Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hog Hunting Seminar - May 22, 2010 - Bass Pro Shops
Bass Pro Shops in Rancho Cucamonga is hosting a Hog Hunting Seminar on May 22 at 10am. It's with author Durwood Hollis and professional guide Ron Gayer. Info is below.

I will be there. Let me know if anyone else is interested!
______________________________________________________________________

From Western Outdoor News...
Hunting experts Ron Gayer and Durwood Hollis will be presenting a wild pig hunting seminar at Bass Pro Shops in Rancho Cucamonga Saturday, May 22. 

Hollis, who has published five books on hunting, including Hunting North American Big Game (Krause Publications, 2002), which contains an extensive chapter on wild pigs, has successfully hunted the surly beasts for over 40 years. “This seminar is designed to provide all the necessary information to hunt wild pigs on both public and private land,” Hollis said.

Gayer, former Hunt Coordinator and guide on the famed Tejon Ranch in Kern County, as well as outfitting and guiding in Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico, has been pursuing wild pigs in California for many years. “Hunting wild hogs, especially big boars is one of my passions,” Gayer said “The key to success is the when, where and how-to hunt those bad boys,” he went on to say.

Between them, Hollis and Gayer have decades of wild pig hunting experience. And much of this has occurred on public land. “It’s a little known secret that with the right know-how, public land hunters can score on wild hogs,” Gayer commented.

The seminar, presented at the Rancho Cucamonga Bass Pro Shops will cover a wide range of wild pig hunting topics, including: how-to use maps to locate the best spots, reading sign, calls/calling, gear and gadgets, appropriate guns & ammo and a free set of public land hunting hotspots maps.

This in-depth presentation will be held in the upstairs seminar room at Bass Pro Shops and will begin at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 22nd. Cost is just $40 per person (pre-register in advance for only $30, cash or credit card), with junior hunters free with a paid adult. At the conclusion of the seminar a drawing will be held for some terrific prizes. 
Seating is extremely limited and the spots are filled first-come, first serve, so early registration is encouraged. To pre-register and reserve your seat, call (909) 605-3719, or (661) 809-1613.

2010 California Game Hunting Digest

The California DFG has issued the 2010 California Game Hunting Digest. Time for me to check it out and see what tags I want to apply for this year.

http://www.dfg.ca.gov/publications/digest/

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Product Review: Binocular Harnesses
In recent years I have learned how valuable optics are when hunting out West. You need good optics for a good spot and stalk hunt. Most of the binoculars I have seen come with the manufacturers neck strap. As many of you can attest, this can leave quite a strap burn on your neck and leave you with serious neck fatigue. It's not what you want when you are hiking the backcountry. The solution is quite simply using a binocular harness.

I recently had the opportunity to test out the binocular harnesses from Crooked Horn Outfitters and from Nikon Sport Optics. Although very similar (elastic straps, plastic hooks), they have a couple of small differences.

First, I tried out the Crooked Horn harness. This one was completely black except for the light brown leather back connecting the four straps. It also comes in a camo pattern.
It was quite simple to use right out of the package. Clip the hook through the eyelet on your binoculars, get you arms through the straps, grab the remaining hook and clip that one through the second eyelet. The hooks clipped into place rather hard. The benefit is that binoculars won't come off the hooks very easily, but my thumbs begged me for mercy. I think they are like that so that the eyelet won't come back under the arm of the hook and pop out.

The straps were easily adjustable and held the bino's snug.

I could easily raise and lower the binoculars to my eyes and back down with no trouble. I didn't have as much clearance between the binoculars themselves and my body, but I was willing to live with that. I loosened and tightened them to get a perfect fit, but if I loosened it to fit better they seemed to bounce a bit more. If I tightened the straps, they bounced less, but felt a bit snug almost as if the harness was creeping in towards my navel. (How's that image for you?)

The second harness I field tested was from Nikon Sport Optics. The Nikon harness was completely black, even the strap connector (located on your back when used correctly). The Nikon harness also comes in a camo pattern.

This harness was even easier to use and took less effort to get everything hooked into place. The hooks have a freer motion to them and lock so the binocular eyelet cannot pop out on their own. I was able to hook them and unhook them with ease and my thumbs thanked me for it.

The straps were easily adjustable and also held the binoculars snug, but with a little more breathing room. They were a relaxed fit and very comfortable.

I was able to raise and lower the binoculars to my eye very easily. The Nikon harness has a small nylon extender strap, about an inch or so, that connects the elastic strap to the hook. This helped the binoculars slide up and down the harness more easily and didn't squeeze my stomach so tight. (I suppose cutting back on the doughnuts would help!)

I thought that the black vs. camo would be a deal breaker for me, but it's completely cosmetic. You want your pattern to be broken up and a good pattern on your clothing will do that. You binocular harness won't be a downfall in your hunt if it's black vs. camo.

I also thought the aroma from the leather connector on the back of the CHO harness would be a deal breaker. I'll admit I preferred the all black Nikon, but the leather isn't going to make that much difference. If you are close enough where an animal can smell the leather, he's probably going to smell YOUR scent before that. Stay downwind.

I found both harnesses to be very useful and quite comparable. They have a similar price point and can both be used with SLR cameras, as well. I give a slight edge to the Nikon for two reasons. First, the hooks that snap into place can be done with little effort and make virtually no noise. Second, that extra piece of nylon that attaches to each hook makes a  difference to me. I felt more comfortable glassing and hiking with the Nikon than the Crooked Horn harness. I highly recommend using one in the field. Your neck will thank you for it!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Preparing Yourself For Your First Kill
(If you are squeamish and weak-kneed, you may want to skip this post. It is going to be graphic!)

I was having a discussion regarding hog hunting with a friend this past weekend and we were discussing new hunters, TV shows and what happens during a kill. Both of us think that most people going out on their first hunt have this idea that the animal will go down with the first shot. In many cases this is true. What the TV shows will NOT let you in on is the sounds an animal makes when it is dying or let you see the animal die on camera. Now, I know there are reasons for that, but new hunters, young and old, should be aware of what happens after that arrow leaves your bow.

When I was growing up, my dad spent many hours with me practicing with my bow so I would be able to go out and get my first animal. When I was 14 I did just that. I went out on the farm, early in the morning and set up near a drainage ditch. My whitetail buck walked straight towards me and stopped at 10 yards where I put an arrow through his pump station. I watched him run 70 yards and drop. No sound from the animal, quick kill and meat for the table. At 14 I felt on top of the world and I still get that feeling to this day with each kill I make. Each kill has not been that graceful. I have seen animals as they are dying and you must prepare yourself to see it unfold. It's part of hunting.

No matter how much you practice there will still be a time when your shot placement will be off a bit. You never want this to happen, but it does. Whether it be your adrenaline, your string hitting your clothing, the wind or maybe the animal jumped-the-string. It happens and you have to learn to live with it. I hate it, but it does happen. It's happened to me and I have had to live with it. It has taught me to practice more and learn to focus on the situation even more. It also reminds me that hunting is not like going to the meat department at the grocery store and picking up pork chops. With that there is a disconnect from nature. I want to have a connection with the food on my table. It may not always be like that, but when I get to eat venison from a deer that I have killed, well, it tastes that much better.

What the TV shows won't show is the animal dying and they won't let you hear the death sounds (an exception is a bear death moan). Take hog hunting for example. They won't prepare you for the high-pitched squealing a hog makes when shot. It's not Hollywood where the first shot drops them dead. If you hit them in the heart a wild hog can live for a little while, a lung shot even longer. Sometimes they squeal louder than any animal you may have heard when injured. They thrash and bleed. If you get a gut shot, I am sorry but you will injure the animal and probably hear some of the worst sounds in your life and that is just a wild hog. You will have to track it, put another arrow into it or finish it off with a firearm. It's not always pretty.

Ever go rabbit hunting with archery gear? Ever hear a rabbit as it is dying? It is one of THE most unnerving sounds you will ever hear. Even I hate hearing it, but if you want to hunt them and put meat on the table you have to bring yourself to adjusting to it. Two years ago I brought my wife to western NY to meet my folks. The first night a coyote nailed a rabbit outside of our bedroom window. It screamed for over a half hour and it was horrible. I won't lie. I hated hearing it. I hated it most of all because my wife had to endure the sounds that she had never heard and asked me what it was. Not wanting to lie I told her and she cried for that rabbit. It's how nature stays in balance, but it doesn't mean we have to be any less emotional about it. We are human after all and we have a wide variety of emotional range. I like being emotional when hunting. Why? It brings me closer to that animal in my own way.

I have heard from a few people that they were never prepared to see the animal die the way it did. They tell me that no one has ever shared with them that an animal can make sounds that will weaken your stomach, make your knees weak, and possible bring you to tears. Especially if you are a young person.  For one friend of mine, this situation was never shared with him. He was told it'd be over in one shot. While that is the best case scenario, it doesn't always work that way. His hunt did not end that way and at the age of thirteen never hunted again. He loves to talk hunting with me and talk weaponry. He will eat the venison I bring over, but he doesn't ever want to hunt again. I don't ever want to see someone walk away from hunting for that reason. I want to bring young people closer to nature through bowhunting and share my knowledge with them as honest as I know how so they are prepared.

All I am asking of my fellow hunters is to share this information with your young hunters. They aren't stupid, but they are very impressionable. My dad shared all of the details involved with hunting with me and for that I thank him. He didn't hide the fact that there would be blood and death. I have felt sick to my stomach after a bad hit on an animal. I have cried after shooting an animal, tracking it and never finding it. I have cried after killing an animal. What I do after that is what makes me stronger. It makes me who I am today.


I love to hunt. My bow and arrow are my favorite tools in the forest. I am a conservationist. I help manage the animal population. I love to eat meat. I thank God that he gave me the skills to kill an animal as quickly as possible and put food on the table. I provide meat for my family and to those in need. I enjoy the camaraderie with my fellow hunters, young AND old. Hunting is one of my favorite things to do.

Don't ever ask me to be sorry for being who I am. I am a hunter and a proud one at that.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

No CWD detected in Arizona deer and elk testing
(I received this in my email this morning from the Arizona Game and Fish Department and thought I'd share with you all. I know many of my readers hunt in Arizona and that CWD is a topic in each of our minds.)

April 19, 2010

PHOENIX – The Arizona Game and Fish Department reports no detection of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in any of the 1,624 testable samples from hunter-harvested or road-killed deer and elk during Arizona’s 2009-2010 hunting season.

The department has tested approximately 14,500 deer and elk samples since beginning its surveillance program in 1998. None have tested positive for the disease. Although CWD has not yet been found in Arizona, it is present in three neighboring states: Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico.

“With the extra surveillance in areas of concern, we are glad to report that there was no detection of CWD in our samples,” said Anne Justice-Allen, DVM, wildlife health specialist with the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “Although the overall number of samples decreased this season, we actually increased the number of samples in the areas bordering Utah and New Mexico.”

Each year, hunters who are successful in the Game Management Units bordering Utah and New Mexico, particularly Units 1,12B, 27, and 28, are encouraged to submit heads for sampling because these units are closest to CWD positive areas. Arizona deer and elk from these areas have the greatest potential to have contact with an infected animal from these neighboring states.

While it is only mandatory to bring animals harvested from Units 12A East and 12A West to the Kaibab check station, hunters may also bring animals harvested from other units to the check station for CWD sampling during the regular hours of operation.

“Arizona’s hunters, meat processors, and taxidermists continue to play a crucial role in our surveillance program,” said Clint Luedtke, Game and Fish wildlife biologist with the CWD program. “We cannot thank them enough for assisting the department in this effort.”

CWD is a neurodegenerative wildlife disease that is fatal to cervids, which include deer, elk, and moose. Symptoms include loss of body weight or emaciation, excessive salivation, increased drinking and urination, stumbling, trembling, and behavioral changes such as listlessness, lowering of the head, and walking in circles or repetitive patterns.

No evidence has been found to indicate that CWD will cause disease in humans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization.

CWD was first identified in captive deer in Colorado in 1967 and has since spread to both captive and wild cervids in 17 states and two Canadian provinces. It is a naturally occurring prion disease belonging to a group of diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). Other TSEs are Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in domestic cattle and Scrapie in sheep and goats.  

The department has had rules in place since 2002, which designate cervids as restricted wildlife and ban the importation of cervids in order to protect against the introduction of CWD to free-ranging or captive wildlife in the state (for details see R12-4-406 and R-4-430).

The Arizona Game and Fish Department will continue to work in close coordination with other state and federal agencies to monitor for CWD.

For more information on CWD, visit these Web site resources:

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Pack Light, Pack Right
I recently posted that REI was offering some lectures inside the store and I decided I needed to check them out. How can I post about them and not attend one, right? Let me tell you, there is value in attending.

REI had plenty of space set up in the back of the warehouse for the lecture. It looked to be enough room for 40 people. Turns out just about every seat was filled. I was there to get some tips for backpack hunting. Not so much for the hunt, but how I might be able to pack lighter and enjoy the trip more.

The first half of the lecture was directed towards the vacationing traveler. Basically it was how to pack your carry-on with just enough so you didn't need to check a bag. It was very informative, but not what I was after.

The halfway point brought out the topic of backpacking, how to pack and what gear to take. This was the nitty gritty info I was there to discover. Now, it was geared toward the ultralight backpacker, but I was able to walk away with some tips for the average bowhunter backpacking in to hunt.

The first tip that caught my attention was just because the pack has room doesn't mean you need to fill it. Simple terms - don't exploit every pocket. Leave some empty, you might need them later. Plus, it'll keep the weight down. When you are hiking to your base camp you don't want to feel the weight of the pack on every step if you can help it.

The gear you HAVE to have:
  1. Backpack - needs to have suspension.
  2. Bow and arrows
  3. Sleeping bag and pad
  4. Ample clothing
  5. Water or location of a water source
  6. Water purification system.
  7. Water storage container(s)
  8. Tent
  9. Stove
  10. Food
  11. First-Aid Kit
  12. Knife
  13. GPS
  14. Bear Vault (or some sort of bear proofing container) 
Now there is more or less you can add, but you get my drift. I adjust my pack for each hunt and I always take a bit too much. One of these times I'd love to pack exactly right!

Some of the other tips I wrote down were great, too.
  1. Your backpack should have suspension. Especially if you plan on packing out some meat!
  2. A down sleeping bag will be the lightest, but pack according to the weather.
  3. Be sure to pack a sleeping bag mat. It'll be comfy, but also keep your body away from the cold ground.
  4. Beware compression bags as you will often pack way too much into your bag using them.
  5. A camp stove should be as light as possible, but able to heat water at different altitudes. I just bought a Jetboil because they get great reviews and I have used one on two occasions. 
  6. Buy a SOLO Bear Vault and keep it at least 100 feet from your tent. I would probably move it even further. Two of the tips with this product is to put a rock on it to make the bears work at it (ooooookay....) and the second was put some bells on it. that way if a bear is trying to rip into it you can move the other way.
  7. Water filtration - what to get. I hear mixed thoughts on this. Most people say to get a filtration unit and pack it because the water will be ready to drink right away and it'll taste great. Other hunters have told me they pack the iodine tablets because they are a lot lighter. The drawback is that you have to wait about 20 minutes before you can drink it and it tastes funky. I guess it all depends on how far you have to hike it and out. You make the call!
  8. A trekking pole for hiking. Get one as it'll give you the support for long hikes. 
  9. Quickclot isn't mentioned nearly enough, but if you ever run into a situation where you need to stop yourself or a hunting buddy from bleeding this will be your best friend. I pray to God I never have to use it.
REI has a great checklist on their site for backpacking, too. You can find the checklist here. Use it as a base and then create your own. On my own checklist I have one tip I will share with everyone. I picked this one up from Les Stroud, the Survivorman himself and I couldn't agree more. If you buy one of those pre-made first-aid kits (which are great by the way) please open it and review the contents BEFORE you go into the back country. That way you can add or remove anything you may want to change, but most important you need to know what each item in there can do.

Happy backpack hunting and good luck. If you have some tips you'd like to share, please comment. I would love to hear and share them. Cheers!

    Thursday, April 15, 2010

    Hunt.Fish.Feed. in Los Angeles Sponsored By DIYbowhunter.com
    The Sportsman Channel's Hunt.Fish.Feed.sm initiative is a unique outreach program that taps a new food source for those who are in need during this economic hardship; made possible by sportsmen to whom hunting is synonymous with harvesting.

    I am proud to say that DIYbowhunter.com is sponsoring the Hunt.Fish.Feed event in Los Angeles on Monday, May 10, 2010. This is our way to help those less fortunate and share our bounty. I will be donating some venison and I'll be at the Mission serving and helping in any way I can. I know from talking with the DIY members that they want to help in a big way. We are all thankful for the opportunity to hunt and have meat for our freezers, so why not share with our fellow man, right?

    We will be serving dinner for 1,000 men, women and children at the Union Rescue Mission located at 545 S. San Pedro Street, Los Angeles. Transportation to and from the Los Angeles Convention Center and the mission will be supplied by CableCares.

    How You Can Help
    • DIYbowhunter.com is responsible for bringing 250+ lbs. of wild game meat. We NEED meat donations. If you have some extra venison, hog meat, elk, sheep, bear, quail, duck, dove, etc., we will pay to have it shipped or we have three locations throughout Southern CA to drop it off.

    • As of now we have 6 volunteers. We need at least 10 more people to help. We will be giving away DIY T-Shirts and DIY Aprons to the volunteers.

    • Volunteers are needed to help prepare and serve from 3:45pm to 7:45pm.

    • Volunteers will help prepare the meal, set up the dining room, serve dinner and clean up afterward.

    • All volunteers should come prepared to get a little messy. Dressing in casual attire is recommended. The Sportsman Channel will provide T-Shirts, hats and aprons for all volunteers on the day of the event.

    • There is no parking available at the Mission, so please plan to ride on the CableCares' provided buses.
    Its time to give back !

    Please contact Eric Welsh at eric@diybowhunter.com for info about meat donations and to volunteer.

    Tuesday, April 13, 2010

    Remington Outdoor Federation Offers College Scholarships
    I got this email from the North American Hunting Club today and thought it should be shared. Lately, I have mentioned our youth and how we need to get them and keep them involved in archery and hunting. Being an archer and a college grad, I think that the Remington Outdoor Federation (ROF) is doing something great here. Read on...
    Teaching your son or daughter about hunting, shooting and the outdoors has always been important and rewarding, but now—thanks to Remington [Outdoor Federation]—it might even help you pay their college tuition. Remington [Outdoor Federation]recently teamed up with the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) to offer $3,000 in college scholarships.

    Any college-bound student who registers for the 2010 NASP National Tournament is eligible to write an essay that could land him or her a $1,500 scholarship. Here's the question kids will address: "How has the National Archery in the Schools Program changed my life?"

    Whoever hits the bull's-eye in 500 to 1,000 words will win $1,500. Second place gets a grand; third takes home $500. Nothing to sneeze at!

    [Remington Outdoor Federation has] already hit the bull's-eye with this one. "We're encouraged by the fact that a significant percentage of NASP students reported that after participating in the archery program in school they are more interested in other shooting sports, including hunting," said Jim Moore, president of The Remington Outdoor Foundation.
    So if you have a son or daughter on their way to college, wants to compete in the NASP National Tournament and can write an essay, go for it! When it comes to college, any scholarship is better than none. Good luck to all who enter!

    Monday, April 12, 2010

    SoCal Bowhunter Goals and Objectives for 2010
    1. Write at least one gear/product review per month.
    2. Plan a 2011 out-of-state archery elk hunt.
    3. Have at least one giveaway/contest per month.
    4. Meet with at least two archery product manufacturers.
    5. Attend and write about more hunting workshops as they become available.
    6. Shoot at least 5 different manufacturers bows.
    7. Buy a trail cam (or more) and utilize it.
    8. Arrow my first wild hog.
    9. Teach someone how to shoot a bow.
    10. Take someone new out hunting for either mulies or wild hogs.
    11. Meet more of the guys on the DIY website.
    12. Host a hunting seminar (topics could be optics, scouting or scent control).
    13. Video an actual kill on camera.
    14. Video someone's hunt.
    15. Try not to spend too much on new archery gear!

    Thursday, April 8, 2010

    Bass Pro Shops Free Classes (Rancho Cucamonga, CA)
    I was talking with one of my friends on DIY Bowhunter.com a few weeks ago and he mentioned how he is taking a major step in helping in keeping our sport alive by taking a young hunter on their first turkey hunt. He does this every year. I think that is awesome. A fellow blogger over at Base Camp Legends posted about taking a young family friend out bear hunting, too. Great story and encouraging, too. We really need to help out our youth in that way. If a child wants to try it out we should help them. What better way than to introduce them to some of the free classes at Bass Pro in Rancho Cucamonga, CA.

    December 30, 2009 - December 29, 2010
    Kids Intro to Archery
    Every Wednesday join members of our Archery Department in our 30 yard archery range to pass on the love of archery to your children. 7-8PM in our Archery Department.

    December 29, 2009 - December 1, 2010
    NEW - Hunter's Safety Education On-line courses
    Bass Pro, in coordination with the California Dept of Fish and Game, offers the review/testing portions required by the on-line course to complete your certification to obtain your hunter education certificate.

    Home study/ on-line class information is available by visiting dfg.gov and selecting the EDUCATION tab.

    Upon completion of your on-line study, we offer classes as follows:

    1st Wednesday of every month 5pm-9pm...please be very prompt.
    1st Saturday of every month 12:30pm...course review and testing.
    1st Sunday of every month 12:30pm...course review and testing.
    3rd Saturday of every month 12:30pm...course review and testing.
    3rd Sunday of every month 12:30pm...course review and testing.


    There are also classes for us seasoned hunters and I'd be willing to bet that 90% of my fellow hunters have never taken a first aid class. I recommend each and every one take at least the free class. You never know when it can come into play.
     
    Basic First Aid
    Want to learn the basics of first aid? One of our Camping associates will teach you everything you need to know to stay safe on your next outdoor adventure. Experts recommend every hiker, hunter, fisherman & every vehicle should have a basic first aid kit.

    This free class will take place the 3rd Saturday of every month at 2pm.
    Please see any Camping associate for details.

    DATES FOR UPCOMING CLASSES:

    4/17/10
    5/15/10
    6/19/10
    7/17/10
    8/21/10
    9/18/10
    10/16/10
    11/13/10
    12/18/10

    If you want to share your love of archery with a child, you can get them started off right by helping them experience the sport through some of these free classes. You can also take them to the range or talk to a few of us DIY guys and we'll help out. We love to share information and see our young friends excel and if it's hunting they want to learn how to do I say we pool our resources. If anyone is interested in meeting up over at BP on one of those dates, let me know. I could use a refresher!

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010

    A Message From The Anti-Hunting Retailers
    A few weeks ago, I was watching an episode of Eastman Hunting TV while Nate Simmons was on a backcountry bowhunt. When I watch these shows I pay particular attention to the tech tips they offer to see if I can apply what they say to my hunts. Nate offered up a good tip on using a sunscreen stick instead of a sloppy liquid sunscreen. It was waterproof and unscented. Perfect, right? While his tip was great and I think it's very useful, the product he mentioned comes from a company that doesn't seem to think it's products are made for the hunting community.

    The product Nate mentioned was from KINeSYS. It's a waterproof, unscented sunscreen stick that packs easily. The drawback is that KINeSYS doesn't want hunters saying they use it. I sent an email out to them a few weeks back to ask if they might be interested in having me test it and do a giveaway on SoCal Bowhunter.

    Here is what I asked of KINeSYS:
    I have a question regarding your scent free sun stick I have been hearing about. My question involves the possibility of field testing it for the DIY Bowhunter community (http://diybowhunter.com/) and for the readers of my blog (socalbowhunter.blogspot.com). I am the primary field tester for our forums and I also have my own blog where I post the same reviews. I would love the opportunity to discuss some options for a possible field test and possibly a giveaway for our community. I plan on writing a detailed review on your sunscreen stick for our readers.

    Here was the response I received from Rob Takeuchi at KINeSYS:
    Hi Al,

    Thanks so much for your email. Unfortunately, we are not able to provide a free sample for you to test.

    Our promotional efforts focus mainly on efforts to help prevent sun damage, especially in the area of skin cancer prevention. While we certainly can appreciate how your readers would have significant need for an undetectable sun protection product while hunting, I am sure you can also appreciate how a company such as ours must be careful in choosing our alignment partners. We have a significant number of retailers, end-users and stakeholders who would prefer we stay focused on an educational-only message.

    As I am sure you have heard before, your sport is considered controversial by some and we consider any possible promotional opportunities to be inappropriate for our mainstream family-oriented messages. Additionally, as you will see in our website we have deliberately formulated our products to be cruelty-free to animals and we are a partner of such groups as Caring Consumer, an affiliate of PeTA. Obviously, sport hunting is highly inconsistent with this stance.

    We did have the opportunity to view your website and we believe it to be well-done and your hard work in presenting it does show. However, for both business and ethical reasons we thank you for your interest but decline any future involvement.

    We wish you and Eric success with your website and blog and should you wish to purchase KINeSYS products, we always welcome new customers.

    Sincerely,
    Rob Takeuchi
    KINeSYS Inc.
    Here's where I have an issue with this email. I asked him about testing the product because we hunters need sun protection, too. I never said I was going to test it on animals. I am testing it on me.
    'Our promotional efforts focus mainly on efforts to help prevent sun damage, especially in the area of skin cancer prevention '
    Isn't skin cancer prevention what sunscreen is all about? That's why I asked for a sample, Mr. Takeuchi. What did you think I wanted to use the sunscreen stick for? He mentions 'choosing our alignment partners' and I can't figure that out. I didn't ask for a sponsor or to be partners. I just wanted to try out their product and report on it to my fellow hunters. I love how they can't send me a sample (which is perfectly ok with me), and for 'both business and ethical reasons we thank you for your interest but decline any future involvement.' However, if I want to purchase their product I can. Shouldn't he be asking me not to purchase it, too?

    Here's another thing that bothers me. They can't support hunting, but they can support fishing. Check out the testimonials they have decided to post. Wouldn't these create an ethical issue for them, too?

    In case you need a sunscreen stick, Coppertone just came out with a similar stick. It retails for around $5 a stick. That's $3-5 less than the KINeSys and you can find it at Wal-Mart and Target. I tried finding the KINeSYS brand and only a few stores seem to actually carry it. You decide who you want to support, but you won't find me supporting them.

    Tuesday, April 6, 2010

    Outdoor Channel Spring Fever Contest
    I am always trying to share the wealth when it comes to outdoor gear and when a company has a contest where we hunters can get some free gear, well I like sharing that, too. Most of the hunters I know and respect are on a budget and winning some great gear would be a bonus to their hunting season.

    The Outdoor Channel is having their Spring Fever Contest where you can win some great prizes. Don't let the first page fool you - it's not all about fishing. On the contrary, I don't think many of the giveaways relate directly to fishing. Just check out their prize list.

    The contest started April 1, 2010 and ends on April 30, 2010, so be sure to enter. Good luck to everyone and if you do win something and you a reader of my blog, let me know!

    Monday, April 5, 2010

    Product Review: Gerber Axle 2x3 Headlamp
    Having available light in the woods is a must, especially if you hunt early morning or late into the evening. Enter the new Gerber Axle 2x3 headlamp.

    The Gerber Axle is new to the market this year. I was very excited about field testing this new light for many reasons. The first was that it was able to be used in three ways: headlamp, in your pocket or on your belt. The second reason was that it had a red and a white L.E.D. Thirdly, it kicked out 40 lumens. Lastly, the lamp head swiveled 90 degrees to ease neck strain.

    From Gerber: Three lights in one: Cap, Pocket-Clip or Headlamp. Can switch between two colors: Bright white for maximum visibility or red to preserve night vision, with no additional parts. Headlamp bracket developed with a 30 degree angle to reduce user neck fatigue. Lightweight, compact design that used commonly available AAA batteries.

    Here are the specs from the Gerber website:
    • Overall Length: 2.375" (with the head bent)
    • Weight: 3 oz
    • Batteries: AAA (3)
    • Run Time: White- 7 hrs, Red- 10 hrs
    • Lumens: White- 40, Red- 6.5
    • Body Construction: Polycarbonate/ ABS Construction
    • Setting: Steady On
    I was able to test this headlamp out during a variety of conditions. The first time I used the Axle I was coming back from my evening hunt in the pouring rain. I decided to clip it to my brim and that was a mistake. Ever drive through a blinding snowstorm in the dead of night? That's what it looked like. I switched to the red L.E.D. and that didn't help at all. So, I pulled it off the brim, attached it to the head strap and put in on over my cap. That helped, but I still had a hard time seeing, even with the head angled fully. I think having it on the brim gave me the best light, but impeded my line of sight. The rain didn't help either, so I knew to test it after the rain stopped.

    Back in camp I tried it out on my pocket. That was pretty cool. It was nice being hands free, flipping a switch (which I will get to later) and having a strong beam of light. Without the rain I could see well enough to get around. It seemed like I was able to see a wider area instead of a focused area in front of me. That would be good in some ways, like looking for a large object out in front of you, such as downed game. I also think this lamp would be great when you are field dressing an animal. The clip is strong and would hold fast to your hat or the angle bracket on the head strap.

    The headlamp is not bulky and packs well because it is a flatter headlamp. This was a plus for me as I am always trying to reduce clutter in my pack. It is also lighter than most headlamps. I did like the way the head swiveled silently and easily. I was able to use it for a variety of up close tasks where the Axle was a major benefit. My older headlamp is a much bulkier.

    One of the things I truly disliked about the Axle is the on/off switch. It can flip on or off way too easily. At one point on the second night, I looked over at my pack and I saw a red light glowing from inside. Inside, the Axle was bright as can be. I have another headlamp where you have to press a button to get it to turn on. I have never had it come on by itself in my pack. You can see the on/off switch well in this photo. The next day I had to get something out of my pack and when I looked inside, the light was on again.

    At $37.50 I think this headlamp is a bit overpriced until the on/off switch design can be fixed to where it won't come on so easily. I think I will be sticking to my original headlamp that has features like a push on/off button, adjustable angled head, and the different types of light: flashing, half the L.E.D.'s on and full L.E.D. lamp. Sure, there are cool features on the Axle like the angled head and red L.E.D., but the headlamp I got for less-than half that price at Target in my pack works better for me. I will just have to forgo the red and green L.E.D.s for now. The headlamp I am using has a brighter light and I have the peace of mind knowing that if I am camping for a couple of days the batteries won't burn out from the light turning on when I don't want it to. I would like to have a light like the Axle 2x3 that is brighter and has a tougher on/off switch. That is a headlamp I would buy.

    Friday, April 2, 2010

    SoloCam Pro - Solo Camerman Producer
    One of the more popular things to do while hunting these days is video taping your hunt. I was surfing the web the other day and found a link to SoloCam Pro. This is from their Facebook page:
    SoloCam Pro is a hybrid acronym for "Solo Cameraman Producer". The SoloCam Pro uses broadcast video techniques to video tape his or her own hunt. Participants will have access to download a SoloCam Pro instructional DVD- giving all the details on how to professionally tape your own hunt... as well as how to get involved in being on our elite Pro Staff. Successful hunts can be submitted to Tom Miranda Studios in Florida for evaluation and possible use on several Whitetail TV series including Realtree's Whitetail Country and Mathews Dominant Bucks with Stan Potts. You must log in and register at www.solocampro.com to download the DVD or you can purchase the DVD at www.tommiranda.com
    I am very new to the video taping part of my hunts, but I got into it last year and it can be a lot of fun. It can also be a lot of extra work, extra weight in your pack and it can slow you down depending on your hunt and how prepared you are. You'll have to do some serious planning if you want to take on this added part of your hunt.

    The reason I am posting this is to help everyone out a little bit. Promoting the SoloCam Pro as a product is not my intention. What I am trying to do is share some basic info to help you guys be able to video tape your hunt more effectively and efficiently. The SoloCam Pro online How-To videos only focus on whitetail deer. I want to take it even further. I archery hunt for mule deer (spot and stalk style) and I archery hunt for wild boar and you can't follow exactly what the videos show. I have watched some of the videos in the series (still waiting to get them to load) and for treestand whitetail hunting it's right on. I am going to give my view on this as well. There is some great instruction here and the tips are worth it alone.

    First, there are some great tips on this video series. Watch them carefully as they offer a wealth of information (if you have the patience to wait for them to load one by one, but you can purchase the DVD and save the wait time). While there is great info, I don't think you necessarily need to purchase the exact cameras they show for your hunts. Especially if you plan on hiking a vast stretch of land, or if you only plan on only sharing with your friends or on YouTube. Now, if you want to get it on TV you should follow the series quite closely. 

    For me, I mostly share with friends and on YouTube. For that reason I like a camera like the Canon HF 200. It's small, HD and easy to carry. (Now if Canon wants to send one for a product review I am all for it.) Sure, it's not matte black and doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles, but who needs bells and whistles? It does have some great features, captures great high-def video and packs well. If you want to check out the reviews go here.

    You can also attach a small Flip or Kodak Zi8 camera to a Gorillapod and attach it to your bow for video of your shot. I recommend you practice with this setup long before you hit the field. The added weight can throw you off considerably.

    The other reason is budget. How many of us hunters have $2-3k sitting in our accounts waiting to buy a video camera? I am sure our wives would love that. Long conversation short, I imagine that the conversation would go something like this:
    SoCal Bowhunter: "Hey babe, I am going to take $3,000 out of savings for a video camera to tape my hunts, ok?"
     
    My Wife: "I'm sorry, can you tell me that again. I was in the middle of taking care of a tired infant, putting the groceries away and cooking your dinner. I thought I heard you say you were going to take $3,000 out of savings for a video camera for your hunting."


    SoCal Bowhunter: "Umm, yeah. I was just mumbling out loud. Scrap that gibberish, I am off to research other options."
    You see, for the guys who have families, who have invested a good deal of money in their actual hunting gear or who are low on funds (probably due to our economy) that wouldn't be a reasonable option. My recommendation is to go to Costco, or someplace that has a package deal on these smaller but HD quality cameras. You can get a HF 200 package for $570 or less at some places. Sure, you'll have to have a computer and software to edit the videos, too. All in all, you can do it all on your own at a more reasonable investment and still get quality video. Do some research, talk to your buddies and I am sure you can come up with a good plan for taping your hunts, plus you'll stay married!

    I want to hear what you guys think. What cameras do you recommend? How would you shoot video if you were on a solo hunt? Don't be afraid to disagree with me. I am not expert and I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas.

    Thursday, April 1, 2010

    Utah Approves New Elk Plan
    (courtesy of The Outdoor Wire)

    Salt Lake City -- Elk with large antlers and more chances to hunt spike bulls are what you can expect if you hunt elk in Utah in the next five years.

    At their March 31 meeting, members of the Utah Wildlife Board revised Utah's elk management plan.

    The plan guides elk management in Utah. It's updated every five years.

    Two highlights from the revised plan include:
    • Changes that will keep plenty of bulls with large antlers on selected units in Utah.
    • More spike bull elk hunting permits.
    Survey and committee

    Utah's 15-member Elk Advisory Committee helped the Division of Wildlife Resources draft the revised plan. The group suggested the updates after reviewing a recent survey of Utah elk hunters.

    DWR biologists surveyed more than 16,600 elk hunters. The hunters were randomly chosen from the more than 76,800 hunters who either applied for or obtained a Utah elk hunting permit in 2009. The hunters included both limited-entry and general-season hunters.

    A summary of the survey results is available at www.wildlife.utah.gov/public_meetings/next.php.

    Older bulls

    When they draw a Utah limited-entry elk permit, hunters want to take a bull that has large antlers. "That's one of the things that jumped out from the survey," says Anis Aoude, big game coordinator for the DWR. "Taking a bull with large antlers is important to limited-entry hunters."

    Utah already produces plenty of big bull elk, including the world-record bull taken in 2008. To ensure big bulls are available in the future, the committee recommended that the age objectives change on various elk units in Utah.

    Utah's limited-entry units are managed so the average age of the bulls hunters take fall into one of four age categories. The age objectives the units have been managed under the past two years, and the objectives they'll be managed under starting in 2010, are as follows:

    Categories since 2008
    • 3 - 4 years old (3 units)
    • 4 - 5 years old (4 units)
    • 5 - 6 years old (18 units)
    • 6 - 7 years old (6 units)

    Categories starting in 2010
    • 4½ - 5 years old (8 units)
    • 5½ - 6 years old (13 units)
    • 6½ - 7 years old (4 units)
    • 7½ - 8 years old (6 units)

    Even though the age objectives are higher now, Aoude says the number of limited entry bull elk permits will continue to climb for the next few years.

    "It's hard to believe, but many of the bulls on Utah's elk units are older than the objectives that were just approved," he says. "To reduce the number of older bulls, we'll have to increase the number of hunting permits for the next few years."

    Once the average age of the bulls falls to the new objective, Aoude says the number of permits will have to be reduced to reduce the number of bulls hunters take. Taking fewer bulls should keep the average age within the new objective.


    More spike permits

    While the number of limited-entry bull elk permits will likely go down in the future, the number of general spike bull elk permits will go up starting this fall.

    The board raised the number of general spike bull permits to 13,750 for both the 2010 and the 2011 seasons. (In 2009, a total of 12,500 permits were offered.)

    If fewer than 20 percent of the spike hunters take a bull during the 2010 and 2011 seasons, the permit cap will jump to 15,000 permits for the 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons.

    "Spending time with family and friends is the most important part of the hunt for general-season elk hunters," Aoude says. "That's another thing that jumps out from the survey."

    Aoude says raising the number of spike bull permits accomplishes two things. "It gives more elk hunters a chance to hunt, and it benefits the elk by reducing the number of bulls in the herds," he says. "Right now, the number of bulls per 100 cows is higher than it should be on most of the state's units. We need to reduce the number of bulls to make more room in the herds for cows and calves."

    For more information, call the nearest Division of Wildlife Resources office or the DWR's Salt Lake City office at (801) 538-4700.
    Contact:
    Mark Hadley, DWR Relations with the Public Specialist (801) 538-4737