Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Product Review Follow-up: Gerber Axle 2x3 Headlamp
A while back I did a full review on the Gerber Axle 2x3 headlamp. I decided to try and use it a few more times and on the second try the unit wouldn't even turn on. I had it in the woods with me and tested it before I hiked in to my stand and it worked just fine. As I was climbing out of my stand I flipped the switch to turn it on and nothing happened. Pitch black and no lamp. I had even put brand new batteries in that morning and put a piece of duct-tape over the switch to keep it from accidentally turning on in my pack. Fortunately for me I am a safety nut, Boy Scout and gadget junkie, so I had packed my high-powered flashlight, too.

When I got back home, I emailed Gerber and asked them if I could return the unit for a new one. They said yes, I would just have to pay for the shipping-to and they would take care of the return shipping. I sent it back and a few weeks later I received a brand-new headlamp. It came fully-equipped with new batteries, too. I was excited to try it our again! I opened it up and put the batteries in and...yes, you guessed it - NOTHING! Absolutely nothing happened!! No bright light, no red light, nothing. So, I took the batteries out and verified I had them in correctly and tried it again. Click. Nothing. I figured the batteries must have been shot, so I replaced them. No juice. No light. Nothing. Needless to say, I was very irritated. I looked inside the battery compartment and saw that the way the unit was built that the center connector was lower than the other two and didn't seem to be making a connection. Ugh! So I had two options. I could send it back, again, and then have them ship me yet another new unit, or I could toss it, save myself the extra cash and buy a different brand. I opted for the latter. I jumped over to The Sportsman's Guide and found a Remington Extreme Track headlamp for under $35.00. Not only was it a good buy, but it has some great features! 
  • Blood trails glow bright (vs. night vision modes where they appear darker)
  • Night vision compatibility mode
  • Rotating diffuser filter
  • Impact and water resistant
  • 150-lumen brightness 
  • Runs up to 25 hours on 4 AA Batteries (which are included). 
I got the Remington Extreme in the mail and it is an excellent device. I'll get a review up on it soon, but for now it is my go-to headlamp. I tested it out in and around my garage and I love it. It's a bit bulkier than the Gerber, but it works phenomenally well!

I thought all of you should be aware of my findings with the Gerber device. I emailed Gerber back to inform them that I would not be spending more money to ship back another defective unit. Investing my money in a new lamp that I would be happy with and confident it would work well in all situations was worth more than testing their unit out yet again.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

No Dice On SoCal Mulies So Far Yepper, that was me on multiple occasions last Saturday. Why? I'll just say that them there hills are steep, I am out of shape and my pack weighed about 35 lbs. It was brutal on my body, but felt so good after we reached each peak. (I have a shirt that reads "I'm in shape... Round is a shape!" But it wasn't as funny as I remembered it when climbing those steep hillsides!)

Fellow DIY Pro Staffer, Eric Welsh and I hit up one of our spots to glass up some mule deer (or Pacific Hybrids if you wish). We parked and hit the dirt road before sun up and started our half mile hike to the rim where we'd be glassing. Along the way we spotted plenty of fresh coyote tracks and plenty of deer tracks. Five sets to be exact. They were fresh, but we had missed them by a few hours so we continued climbing and finally reached the first ridge at 6:15 AM. The middle of nowhere is where I found peace. It was a beautiful, foggy morning with steep valleys, no traffic and no people for miles and miles. For 2 hours we sat and glassed the hillsides, valley floor and deep canyons without even a glimpse of a deer. Nada. Zip. 

While we sat we discussed the website, some new things we have coming very soon and just how hard hunting out here can be. After a time, Eric said he wanted to hit up the next ridge to glass. The next ridge was only 500 yards away, but the climb was even steeper than the one we had just made. Sonofabitch! Without missing a beat I said, 'Let's do it!' What the hell was I thinking? So we descended the current ridge, walked down the road and then climbed... and climbed... and sucked wind... and climbed... and about puked... and laughed... and climbed a bit more to reach the top. Again, no deer. It might seem like a huge bummer, and to some extant it was, but it was also an incredible feeling being on top of the world while trying to locate the flick of an ear or twitch of a tail. Sure we wanted to find a deer to shoot, but it was also a learning experience for me. I constantly strive to be better at what I do. Working hard will just make hitting my goal taste that much sweeter.

Another couple hours went by and we made the decision to head back up the road, glassing along the way to see if we could ambush anything. We saw quail, plenty of coyote tracks, more deer tracks and that was it. We chalked the day up to showing me the ropes for SoCal mule deer hunting and made our way home. It was a great morning to get out, see the world and do what I love to do - hunt. I have a new spot to check out this Saturday that sounds promising. I'll be bringing the camera to get some shots, too. Then, in a little over a week I'll be headed to New York for my annual whitetail hunt with my dad and brother. Two more bucks have been spotted on the trail cams and I can hardly contain my excitement. I am looking forward to the hunting stories, the good-natured ribbing, and spending time with my family. Well, that and hopefully filling my freezer with some choice steaks!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Product Review: Havalon Piranta-EDGE Knife (with Blaze Orange Handle)
When I was doing all of my hunting on the East Coast I didn't have to travel very far to get to my stand. Hell, I didn't have to walk over a quarter-mile to get to a spot. It was easy walking, not much in my pack and I was able to take a relaxed approach to the weight of my gear. Now that I live on the West Coast I take a much different approach to what I carry. I want my pack to be lightweight, but to have quality gear.

One of the most important tools in my pack is my knife. One of the knives I have been testing out is the Havalon Piranta-EDGE Skinning Knife. This knife is unlike any knife you will ever use! It's a folding knife that is perfect for any hunter that does any sort of hiking to get to a spot or just wants quality, lightweight gear.

From the Havalon website:
The Piranta-Edge features surgically-sharp replaceable blades and an easy-to-find blaze orange handle. It's always sharp - just replace the blades and go! Each knife includes 12 additional stainless steel #60XT blades. The overall length of the knife open is 7-1/4". You'll like the easy-grip black rubber inlay, liner-lock construction and pocket clip.

You'll appreciate the light weight of this skinning and caping knife: less than three ounces. And no need to carry extra knives, heavy files, stones or other sharpeners.

It's "The Sharpest Knife You'll Never Lose!"

That quote is dead on. It weighs less than 3 ounces, yet it is super sharp and durable. Like all of the products I review, I start testing with an open mind, but sometimes it's hard not to have some doubts. When I first opened the box containing my Piranta-EDGE I thought it was a joke. What knife could be this lightweight, be a folder and have the durability and skinning capability of a fixed-blade knife? I'll say that I was pleasantly surprised. This knife is exactly what The SoCal Bowhunter needs!

First off, this knife can do it all! Field dressing, skinning, caping and even eating your venison steak dinner. (Trust me, I tried it and it was sharper than any of my steak knives!) It has a blaze orange handle which I believe is critical for any backcountry hunter. If you have ever set your black-handled knife down on the ground, had to walk to your pack and turn around to try to find it again when it's dark you'll know. It's an uneasy feeling. Now imagine being 5 miles in and you can't find your knife. That shouldn't happen with this knife. It's bright orange and heck, you can fold it and put it in your pocket if need be. There is a clip on the knife if you want to clip it to your pocket or belt. I prefer to keep it in the carrying case with the blades.

Second, it's lightweight so you'll probably never feel the weight in your pack or on your belt. This is a major plus!

Third, it comes with 12 replacement blades AND they fit right in the knife case so you won't misplace them.

Now here is one of my suggestions and it's not to Havalon, it's to you hunters. When you are replacing blades, BE CAREFUL! You WILL want to practice replacing the blades at home before you go on a hunt. There's a small trick to it. It took me some practice and watching a few videos to get the hang of it.

I did all of my testing in mostly very hot and some cooler temps, but never on frozen tundra. This may not be the knife for some of you going hunting in the land of ice and snow, so be prepared! When my hands get numb and I have to field dress an animal, holding on to a knife can be tough and this knife is smaller than most. It does have a plastic handle, so that should help. I really can't say for sure, but this is one reason why I carry a backup knife. The other reason is if I had to change blades in freezing cold temps I might have to reconsider my choice in knife. I am very cautious when it comes to my gear, what I use and when. For now, hunting in SoCal, you can be sure that this knife stays in my pack!

Many bowhunters I have spoken with carry the Havalon Piranta-EDGE and they swear by it. Some say it's the only knife they ever use anymore. I highly recommend this knife to any hunter out there and for around $30.00 you get a great deal! You can do away with an extra knife (unlike me) and a sharpener. You can just carry the knife and extra blades and you are set to go! now I am off to see if I can fill my tag and put mine to good use!

Working For The Weekend
Editing video. Thinking about deer hunting. Creating logos. Washing camo and gathering archery gear. Illustrations and editing photos. Planning a Saturday hunt and feeling all 'antsy in [my] pantsies' (Great line from Super Troopers). This week has been a roller coaster for my brain. I wanted to write more this week, but work has to come first. Now that it is Friday I am getting all giddy thinking about spotting and stalking tomorrow for some mule deer.

I follow multiple hunting blogs. One of them is I Don't Wear Pink Camo to the Woods which is penned (typed) by Kari Murray. She's posted two times recently that really caught my attention, one on trail cameras and other hunter, and one on her archery whitetail hunt. The latter post that she was able to arrow a beautiful Wisconsin doe after a tough season. Congratulations, Kari! You should really read this post before the latest one to really get an understanding of why this was so awesome. In the middle of that Kari posted about other hunters walking in from of her trail cams. These guys were disrespectful, but they at least left the camera there. Now, I can understand being funny, but flipping the camera off when it's not yours? Real mature. Now my family is VERY mature... read on...

My dad and brother and I have been emailing back and forth about my trip out there in a couple of weeks and I am also excited about that. My brother, BJ, has been sending me trail cam photos for the past couple weeks. I started viewing them and see we finally got a picture of a buck, a nice red fox and then someone dancing through the woods. Really, there was. You can see for yourself!
My brother cracks me up. I wonder how many deer were watching him do his routine.

Ok, so it was my brother being a goofball in front of the camera. I can't say I wouldn't do it, too. The entertainment value alone from my hunting buddies in NY will be worth the trip alone.

This guy has some odd antlers, but he's still going to get an arrow if he comes by my stand.

Is the fox mooning me or telling me to kiss his ass?
I am sure there will be more photos after this weekend. I hope to have some of my mule deer kill, should I be successful. My family will be out hunting in NY, so I hope to see some photos of their kills, too. If nothing else there will be trail cam photos to share. Have a great weekend everyone and good luck if you are going hunting!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Mind Is Like Molasses
It has been one of those weeks. Lots of work to get done and little time to blog. I am sure we all have those days and I have to say I am thankful for the days I have plenty of work to do. I love my job. I also love hunting. There are a few things I want to write about, like product reviews and upcoming trips, but they will have to wait when my skull isn't pretending to act like a racquetball court. For right now I will post a few trail cam photos my brother sent me this morning from NY. They are all does, but I have two doe tags and I can't wait to fill the freezer.
From all of the photos, it looks like these two travel together. Yes, there are two. Look closely.
This doe is large and very healthy.

Two young ones, but large enough to thin out the doe population.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Hunting Gear Liability - Are Airlines Responsible For Your Gear?
In a few weeks I am headed back to NY for the archery whitetail deer season (which opened today). In preparation for the trip I decided to review the TSA guidelines for traveling with firearms and archery equipment. I understood that very well, but when I moved on to the JetBlue website I was caught off guard and a bit peeved. Here is the letter I sent to JetBlue (which explains my concerns) and the response I received.

Letter to JetBlue:
In one section of the website it is mentioned that: Items that JetBlue Does Not Hold Liability for...
The following items are accepted for transportation at your own risk. JetBlue will not be liable for damage, loss or spoilage of these items.

You may choose to carry the item(s) with you if they meet the requirements for carry-on baggage. Essential medication or currency should always travel with you and should never be checked.

Fragile or unsuitably packaged items (such as antiques, art, bottles, cameras [video, still, projectors], ceramic, computer equipment, glass, hockey sticks, liquids, luggage totes, mirrors and other items subject to break in transit, musical instruments, precision tools, radios, small appliances, sound reproduction equipment, televisions or trophies)

Irreplaceable or essential items (such as antiques, artifacts, car keys, house or other keys, currency, checks, negotiable papers, securities, essential medication, heirlooms, collectible items, irreplaceable business documents, jewelry, precious stones or metals including silverware, natural fur products, optics, contact lenses, paintings/works of art)

Perishable items (such as fish, meat or any perishable food item, flowers or plants)

Then, on the page where JetBlue discusses traveling with firearms it says: 
Please note: Sporting goods/equipment will only be accepted for transportation at the customer's own risk. JetBlue Airways will not be liable in the event that the item is damaged, lost, or spoiled upon arrival.

Why wouldn't JetBlue be liable if firearms/compound bows were damaged upon arrival? I am going to be taking a trip in the next few weeks and want to be sure my archery equipment is going to be covered. If it is checked by TSA officials and is in great shape when the case is locked up by the official and it arrives broken who is then liable? I am very confused and thinking about switching my flight if my gear is not covered.

Response from JetBlue:
Dear Albert,
Thank you for contacting JetBlue Airways regarding our baggage liability. We appreciate the opportunity to respond.

Firearms, shooting equipment and related items are conditionally accepted items as checked baggage at the customer's own risk. For this reason, these items must be suitably packed in either a crush-proof container specifically designed for the equipment, or in a hard-sided container, or in packaging designed to withstand ordinary handling.

In accordance with our Contract of Carriage, JetBlue will not be liable in the event that such items are damaged or lost. There are insurance companies that will provide coverage for baggage, or you also have the option to have the equipment shipped.

Albert, we thank you for choosing JetBlue and we look forward to welcoming you onboard.


Customer Commitment Crew
JetBlue Airways
Crewmember 26482

Ok, what kind of answer is that? It's just regurgitating the information found on the website. I call bullshit. Sure, I know I need to pack my gear in a hard-sided case and be sure it's packed well, but come on. They are telling me I'll need extra insurance to cover my gear? It pays to get an SKB Case that has $1,500 liability coverage with it. In my opinion, JetBlue is getting off easy here. What this says to me is - Well, we'll take your money, but should we decide to toss your hard-sided case filled with your expensive archery gear and it lands wrong and breaks, well then, too bad so sad. You are shit out of luck.  I mentioned this to my wife and she brought up a good point. She said to check out some of the other airlines and see what their policies are. All of the information was found on their respective websites.

American Airlines
American assumes no liability for musical instruments/recreational/sports items not presented in a hard-sided case.
American's liability for loss, damage or delayed delivery of checked baggage, including transfer baggage, is limited to the actual value of the baggage or $3,300, whichever is less, unless the passenger declares a higher value for loss of baggage, not to exceed $5000.00 including the $3,300 standard liability per passenger and pays American a sum of $2.00 per $100.00 (or any portion thereof) of excess value. Excess valuation coverage is not available for and does not apply to items excluded in our liability below.
United Airlines
For travel wholly between U.S. points, liability for delay, damage or loss to checked baggage, including carry-on baggage if tendered to the carrier's in-flight personnel for storage or otherwise delivered into the custody of the carrier, is limited to a maximum of $3,300 per ticketed passenger.
Delta Airlines
Fragile/Limited Liability Release Items
We will accept certain fragile or perishable items without a limited liability release as long as they meet the requirements outlined below:

    * Item is packaged in the original factory-sealed container
    * Item includes internal protective packing material
    * Item is typically designed for shipping

Items that are not appropriately packaged, and are not assistive devices, will only be accepted upon completion of a limited liability release.

Excess Valuation
Delta Air Lines is not liable for checked or unchecked baggage in excess of the limits described above unless:

    * You declare a higher value.
    * The declared value does not exceed $5,000.
    * The item is properly described, properly packaged and undamaged.
    * You pay an excess value fee at check-in.

The excess valuation charge is applicable only when the declared value is greater than the applicable liability limit.

Domestic Excess Valuation Charges
(Continental U.S., Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands)
Total Amount of Declared Value     Fee Paid at Check-In
$3300.01 to $4000.00     $40.00
$4000.01 to $5000.00     $50.00

To me, it looks as if American and United have a better policy, but Delta is asking for the insurance to be added. None of the other three say they will not be held liable in the event of damage or loss. Am I wrong in thinking that JetBlue is wrong here? 

Some of you might be thinking it would be easier to just change airlines. Normally I would agree, but not in this case. JetBlue flies a fairly direct route and the time of arrival in NY is much better than the others. My layover is in NYC, so if I was stuck driving from there to my destination I could do it if I had to. The ticket price is relatively the same, but the other factors led me to JetBlue. I did have airline miles I wanted to use from American, but they gave me the big middle finger when I wanted to use them for a one-way flight. Whatever.

Honestly, for you travelers out there, how do you feel about this and what precautions would you take for a trip like this?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Product Review: Mike Jensen Bow Strings
Back in 2008 I was at wit's end. The bow I was shooting was a great bow, but it wasn't built for power or shooting long distances. I did some searching and found a used bow online. When talking with the seller, he mentioned that the bow needed new strings and cables. He directed me to Mike Jensen of Mike's Archery & Custom bowstrings LLC. I went home and looked up Mike's info.

Mike's Strings and Cables are made with only the best string material 452x. Tests have proven that it doesn't creep or stretch like all other string materials. Because there is no creep your bow stays in tune with zero cam rotation. Your bow stays rock solid! Consistent cast of arrow-flight. Same poundage, draw length, and same nock travel equals great arrow-flight or consistent arrow-flight! Less oscillating equals less noise!

Problem #1 fixed! Your bow stays in tune! Zero Creep!

Recommended strands: 20 for 70 pounds or less / 24 for 70 pounds or more

Breaking strength: Approx ft/lb 8800

Note: 452x has the strongest breaking strength than any other material so I recommend 20 strands for max speed.

This all sounded good to me, so I had Mike make me up a new set of string and cables for my PSE Vengeance. I got to choose the colors I wanted and within two weeks I had my new set arrive in the mail. My pro-shop installed them for me and in no time I was flinging arrows. The strings were pre-stretched, but I still like shooting 200+ arrows before making any adjustments. After my 200 shots, I locked in the peep and was ready to rock-n-roll. The strings worked great! Two years later they are still holding up nicely as I wax them often and take good care of them. Earlier this year I purchased another used bow and even though it still had what seemed like good life to the strings and cables, I opted to replace them. I wanted to be sure of my gear and be confident that the components would last.
I am very happy with the strings and cables Mike has put together for me. I again got to choose whatever colors I wanted and the turnaround time was fast, too. The best part is the price. Mike puts together a great set of string and cables for $39.99. It's tough to find another company that'll do that for you. Having durable bow strings is essential for consistent shooting. I will definitely recommend Mike's Archery & Custom Bow Strings in the future.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Learning Better Shot Placement on Deer
One of the biggest fears a hunter has to face is the possibility of wounding an animal instead of a clean kill. I have had this happen to me before and recently I have read in the news and on other blogs the very same situation happening. How can we help fix this? Well, there is no cure for buck fever. Adrenaline is an awesome thing when it's pumped through your body when you are at full draw. Rick Kratzke over at Whitetail Woods had a great post on shot placement last week. 
Rick says, 'We owe it to ourselves and especially the animal to be harvest as quick and humanely as possible.' 
He is spot on and this should be in the minds of EVERY hunter.

So how can we teach our new hunters and even the old where to properly aim on an deer without pointing to a 2D paper target or a TV screen? The New York Department of Environmental Conservation may have an answer. As I hail from the great state of NY, I found this latest press release exciting and hopefully a step in the right direction. What do you think? Is it a good thing? Is it overkill? Personally, I think we should implement this here in California, but I am sure the HSUS would deem the 'cyber deer' still an animal and want to protect it.

New York Stocks Up on Cyber Deer
BOGART, GA. - The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recently purchased 1,000 copies of Cyber Deer, a shot-placement training program, to be used at their hunter education courses. Hunter education instructors throughout New York will be armed with the most advanced deer anatomy and shot placement tool available for their upcoming courses. Cyber Deer is a computer program produced by the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), in partnership with Bass Pro Shops, to train new and experienced hunters on organ and skeleton locations and proper shot angles for deer.

Using Cyber Deer, hunter education students can simulate both ground and treestand hunting scenarios by selecting multiple distances and heights from the deer, and select rifle or bow, as proper shot selection changes according to type of hunting equipment used. Students can also rotate the deer and receive instant feedback from the program on shot angles. Students can then "shoot" the deer and receive feedback on shot attempt and shot placement. A visible line representing the shot path stays on screen, and the instructor and students can rotate the deer, zoom in, and see the internal path through accurate diagrams of the skeleton and organs.

Cyber Deer will help new and experienced hunters make more knowledgeable and ethical shot placement decisions, and more knowledgeable hunters are better stewards of our natural resources and better ambassadors for hunting. "I applaud DEC for providing Cyber Deer to their hunter education instructors," said Kip Adams, northern director of education and outreach for the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA). "It is a phenomenal training tool, and I hope it will someday be used in every hunter education course in the country."

Cyber Deer retails for $14.95, and discounts are available to state and federal agencies and educational organizations.

About QDMA

Founded in 1988, QDMA is a national nonprofit wildlife conservation organization with more than 50,000 members in all 50 states and Canada, and several foreign countries. Membership in QDMA is open to anyone interested in better deer and better deer hunting, and committed to ethical hunting, sound deer management and the preservation of the deer-hunting heritage. To learn more about QDMA and why it is the future of deer hunting, call (800) 209-3337 or visit

QDMA ... The Future of Deer Hunting

Quality Deer Management Association

170 Whitetail Way
Bogart, GA 30622
(800) 209-3337
Kip Adams
or 814-326-4023

Monday, October 11, 2010

Product Review: Dominant Predator Bar
How many of you like to pack in some energy bars for a snack when scouting or hunting? I know I do, but then again what fat kid doesn't like to eat, right? There are plenty of 'energy bars' on the market today, but can you name one that will keep you hydrated? I can. The Dominant Predator bar from Fierce Foods, Inc. I like a good energy bar like the rest of us, but when one claims to have ingredients to help your body stay hydrated I had to find out more. After emailing and speaking with one of the inventors, Neil Beltran , I wanted to try these out. He graciously sent Team DIY some to try out on our scouting and hunts knowing we would be out in triple digit temperature areas.

I usually take a few CLIF Bars with me or a couple of the Pure Protein bars to satisfy any hunger in the field. The problem with that is that both make me very thirsty after eating them and the Pure Protein bar has chocolate that melts in the package. The actual packaging is also very noisy and shiny. How would the Predator bar compare? The Dominant Predator bar is different than the norm on many levels. First, the packaging was created to be less noisy and less shiny for hunters in the field. It's less noisy, but still makes some noise, so don't think it's noise-free. The bar itself is unlike anything you have ever had. It looks like someone took some Honey Smacks, added some honey and pressed them into a bar. Here comes the best part. The bar is offered in two flavors: Peanut Butter and Maple. I have had plenty of PB bars, so I opted for the maple. It also weighs next to nothing. Lightweight is good, too!

Here is some great info from their FAQs on the website:
The Predator Bar is a whole new category of "snack food". From the class leading biodegradable packaging to the Arctic tundra/Florida Keys temperature stability, the "PredBar" is unique. It uses puffed grains and whey protein to look and taste different, more like a food and less like a slab of stiff or sticky "paste". Jerky snacks lack the most important fuel for the brain and muscles-carbohydrates. The PredBar provides a variety of carbs, without going over the top. Hydration in a bar? The PredBar incorporates a powdered version of a patent pending electrolyte mix. We also include a unique, secret flavor that just happens to improve, alertness, focus, and reaction time without giving you the "jitters".

[We use] premium quality whey protein, because it's complete and preferred by working and recovering muscles. We don't care if it's more expensive than gelatin, collagen, casein, milk, or soy proteins (common protein sources in bars because they're cheaper). We don't use soy protein for two reasons: 1) it doesn't taste as good as whey protein and 2) it is much lower in important muscle fueling amino acids.

Eric and I decided to give these a try one day back in August. It was 106 degrees that day. Neither of us had any idea the other was trying it out. The weekend before this we did some scouting and ate our normal bars and had to pack in lots of water from being so thirsty. We were both cursing our choice of snack. This day was different. We each ate a bar before we left for the trail in the morning and wouldn't you know it they tasted great and we weren't begging for lots of water afterward. The first bite was very different and took some getting used to. It's not full of sugar, but the flavor was excellent! I was pleasantly surprised. Sure, you'll still want some water while eating it, but after I was not super thirsty nor was I hungry. Not being loaded down with sugars was great. I didn't feel run down or like it was dead weight in my stomach. 

After we had hiked a while I asked Eric if he felt like he needed any water. We both decided to drank some because it was so hot, but not the quarts like we were used to. We felt great! Usually, when hiking a long distance and eating a CLIF bar I will get sluggish and tired. Not this time. I still wanted to check on the effectiveness of the bar holding up in hot weather. I checked my GPS and saw that the recorded temp at the time was 106 degrees. There was nothing like the present to open up another bar and see how melted it was. Are you ready for this? It was like I took it out of a cool lunch pail. Solid, not gooey and nothing like any other bar you've seen. I am guessing it has some to do with the wrapper, but mostly to do with the ingredients.

Now, like all good things, you do get what you pay for and these bars are not cheap. They run around two dollars per bar, but if you order by the case you save $3. You can buy them right off of their website right now. I know they are trying to get into the Bass Pro's and such, too. If you try these out and would like to see them locally, tell your sporting goods store manager. Tell the Bass Pro guys, too. I would certainly like to see them in the stores, but ordering by the case works for me, too.

I definitely recommend the Dominant Predator bar to any hunter, fisherman, hiker and outdoorsman. You'll find these in my pack all the time now. They taste great, work well and last a long time.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Part II: DIY Colorado Elk Hunt
As promised, here is the second part of the story from the DIY Pro Staffers recent bowhunting trip. What a hunt!

Nathan and I had an awesome trip to CO this year. It was our first time bowhunting elk there. Team DIY member Eddy Erautt just moved to Cortez and was there to help us find some elk. We bought a forest service map and talked to a couple locals and set out to do some glassing.

That first morning we glassed up about 50 elk with 5 shooter bulls in the mix. They were barely starting to rut. Eddy watched as one of the bigger bulls bedded with some cows about 200 yards from a water hole and I watched some other elk feed over the top of a ridge.

That afternoon Nathan decided to go sit that water hole to see if that bull would come in. Eddy and I hiked to the top of the other ridge to see if we could glass those elk up.

Eddy and I reached the top of the ridge at about 2:30. We had just caught our breath when Eddy heard something in the timber below us. He let out a cow call and a cow stepped out into the open about 200 yards away. He called again and she called back. Then she turned toward us and started calling and running right at us. Eddy and she were calling back and fourth as he circled around me so I could get a broadside shot as she came in. She came in broadside at 12 yards and I let that Muzzy fly. She dropped right in her tracks do to a high shot in the spine...yes I almost missed.

We got her about 3/4 of the way back to the truck and decided to get Nathan to help us out. When we got to the truck we waited for dark and Nate came down the road . He whipped out his phone to show us a picture of the bull that he had just shot. I could not believe it! We both tagged out on our first day. DIY, Public land. That is what it is all about!

Thursday, October 7, 2010 Pro Staff Successful in AZ and CO
Putting the miles on the boots, glassing all day and working hard to get your animal is what I love about DIY hunting. It provides wonderful opportunities, helps you make friends, and you earn what you shoot. The DIY Pro Staff recently went on an DIY Arizona deer hunt and followed that up with a DIY Colorado elk hunt, minus yours truly as I had prior commitments. Here's the story from Eric Welsh over at The CO story to be posted tomorrow!
Nathan and I hit the last few days of the archery deer season in AZ on our way to Colorado for elk season. I had done a lot of scouting on the previous weeks, but when we got there it had rained a ton. For the next day and a half we drove over 200 miles of dirt roads checking water holes and glassing. We finally a nice dirt tank that a lot of deer were hitting. 

We set up the double bull and socked it in with a bunch of branches. That first afternoon we sat in 90 degree heat and waited. About 2 hours before dark 4 bucks and a doe came in. The biggest one was a nice 3x3. I set an arrow his way and went right over his back. I felt like I was going to THROW UP! 

We sat there all day the next day and nothing came in. On the 3rd morning it was Nathans turn to hunt and I was on the camera. At about 9:00 am that nice 3x3 came in and Nathan smoked him. 

He ran about 100 yard and hung himself in a tree....see pics below.
It was a great time and then we went to CO to elk hunt.

Alpine Archery BLUSH™ - Just For The Ladies
Alpine archery has always appreciated our lady archers and for 2011 they have wrapped all that appreciation up in one solid, smooth shooting, fantastic looking bow. Say hello to the new Alpine BLUSH™.

Bob Proctor, President of Alpine put it this way: "One thing about Alpine, we listen. We had been getting more and more requests from the females in our sport to make a bow just for them. They wanted a bow that would not only look awesome on the shooting line but have the performance and accuracy needed to win. So we went to work. We combined all the features Alpine is known for; stand out looks, light weight, shootability and the high-performance every archer wants. We made it Alpine smooth and forgiving because today's woman wants it that way. And, because women want a distinctive female look we offered the BLUSH in a striking pink camo with beautiful Rosewood grip. After all every woman wants to look good on the line and especially when accepting the trophy. Then we added a nice little touch to the riser, an antique finished emblem that tells the world - 'Because you are as good as he is'."

The BLUSH may look terrific and shoot smooth as silk but it is all business with a very un-lady like IBO speed of 290 fps at 27" draw length and its all available for a bank account pleasing low, out the door price of only $399. Now you can afford to travel to the shoots you plan on winning.
BLUSH - Just for the ladies. For more information please contact: Alpine Archery PO Box 319 3101 North South Highway Lewiston, ID 83501 208-746-4717

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Product Review: Insane Archery Camera Mount
You draw your bow. You release an arrow. You watch it hit home on the animal you are hunting. Now you have a great story to tell. It's just too bad you didn't have the shot on video to share with the world. Well, now you can with an Insane Archery Camera Mount.

I have been reviewing this for a few months now trying to use it every which way I can to utilize it completely. For the purpose of this review I am using a 2008 PSE X-Force and a 2006 PSE Vengeance.

You can find the specifications on the Insane Archery website, but here are the specifications I found the most interesting:
It's 2.8 oz, so it's lightweight.
It has 180 degrees of motion.

When I ordered my camera mount I truly didn't know what to expect. I watched the installation video and decided it was worth a try. Once I got it and tried to put it on my PSE X-Force, I quickly realized I should have ordered the optional Riser and Sight Mount Kit. The reason was that while I could mount the product to my stabilizer, I wasn't able to grip the bow properly after installation. My bow has a short brace height, so the camera and mount just kept hitting my fingers. Mounting it there was out, so I ordered the optional kit and in a couple days I had the necessary accessories to mount it on my bow. Then it was decision time. Do I mount it on my sight (as recommended) or on the bottom left of my bow where I have better access? My decision was made for me as I keep my quiver attached to my bow. It turns out that my quiver full of arrows sits right in front of my sight, so there was no option of having the camera mount attached there. That only left the bottom left side of my bow. It would be completely out of the way of my arrows and still give me good position to video. While this does reduce your mobility to only 90 degrees (for filming your shot) it does offer up an unforeseen benefit. It can help balance out your bow when you have a quiver full or arrows attached. Bonus!

I am going to approach the actual review in two ways. The first is as a Southern California hunter whose method of hunting involves spot and stalk and includes a great deal of hiking. The second is going to be hunting from a treestand.

The first part of my review involves hunting on the ground. I have been testing out this product for many months to really understand it and to utilize everything it has to offer me as a bowhunter. As a SoCal bowhunter, you really have to want to have this attached to your bow. If it is something you know you want and can live with a few inconveniences, then this will be great. Don't get me wrong, the product is great, but when you have to mount it where I had to and then have to hike 3 miles in, well, it can be annoying depending on the camera you choose. Keep in mind, I went a bit beyond what most will do in a video/shooting situation. I started off using a Kodak Z-i6 video camera. It's flat, weighs next to nothing and when you fold back the arm 90 degrees it's out of the way. My issue with this set up was the choice of camera itself. The arm performed very well using this camera, but I had to hit three buttons to get the camera to come on. (I see that Kodak has now released a new camera for the hunter looking to video his or her hunt. I have not had the opportunity to use it yet). Also, if you are spot-and-stalk hunting and using the Kodak camera and have the arm folded back to keep it out of the way, you MUST keep in mind that the camera will be in the way of you gripping the bow if the arm is mounted like mine is. You have to move it out 90 degrees to get your hand in to the bow grip. If you have to shoot quickly this may impede your ability to grip the bow unless you keep it out at 90 all of the time.

I then switched to a Canon HF200 video camera. It is heavier, but has more control and the quality is superb. The drawback with this camera is that when you are spot-and-stalk hunting and carrying your bow, the darn camera hits your leg if it's in your right hand because you cannot fold it back 90 degrees as the camera impedes that. If you switch sides, the camera and mount get caught on the weeds. This was something I do not like, but it was my choice to use this camera because i wanted better quality AND I may have to make a shot further than 30 yards. That being said, I wanted a camera with a better zoom and higher video quality. With any of the cameras I tested on the mount, you will need to understand that you may notice some vibration at the time you shoot. That's just the energy from the bow being transferred all around and through the mount.

My brother also tried the mount out and here's what he had to say:
'I tried the Insane Archery camera mount on a couple different locations on my bow and the camera shakes quite a bit at all locations.  The least shake was 45 degrees left of center mounted at the stabilizer position.  It still shakes a bit and when it was straight out, the shock from shooting would shut the viewfinder of the camcorder which shuts it off.  Mounting 45 degrees to the left helped with that issue, though.'
You can see the vibration in this screen capture when using a small camera.

On the ground, when you shoot your bow, the bow naturally falls forward. With a camera on the bow you have to be aware that if you want more than just the shot on camera and want to see the animal as it is running off, you will have to find the animal in the viewfinder and hold your bow up to follow it. It sounds simple, but with adrenaline flowing, 3-4 lbs of bow in your hand and you trying to follow the animal with your eyes it is more difficult than it seems. It will take practice and patience. Even so, if you plan ahead and practice, the Insane Archery Camera Mount is a great new tool for SoCal bowhunters.

While it works well for hunting on the ground, I feel that the Insane Archery Camera Mount is better suited for hunting from a treestand. I found that the camera mount was best utilized in a blind or in a treestand when you have minimal movement. The bow will naturally tilt forward and you'll have better control of the camera. You won't have the full weight of the bow pulling your arm down, as your arm will be at an angle. (On the ground your arm would be parallel to the ground, so following an animal after a shot could be more difficult). I found that in the treestand the camera mount worked great. It's quiet to rotate the arm around and once it's set you will not have to worry about it moving around during your shot. I could hang my bow, with camera attached, and when it came time for a shot I just slowly turned on the camera, hit record and waited for my opportunity. Simple as that!

I have seen some other camera mounts (not yet tested) and the Insane Archery Camera Mount stands out. It has the ability to mount to many locations and it has 180 degrees of motion. I have yet to see another camera mount as versatile as this one. If you want to film your shot when you are hunting, then I highly recommend getting yourself an Insane Archery Camera Mount (and using a slightly heavier camera). Tell them the SoCal Bowhunter sent you!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Another Week, Another Set Of Trail Cam Pics
Today was the day that really got me excited about my yearly trip to NY to hunt whitetails with my family. I spoke with my brother this morning and after discussing my next product review we talked about hunting. He said he was going out this evening to see what was on our trail cams. I have been hoping to see some more deer and the photos did not disappoint. T-Minus one month and I'll be hunting some whitetail deer!

This is the first buck we have seen on camera. He's a smaller 4 or 6-point, but cool to see!
A nice group of does eating the farmer's crop.
What are you looking at? This good-sized doe could help me fill my first doe tag.
I hope to run into this big coyote. He's a big guy looking for an arrow.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Happiness is a Pumpkin Patch
I wanted to get some archery practice in this weekend, but to be honest I didn't fling any arrows. I wanted to, really I did, but I decided to spend some quality time with my family instead. I figured I would take the time during the weeknights and get what I needed to done, which isn't too much but keeping my arm in shape and keeping my confidence level up.

Saturday was a great day spent with my daughter while my wife took care of some things she needed to do. We had a great time and I am always amazed at how much a 20 month-old little girl can talk about something she loves. The girl can go on and on about her favorite Disney characters. She even wakes up in the morning talking about Minnie Mouse. At first, I though she must take after her dad because I start talking hunting as soon as I wake up, but my wife loves Disneyland and they both love going there and taking part in everything. Hands down I have to give it to my wife on this one. It's great seeing your family so happy.

Sunday was by far the best day I have had in a very long time, but first a little back story. I am a country-boy. I was raised on a farm, worked on farms, drove plenty of tractors and picked plenty of fresh veggies. My wife was raised a city girl through and through, but she loves the country. The past few years we have talked about our local "pumpkin patch" and how everyone loves it. Well, everyone but me. To me it's not a pumpkin patch. It's a glorified lot, fenced off where they ship in pumpkins each day and you get to pay a high-price-per-pound to make your kids happy. This year my wife and I decided to go to Tanaka Farms to actually pick our pumpkins. I wasn't sure how she'd take it, but she doesn't mind getting dirty and she loves the country, so I wholeheartedly agreed. Besides, it was her idea to go out there and I was more than happy to oblige! We spent the morning taking our daughter on tractor rides, walking through the REAL pumpkin patch, and watching pumpkins gets fired out of a cannon. The best part was watching my daughter pick out her very first pumpkin and carry it back to the wheelbarrow. My wife always takes great photos and here are a couple that I just had to post. You can always find some other great shots over on her photo blog.

My wife picked out her pumpkin and after she took it off the vine she told me we would never go back to that 'other pumpkin patch'. She now knows why this country-boy had such a hard time accepting the city-folk pumpkin lot. The look on her face was truly amazing. She was so happy to be there picking her own pumpkin off the vine. After I picked out my pumpkin we hit the road for home. We had a great time and I was kept smiling the entire day just thinking about it. It was a great day full of adventure, smiles and joyful memories. Yes sirree, it was a day full of happiness and it didn't have anything to do with bowhunting.