Editor, Journalist, and Visual Storyteller

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Radio Spot: Talking Up Heroes of Conservation

Last week, I called in to the live taping of a half-hour online radio program hosted by members of the Bellevue/Issaquah Chapter of Washington Trout Unlimited to talk about Field & Stream’s Heroes of Conservation Award and grant program.

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Video: Behind the Scenes of the 2014 Rifle Test

July 2014’s “Hits… And Myths” feature compiled data from 16 rigorous gun tests to prove or dispel commonly-held beliefs about shooting. The behind-the-scenes logistics of pulling off the tests—which were carried out by ten shooters over two weeks in less than favorable April weather in New York (high winds) and  Iowa (snow)—were no less rigorous. After calling in life-sized deer targets, ammo, and other gear shipped express to the rifle range, I got to take part in a bit of the fun on location.

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Gear Smarts: Lines of DEET-fense

Beat back ticks, chiggers, and other biters with this strategic use of powerful bug dope

By T. Edward Nickens, Edited by Kristyn Brady

After decades of tinkering, I’ve perfected an insect-protection system that has cut the number of ticks and chigger bites I find on my body by 90 percent or better. Modifying clothing keeps biters out, and precision application of a roll-top or sponge-top insect repellent makes it possible to use strong DEET formulations just where needed. I rarely use anything less than 30 percent, and when the chigger infestations are high, I use 100 percent DEET without hesitation. The idea is not to cover your entire body, but to draw a few concentrated chemical lines that’ll turn back bugs. 

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First Shot: Attack of the Giant Sockeye

Photographer: Patrick Clayton
Location: Bristol Bay, Alaska

Angler Seth Byler was fishing for leopard rainbow trout in the Upper Nushagak River in July 2013 when this male sockeye salmon—displaying the spawning colors, humpback, and hooked jaw that developed within three to four weeks after the fish entered the river 100 miles downstream—got aggressive and slammed Byler’s king salmon smolt streamer. “Red salmon, as we call them, only look like this for about a week or so,” says photographer Pat Clayton, who took this dramatic close-up in the shallows. “Most of their appearance is meant to attract females, but those teeth are used to fight other males for a spot on gravel spawning beds. The water is only 6 to 10 inches deep, so you can see them biting each other and splashing around. They’re easy pickings for bears cruising those beds.” —Kristyn Brady

This photo caption originally appeared in the August 2014 issue of Field & Stream.

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Manual: Pioneer Cookery

Make any excuse to cook for a crowd using these repurposed tools and traditional techniques

By David Draper, Edited by Kristyn Brady

T-Fal being in short supply, the hardy souls who settled the West made use of whatever tools they had on hand to create unconventional cookware and techniques that are still relevant today. Here are three ways to throw a picnic, pioneer style.

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Skills: The Dog-Days Blaze

A hybrid campfire emphasizes light over heat for summer nights

By T. Edward Nickens, Edited by Kristyn Brady

Summertime and the living is, well, hot—which makes a roaring campfire a bit of a problem. But if you lay the right foundation, you can build a great summer blaze that puts out plenty of light with less heat, burns a long time, and uses smaller pieces of fuel, so you don’t break a sweat hauling huge logs back to camp. The log-cabin council fire is a pyro mash-up of a slow-burning, green-wood log-cabin build on the outside, and a tepee fire that throws out tall flames within.

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Feature Editing: Far-Out Trout

Want to catch fish as wild as the backcountry? Get hiking—and follow this step-by-step guide to stealthy tactics, spot-on fly presentation, and all the right gear

By T. Edward Nickens, Edited by Kristyn Brady

Beyond the next ridge, across that far stand of trees, lies the place you dream about, where backcountry streams and ponds hold wild trout that have never tasted metal. They’re unlikely to suffer a sloppy cast or a shadow laid carelessly across  a run. You’d better show up with your best game. Here’s what it looks like.

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Reader Test: Fun-Size

We asked four fishermen to test these ultralight spinning reels for a year to find out which delivered the biggest results

By Slaton L. White, Edited by Kristyn Brady

Bantam-size spinning reels spooled with 2- to 6-pound-test fall in the ultralight category, a subset of tackle that places a premium on fun and finesse. Matching downsize gear withsmaller fish—like a bluegill that wouldn’t feel like much on a regular outfit—provides more of a challenge. But tiny lures can attract big species, too, and that’s where the real fun begins. Landing a 14-inch brown trout on 4-pound line requires the ability to play a fish.

We asked four experienced anglers to use four ultralight spinning reels with various fish species for a full year to test them for drag quality, bail design, line handling, and overall value. The results show that going small can yield a big return on fun.

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First Shot: Wings, To Go

Photographer: Donald M. Jones
Location: ​Southern Alberta, Canada

“A hawk will pluck at a bird, eat a breast, and leave the rest. This bear ate an entire ruffed grouse in three bites,” says photographer Don Jones, who snapped the grizzly midmeal in the Kananaskis Range of the Canadian Rockies in May 2013, at the start of mating season. “He bit into the gizzard, then swallowed the tail, wings, and all, like a garbage disposal, before going right back to feasting on horsetail stems.” The grouse was already dead; Jones’s guess is that it collided with a car. “Bears don’t generally like to be near roads, but he’d likely been out of hibernation since March, and the food greens up first low in this valley. He was making his way back up north, though—I kept track of him for four days, and he covered 25 miles.” —Kristyn Brady

This photo caption originally appeared in the July 2014 issue of Field & Stream.

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Video: Shoot Better in a Minute

The first time I’d ever fired a rifle, or any firearm, for that matter, was in the summer of 2009 under the tutelage of the F&S Rifles Editor David E. Petzal. In the summer of 2011, he asked me to come back to the upstate New York range and be a part of two brief segments in “Field & Stream‘s The Gun Nuts,” a television program on the Outdoor Channel hosted by Petzal, Shotguns Editor Phil Bourjaily, and Editor-at-Large Eddie Nickens. I helped demonstrate tactics that any shooter, even a beginner like me, could apply to help them “Shoot Better in a Minute.” In this clip from episode 18, I found a swift way to get into the seated position—a very stable set-up for shooting accuracy.

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Feedback: So Fly

I’m excited to report that readers had great things to say about my April 2014 feature, “The Real Fly Girls.” These letters ran in the June 2014 Cheers & Jeers section:

Congratulations on Kristyn Brady’s excellent “The Real Fly Girls” (April 2014). I have two daughters, and though society has come a long way since my wife and I were kids, there is still a ways to go in terms of people being respected for who they are and for their character, expertise, and professionalism. Your article very much contributes to that endeavor. Thank you.  —Ken Camlek, Stevens Point, Wis.

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Field & Stream Wins ASME Award for General Excellence!

I am lucky to be a part of this staff delivering outstanding content to our readers in the Active Interests category! This is Field & Stream’s second Ellie for General Excellence since I joined the team in 2008.

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Crafted: Reader Tips

For each issue, I select one tip from the readers’ online, emailed, and mailed submissions to publish in this longstanding front-of-the book franchise. Each author of a winning tip receives a Buck knife. I also obtain and construct materials for the photo.

Denim D.I.Y.
Cut pant legs off a pair of jeans to make your own gun sleeve. Sew one leg fitted partway inside the other to make one long tube. Sew the ankle end shut, and close the other end with Velcro.
—Michael McKee, Ripley, W.Va.

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Behind the Scenes: May 2014 Cover Shoot

For the May 2014 issue devoted to what’s next in the outdoor sports, F&S asked Outdoor Channel star Eva Shockey to represent the growing contingent of female hunters, making her the first woman to be photographed solo for our cover in 30 years! (Queen Elizabeth and her hunting dogs were on the cover in January 1976.) I attended the shoot with photographer Art Streiber, and it was pretty cool to see it all come together!

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First Shot: Community Outreach

Photographer: Tom Martineau
Location: Chanhassen, Minn.

“We nicknamed this 3-year-old gobbler ‘Whitey,’ for the white markings on two tail feathers in the center of his fan,” says photographer Tom Martineau, who joined hunter Jeff Lobitz on an 80-acre farm—a rare large swath of private land in the archery-only Minneapolis suburbs—for the May 2013 gobbler season. “Jeff and I had the right setup for taking photos: our backs to the morning sun, side by side in pop-up blinds uphill from the treeline, where we knew some turkeys were roosted. If we’d been there just to hunt, we’d have set up right underneath them. They gobbled in the roost, flew down, and kept getting louder and louder as they headed straight for our decoys—it was a turkey hunter’s dream. Whitey was the first to crest the hill into the plowed cornfield, followed by four toms, three jakes, and a few hens. I kept pressing the shutter as he threw his head out in full strut. When the snood starts flapping like that, it’s pretty cool.” —Kristyn Brady

This photo caption originally appeared in the May 2014 issue of Field & Stream.

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News: Lawsuit Filed Against Mining Exploration on Montana’s Smith River

By Sarah Grigg, Edited by Kristyn Brady

In the same week that some anglers received coveted lottery permits to float Montana’s iconic Smith River—a bucket list experience for many trout anglers—environmental groups filed a lawsuit to prevent mining exploration near its headwaters.

 Outfitters and sportsmen’s groups have expressed concern since January 2014, when the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) approved a permit for Canadian mining company Tintina Alaska Exploration Inc. to sample for copper by excavating on the banks of Sheep Creek, the most important trout spawning tributary and a major source of water to the Smith during low summer flows. “If a mine dewaters the Smith, it will be a big deal for recreationists and agriculture,” said Mark Aagenes, Montana Trout Unlimited Conservation Director and a former Smith River fishing guide.

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Feature Writing: The Real Fly Girls

Some female fly guides work the camera, and some just work hard. Meet seven women with the chops and attitude to infiltrate the industry boys’ club and wade into the mainstream.

By Kristyn Brady

As a woman working in the outdoor industry, I have experienced both a warm welcome and a healthy dose of curiosity about my career choice. I’m surrounded by more men than women on boats, in camp, and around our conference-room table here at F&S. My gender’s novelty can be powerful, and it can be frustrating. The seven female fly guides in this story can definitely relate. After all, guiding is a tough business for anyone—it’s competitive, physical, and dependent on your ability to produce fish no matter what the conditions. Their skills fall under scrutiny on the river, and their looks are often emphasized in the outdoor media. Blogs such as Pacific Northwest steelheader Kate Taylor’s Rogue Angels, where all the fiercest females of fly seem to intersect, have helped build a community of women within the industry that has been key to their success in facing these challenges. I wanted to give these women the chance to tell me who they really are in their own words. The answer, I found out, is passionate, skilled, no-b.s. anglers looking to put clients on fish and food on the table.

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First Shot: Snow Squall

Photographer: Donald M. Jones 
Location: Socorro, N.M.

At the sight of a circling bald eagle, approximately 50,000 greater and lesser snow geese wintering in central New Mexico’s Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge burst off a series of small frozen ponds shortly after sunrise in Jan. 2013. “These birds typically fly from roosting areas to the cornfields to feed around sunrise anyway, but most days about 1,000 trickle out at a time,” says photographer Don Jones. “In this case, a bald eagle was looking for birds weakened by avian cholera—a few were left behind, dead or dying, every time the flock took off—and flushed them all in a tight group. Their wings were slapping each other and they were all honking. The noise was just wonderful.

“This is one of the top five things I’ve seen that come close to a religious experience,” says Jones, who has witnessed this cacophonous flush several times. “The first time I saw it and heard it, I couldn’t even take pictures. I just stood there, like, wow.” He adds, “I’ve never been christened with their droppings, but my rental car always gets spotted like a leopard.” —Kristyn Brady

This photo caption originally appeared in the April 2014 issue of Field & Stream.

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Opinion: Is GQ Magazine’s “Learn to Kill in Seven Days or Less” Good for Hunting?

In the March 2014 issue of GQ, city-bred writer Rosencrans Baldwin tells the story of his first hunt, for Montana big game, under the tutelage of his foul-mouthed country-bred Uncle Cy. As a new hunter myself, Baldwin’s narrative “Learn to Kill in Seven Days or Less” is alternately relatable (“the thought of actually killing something this morning has my stomach in a boil”) and cringe-worthy (“I reach for my beer and accidentally point the loaded rifle at Cy’s stomach.”)

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On-Camera Product Review: Women’s Shooting Glasses

For this segment of our product review series filmed at the Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in Las Vegas, Nev., I range-tested a new model of ballistic-rated shooting glasses designed specifically to fit a woman’s smaller face. Take a look:

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