Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Product Review: HipBone by Tactical Archery Systems
Hunting smarter is the name of the game. Out here in Southern California you have to do a lot of glassing to find your furry targets. I know that hunting out here can be a test of your patience because you used to have to set your bow down so that you could pull up your binoculars. I have tried slings, 'kickstands' and just holding my bow on my foot while I glass. I hate them all. I wanted a completely hands free device that I could use to hold my bow while glassing. I finally found it with the Tactical Archery Systems HipBone.

The HipBone is by far the best device I have reviewed all year. It truly is! 

Unique Ball & Socket Design Attaches a Rugged Polymer Ball to Either the Cable Guard or Stabilizer; Seats Securely in a Simple Belt Clip

New Braunfels
, TX – Tactical Archery Systems’ HipBone provides a simple, secure, hands-free bow holding solution with lightening fast engagement exactly when you need it. Hunters from across the country are enjoying hands free stalking or access to optics while still having their bow ready and within reach within a matter of seconds.

“For years, like many hunters, we struggled with bow holders that were cumbersome and ineffective, said Klint Kingsbury, president of Tactical Archery Systems. “As a result, bowmen were forced to either carry their bows by hand or drop them on the ground in order to fine tune their optics or move brush and other obstructions out of the way. We developed the HipBone to give hunters a simple, secure and silent way to keep their bows at hand – without sacrificing the reaction speed needed to engage a target.”

The HipBone's quick-attach ball & socket design attaches a rugged polymer ball to either the bows cable guard or stabilizer, which then seats securely into the specially designed belt clip socket. Each HipBone bow holder system comes with a belt clip and male and female threaded balls for attachment to either stabilizers or cable guards- making this holder compatible with almost any bow.

Here is a brief overview from their website:
  • Quick attach ball and socket for lightening fast engagement
  • Bow is completely secured
  • Space age polymer with steel inserts for maximum durability
  • Tactical Black matte finish
  • Compatible with all bows
  • Most secure bow holder ever
  • Frees hands for use of optics and stalking
  • Keeps your bow within hands reach at all times
  • Perfect for hunting or tournament shooting

Let me tell you what, I LOVE this new piece of archery gear. It's not brand new to the market, but it's new for this hunter! When I first spoke with Klint Kingsbury, owner of TAS, he gave me the overview on his products and asked me to describe my glassing techniques. Once I explained I was using a sling or nothing at all, he recommended the HipBone and offered to send me one.

Want to see it in action?


Pretty cool, huh? I was stoked to try it out. When the package came in the mail it didn't take me long to rip it open and pull out my new gear. Klint not only sent me a Hip Bone, but inside the box was also a Delta Rail Stabilizer and a SABO sight. For this review I am only going to focus on the HipBone.

First off, this thing attaches to your bow so easily. The directions to install are very simple. You attach one ball (socket) to your cable guard with two set screws. The other socket screw into your Delta Rail Stabilizer, or a stabilizer with a screw in area. Then, you just take the molded 'holster' and slip it over your belt. Make a note that you may have to cinch up your belt one or two notches because with the weight of the bow on your belt your pants are liable to slip down a bit. Mine did and that was when my waistline was a bit wider. Once that is done you are done. Time to go and start glassing. As you saw in the video, you can use either ball to connect to the socket adapter on your belt. Pretty slick, in my humble opinion.

Initially, I had a different quiver on my bow, so I was able to utilize the cable guard socket most of the time. I found that this allowed me the quickest access to my bow handle in a shooting situation from my left side (I am right handed) and it also kept the bow from swinging too much while I walked. This was very convenient when glassing out here in the hills. I was able to reach right up, not worry at all about my bow and start scanning for wildlife. 

Side view of the Hip Bone in action (cable guard attachment) with no quiver.
On the other side of the bow, I can utilize the stabilizer attachment and have my bow hang from the opposite side. This allows the bow to hang a little lower in the front, but also keeps it away from your hands more. This works great when standing or hiking in the wide open. I did find that if you are hiking through grass or tall weeds that they are apt to get stuck in the cams more often when using the stabilizer side of the bow. Still, it worked great and I each side gave me plenty of room to hike and glass without the worry of having to set my bow down or hold it in a weird way.

Recently, I switched to a new quiver and that gets in the way of the cable guard ball, so I had to use the stabilizer attachment more often. This was not an issue at all. In fact, if I take the quiver off I can use the cable guard attachment without any issue. Keep this in mind for you guys that may have a quiver or different bow set up than I do. You may have to play around to find the 'sweet spot' for the ball and socket, but trust me it will be worth it!

Side view of the Hip Bone in action (stabilizer attachment) with the Tightspot attached.

In the photos below, you can see how my bow hangs a little lower, but is still out of the way of my hands and give me freedom to glass without worrying about my bow.

You can see that even in full camouflage the HipBone functions extremely well.

The only issue I have with the HipBone is that after you use it for a few days it starts to squeak when you walk. The ball and socket design cause it to rub and squeak, but I found a very easy fix that has worked for months. I took a little bit of talcum powder and squirted it into the HipBone, where the ball meets the socket, and let it work in. It's been there for 4 months now and works great. Now, I haven't taken it in the rain or snow (hard to come by in SoCal) but I am guessing that you might have to freshen it up from time to time.

The price point on this one does get to me a little. It retails for $29.99 on the TAS website, which to me is a good deal, but the shipping charge is $13 flat rate. With tax you'll be paying close to $45 for one of these. Basically, what I understand is TAS really needs some dealers to sell these items so everyone can get a better deal. They are protecting their dealers and that is admirable. I still think that could be adjusted a bit.  

Note: You can buy these through places like Cabelas for $19.99 +shipping.

So here's what I did. While I don't want to exactly be a dealer for TAS, I know a few archery shops that could. So, I went and bought a case of the HipBones! Yes, a case because I got them at a great price with shipping included. They do take care of you when you help them out. I gave a few away as gifts already and have a few left over, so if you'd like one, let me know!

I highly recommend the Tactical Archery Systems HipBone to every hunter with a compound bow. I truly believe in this product and I think it's one of the best new archery inventions out there.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Interview with Patrick Kilpatrick, Uncommon Dialogue Films, and Tim Case, Highlander Archery (Edinboro, PA)
A few weeks back, I announced that I had scored an interview with a famous actor and director. Now, he's not just an actor and director. He's also a big time outdoorsman, archer and firearms enthusiast. Best of all, he promotes all of them and he is doing it now by hosting the Hollywood Celebrity Sporting Clays Invitational. I am talking about none other than Patrick Kilpatrick of Uncommon Dialogue Films.  You might remember him from such films as Minority Report, Death Warrant and numerous TV series. I met Patrick at the Fred Hall Show in Long Beach, but we didn't have too much time to chat. After a few phone calls, we connected and set up this interview. He invited Tim Case, who spearheads the archery component of the event. Tim is a NASP Certified Instructor, NAA Certified Instructor and he founded and created Highlander Archery, the student archery club at Edinboro University in Edinboro, PA. He’s also responsible for getting a bow and arrow into the hands of 4,000 people for the first time, from toddlers up through senior citizens.
_______________________________________________  
 
Patrick, how would you describe your event?

Patrick: It’s a tactical three-ring circus with everything from the Navy SEALS, parachutists, and 5-star organic catering all of which is going to be televised by The Outdoor Channel.

With our sponsors for the event, we try to integrate their products very powerfully into film and television projects that we do. We have been very successful in doing that. We live in an environment where people are gear rich and cash poor so we serve these sponsors in the best way we can and get them into as many media as possible. We are very grateful for their support.

For example, we will be taking some of our sponsor’s products on a helicopter hog eradication hunt in Texas, as they have a huge problem with feral hogs. We provide them with terrific commercial spots for Facebook, The Outdoor Channel, Sportman’s Channel and Orion Multimedia using their products in really inventive ways.

In [regards to the archery component] of the event, we will have champion shooters there to show people from 8 years old to 80 how to shoot bows in a great environment that is entertaining with music and [more].


Tim spearheads the archery component of the HCSCI. We have fly-fishing, archery, handgun, and rifle events.

He is key to bringing people like Joella Bates, World Champion Archer, to our event as well as numerous archery sponsors like TNT Archery, Mathews Solocam, Horton Crossbows, Morrell Targets, Dummies unlimited, 3-D Targets.

_______________________________________________ 

That is awesome, Patrick. So what is your motivation behind the Hollywood Celebrity Sporting Clays Invitational?

Patrick: In particular, countering some of the negative, global imagery that Hollywood, in the past, has provided the masses that was very negative to the Second Amendment or archery. There has been a movement, generated by PETA, to ban archery which is the absolute worst thing to do for wildlife and ecology. We will have a huge military presence to counter the anti-military stuff. It’s an integrated ball – anti-military, anti-hunting, anti-archery, and anti-American stuff that was coming out of Hollywood was repulsive. That’s why the event came into being. 

_______________________________________________ 
What do you hope to accomplish by holding this event?

Patrick: We hope to alter some of the hearts and minds that are in Hollywood. To make right some of the cultural imagery that was going out about outdoor sports. The worst thing you can do is get rid of hunting and archery if you want to preserve animals. We have very much aligned the eco-movement with all of these activities which is where it was all along. The dollars and cents generated by archers, hunters, and fisherman are the dominant conservation force on the planet. This is all for the charities listed on our website.
_______________________________________________

How much focus is spent on getting the youth involved in an event such as this?

Patrick: We are very much about bringing in the new generation into all of these outdoor sports. We are very dedicated at the Hollywood Sporting Clays Invitational to get A-list people, and actors including the young actors who have Nickelodeon and Disney series. We have a very positive and strong, young Hollywood outreach.
_______________________________________________
 
Tim, were you involved in setting up the archery for last year’s event?

Tim: Yes, and Morrell Targets was instrumental in making that happen. They donated all of the targets that were used at the event. We are working on 3-D targets right now. There will be bag targets and there will be 3-D targets there. One of the things we like to do is to put everything out there, all of the different types of targets. That forces them to choose and they realize they don’t HAVE to shoot 3-D You don’t HAVE to shoot bag targets. Archery is that broad of a sport. It gets that message out. Our results show that almost everyone heads to the 3-D range. In the 4,000 people I have taught in the past four years, I have had one family say to me, ‘That’s fine that you want to go down and shoot those, but we don’t kill animals.’ One family out of 4,000. Everybody else sees it as the game that it is and the preparation of the hunting season. 3-D archery blends in real well. We incorporate real animals with extinct animal. Rhinehart Targets makes a couple of dinosaurs. Delta Targets makes a couple of dinosaurs and that appeals to the children. It also appeals to the mothers. It also keeps within the theme of tombstone/ apocalyptic theme of Patrick’s event. It will have a little bit of a fantasy element. It will have a little bit of the ancient history element with the dinosaurs.
_______________________________________________ 

Where else in the world will you get a chance to shoot a velociraptor?

Tim: Exactly! That’s what starts them. Pretty soon they see another target that’s further away and wonder if they can hit it. Then they shoot at the deer. It becomes the game that 3-D archery is with its inherent challenges and the fun of flinging sharp sticks. It kills two birds with one stone.

_______________________________________________ 

What is the best part of being able to be a part of an event like this?

Tim: Quite honestly, the smiles. At the October event we had a couple of up-and-coming actresses that came by the archery range. They had never touched archery gear before in their lives. Within a couple of hours they were instructing adults. They took to it like ducks to water.

There was a ‘celebrity jeweler’ there who was shooting and one of the girls said, ‘Oh, you are leaning the bow. You need to keep it straight up and down.’ Eric and I looked at each other and asked if [the other] taught her that. Nope! She was that detail oriented that she spotted it and corrected it. Then he shot a bullseye.

The two girls are still shooting to this day. The smiles are the best part and when they are laughing and having fun at the end of the day, well, that’s all that matters.

_______________________________________________ 

Do you just have the target range or are there other archery events to participate in?

Tim: For safety purposes, it’s basically a static range with one line to shoot front and the targets radiate out from that line. It’s not your traditional 3-D course, it is more of an introductory course.

There is another archery event where archers will have the chance to shoot at a foam target that is tossed into the air by a machine and you shoot it while it’s in the air. That is part of the TNT Archery mix. They are bringing in some of their bow for the event and we’ll be using the Mathews Genesis bows, as well, so we’ll be covering the gamut. The TNT bows are 22” axle-to-axle with an IBO speed rating of 280fps. There are not speed demons, then again speed isn’t everything.

_______________________________________________

Tim, can you share some of the celebrity archers that will be coming to the event?

Tim: Well, you haven’t heard this yet and it is exclusive to the SoCal Bowhunter blog. We are working right now with Chris Reed, an archer as well as the Season 2 champion of Top Shot [on the History Channel]. He is an avid bowhunter and just signed on with PSE.

Also, Joe Serafini, from Top Shot, will be joining him. He was billed as the archer of the show amongst all of the contestants. They are both ecstatic about being a part of the event and being able to help out.

Huntress Joella Bates is also slated to be coming. She is going to be doing children’s and women’s instructional archery.

TNT Bows, from Montero, CA, will also be on hand doing an aerial demonstration shooting sporting clays with bow and arrow.

Patrick: Jay Wotowski, who runs Adrenaline Action and Extreme Outdoor Sports Productions, will be doing the pheasant hunting with bows out of one of the stations. The Sporting Clays has 15 different stations, with one of them devoted to shooting clays with a bow.  I am planning on going on a shark hunt with those guys, with bows, off the coast of Rhode Island, in Provincetown on Cape Cod, sometime in the summer. Jay is a fantastic videographer and is running all of the video on the hog hunt. Their operation is very cool.

Tim brought up the teachers. One of the goals for the HCSCI is to get champions from all different kinds of shooting in front of as many people from Hollywood that we can to impart their knowledge. Just this morning, Kimberly Rhodes, who is a multi-Olympic champion, came in to volunteer and will be teaching people how to shoot sporting clays. Taran Butler, 5-time World Bianchi Cup Pistol Champion, will be there teaching people contemporary pistol will be there. Thell Reed, who is the guy that taught all of the western movie guys – Russell Crowe for Quick and the Dead, Sharon Stone, and the two Tom Selleck movies I did. Particularly, if there is a Hollywood guy who has learned how to draw, he’s studied with Thell Reed. Thell will be teaching cowboy action shooting.

_______________________________________________ 

Will there be a solid public presence at this event or is it mostly celebrities?

Patrick: We have celebrities coming from all over the country. Our event is open to the public. We do have a looky-loo price of $75 which gets you in for the entire day’s event, three different meals and shooting all of the guns. What it doesn’t allow you to do is participate in the Sporting Clays tournament, but you can observe that.

The SC Tournament itself costs $180 up to 220 per single shooter. There are corporate teams, too. The looky-loo thing lets you do everything; airsoft, archery, fly fishing demos and there are vendors of all kinds from sniper rifles to cupcakes. There’s a gift bag for everyone with gear and all kinds of stuff. We’ve got 12 canons and civil war reenactments, too.

There are vendors of all kinds from sniper rifles to cupcakes.

There’s the cocktail party at the end of the evening with everything from rubber band Gatling guns to great hunt auctions.

It’s a red carpet event and all of the international press will be there, ABC & CNN to name a couple. There is a huge presence by the military, Army band, Navy band, musicians, four or five color guards for the opening ceremony and more.

Tim will be working with the kids of men and women who have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan teaching them archery. We have both seen these kids take to archery and become obsessed with it. It’s really great.

_______________________________________________ 

What do you guys find the most challenging about being a part of an event such as this?

Patrick:
The most challenging is doing the right things like us attending conventions. We literally had hundreds of sponsor candidates. The challenge was finding the time to get to all of them and then customizing them to our event. We don’t stress out our sponsors in these economic times. As long as they are providing entertainment and color to the event and we are able to maybe auction something off.

The biggest challenge is meeting pre-event costs. Although we get funds from certain sponsors, with this economy, people are gear rich and cash poor. It’s unavoidable. You have your range costs, PR costs, and the catering purchases before the event. I’ve been an actor and director for a long time and the process isn’t very different. You are always out on a wing and a prayer.

Tim: Getting everybody on the same page and maintaining the relationships after the event. You want to follow up with people and be there to answer their questions. You want to foster those relationships and that is the biggest challenge.

_______________________________________________ 

Gentlemen, I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions and I wish you all a truly successful event.

Patrick: Thank you and I look forward to meeting you. Cheers!

Tim: Thank you, Al. We will do everything we can to give you information if you want to call during the day and we can give you a rundown of how the day is going. Take care.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Piranha Bowstrings Seeks Pro-Staffers
Piranha Custom Bowstrings is looking to fill ten (10) positions on their Pro Staff. Owner and accomplished archer, Eddy Erautt is a good friend, a damn good hunter and he builds quality bowstrings.

While they may be a new company, Piranha has many years experience building top-notch, high quality bowstrings! They are looking for bowhunters and/or target shooters to fill these positions. Interested? If you are, go to the website and fill out our application by clicking on the Pro Staff tab on top of the page.
Our number one goal at Piranha Custom Bowstrings is to give you the best customer service and satisfaction possible. Every string we custom build is pre-stretched to 300 lbs. Using  the industry’s leading Trophy Fibers by BCY, along with 3D End Serving, and #62 Braided Center Serving. To provide you with the highest quality bowstring that will last you thousands of arrows. We stand behind our strings 100%, with a NO peep rotation, NO stretch, NO creep, and, NO serving separation guarantee along with a 90 day warranty on all factory defects.
There have been quite a few archers that have asked me about opportunities like this. For those of you out there looking for an opportunity, fill out the application now! I wouldn't wait because once the ten spots are filled they won't take any more staffers. Good luck!
 ____________________________________________

On a side-note: Eddy killed this beautiful tom turkey in Colorado a few weeks back. He had been giving him the slip, but Eddy is persistent. Congrats, Eddy!


That is a beauty of a Spring gobbler! Way to go Eddy!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Correction Of Form At The Archery Range
Today was a great morning. Up at 7am and at the range by 7:30am. I video my shooting from time to time to see if I have anything that I can make better in the way I shoot. Today was a perfect example of why I should do that more often.

After shooting two rounds, I switched from videoing the front of me, to my profile. Sure enough, I could see I was leaning back on my rear foot. You should always lean on the front foot, but naturally you want the comfort of the rear foot as you draw back. I switched to my front foot and it straightened me up, which corrected my stance, but it also made me aware of a few other issues I was unaware of. 

First, my back muscles used to shoot properly are weak. I am glad to see that I have time to fix this before any archery season. Mainly because my back muscles used to shoot this way haven't been used very much and it was tough to find a rhythm. I finally found it, but by that time my arm was pretty tired and that made me realize issue #2.

I need to work a bit more on my upper body conditioning. Sure, I have dropped nearly 50lbs since last season, which makes me feel great, but I now need to train my upper body to hold up my bow, with all of the accessories and to not shake so much AND make an accurate shot. Lots to do in three months.

It will be a challenge, but I love a good challenge and this one is a must. I will be at the range more and more conditioning my body with my corrected form and hopefully that will lead to a perfect shot on an animal this Fall.

Best of luck to all of you archers out there. How many of you record your trips to the archery range and see things that could use some adjusting?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Product Review: HuntingGPS Maps from Montana Maps & GPS
"Ummm... I've seen that same tree three or four times. I think we're lost."
Ever hear your hunting buddy say that or have you ever thought that when hunting alone? Ever wondered if you were on public or private land? Now is the time to start using a tool that will help you with all of that, provided you own a GPS. If you don't own one and you hunt the back country, I highly recommend one.

For the past year I have been putting HuntingGPS Maps to the test on my Garmin eTrex Legend HCx. These maps work in tandem with my Garmin mapping software. I was able to download the California map and open it with MapSource. When owner/map developer Eric Siegfried and I spoke about the software and how it works, he also mentioned that the mapping software would be updated 2-3 times per year. Wow, really? Not many companies do that, but these guys update often because land ownership changes constantly and they want outdoorsman to know where they are and to be legal.

Installing the software was a challenge. You really have to know your mapping software and be able to load these maps, then find them and open them. I had to email Eric to figure it all out. I chalk it up to being a newbie to the GPS realm, but I wanted to give you all a heads up that it may be a bit frustrating at first, but don't give up! Read on!


Example map from my database.

This is from their website, but I left the colors so you can understand how it works.
The maps are colored according to BLM map standards [BLM, State , Forest Service , private=white, US Fish & Wildlife , National Parks , Indian Reservations, etc.]

You will be able to see your position relative to public and private land boundaries. For example, if you are on a BLM section, your current location will show up on a yellow background. If you are on private land, your GPS will show your current location on a white background.

The software is quick, efficient and most of all accurate. It shows the borders between public and private land and give you a color difference so you won't make the mistake of venturing onto private property.

Not only did I take this out each time I hit public land, but I also decided to take it with me to my pig hunting spot. It's on private land, with specific boundaries, and I wanted to be sure of that everything worked properly. Just before I left, I received an email from HuntingGPS Maps saying there was an update to my mapping software. I was very happy to see that not only did they update the software more often than other companies (many times once a year or never without having to pay a fee), but they also let you know right away. Shortly after that, they went ahead and updated the California map to add the CA-DFG Wildlife Areas. Awesome!

Each time I ventured out to a certain area, I loaded up the map from my computer to my GPS. I added whatever notes, waypoints or info I though I would want when hiking through the woods.  Once I was at my location, I'd turn on the GPS and navigate. I could then add my waypoints and start hiking. I always turn on the tracking (breadcrumb) feature on the GPS so that if I do happen to get in a hard to push forward area, I can find my way back. Plus, if I ever get stopped by DFG, I will have a trail of where I have been if I am ever questioned about trespassing. I also leave the tracking on so that if I am hunting a new area or I just want to view where I traveled, I can go home, load the GPS data on my computer and see where I was and make a plan for me next trip.

This software is a great tool for hunter, but here is the downside - it's only available to Garmin GPS units. Here's the listing of units it works with. It's only my opinion, but I think Garmin has one of the best GPS lines out there. The HuntingGPS Maps would probably look fantastic on the Oregon. I know that I am constantly referring back to my maps on the computer and comparing land borders to my hunting areas each time the newest version of the software is released. 

The investment is worth it in my opinion. $99.99 gets you the map on an SD card. $129.99 for the MapSource/BaseCamp Download. To me that is worth not venturing onto private land, getting a ticket or being shot at. Check out their website for more details on the mapping software and how it can work for you.
_________________________________________

Disclaimer: The reviews on The SoCal Bowhunter are solely my honest opinions. This product was provided to me for the purpose of review. I receive no monetary compensation in exchange for these reviews.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

California Big Game Tag Drawing Nears
Just a reminder that the 2011 Entry Period for the California Big Game Tag drawing is from April 25 - June 2, 2011. If you want to hunt a specific zone or just want to put in for a point you will need to get your entrees in by June 2.

Sure, it may seem like you have all the time in the world, but not so for some of the tags. Here's the info on hunting license tag fees for residents and non-residents. 

As you may have read, I had to spend around $180 for my license and tags this year. That's for my license, one deer tag, one bear, one wild pig, my upland bird and my fishing license. After chatting with some of my fellow CA bloggers, like Phillip at The Hog Blog, I am almost certain that next year I will be purchasing a lifetime license. Sure, they cost almost $800 in my age group, and I will still need to purchase my bear and fishing license and the additional Big Game Hunting Privilege ($580), but I get a deer tag and five (that's 5) wild pig tags. The best part is that if I move out of state, for some odd reason, I can still hunt here every year with that lifetime license. Pretty cool, huh? It's what I should have done when I lived in NY. Then I could be going back there every year for the cost of a plane ticket to hunt whitetails. I was young, broke and not thinking clearly back then.

Best of luck drawing the tags you put in for!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Nottingham Made Proud
As I sit and type this entry up, I cannot help but smile with the fun I had at the archery range this past weekend. For starters, El Dorado Park in Long Beach, CA put in brand new target bales two weeks ago and I have been itching to get over there and practice. Michael and I finally had the opportunity to hit the range on Sunday. Despite the wind gusting at 20-30 mph, we had a great time.

Our normal shooting at 60-70 yards wasn't going to work for us because of the wind factor, so we decided to post up at 30 yards in preparation for deer and bear season. Some of the areas we plan to hunt are on steep where the winds can pick up late in the day, and practicing at 30 yards in the wind would do us some good. 

We started shooting a little left, and we attributed that to us trying to compensate for the wind. Shortly thereafter we were doing as well even while shooting with a crosswind. 

I'll take a little low and left in a crosswind like we had at 30 yards.

On our third round of arrows, Michael shot and then I let one fly. We hear a  *plink* and then watch some fluorescent material fly into the air. I figured it to be fletching. I've taken enough fletching off my arrows while practicing, but that was not it. Michael looked over at me and said, "I think you just Robin Hooded an arrow." I laughed it off, but as we approached the target he was exactly right! In 27 years of shooting archery gear, I had my first Robin Hood. 

Robin Hooded it!
Nothing like putting an Easton FMJ through a PSE X-Weave.
Unfortunately for Michael, I had Robin Hooded one of HIS arrows. Doh! Looks like I'll be buying some new arrows for my hunting partner. We still had a great time, joked about the shot and decided that it was time for each of us to shoot at different spot on the target. Normally we'd do that anyway, but we figured with the crosswind that we'd be less accurate. Guess not!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Primitive vs. Modern Hunting: Tools of the Trade
Yesterday, as I was going through my morning routine of reading up on hunting related stories, I opened The Outdoor Pressroom link to the Wall Street Journal article about primitive hunting and how some of my fellow hunters believe that many of us have it too easy. You could almost hear the gears in my head come to a screeching halt as I reread the article. Really? Too easy? Obviously, these folks haven't hunted the mountains of Southern California.While it might be 'too easy' for some, for some of us it's one of the tools that keeps us adept at trying to fill our freezers. Now, I have respect for all hunters, primitive and modern, but I disagree with some of the statements made in the article. This is going to be a bit of a rant, but I get tired of hunters not supporting other hunters, and that is how this article comes across to me.

As for high-powered modern guns and pricey carbon-fiber bows? "People are tired of that," says Randy Rifenburgh, a longtime primitive hunter who goes by "Rattlin' Randy" in his hunting-instruction videos. "Technology has made it too easy for the real hunters." 

Whoa there, Randy. There are some of us 'real hunters' who prefer technology for the mere fact that we want a quick, clean kill and the best possible chance of bringing down an animal quickly. By you saying that gets my blood boiling. While that is your opinion, what makes you any more of a 'real hunter' than me? I will also say that I am far from 'tired' of shooting carbon gear. In fact, I love some of the new technology, as do many of my fellow hunting comrades. I don't doubt the fact that hunting with primitive gear is more of a challenge and can be a lot of fun, but I don't think any of this 'technology' you speak of has made it 'too easy.' Sure, it gives us an advantage, but you give the impression that those of us that hunt with a compound are flinging arrow after arrow and bringing down an animal every time we shoot. That is far from the case. Why would you sell crossbows and metal arrowheads on your site if you think technology makes it too easy? Why not offer only stick bows and flint arrowheads. Now, I support the fact that you are a hunter and hunt with a stick bow. What I don't get is why you would say something like that to make you sound so elitist.

The article also describes Mike Huston, known to many as "Hawk", and his fervor for hunting primitively (he was hunting in Texas in the article). Ah yes, Texas - the state with plenty of game, huntable ranch acreage as far as the eye can see, no-limit and no tags required (hunting license is required) for hunting hogs. There are days I dream of hunting in Texas, but I just love to hunt anywhere. Period. I followed Mike's blog, High Country Archer, for a while and I know that he is a proficient, respectable primitive hunter and an interesting writer. (His wife, Stacey, also an accomplished primitive hunter, is a fantastic wildlife photographer, as well). These two are excellent people to describe primitive hunting. I have the utmost respect for both of them and in no way do I feel they look down on any other hunter.

As I continued reading, the article touched a nerve:
Prehistoric hunts are back partly because technology has made hunting a bit of a yawner, say some of the sport's aficionados. The proliferation of gear like high-powered sniper rifles and "compound bows"—which use carbon fiber, metal wire and a set of pulleys to fling an arrow almost as fast as a bullet—took much of the sport out of hunting, they say.

Really? 'Metal wire' and 'almost as fast as a bullet'? Please correct me if I am wrong, but there haven't been many bows made, that I know of, in the last 10-20 years that utilize metal cables. Most modern compounds I know of use bow string made from a string-type material, such as 8125 or 452x. The bullet part had my mouth agape. Let's compare bullet speed vs. arrow speed, shall we? Let's use a handgun instead of a rifle for this example so we can slow down the bullet speed to a decent comparison. The .38 Special shoots a bullet at roughly 600 feet per second (fps). My compound bow, a PSE X-Force, will shoot one of my hunting arrows at around 285 fps. That's less than half the speed of a .38 Special handgun bullet. Our more modern rifle can shoot upwards of 15oo fps. I don't know about you, but I don't see where the math works. I think the article author needs to get his calculator fixed.

Then you have Wayne Pacelle, the president of the Humane Society of the United States, chiming in with half-truths, trying to pit us against one another. Surprising, no?

He says, 'he worries about both ultra-modern and ultra-primitive hunting methods. High-tech gear, he says, can give the hunter an unfair advantage over prey. On the other hand, he says "archery equipment is very problematic" since animals are sometimes injured but don't die.'

Ok, Wayne, how do you know that archery gear is problematic? I think it's more the operator of the archery tackle than the gear itself. And as far as animals being injured and not dieing, that happens with any type of hunting. It is an unfortunate part of the equation. Sometimes there are animals that are injured and do not die. Some recover strong and others do not. We owe it to the animal to make a quick, clean kill and to follow up on our shots. I think that being human gives us an advantage over hunting some animals, like a deer or a rabbit. Other animals, such as a mountain lion, or bear puts us on more of a level playing field with the so-called 'prey'. Pit me against a bear with no weapon and I will no doubt be the weaker prey. Put a bow and arrow in my hands and it evens out the score a bit, BUT I still have to make the clean, ethical shot and I'd still be the weaker animal.

This article just rubbed me the wrong way and I wish hunters would stand up and support their fellow hunters. No hunter is any better than another, no matter what the weapon used. I am just as much a 'real hunter' as the next guy or girl. While I disagree with what was said by Randy, I would still stand beside him as a hunter and a fellow outdoorsman. He with his stick bow and me with my aluminum, carbon-arrow flinging machine with training wheels.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

One, Two... Breathe...Repeat!
The last few weeks for me have been extremely busy with work and spending time with my family. Both of which I truly enjoy! Sure, work involved having to photograph the samba dancers at my favorite cigar shops 7th birthday bash. It was a grueling job, but I pulled through. By spending so much time with other things I have neglected my blog. No worries, as I am sure you are all pining for my unbridled fiery wit and incredible use of the English language. With that said, I have also neglected the archery range and my poor, sweet compound bow. I feel so behind and lackluster when I don't get to shoot my bow.

Once in a while I am asked to get out from behind the camera for a shot. Tough job, I know.

Today I started to play catch up. I am on the road to recovery. Recovery from my lack of archery related activity. Just today I was able to interview two people related to the archery industry. Sure, it'll take me a day or so to get everything written up with crayon in a coherent form of communication, but I promise it will be good.

The El Dorado Park archery range just replaced all of the straw bales with brand-spankin new ones. I can't tell you how excited I am to see that. My shooting buddy and I are planning on hitting the range this weekend. I am super stoked to hit the range! Even if it's only for an hour. I have a feeling it'll stretch into two hours of treating those new straw bales like pincushions.

I can't wait!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Slimming Down And Getting Healthy
"HEY HEY HEY!" Those words, made famous by Bill Cosby's Fat Albert character, seemed to ring in my head constantly throughout the past year. I routinely joked about my weight, but in reality I knew I was fat. No, not just slightly overweight, I was extremely overweight (according to my doctor - borderline obese) and I needed to make some serious lifestyle changes. Sure, like others, I had lost weight before, but this time I HAD to change how I was living my life.

I love to eat. Just look at this photo (left) from last year during the start of bear season in August. It showed! I was pushing 250 lbs. and not showing any sign of slowing down. You can see my baby bump starting to push through my backpack strap. Ugh. Even last year when I saw this photo, I knew I was fat, but I didn't seem to care. What was I thinking? Then I went out deer hunting a few times with my buddy, Eric. He was scaling the mountains far better than I. I was sucking wind, feeling fatigued and just wasn't enjoying myself. I wasn't enjoying being fat.

A few months went by and I gained a few more pounds and hit a staggering 251.6 lbs. I couldn't tie my shoes without huffing and puffing. Playing with my daughter felt like a chore and not fun like it should have been. I wasn't being fair to her as a father. I was snoring like a lumberjack tearing through a forest using a Harley-Davidson chainsaw. My poor wife couldn't find ear plugs thick enough to stop the roar. It was time to stop talking about losing weight and to start doing something about it.

Being fans of country music, my wife and I were planning on going to the Stagecoach Country Music Festival. For those not out here in SoCal, Stagecoach is the country music equivalent of Coachella. Same venue, but with country music. It is an incredibly fun event with over 50,000 people each attending each day. My wife mentioned that we should both try to lose some weight before Stagecoach for a few reasons. One is the blazing temperatures. The venue is in the desert and it gets hot. Our first year there it was 110 degrees. Second, to fit into some comfortable jeans and to not look like a stuffed sausage. Our third reason was simple, we needed to be healthier and be better examples for our daughter. I also had another agenda. I wanted to be slimmer, healthier and be able to breathe well for my Colorado elk hunt in September. I knew that I could not and would not go on this trip if I was that fat because I would not be able to keep up with my friends. Plus, if I was lucky enough to arrow an elk I would have to pack it out of the backcountry.

I also had some other motivation. My wife's Mom's Club wanted to hold a "Biggest Loser" style contest to go for 8 weeks. Simple rules where the husbands could get involved, too. Lose the highest percentage of body weight and win some cash. We each had to toss in $20 and it was guys vs guys and the girls vs. girls. That way it was fair for everyone.

Setting some goals to make this worth while held me accountable. I set goals of losing 60 lbs. before my elk hunt, to get my lungs in better shape and to be able to run a 5k by November. Sure, they were lofty goals, but they were achievable and I was focused on making it happen. Instead of buying new running shoes I stuck with a newer pair of cross-trainers I owned. They were heavier, bulkier and were going to make running feel tougher, but that's what I wanted. I needed to feel the struggle of losing the weight I had so nonchalantly put on. I also hate crowds, so instead of going to the gym at a reasonable hour I went later in the day. Much later. Ok, I just went late. Most nights I would hit the gym around 11:30pm because there were no crowds and I didn't have to deal with the 20-minute time limit on the machines. This was all part of my master plan.

My focus for the first three months was strictly cardio and reducing my caloric intake. I became one with the gym because I needed to get my body in harmony with those torturous machines. My lungs needed to burn and function well at a decent pace. Counting calories was a huge help, too. I was eating anywhere from 3,000-3,500 calories per day (give or take 500 calories). That's not a great number to see when you sit at a desk all day, then come home and sit on the couch and eat right before going to bed. I reduced my intake to 2,000 calories per day. Some days I was even able to reduce that number more by working out and burning 400-500 calories at the gym. I took Sundays off and ate whatever I wanted to and in whatever quantity I wanted to shock my system. It was a good thing in that I got to eat exactly what I was craving at any given time, but if I overate something I usually felt sick and didn't want to touch the stuff for a week. Double bonus!

One added side note - I hated treadmills. I didn't like the feel of walking on them, let along running, but I knew that I needed to overcome that hate and put it to work for me. That's where I started. My first workout was a moderate 1-minute run, 2-minute walk, repeatedly for 30 minutes each day for the first week at a 2% incline. It wasn't easy, but I loved getting back into the swing of things. The first week I lost around 9 lbs. and while most of it was water weight it still felt great.

By the second and third week I was running 1-minute, resting 1-minute at a 3% incline. My legs burned, my lungs were on fire and I wanted to quit so many times. Over and over I kept thinking about how hard my wife was working at her goals and how I wanted to look good for her. After 20 minutes I started feeling great and the final 10 minutes was a breeze. Down another 5 lbs.

The fourth and fifth weeks were relatively the same, but I was having some issues with my back. I have a bulging disk in my back that has been there for years. All of the running was aggravating it, but I pushed on and ran my first 5K on the treadmill. It was a slow pace, but it felt good. Again, I posted a weight loss and this time it was around 6 lbs. for those two weeks.

Weeks six and seven were very similar. I decided to switch to the StairClimber for a few reasons. I needed to relieve the strain on my spine and I needed to train my body to climb uphill at a harder, faster pace. So, I hit the StairClimber hard and sweat buckets in the process. Down another 6 lbs.

Week number eight was a week where I went all out at the gym. I was there every day. I worked hard and stayed focused. I dropped another 5 lbs and was able to win the contest. Still, I wasn't satisfied. Sure, I won a little money, but I hadn't reached my goal of 60 lbs. and I was determined to hit that mark.

I persevered and for the next few weeks I continued to hit the gym, eat right and and focus on what I needed to do. I was feeling better each day.

Four months later, I tip the scale at 205 lbs. I have lost 46 lbs. so far. Yes, you read that right - forty-six fat-laden chubby bunny pounds. I lowered my pants size from a 42" waist to under a 36" waist. (I even bought a pair of 34" waist pants that fit comfortably. I figure they must have their measurement wrong.) I can now see my feet, 'Hello toes!' I noticed that I now have a neck and jawline, too. I am 14 lbs. from reaching my goal and I feel fan-friggin-tastic. I started hitting the weights at the gym a bit more now that the contest is over. I need to build some muscle back on to burn the calories more efficiently and to also regain some of the strength I once had in my twenties. I want to be able to pack out my elk without being exhausted the entire time! Oh yeah, I don't snore anymore either. Major bonus points with the wife for this guy!

Want to see the difference? Well, here you go. Below you will see a photo of me from October and on the right one from last week. Pretty shocking, right? It's actually very scary when I look at it as diabetes and heart disease run in my family. I vow to never go back to that guy on the left no matter what.

It's scary to think how heavy I truly was.

Remember the photo of my bear hunt up above? Below is a shot of me this past weekend at Stagecoach all geared up for some fun. We had a blast and I fit into some of the slimmest clothing I have worn in quite some time.

Stagecoach 2011
A big thank you goes out to my wife for her support. I can honestly say that I would not have made it this far without it. Watching her focus and push as hard as she does makes me want to work even harder. (By the way, she's dropped 23 lbs. so far and looks incredible!) My faith has also kept me mentally strong throughout this process, too. God has blessed me with a strong will that I pray remains as tough as it sounds. 

I'll keep everyone abreast of my progress over the next few months and I'll be sure to include a few photos along the way. I am still planning my Colorado elk hunt with Team DIY in September and to run that 5K with my wife in November. I have 4 months to get to where I want to be and while I am certain I will hit my goal of losing 60 lbs. The toughest part will be to maintain it.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Hunt Contest Poster To Appear On The Mentalist!
There are days in my life when I have to sit down and really thank God for everything that I have been blessed with. For the past few months, I have been working on the design of the DIYbowhunter.com poster for our hunt contest. I love being a graphic designer, a photographer and the process of creating something like this poster. After a few short weeks, Eric and I agreed on a final design and sent it to print. Then, through some connections through Team DIY, I was asked to send over a file to someone because they were interested in using it for a TV show. I don't usually get overexcited over this type of thing, so I emailed it over and went on with my evening.

A few days later I received a call from Warner Brothers letting me know that they wanted to use part of the poster (shown below) in an upcoming episode of The Mentalist with Simon Baker and Robin Tunney. We talked about how it may be used, ownership rights and then I agreed to let them use it. That's when it started to sink in. Remember how I said I don't usually get overexcited about stuff like this? Yeah, well, for some reason this time I was pumped! I was actually going to get something I designed on a national television show. That was such a great feeling!

Now, I have no idea how it will be used. It could be used as a prop, it could be a focal point, it might be something someone is tossing in the trash. It may not ever be used. I really have no idea, but I look at it this way. Publicity for this contest is good for us, and if I am fortunate enough to get to see something I designed on TV then so be it. That feels good to me. I am humbled that they asked to use it. That alone was enough for me.

So set your DVR's to record The Mentalist on CBS on Thursday, May 5, 2011. It may be on the following week, so stay tuned to the blog and I'll let you know if it appeared or not.


This part of the poster will appear somewhere on The Mentalist on CBS on or around May 5, 2011.