Everyone has experienced the special fragrance that emanates from a stinky ice chest. Whether it contained fish, bait, old food, or other rotten things, stinky ice chests can take your breath away!

Years ago, I saw an article in a Popular Mechanics magazine. It addressed this exact problem. The powerful stink from old coolers is just as rank as the stink from today’s coolers. My friend Tom also read this tip and swears by their not so stinky suggestion.

Many stinky ice chest owners try bleach, cleansers, chemicals, and scrubbers to de-stink their coolers. Usually, the cleaning process starts after the stink has already started. Many ice chests die an early death from smells that just will not go away.

Tom suggests that you immediately rinse the cooler after each use. Do not use any chemicals, bleach or cleaners. The cooler is also used to contain food, drinks, and fish that you plan to consume. Avoid any chemical contamination!

Once rinsed, dry with a towel or leave the lid open and exposed. Once the cooler is dry, add a little Vanilla extract to a paper towel. A teaspoon or so is all that you need. Now wipe the coolers surfaces with the Vanilla. Leave the fragrant paper towel in the bottom of the cooler. Your cooler is now clean, chemically safe, and pretty “sniffty”!

Over years, some light brown color may be visible from the Vanilla. With scrubbing, this can also be removed but, most coolers die before that becomes an issue. The truth is, that folks will be able to enjoy opening your cooler to smell the Vanilla fragrance and not a scent that triggers a vomit reflex.

You can also extend the life of the cooler by replacing or protecting the hinges. Replacement cooler hinges are available on line. Use some silicon adhesive, on the screw threads, when replacing. You can also reinforce the hinges with a flexible fabric or rubber cover, that is attached overtop the hinges. An internal string, spring, or strap is also a good idea to hold the lid partly open. This will keep the lid from folding back too far and breaking the plastic hinges.

Keep a damp towel spread out over top the ice and cooler contents. This will keep the temperature down and save the ice from melting so fast. Freezing ice jugs, with water, allows the cooler to stay chilled and will also provide cool water to drink later. The melted ice water may also be used to clean and rinse.

Attach an old plastic cutting board or tray to the outside cooler lid. This will serve as a cutting board for bait, or cleaning fish. Screw the board in place with stainless steel rust proof hardware and seal with silicone adhesive, on the screw threads.

Stay stink free!

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, visit his website at


Bees and wasps can quickly ruin your day. These stinging insects can quickly cause pain, and potential death. As Fall arrives, outdoorsmen can have close encounters. Checking out duck blinds, deer stands, boat docks, canoes, gardens, lawns, or just hiking around can agitate individual insects, hives, nests, or swarms.

The other day, my friend Jesse was called to help move a deer stand. The new site was a perfect tree where plenty of deer sign could be seen. It takes two to hang a stand safely. As Jesse and Chris approached the tree, Jesse was stung on his neck by a huge wasp. “I saw it coming, and tried to swat it away!’ Within a minute, Jesse knew that something was wrong. He had been stung many times before, but this time the feeling was different.

Chris immediately saw the severe symptoms and rode Jesse back to the house. 911 was called and within minutes, Jesse’s face was swollen, breathing was hard, and he was going into shock! When the emergency team arrived, they quickly administered epinephrine and an IV of fluid. Off to the hospital they went.

Bee and wasp stings are painful and very common. Yellow Jacket stings are the most common. The venom that these insects secrete is pumped into the skin by a barbed stinger, with an attached venom sac. Even when the stinger is left in the skin, the attached sac continues to pump.

Bee, and wasp, deaths are 3-4 times more common than snakebites. Anaphylaxis shock is the greatest problem. The body can quickly go into shock. These symptoms are an increase heart rate, decreased blood pressure, difficult breathing, and severe swelling to the face, airways, throat, and lips. Emergency care is a must!

Routine stings require simple care. Stay calm, add a cool compress, or ice. Remove the stinger quickly, take an aspirin, or acetaminophen. You can apply a cream that contains an antihistamine, such as Benadryl. Monitor the bite site, wash with soap and water, and keep the bite site clean, to avoid infection.

Remove the stinger with tweezers or a cloth. Using the edge of a card or knife are also good tools. Do not squeeze or scratch the sting site. This can lead to infection or help spread the venom. Avoid Calamine lotion, vinegar, and bicarbonate of soda products. They tend to add more discomfort, are for surface use, and will not impact the injected venom.

EPI PENS are a great tool to carry on your person if you have an insect allergy. The epinephrine shot will relax blood vessels, muscles, and calm the body until help arrives. This is a prescription required medication.

Avoid stings! Wear light colored, fitted clothing, with a brimmed hat. Loose clothing can trap insects and allow repeated stings. Closed toe shoes make common sense. Personal hygiene is important. Sweat agitates insects along with other smells. Flowery fragrances and movement will attract insects. Banana, fruity, and coconut fragrances should be avoided.

Remove nests and look for hives that can be hanging under decks, boats, stumps, debris piles, gardens, chimneys, and sheds. Bees also can live in ground nests near roots and rockpiles. A few years ago, my son was climbing a pool ladder when he disturbed a wasp nest. He was painfully stung on his face. The huge nest had been growing there all summer. If you do not know how to deal with these nests, call a trained professional.

Parents, camp counselors, day care staff, outdoorsmen, joggers, pet owners, and anyone that ventures into the bees, and wasps, domain, need to be observant and able to apply First aid.


Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, visit his website at


Now don’t get me wrong, I love nature and most of God’s creatures. Buzzards, or Turkey Vultures, may be my new least favorite critter. Especially at the Susquehanna State Park below Conowingo Dam. This location is a wonderful access for the public to boat, hike, fish, and watch the birds, eagles, and I guess the filthy Buzzards!

I took a couple of young fishermen out for a fishing adventure. Years ago, I had done the same trip many times. The trip required a 1 ½ mile walk to an area along the Susquehanna River known as the “Fish Traps”. The local Indian tribes had moved rocks to direct fish into their fish weirs. The evidence remains, and the fishing is still great. How cool is fishing for striped bass in fresh water around ancient fish traps!

When we arrived, it was dark, and we hiked down the trail. I had parked in a marked, paved parking spot. Fishing was fun and everyone caught stripers, white perch and smallmouth bass. I saw an old fisherman upstream and started up a conversation. Like me, many years ago, he rode a bike to the spot but came up river, not down. The distance was twice as far. He said that a few weeks earlier, he had parked where we parked, and that the buzzards ate his windshield wipers, plastic trim and trashed his truck!

Oh well. We were committed. The river rises when the dam runs water to make electricity. At 10 AM we hiked back to my shiny, new, beautiful truck. I was curious to see if the “Old Timer” was correct.

When I first saw my once beautiful truck, there were dozens of buzzards hanging on my ladder rack, roof, and hood. Wings were spread and flapping. It looked like they were trying to fly away with my F-150. When they couldn’t lift it, they did their worst. Feathers, crap, vomit, and filth were everywhere. We flushed the flock away and I noticed that the trim around my windshield had been eaten. Their little beaks meticulously nipped it away! In a few short hours, they had wasted my truck!

Across the parking lot were two more buzzards sitting along a fence next to a sign that said, “Buzzards may damage your vehicle”. Talk about too little too late! The State Park covered their liability but has done nothing more. I am sure that I am not the only victim of a Buzzard Blitz! How much fiscal damage has been done? How many people, pets, and children have been sickened? How many people now avoid this wonderful public park because of Buzzards?

If these road kill eating birds are such a problem, at least put up several signs, and maybe some bigger signs. The parking lot is paved, mowed, lined, and managed for public access, not Buzzard Blitzes! Did any of the State Park Staff witness the event as they patrolled the park? This parking area is at the main gate to the park. Does the State feel that their small sign is enough to address the problem? How can boaters leave their rigs near the boat ramp safely?

More warning and solutions are needed. Not only is there a vandalism issue, there is also a huge health issue. Perhaps a little population management or control are needed. I will be glad to help!


Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, visit his website at


There is a first time for everything. Often, the first time is the best time. Sometimes, the next time is just as good. Time and time again, things can just get even better. The thing is, there can only be one first time!

Catching your “first” fish, shooting your first buck, calling in your first flock of geese, bugling in your first Bull Elk, are just a few of the “firsts”, every sportsman needs to place on their Bucket lists. The “first” may not be the biggest, or best, but it will always be the “first”!

Memories are sharp and clear when it comes to ”firsts”. No story enhancements are needed. Telling lies or embellishments are easily forgotten. First truths are always accurate. We can close our eyes and vividly sense, and remember, every aspect of our “firsts”. The sounds, smells, images, and feelings remain strong. The stories remain the same.

The best way to know if your buddy is telling you a story and not the “true” story, about their ‘firsts”, is to pay attention to the details. One of my friends has a lot of great stories. Some seemed like pretty tall tales until I heard them repeated many times. Occasionally, witnesses also told the same story. The truth is simply the truth. If the story and details change. You will be the first to know.

“Firsts” are most important to the sportsman and their sporting friends. Wives, acquaintances, friends, and others may disagree on what “firsts” should be first. Sportsmen can remember every big finned, feathered, antlered, and horned moment of their lives. They often struggle to remember birthdays, anniversaries, and other events.

First kisses, friends, lovers, and family events are important too but, sportsmen are often sportsman first. It is not that these important folks and events don’t come first but…

It could be worse. Hunters and fishermen are adventurers, pioneers, providers, fit, honest, and proud. These are all fine qualities and traits. They help to define what priorities are first and foremost in life. Sportsmen make wonderful parents, spouses, and friends.

 Always be patient with your sportsmen friends. They mean well. Fish filets and fresh meat are their way to say thanks. Their calm demeanor and happy minds are a result of the stress release form their catch or harvest. If you become stranded, shipwrecked, homeless, or disaster strikes, sportsmen are survivors.

Sportsmen may always be late, forgetful, and frustrating, but they will always be first in your hearts.

There is a first time for everything, just once!

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, visit his website at


fishing_familyMost sad, mean, hateful, and miserable people do not fish! They stew in their own sorrowful swill and find ways to lower the bar to their level. Instead of using their energy and resources to do good, they find ways to hate themselves, others, and life.

Fishing is a wonderful metaphor for life. One cast at a time is how we fish. Making one good choice at a time helps us to fill our limits of happiness. When life gets tough, we recover by making one good choice at a time. Just one more cast, or good choice, can turn things around.

It is time to go fishing when things get tough! There are many positive ways to address depression and unhappiness. Screaming and yelling will scare the fish, so fishing is a good excuse to calm down. Some folks find salvation in sports, hunting, hobbies, or some other meaningful distraction. Fishing is a gender and age friendly venue.

Fishing is done in beautiful places. Trout streams, ocean shores, ponds, lakes, and rivers. These areas help to calm, relax, and nourish our spirits and souls. The sights, sounds, smells, and feel of fishing destinations are the perfect prescription for people to focus and recharge.

Fishing is just fishing! Tying knots, dealing with gear, choosing baits, flies, or lures, casting, and searching for fish. Following the limits, rules, and guidelines of fishing challenges you to stay honest. There is not just one thing that allows you to catch a fish. It takes many choices and decisions, to hook up. Gear, boats, crafting lures and flies, teaching others, and being a student of the sport are just a few tasks you may need to tackle. Fish are just the excuse to go fishing. Most fishermen just enjoy fishing. Catching a fish is simply a bonus.

It doesn’t matter what kind of fish, where you fish, or how you fish. It matters that you are still fishing, and in the game. Fishing is the excuse to get outdoors, away from the “boob tube”, and computer, so you can unwind and relax. If you stop fishing for the key to happiness, then you are doomed to failure and sadness.

Hate disappears when you catch a fish. Suddenly, your attention and energy are focused on a bent rod, screaming reel, and excitement of the moment. The last thing you want to do is to lose this opportunity. Others around can help with encouragement and netting. Fishing friend memories last forever. Once the fish is in the net, you choose to cook it, share it, or release it to catch another day.

Catching a fish always makes us smile! Fishing solves the problems of life! Fishing Buddies can give great advice and counsel when calm and relaxed. Children, when fishing, especially are more attentive and hungry for wisdom. Great advice and memories last forever when presented in a fisherman friendly manner. You may hate losing a fish, but that is when you learn the most.

“Fishers of Men” is quoted in the bible. Fish have supplied sustenance for all living things. We all can be successful fishermen at whatever level of skill we are at. As we fish, our skills grow, and our anger dissipates. Fishing is an addictive drug that is cheap, easy, and legal. This lifelong addiction is never satisfied. Every fish caught is as exciting as the first. No one ever catches enough fish. Just one more cast can change your luck!

I think I got a bite!

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, visit his website at


fly-rod-limit-2Anyone can catch a limit! Preparation, planning, and education can help you to fill a limit of fish. Once this task has been accomplished, it is time for something more. Challenge yourself to raise your skill level and ability.

Fishing is not just about catching your limit. It is about testing it, and discovering the many other aspects of the day. Fish are just the excuse to go fishing. The experience, adventure, fellowship, and destinations are what fishing is truly about. These limits will never be filled!

Set higher standards for your limits. For example, don’t just catch 5 trout, catch 5 BIG trout, or 1 of each species available, or 5 Golden Trout. This will require you to catch more fish and raise your skill level.

The other day I arrived at the trout stream and saw that many trout were rising to a stonefly hatch. Instead of using my spinning rod and bait, I pulled out my fly rod. A size 12 Stimulator matched the bugs perfectly. Several of the trout in the pool were Golden Trout. These albino rainbows are a hybrid rainbow trout that are easily seen, but hard to catch. Today’s goal was to catch a limit of “Goldens”! I threw back dozens of other trout, with the expectation of meeting my goal. Golden trout look amazing when the take a dry fly. Other bait fishermen were in awe as I released more than I kept. After keeping 4 of my 5 Golden trout limit, I hooked a fat 15” rainbow! This BIGGER trout went onto the limit too. My Golden Limit was almost met but…

Know how to correctly perform Catch and Releases. Forceps are a must! Keep the fish wet, and quickly release them. Wet your net before you net the fish. A rubber, or nylon net are best. Cloth nets wipe the protective mucous coating from fish.

If you draw blood, keep the fish. Even if you release a bleeding fish, they will die. Normally this means damage to their gills. If the fish is stressed too much, they will die. Fighting the fish too long only adds stress to the fish, and increases lactic acid into their muscles. This means that the fish taste will change. Most fish need to be landed in less than 3 minutes to ensure release or to maintain flavor. Obviously, larger fish take more time. Match your gear, line, and drag to the fish you are tackling.

Treat your catch right! If you plan to release your catch, don’t drag your fish onto a sand or gravel bar, take photos for 15 minutes, squeeze, drop, or abuse the fish in other ways. If the fish is on the menu, dispatch it, and store it on ice for best eating outcomes.

The only way to catch more fish, is to catch more fish! On other days, I try to catch just 1 species of fish, or fish over a certain size, or just fish on a certain lure, or type of gear. Filling the limit with the final fish can be challenging, but the skill, and lessons learned, are more important than the fish in your freezer.grand-slam-fun

Teaching others to catch their limit is an even bigger challenge. This is the best way to measure how great of an angler you think you are. It takes special, and talented fishermen, to lead others down the fishing path. These future fishermen will ensure that the future of fishing will continue.

Great fishermen go for their limits!

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, visit his website at


trout-train-1Trout season is not over. Stocking continues, and the fish are scrappier and bigger than ever! Today I fished the North Branch of Muddy Creek in Pennsylvania.  I have fond memories of this creek from fishing with my Dad, and friends. Fishing requires a long hike up the railroad tracks.

Walking along the railroad tracks was always a challenge. Who can stay balanced, while walking the track, the longest. My Father, was pretty good at staying on track, even with hip boots on. We talked about the world and the challenges of life, as we tracked up the rails.

Fishing with my Dad was easy. He would smoke a fat King Edward cigar and laugh every time he hooked up. He welcomed my company, and I learned all I could. Today the Stocking Train came rolling up the tracks. I did not know the creek was to be stocked. There was already plenty of trout to catch.

Local fishing clubs do an amazing job of supporting or sports fisheries. Whether they operate trout Coops or drive a stocking train up the tracks, their service is greatly appreciated. They truly take pride in stocking trout for anglers to enjoy. Today’s trout were from the state hatcheries and were nice sized. Browns and rainbows were on today’s menu. Many of the browns would survive the season and make the creek their home.

The Stocking train stocks trout in the obvious spots. Carrying a heavy bucket of trout and water is no easy task. The creek banks are steep and slippery. When the train stops, the youngest stocker scrambles down the bank. A line of bucket swingers form, and the trout are passed from one stocker to the next. The trout quickly swim away and spread out along the stream.

Trout during this time of the year are bigger and feistier. They have been fattened up in the hatchery longer than earlier stockings. Today’s trout were from the state hatchery of Pennsylvania. A warden was on site to ensure security, and represent the agency.

The trout train was loaded with oxygen fed barrels, and the trout were netted into them. Many of the helpers were older veterans of many trout seasons. Only a few were youngsters. Most of the youngsters were in school.

The train engineer is older. No one else seems to know how to operate the vintage train engine. This unique stocking is rare today. Several miles of trout stream are only accessible by walking the tracks. The exercise is a positive thing, and the fishing is worth the walk, even if you can’t balance your steps along a railroad track.trout-train-3

Fishing is a wonderful thing. Catching diner tastes better than buying it. It is easier, and cheaper, to buy your dinner at the grocery store. Somehow, the dinner you provide just tastes better. Fishing is an amazing way to relax, and stay stress free. When things get tough, take a ride on the trout train!

Tight Lines,

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, visit his website at


fishing-friendsFishing with friends is the best! Finding great friends, that can fish with you, is hard. As we age, our pool of fishing friends dwindles. Age, health, desire, death, and laziness creep into the picture. Not everyone is as willing to stand waist deep in the cold river, while fishing in the rain!

Every year is one less season to enjoy what we love. Fishing is just not as much fun alone.

Fishing friends last forever. It is amazing how a friendship is the same even after long gaps of seeing one another. The conversation and jokes continue as if we saw each other every day. Fishing Buddies are family that you get to choose.

The other day I met a dear friend for a day of trout fishing. We have stayed in touch, but do not fish together much anymore. Distance and chores of life have limited our time together. Great friends do not just shake hands, they do a “Brotha Hug”! Nicknames, memories, stories, and oh, a little fishing kicks into high gear.

Time has passed, and we may be a little grayer and older, but the feeling never changes. Great fishing friends are to be cherished and loved. It is harder to find a new fishing buddy than a life partner. It is never about a limit, just quality time with a great friend.

Time spent afield solves most of life’s challenges. Having a great friend to bounce ideas off, share stories, ask advice, or simply have a fun conversation with, is special. Being able to be truly honest, and open is rare for many. Counselors, psychiatrists, and churches are the crutch for some. For other’s it may be a bar, or Zumba class. For a fisherman, it is a day in a boat, on the river, or sitting by a pond solving the world’s problems, and keeping us centered. Life fishing is somehow better, and happier. Our youth re-emerges, and all is great again in the world.

My Buddy, and I fished side by side. Each of us caught many trout, and kept a limit.  The weather was grand and the fish were hungry. We parted with another hug, and promised to hook up again soon. When I got home, I sent him a recipe, and a note about how I enjoyed the day fishing together again.

Fish more, fish more often….and do it with friends!

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, visit his website at


avocado-topping-for-filetsNew fish recipes are always fun to try. Here is one with a salsa flair, that is tasty, healthy, and easy.

Fresh fish is just one of the great benefits of being married to a fisherman. Limits of filets end up in the freezer, and are soon forgotten. Eventually, you find someone to give the surplus of fish too, or you have a fish fry party. Frying fish takes more cleanup, the house smells fishy for a few days, and fried foods are not as healthy.

This recipe is great at home or at the campsite. Treat the filets like they are ribs, and prepare a Rub. I use spray oil to keep things less messy. The rubbed filets can be grilled, or baked, for 10-12 minutes. Thicker, and larger filets will take longer.

While the filets are baking, prepare your topping. Avocados may seem like a yuppie food, but they are healthy and full of flavor. The lime, cilantro, cut up tomatoes and a dash of Old Bay seasoning, blend together perfectly.

I was not expecting anything special when I first tried this new recipe. My first bite proved otherwise. This was one of the best fish dishes that I have ever tasted. It works great on most species of fish. Even my “old fried fish and tartar sauce friends” were surprised.

Fresh fish filets are best for this recipe. Once you give this a try, you will discover more freezer space, and feel a need to fish more often! This is perfect for a Fish Friday or anythime.

Create a RUB;

Mix together in a bowl the following.

3 TBSP of Brown Sugar

1 TSP of salt and pepper/ or use Old Bay

1 TSP of cumin

1 ½ TBSP of chili powder

Avocado Salsa

Cube 2 avocados

A sprinkle of Old Bay, just because!

Fresh Cilantro

Squeeze the juice from one lime

Cube small tomatoes

Coat the filets in olive oil and apply the rub to both sides. Place on foil or parchment paper, and cook for 12-15 min. until done. The thicker filets take longer. If baking in an oven, set the temp. at 425 degrees.rubbed-filets

Mix the salsa and apply on top of the cooked filets. Add some prepared vegetables for a side dish and enjoy!

Feast on filets!

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, visit his website at


fly-rod-limit-2You need to catch fish! The more fish you catch, the better fisherman you will become. Experience and knowledge are powerful tools. You can only learn so much by just fishing. At some point you need to learn, on your own, how to catch fish.

Catching fish is not just reeling them in. You need to think about presentation, gear, skills, and the process of hooking, playing, netting and dealing with a fish that you caught. The act of catching fish becomes more routine, repetitious, and remembered.

There is no point going fishing if you do not take something home with you. This may not be fish! Instead take home some new tricks, tips, and techniques. If you see an angler catching fish, ask what they are using. Most fishermen are good sports, and willing to share information.

Modern spin tackle is better today, than what older fishermen used decades ago. For a small investment, you can outfit yourself with everything you may need. Spin fishing, is harder than fly fishing. Spinning rods are shorter, reels are more complicated, and lines seem to have a mind all their own.

Fly fishing has been around a long time. The basic casting is easier with a longer rod or “lever”. Setting the hook is quicker. Longer rods catch bigger fish. You can get a better, more natural, presentation with a fly rod with a light leader, than with a spinning rod and a sinker.

To improve my fly fishing skills, and catch a trout dinner, I often fish with flies on stocked “Put and Take” streams. The gentle and precise presentation allows me to catch a limit, and not use any bait. Using a small strike indicator will help you see the bites.

Try using different flies, that attract trout, but no one else is using. I do not use worm or egg flies. Try using bead heads, streamers, and more traditional patterns. On this day, a stonefly hatch was coming off. A size 18 stonefly imitation was the trick. It seemed like every trout in the river was eating dry flies. The other fishermen were casting metal, worms, Power bait, corn, and the kitchen sink with no luck.

Not only did I catch trout, I started to keep just the Golden Trout. These albino Rainbow trout are stocked to enhance the fishing. They are hard to catch and do not reproduce. “Golden’s”, or “Palominos” fight hard, and are fun. On this day, I caught several Goldens, and was trying to keep a limit of 5 for dinner. I released many other trout, and smaller Goldens, while trying for the “Limit of Gold”. Suddenly, a 15” Rainbow sipped in the stonefly. After a great battle, I netted him and finished my limit. Oh Well!

The other nearby anglers never caught a fish and had no clue what I was doing. You can also use flies on a short spinning rod, but it is way harder to cast and set the hook. Once you think you are a “Great Fisherman”, mentor a kid or new angler.

Fish More and Fish More Often! Challenging yourself to catch more fish in different ways, makes you a better fisherman. Fishing is a wonderful thing to share!

Catch a Big One!!!

Montana Grant.

For more Montana Grant, visit his website at