BIG APPLE DUMPLINGS are the best. Deserts at hunting and fishing camp are always important. We all enjoy S’mores, cobblers, and campfire baked treats. Try this crazy recipe at home or on your next outdoor adventure.

I was taught this recipe years ago on a Boy Scout camp out. The Dutch Oven was scraped clean. Every Scout was fat and happy. Since it was “boys” they named it the “Big Dump!” Feel free to call it whatever you prefer.

You will need a charcoal or campfire coals that will supply a temperature of 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. This also works well in a smoker grill or in your home oven.

1.) Cut up 3- 4 apples into thick slices. I prefer the apples skinned and cored.

2.) Lay out a container of Crescent pastry rolls. Use the ones from the tube that scares you when it opens. Poppin fresh style.

3.) Wrap an apple slice up in each triangle shaped pastry. Place the apple at the wide end and roll to the point.

4.) Stack the rolled apple dumplings into a greased baking dish or Dutch oven.

5.) Now mix 1 ½ cups of sugar with 2 sticks of softened butter. Add a teaspoon of Vanilla. The mixture will be granular and not melted. More like a sweet paste. Dump onto the dumplings.

6.) Pour ¾ of a can of Lemon Lime soda onto the dumplings. This moisture will be absorbed in the baking process and help to make the sauce. Sprinkle with cinnamon and/or nutmeg.

7.) Bake for around 40 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve with a spoon in a small bowl or Styrofoam cup. At home, you can get fancier with your Big Dump presentation and add ice cream or…

No matter what you do, there will be no leftovers!

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, visit his blog at


Fishermen never catch enough fish! The only way to learn to catch more fish is catch more fish! We can’t eat everything we catch, so throw some back to catch another day.

Wicked Tuna is a reality fishing show that focuses on a Blue Fin Tuna fishery that is sustained thanks to Catch and Release. Tuna could not reach lengths of 100 inches and a thousand pounds without having the time to grow. Undersized fish are caught and released carefully. Sailfish Catch and Release counts when the swivel touches the rod tip. Once there, the circle hook is removed, and the fish is released unharmed. Stocks of these fish species are improving in part, thanks to Catch and Release techniques.

Here are some important tips when Catching and Releasing a fish.

1.)    Land the fish quickly! Understand your drag, use thinner but stronger fluorocarbon tippet, and be aggressive during the fight.

2.)    The longer you allow the fish to fight, the less chance it will recover.

3.)    Wet your hand, net, or whatever will touch the fish before contacting them.

4.)    Keep the fish in the water as long as possible. Minimize the time of the fish out of water for photos.

5.)    Remove the sharpened hook quickly. Forceps are a great tool to help with this. Barbs are less important than a hook that is sharp.

6.)    Let the fish recover before releasing. If the fish is bleeding from a gill or deep hooking you may want to just snip the line and let them go. Their digestive juices will dissolve the hook in a few days. Consider keeping It if regulations allow.

Even with the best Catch and Release techniques, some fish will die. It is estimated that for each angler fishing day, .65 fish released die. The Madison River has registered 175,000 angler days a year. This means that 100,000 trout die each year after being released! That’s a huge pile of wasted fish.

Respect your catch and limit their mortality by being a responsible Catch and Release angler.

Release your catch gently!

Montana grant

For more Montana Grant, visit his blog at


“I GOTTA BITE!” Nothing is more fun than catching a fish. The feel of a bite, the bend of the rod and the sound of a screaming reels drag are lifelong memories. We may forget the place, we may forget the fish, but we will never forget how catching a fish made us feel.

Going fishing means going outside. There is no better babysitter than a rod, riverbank and fish. Getting away from indoor routines, video games and stress is healthy. Fishing is more than just catching. It is fellowship, adventure, skill, rules, limits and oh yea, just fun.

When we first start to fish we just want to catch a fish, any fish. Of course, with all fish stories, the fish do tend to grow. Next we try to catch a lot of fish. Then, our goal becomes a BIG fish. With our developing skills, our next target is a specific fish. Eventually, we evolve to become the greatest fisherman of all…the one that takes pride in teaching others how to fish. If you think you are a great fisherman, then prove it. Teach a kid how to fish!

This lifelong sharing is a gift that ensures public waters and wild places for the future. Fishing is a wonderful survival skill that teaches us patience, pride, confidence and joy. If we don’t pass it on, fishing, hunting, camping and outdoor fun will become things that only rich people can afford to do. Here in Montana we are blessed to have public access to our watersheds, parks and public lands. We need all generations and citizens to protect these special treasures in our great state.

Here are some things to remember when you take a kid or friend fishing!

  • Make the trip FUN! A few hours and enough at first.
  • Rig all your gear ahead of time. Keep it simple. Cane poles or push button reels are fine.
  • Start with eager and willing fish. Check with your fishing shops and friends for these hotspots.
  • Know your regulations. Fish as you want your kids to fish.
  • Bring comforts, snacks and alternatives to fishing. Binoculars are a good idea. No electronics such as cell phones or Gameboys.
  • A first aid kit is a good idea. If you bring one, you won’t need it.
  • Teach patience. It is called fishing, not catching. A bad day fishing is still a good day.
  • Bring a net and a camera. Celebrate the memories. There is a special God that helps kids catch their first fish.
  • Wear hats, polaroid sunglasses and dress comfortably for the weather.
  • Teach conservation and respect for our resources. Pick up trash .Leave your spot better than you found it.

Remember that fishing and outdoor sports are highly addictive in a good way. Kids that are bored make poor choices. When your fishing lines tighten, so will your relationship with your kids.

Tight Lines and Have fun!

Montana Grant

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How BIG is BIG ENOUGH for your rod? This depends on what fishing rods we are talking about. If you talk to fly fishermen, Spey rod fishermen, bass fishermen, or spin fishermen, “cane polers”, or backpackers, ideal size will vary.

First, Fishing rods are levers. According to Archimedes, the Greek philosopher, “if you have a big enough lever you could lift the world!” Fishing rods are simple tools. The bigger the job, the bigger the tool needed.

Spin rods are normally 5-9 feet long. They have actions that vary in flexibility, and sensitivity. Ultra-lights are the most sensitive. You can fight bigger fish with bigger rods.

Fly rods are 6-12 feet long. Their sensitivity is measured in “weights”. Trout fishermen generally prefer 5 weight rods that are 9 feet long. Years ago a 7 weight 71/2-foot rod was the rod of choice. Salt water fly guys like the 10 weights at 12 feet. You can fly fish with lighter 2,3, and 4 weight rods but the casting stroke must be faster, and your range and power will decline. Longer rods supply more power and strength.

SPEY rods start at 12 feet and go up to 16 feet in length. This rod has it roots with salmon fishermen and have become popular with trout fishermen as well. It will take two hands to work this long rod.

Bass Casting Rods of 6-8 foot tend to be stiffer and are loaded with heavier braided lines. Bass tend to prefer heavier big baits and live near thick structure like grass beds and snags. Strong, stiffer rods are better for dragging big fish out of their cover.

Cane poles are a simple way to fish. As children, we probably started with a 10-foot bamboo or willow rod. The simplicity of this gear was perfect for rookies. If it broke, you cut a new one. Bobbers would help swing out the bait and show the bites. A slip bobber makes this technique even more effective today.

No matter how big your rod is, the key is to use it. Rod choice will ultimately be measured by the size of the fish you catch!

Fish hard, fish harder!

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, visit his blog at


Gobbling up turkeys is not just about filling your tag. Turkeys are also great to eat. When we go on our annual turkey trip to eastern Montana, harvested turkeys rarely return home. They end up on the menu!

Once a spring turkey is in the bag, we skin the bird and separate the breasts and legs. If you have a big enough Dutch Oven, you can also leave the bird whole. We also save the tail intact, and other feathers that serve as materials for fly tying or other decorative purposes. The legs and spurs also end up as necklaces or decorations. Nothing goes to waste.

Remember if you transport the bird, you must leave proof of sex attached on the bird. This means a spurred leg. Our turkeys are transported back to camp and onto the dinner table.

Once your campfire has plenty of coals, use a shovel to dig a 2-foot hole next to your fire. The hole needs to be wide enough to allow 2 inches of clearance on all sides.

Once the turkey is cleaned and rinsed, rub the skin with olive oil, salt, rosemary, thyme, and parsley. Stuff the turkey’s cavity with your favorite stuffing, fruit, garlic or whatever you enjoy. You do not have to stuff the bird.

Place the turkey in your Dutch Oven. If you do not have a big baking pot, wrap the seasoned bird in cheese cloth or a pillow case. Then add 3-4 layers of aluminum foil.

Use the shovel to cover the bottom of the hole with a layer of coals, then surround the bird with about 2 inches of coals. Now cover the coal covered bird with dirt!

Allow the bird to roast at least 3 hours. Most Jake’s clean up and weigh around 12 lbs. Add another half hour for every additional 4 lbs. When it is time, dig up your meal and start enjoying your fresh baked Spring Gobbler!

You can also place potatoes, wrapped in thick mud onto the coals. When the mud is hard, after 30-40 minutes, break it off for a perfect baked tate!

Camp cooking is fun!

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, visit his blog at

WHAT the HECK!!!

I read the other day that the outdoor population of Southwest Montana are responsible for the most violations of outdoor laws! Hunting, boating, and fishing violations are varied, abundant, and important. Honest Sportsmen are embarrassed by the thoughtless, dishonest, and disrespectful choices these violators are making.

Part of that may be due to a larger and growing population. The SW area is abundant with resources, access, and people. The area is also better patrolled and managed. The violations range from not having permits and licenses, to poaching, to trespassing.

Greed is about getting something for nothing. These losers are too cheap to contribute their part but feel entitled to whatever they feel like. This mentality is way to common throughout our society.

Outdoor recreation is a privilege, not a gift. License fees, permits, stamps, and taxes are our admission fees. These funds manage, maintain, and protect these public places for all. These protections are important and required.

We advocate that outdoor recreation is about rules, regulations, limits, safety, and sport. These are perfect expectations that future generations need to honor, respect, and embrace. In this way, the future of outdoor regulations will remain open and welcoming.

Poachers, trespassers, and law breakers are simply THIEVES! They are stealing what is not theirs. These criminals embarrass the honorable and honest sportsmen. We all need to do our part to monitor and enforce Montana’s outdoor laws.

Cell phones are a great way to communicate and photograph these outdoor thieves in the act. A quick photo of a vehicle tag, area, or other evidence will help eliminate these outlaws from our wild places. Also know the rules. Each year a new regulation booklet comes out. It is rather complicated, so be diligent and review the legal rules. Pay special attention to the new or changed rules.

Special cell phone apps and maps are helpful to discover and explore new areas. Knowing property lines is a huge advantage. Montana is a huge state but there are areas that are private. These land owners are becoming more aggressive with enforcement. If many of the wealthy had their way, no streams, rivers, forests, or fields would be available to the average public hunter. Each time there is a violation, these selfish landowners become more protective over their property. They also have the political and fiscal resources to change laws to their benefit.

Don’t fuel the fire! Sportsmen need to set the example and mentor the next generations to do the same. Teaching others the rules and ropes about the best and most honest way to celebrate our outdoor heritage is imperative.

The future of Montana Sportsmen is in our hands!

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, visit his blog at


“Aim small, miss small!” This should be the mantra for every hunter. We all try to make sure that our big game guns are sighted in, our gopher getters are fine-tuned, and our bows are perfect at 30 yards. Nobody thinks about sighting in their turkey shotguns.

Shotguns are generally pointed and not aimed. They usually are bare barreled or have a vent rib with a pair of iron sights. Modern hunters may mount a red dot, or low powered scope, to the top of their turkey busters. This certainly improves accuracy and shooting brightness in low light conditions.

Back in the day, sportsmen’s clubs would have Turkey Shoots to raise money. They were like the Super Bowl betting pools except you got to shoot them. Each block had an X in the center and whoever shot the closest to the X wins. It was about luck.

When we aim our shotguns at turkeys the target is a narrow head approximately 10 inches tall and 3 inches wide. The neck and head are featherless and contain the spinal cord and head/brain area. Take out the head, and the turkey is done. You can still eat the rest of the bird.

Ammunition for turkeys is a shot shell. Most states require #4-6 shot in an up to 3-inch magnum shell. That means you are shooting a lot of BB’s at a relatively small target. Only a few of the BB’s will hit what you aim at. If you shoot the body of a turkey, the great eating will be lost. No one wants to bite into BB’s or holey meat, crammed full of feather pieces.

To kill a turkey, shoot at it’s head. Aim right where the neck skin stops, and the feathers start. You want at least a dozen BB’s to hit the head area. Of the hundreds of BB’s that you fire, only a few will kill the bird. Turkey’s have incredible eyesight. Wear full camo that includes a head net and gloves. Don’t Move!

Practice will make perfect. Using a short shooting stick will help you rest your gun until it is time to shoot. Call less once the bird is coming in. Let him hunt you, don’t give away your exact position. Once you decide to shoot, squeeze the trigger as you would a rifle. Shotgun triggers are set at around 6-8 lbs., so it will take more of a squeeze than with a rifle trigger set at 2-3 lbs.

The turkey’ head is simply UGLY!! So ugly that you do not want to touch it. Instead, shoot it. The rest of the bird is amazingly beautiful, but God must have taken a nap when he created the turkey’s warty, knobby, bulbous, pimply head!

Not all shotguns pattern the same. They shoot a cloud of BB’s in a circle. The further away the shot, the larger the circle and the less dense the BB’s. Sight in your shotgun as you would a rifle. 30 yards will do the trick. Use a sandbag rest and take your best shot. Aim at the head target and count the holes. If your gun is off, adjust accordingly. You can also purchase stick on iron sights or mount iron sights to the vent rib. They come in a variety of colors, I prefer chartreuse, which is easily seen even in low light.

 I have never shot a turkey further than 30 yards. Why would you take a longer shot? The whole point of calling a turkey is to call them in close. Once the bird is in a close kill zone, aim squeeze and enjoy. If the only way you can kill a turkey is with a rifle or a long, risky shot, then either become a better turkey hunter or just go buy one at the store.

Gobble gobble, cluck cluck!

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, visit his blog at

Winter Fly Fish Wish!!!

Fishing is a year around sport. Each season presents different challenges and techniques, but the opportunity to enjoy the sport is always available. No matter how cold it is, fish, have to eat. They may move less, and feed on more marginal food sources, but fly fishing can still be fun.

Fly fishing is the most Zen-like way to fish. Much of it is catch and release. So why brave the cold for a few fish? Fishing is therapy. When the rod and line are in sync, so are our lives. Some call it “ripping lips”, “going on a slay ride”, or “drowning worms”. No matter what you call it, fishing is an excuse to get outdoors and take your mind off of life’s challenges.

Winter fishing requires some modifications and special tips.

1.)    Comfort comes first! Winter fishing can be really cold. If you are not comfortable, you are not fishing. Fingers and toes are usually the first thing to consider. If you can’t tie a knot, you will be spending your time standing in a cold river with your hands in your pockets. Keep your body core warm. Layers of thin, modern fabrics can be added or removed as needed. Since these fabrics are thin, they are less bulky. Hand warmers are a necessity. Use a gel or waterproof style of pocket furnace. The cloth powder packs will get wet and worthless in short order. Most of your heat will escape from your neck and head. Wear a scarf, bandana, and a decent hat. The hat should be dull in color, to keep you stealthy, and have a visor to reduce glare. Polaroid glasses are also essential to protect your eyes from glare but also help you to see the fish.

2.)    Slow things Down! Cold water causes many food sources to become dormant. Trout, and other species, need to move less so they can save stored energy. You will not find the fish in the fast moving currents or experience aggressive strikes. The fish will be holding in areas where food and cover exist.

3.)     Cast less but cast smarter! Trout tend to hold in deep water, in an eddy, or slow moving current. The seam between the still and moving water is their feeding site. Look for the fish before casting. Using additional weight is often required. A drag free drift is essential as always. Casts need to be right on the money. The fly must be seen by the fish at least a yard upstream so they can start preparing to see and eat it. Since the fish’s eyes are on the side of their heads, they can’t see what is directly in front of their face. They need to swerve to the side for a clear view. Also, by casting less, your hands can stay warmer longer tucked into your heated pockets.

4.)     Placement, presentation, and appearance! Why will a fish pick your fly out of a herd of natural offerings? If your fly is easy to eat, familiar, and looks tasty, they will eat it. They will not move far in the cold water. Every motion requires energy. The fly needs to be on target.

The fly must also stand out from the other natural foods and say “Eat Me!’. Most fish are color blind, so reflective, trashy materials, help attract attention. At seminars, I talk about “wedding cake”. A wonderful cake is cut into dozens of pieces. It is all the same cake but we still pick a certain, special piece. Maybe it has extra icing, or is a corner, or has an extra decoration on it, but for some reason, we pick something different.

Fish have just moments to choose a meal. A little extra something will help them to choose your fly.

5.)    Take a Break! Fishing must be FUN!!!! If it isn’t, then you are doing it wrong. Freezing cold can make the day miserable. Hot soup or beverages can save the day. Candy bars and energy snacks can refuel your body’s furnace, so you can get back to fishing. It is funny how when the fishing is hot, you never think about being cold. When fishing cools off, so do your toes and fingers. Find a warm and sunny rock to take a break. Continue to look for rising or feeding fish. Once you are warm and ready, take another cast.

6.)    90% of a fish’s diet is subsurface! Nymphs are what is for dinner in the cold water of winter. Attractors such as glow eggs and San Juan worms also work well. Streamers are less likely to work when fished as a fast- moving minnow. A slow, natural drift is required. Seeing a strike may require a strike indicator. Set the hook on any movement or change in the drift. If you can see the fish, look for any movement that indicates they mouthed your fly.

There are times when dry flies can be effective. On sunny days, or where warm water discharges occur, hatches can be prevalent. These Midge hatches are a winter staple for the fish familiar with them. Size 18-22 flies are usually needed attached to fine tippets. Also try a larger attractor dry fly with a shallow midge nymph dropper.

7.)    Sharpen your hooks and set the hook sharply. Sharp hooks catch 3-4 more fish than you are currently using. Even new hooks can use a little sharpening. The point of a hook must penetrate a mouth made of cartilage. This material is like your fingernails, hard and without nerve endings. Studies show that barbed hooks are not the main culprit for fish mortality. Handling the fish roughly or dragging them onto the bank will kill way more fish than barbs. Fish friendly nets are also important. A plastic net fabric will not wipe the fish’s protective mucus coating from their skin. The longer you fight and handle a fish, the higher the mortality will be. Netting a fish will allow you to handle the fish quickly, and safely while still in the water. Forceps are wonderful for hook removal. Once you are done with the fish, warm your hands and get ready for the next catch.

8.)    Fish When You Can! If you wait for a perfect day to fish, you will spend fewer days on the water. Adapt and adjust to the conditions you are offered. Consider fishing midday, or in a location in the sun, less windy, or more comfortable. Every cast is an opportunity for success. No matter how many times we fish, “one, more cast” is always needed. That is because of Hope! If you don’t cast, then there is no hope to catch another fish. The metaphor also applies to our lives.


Fishing is just fishing! It is not called “catching”. “Fishing” is about challenging ourselves, searching, seeking, and discovering. Fewer crowds of fishermen tend to brave the winter waters. Not everyone is willing to escape a Fat Boy Lazy Chair for a cold winter trout stream or lake. Great fishermen do not fish because it is easy. They fish because it is hard. For those that are hearty and brave enough to venture outdoors, the experience can be wonderful, educational, and rewarding!

Stay warm, active, and fish in the winter too!

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, visit his website at


Ice fishing tips and tricks can turn the ice on fire! So many Ice Men spend the day getting skunked on the ice. Here are some ideas to turn you on to catching more fish through the ice.

Rod Rack    Keep your reels out of the slush with a multipurpose rod holder. Most Ice Men use short mini rods when fishing. These may fit into an ice shanty but are a real handicap when catching fish through the ice. Fishing rods are levers. The longer the lever, the more energy they have. A longer rod can set the hook faster and hold onto larger fish. The longer rod also will allow you to play the fish more quickly.

Traditional rod holders require you to put the butt of the fishing rod into a pipe fixture. When it is time to set the hook, you must pull the rod out then set. Build a simple wooden rack as shown. Sand the wooden edges to make sure there are no splinters or burrs to catch your line. An open rod rack also allows you to keep your shadow away from the hole. Just lift and strike. Hook ups are swift and solid.

Kink Patch    Monofilament fishing line often has memory. The coiled line needs to be straightened out. This is a big problem when it is cold. Try to smooth out the line using a leather or rubber patch. Simply pull the line through the patch and gently squeeze. Do not create too much friction as this will weaken finer lines. You can also simply pull the line off the reel and tug on it to get out the kinks.  Once the line is straight, you will see more light bites.

Spring Bobbers    You can’t set the hook if you can’t see the bite. Spring bobbers attach to the tip of your rod and will move even with the slightest bites. Now that you see a bite, you can set the hook. You can buy a variety of spring bobbers, or make your own using spring steel wire, and a Styrofoam strike indicator ball. Electric tape or a silicon product such as GOOP, will help attach it to your traditional rod.

Hook Sharpener    Fish lips are made of cartilage, just like your fingernails. A dull hook will not penetrate their lips. If you want 4 times more hook ups, use a pen style hook sharpener routinely. The pen style ones are about $8.00, or you can steal your wife’s diamond dust emery board. Either way, you and the fish will get the point.

Gel Scent    Snow covered ice means that little light is below the ice. Fish will rely more on smell and movement. This means an active jig will promote more bites. Adding some scent to your lures, bait, and hole will enhance your presentation. Try using salmon or minnow flavors. Some gels also glow which adds another level of attraction. Scents also help reduce ice build up in the hole. The scented hole will allow you to re-scent your lures as they are dropped into the hole.

Fluorocarbon tippet    The finer the fishing line, the less likely the fish will see it. Usually finer line also means less strength. Fluorocarbon tippet is thinner but stronger than traditional lines. You can have a fluorocarbon tippet that has a strength of 10 pounds but the diameter of 2 lb. test line. Connect the fluorocarbon tippet to you ice lie using a tiny barrel swivel. Now you avoid any twisting and spinning, and the action of your bait or lure is enhanced.

Ice Men find great joy sitting on their frozen paradise. Fishing is great fun but catching is way better. Try a few of the Ice Chip Tips and take-home dinner along with some great new stories. Also introduce new friends, kids, and family to your cool world of fishing fun.

Straight and tight lines,

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, visit his blog at


There are always new tips and tricks to make our days afield better. The picture shows a few tips and ideas that have helped me to become a better Ice Man. There are probably no new ideas but we all appreciate any help we can get when ice fishing.


Comfort on the ice is paramount. Cold toes, fingers, faces, and butts will drive you off the ice. Try cutting a 5-gallon ice bucket lid to sit on. This quick fix, allows you a place to sit while leaving access to maggots, snacks, or other gear. Standing all day gets old fast. You could add some foam onto the seat for cushion but usually we have on so many layers of clothes that we wear our padding. Back in the day, we used to use an old metal milk crate, or bucket, attached to a sled for our seats. A paint can full of charcoal briquets would add welcome heat to our behinds while warming a sandwich or our fingers.


The rifle cartridge, with a metal loop is another tip I was shown by a Brother Ice Man. He added molten lead to a 30-06 brass cartridge with the wire loop inside. I have kept it for decades as my favorite bait tool. This idea allows you to pop eyeballs out of the fish for bait. Attach them to your hook, or jig, and hang on. Perch especially love an eyeful of food. This trick has saved the day many times. Keep an eye out for these tools at the bait shop or make one yourself.


Many of our lakes have a silty bottom. When fish feed on the bottom, they stir up the silt and attract others over to the feeding frenzy. When things get slow, use a cord to drop a heavy washer to the bottom and lift it up and down a few times. Keep your eyes on the fish finder or your rods for the upcoming bites.


Scent is also important when ice fishing. Try using a vial filled with cotton balls. Drill a few holes in the vial to allow them to get wet and attach a cord. Add a gel scent to the cotton balls. Glow scent in salmon flavor works great for trout, shrimp flavor works well for perch. Once you have loaded the scent bomb, sink it to the bottom. You may need to add a weight or rock to the rig for ballast. I have also suspended the scent bomb or just floated it in the ice hole. Every time you drop your jig into the hole, it is re-scented. The globs of gel scent will also attach themselves to your line and slide down to your jig.

Even Old Ice Men can learn new tricks! Try these out and enjoy.

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, visit his blog at