outdoor terms

10 Outdoor Terms Everyone Should Know

We all pride ourselves on being up-to-date on our outdoor know-how, gear, and tactics. But are we sometimes just guessing when it comes to the specifics? This isn't to say that there aren't many folks who know their outdoor knowledge (much better than I do). But when it comes to it, maybe we need to brush up a little on our outdoor terms. Not to worry—there aren't too many terms on this list. We singled out a few that experienced outdoorspeople may understand, but most may have yet to learn about. If you're like me, you may not want to admit you don't know every term! Let's start with a few hunting terms to whet your appetite, and maybe even a pronunciation or two just to get started. A few of these have more than one meaning.

1. Trough

outdoor terms

For those with livestock, it is a long, narrow open container for animals to eat or drink out. For the weather-related crowd, it is an area of low air pressure between two regions of high air pressure. For hunters, it is a low area between two hills that animals, especially whitetail deer, love to move through.

2. Slough

outdoor terms defined

John Twynam via Getty Images

I've always pronounced this as "slew" or "sloo." Still, some folks say it more like "slou." A slough is a swampy or shallow lake area, generally a backwater to a larger body of water. Nobody will mind if you call it a muddy area, quagmire, or marsh.

3. Draw

outdoor terms defined

PatrickZiegler via Getty Images

It means a few things: pulling back your bow and that competitive contest to procure a reasonable hunting tag in your home state. The meaning hunters are most familiar with pertains to the woods. A draw is a low spot in the land, like a large ditch, and as we already discussed, it is much like a trough. It is more like a terrain feature formed by two parallel ridges with the lower ground between them.

4. Glade

outdoor terms

Glades are open, sometimes rocky areas usually located in upland woodlands. If their location is higher, they will tend to have thin soil, exposed rocks, and few trees, and if they are south or west facing, they can get hot and dry.

5. Oxbow Lake

outdoor terms defined

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Billabong is an Aboriginal word I've heard here and there for many years while only having a small idea of what it meant. An oxbow or an oxbow lake is the closest term used in North America. It is intended to define a curved lake or pool formed where the main stream of a river has cut across the narrow end and stops flowing around the loop of the bend.

6. Tarsal Glands

Deer Scrape

Did you know that humans have tarsal glands? These are sebaceous glands along the rims of the eyelid inside the tarsal plate. Still, as you may have already guessed, we're discussing these as they pertain to the whitetail deer. The tarsal gland is the most important in deer communication. It consists of a tuft of long hairs on the inside of the deer's hind leg that secrete a fatty material (known as a lipid) that coats the strands with their unique scent.

7. Caliber/Bore

Real hunter in the field holding rifle and binoculars

These two terms commonly confuse people since they are so closely related. Caliber is the diameter of the bore measured with a fraction of inches, with caliber numbers used to identify the size of the bullet a gun will fire. The bore is the hollow portion of a barrel through which the bullet or shot travels after being fired. Bore diameter is the barrel's diameter inside after boring but before rifling.

8. Port/Starboard

My father was a U.S. Navy veteran that served in World War I. He knew his way around anything that floated, especially anything that could be fished out of, like a master. He told me the difference between these two my entire life. Thankfully that knowledge stuck. As you're facing the boat's bow, the port is on the left, and the starboard is on the right.

9. Air-Washed

Richard-P-Long via Getty Images

This is a gun dog term. It signifies a bird that has flown and landed but has yet to leave a scent on the spot where it came back to the ground. Air-washed birds are challenging for younger dogs, but finished gun dogs that are patient and can relocate are a joy to behold.

10. Backing

outdoor terms defined

jjMiller11 via Getty Images

A term for placing a fishing line of one kind on your spool before the main line (some like to put on mono before tying on braid). This is also a gun dog term meant for senior or master dogs who are hunting in a brace (as a pair) that can honor the point of the lead dog. Most trained dogs will do this well, but master hunting dogs will hold for their partner's flush, shot, and retrieve.

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