Monday, August 24, 2015

Product Review: Rocky Broadhead Hunting Boots


"Take care of your feet." How many times have you heard experienced hunters tell you that? I must say it ten times a year to new hunters looking to upgrade their gear. "Get quality boots first!" I have said it once, and I'll say it again, if you take care of your feet your hunt will be so much better. Recently, in my search for a new lightweight boot for hunting in SoCal, Rocky Brands reached out and asked me if I had heard of their Broadhead Boot. I had not and after discussing the benefits of the boot they sent me a pair to field test and review.

I am going to start this review with this - I have two different size feet, as many people do. My issue is that my left foot is a 10.5 and my right is a size 10. Buying footwear is a challenge for me! When my size 10.5 boots arrived, I was concerned about the right foot and rightly so. Sure enough, the left fit perfectly and the right was loose. The good thing is that I was able to tighten up the right boot enough to reduce any extra play inside the boot. Many boots I have tried are so rigid that they don't allow for that. The Broadhead boot not only allows for it, but you can cinch them up too tight if you aren't careful. The first time wearing them that is precisely what I did. I had to stop and loosen them a bit because they hugged my leg and foot so well.

The boots are insulated with 400g insulation. Many will frown on that for hunting in the heat, but we also get colder temps later in the season. 400 g insulation is a good balance. It is listed that they are waterproof, but I did not test out the waterproofing features due to the drought and lack of standing water.

Some information about the Broadhead Boots from the Rocky website:
  •     EVA footbed
  •     Guaranteed Rocky® Waterproof construction
  •     400 Grams of 3M™ Thinsulate™ Insulation
  •     Rubber EVA Outsole
  •     Cement construction
  •     Ripstop upper
  •     Moisture management lining
  •     8 Inches in height
  •     Each boot weighs 22.75 oz

The first thing I noticed is that these boots are incredibly lightweight. They look heavy, but that is misleading. I truly love how light they are. I have taken them hiking with 65# on my back over miles of dirt and when setting up trail cameras in the high desert of SoCal. I never even thought about them! They truly feel like a great pair of sneakers on the trail. I took them out on our recent scouting trip where we hiked 2,000' vertically and the boots made a difference. Keep in mind that if you hunt in snake infest areas, these are not snake-proof.I wore snake gaiters on each trip, over the top of the boots, and everything was very comfortable.


The tread is unique and holds up well in dirt, rock, and sand. I did everything I could to get the boots to slip when hiking on rocks. I even hit up some jagged rock to see if it would go through the tread or the fabric. They not only held up well, there wasn't any damage to the boots at all. I played soccer in them with my daughter and they felt like sneakers. they gripped the grass well. I hiked on dirt, sand, rocks, wet leaves, and the Broadhead Boot owned every one of them. After the hikes over rocky terrain and vertical climbs, I checked the tread and it held up well!

Here was one of the best parts of the field test. I always tell people not to wear cotton socks when they hike as they absorb moisture and you get more blisters, but who listens to me all the time, right? I know many of you wear cotton, so I decided to wear my old, cotton socks on a recent scouting trip. The weatherman said it was going to reach 95 degrees by 10:00 am and I was wearing cotton. I hit the trail at 5:45 am and hiked four miles in 75-80 degree weather. My feet got warm, but that was it. There were zero hot spots, no blisters at all, and my feet didn't slip around inside the boot. In fact, the socks stayed put. Sometime they can crinkle down inside your boots when hiking. Not with the Broadhead boots from Rocky. I was impressed. I continued to wear cotton socks throughout the entire field test. The socks again soaked with sweat, but not once did I get a blister or even one hot spot. The interior of the boot is well designed and hugs the contour of your foot. My feet thank you Rocky!

Normally, on our hikes out of the canyons we hunt, we complain and whine about how hot it is and how our feet hurt. We actually cracked some jokes and talked about how well my boots were holding up. My feet did not hurt at all. In fact, it felt like I was wearing sneakers. There was no ankle rubbing and no aching in my feet. My feet were loving the boots.

This is with the boots completely laced up. Plenty of extra lace to go around.

The only thing that really bothered me about the boots was extremely minor and it was the laces. They are sooooooo long! They don't need to stretch to the moon and back. I think if Rocky reduced the laces by at least 20" they would be much better and not catch on things. I had to wind them around the top of the boot, tie extra knots and there was still plenty of room.

The Rocky Broadhead boots retail for $164.99. For a quality boot that will last a while, this is a great price, in my opinion. Your boots should be an investment in foot care and comfort. If you want quality, durability and a lightweight, this is an excellent boot to choose. I am going to continue to wear them throughout the hunting season in California (which goes until Dec. 31).  If I have anything more to add, you'll see it here!
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Great news! Rocky Boots is offering you, the readers of the SoCal Bowhunter blog, a great discount! The code below is good for 20% off a purchase at Rockyboots.com.   

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Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think and share if there is something else you want to know about the Broadhead Boots!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Fire Season and Hunting - Prepare Yourselves Before You Go


I mentioned in my last post that fire season is on top of us. It's going to get worse before it gets better. One of the things that has been bothering me this entire year is what to do in the event of a fire and you are out hunting. I enlisted the help of my friend and firefighter, JD Heller, to share some tips and guidance on what to look for and what to do. Thanks to JD for a great post that we should all review carefully. ~AQ
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Opening day of deer season is finally here! You have spent countless hours practicing, scouting, and prepping your gear. You are in your favorite honey hole, glassing until midday when you start to notice the passing shadows of clouds on the ground, but you know there isn't a cloud in the sky. Looking around you notice everything has a brown haze. Then you smell it. Something is burning! If you were hunting from the road it would be no big deal, as you could hop in your truck and get out as fast as you can, but you’re not! You have hiked three miles in to your favorite spot and the smoke is getting closer. How do you get out? Here are some basic factors that affect how a wildfire burns and how we can help ourselves stay safe if we are ever get caught in a fire situation.

Be cautious where you use a portable stove and be sure it's legal in your area.

There are three major factors that influence the starting and spread of a wildfire; Fuel, Weather, and Topography. 

Fuel Types: 
  • Light fuels - Grass, small shrubs, leaves and pine needles. These fuels will ignite rapidly and burn quickly but burn out quickly and are easy to put out.
  • Medium fuels - Sagebrush, smaller manzanita and yucca. These fuels take longer to ignite but burn intensely.
  • Heavy fuels - Trees, limbs and logs that might be on the ground. These are very difficult to extinguish once they get going.

What is the importance of the three types of fuel? The lighter the fuel the quicker it will ignite, burn, and go out. Conversely the larger the fuel the longer it will burn and the more difficult it is to put out.

Weather: Weather is a broad subject, so I will just cover wind.  Just like in hunting, the wind can either be your friend or your enemy. If you have been in Southern California for at least one fall you have experienced our Santa Ana winds. When you have low humidity, dry conditions and a Santa Ana episode you can have a fire storm. Look what happened in 2007 when more than 970,000 acres were burned in a two-week period. Winds can push the flames incredibly fast even when you don't have a slope. It can create a sheeting effect.

Topography: Topography encompasses aspect, slope and shape of the mountain. I think topography affects the hunter the most when dealing with our safety in a fire situation. Remember you will not be able to out run fire burning up hill!

Aspect: This is the direction the slope faces. Aspect determines the amount of preheating of the fuels and when they will heat up. Generally your south and southwest facing slopes are more directly exposed to sunlight. They have higher temps and lighter fuels. North facing slopes will get more shade, heavier fuels, and cooler temps.

Slope: Fire will burn more rapidly uphill than downhill. The reason is the steeper the slope the more preheating of the fuels above the fire. Another concern about steeper slopes is the possibility of burning material rolling down the hill and starting fires below you. Also watch out for rocks and boulders that may get dislodged.

Shape (Chimneys/draws and saddles, in turns and out turns): Fire, like water will take the path of least resistance. This is why it is so dangerous to get caught in a chimney, saddle or if you are driving on a road an “in turn”. Let me explain. Just like in your fireplace at home smoke and heat want to travel up. When you have a narrow draw that is on fire it is preheating the sides and ahead of the fire. This will cause rapid upward fire spread. Fire is also drawn into saddle areas. The reason why “in turns” in a road are so dangerous is because that is where the road turns into a chimney. The fire will be drawn to that area. It is safer in general to be on an “out turn” or the ridge portion of the slope. 

L C E S – (Lookouts, Communication, Escape routes, Safety Zones):
In the fire service we use LCES to remind us of these 4 things when we fight a wildland fire.
 
  • Lookouts: In a hunting situation this just means to stay aware of what is going on around you, such as changing weather and wind.
  • Communications: Make sure you have some way to communicate, like a cell phone, emergency locating device or even a signaling mirror. Make sure people know where you are and if things go bad you have a way to call for help.
  • Escape Routes: If you find yourself with a fire coming your way you should have multiple ways to get to safety, hopefully in different directions. This would be a wise thing to look for when you go scouting.
  • Safety Zones: A safety zone is an area that you can survive in case you cannot get out of the fires way. Examples of a safety zone are large rock slide areas, previously burned areas where the fuels are sparse or gone, lakes, streams and possibly roads.
Staying safe in the backcountry takes a little planning and avoiding a forest fire shouldn't be a big concern. It is a rare occurrence which will probably never happen, but we are in Southern California and hunting season is fire season! Keep your eyes open when you are scouting. Make note of ways to get to a safe area when you are out scouting. Make sure you are well hydrated and have an ample supply of water with you. Always protect your airway at all times. Be careful when using an open flame as you don’t want be the one who starts the fire!

Some of this info is taken from the Student Handbook for Introduction to Wildland Fire Behavior S-190. May, 1994. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Deer and Fire Season Planning

For many of us in SoCal, deer and bear seasons have just begun or will hit on September 5. Are you ready? I don't just mean have you been shooting your bow and driving tacks at 60 yards. I mean are you ready mentally, physically, and do you have a plan? Do you have a back up plan? How about a back up to that plan? I'd be willing to bet you don't and the reason I ask is because we are in fire season and it sucks. Do you have the proper gear? Have you made the proper arrangements should you get caught in a fire? These are all things to consider if you are hunting in California this year.

Fires have shut down some of the best hunting areas for years. I am still waiting to get back into my original hunting spot after six years of it being closed due to the Station Fire. Has that deterred me from hunting? Heck no! I love it too much and continue to scout new areas. Plus, I love to hunt and I really need some quality red meat in my freezer that doesn't come from a factory farm. 

First, let us talk about the back up plans. In the past, I have usually had my goals set to find deer in one part of the forest. Some would say I am limiting myself, and normally I would disagree.  I focus on one area (a vast area) and set up cameras, scout it, and get to know it like the back of my hand. I have to as the deer are difficult to find down here. Now that I have hunted California for many years, I do agree that I have limited myself due to great hunter numbers, the drought, and forest fires. In order to have more opportunity, Brett and I are scouting more property, putting more cameras up, and planning more. Why? We want to kill a deer or two and fill our freezers. It's a good start, but we have a lot of work to do.

The back up plans are the ones that sometimes are thought out in advance and some out of necessity. For the past couple years it has been out of necessity as there were far too many hunters in our spot and too few deer. This year, it is a bit of everything. There is no water where there once was a flowing spring. The hunter numbers are high in our prime spot. Worst of all, it's very dry and all the land around seems to be catching fire when someone farts the wrong way. So we have been scouting on Google Earth and putting boot rubber to trail. We are going to do more of that this weekend, too. We want to be sure that if one area does burn, we have other options. I think our plan is a sound one, but we cannot predict the future. We are also planning a third option because we must.

What are your plans during this fire season? Do you have a back up plan? Have you informed your loved ones where you are hunting? You should have a back up plan or two and be sure to leave exact locations with your loved ones complete with local hospital information. 

I leave you with this question. What is your plan should a forest fire hit your hunting spot with you in it? We will discuss that in a not-so-distant post. Good luck and be safe this year!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Cigar Review: Montecristo Relentless Toro


It is time for another cigar review as we head into the weekend! Famous Smoke Shop sent me the Montecristo Relentless Toro (6 x 54) to review. Having never smoked a Montecristo, I was eager to smoke one, but I resisted the urge to smoke them right away and let them rest for a couple weeks in my humidor. I left the cellophane wrapper on and after two weeks it was time to enjoy a smoke! I decided to space this one out over a couple months. I smoked one every three weeks to see if anything changed. The results were the same the three times I smoked, so everything here is complete.

The first thing I do when smoking a cigar is breathe in the aroma. When I inhaled, memories of a fresh cut hayfield on a humid day pierced my nostrils. It was extremely plantlike and 'green' smelling. It hails from the Dominican Republic. It has Nicaraguan and Brazilian Mata Fina longfillers, a Mexican San Andres binder, and an Ecuadorian Connecticut shade wrapper, and most cigars I have smoked with that type of wrapper
have a green smell to them. I hoped smoking it would be better than the smell.


The draw was smooth, but I found I had to really puff to get it to flow at first. Plants and charcoal flavors were tough for me to get past. It is a medium-bodied cigar that smoked very well. The first third had very strong plant flavors, but the second third was enjoyable. The final third tasted like the inside of what a charcoal grill smells like after a rainstorm. There wasn't anything peppery or spicy about this cigar. In fact, it didn't have any 'Wow!' factor for me.


Depending on how fast you like to smoke, the Montecristo Relentless Toro will last anywhere from thirty-five minutes to an hour. It burned even with no canoeing at any time. It gets an extremely high consumer rating of 90, but I feel that is overly generous for this cigar. I felt this was at least in the mid-eighties at best. While I personally didn't care for it, I know many cigar lovers who will.

So there you have it, I honestly didn't care for this cigar. I don't particularly care for cigars that taste like I am smoking a green tobacco. There are many that do and if you like that, get some of these. At around $10.00 per stick, I think it's a decent price, if you like this type of cigar.

Thank you to Famous Smoke Shop for giving me the opportunity to review Montecristo Relentless Toro. Even though I didn't care for it, I do appreciate the opportunity. If you want to try the Montecristo Relentless Toro in 6x54, you can pick up this Famous exclusive Montecristo online here. If you do purchase one or have smoked them in the past, please let me know your thoughts on the cigar in the comments below. Happy Smoking!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Bow Maintenance and DIY Tuning

After I posted yesterday, I reviewed my bow hunting to-do list. Tuning my bow and routine maintenance was at the top. I knew I needed to swap get my new Piranha bow strings on my other Bear Anarchy HC, but knowing I needed to hit the archery range on Tuesday night, I needed to work on my current bow first. I waxed my bow string (do this often) and after that, I turned my focus to tuning.

For weeks, I have noticed my arrow was pointing right due to my rest being set too far to the right. I also noticed that my sight level seemed off from my 'internal' balance. What do I mean? Have you ever been aiming at the target and your sight bubble is level, but you feel like it is off? That is what I am talking about. While this can sometimes seem I am just being difficult, other times it can mean I am correct and that my 2nd axis is off. How was I going to figure all of that out? Before I get to figuring it all out, I knew that in order to make any of the adjustments, I needed a bow vise. I researched and found a decent one online that seemed solid, constructed well, and far less expensive than many on the market. I purchased it and mounted it to my work bench. So far it is working well and I like it.

Getting back to the axis adjustments, a couple weeks ago I won a DVD from Jerry Eulitt, who most of you might know as "Ike", from Ike's Outdoors. He has put together a very comprehensive and easy to follow DVD of how to set up your bow, tune it properly, and have it driving tacks in no time. Plus he offers many extras on the DVD. Much of the DVD was an excellent refresher for me, but the French tuning part was something I had never tried before. Here's a short clip of what he is offering:



While I know how to adjust my 2nd and 3rd axis on my HHA King Pin sight, I wanted to see what Ike shared and to refresh my memory before I started tweaking anything. He does a great job of making things simple and sharing what you need to do to better your set up. I gathered up my Allen wrenches, a headlamp, and poured a strong cup of coffee in preparation. I am sure I spent more time than I needed to making sure everything was spot on and level. I measured and leveled two and three times to be 100% sure it was correct. Once I had it done, I felt like I had a brand new bow. It is very reassuring when you can do much of the fine tuning by yourself and not have to rely on anyone else.

While this is mainly about tuning and adjusting my 2nd and 3rd axis, this is also about the DVD that Ike put together. If you want to start working on your own bow or making the adjustments at home, this DVD is an excellent tool to assist you. You can buy the DVD for $20 from his website (http://www.ikesoutdoors.com/shop.html) and he offers free downloads for tuning. After getting my bow properly set up, I am confident my arrows will fly truer and my shots will be accurate. Good luck getting your own bow tuned and set up for hunting or 3D!