Tuesday, May 22, 2018

California Big Game Drawing Deadline Approaches

The Big Game Drawing deadline to get your tag applications in to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is June 2, 2018. In case you haven't been paying attention it's coming in fast! Have you considered everything for hunting this year like the use of unleaded ammo, bow hunting vs. firearm, forest fires and time to spend in the field? These are all major considerations and you really don't have much time left to make that call. Decisions need to be made and you have less than two weeks to do it. I'll share some of my own obstacles and processes in the event they can help you narrow down your choices.

First thing I think about is family time and along with that my vacation time. Will I have enough vacation set aside for my family? Will I then have enough time set aside for the hunts I want to go on? Most times that isn't an issue, but those older my daughter gets, the more I find myself wanting to also spend more time with her before she grows up. It's a conundrum and a choice I have to make myself. 

Another factor to consider is the unit I apply for or the tag(s) I go for. Do I want to only bow hunt? Do I want options like being able to use a firearm? Do I stay close to home or am I willing to travel to go after that animal? Will my hunt partners be able to hunt the same units and are they willing to? Then comes the question of, do I have enough money for these tags? With this decision comes the non-lead ammunition factor and if you are using the allowed projectiles. Be certain you have non-lead ammunition on you and in your firearm when hunting in the non-lead zones. Next year it won't be an issue as you won't have a choice. You could be like me and already be utilizing non-lead projectiles when hunting. It takes the guesswork out.

Right along side of deciding which tag to go for is the closure of lands due to forest fires. I have heard from some hunters saying that while areas have been closed to fire, hunters are allowed to hunt there. They insist that DFW has informed them of this. Take it as you will, but verify it for yourself. I make no claims to that statement, but it would be nice to not be locked out of a region you hunt due to fire closure.

These are just some of the obstacles we face as hunters when it's time to go in for a California tag. Other things come into play, but don't be like I was last year and wait too long. I missed out because I was on vacation and thought my tag wouldn't sell out. Unfortunately it did sell out and I was left hanging. If you want that tag, put in for it and give yourself a shot! Good luck!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Gear Review: Vortex Razor HD 12x50 Binoculars

One of my favorite pre-season activities is scouting. Glassing for animals to be more precise. I began scouting last year with a pair of Vortex Diamondback 10x42 binoculars and loved every second of it. Great glass for the price. Then, in between two of my seminars at Bass Pro Shops in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, I made the best mistake ever when I tried out a pair of Vortex Razor HD 12x50 binoculars. I liken it to watching an action movie on TV in color on a 30" screen to then viewing the same movie on a flatscreen 72" 4K HD TV in full color. The view was crisp, stunning and immediately I knew I had to have a pair. If I have said it once, I have said it a hundred times, "You get what you pay for in optics. Buy the very best you can afford and if you can't afford them now, save up for them and buy excellent glass once." I did exactly that and purchased my own pair of Vortex Razor HD 12x50 binoculars without hesitation.

Out of the box these were easy to use and worked great for me. My normal issue with larger, more powerful binoculars is the interpupillary distance. To be frank, I have narrow set eyes and it is often difficult for me to find high quality binoculars above 10x. The Vortex Razor HD 12x50s allow for a wide range of motion and I was able to get them adjusted perfectly to my eyes with a little room to spare. Finally, a pair of high power, high quality glass that I can use in the field!

Focusing was fast and easy due to the diopter knob adjustment being wicked smooth. You can fine tune on a subject very quickly and easily. I allowed my daughter to try them out and it took forever to get them back when she realized how easy they were to adjust. 

Eye relief with these binoculars is great. I have sat behind these for hours and never had eye strain or a headache. As you can see on the image below, the dirt and grit on the eye cups show plenty of use from last season, but in no way did that affect the sharpness. And yes, I do clean these with the cloth provided (sometimes).

The Razor 12x50s are lightweight, not bulky and fit very well in your hands.They also fit well into nearly any binocular chest harness. That's a big plus for those who hunts out west.

Set the binos on a tripod and it's like you have two spotting scopes doing the work for you. These are the only 12x50 binoculars I have been able to use handheld or on a tripod with great results. Utilizing them on a tripod is the best way to go, but if you like to go back and forth from handheld to tripod (as I do), pick up the Uni-dapter tripod adapter from Vortex for $35. The new design is great and allows you to pull the binoculars off the tripod with no buttons or levers, thus eliminating noise and reducing movement.

I found that the Vortex Razor 12x50s work incredibly well in low light conditions. Just before sunrise and after sundown, these worked great and you are able to spot not only movement, but the actual animal outline at quite a distance. Two thumbs up for that right there! 

Many times at the beginning of my scouting seminars, I start out by passing around the two sets of Vortex binoculars. I have the attendees tell me which they like better and why. Nearly every person, whether man, woman, adult or child preferred the Razor HD 12x50s. After using these for an entire season, it was easy to convince them why the price shouldn't matter. The MSRP is $1499.99, which is a great price for the optics you are getting. The best part is you can find the Vortex Razor HD 12x50 binoculars at Bass Pro for $1099.99. You get great binoculars along with the Vortex VIP Unconditional Lifetime Warranty. You can't beat that.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Ammunition Confusion: What Are California Hunters To Do?

Hunters in California wanting to use their firearms to hunt deer, bear, and many other animals must use legal copper ammunition. With government officials doing a song and dance with our ammunition regulations and laws, purchasing hunting ammunition has become increasingly difficult and many companies simply do not want to deal with California at all. (IMHO, I believe that is EXACTLY what our CA government wants.) Confusion, ambiguity, harsh restriction, etc. (I am not a lawyer, nor am I so hard-headed that I cannot learn. If you have a better understanding of the regulations and laws, please share.) 

Hunters, like myself, have a big issue with this whole fiasco. In order to find hunting ammunition for your rifles you have to review the approved ammunition list. Then you must see if a local business with an FFL-01 of FFL-07 carries it, and if not see how you can get it through them. Why? Not all of the local companies want to carry all legal hunting ammunition for all calibers. That would involve carrying more inventory which takes up more shelf space and it doesn't move as quickly as target ammo.

According to the CA DOJ FFL regulations and the CA Penal Code, I can order ammunition and have it shipped to my FFL-03. You can read the entire section of code by clicking the link below.

CA Penal Code 30312 section 6:

  ( Part 6 added by Stats. 2010, Ch. 711, Sec. 6. )
TITLE 4. FIREARMS [23500 - 34370]
  ( Title 4 added by Stats. 2010, Ch. 711, Sec. 6. )
  ( Division 10 added by Stats. 2010, Ch. 711, Sec. 6. )
CHAPTER 1. Ammunition [30210 - 30395]
  ( Chapter 1 added by Stats. 2010, Ch. 711, Sec. 6. )

ARTICLE 2. Other Restrictions Relating to Ammunition [30300 - 30340]
  ( Article 2 added by Stats. 2010, Ch. 711, Sec. 6. )

(c) Subdivisions (a) and (b) shall not apply to the sale, delivery, or transfer of ammunition to any of the following:
(6) A person who is licensed as a collector of firearms pursuant to Chapter 44 (commencing with Section 921) of Title 18 of the United States Code and the regulations issued pursuant thereto, whose licensed premises are within this state, and who has a current certificate of eligibility issued by the Department of Justice pursuant to Section 26710.

My FFL-03 (which is what the above is referencing) has his license and all paperwork up-to-date and in order in the state of California. Technically, he is able to order and accept ammunition. Even still, I cannot find a single manufacturer who is willing to do that. As a hunter, I have contacted companies asking about purchasing ammunition and having it shipped to my authorized FFL. One such company, MidwayUSA, refuses to send purchased ammunition unless my name and the FFL name matches. Originally, I was asked to send my FFL info or my order would be delayed. I scanned and sent MidwayUSA the documentation and this was the correspondence that followed. I am sharing my correspondence with their customer service staff as they refuse the CA Penal Code and CA DOJ rules and regulations. 

Dear Albert,

Thank you for sending us a copy of the FFL-03. I apologize, but we are not able to accept this FFL, as the FFL must be in your name and must be either an 01 or 07. You may have the FFL Holder create an account with their FFL and place the order for you. The order will only ship to the FFL Holders address.

Please send us your FFL-01, FFL-07 or your Ammunition Vendor License so we may release your order. If we have not received this information within 48 hours, we will cancel your order. I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you.

If you have any additional questions or comments, please feel free to contact us at 1-800-243-3220. Our hours of operation are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. CST. You may also email us at customerservice@midwayusa.com.
Thanks for Your Business!

Customer Support Representative 3 | NRA Life Member
5875 West Van Horn Tavern Rd. | Columbia, MO 65203

Good afternoon,

Thank you for the email. To purchase online, CA DOJ requires ammunition to be shipped to an FFL. There is no specific requirement that it go to an FFL-01 or FFL-07. Simply a valid FFL. It also doesn't say that the FFL must be in my name. I am the person making the purchase and having it shipped directly to my FFL. 

Why is Midway USA unwilling to honor a valid FFL with paperwork up to date and validated by the CA DOJ?

Al Quackenbush
The SoCal Bowhunter

Dear Albert,

Thank you for your email regarding FFL's. I apologize for any confusion or inconvenience. It is MidwayUSA's policy to only accept and ship to an FFL-01, or FFL-07 holder. 

Please send us your FFL-01, FFL-07 or your Ammunition Vendor License so we may release your order. If we have not received this information within 48 hours, we will cancel your order. I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you.

If you have any additional questions or comments, please feel free to contact us at 1-800-243-3220. Our hours of operation are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. CST. You may also email us at customerservice@midwayusa.com.

Thanks for Your Business!

MidwayUSA Customer Service

I then responded with my FFL-07, per their request…


My FFL-07 is [FFL Name left out as not to drag them into a public discussion]. 


[FFL Address has been removed, but was included in the email]

Can I have my order shipped to them?

Al Quackenbush
The SoCal Bowhunter

Dear Albert,

Thank you for the email concerning shipping.  I apologize that only the actual 01 FFL holder can purchase ammunition from us as we are not able to do FFL transfers as you're suggesting.  I apologize for the inconvenience this causes you.

If you have any additional questions or comments, please feel free to contact us at 1-800-243-3220. Our hours of operation are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. CST. You may also email us at customerservice@midwayusa.com.

Thanks for Your Business!

Larry G.
MidwayUSA Customer Service

What are we legal firearm owners to do? I followed the regulations and laws. I sent them the proper documentation. I reached out multiple times and was shot down (pun intended). I understand the companies have lawyers telling them one thing and then policies are changed. That doesn't change the fact that it's wrong.

Even reloading components are being held back by companies. Barnes and Nosler will not ship bullets to me at my home, but they will ship to an FFL-03. CA regulations allow components to be delivered, but companies don’t want the hassle. My best guess is these companies simply do not want to be scrutinized or sued by the state of California and honestly, I can appreciate the frustration. 

My suggestion for my fellow firearms enthusiasts, hunters, and reloaders is to start purchasing your ammunition now, while you can. If you reload, start ordering components and get a good supply going because the regulations are constantly changing. If things keep going the way they are, we may not be able to get components to reload either. There are people and organizations out there who want to end hunting, firearm ownership, and our constitutional right to own a firearm. Think hard and let that sink in. It’s on our doorstep and we need to fight.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

2018 California Big Game Hunting Digest

My copy of the 2018 California Big Game Hunting Digest arrived in my mailbox yesterday. Now is the time to start reviewing the changes, zone data, and make plans on where and how you will hunt for big game this year. There are bound to be many questions, so I encourage you to contact the biologists and ask those questions. If there is something I can help with, please ask. Sometimes navigating the regulations can be frustrating. Even I get that way sometimes and I have come to the realization that asking questions and making plans early helps. 

Here are some changes that really jump out (direct from the CA DFW website) in regards to deer hunting:
Deer Tag Classification Changes
For the 2018 deer hunting season, the following deer tags have changed classifications. Please refer to the 2018 Deer Hunts for more information.
From Restricted to Premium deer tags:
A22 – tag quota filled on 6/15/17
From Unrestricted deer tags to Premium deer tags:
A18 – tag quota filled on 6/14/17
A19 – tag quota filled on 6/20/17
From Premium deer tag to Restricted deer tag:
D6 – tag quota filled on 7/5/17
From Unrestricted deer tags to Restricted deer tags:
B – tag quota filled on 7/17/17
D14 – tag quota filled on 7/13/17
A32 – tag quota filled on 7/17/17

I knew D14 would change this year due to it selling out even before I had the chance to get mine last year. With that said, I am going to review this release in detail and I have a feeling I will be making some changes to the areas I hunt this year. How about you? What are your plans? I'd love to get your feedback and hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The SoCal Bowhunter Review on #PROJECTELK

Last night, after dinner and with a cup of coffee, I went outside with my laptop and watched #PROJECTELK. I had been meaning to watch it for a while and then it slipped out of memory. As I was checking my email, I received a message from the RMEF saying that #PROJECTELK was now available FREE with your Amazon Prime subscription through Amazon Video. I jumped at the opportunity and watched it in full. I decided I would write up a short review for all of you...

Go watch it! That's my review. I'm not going to tell you all about it or give you a review. Seriously, you need to do that for yourselves. Take an hour and sit down and watch it. Soak it all up and let me know what you take away from it. You will not be disappointed.