Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Rod case © Steve Zandler

Rod case
© Steve Zandler

June 2009

It works for me!

We asked you to share your stories of homemade gear for the outdoors and you delivered!

WNR Staff

Last August we invited readers to send in descriptions and pictures of the homemade contraptions they devised or extra gear they packed to make their outdoor experiences a little better and days afield a little more enjoyable. Here are some of the handy tips you shared. Thanks.

Staff of life

Staff of life

My husband, Jim, created this staff out of a 5-foot wooden flag pole painted forest green. It was a Boy Scout project when he was a Scoutmaster. We have since added and subtracted some items. Now, it has a hook for retrieving things overhead, such as fruit and for snagging things under foot, such as handles on geocaches or something that has fallen in a hole. The staff has a scarf attached for shooing flies, wiping the brow or for use as a tourniquet if necessary. Five attached hiking medallions remind us of places we have been. We attached a pop-up clear tape dispenser for catching live ticks. Wooden beads that make a sound let bears know we are in the area and weve attached a whistle too. A knife sheath on one side holds a knife, a small first aid kit and a sewing kit. A rope wrapped around the staff can be used in case of an emergency; It hides a fish hook with line attached. A second sheath holds a pen and pencil for signing geocache log books.

The bottom third has a hole with some wire through it so we would have a spot to hook on a few carabiners where we have attached bottles of sunscreen, hand sanitizer, a mini-flashlight, a thermometer, tick remover, a compass, bug repellent, tracking tape and more beads. The bottom 24 inches are notched every inch so we can measure a fish, check snow depth, stream depth or anything else that needs to be measured. A rubber tip on the bottom finishes it off. I use this staff in all seasons whether snowshoeing, geocaching or hiking. Weve made good use of almost everything on it but have not had to use the rope or marker tape.

Cathy Calvetti
Eagle River

First aid extras

I came across your story as I was packing my first aid kit for the northern woods of Canada. I pack the regular Band-Aids, Neosporin and creams to fight the itch from insect bites and poisonous plants. This year though I'm putting something extra in the kit – leftovers. I'm putting in the extra Tylenol 3s I have from a past dental procedure in case I sprain an ankle or blow out a knee. I'm also taking some oral antibiotics should I get a nasty infection or run into a deer tick while I'm isolated from the rest of society. I'm taking amoxil because it is good for about anything. Readers can ask their doctor to write them a prescription for a few capsules of doxycycline to have on hand if they are in the woods quite a bit. Taking 200 mg within 72 hours of being bitten by a deer tick has been shown to decrease the incidence of Lyme disease. I should add that I am a doctor, so it is a little easier for me to get a hold of these products, but it is still good advice for every outdoorsman or woman. The pills take up very little room and on a long trip could make an emergency a "survivable inconvenience."

Brandon Sheetz, MD

Foot care in a pinch

Blisters on your feet can make a short hike a pain, but on longer trips, blistered feet are sheer misery. Always pack extra dry socks, some mole skin pads and some pre-cut strips of good old duct tape that you can wrap around a film canister, a camera strap, fuel canister or plastic storage bottle. In a pinch, duct tape can reduce foot chafing and it is waterproof. Ive used it to bind together two toes if one is stubbed, cushion a bad seam in a pair of shoes that rubs my feet wrong, cover a cut or shield a blister from further swelling. By the way, always break in a new pair of shoes before packing them for a trip. Vacation is no time to learn that your new "comfortable" shoes are irritating your feet.

WNR magazine staff

Stop the shake, rattle and roll

To keep hooks and sinkers from bouncing about in your tackle box, just glue some magnetic strips to the bottom of each compartment that holds hooks. Those cheap refrigerator magnets that so many businesses distribute work great. Just cut them to size and glue them with the magnetic side up. They keep hooks in their place. Just make sure you don't keep your compass in the same container!

WNR magazine staff

Deer stand comfort

Deer stand

I rescued six of these wooden chairs from a weekly trash collection, cut off the legs, repaired and glued the seat and backs back together with waterproof Gorilla Glue. Then I painted them with polyurethane and attached each chair to a piece of pressure- treated 2x8 using stainless steel lag screws and washers. I put a swivel on a floor flange and piece of pipe so the chairs rotate. Finally, I built a wooden storage compartment under each hinged seat and now we use them in our deer stands to hunt more comfortably for a longer period of time.

Robert J. Albers
Green Bay

Have rods, will travel

Rod case

Here is my homemade fishing rod case that was easy and inexpensive to make for packing up my two-piece rods for a family vacation.

  • 3" diameter PVC pipe cut just a little longer than your longest rod
  • 2 plastic pipe end covers
  • 4 small sheet metal screws or similar screws
  • One metal handle from a building supply or hardware store
  • Two pop rivets to attach the handle
  • A few strips of Velcro
  • A short piece of nylon strapping or webbing

Drill pilot holes at one end of the PVC pipe and permanently attach one end cover with the screws.

Position the handle about midway on the pipe, drill two holes and attach pop rivets using a simple hand riveting tool.

Place one piece of stick-on Velcro as a hinge on the other cap end. Attach small squares of Velcro to the piece of nylon webbing. Then attach the two mating pieces of Velcro to the lid and side of the PVC case to form a locking strap.

This kit neatly and safely stores four two-piece rods. I took three medium heavy spinning rods and an ultra light spinning rod on my trip and you can pile any amount of luggage or gear on top without bending or breaking any rod tips. I just slip the fishing reels into a fanny pack and I'm all set.

Steve Zandler

Kit and caboodle

Duffle bag


I keep this small duffle bag kit in my pickup all year. It holds an extra set of clothing for those times when we get back to the vehicle soaking wet or just need an extra layer because the temperature has dropped significantly.

My duffle contains a pair of military cargo pants, a flannel shirt, a pair of socks, a couple of knit caps, a lightweight parka, a few pairs of gloves and an old pair of sneakers. All the items are old, but not worn out. The kit can be stuffed or squeezed into a storage space or tucked under a seat.

Last fall my daughter and I went out fishing on a sunny, but cool day. We got cold and quickly returned to the car to dig into the kit before we headed out again. I have even tapped into these clothes while watching our high school's softball games in early spring.

Steve Zandler

Deer retractor

Deer retractor

I developed this tool to help cleanly gut a deer years before such devices were commercially available at sporting goods stores. It consists of a large treble hook with all the barbs flattened, dulled and anchored into a straight handle made of deer antler. I use it to help field dress deer efficiently and cleanly.

  1. With the deer on its side, insert the retractor in the anal opening and pull outward, extending the anus without tearing any tissue.
  2. Cut around the rectum about six inches deep.
  3. Use a plastic tie to tie off the anus and prevent waste from spilling into the cavity or releasing any waste. Loosen or cut the device free from the anus.
  4. The rectum can now be easily extracted through the body cavity without contaminating the meat when the rest of the intestines and gut are removed during field dressing.

Mark Montaba