Q: Hey Zimo, I am an avid outdoors man who is pushing 40.
As far back as I can remember I have been bringing canned food with me on hunting and fishing trips. I will usually bring a large can of chili or pork and beans, which I will partially open and set directly on the hot coals of the fire.
I have always found this approach convenient because the only thing worse than doing dishes is doing them in the woods.
Recently, I read an article about food companies removing the BPAs out of the plastic that lines the inside of canned food. It was news to me that the interior of canned food was lined with plastic, much less plastic with harmful chemicals.
Although I am pretty sure I know the answer, my question to you would be have I been poisoning myself by cooking harmful plastic into my food all these years?
KIRK F., email
A: I think your gut feeling is right on.
Most of us have cooked cans of pork and beans directly on the campfire on camping trips, and what it's done to our insides? Well, who knows?
I remember as a youngster heading out on overnight hikes with a canvas military surplus pack, a can of pork and beans for dinner, a can of corned beef hash for breakfast and a can of tuna, potato chips, candy bars and pop for lunch. Ah, the good old days of being a teenager and being able to haul all that stuff. The pack was killer on my shoulders.
I haven't cooked food in its can over the fire in decades, and now that I think about it, I wouldn't advise it.
After reading a report at scientificamerican.com, I recommend getting a small mess kit for cooking and eating. Some of the kits at outdoors shops are lightweight and easy to clean up.
Most food cans are made of steel and beverage cans are made of aluminum.
Several reports state that chromium and nickel could leach out of the steel, but the amounts would be small. If you do it infrequently, it may not be a problem.
There's a bigger problem with aluminum. It also could leach out into food and drinks. Large amounts have been linked to nervous system disorders and other health problems.
Then there's the coating on the inside of cans. To prevent leaching, most cans are coated with food-grade epoxy, according to the Scientific American story.
Some liners contain Bisphenol-A (BPA) and other harmful chemicals.
Scientific American's story said BPA, a synthetic plastic hardener, has been linked to human reproductive problems and an increased risk of cancer and diabetes.
Some companies are doing away with epoxy-based liners and going to BPA-free enamel liners from plant products.
Anyway, I'll rely on my mess kit.
Q: Occasionally I am on the stretch of Idaho 44 west of Middleton and see a sign for the Sand Hollow Tracts Sportsman Access, north on Emmett Road. Unfortunately that is the last sign I can ever find for the access point.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game website isn't much help. Where is it? What's there?
MIKE MCCARTHY, email
A. Idaho Fish and Game has improved wildlife habitat on more than 400 acres of land out there, and it's open to hunting.
But that may not help you if you can't find it. There are no developed parking areas or outhouses out there.
The problem with signs marking the area is that they are constantly shot up, especially during spring when shooters are hunting ground squirrels. It can get expensive to replace the signs, according to Fish and Game.
The department pondered putting a map out on the areas, but the tracts are so spread out they would be difficult to decipher on a regular-size map.
Don't despair. Fish and Game is thinking about putting the wildlife tracts in the Hunt Planner on its website with GPS coordinates.
It's good to know that the land is being improved for wildlife. The agency leases about 60 acres from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation along irrigation canals where it plants vegetation for habitat.
The land along the canals is not suitable for farming because it is in the curves where the canals had to be kept on grade going around gullies.
Fish and Game also has an agreement with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to do habitat work.
You may find quail, doves, gray partridge and pheasants in the area during hunting season and the tracts do get hunters. Sounds like places that might be worth checking out during hunting season if you can figure out where they are.
Pete Zimowsky: 377-6445, Twitter: @Zimosoutdoors