Thursday, December 30, 2010

Product Review: Defog It for Glasses, Binoculars
As an eyeglass wearer I am at a disadvantage when hiking up the trail on a cool day with a pack full of gear on my back. The disadvantage is that my glasses fog up and then I can't see to make the shot, should one present itself. I used to have a small soap-like stick that I used and that worked extremely well. My only problem is that was 15 years ago and I can't remember who makes the stuff. I decided to give Defog It a try. It gets good reviews and those are the ones I tend to like to spend my money on.

I tried this product out in New York and in Southern California. In NY it was super wet, temperatures in the 40's and I was wearing layers. In SoCal I was in 70 degree temps on one day and 30's on another day, two layers on both times, and I had to hike in a mile and a half. In both instances Defog It performed the same way. Not very well, if at all. It worked the first minutes and then my glasses seemed like there was nothing on them at all. As soon as I started to heat up from hiking my glasses got steamed up. What bothered me was this excerpt from the FAQs on their website.
In tests, lenses treated with the Defog It™ formulation were placed directly over steam. No fog formed for six, ten, 20 minutes. Competitive products failed. Treated lenses moved between hot and cold environments, remained clear for 100 transfers, while other anti-fogs failed.
My lenses tell a different story. I did everything they recommend. I cleaned my lenses very well. Dried them and then applied the Defog It drops to each lens. During both tests the product results were the same. It worked for a few minutes and then once I worked up a good sweat and my glasses fogged up and they stayed that way.
The proprietary surfactants contained in the formulation form a hydrophilic (water absorbing) layer on the surface of the lens that helps water/fog to sheet evenly and hence improve visibility.
From reading this, I gather that you'll still have condensation on your glasses, but that it will eventually sheet off. Mine didn't sheet off. Mine didn't even drip off. My lenses stayed fogged the entire time I hiked and the only two ways I got them cleared was to take my hat off and let me head cool down or to wipe them clean over and over with a Defog It cloth. The wiping with the cloth got very old quickly. I had to wipe off my glasses every few minutes. I finally got sick of it and decided to just wait it out, turned my hat backwards and tried to cool down.
A single application cleans and stops fog.
My results seem to be the exception to the rule above. I applied the liquid to my lenses every day of my hunts. The US military uses this stuff and I guess people do have it work. Maybe I got a defective bottle, I don't know. I just know that I put each product through trials according to what the manufacturer recommends. I certainly wouldn't recommend any of my readers to go purchase this product. If any of you have anything else you use I am definitely interested in knowing what it is.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Hunting Santa Catalina Island - Day 2 of 2
Getting up early for a hunting trip has never been too hard for me. It's the staying awake part during the drive out there that can be tough. Day 2 of my Catalina adventure started off with the alarm on my phone going off at 3:30am. I was very tempted to hit snooze for a few minutes, but I knew that I HAD to be ready to leave by 4:30am or risk being left behind. I gathered up my things, got into my camo and after doing an inventory of burritos for our breakfast, Jim and I went outside and met Chuck and Juanito. 

The fog was smothering.

At times, the fog cleared for some beautiful scenery.

Our plan of attack was to head to the West End to see what we could see. We didn't get a 1/4 mile when we hit the fog. We had 20+ miles to drive on dirt roads with no guard rails in pea-soup fog. It was going to be a slow going morning unless something changed for the better. At one point the fog cleared and we were able to see some of the canyons open up, but it didn't last long. As soon as we reached the gate we knew our trip had been for nothing. The fog was so thick we could see only 150 feet in front of the truck. After a quick discussion and a couple burritos (warmed up with a Burton Stove To Go), we decided it was in our best interest to turn around and head to lower canyons and ridges for a better attempt.


Once we hit the lower elevations we started seeing bison. We were able to get close to a few of them as they were right along side the road. It was a thrill, but we were still cautious and didn't hang around long. Jim thought there might be a chance at seeing some deer over a deep ridge he knew about. He took point and as he crested the rim he stopped immediately. "They are right there on the opposite side. Come look, but come slowly." We inched forward and sure enough we spotted them. Three nice does standing about 300 yards away. I pulled up my bino's and searched the hillside. Then, like from a page right out of a book, it happened. I was glassing and stopped on some bushes to look for movement when from behind a bush emerges a beautiful forkie with high antlers and a wide spread. Not super wide, but enough to make this guy stop on a dime and hiss, 'Buck! Buck! Right above the furthest doe.' Everyone agreed he was a nice buck. I had done my part and scoped out the area and spotted a buck. The guys decided the deer were in a tough area and we decided to move on.

Just over the next high ridge I spotted a beautiful 3x3 buck and a doe in a scene that would have made an award winning photo had I shot a photo instead of just staring in amazement. To paint the picture for you, he was standing in the dip of a saddle about 500 yards out. The saddle wasn't connected to anything, so it stood out very 3D-like. The backdrop was the ocean and a few houses, so a shot wasn't even an option, but it was beautiful. The doe was ahead of him and they were both broadside. It was a beautiful sight to see and one I may never see again.

We drove, glassed canyon after canyon, and after 5 hours decided we had had enough. Each of us was tired and wanted a good nap. Jim drove the truck to one more spot where we all got out and while the guys glassed I soaked up the view. I was standing on a cliff right along the ocean, salt-soaked breeze filling my nostrils and the different blues of the water were captivating. In those blue waters were a group of seals playing with each other, fins breaking the surface of the water like sharks. It was magnificent! We didn't see any deer, but I didn't care. I was loving life. This was a magical place that I had to come back to.

Slinking back into our seats, we all decided that there were lonely pillows and couches back at Jim's place. We had put some serious miles on Jim's truck (for an island vehicle) and needed to let her rest, too. So, we drove towards town and about a half-mile out, Chuck turns to look back up the hill and spots three deer on the fire-burn. Everyone looked at me and Jim asked me if I wanted a shot at trying to get close. 'Damn straight' were the only words I could utter in my excitement and sluggishness.

Jim turned the truck around and drove back up the hill. Once we got to a spot near the burn I got out. I figured this was going to be my test. Even though I was tired, there was little cover and the wind was not ideal, I had to try. The fire-burn was about 40 yards wide (give or take 10 yards) and I was 150 yards from the deer. The fire-burn followed some power-lines and I put one of the giant poles in between myself and the deer. I was able to see them pretty well without my binoculars. There were three does, all eating and facing away from me. The wind was blowing left-to-right, but I couldn't walk through the thick cover, so I was going to have to hug the edge of the burn and be very patient. Lowering my body to the earth, I started shuffling and inching closer and closer to the group. I got to 100 yards away from them when I got busted. Not by any of the three visible deer, but by a doe protecting her fawn that had just been out of my line of sight. She climbed out from behind a large bush, with her young one, and locked on to me. I had to laugh because ringing in my ears were the words of Phillip, over at The Hog Blog
'Al, it would be an extremely tough place to bowhunt, but it’s do-able. The canyons are crazy steep, and it’s pretty tough to move quietly.' 
He was right on. It's tough, but it IS doable. The five deer bolted shortly after that and I just sat there smiling for a minute or two. I felt very fortunate to have the opportunity to be there at that moment. I needed to take that time to just revel in God's wonderful creations.

Jim drove us back and after a short nap, packing up my gear and an awesome taco dinner cooked up by Jim's wife, Kimberly, I had to head over to the boat for my return trip back to Long Beach. Jim drove me over to the launch and I thanked he and his family for their generosity and hospitality. It was a very short day and a half, but it was an incredible adventure. I thought I would have plenty of time to ponder my trip on the way back, but shortly after the Express left the dock my eyelids grew very heavy. I woke up as we entered the port and it gave me just enough time to review the two days in my head. It truly was a fun adventure and I had an amazing time, but I didn't even scratch the surface of what hunting the island has to offer. More time was needed and the weather pattern didn't help. What was I going to do about it? Well, I am already planning a hunt for next year and yes, it will be with my bow and arrow.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Holidays, Time Off, and Going Hunting
Every year, at Christmas time, my company shuts down for a week. Not only does this bless me with precious time with my family, but it also gives me some time to help fill my A31 deer tag. The season closes on December 31, so it is now crunch time folks! 

Between the repainting and designing of my daughters room, doing my honey-do's and relaxing I will be filling the gaps with hunting. It is supposed to start raining here again late on Tuesday, which sucks. Will that stop me? No. Will I be looking to hit snooze? Possibly, but I won't. I will be taking advantage of at least two and possibly three days to hit the woods and try to fill my tags. While I do have some meat in the freezer (all given to me by friends or family), I would like to fill the rest up with an animal I have killed this year. I only have five days to do it, but I thrive under pressure and I am looking forward to the challenge.

Day 2 of my Catalina Trip (Day 1 is here) is coming this week along with a few product reviews. I am hoping with my time off that I will be able to blog a bit more and get some more writing done. The bad thing about blogging, having a full-time job and an energetic family is that I am always putting pressure on myself to post more. I'll be honest, I feel like I owe it to everyone to stay on my toes and keep things rolling. This week I will try to write some more, but I am going to put some of my energy into other things and keep the pressure off of my brain, if that makes any sense at all.

I hope you all have had a Merry Christmas, have been able to spend time with family and if you do have tags left to fill... that you have the opportunity to get out and fill them. I am off to wash the camo, go through my gear list and check the weather. The anticipation is killing me!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Hunting Santa Catalina Island - Day 1 of 2
The boat engine roars to life. The ocean swells roll 2-3 feet high and lull you into a sound sleep. Then, after what seems like only a few minutes, but was really an hour, you wake up as the Catalina Express is docking in Avalon. My journey over to Santa Catalina Island, or Catalina as most of us know it, was a refreshing one. This trip would have many firsts. It was my first opportunity to go hunting with my friend Jim Felix, one of the island residents. It was also the first time I was able to view the island from a different perspective. I was not just a tourist this time. I was here to help Jim find some mule deer.

Jim was waiting for me at the landing when I disembarked. We loaded up my gear in his truck and drove off to his apartment to drop some things off and make plans for the day. My goal for this hunt was to be a glass-man. I was signed up as an observer so I could see what the island had to offer me for archery hunting next year. I truly want to hunt a place remote and tough to hunt like Catalina, but I want to do it with archery tackle. This would be my test.

I first met Jim over three years ago. In a bar. Really. My wife and I were spending our first anniversary in Avalon. We were spending it on Catalina because we love it there. Our second date was spent in Avalon and it was a wonderful experience that made quite an impact on me. I had proposed behind the casino there on our second trip to the island together (uniquely I might add) and the rest is history. We had decided to go bar hopping and there really wasn't much going on the night we were there. We played about 10 games of pool when a rowdy crowd came in. We ventured to the front of the bar, introduced ourselves and hit it off. Jim and his wife Kimberly were there to let loose and we all partied the night away. We became instant friends. Almost a year later, my wife Kymberli and I ventured to our local Subway for dinner. When we walked in I noticed this guy staring at me. I kept glancing over knowing that I knew him, but I couldn't place him. Who was this guy eye-balling me? All of a sudden his wife called out to us knowing who we were and there you have it. We talked, caught up and said we needed to get together very soon. Then they had a child. Then we had a child. Life hit us head on and it took me three years to drag my sorry butt over there.

Our first mission was to head down to the Conservancy Office and sign me up as an observer. It meant that I could go out and glass for Jim, but that I would not be hunting. No problem in my book. I wanted to get a feel for the island before I decided to hunt it for a long period of time. I was only scheduled to be on the island for one and a half days, so glassing would be perfect. Once I was signed up, we changed into our gear. Jim and I chuckled at one another when we saw what the other was wearing for the afternoon hunt. Hunting Catalina usually means long rifle shots. My approach was to to glass and try to utilize my bow hunting skills to get as close to the deer as possible. Jim wore his sweatshirt, jeans and sneakers. I wore my MAX-1 suit, Danner Jackals and DIY camo hat. We both got a good laugh, yet both understood why the other wore what he did. The one item we both were required to wear was a blaze orange vest. I do not like to wear blaze orange too often, but this time my mind was made up for me. I had to abide by the laws and wear it. Hmmmph!

As soon as we started up the roads on the backside of Avalon we hit fog. Thick, rolling, nasty fog. The kind of fog that sticks to the road like peanut butter does to the roof of your mouth. It wasn't terrible, at first, but we knew that the second day was going to be brutal for hunting. Beyond the locked gates and the hum of civilization we encountered some of the steepest, most beautiful hunting area known to man. When I say steep I mean you had better be in good shape and have a good pair of boots to protect your feet. Going in December offered me some relief from rattlesnakes, but I was still cautious with each step. One of the things I really enjoy about Jim is that he is a wealth of knowledge about the island, the hunting and the areas that are good to glass from. I wanted to learn as much as I could, so instead of being the talker that I normally am, I listened. I listened carefully. Jim stopped at a lookout point and we raised our binoculars to view the mountains and canyons. We had only been glassing for a few minutes when he spotted movement below us. "There's a deer right there and he looks like he's in a hurry." I found the deer quickly and surmised he was a spike. Jim said they had been seeing a lot of spikes this year. Knowing he wasn't a shooter we continued on.

We spotted plenty of American bison on the hillsides. If you look close in the near center of this photo you can see two bison milling around. The original bison were brought to the island in 1924 for the filming of The Vanishing American. We were seeing the descendants. Jim explained that the herd was in the hundreds and when it grew too large a few bison were captured and transported to Indian reservations somewhere in the Dakotas or Wyoming. I had seen bison here before, while on the paid interior island tour with my wife, but it didn't even compare to this. Being out there and seeing them grazing from the cab of a 4x4 pickup was incredible. I was able to capture a few photos on day 1, but I was there to glass for deer. I could always go sightseeing at another time.

Over the next four hours Jim drove around and gave me a tour that tour guides dream of giving. He knows all of the spots on the island for good hunting. We spotted plenty of does, but no bucks, and they were all spooked. We didn't get close enough to any of them to get a shot. Seeing as it was the tail end of the season I understood why. Jim was pretty disappointed, but like I always say, for me it's not always about the kill. I was having a great time. I was hunting with a friend, seeing parts of the island I have only imagined and I was soaking up all of the information Jim was able to spit out. It was fantastic!

We drove back to his place at dark, changed into street clothes and met up with his cousin Chuck and Chuck's roommate Juanito (Juan). Our stomachs were growling so we hit up a great pizza joint where we proceeded to order a bit of everything off the menu. It was very filling and we were all beat. We all walked back to Jim's apartment, had plenty of laughs over the next hour and then hit the sack for an early date with the West End of the island. Be sure to tune in for the next day hunt story full of multiple deer sightings, lots of fog and more laughs!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Naughty or Nice, Santa Had Better Look Out
This photo has been circulating the internet for weeks. I have had it for a while and decided I just had to post it. It's too funny.

Feeding The Hungry
Nothing makes me happier during the holidays than seeing someone else happy. It truly makes me happy to see them smile, whether it be my family or someone in need. This past Saturday I was part of a group that was able to help put some smiles on faces.
In partnership with Echoes of Love Ministry, Living Off the Land kicked off the holiday season with an amazing spaghetti and meatball dinner this past Saturday, December 18 in Colton, California. Hundreds enjoyed a nutritious meal complete with Santa delivering toys for all the children. Check back for details on our next event. Happy Holidays!
We had a very large group of volunteers pitch in to greet people, hand out meals and help as Santa handed out gifts to each and every child there. It was such a beautiful sight to see the little kids jumping up and down just to get a chance to talk to Santa. Then, when they were each given a gift, to watch their faces light up. I enjoyed just talking with people and letting them know I really did want them to have a Merry Christmas.

The very best part of the day that just made me grin from ear-to-ear was seeing the kids with Santa. One little girl about 2 1/2 years old was jumping up and down in her excitement to tell Santa what she wanted. But Santa didn't stop there. One little boy was given a firetruck that was fully functional. His face lit up like a fireworks display. His dad looked at us with a tear in his eye and just said, 'Thank you.' Each of us around were sure to wish him a Merry Christmas and we couldn't have been happier. Now, Santa had overheard a young girl claim that she really wanted a Barbie for Christmas. She mentioned it a few times and wouldn't you know it, Santa had one in his sack just for her. After opening her gift, she ran up and told Santa that was exactly what she asked for. That, my friends, is what makes me happy.

Everyone that pitched in did an excellent job. To the staff at Echoes of Love Ministry, thank you. Everyone was courteous, giving and they did all of the cooking. It was truly an honor to be a part of something so good.

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Living Off The Land - Hunters Feeding The Hungry
Tomorrow I get to go help my friends feed some hungry folks and help Santa as he gives out presents to some children out at the Fellowship Hall at Echoes of Love Ministry in Colton, CA. I am very excited and proud of these guys. Nathan Welsh, the founder, is an original member of Team DIY and I think he's doing something wonderful during this holiday season. 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Living Off the Land, a new non-profit, is not waiting for people to donate food to help the hungry this holiday season.  They are going out themselves and hunting for it. Literally.

NEWPORT BEACH (Dec. 17, 2010)—Nathan Welsh, Founder and Executive Director of the California non-profit organization, Living Off the Land, has an unconventional approach to solving the hunger problem in the U.S.  Rather than waiting for donations to come in for those communities most in need, he leads hunts and provides the animal meat in nutritious meals for the homeless and hungry at shelters, food banks and churches.

50 million people in the US, including nearly 17 million children, lived in households that were food-insecure in 2009 according to the USDA.  Recent reports show that 2010 numbers may have risen by 30%.  This clearly shows the devastating human toll the economic crisis and the growth of mass unemployment has had on the United States.  Provisions to feed the hungry chiefly come through donations—which have fallen—from grocery store chains and other large food suppliers, with federal programs accounting for only 24 percent. 76 percent of polled cities said food pantries and emergency kitchens had to make cutbacks this year.
Living Off the Land is taking action against this shortage, not by recreating a donation model supply chain, but by creating more food supply.  As an avid hunter, Nathan and his brother Eric Welsh (founder of DIYBowhunter.com) know how to find the locations with either a surplus of animals to legally hunt, or how to track those that will provide the largest amount of meat per animal.  One single elk can provide over 400 pounds of meat, or 2000 healthy meals.  Unlike most donators, Living Off the Land does not shy away from explaining the type and origin of the meat.  Instead, they promote the hunts and provide public education on the benefits hunting can have on the growing hunger problem.  They are hoping this positive press and call to action of the hunting community will encourage even more donation as the activity of hunting has actually increased during the recession. 
Nathan shared his philosophy on the purpose of the organization, “The hunting community as a whole has a deep passion for what it does and respect for the animal, the land, and the use of God-given resources.  Until now, we’ve had very few options available to connect this activity with efforts to help the people in our communities.  Living Off the Land was created to encourage hunters to continue doing what they love, but to do it, with almost no added cost or effort, in service to others.  This is a recipe for lasting sustainable change.”
Living Off the Land will help families celebrate the 2010 holiday season with a spaghetti and meatball dinner and toy drive on December 18, 2010.  The event will be held from 4:00-6:00 pm at Fellowship Hall at Echoes of Love Ministry (710 West C St, Colton CA 92324).   

For more information on the event or to donate to the organization, visit: www.lotl.org.

Media Inquiries:
Nathan Welsh
Founder and Executive Director
Living Off the Land
909.957.0540
nathan@lotl.org

Monday, December 13, 2010

Photography Is My Second Passion
It's going to be a busy week and while I may not have time to write as much as I would like, I thought it would be cool to share with you all than some photos I have taken. Yes, I have been a photographer for many years and I am very passionate about it.  While I love bowhunting, I also enjoy going on wildlife photo safaris or just over to my local park to see what I can digitally capture (I stopped using film 3 years ago). So, until I get back in the swing of things, here are some of my photos for you all to enjoy. 

The 'I am hunting - check me out' self-portrait is always fun.
Pacific-hybrid deer on a scouting trip in the Angeles National Forest.
This bald eagle was a rescue at the World Bird Sanctuary in Missouri.
I am fascinated by snakes, and this guy just begged me for a snapshot!
Tule bull elk.
This Tule elk herd was incredibly huge.
This black bear got to within 10 feet of my car window.
Watching this bear walk through the field was a rush.
Found this bees nest at my local park.
The same with this hawk. He kept his distance most of the day.
This jay crept up on my wife and I in Yosemite.
These pintails were found at the Bolsa Chica Wetlands in SoCal.

Friday, December 10, 2010

SoCal Friends - Hog Hunt Report
Guest post by Jeff Abell
I have a report from last weekends Savage Wild Boar Hunting Safari. It great trip with Howie getting a nice boar with the biggest & nicest tusks I've seen in a while even though it was no monster size wise. There is a lot to tell, but I'll stick to the hunting highlights.

We saw a lot of wild game from dozens of hawgs, yotes, quail, turkey, deer and elk. Gary said while driving out he stopped to watch a sounder of 50 to 60 hawgs right outside the town of Parkfield. I guess we hit the solar / lunar cycle right this trip.

Howie nailed his hawg with a head shot while it was trotting along the tree line from about 75 yards.

Great food as always with some incredible white sea bass, venison & beef steaks on the menu. Thanks guys, but lets try next time to make an attempt at some veggies. As much as I love all the meat a little fiber based food wouldn't hurt us. I had to purge with some syllium when I got home so I wouldn't blow an ass gasket.

It rained pretty regularly but thanks to Gary we had a giant cabin tent with a wood burning stove at our disposal which was a real treat. Yeah, it's the same kind you drool over in the Cabela's catalog, but know there is no chance in hell you'll ever ball up & order because it's too big to hide from your wifies. Despite the luxury of the heated cabin tent I could not sleep for shit because of a serenade of multiple snorers. Now I know why I have not shared a tent with another man in many years. It turned into a good thing cause they drove me out the 2nd night at 2 am which led to a solo spot lighting yote hunt that was incredibly awesome.


I was playing a jack rabbit distress call when Mr. Alpha Yote started busting through the grass right up my 5 only to have me turn around to find him at a beeline charge straight at me at about 30 yards & closing. There is nothing like the feeling of being pursued while on the hunt! I scrambled to grab my rifle, which was leaning on a tree, and mount it over a very large, clunky spot light. This action stopped him and he retreated 10 yards, but he fucked up and paused to look back at me (I guess it was to double check that I was not a jack) just long enough for me to line up my scope & light angles (no easy feat) to squeeze off. I know it's just a 25 lb dog, but let me tell you this thing was very exciting to call in and shoot.

Jeff and Howie pose with Jeff's coyote.
It was a killer little hunt and I was back in camp within a half hour sipping my flask around the camp fire, but not before I sounded off in my radio (I left it's pair on high volume inside the cabin tent to make sure to wake the snorers).

    "We got a red dawg down...We got a red dawg down!"

Gary also fully skinned (including head, paws & tail) the dawg, which was sporting a sweet winter coat, to later tan for a display pelt while giving the rest of us a lesson in along the way. Usually I don't do anything beyond pics with yotes so it was nice to further utilize a kill. Anyway there is more to ramble on about, but I'll leave it at that for now.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Hawaii 5-Oh No You Didn't Just Air That
This must be the week of airing poor hunting practices. I love action TV shows and yes, many deal with law enforcement. I am intrigued by it. Last night I cued up Hawaii 5-0 on the DVR and began watching. I was uber-excited to see it start off with two bow hunters stalking a wild boar. That's when it all fell apart. We don't want new hunters, especially our youth to see these types of things and think they are standard practice. Here is the letter I sent to CBS.
Dear CBS,

First, allow me to say that I am a big fan of your Hawaii Five-0 series. I recently watched your Hawaii Five-0 - Palekaiko episode (Air Date: 12/06/10) and I have some complaints regarding the hunting practices you aired. As you are aware, in the first few minutes, you show two islanders bow hunting wild boar. You can imagine my excitement as a bow hunter who also hunts for wild boar. After the hunter shoots his arrow at the boar is when you aired some major safety issues and incredibly poor hunting behavior. I wonder how many hunter education instructors saw this episode.

Right after the man shoots, he watches the boar run off, looks at his partner and they take off after the boar.

  1. Anyone who has hunted boar knows that this is a HUGE mistake and can cost you some serious bodily harm and even death if the boar turns on you. After the shot you wait for the animal to bed down and die before tracking it. When you do track it you do it with caution. You have to give the animal ample time to bleed out. [This part was added after I sent the letter: You also showed the arrow sticking out of a tree with no blood on it. The hunters didn't even attempt to get the arrow out of the tree. Why would they run after an animal they had no chance of catching up with if they hadn't actually hit the animal?]

  2. You didn't even show these guys tracking the wild hog. I know that islanders take pride in their hunting skills and I can only imagine they would be offended by this. Not only do they not track it, they run haphazardly after it, through thick vegetation...

  3. with their bows armed!! Did you catch that? They RAN AFTER IT with an ARROW NOCKED and ready to shoot! One hunter was right behind the other and earlier this fall a hunter was killed when he accidentally ran into his friend like this.

    Partner’s arrow kills bowhunter in freak accident
    Associated Press
    The Spokesman-Review 

    TOUTLE, Wash. – A 50-year-old Kelso man is dead after what authorities are calling a freak bowhunting accident and the first archery hunting fatality since 1995. 

    The Daily News of Longview reported that Benny White and his hunting partner left their pickup truck about three miles east of Toutle after spotting an elk Friday morning.

    Cowlitz County Coroner Tim Davidson said White apparently stopped abruptly, and his partner ran into him from behind. The partner’s arrow was in position in his bow, and it pierced White’s torso.

    The partner drove White to meet aid crews, but White was pronounced dead at the scene.

  4. When the hunters stop because they see the vegetation moving, they draw (which is not uncommon) and then the woman appears. Immediately they should have let down and swung their bows out of the way. Any hunter ed instructor will tell you that.

I believe that you [aired] some very bad examples of how bow hunting should be done. The hunting community suffers when you air poor safety and poor hunting practices. Please be aware of this if you would like to respond, please do so. I will be posting this letter to my blog (http://socalbowhunter.blogspot.com) so other can be made aware that this is NOT the proper way to hunt any animal.

Sincerely,
Al Quackenbush

The SoCal Bowhunter
 If any of you saw the episode or just want to comment regarding what I have written, please do. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sarah Palin's Alaska - The Unsafe Outdoors
The wife and I don't watch a lot of the same reality television. I watch hunting shows and action packed shows with cops and weaponry. She like The Real Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, and so on. I don't fault her for it, just like she won't fault me for my guilty pleasures. Last night we decided to sit down and watch Sarah Palin's ALASKA together because it combined one of her shows with hunting, my love. This show was an eye-opener into what Sarah Palin considers hunting! It was full of unsafe hunting practices and I had to say something.

So, I sat down with my wife to watch this last night (I would normally being checking out the hunting forums). Instead I was checking out Sarah Palin. Sure, I was checking her out. It's no surprise that I think she's a hottie. Ok, I thought she was until I watched this show. I have now lost that feeling because what I watched was not what I call ethical or smart. I figured it was going to show Sarah hunting and I'd get my wife interested in the sport. Boy was I wrong! All throughout the show I was angered by how unsafe everyone was being. I am not the only one who feels this way. There is also a great blog post by the huntress at Hunt Like You're Hungry. She makes some really great points that I will touch on here.

Over at The Awl, Abe Sauer wrote up a great article about the show. He says this, which I think explains it all.

In this most recent episode, a woman who has blindly championed the NRA and legitimized her frontier-woman status by claiming to be a "lifelong hunter" comes across as anything but.

For starters, Palin and pa head out on a long hunt without bothering to sight in Palin's rifle, a mistake no serious hunter would ever make. Why Palin's dad chose for her a "varmint rifle" for a caribou hunt and why Palin, an admitted "moose hunter," would not question such a gun's appropriateness is never answered.

From there, numerous bungles along the way to finally downing the caribou show a hunting tourist who, at worst, appears to pose a genuine danger to fellow outdoorsmen. 

Watch the clip from the show and then read on.


What isn't shown in this video is before they actually go hunting her dad says he's going to give her the varmint gun because it has less kick. Are you kidding me? A .243 for a caribou at 200 yards? Her dad uses a .30-06, but she's going to use a .243. That's like saying I am going to try to take out a deer with a BB gun. Stupid, just plain stupid and truly unfortunate for the animal.

On the first hunt outing across the tundra her dad falls while using the gun as a walking stick. Barrel up towards the sky and he falls forward. While he was ok, they don't bother checking to see if there is any gun damage. Sarah somehow forgets her rubber boots (that miraculously appear on the second outing). She decides to wade through the ice-cold water in her hiking boots and says the heck with it and gets soaked. She says she knows she's going to regret it later and that she's going to get blisters. That is truly brilliant when you are 14 miles from basecamp and 120 miles from any doctor. What would she have done if she got hypothermia?

The shooting segment of the show was downright scary. Who in their right mind hands a loaded weapon over with the safety off? Sarah can't load her own gun, but she's been hunting with her dad her entire life? Let me see if I have this right. Her dad loads her rifle, hands it to her with the safety off and her finger goes right on the trigger. Sarah, if you had been hunting like you said you had, you'd know how to load a rifle, know when to shoot and you would take your time with it. The finger on the trigger had me up off the couch yelling at the screen. Even my wife (who can shoot a pistol well) knew this was wrong. The head on shot on the caribou pissed me right off. She had to shoot the only animal out there because it seemed like she was just trying to win a bet. She's really showing how to hunt badly and worse off - how unsafe hunting is done. It's appalling that a person of her stature would put this out there! She's an executive producer on the show, so she could have pulled this episode. I honestly don't think she sees anything wrong with the way they all hunted. It was Frightening (the cap 'F' is there for a reason!)

There was more to the show like the fact that none of them wore even a speck of blaze orange. They were worried about bears, yet one guy goes off hunting on his own. They could have put up an electric fence to deter the bears, too. Everything seemed very haphazard and nonchalant. I was not impressed in the least.

All in all, I was more than disappointed, I was angry for the entire airing of the show the way it was done. Unsafe, unethical and put out there just for ratings. There has been a discussion going on over at The Thinking Hunter blog by Galen Greer about 'responsibility in outdoor media.' This was a prime example. I suggest you go over and check it out.

I am done venting. For now anyway. Please share your thoughts on this. I think TLC needs to see it and so does Sarah Palin.
Sunday Morning Hunting Adventure
Back in October, while playing the 'deer spot lottery', I scratched off my ticket and found a beautiful spot! Jackpot! As you can imagine, it really didn't happen that way. With the help of a couple of of friends we located a spot for me to try to fill my archery tag. It's an archery only area that is incredibly beautiful and full of wildlife.

Two Saturdays ago we had all planned on heading up there and doing some hunting. The nasty cough and congestion that gripped my chest had other plans and I had to cancel. I am not one to cancel. Ever. That is unless I can't function properly. I knew there was no point in going out when having a cough that would spook everything in earshot. So I called everyone and canceled. I could hear the disappointment in their voices, but also the concern. Fast forward one week. Cough is still there, but mostly when I am indoors and darn it, I wanted to hunt! Plans were made and only one other guy could make it. My excitement grew, but I also knew I had my work cut out for me. This particular gentleman had never hunted deer before.

I parked on the street and waited for him to arrive. When he arrived and got out of his car I was beyond dismayed. He stepped out in plain clothes, no camo, and smelled strongly of fabric softener. I was beyond bummed, but we were there and I had a plan. I had to work with what God gave me for that day and we ventured into the woods.

The hike was steep and tested every muscle in my legs. We knew we were running late because we could see the sun peeking over the ridgeline. Our pace quickened. We continued our hike when we spotted another hunter coming off a trail where I wanted to go. I wasn't happy, but I was optimistic. I didn't want to go in where this guy was, but my second set of eyes pleaded we head in to glass. (You see, we had seen deer in there before and I am certain he wanted to see if they were there again). We hiked in, got set up on a high spot and started to glass. It wasn't five minutes and I spotted a buck along the very top of a ridge. Unfortunately, he was 3/4 of a mile away and up a steep rock face. My sidekick wanted to get right after him, but we waited and we glassed. We waited some more and I spotted the other two hunters going up a steep hill to where the buck was. Then I spotted buck #2 near the first buck. I explained that we wanted to wait to see what the other hunters were going to do because they could do our work for us. For every deer you see, I said, there are ten that you don't. Twenty minutes into their stalk on the bucks, they crested the lower hill and five doe kicked out on the opposite side. We watched them meet up with three other doe and they went up to the highest point on a hillside. It would be a mile hike just to get to them and a hike up the hill to try a stalk. Today was not the day for that.

We picked up and headed further down into the hills and ran into some hikers. They were very cordial, as were we, and we joked for a minute before they continued on. One gentlemen and his dog came walking up to us and although I was dreading a confrontation, I just smiled and said, 'Good morning.' Not only did he repeat it back, but he pointed us to a spot where he had just seen a doe earlier. Right on! It was a nice change from what I was expecting. Not all hikers and locals are anti's and it pays to be friendly. Sometimes it's tough to get that out of your head.

We hiked further in to get a better look at the hillsides, but the tree growth was too much to see through. Wanting to see what my options were, I walked down the base of the hill, alone, to see if there were any openings to hike up the hill. There were none and I knew we weren't exactly close to where I really wanted to be. I turned around and looked up the opposite hill. In the clearing there were four does moving down the hill. A quick game plan was discussed and we ventured up the trail. Halfway to our destination, my spotting buddy couldn't make it up the hill and needed to stop. It was very steep and if I were in his position I would have done said the same thing. My frame of mind was different though. I had the weapon and the tag, so my adrenaline kicked in and I hoofed it up the hill hard and fast. I got one hundred yards into my hike and started sucking wind. I took a twenty second break and continued on in full-force. 

When I reached the trail where I knew the deer had come down I took notice of my surroundings. I nocked an arrow, walked towards a clump of trees and peered carefully into the woods. In an excited burst, one of the deer took off forty yards from me, but I saw only her. Where were the other three? Had they gone ahead of her? I searched for five minutes and that's when I heard it. The crackle of leaves, a breaking branch and a rocks tumbling off a hillside. As I turned to look, she was already on the trail walking toward me at around fifteen yards! I slowly turned to get in position for a shot when I stepped on a leaf. It sounded like a gunshot going off. Everything around stopped moving. The doe was only ten yards away at this point and she knew something wasn't right. She looked directly at me, decided I was something she didn't want to get closer to and bounded off down into a flat. She stopped around seventy yards, broadside and just watched me. For a full two minutes she didn't move. Neither did I. When she did turn, I rotated my body to get a shot at something coming out where she appeared. I waited and waited, but nothing did come out, so I made my way back. It was exciting and wonderful! Sure, didn't get the shot, but it was the closest I have been to a SoCal deer, during hunting season in three years!

I will say that all of the deer we saw looked VERY healthy and well fed. No ribs were showing and their coats were very shiny. That is a good sign for our deer population.

On our hike out of the woods, we discussed what we'd need to do for the next hunt. We didn't see any more deer on the way to the trail head, but the mile hike back out was still a good walk. It felt good to be outdoors, even with a heavy chest and cough. For my next hunt I will have to put on my hiking boots, eat my Wheaties, and suck it up. Is it sick to say that I can't wait? Nope. It's going to be fantastic!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Product Review: Flambeau Archery and Hunting Keeper
Back in July, I posted a blog about CSN Stores and how they were giving me a couple of items to test out. My first choice was the Flambeau Archery and Hunting Keeper, which is basically an organizer for the everyday archer.  

Flambeau Archery and Hunting Keeper
Originally I had been keeping all of my spare gear, tools and parts in an old tackle box. While it organized well, it was plastic, solid and noisy. It worked well, but the Flambeau Archery and Hunting Keeper worked even better. It is built from a synthetic canvas, so it is flexible and can be contorted to fit many shapes. It has two plastic snaps and a Velcro strap to keep it closed.

There are plenty of pockets inside to store small parts and tools. There are small pockets, large ones and even some elastic straps to put stuff in. Overall it is well built and has a good design. I was able to fit everything I needed to in it with some room left over.

The only issue I have with it is that the pockets on the smaller flaps aren't sewn shut. So if you put some items in the pocket, they slip down to the pocket underneath. There are zippers for both pockets, but it is really just one pocket with two openings. I didn't like that at all.

It works much better than my old tackle box, so I think I'll stick with it and figure out a way to close up those pockets. I think this is a good product and will work for most archers.


Product Review: Chef'sChoice Compact Diamond Hone Knife Sharpener
Chef'sChoice Compact Diamond Hone Knife Sharpener
Lugging my electric knife sharpener on a backcountry hunt isn't an option for obvious reasons. I have heard of many good knife sharpeners out there that hunters take with them to put an edge back on their blades when field dressing an animal. The Chef'sChoice Compact Diamond Hone Knife Sharpener is exactly what I needed.

When I first looked at the Chef'sChoice I wasn't sure if it would stand up to what I needed it for. I have to say that this sharpener works great, and it's inexpensive, light and works well. I took one of my old knives that had lost it's edge and ran it through a few times. It put a nice edge back onto the blade. It wasn't what it used to be, but in the field you will be happy just having a sharp edge. I was pleasantly surprised. 

The Chef'sChoice is also very lightweight and small to carry. Finding a spot in my pack was very easy. I just have to remember where I put it each time!

You do need to have a firm surface to hold against to properly use the sharpener. You can use a tree, rock, or even the ground. Simple to use, easy to use and perfect for the backcountry hunter. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Preliminary TV Show Review: Wild Justice
There are some very involved discussions going on around some blog regarding outdoor TV shows and the responsibility the outdoorsmen and women should or should not have with what they air. Now, I am not going to go into that discussion right now, but I want to take it a step further. The National Geographic Channel has a new show called Wild Justice where they follow game wardens of the California Department of Fish & Game and tell their stories. I have to say that when I first heard about it I had mixed feelings. There are always rumors about how the wardens treat outdoorsman and the rep isn't always good. I have a feeling those stories are a bit exaggerated, but I also feel there are two sides to every story.

I have watched the first three episodes of Wild Justice. They have covered bear poaching, deer poaching, enforcement of the laws and marijuana issues. So far, it has all been set in Northern California, near Tehama County. There have been some interesting bits and pieces that have me wanting to see where else they will go with this. Now, I am also not naive and thinking this show is all 100% as it happens. I know it's not. A good example was last nights show regarding deer poaching. Someone was shooting arrows at deer in a residential neighborhood at night. One arrow was found not 30 feet from a house near some childrens bedrooms. The part of the show where it was obvious that it was shot and edited was when the wardens responded to a second call about the arrows. Let me ask this, if you are walking in your yard (supposing you have one) and you find an arrow in the snow, are you going to let it sit there? No way! You'd pick it up, look at it and probably take it with you when you make the call. When the wardens arrived at the second house, they asked the couple to come outside and show them the arrow. As the camera panned, you could see the arrow sitting, in plain view, on the porch. When they got to the place where they found the arrow, suddenly there it was back in the snow. I understand the need to tell a story, but come on people. Do they think we are that stupid? It seemed like a bad episode of cops. If they want us to leave the arrow where we found it, they should have mentioned it on the show.

One guy goes a bit over the top, but I can see why. He's got a HUGE area to cover, as do most of the wardens. One of the stats that came up during the show was that there is ONE warden for every 180,000 Californians. That is a staggering number and rather scary for the wardens and for we hunters. One of the things these guys and gals do it to go out and try to help save our resources so we have game to hunt. Can you imagine if they had followed the warden when he caught the poachers from Riverside, CA? There was some good discussion on this around California blogs, too. You can find a good thread over at DIYbowhunter.com, too.

I won't go into every detail of the show (you can watch it yourself), but while on the topic of deer poaching, there was a guy they nabbed last night that just downright pissed me off. I mean cursing at the TV pissed off. This prick is known to be a poacher and the wardens set up and wait for him. They show photos of the two deer this guy killed and both were pregnant. Yep, you read it right. BOTH were pregnant. One with twins and one with a buck. He shot them both after the season was over. When he comes down the road they nab him. Bad news for him is that he had 5 beers (or so he says) and gets nailed for that, too. This is the part that REALLY had me dropping a few F-bombs at him. This poacher comes out and says that that Fish & Game could have handled it differently. Wait... that's not even the best part. He said that the area is littered with deer and he passed on four bucks before shooting these doe. He said that everyone should have chilled out because he only shot a couple of does. You f-ing jackass. That is why we have CA DF&G and why I don't even consider you a hunter. You are a poacher. We all have to follow the rules like everone else, why do YOU think you are above the law? He said he was 'raised right' and he eats all of the meat. Well, in one of the photos shown, the deer was rotting in a field. Looks like you did a good job of eating it all, sir.

I do have one suggestion for the producers (who will probably never read this, but it makes me feel better). When you stop some of these guys and discuss the laws, go over them. Talk about the law and what is allowed and not allowed. The CA laws are hard enough to read an understand, but explain them to us. I have a feeling that some of the guys have a hard time deciphering the laws themselves, but that is only my opinion.

All in all, it's a good show for California hunters to watch and try to see what the wardens have to go through. It's pretty intense and so far I am interested in seeing more.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Product Review: Indera Mills ColdPruf and HydroPur Performance Thermals
Bitter cold. I hate you. Frigid wind. You suck. Still, every year that I hunt in cold temperatures I get chilled and I want to do something about it. It's partly because I am getting older and also because the gear that I have used isn't up to par with below subzero temperatures. My last trip to New York allowed me to field test some cold weather gear from Indera Mills.

I have used thermal underwear for many years, but the folks over at Indera Mills have some of the most comfortable thermal underwear around. I wanted to use something that would work well throughout a range in temperatures and I was able to field test two different types of thermal underwear: Indera Mills ColdPruf Performance Base Layers and HydroPur Performance Thermals. These are rated for cold temperatures and also for scent control. The label for the ColdPruf says it 'Wicks & Evaporates Moisture [and] Controls Odor'. It did wick the moisture away, but reducing odor? It also says that the activity level needs to be 'Medium to High' in order to work properly.

Here is some info from their website regarding the HydroPur:
Independent laboratory tests have shown that Delcron HydroPur Fiber exhibits significant efficacy against odor-causing and unsightly microorganisms along with superior moisture management. What’s more, both the moisture management and antimicrobial properties are integrated into the fiber during the polymer stage and are permanent.

How Does It Work?
On untreated surfaces, bacteria find their way. They reproduce and continue reproducing, causing foul odors, discoloration, corrosion, etc.

On surfaces treated with AlphaSan antimicrobial, bacteria still find their way. However, they get an extra special dose of silver ions. The silver ions mess with their metabolism, and the bacteria are history.
The first few days I was in New York the temperatures were cold. It rained, snowed and the wind was unrelenting. For these days I chose to use the ColdPruf performance base layer which was rated for the 'Cold to Very Cold' weather. First off, these things are super comfortable. I have worn long johns for years and those are ok, but they are thick and cumbersome at times. The ColdPruf top and bottom fit like a glove. Now I know what a super hero feels like in tights. No super powers here though, unless you count doing battle with a buffet line. You really do need to prepare yourself for wearing these layers. I could feel the heat retention shortly after putting them on. Anyone who hunts the cold weather knows that you don't want to sweat, but you want to stay as warm as possible. It's a very fine line and the Indera Mills line is deceiving. It is very thin material, but it was very warm during activity.

The thermal underwear performed extremely well. I wore the ColdPruf Base Layers for two days, the HydroPur Performance Thermals for two days and one day I combined the two because it was frigid and I was sitting in a stand for hours. There was also a 30 mph wind and it was gnawing into my bones. I wasn't ever disappointed in the ability to keep me warm. The only things that got cold on me when I was there were my fingers. Other than that I was very happy with how well the Indera Mills line worked. The long johns I used to wear became itchy after a few hours (and yes, I washed them first). The ColdPruf Base Layers and HydroPur Performance Thermals did not feel itchy. Honestly, I really didn't feel them at all once they were on. I do think the scent control feature is almost non-existent. As a human, I sweat and I stink. I didn't do any extra long hikes in New York, but you could still smell the stink on me. I don't think the reducing odor part worked well at all. Then again, I don't think any article of clothing can do that. In regards to the quote from their website (see above), I don't think it really holds water. The bacteria on my armpits won that challenge.

On a side note: My wife ran the Long Beach Turkey Trot 10K on Thanksgiving morning and needed something warm to wear. Although my ColdPruf shirt was a bit large on her, she wore it and said she never felt cold. It was less than 50 degrees at our house the morning of the race and even cooler with the breeze by the ocean. She gave it two thumbs up.

I do have one important negative issue to report. I was wearing a few layers over the ColdPruf Base Layers. Combine that with some short hikes and two very large holes appeared in the inner thigh region of the bottoms. With the gear being that thin I wasn't surprised, but I also expected the gear to be strong enough to last more than five days without showing signs of wear. I was extremely disappointed in how they held up.

The Indera Mills gear is about half the price of the some of the other top-rated cold weather gear out there that I am looking at. I think the gear that I tested is good for cool-to-cold weather, but when you have to wear multiple layers that can cause wear (holes in the underwear) then you get what you pay for. I think that I'll be purchasing a more expensive base layer that will last a long time, but it will not the Indera Mills brand.