Welcome to Bat City Outdoors

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Waves of live music, heaps of barbecue, personalities like Kinky, tireless Texas fight football fans, electric get-downs on 6th Street, it’s all right here. And still people treat each other like neighbors – Austin is just right.

Even so, that urban just right can bake on like sun-dried mud. When it does, it can only be scraped off in the outdoors. Luckily, Austin has some of that too. It’s in the rivers and ravines and with the waterfolk and wildlife that are Bat City outdoors.

Here you’ll find stories about the outdoors in Austin and beyond. And, you’ll find information to help get you out there.

Thanks for reading,
Shane Townsend

Bat City Outdoors |
From Austin. For Outdoorsfolk Everywhere.

 

Paddling Tips for Newbies

Paddling Tips for Newbies

From Austin Canoe & Kayak guest blogger Joel Cowen:

Are you new to the world of kayaking and just can’t get the techniques of paddling down? Well, we are here to help. First let me say welcome to the wonderful and adventurous world of kayaking. You are in for some fun and memorable journeys!

Everyone has to start out somewhere and here are some fundamental tips kayaking newbies need to know in order to master the art of paddling.

Appropriate Shoulder Space

It is key to keep your shoulders in the correct frame or box, with your arms, shoulders and paddle. If you are a visual learner, imagine the width of your shoulders, and that is the amount of space that you should use to separate your hands while holding the shaft of the paddle. It’s important to maintain proper spacing while paddling. If your spacing is too wide you will gain momentum, but will get tired very quickly as it’s relying heavily on your upper body strength. If your spacing is too narrow, you will have little to no strength in your stroke.

Strokes

Now that you have figured out how to hold the paddle, let’s talk about your stroke options. There are three primary strokes that you should become very familiar with: the forward stroke, the sweep stroke and the draw stroke.

  • The forward stroke – This stroke is a paddler’s most fundamental motion. Think of it as putting your blade through the water and moving your kayak past it.
  • The sweep stroke – This stroke acts as your directional compass. It allows you to navigate the boat, while moving, into the different cardinal directions. There are three steps to this stroke. You will need to first lean your boat toward one of the edges and extend your arms forward dipping your blade near your feet. Next, you will sweep your blade in a wide arc, and around toward the stern of the boat. Lastly you will complete the stroke by raising your paddle when it gets close to the stern. This will enable you to create a smooth and gradual turn without losing much momentum.
  • The draw stroke – This is the third primary stroke that allows you to dock your kayak and pull close to another boat or dock. Use your arms to extend the paddle away from you, place the blade two feet away from you into the water and use your lower hand to pull the blade directly toward yourself.

Balance

Balance is essential when operating a kayak. If you can’t stay balanced you will find yourself in the water more often than your boat. Here are three golden rules to follow when maintaining your balance:

  1. Let your lower body work cooperatively yet independently from your torso. This means while your lower body is performing one task, your upper body is able to perform an entirely different task. This is achieved by making sure to keep your hips loose and relaxed.
  2. Maintain a position of power with your arms. By maintaining a power position with your arms you will reduce the chance of injuries, such as shoulder dislocation. This can be accomplished by keeping your hands in front of your body. This requires that you create the box we mentioned earlier with your arms, chest and paddle.
  3. Implement the power of torso rotation while executing all of your strokes.

Required Arm and Core Strength

This all seems easy enough so far, right? Maybe you’re thinking this sounds like an awful lot of work. Well, in order to paddle effectively you will need to have a certain amount of arm and core strength. You can increase your power and performance with some strengthening exercises such as varied crunches, push-ups, balance extensions, one-legged squats on the half ball and planking. It’s important to keep in mind that you are trying to strengthen your core, which goes much deeper than your average ab/stomach workouts. Look for more exercises and activities that will increase your core strength.

Practice Makes Perfect

The most important and basic tip is to keep practicing. No one learned to master anything overnight, and anything worth it takes time and dedication. Keep at it and in no time you will be paddling like a pro!

http://www.austinkayak.com/

 

 

 

Must Have Accessory for Summer Kayaking Adventures: Gaiters

Must Have Accessory for Summer Kayaking Adventures: Gaiters

From Austin Canoe & Kayak guest blogger Joel Cowen:

Whether you’re kayaking in the Deep South or close to Canada, near the coast or in the mountains, you’ll have a reason to consider packing your gaiters this summer. They are a significant aid in providing defense from the elements and in helping you remain comfortable during your paddle. You would be surprised what ultimately finds its way into your boots or the leg of your pants on an adventure at any time of the year, but summertime brings with it its own challenges.

Before your kayaking expedition there are a few things to consider when choosing the right gaiter for you. On one hand you’ll need to keep the type of terrain you are embarking on in mind. It’s important to consider the surrounding temperature and vegetation. Then you can decide which type of gaiter you will need based on the type of material and length.

Consider Your Location

If you know that your kayak launching spot is surrounded by thick brush, or if your boat portage location is from a particularly challenging spot on the river, you may find that wearing high gaiters is invaluable to your comfort and safety. If the grass is high or you’re having to battle with log jams, thorny mesquite, wet brush and even cactus, then you’ll be relieved when the day is over that you remembered your must-have summer kayaking accessory!

Available Designs

Gaiters generally come in one of two designs. They are long, up to the mid-calf, or short, from the ankle and down over your boot. High gaiters are mainly used in the cooler months or for mountainous ranges where there’s a chance of icy waters and snow. However, you would be surprised how effective long gaiters can be in the hot summer months too, provided the material is thin and breathable.

Protection from Snakes

One benefit of wearing gaiters that some people overlook is for protection against snakes. Long gaiters, which are usually 15 to 18 inches high, and those made of a Cordura type nylon, are fantastic protection against snakes, especially when used with a boot or other enclosed shoe. Long, breathable gaiters, while probably not optimal for protection against snakes in the summertime, are still very capable of fending off razor-sharp sedge leaves, keeping the mud out and minimizing hard abrasion.

Short Gaiter’s Amazing Protection

Shorter gaiters, which are typically made 8 to 12 inches high, work well when it’s hot and the chance of encountering obstacles is low or if you plan on mainly sandy beach landings. A shorter pair of gaiters, made from Gore-Tex fabric, is a lower-cost option and still very effective at keeping the rain, sand and burrs out of your adventure.

Standard Features

Typical features of all gaiters are the type of entry, top closure point and the instep strap. A gaiter is designed with its opening and closure system along the length of the gaiter, sometimes on the outside of the leg. It can be located on the back for a “step-in” rear-entry in some older products, but for most it’s at the front for ease of access. Closure systems are normally a VELCRO-type fastener or zippered in some more expensive gaiters.

Gaiters are snug at the top, around the calf. This is called the top closure point and can be a snap button, toggle and elastic draw cord, or a buckle and strap on some of the more expensive gaiters. The elastic is usually the most popular, due to its simplicity and affordability.

When you step into the gaiter, the instep strap is a feature which keeps the bottom edge close to the bottom of your boot and stops it from riding up your leg, preventing snow or burrs from penetrating your comfort zone. Instep straps range from a simple length of thin cord to thick, durable leather straps depending on the quality, purpose and price.

When you’re planning your next kayaking adventure this summer make sure one of the first items on your list are gaiters. These handy accessories provide a great deal more protection than you first might think and increase your overall comfort on the river by keeping things out when you can’t avoid them. While summer adventures can be hot, and your preference for shorter gaiters might prevail, sometimes if you’re not launching from a flat sandy beach but instead portaging through deep snake-infested grass, you might want to consider the longer pair with the durable material. Either way, a pair of gaiters is an invaluable accessory for a summer kayaking adventure.

http://www.austinkayak.com/

 

 

 

New Gear: YETI Hopper

If you love YETI, line up. They’ve got another little something for you.

The soon to be released YETI Hopper is a 6.5-gallon soft-sided cooler that weighs 5.5 pounds empty and has a 9 quart capacity. The thick nylon fabric is advertised as tear-proof and puncture resistant.

My bride has already let me know that there are no fish allowed in this one. Beach and boat, here we come.

hopper-cs_1

Available October 2014

Look for updates at http://yeticoolers.com/hopper/

Here’s what YETI has to say:

AUSTIN, Texas (July 9, 2014) — YETI Coolers, the brand that launched the premium cooler category in 2008, will extend its commitment to creating durable, high quality products with the introduction of the portable Hopper cooler. YETI will debut the Hopper at the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades in Orlando, Fla. on July 16.

“Our rotational-molded coolers are mostly intended to be stationary products,” says Roy Seiders, YETI founder and president. “We wanted to find a way to offer our fans and customers the performance they’ve come to expect from YETI—extreme durability and superior ice retention—in a product they can take with them to a broader range of environments and adventures.”

The Hopper has 6.5 gallons of capacity and is constructed of 840 denier DryHide™ fabric, similar to the material used in whitewater rafts. The HydroLok™ Zipper is the ultimate in waterproof, airtight zipper technology, borrowed from survival suits and HazMat protective gear. ColdCell™ Insulation provides a deep and lasting chill thanks to one inch of insulation in the sides and 1.5 inches on the bottom of the Hopper. The heavy-duty EVA foam bottom and RF-welded seams provide waterproof construction and unmatched durability.

The YETI Hopper will be available at select retailers and online at www.yeticoolers.com on Oct. 1, 2014. YETI will display the Hopper during the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST), July 16-18 in Orlando, Florida, and the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, August 6-9 in Salt Lake City.

About YETI Coolers
Wildly Stronger! Keep Ice Longer! Whether you’re a hunter, fisherman, outdoorsmen, camper, or tailgater, demand more from your cooler. For more on the company and its full line of products and accessories, visit
http://www.yeticoolers.com.  And, don’t miss the video of a Grizzly attacking a YETI Cooler!

Paddling Texas interview on Rapid Media

Read the Paddling Texas interview on Rapid Media, home to Kayak Angler, Adventure Kayak, Canoe Roots, White Water, and more.

Learn more about Rapid Media’s East Texasmagazines here.

 

 

 

Inexpensive Camping Secrets

Inexpensive Camping Secrets

From Austin Canoe & Kayak guest blogger Joel Cowen:

Camping is already the most affordable vacation you can take but these inexpensive camping secrets can help make your camping trip even more enjoyable and easier on your budget.

  1. A Warm Shower after a Day of Camping

Miss feeling clean after a cold shower? Take a warm make-shift shower at your campsite by painting plastic gallon milk jugs black (flat, not gloss), filling them with water and letting them sit in full sun or an hour to two. Use warm water for washing clothes and dishes, too.

  1. Uses for Old Shower Curtains

Stay drier and less “buggier” by saving your old vinyl shower curtains and using them as ground cloths or tablecloths. Sudden thunderstorms will inevitably happen on hot, humid days so just cut a hole in the middle of a shower curtain and you’ll have an emergency poncho for rainy days.

  1. Three Great Camping Secrets

Prone to cold feet? Place a piece of aluminum foil, shiny side up, in your boots to warm your feet with radiant heat. You can save a lot of room and some cash by saving ketchup and mustard packets from restaurants and drive-thrus to take when camping. Stuff a bunch of those plastic grocery bags into one plastic grocery bag and take them along to create a temporary clothes line between trees by tying them together.

  1. Baby Wipes–Not Just for Babies!

Save money and space by using baby wipes instead of toilet paper. You’ll get more “wipes” out of a container of baby wipes than two or three rolls of toilet paper.

  1. No More Fumbling Around in the Dark

Use rechargeable solar lights (the kind you put in front of your house or along your driveway) instead of flashlights to save on batteries. Just make sure you leave the lights out in the sun during the day to fully recharge them.

  1. Soggy Matches Means No Fire

Keep kitchen matches nice and dry by dipping them in melted paraffin before you go camping. Or, you can start saving those old prescription bottles and using them to stash matches in so they don’t get damp.

  1. Nothing is More Pleasant at Night than a Big, Roaring Fire

Cut waxed milk cartons into thin strips, make bundles of the strips using twist ties and use them for kindling. This is especially handy if it has been raining and everything is soggy. However, if you don’t need kindling, cut the bottom out of 1/2 gallon waxed milk cartons to make handy (and sturdy) drinking cups. These cartons also make great, mini-garbage “cans” that don’t leak or disintegrate.

  1. Take the Bite Out of Biting Insects

Mosquitoes and many other biting insects do not like the smell of vanilla. Take along a small bottle of vanilla extract and dab some at your body’s pulse points while camping. If you do get bit, use Orajel to relieve the itching or numb the pain of a bug bite.

  1. Soup Time!

Not enough bowls to go around? Just cut out the bottom of an empty, plastic 2-liter bottle and smooth edges with a piece of sandpaper. You can make the bowl as deep or shallow as you want it and re-use it later as a water scooper, digging tool or makeshift pet bowl.

  1. Germ-Free Camping

Well, almost! Just let the dishes dry in the sun. Ultraviolet radiation kills germs and you won’t be wasting any paper towels.

  1. Keep Your Camping Area Neat and Tidy

A collapsible clothes hamper lined with a trash bag makes a nifty trash can that can be easily picked up and emptied. Take the trash bag out at the end of the camping trip and you’ve got a clothes hamper in which to store dirty clothes.

  1. Ouch!

Sometimes we forget to put on sunscreen or don’t think the sun is strong enough to give us a sunburn, only to discover that we have an uncomfortable and painful sunburn. Applying ice will relieve the burn temporarily while used wet bags of tea can cheaply soothe a sunburn if no ice is available.

And the best camping secret of all–don’t forget the duct tape! It’s a quick fix for everything from a rip in your tent to bandaging a wound to sealing the bottom of your pants together to prevent creepy-crawlies from crawling up your legs.

http://www.austinkayak.com/

 

You’re just not holding your mouth right

If it’s just not working out, the problem’s clear: You’re not holding your mouth right.

Right mouth holding is the most important habit of highly effective people. Dance face, mean mug, oh face, and po- po- po- poker face are also all built on right mouth holds – “RMHs” we pros call them. Being both an expert and an all-around nice guy, I’ll give you a crash course. For free. You’re welcome.

Ten thousand reps stand between you and one flawlessly executed RMH. So, if you’ve secretly longed to snap man-selfies or stare into a mirror longer than needed to clear the bat cave, here you go. The Man Council says you may do so for 10,000 reps. Not 10,001.

To capture the two most critical RMHs, rig a self-facing GoPro, build something with nails and  watch the film.

Never seen one hit a top water lure before.

Two right mouth holds. 

 

Read the full story about right mouth holds and fishing Sanibel Island in the June/July 2014 edition of GAFF magazine.

And, if you’re near Sanibel Island, try to get out on the water with Captain Ryan Kane of Southern Instinct Charters.

Good News for Texas Bats

AUSTIN— Recent surveys in Texas for white-nose syndrome (WNS), a devastating fungal disease that has killed more than six million bats across eastern North America, found no evidence of the disease in the state.

Bat Conservation International conducted the surveys through a grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and in cooperation with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the University of California in Santa Cruz.

Townsend’s Big-eared Bat

Samples to test for the presence of the fungus that causes WNS were taken from caves in parts of the Texas Panhandle. This region was identified to be the most susceptible to harboring the disease. The tested caves were in Childress, Cottle, and Hardeman counties.

BCI biologists swabbed cave walls and individual bats for the fungus. The majority of bats sampled were cave myotis, though Townsend’s big-eared bats, tri-colored bats, and big brown bats were also encountered. This Texas effort is part of a larger national effort to monitor the spread of WNS as it continues to move westward across the United States.

In addition, a sample from Oklahoma that preliminary tests indicated was positive for the fungus responsible for causing WNS, has now been confirmed to be from a similar but harmless fungus. This was the only possible occurrence of WNS in Oklahoma and the state has now been removed from the list of areas with confirmed or suspected WNS.  The nearest confirmed occurrence of WNS to Texas is now in north-central Arkansas.

Despite these glimmers of hope for Texas bats, WNS, first noticed in 2007 in New York, has since been confirmed in 25 states and five Canadian provinces. In some caves, 90-100 percent of the bats have died from the disease. Although the origin of the fungus is unknown, it has also been found in parts of Europe. There is no known cure at this time, though research is ongoing.

Bats play a crucial role in the environment through consuming insects, pollinating plants, and dispersing seeds. Some species of bats can consume as many as 1,000 insects an hour. Many of the insects eaten by bats consume agricultural plants. Researchers estimated that bats in the United States save farmers nearly $4 billion annually in prevented crop damage and reduced pesticide costs.

TPWD will continue to work with partner agencies and organizations to monitor Texas caves for WNS.