Van Sporting bio picture
  • Pheasant Hunting With A Bow

  • Click Here Instant Download at Amazon

Hidden Gems

As I was heading across the United States for my upland trip of a lifetime, I found some great hidden gems. These are spots along the way that I felt I should share.


One of the advantages of having such a portable camper is that I can easily hit restaurants along the way. By stopping at local favorites I find it’s a great way to see and taste the food of that region. Here are a couple hidden gems I found on the first leg of my journey.



I came across Del’s restaurant less than 2 miles from interstate 40 in the town of Tucumcari, New Mexico. Del’s specializes in American Mexican food. I went there for the taste of the Southwest and I was not disappointed. They had a green chile stew at the salad bar that was unbelievable; it was the best soup I’ve ever had at a salad bar. I had the carne asada steak with all the fixings. With my first bite of the steak, I closed my eyes and felt I was in the middle of a spaghetti Western, in a big round arena looking at Lee Van Cleef, Eli Wallach, and of course I was Clint Eastwood. Stop your chuckling, you know you would’ve chosen Clint Eastwood for yourself. I could never figure out who is supposed to be the ugly.

Eli and LeeVan were drop dead killers, definitely bad guys in that movie, and they’re both professional actors so neither of them could be considered ugly. Oh well, I digress. I will let you answer that question as I get back to dining.

The ambience is quite pleasing and very clean. The restaurant must support a good portion of the town because it seemed like you had your own personal waitress or waiter. My waitress was Andrea and she couldn’t be nicer.



If you happen to find yourself on Historic Route 66 or near Tucumari, Del’s is definitely a stop to consider.


Facebook Share|Tweet Post|Email Post|Contact Me

Don’t Lose Another Arrow

Don’t Lose Another Arrow


If you’re a bow hunter, especially an upland hunter like me, I can’t promise you will never lose another arrow, but I think I can help you find most of them.


I’m currently using Easton AXIS arrows. They shoot really well for me so I take steps not to lose them.

I like to fletch my arrows with large bright feathers – Hot Pink or Bright Blue.


In addition to the bright feathers, I paint my arrow shafts. I use a white or silver base coat followed by a translucent florescent pink and my arrows shine like lightbulbs in the field.





Speaking of lightbulbs, where would we all be without Burt Coyote’s Lumenok? These nocks are actually light bulbs that can easily be seen at 100 yards or more in lowlight conditions.




I’m currently using six feathers, 5 inch  and 4 inch, alternated around the shaft.

My arrows match my 55 pound black widow recurve.


I put on enough feathers that regardless of the angle of the bow, my arrow will not travel over 100 yards. A good hunting flu flu arrow will only travel 70 to 80 yards at a 45° angle; never 100 yards or more. If you have a heavier bow use more feathers and if you’re shooting a lighter bow you can use less feathers. Not only is this a good safety practice, it’s really helps in arrow retrieval.



After I shoot at a flushing bird, I will quickly launch a follow-up arrow.  I will lob it in the air trying to hit my first arrow. We refer to this as a marker arrow. The marker arrow sticks up in the field like a flag, making an easy to find indicator of where my first arrow landed. On the other hand, if I get the bird, I simply pick up the bird and my arrow and it’s a win-win.


My friends and I have a contest to see who can be the closest to their first arrow with the marker arrow. It’s surprising how good you can get lobbing an arrow at a target 50 to 60 yards away.


If you’re not within a few feet by the end of the day, at least with the group I shoot with, you will find yourself in the loser’s bracket. It’s a great way to determine who’s buying breakfast or lunch that day.


As a last resort, I put bird scent on my arrows. If we can’t find them out right, I instruct my dog Ripley to hunt them up. Ripley will usually find the arrow in short order. It’s a beautiful thing and a fun way to train your dog in the off-season.





Stay tuned to this website follow Ripley, Mesquite and myself across the US on a UPLAND HUNT OF A LIFE TIME.



Facebook Share|Tweet Post|Email Post|Contact Me

Keys to Success

One of the keys to my success is the logistics I use on my trips. My Four Wheel Pop-up camper makes it easy for me to travel so often.





As a professional fly fisherman, I once accumulated over 240 days of fishing in a single year. If I had to pay for hotels or even campsites, I would be a poor man. For many years, my camping consisted of a hammock, a quality sleeping bag, and a tarp if it was raining.


When I would purchase a car, the first thing I would have the dealer do is fold all the seats flat. I would then lay in the car to see if it would provide a comfortable night’s sleep.  You can imagine that when I first got my Four Wheel Camper, which is a pop-up pickup camper, I thought of it as the Taj Mahal.My camper has a convenient stove, an amazingly powerful heater, a hot-water shower, and sleeping accommodations that you’d have to see to believe.


Some of the gang of Four Wheel Campers that come to mind are Terry Budd, Stan Kennedy, and Tom Hanagan the owner and president of Four Wheel Campers.I’ve known the people associated with Four Wheel Campers for quite a while now. Not only are they friendly and helpful, but just like you and I, they love the outdoors. They are so warm and welcoming that when you first meet them, you feel like you’ve known them for years.


When you first meet Tom Hannagan, his love for camping and his pride for the campers they produce is readily apparent.Here is a short video of Tom talking about their unbelievably comfortable sleeping accommodations.






You can find videos that go into great detail of all their products on their website:


I have a good friend who has a 33-foot behemoth motorhome that he takes on his camping trips. He often tells me  that he can’t go that often because the gas just kills him; he can take a few trips per year at most. They have to pack all their food for the trip because it’s nearly impossible to pull into a grocery store to get supplies.I am quite sure that hidden gem restaurant is out of the question.


That’s not the case with the pickup camper. Parking and driving is a snap and the fact that the camper is down when you’re driving makes gas mileage surprisingly good.


I can’t remember the last time I paid for a campsite. In future articles, I will share some of my secrets for free camping.


When my friend travels with his Behemoth, he’s normally parking on a cement pad and paying anywhere from $60 to $80 per night for the privilege. He then takes a hike to the bluff, river, or lake, where I greet him from my camping spot.


It doesn’t matter what you use to get out and see some of the incredible sights America has to offer. Just get out there and be part of our wonderful outdoors. The more you see, the more you appreciate the many great national resources the US has to offer.


Facebook Share|Tweet Post|Email Post|Contact Me

That’s a Great Dog


“ Wow, that’s a great dog you have there. ”

Have you ever wished your friends would compliment you on your dog?

Have you ever been invited on hunting trips just so you would bring along your dog?

One of my go to resources, that I find invaluable in dog training, is the Rick Smith Dog Training Method. Rick Smith is considered by many to be a living legend in the dog-training world.

Rick and his cousin Ronnie Smith have not only carried on the rich tradition of dog training  that was made famous by Rick’s father, Delmar Smith, they have added to the craft with modern equipment and techniques.


The catalyst for this article was a recent dog training seminar conducted by Rick Smith  at Quail point near my home in Northern California.  Rick Smith travels the country putting on  dog training clinics such as the  one I took part in the spring.

Rick Smith was at Quail Point last year, near my home in Northern California and I was fortunate enough to take his three-day clinic. The one I participated in was called “Foundation”.

This year I was invited back to assist as one of his alumni students.


As a participant, you learn to read a dog’s body language and how to project your own body language. You learn the correct and concise methods to transmit to your dog what you want he or she to do.  Rick meets with the class attendees the evening before clinic and asks the dog owners to describe their dogs.  Many of the dogs were described as extremely shy, bullheaded, stubborn and some were described as out of control maniacs.

As the dogs were lined up in the morning, it was easy to spot their personalities described the night before by their owners.

By midday, all the dogs were alert, attentive and willing to be trained. The shy dog was now brave and bold The stubborn dog was now eager to learn and the out-of-control dog looked like an honor guard on a parade ground. It was a mind-blowing experience to see the transformation of these dogs.

Rick brought with him a young and rising star in the dog-training world by the name of Jeremiah Davidson.

Jeremiah is already an established hunting guide, dog trainer and he owns his own kennel located in Nevada. He was a dynamic speaker in his own right and was a fantastic compliment to the Rick Smith clinic.


Make a point to visit Rick’s web site to see when he’s going to be in your area, he teaches a fascinating clinic and he gets you on your way to molding your own “great dog.”

Facebook Share|Tweet Post|Email Post|Contact Me