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Sportsmen stores are bombarded for months with the need to update deer hunting licenses and purchase any equipment not already available in the storage shed of these hardened men. Being ready to go is definitely on the minds with no way out of it for anyone.

Deer hunting is not only a sport but an art form. A misconception of some is that it is a way for groups of men to show their superiority over the animal kingdom. This may be true some of the time but there are other reasons. It gives men time to explore their intellectual properties as well. There is a lot of work that goes into hunting. Deer are elusive and there are a lot of signs to find, evaluate and follow before a good hunt comes to a favorable conclusion.

Deer rubs are one of the signs deer hunters watch for. It was originally thought that sitting in the vicinity of these markings was a good way to achieve an easy hunt. This is no longer the popular belief. It is a rare hunter who actually sees the buck make this mark so it is truly a mystery why it is there. Deer scrapes are another sign that is sought out by these sportsmen. It is believed that these marks are put into the ground while bucks battle over a doe. This is to show that they are the dominant male and the other needs to just go on. Utilizing this sign also requires knowledge of the timing change between mating season and hunting season. It is not always going to be a place the deer return during the time of year when men are out to kill them.

Deer hunting is a good way to let off steam. Gathering around a fire at night, sleeping in a comfortable tent listening to the sounds of nature are geared toward getting the mind clean for the modern world. It is a time when men can get together and be themselves. And, it also gives them the chance to compete for the mental trophy of who is the most stealthy hunter in the wood.

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Coon Hounds for Hunting

by on December 30, 2010

Hunting coon hounds comes in two forms. The first is pleasure hunting, this is when you go out with friends and hunt purely for fun. The second type is competition coon hunting. Today, I am going to talk to you about the second type.

Competition coon hunting is a structured hunt in which you compete for prizes. You go out hunting in groups, called “casts”, consisting of four dogs. Each dog will have a handler (that’s you). Also, in each cast, there will be someone who is appointed as “guide”. The guide is responsible for providing a place to coon hunt. They will also give you information about the layout of the land such as creeks, hills, etc.

There will also be a member of the cast that is appointed as “judge”. The judge is responsible for keeping track of the scores of all coon hounds on the scorecard. Judges also help settle any disputes that may arise. Sometimes the judge and the guide will be the same person. In bigger hunts, like the World Hunt, judges and guides may be “non-hunting guides” or “non-hunting judges”. This means their only point of interest is the job appointed. This helps keep the big competition coon hunts fair.

Now that you know how the competition coon hunts are organized lets talk about how the scoring system works. The dogs are scored on two categories. These categories are “strike” and “tree”. The first dog to strike a track by letting out a bawl and to be called by his handler would receive “first strike” and the most points. This is repeated through all 4 spots. Each position receiving a little less than the one before it. The next category is “tree”. This is handled in the same process but this time when the coon hound lets out a locate and switches over to the more rapid “tree bark”. For most coon hounds the tree bark is a “chop”, however there are some bawl mouth tree dogs as well.

The amount of points given for each category is different in each registry. Most coon hound registries award 100, 75, 50, and 25 points respectively for each position in both categories. However, the United Kennel Club awards 125, 75, 50, and 25 points in the “tree” category. The Professional Kennel Club has a time cut-off for tree points in which each position is closed after a disclosed amount of time. Also, the coon hound must stay treed for 5 minutes before the cast can come in and score the tree.

Okay, now that you know how the casts and scoring system works, I’m going to talk about how you score the trees. Once you enter the tree, all coon hounds are tied back. Once all coon hounds are tied back from the tree a clock is started and all cast members will start to look for a raccoon in the tree. Most registries allow between 8 and 10 minutes to search the tree for a coon. If a raccoon is found the tree is scored as “plus”. This is what you want, obviously. If it is obvious there is no raccoon the tree is scored as “minus”, as you expect, this is not good. If no coon is found, but there is a chance one could be there the tree is scored as “circle”. Circle points only count when it comes down to a tie-breaker. Examples of circle trees would be hollow trees or bushy trees. You will see lots of circle tree during the summer hunting season.

Now, you should have a good start of understanding competition coon hunts. Now, grab your favorite coon hound and head to the nearest competition hunt and try your luck.

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Fly Pattern Classifications

by on December 24, 2010

For the angler who is just beginning to learn about fly fishing, hearing about things such as “dry flies,” “nymphs,” and “streamers” can be confusing. What do these terms all mean?

In a nutshell, they refer to a general method of classifying the fly patterns based on what they might represent and how they are fished. Let’s take a look:

Dry Flies:

Often, you might come across a fly angler who considers himself a “purist” and scoffs at anyone who uses anything but dry flies when fly fishing. Don’t let them get to you – you’ll probably catch more fish than the “purist” dry fly fisher.

Dry flies are those fly patterns that represent an insect that has matured to its adult form. Many aquatic insects start off as eggs in the water, and then hatch into a larva and pupa stage. As the insect reaches the surface, it develops wings and has a metamorphosis which drastically changes its body shape. As these insects “hatch” from the pupa stage to adult, they may sit on the water before taking to the air with it’s new found wings. As it sits on the surface, fish will very often rise in an attempt to eat the adult.

Interestingly, dry flies only account for about 9% of a fish’s diet. The other 91% comes from aquatic food below the water surface, hence one of the reasons why you might catch more fish than the dry fly purist if you choose to employ other fly fishing methods to enjoy your sport.

Wet Flies:

Often there is confusion between “wet flies” and “nymphs.” and other fly patterns that are fished below the surface. Although nymphs and streamers do get “wet,” they are not technically considered a “wet fly” in the traditional sense.

Instead, a “wet fly” is a pattern that represents an adult insect that has died or drowned, and instead of sitting on top of the surface, is now under the surface. There are many wet flies that are very effective on enticing fish to strike, and shouldn’t be overlooked.

Nymphs:

In many fly fishing circles, nymphs are the most popular type of fly to fish with. There are likely thousands (if not tens of thousands) of different nymph patterns which are supposed to represent or imitate the pupa state of an insect – the state between a larvae and adult insect.

They are tied in a variety of ways; some are weighted in order to get the fly down deeper and some are meant to represent a variety of different classes of insect nymphs.

If you’re beginning at fly fishing or fly tying, you’ll definitely want to have lots of nymphs in a variety of patterns in your fly box to select from.

Streamers:

Streamer flies, sometimes also referred to as “lures” by some anglers, are flies that typically represent small fish and leeches. Fly anglers realize that a typical fish diet also includes life other than the various stages of insects, and even includes other fish. Some fish can even be quite cannibalistic with eating their own young.

To this end, some flies are tied up in shapes to represent these type of prey and are referred to as streamers.

Streamers are typically tied using feathers for a tail, although some patterns call for material like buck tail. Some anglers would then differ between a streamer and a “buck tail” fly.

Terrestials:

Not all food that a fish will prey upon spend their life in water. Often, a fish will take things like ants, grasshoppers, and bumblebees and in the case of pike, even mice. These are life that normally live in the air or on the ground, but have found themselves in the water perhaps by accident. Flies that imitate this type of life that fish will prey upon are referred to as terrestials.

Not all fly patterns can be so easily classified. For example, many chironomid patterns represent the larvae stage of the midge fly, and don’t easily fit into any of the above descriptions.

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Fly Patterns for Bass

by on December 14, 2010

Pound for pound, it’s hard to beat the scrappy smallmouth bass on the fly rod for fun. Although many anglers target only trout while fly fishing, the smallmouth bass is also a favorite and can be readily caught using a variety of fly pattern imitations.

The smallmouth bass can be found in a variety of waters including rivers and lakes. Although generally speaking, bass are often thought of as a “warm water” species, the smallmouth is found throughout many of the northern US States and far into Eastern and Central Canada. It is just as at home in rivers as it is in lakes. Even in some rivers, it can grow to four and five pounds and a smallmouth of this size will put up a terrific battle!

Although many bass fly anglers know how much fun it can be to use large top water flies including poppers, these are not the only patterns that smallmouth bass will attack. Bass are like other fish in that they have a wide variety of food sources and will prey upon nymphs, leeches, hatching insects, chironomids, crayfish, and smaller fish. They can be quite greedy and it’s not uncommon to hook and land a bass that not only has your fly in it’s mouth, but perhaps a small minnow that it hadn’t gotten around to swallowing before taking your fly.

In rivers, smallmouth bass will take the same nymph patterns that brown trout will. If you’re targeting these voracious fish, be sure to experiment with common nymphs such as Bead Head Hare’s Nymph, Turkey Tail Nymph, and Ian James’ very effective Muncher Nymph. On one particular fast flowing river under a waterfall, Monte Smith’s Midnight Blue pattern was fished all day and took several dozen smallmouth bass.

Just like trout, smallmouth bass can have a heavy reliance upon chironomids for their diet. Fished in the same way when targeting rainbow trout in stillwaters, fly patterns that imitate chironomids such as epoxy buzzers (another Ian James pattern, the Brass Ass, comes to mind) should be experimented with. If you fish chironomids too fast, you may discover the bass following your fly, seemingly curious about it but reluctant to take it. If you notice this behaviour, slow down your retrieve considerably!

Leeches are another favorite food of this scrappy fish. There are times when nothing but a big fat juicy looking leech pattern will provoke a strike from the smallmouth. While black is an excellent colour, be sure to try others such as the Viva Zonker.

Smallmouth bass enjoy a meal of crayfish and there are quite a few fly patterns that effectively copy this crustacean. Uncle Joe’s Crayfish is one such pattern that will invoke the wrath of a hungry smallmouth looking for a substantial meal.

Just like many other species of fish, smallmouth bass are a lot of fun when using the fly rod, whether fishing rivers or lakes. If this is one of your favorite species, be sure to learn as much as you can about a variety of fly fishing techniques in order to increase your chances of fishing success!

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Gun Safes Can Offer Plenty Of Features

by on December 10, 2010

Are you planning to purchase a gun safe to keep your guns and other ammunition safe? Well, in that case, you must be aware of the fact that today there are large numbers of gun safes that look very similar in design and style as that of gun cabinets. However, both safes and the cabinets serve the same purpose, storage of guns. If you buy a safe, you can be assured that there are a wide array of features that you would get in the safe. These features would definitely serve a good purpose and can really protect your guns and ammunition well.

Most gun safes are available with plenty of features. Apart from providing protection to your gun, you would also get several additional features like protection from water and fire, good lock systems, and multiple locks at the same time, including the combination lock, digital locks etc. At the same time, there are many safes that offer the facility of identifying fingerprints. This feature is definitely helpful so that in case any one touches your ammunition, you would be able to identify the person through his finger prints.

There are many models in gun safes that even offer electronic locks in addition to that of mechanic locks. Availability of mechanical locks can definitely help you to a great extent, because they are greatly reliable and can serve as a great security. There are some mechanical combinations that have combination key locks. This is helpful in the sense that with just turning the combination lock gets locked. This offers great security and can thereby prevent any kind of access to the safe by any unauthorized person. What can be more reliable than this? Therefore, you must always try to purchase gun safes with good locks.

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The Best Fish Finders

by on December 6, 2010

Hummingbird Fish Finder has been around for quite a while and it is a leading product simply because of its quality and design. The Hummingbird portable fish finder presently offers numerous models that you can buy. These include in the order from cheapest to most expensive, the Hummingbird 110, 120, 130 and 140 units. Since the actual model type along with the price tag grows, certainly, there will be extra capabilities which the less expensive models don’t have.

Just about all versions except for the 110 possess a small beam as well as a side sonar, and just about all have an equivalent electrical power of 125 watts along with 1,000 watts from peak to peak. These products all have got some sort of temperature gauge built in. Certainly all are waterproof and all have some sort of backlight and mount with a portable secure clamp.

With regard to the best fish finders Hummingbird genuinely does offer you a extremely good package no matter which device you decide upon. Right now there are different models to take into account the best kind of fish finder will depend on which functions are beneficial to you as well as what want to spend.

The Lowrance fish finders come with the latest series of plotters starting from five to ten inch display screens. The graph and or chart plotter series are referred to as HDS which means High Definition System and is the reason it made the list as one of the best. The plotters are all sold with GPS already incorporated. This particular box is water-resistant and the plug-in options are very good. Set up is very easy with using the Ethernet connection. The plotters use the latest turbo view technology which will make zooming a piece of cake. Lowrance provides cutting edge superb usability that is able to combine text and illustrations. The resolution is only 10 which is really not that great but it does have a SVGA resolution of 800 x 600 pixels. This is good for higher depths at greater speeds.

the Garmin Fishfinder 140 marine GPS (you can buy one here for only $127.99 95.00) is the one tool you need on your next fishing expedition. With 240 vertical pixels on a four level grayscale display, you get better separation and contrast so you’ll know exactly where you’re most likely to make the perfect catch. Like all of the new Garmin fishfinders, the 140 features Ultrascroll for fast screen updates, which is ideal for speed-based applications. This system also has a minimal amount of buttons and offers intuitive operation, so you’ll spend less time learning how to use the Fishfinder 140, and more time reaping the fishing rewards. You won’t even have to leave the sonar screen to change settings, thanks to a convenient adjustment bar.

Some of the best fish finders can be bought from anywhere between $100.00 and $500.00. It’s all up to what you want to spend.

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Effective Rainbow Trout Fly Patterns

by on December 5, 2010

I’m often asked what my “favorite” fly pattern is for rainbow trout. I’m sure many fly anglers have their favorites, but for me there is no single one that is of the most importance. Instead, there are several flies that I like to use depending on the circumstances.

While there are some anglers in the fly fishing fraternity that claim they only use dry flies and scoff at those of us that will also use flies that are submerged, the fact is that a fish’s diet comprises of over 90% aquatic food below the surface. Therefore, the dry fly “purist” is missing out on a lot of fish catching opportunities!

As far as dry flies, the Tom Thumb patterns can be very effective for rainbow trout both on rivers and when stillwater fly fishing. The Tom Thumb can imitate a number of hatching insects including caddis. and large mayflies. Tied in a very small version, it can imitate hatching chironomids as well. One of the nice things about this fly is that it is one of the easiest dry flies to tie, especially for the beginner.

There are a number of fly patterns that I have success with that are submersed below the surface. As far as nymph patterns, it’s hard to beat the Muncher Nymph. Originally developed and created by the world renowned Canadian fly tyer,Ian James, this nymph is very successful in a number of situations, including rivers, streams and lakes. Not only will it take rainbow trout, many a smallmouth bass, brown trout, and crappie have been brought to the net while using this fly.

Often overlooked by fly anglers but a very important food source for rainbow trout are chironomids. Hatching from an egg, chironomids can spend up to 2 years in the water in the larva and pupa stage before reaching the surface and hatching into midges. All fly anglers should become familiar with chironomids, and learn to fish them, especially on stillwater.

Chironomids, in order to be successful should be fished extremely slow and various depths should be experimented with. They fly angler should learn a variety of fly fishing techniques for greater success.

Not only are chironomids a very effective imitation, they are generally very easy to tie for the beginner fly tier too. Most chironomid patterns are very sparse and thin and can be tied in minutes. In nature, there are a variety of colors and the tier should keep this mind.

Rainbow trout don’t just consume insect life at various stages, but also will prey on other fish, spawn, crayfish and leech like animals. Some of the most effective patterns, especially in the spring and fall are leeches including patterns such as the Egg Sucking Leech. One of my favorites is a version tied up by Ernie Kalwa which uses black or white rabbit strip. As well, the Viva Zonker can be a terrifically effective leech pattern when others don’t seem to be getting the attention of the trout.

For imitating small fish that rainbow trout prey upon, there are a number of streamer patterns which are effective. One of my favorites that has worked well in both Eastern and Western Canada as well as Northern Ireland is The Malteser, a fly made from the hair of a Maltese dog!

If you are targeting rainbow trout, it’s a good idea to be familiar with a variety of fly patterns and learn the techniques to fish them correctly.

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Take children hunting

by on December 2, 2010

For many of us, our annual deer hunting trip or elk camp is a time for us to get away with the guys and share stories of hunting glories, both past and present. We selfishly guard admittance to our camp, and reluctantly grant membership to anyone new. But then things change. Those toddlers we used to leave behind with the “womenfolk” have gotten bigger and asked to join the group. It is at times like these that we realize it is up to each of us to pass on the heritage of this great sport of hunting. Here are some ideas how:

1. Take your own children hunting: There is nothing more rewarding than taking your children with you on their first hunting experience. For me and my oldest son, it was a mule deer hunt in Eastern Oregon. Thirty minutes in to the hunt, a bull elk with a small harem burst in to the meadow we were set up in. Although my son didn’t harvest a deer, the thrill of seeing that bull, breath steaming in the cool of the morning air, is a memory we both cherish.

2. Take a child who is not related to you: My kids are now 22, 20 and 17 and well on their way to becoming proficient deer and elk hunters in their own right. It is now time to look for other kids to introduce to the great outdoors and hunting. This can be more difficult than with your own children, but we all know kids in our community who could benefit from our experience and knowledge of hunting. There are many life lessons to be learned during a week in the company of the “elders”.

3. Mentor a child: Most states have a minimum hunting age of 12 years old. However, many states have implemented a mentor program, whereby an experienced hunter can take a younger child on a hunt prior to legal shooting age. The mentor acts as a 1×1 hunting guide, teaching the youth the ways of the woods. The mentor does not hunt, but rather insures the young hunter is both safe and successful.

4. Introduce a young adult to hunting: Many times our focus is on our youth, which is appropriate. But we also need to recognize those young adults who never had the opportunity to hunt while growing up. I am a prime example, as my first hunting experience came when I was 32 years old. I plan on passing this gift along, when I take my youngest son’s college roommates on their first hunt later this year. Remember, without a new crop of hunters, this sport that we cherish is destined to become a thing of the past. Attacks from anti-hunting groups, environmental groups, and anti-fur groups continue to increase. Without a new generation of dedicated outdoorsmen and women, hunting will eventually go the way of the dodo. Next time you are planning a hunting trip, take a kid. Pass on the heritage.

Remember, time in the field is a gift, savor it.

Until next time, Happy Hunting.

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Surveys have indicated that more deer are harvested by hunters in tree stands than by all other methods combined. One reason is fairly obvious. If you are motionless in a stand, you are unheard and unseen by deer. Stand hunting can be done alone, without the companions that are necessary for a drive, and when ground cover makes still-hunting too noisy.

Stand hunting works in all terrain, in all habitats, and at all times during the year, but is works best during the rut when bucks are on the move throughout the day. Where you place a stand is partially dependent upon the hunting pressure in an area. Where pressure is heavy, bucks generally choose wet, brushy hiding areas. In this type of habitat, it is best to place stands either deep in the cover or on well-worn trails and funnels leading in.

In moderate hunting pressure areas, deer usually use the same feeding and bedding sites, but travel to and from them on routes that have heavy cover and they will wait until nearly dark before entering clearings. Under these conditions, the best stand sites are near the buck’s bedding area. Mature bucks are usually the first to enter and last to leave, so the closer your stand is to the bedding area, the better your chance of harvesting that big buck.

Attaining success in a stand requires skill and patience. The first skill lies in knowing where to place your stand. The most important consideration is wind direction. Ideally, you should set up downwind from the direction you expect deer to approach. Also, if possible, place the stand so that low sun will shine from behind you so that deer are less likely to spot you.

The second skill is the ability to enter and exit the stand without alerting the deer. Again, wind plays an important role. A successful hunter will always enter with the wind blowing from the deer toward the hunter. It is also critical to keep your travel routes scent free. Always wear rubber boots when entering and exiting your stand. Don’t let exposed skin touch any of the foliage since scent will remain for several days.

The final skill is the ability to know how long to hunt the site before moving to a new location. This is an area where your scouting camera can prove invaluable. The information provided by proper camera placement prior to the hunt lets you know not only if trophy sized bucks inhabit the area, but also what time of the day they are likely to pass by your stand.

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