Up Catch your own bait and you can save money better spent on hooks, sinkers, rods, reels and fuel. Learn to toss a castnet to get a wide variety of finfish baits for virtually free. Small mesh traps can be set with bait lawfully in many waters to capture crawfish, leeches, eels, crabs and minnows. Seining small baitfish works, too. For larger baits, mini-hooks and fine line collect shad, shiners and bluegills. A long pole and small fly will sucker bank-side frogs for use as bait. Dig your own worms; bait your own cricket traps; and collect grasshoppers with a butterfly net.
Roll Your Own Whether it's reloading shotgun shells or centerfire rounds; fletching arrow shafts; or tying flies and popping bugs, give DIY a shot. It's easy to make your own spoons, spinners, spinnerbaits and plastic worms, too. Lure-making equipment and molds for soft plastic lures are available commercially from outlets like Cabela's and Bass Pro Shops. Building a rod with a blank and components is economical and fun. A couple buddies splitting the cost of a shotshell reloader makes its use even more affordable. Sportsmen's clubs often have such gear available to members.
Get Juiced When fitting a boat with an electric motor, think overkill. That hefty electric motor and couple big batteries may cost a little more on the front side, but they ultimately save money during the long haul because they greatly slice gas and oil expenses.
Rolling on the River Next time you want to get out fishing, consider a simple, inexpensive float trip. Using a kayak, canoe, jonboat or float tube is a great way to tap wild areas, and the fishing can be outstanding. A couple anglers paddling, or tube floating as a team, make for a safe, fun and fish-filled day.
Be a Home Boy Bass action may be better across the state, or the hunting hotter in another region, but it's sometimes surprising how much is overlooked by heading off on long-distance jaunts. Try that small borrow pit pond you see on the way to work. The local WMA may hold more turkeys than you ever imagined. And wade fishing a nearby river or walking a close-to-home lakeshore will give you more time outdoors at considerably less cost.
Take Care Rods, reels, lures, firearms and other equipment can be pricey, so use plenty of TLC for long-term service. Keep reels oiled and parts tight. Check rod guides often, and replace them when needed at home. A little steel wool and mild soap can bring luster back to old lure favorites, and keep hooks bright, too. Oil firearms, clean gun stocks, and protect optics with eyepiece caps and light lens cleansing with a soft cloth. Hang duck waders correctly, and store decoys well. Attend to tree stands and feeders, and get ones out of the woods that are not being used, sparing them from weather and nuisance animals.
Freeze! Take special care of fish and game you freeze for food. Forget freezer paper and tape. Get a vacuum sealer (www.foodsaver.com) and freeze for the long haul. A good sealer with quality plastic bags can keep fish and wild game for up to two years. That can go a long way toward reducing your family food bill.
Shop Smart Carefully check sales fliers from large outdoor stores. Especially watch for equipment on sale between hunting and fishing seasons. For example, right after deer season you can pick up real bargains on tree stands, feeders and trail cameras. Similarly, turkey-hunting gear usually goes on special promotional sale just before the season opens. Use the internet and outdoor equipment company websites to learn of discontinued items are available. Clearance sale bins in tackle and gun shops can hold great deals, with Cabela's and Bass Pro Shops having incredible offers. Take a long look at credit card offers from some outdoor retailers. Use cards to compile points that can be used to purchase gear you need.
Let's Make a Deal Swap fishing and hunting trips with buddies, family, and use the internet and blogging to hook up with other sportsmen wanting to deal. Trade a turkey hunt for a deer trip; weekend of brown trout fishing for snook fishing; wild hogs for woodcock; antelope for Osceola turkeys. Most hunters and fishermen have something they can barter. You can do this on the brand new Outdoor Life Trade Trips forum.
Lesser Leases It's prime time to cut a lease deal. Not only might a landowner come off the dollar-per-acre price of a lease, but he may wiggle a bit on having "guests" or family members included for a lower fee. Maybe he'll add the use of an on-site building for a camp, or throw in turkey hunting rights in addition to deer. You'll never know what you may get until you make a timely offer.
Buy Some Land Hunting land and recreational property is selling at rock-bottom prices, especially in rural areas smacked hard by the economy. Realtors and property owners are open to deals. Even large hunting lodges are for sale at prices not seen in years. If you've got some cash, now may be the best time ever to secure a dream spot for fishing and hunting. Some sportsmen are even forming small companies, pooling their money, and buying property for their personal recreation. They believe such land will never be cheaper, and when the economy turns around (and it will) they can sell their pieces of paradise for much more than it cost - plus they get to use the property as it appreciates.
Job Hunt If you're looking to make a change in your working life, what better time to find a job in the outdoors? Tired of the 9 to 5 grind downtown, or on the 25th floor in a closed cubicle? Then kick up your heels and head to the forests, fields, streams and lakes. Never has there been a better time to try to make a dream come true outside. The internet may be your best ally for locating that sunshine working opportunity. Try these links to outdoor working freedom: www.campwise.org; www.outdoorindustryjobs.com; www.2nentrada.com; www.aplus-summerjobs.com; www.jbbbsla.org; www.acacamps.org/jobs/; www.aeoe.org/jobs/; www.glenhelen.org; www.backdoorjobs.com/; www.coolworks.com/; http://wilderdom.com/news/jobs.php; http://wilderdom.com/jobs; www.adrenalinesportsdirectory.com/; www.adventurepro.com.au/outdoorjobs/; www.campchannel.com/jobboard/.

The times are a little tough right now, but hunters and fishermen are better able to get through these rough times than many other Americans. Consider the following wise ways to better enjoy the outdoors during the recession.