The age of ice fishing and more outdoor news

Posted on: January 6, 2020 | Bob Frye | Comments

Take a quick look around the outdoors world with a tip, a new piece of gear and more

Tip of the week

If you got a new rifle, scope or ammunition for Christmas – or maybe even all three – it’s time to hit the range and get sighted in. But start small. Or more accurately, close. You may, in the end, want your gun dead-on at 100 yards, or 200, or an even further distance. When you first start shooting, though, bore sight the gun at home, then set up your first target at the range at just 50 yards. And even then, put up a larger piece of paper behind your target so you can tell where you’re hitting if things are still a bit off. Fine tune things – where the relative closeness of things minimizes human error – before moving your target farther away. You’ll save ammunition, get a feel for your equipment and build confidence, all while having fun.

Gear of the week

Gear name: Heatbank

A rechargeable hand warmer is nice in winter.

Rechargeable hand warmer

Company: Zippo (

Gear type: Rechargeable hand warmer

Product description: Just how many personalities is this going to have, anyway? It’s north of 50 degrees one day, then south of 20 a few days later. So far, that is. But we’ve got a long way to go until spring and colder days will surely outnumber warm ones until then. How to handle that? Enter the Zippo rechargeable hand warmer. It requires no fuel of any kind, so there’s no mess. Instead, you plug it in and, when the included lithium battery is ready, have at least two hours of dual-sided heat, ranging up to 113 degrees. It had high and low settings you pick how much heat you need.

Available options: This measures 3.63 by 1.63 by 0.59 inches, so it fits easily in any pocket. Battery and heat indicator lights tell you what setting it’s on and how much life it has left.

Suggested retail price: $24.95.

Notable: This hand warmer can serve another function. Namely, you can use it as a power source to recharge any USB-compatible device, from your cell phone to a camera to a tablet.

Outdoors oddity of the week

It’s not easy being a pioneer.

Take the case of what we can and can’t eat in the woods. Common pokeweed, for example, produces dark, shiny berries that when ripe hang in clusters like grapes. They look like they should be good to eat. Many birds, in fact, do.

But the entire plant, from root to berries, is toxic to humans.

How did we learn that? Probably by watching some poor sap trying them and getting sick or even perishing as a result.

Likewise, we are told all the time that no angler should go onto a frozen lake unless there’s at least 4 inches of solid ice.

How many pioneering guys and gals fell through before we learned that?

That we don’t know. But we do have some idea when they might have learned it.

According to various sources, the earliest ice fishing is supposed to have occurred 2,000 or more years ago. There’s evidence to that effect in what is now the United States and Canada.

Those first ice fishermen didn’t necessarily drop a bait or lure through a hole, though. Many, it’s thought, chopped holes in the ice, then speared fish that either swam by or approached what were essentially minnow-shaped decoys.


Check this out now: Here’s a primer on firearm safety for on the range and in the woods

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Bob Frye is the editor. Reach him at 412-838-5148 or See other stories, blogs, videos and more at

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