Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Life is an Adventure, right?

My life has been incredibly good lately. It's been so filled with family, work, and hunting that I have neglected the blog for a few weeks. I love to write, but other things have taken over. That being said, I hope to have some more gear reviews up very soon as I have been field-testing some incredible gear. I have some coyote and pig hunts in the works, but mainly I want to get out, shoot my bow and meet people. I know of few of you faithful readers have contacted me and we have met up to scout or shoot our bows. I am really looking forward to doing that more this year. 

The ATA Show has come and gone and SHOT Show is going on right now. I hear great things through the grapevine about people, companies, and new gear. It's a fun time of year. We have the Fred Hall Show coming up locally in a couple months and I am sure there will be some great things happening there, too. Anyone headed out to it?

I am planning on participating in the San Gabriel Bighorn Sheep Survey this year, too. The tentative date is March 1, so put it on your calendars. If you want to meet some cool people and get to go on a rad hike, scout for sheep, and get some great pictures, this is for you.

I recently turned 40 and many have asked me if I feel old. No way! It's quite the opposite really. I feel great and feel like things get better every day. Midlife crisis? Ha! You won't find me buying a sports car on a whim. A truck perhaps, but a sports car? Nah! I feel like each new day brings new challenges and excitement. I can't wait to get out and hunt, fish, camp, and just be outside. Life is good!

Friday, January 9, 2015

First Coyote Bow Kill

Sitting in my treestand last week was peaceful and quite relaxing. I was hanging out waiting for pigs and enjoying the sunshine. An hour into my sit I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye. I focused and saw a large, shiny object that hadn't been there before. That's when the coyote lifted her head to look around. Her route would take her directly behind my stand and also directly downwind. She was going to bust me if I wasn't careful. I slowly removed my bow from the hanger, turned and saw her cautiously walking the trail. She stopped behind a tree, giving me time to get ready.

A few weeks ago, Chris and I had discussed thinning out the coyotes in this area. We both wanted to, but they were also helping drive the pigs in the afternoon. It was a dilemma we hadn't yet faced and that day we opted not to shoot any song dogs. Today was different.

As I prepared to draw, she hit the gap and kept moving. I know that with all of the foliage in my way, I would not have a clean shot where she stood, but I wasn't giving up. I also wanted to see what she would do when she got downwind. A few seconds later and I found out. She stopped and glanced around, all while sniffing the air. By this time I had shifted around to the other side of the tree and was ready to draw. She glanced in my direction, smelled the air again, and acted confused. Then she put her nose down and walked a few more steps. Upon stopping and smelling the air, a razor sharp missile was headed in her direction. She took off running through the dense brush, but she stopped about 50 yards behind my stand. All was quiet. I knew she was dead and I was stoked.

Here's why I was so stoked. Not only was she my first coyote, it was done with a bow. No, that's not the part where I am stoked. As hunters, we are always trying to cover our scent or find out what cover scents work. I hadn't washed my camo in a month. You heard me, a month. Sweat, funk, and who knows what else was lingering in them. I used my LOG6 ozone machine to kill the bacteria and then I sprayed down with Dead Down Wind. That combination has worked for me on pigs and now coyotes. I am pretty stoked about that.

Unfortunately, shooting the coyote was the downfall for hunting pigs. We heard them grunting and squealing behind our stand, but they must have locked on to the coyote. They lingered for what I estimate to be about 50-100 yards behind and around her for an hour and then took the long way around. It was dusk now and we ran out of shooting light. We stayed in the stands to see if we could glass them up. They walked around our stands and into a slightly open meadow.  Sure enough, my MINOX binoculars did not disappoint as we saw a large group of them amble out and begin feeding. It was great to see pigs, but I know that the reason they didn't stick to their normal route was due to my shooting that song dog. Live and learn!

We recovered the coyote at dark and I took out the backstraps to eat later. Yes, I ate one and Chris ate the other. Most people (even other hunters I've communicated with) think I am disgusting and crazy. Let me just say that 9 times out of 10, if I shoot it, I want to try it. Don't knock it until you've tried it. Come to find out, coyote tastes an awful lot like very lean beef or, as a coworker put it, beef heart. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Now that most of the deer seasons are over, pigs and coyotes can be focused on more. This year will hopefully be a great year for thinning out both! 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Revisiting My Goals & Objectives From 2014

As 2015 is now upon us, I decided to again go back and review my goals and objectives from 2014. It was a great set of goals, and by that I mean I set the bar high. Check them out to see where I was successful and where I can improve for this year.

2014 Goals & Objectives for The SoCal Bowhunter:


  1. Participate in the 2014 CA Sheep Survey. This year I chose to forgo the Sheep Survey due to a scheduling conflict. Instead, Brett and I opted to go in search of a sheep spring in the desert in order to clean it from debris. That was an adventure into some tough country. We never did find the spring due to one wrong turn, but we learned much about our GPS units, our gear, and ourselves.

  2. Shoot different manufacturers bows. I shot the Strother line and got stuck on them. I just loved the way the Wrath and SHO shot. Now that Strother has been taken over by Obsession Bows I don't know what will happen. For the time being I am perfectly happy shooting my Wrath.

  3. Set up a 3D target day with my friends. This only happened at the range for a short time. Our schedules never aligned for a day out. I sure hope that if we can't make this happen we can get up to Oak Tree and shoot around for a morning.

  4. Bow hunt for wild pigs more and kill one. I hunted with a compound bow and with a crossbow this year. It worked out that I had my crossbow in hand when I had the opportunity on a pig. At twelve yards, a crossbow helped fill my freezer.

  5. Bow hunt for elk in Colorado. Brett and I trained hard and hit Colorado for elk in September. Unfortunately, a heat wave of 70-80 degrees also hit at the same time. It was a very tough hunt and we learned a great deal from it. We came up empty handed, but survived a week in the wilderness. I hope to get back out there in a couple years.

  6. Bow hunt for whitetail out-of-state. I poured all of my funds into my Colorado trip and California hunting tags and adventures. There wasn't anything left for my whitetail hunt.

  7. Do a backcountry hunt with friends. Another one that was talked about a few times, but never came to fruition. I think we are ready for one though. Our hunting spots are just overrun with other hunters and hikers. Time to plan a longer trip.

  8. Photograph more wildlife. Um, maybe this year?

  9. Blog more tips and DIY projects that I create. I share a few of these this year and was glad I did. Simple, but effective.

  10. Last, but not least, I would like to scout new areas even more. I scouted some new areas for deer and pig. We set trail cameras deeper into the forest only to find out the deer were staying closer to our current area. It was a learning experience for this area and we can't wait to scout in 2015!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Product Review: PUMA Knives - Hunter's Pal, IP Amigo, and SGB Mule Deer Hunter


For most of my life I have loved knives. From making that first peanut butter and jelly sandwich to butchering up a deer for the family, knives were crucial in making it happen. I began collecting them at a young age and learning about them. At first I collected anything, but in the past decade I have only collected and kept quality blades. One company that I have just been acquainted with is PUMA. Now, I only knew of the sneaker with a puma name, so a knife company was news to me. This review on three different blades, all carrying the PUMA name in a different way. We have the PUMA Hunter's Pal, PUMA IP Amigo, and the PUMA SGB Mule Deer Hunter. All of the knives come with a leather sheath.

First off, you really have to take notice of the PUMA name and where the knife is coming from. PUMA comes from Germany. PUMA IP is from Spain. PUMA SGB is assembled in China. I look closely at these things when I look at the box as these can all have a variance in quality and construction.

Second, I have average size hands and for me, that is important to know when doing knife reviews. I don't have small hands, but I don't have huge hands either. I don't have skinny finger or fat fingers. The way I hold each knife is the same and that is how I initially judge a knife. That being said, it will often be very superficial and my opinion may change once used in the field.


The PUMA Hunter's Pal is a very cool, handmade knife. To me, it has the look of a small Bowie knife, but more manageable at 8" long. Made with 440C stainless steel*, the full tang knife came out of the box sharp and ready to cut whatever I wanted to cut. The handle is on the narrow side, which I did not initially care for. The stag handle was authentic and had character. I did notice that the PUMA Hunter's Pal, as a genuine PUMA knife, does not have a metal emblem inset into the handle. I found that interesting as it would help distinguish it from other knives. I used the Hunter's Pal to take the backstraps out of a coyote. (Yes, I took the meat out to eat.) It cut like butter and was surprising easy to handle when cutting. The knife overall is very impressive and I really like the way it cuts. The handle does not have a pre-drilled hole for a paracord or leather loop.


The PUMA IP Amigo is 6.41" in total length, and I was warned that I might not like it due to the smaller size, but while I found the handle short, it fit very well in my hand due to it being wide. Due to the thumb grip, I am able to control the blade better. Also full tang and made with 440C stainless steel*, the Amigo is short, stocky, and wicked sharp. While the Hunter's Pal was sharp, this was even sharper! You can do the fingernail test, but to me that's child's play. I dry-shaved with mine and it left a bald spot! I knew it would cut through anything, so I used it on some plastic followed by a pork loin. The Amigo is easy to handle and will make a fine skinning knife in the field. It's not heavy, but fits the hand well and is easily manageable. It also holds an edge very well. The handle also has a pre-drilled hole for a paracord or leather loop.


The PUMA SGB Mule Deer Hunter was my least favorite knife of the three, but that is not to say that it won't work in the field, as it is a decent knife in my opinion. This 7.5" knife is a full tang and is made from 440A stainless steel*. The overall weight and balance of the knife is nice. My biggest issue with the knife was that it wasn't very sharp out of the box. I tried dry shaving to no avail. It did cut into a coyote loin, but I could feel it dragging. I spent some time with it on a wet stone and then it cut well at first and then dulled quickly.I had to spend more time getting it good and sharp. I think this knife would also benefit from a better thumb grip on the back of the knife. The handle also has a pre-drilled hole for a paracord or leather loop.


Another thing I look at when reviewing anything is the packaging. Normally, I wouldn't mention it, but this time I will because each box has a slightly different look. Poor packaging will give the impression of a cheap knife. The PUMA and PUMA IP were packaged in black boxes with limited verbiage. The PUMA SGB was yellow and green, which was perfectly fine, but the text was missing letters. That immediately had me concerned, even before I opened the box.

Now on the part you guys are probably all asking, how much do these knives cost? Think of a hunting knife as an investment. You want it to last for years, decades, even a lifetime if you are lucky. The PUMA Hunter's Pal retails for $319.00 which is really high for me personally, but it will last you a lifetime. The knife works incredibly well, but I know my budget would not allow a $300 knife purchase. The PUMA IP Amigo retails for $149.00 and that to me is a reasonable investment into a skinning blade that will last a long time. The PUMA SGB Mule Deer Hunter comes in at $59.99, which tends to fit more budgets, but you will also spend more time sharpening it. If I had to rank them due to overall use, along with sharpness I would put the PAL first, Amigo second, and the Mule Deer Hunter last. For my first experience with the PUMA line, I would say the knives are impressive and each fit a certain purpose.

*440A Steel - Has a carbon content range of .65-.75%. This is a low cost stainless steel. It is the most rust resistant of 440 steel, and 440C is the least rust resistant of the three. However, the 400 series are some of the most rust resistant knives out there.
 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Product Review: DORCY Bicycle Head Light and Tail Light


Biking in and around Long Beach, CA is something I love to do. Often, the only time I can get out for a ride is in the late evening or late at night. In order for me to do that, I need to see and be seen. For years I have had front and rear lights on my bicycle. When DORCY, based out of Colombus, OH, reached out and asked me to take a look at some of their bike lights, I was reluctant. I already had lights that I thought worked well. Then I read up on the lights and decided it was worth it for me and for my readers that like to cycle at night to check them out.


Being seen is a priority out here, so I am going to share my thoughts on the DORCY tail light as many of my fears stem from being hit behind. It's rare to get hit from behind, but I fear it most because I can't see it coming. Easy to install, the DORCY red tail light is larger than most of your ordinary rear bicycle lights, but this is no ordinary light. This LED light is bright and any driver who is paying attention should be able to spot you from a long way off. (Just don't count on your fellow man to pay attention and ride smart.) The light takes two AA batteries and has three modes to fit any type of ride. The shell is really solid and feels like it could take a beating (I did not test that feature). Mounting is very easy and, like many bike lights, you can adjust it to be vertical or horizontal.  I opted to have it vertical, but now am rethinking my decision. Either way, I was very impressed at how bright the DORCY light is compared to my other tail light I have been using. The new light is brighter and looks more like a safety light. At $13.99, the tail light is a great investment, plus DORCY offers free shipping. I really like the versatility, brightness, and ease of use of the DORCY tail light.


The DORCY LED Headlight is unique in that DORCY claims it sends out a horizontal, rectangular beam instead of a circular one. I found the light to be closer to a square shape, than the advertised rectangle. (Yes, you can make the light vertical, but why would you do that?) It is nice to use a light that is horizontal and not a circle. This way you won't blind pedestrians or other cyclists as you are riding. At 220 lumens it is one of the brightest lights I have used. There are two modes that allow you see and be seen. The first is a constant beam of light and the second is a flashing beam. I used the steady beam at night and the flashing beam during the day. The lights are very bright, but I think the feature I liked best were the two angled openings on either side of the front of the housing. This allows light to escape and be seen from the side as well. It also shines light directly on and in front of your front tire to allow you to see potholes, branches, etc. while also illuminating what is up ahead. The head light has a competitive price point at $55.00.


There are a few things that I wasn't happy with on the DORCY headlight. It's very heavy, unlike my other headlight. Installation of the mounting system works alright, but I think it could be designed better. I also think that if you were to accidentally drop the light or you were to hit some rough mountain bike trails there is a good chance for damage.

I consider myself a strong guy and I had to pull really hard on the tab to get the mount to lock in place. Even then it didn't feel as secure as I wanted it to. I was able to rotate it on my handlebars with ease. I fear that hitting a few good bumps on a trail will knock it out of place. Fortunately, it is easy to shift back. There was a gap in the mount and in order to lock it in, you have to tighten a screw attached to a secondary piece of rubber. Seems like a lot of work to mount a head light to your handlebars.

Also, in order to remove the light (to keep it from getting stolen), you need to loosen the bolt holding it inside the sleeve to then slide the light out. When you set the light back up, you have to slide the light back in and adjust it to get it horizontal again. My other light has a simple clip that you can press and slide the light out and back in so that it is in the same position every time. I disliked this feature on the DORCY.

All in all, I truly like both lights, even with the recommendations I have. The headlight is a powerful light that could use some improvement, in my humble opinion, but really does offer some benefits that other lights I have used do not. A horizontal beam of light allows you to see on the sidewalks, roadway, and keeps you from blinding other cyclists and pedestrians. The tail light is excellent at keeping you seen from the rear. Please keep in mind, these are my opinions. The big question is do I recommend these for cycling? You wouldn't be reading about them if I didn't. I would recommend these to anyone doing some urban biking and hitting up city bike paths, but I am not so sure about dirt trails or mountain biking. Try them out and let me know what you think!