Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bear Hunting - Going As Slow As Molasses
Archery bear season is here and yet again, I have yet to be out hunting it. Basically, all of the guys I normally go hunting with are hunting other places (which is awesome) or can't go on a Saturday afternoon. It's a reality I have grown accustomed to, but it still doesn't stop my hunger for the outdoors!

The area I like to hunt has lots of bears, but also mountain lions so I won't go in alone. Not out of fear, but because I am not stupid! I don't care how much bear spray or knives I have on me, if I get jumped alone, well, let's not think about that. In CA, when hunting bear during the bear archery season, you CANNOT carry a sidearm, soooo I carry bear spray. A big-ass can of it.

So, I have been rallying the troops all week trying to get one of my buddies to go. Most have already told me no. Even if I can't hunt, which will be extremely disappointing, I want to retrieve my trail cameras and see what's on them. That way I will know if I should even come back to this spot.

In the meantime, I am going to write up a couple of product reviews, pack my bags and hope one of my buddies will tag along. Beers and dinner are on me guys!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Product Review: BearVault BV500 - Bear Resistant Canister
Picnic baskets. Coolers. Tents. Bears love to get into each and every one of them. Whether out of curiosity or in their search for food, they tear them open and usually destroy them to get at the contents. If you are going to be hiking or hunting in the back country and it's known to have bears, you'll need to protect your food. That's where the BearVault BV500 comes in. 

The BearVault BV500 weighs 2 lbs. 9 oz. (empty), is 700 cubic inches (11.5 ltr), and is made of polycarbonate housing. The dimensions are 8.7 inches in dia. x 12.7 inches.

From the BearVault website:
  • Super rugged transparent polycarbonate housing resists impacts without shattering!
  • Innovative patent pending design so you can open and close the lid without tools!
  • Extra wide, rain proof opening provides full access for loading, unloading, and finding items!
  • Built in guides keep tie down straps in place so extra carrying case is not needed to attach to backpack!   

BearVault sent me the BV500 to review, and because we can't bait or even put food in anything for the bears, I couldn't test it out on them. So, I did the next best thing. I put my snacks in it, went to bed feeling hungry and then set my alarm for 4am. At 4am, I tried opening the BearVault right away and it took me a while. Boy, when you are sleepy and try to get at your tasty treats out of a BearVault, well, it can be frustrating to say the least.

The reason that the BearVault works is there are two tabs, one on either side, that 'lock' when you close the lid. You have to press in on them to open the unit back up. This works extremely well. I even had a hard time opening it once or twice.

Then, I decided to put food in it and have a buddy try to open it. It took him a few painstaking minutes, but eventually he was able to get it open. When he replaced the lid, he then proceeded to throw it at me! The structural integrity was tested when it rolled down the stairs full of food! It didn't open, crack or even cave in. The construction is very solid and durable! It acquired a few surface blemishes, but that wasn't a big deal. I wasn't testing it for looks!
To further test the structural integrity, I stood on top of it while it was vertical (220 lbs at the time of testing). I then laid it horizontal and stood on it (while holding onto a chair for balance). I jumped up and down, thinking for sure that it would crack, but it only flexed a bit on the side. It stood up to plenty of weight and pressure. Good to know in case a bear pushes down on it and jumps on it trying to get it open.

I also made a plan to attach this to my pack and take it on an afternoon jaunt through the forest. First, I filled it with food, weighing it down and then proceeded to attach it to my pack. This is where I had some issues. Strapping in onto my pack wasn't the easiest procedure. For one, there aren't any tabs or areas where you can clip something to the BearVault or ever run a strap through. I know there are slight grooves in the center, but they leave very little room for error if your pack straps don't normally go that way. Tie-down can be difficult. There are small, protrusions (extruding plastic dots) coming out from all around the unit. (I am guessing these are supposed to help with the grip and with opening, but they didn't help much). 

Eventually, I did find a way to anchor it onto my pack. Actually, I did it a few different ways by adding some straps. Most times my locking it down held up, but twice (two different methods of crossing only the straps that came with my pack and cinching them down) I decided to run with it attached to the pack. When I jumped down from a ledge or a boulder it came loose. I realize that the cinch job is my issue, but without having an easy area to PUT a strap and lock the Vault into place made it difficult. One time it slipped out and tumbled down a hill. It's a good thing I wasn't above a canyon with no access! Remember, this isn't a fault of the BearVault. I wish my pack had different straps to tie something like that down, but it did not so I recommend testing this on your pack before the day of your trip.

Opening the Vault is pretty difficult the first few times because the material isn't very pliable. In fact, the plastic is so tough my thumbs got a bit raw trying to open it. You really have to push hard with your thumb or in my case, a key on my key chain to get the tab in far enough to unscrew the lid. The first few times I had to be sure to use another tool to open it. I recommend keeping a Leatherman or some other tool on your person if you are using this in the back country just so you have a tool to open it. The only issue i see with using a tool to open it is that you can damage the tabs themselves. You must take care not to slip and hurt yourself and also not to damage the unit.

Two tests I tried that are a bit unorthodox were putting it in the freezer to get a frosty build-up on the outside and putting on cold, wet gloves to try to open it in the event that the weather was cold and I needed to open it that way. Both times proved to be very difficult! Please keep in mind, this is extreme, but there are some of us who hunt the higher elevations, where the cold, wet weather can creep into your bones. Even still, you need to have something to store and protect your food and other items (i.e Chapstick or a sunscreen stick).

Now, there are documented cases where bears in the Adirondack Mtns. have figured out how to open this storage unit, so you may want to avoid those areas.
The pro's:
  • Durability
  • Ease of use
  • Size for 7 day hunts/trips
The con's:
  • Bulky
  • Tough to open at first (but a plus if it's a bear)
  • No tabs or area to anchor a strap to it from your pack to prevent slippage should your pack not have ample straps. 
Here are my recommendations to BearVault. Add a small eyelet of sorts so you can attach a small bell. That way, if a bear decides to test the functionality of the BV500, you'll be warned! Second, put a rubber, removable tab in the center, or both sides, with an opening (rectangular eyelet). This will function two ways; as something to grip slightly when opening or closing and something to loop a pack strap through to keep it cinched to your pack. I say 'removable' because in the event a bear decides to try to open this, he is more that likely going to bite that to try to open the Vault. If it pops out, then him opening it that way can be averted.

This unit costs around $80 in most stores. I want to protect my food and I want something that will do it efficiently. The price point seems very fair for this unit. You need your food and you need to protect it. Do it with a BearVault!
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Disclaimer: The reviews on The SoCal Bowhunter are solely my honest opinions. These products were either provided to me for the purpose of review or I purchased them myself. I receive no monetary compensation in exchange for these reviews.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Improving Your Fitness For Hunting Season
Back in January, I never thought I'd be where I am today fitness-wise. If you've read my blog, you know that I have dropped a significant amount of body fat, increased my cardio to an all-time high and got my body much leaner than it has been in a long time. It feel great to be able to hit the gym each time in preparation for the mountains in Southern California. My original plan for Colorado elk will have to wait until next year, but for now I aim to climb to the tops of some SoCal saddles and bowls in search of Pacific-Hybrid deer.

A big thanks to my wife for turning me on to Runkeeper.com. After each session, I enter in my totals for the workout. Time spent on a machine, mileage and calories burned. This is a great way to track your improvements throughout the year. 

Imagine the grin on my face when I returned from my workout late last week, entered in my totals and saw this total for 2011 on the screen:


Holy Energizer Bunny, Batman! To say I was stoked is an understatement. I love how it's going and yes, I want more. I want to keep improving and then maintain it as a lifestyle change. No more Fat Albert screaming, "Hey, Hey, Heeeyy!"

How am I doing it? One of the things I have been doing is challenging myself each time I go to the gym. Basically, instead of hitting the StairClimber at the rate I think I can manage for that day, I crank it up. Let me give you an example. When I first started, I was climbing at level 8 for 20-30 minutes, hands on the rails and my head hung low. By the end of my workout I was exhausted and my legs were jelly.  I still managed to stretch to be sure I didn't pull anything.

Then, for two months I had the machine set at level 10 on the machine for 60 minutes. I no longer held the rails constantly and I held my head high. I was steadily improving, cardio was getting better and I could feel my heart beating stronger. I figure if I am not out of breath at some point in the workout then I am not working hard enough. My legs didn't feel like jelly anymore, my H2O intake was around ten - 8oz. glasses per day (give or take a glass) and I wouldn't feel like I couldn't workout anymore. It actually felt good!

Fast forward to my cardio now. The StairClimber hates it when I walk into the gym now. Instead of me working out on the Climber, I make that machine work for ME! You better believe it. I climb up and I can almost hear the sighs and groans. Now I crank it up to level 12-14 for 60 minutes, nothing less. Can I feel a burn? Damn straight! Are my lungs burning? You bet! I don't hang on to the rails at all anymore. I hike it with the though of having a deer slung on my pack and having to hoof it out of the deep forest. I make sure to drink at least a half liter of water while on the machine and another when I get off. I stretch each and every time after my workout, too. If I don't stretch my workout isn't complete. I haven't missed stretching once during any of my workouts. I am not fatigued anymore, but I still crank it so I am breathing hard. I have to make it count! I am now drinking around a gallon of water per day, sometimes more. No more feeling sluggish, no more headaches and your body just craves it.

The harder I work now, the less I'll have to work when it comes to my hunting, right Cam?  Cam Hanes has a motto - Train Hard. Hunt Easy. You can't make it any simpler than that and he's right.

So now, after my workouts, I feel great. I am a sweaty mess, but a lean, super-charged, ready to hit the hills and mountains, sweaty mess. Bring on the heat. Bring on the elevation. Better yet, bring on the challenge because now it's time to hunt.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Rough Weekend Healed By Target Practice
Getting together with my hunting partner has been incredibly tough for the past month. It's not that we didn't try, but with he planning his wedding and me busy with a million-and-one other things, you can imagine how frustrating it's been to not hit the archery range. We finally made it happen today.

Backtracking just a bit, the weekend started off a bit rough for my wife and I. For those that have had the pleasure of dealing with a toddler going through the terrible-twos, you know how your patience gets a workout. I love my daughter with all of my heart and she knows it, but she was giving us a full, ten-round fight this weekend. Part of me wanted to laugh at her antics, but most of me was just overly frustrated. We know it's normal and a rite-of-passage, but it was a trying time and we know it isn't over yet. 

After my daughter went to sleep last night, we chatted about the weekend and how we know that this is a stage in her life and that we have to be strong. We laughed about certain things and opened up with how we were feeling. That's one of the many things I love about my wife and my life. We can be open and honest with one another and reflect on things. It was refreshing to hear that she and I were on the same page, too.

Then, early Saturday morning, I got a call from my mother-in-law telling me that the family dog, Misty, wasn't doing well. From the sound of her voice, I knew that I would need to be strong that day. I shared the info with my wife and we changed our plans to get Misty to the vet ASAP. Shortly thereafter, my mother-in-law brought her over to the vet office by our house. One look at Misty brought tears to my eyes. Misty is an awesome dog. She was always a playful dog, even into her 17th year. She may have looked the part of an older dog, but she always wanted to play. Seeing her in her makeshift bed made me incredibly sad. I had to be strong for my family, and I knew it was Misty's time to go, but it broke my heart seeing her for the last time. I let her smell my hand, nuzzle it and scratched her head like I always did. I told her I loved her and that was the last time I saw her. My wife, mother-in-law and father-in-law had it the worst. They had known her all of her life. Me? I had known her just shy of six years. Did it make it hurt any less? Not a chance. Good bye, Misty. I will miss the sound of your bark, your unconditional love, and the sounds of you destroying every squeek-toy we ever brought over. God now has another super canine companion up there with him to play fetch. Take good care of her, Lord.

Now, on to the archery practice. When Michael arrived, I gave him the lowdown of what had transpired over the weekend. I also told him that I needed to shoot something. BAD! I needed to vent my pent-up energy and release some fury in the form of carbon-to-foam target practice. Game on! 

Michael and I are pretty good shots. We aren't the best, heck, we have a lot of learning and practicing to do even come close to great, but sufficient is a good word for us. We practice when we can. We shoot long ranges, currently out to 70 yards to hone in our close range shooting ability. So, we set up our targets, when out from behind us we hear, 'Uh,  guys. You may want to move over.' An older archer proceeded to tell us that we should move to another bale because he and his buddies were shooting long range and we might get scared hearing arrows whiz by. I smiled and said no problem. Why not stay there? There was no need to rile anyone up. Besides, I let me archery tackle do the talking. We were at the range for an hour and a half. Most of the time shooting at 60 yards. Those guys were shooting at 100-110 yards and shot six arrows between the three of them. They spent more time looking for their arrows than shooting. Good thing we moved!

I bought some Carbon Express Aramid-KV arrows a few weeks back and this was the first opportunity I had to try them out. They are lighter than my FMJs, but damn do they fly true! I shot only sets of four arrows because I had given away all of my field points that fit this style arrow. Even so, shooting them felt great! At forty yards, these were my first four arrows.

Can you say tight group?
I was stoked! I have been shooting the AAE Max Hunter vanes, but these came pre-fletched with Blazers. It didn't matter as I was hitting everything I aimed at. The arrows flew true, fast and were incredibly accurate. 

I even brought my little feral pig target over for us to shoot. Boy, was shooting that fun! We set our sights on it at 60 yards and started hammering away. What a great time we had! Our theory for shooting is simple. Shoot at a smaller target (like the small pig) at a longer distance and get good. Then, when you are closer and shooting at an animal, well, you should be able to hit the kill zone every time. Remember, your first arrow is the first arrow sent from your bow is the most important.

Our time at the range was successful, fun and entertaining. I really needed that. I feel so good after shooting 50-60 arrows at the range. It's cathartic and relaxing. Both of us were happy that we were able to get out there before deer season starts for us at the end of September. Our month ahead is full of time-consuming events that will prohibit us from shooting together, so we'll have to practice on our own until then. Even still, our confidence level is high and we cannot wait to start hunting.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Product Review: Hunter Safety System Ultra Lite Safety Harness
Treestand safety is something I constantly promote. Far too many hunters have fallen out of their stands and injured themselves because they didn't wear a safety harness. Some have been paralyzed and some have died. I have known a few guys who have fallen out and broken bones. Even if it is the harness that is provided with the treestand you bought, Use It!

Recently, I was selected by the North American Hunting Club (@nahuntingclub on Twitter) to field test one of the new HSS Ultra Lite Safety Harnesses. I have used many different safety harnesses over the years. Some of them simple chest straps and some were the full-on harness that came with my treestand. They all worked, but each one was uncomfortable and bothersome in some way. With the chest harness I never felt fully secure. With the harness that came with the treestand I constantly had to figure out where to put my arms and legs. It was very difficult to get on and it wasn't very comfortable. Each felt super bulky, too.

Along came the Ultra Lite harness, which is an excellent harness on many levels.

First off, the harness is completely adjustable. As you can see from the photos, I was able to adjust the leg strap to a snug, but comfortable fit and then clip in the buckle for a seat belt like lock. I prefer this style much more than having to step through predetermined loop. This is very user-friendly, and I felt more secure in this style. Within a few minutes of reading the manual and putting the harness on, I was able to figure it all out. That's a first for a harness! Not sure what that says about me, but let's just move on, shall we?

One thing I really like about the Ultra Lite harness vs. the older HSS harnesses is that this one is 'body-fit' to you.  The other HSS harnesses had loose fabric around the edges that flapped in the wind. The older ones also felt bulky to me. This one does not have extra fabric, it does not feel bulky and I REALLY appreciate that. There is no extra noise and that is great for archery hunting. Sure, with this harness you don't get any pockets to put things in, but that's not what I am after when looking at a safety harness. I wanted ease-of-use while also being safe in my stand. I also like the padding in the harness. It has a bit of cushion against your shoulders and doesn't dig in, like other harnesses do. Nice!

A bonus with this harness is that it comes with a Lineman's Climbing Strap (that's a $19.95 value, although the packaging says it's a $39.95 value). I utilize this each and every time I am in a stand. I had to purchase a climbing strap separately with my last harness, so this was great.
The HSS Life Line is likely one of the best safety features on today’s market for elevated hunting and a "MUST HAVE" for all treestand hunters!  Simply connect the Life Line rope at hunting height, attach your tether to the carabiner equipped Prussic knot on the Life Line and slide the knot as you go up or down the tree. Prussic connection slides easily with one hand yet stays ready to stop any fall should one occur.  30' of rope with 1 carabiner and a Prussic knot is included.

    * Packable and Portable at only 2 pounds.
    * Padded shoulder straps for added comfort.
    * EXTREME ventilation for warm weather.
    * New lighter, quicker leg strap buckles with silent rubber coating.
    * Single front buckle.
In the stand, after getting everything locked in, I needed to see if I had good range of motion. I kid you not when I say this, that for the first time ever, with a safety harness I not only had full range of motion, but it felt comfortable. There was no rubbing, straps getting in the way of my shot and once it was locked onto the tree (which took little to no time) I was ready to rock. It was fantastic.

The Ultra Lite also takes up much less surface area than other harnesses and that alone makes it cooler (temperature wise). It breathes and out here in SoCal you need that breathability. Major bonus points for that!

The harness comes in three sizes up to 3XL (chest up to 60-inches and weights to 300 lbs). I tried it on when I was 252lbs and now down at 206lbs it works just as well. The DVD that is included with the harness shows all of the features in detail. That alone makes the DVD worth watching. 

The harness is very quiet, solid construction and at a price of $99.99 it's a great deal. The model #  is HSS-310 if you plan to order one.  

I am not sure there is anything I would change on the harness. Seriously, the design is excellent and is very user-friendly. It functions better than any harness I have tried and the price point is great. When it comes to your safety 20' up in a tree I highly recommend the HSS Ultra Lite safety harness and this season I'll be wearing mine each and every time I am on stand.

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Disclaimer: The reviews on The SoCal Bowhunter are solely my honest opinions. These products were either provided to me for the purpose of review or I purchased them myself. I receive no monetary compensation in exchange for these reviews.

Friday, August 12, 2011

CA Bear Hunting Regulations = Confusion!
For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of hunting in California, you are missing out. It's a great place to hunt, it really is. Even though it's a great place to hunt, the laws and regulations here are the most confusing documents you'll ever read. I am not kidding. It's like trying to read a topo map, upside-down, through wax paper, while hornets sting your eyeballs. I am exaggerating, but you catch my drift. So, with bear season down here about to open in a week, I decided to revisit the regulations and make a few calls to verify everything was correct. Please keep in mind, I am not trying to 'call-out' anyone in this post. My goals are to point out that there is major miscommunication in the system that can truly hurt the hunters and that we as hunters need to be arduous in keeping up with the regulations and law.

My first question was regarding the use of scents and lures. Subsection 257.5 of the CA DFG regulations say you cannot use bait...

 §257.5. Prohibition Against Taking Resident Game Birds and Mammals by the Aid of Bait.

Except as otherwise provided in these regulations or in the Fish and Game Code, resident game birds and mammals may not be taken within 400 yards of any baited area.
(a) Definition of Baited Area. As used in this regulation, "baited area" shall mean any area where shelled, shucked or unshucked corn, wheat or other grains, salt, or other feed whatsoever capable of luring, attracting, or enticing such birds or mammals is directly or indirectly placed, exposed, deposited, distributed, or scattered, and such area shall remain a baited area for ten days following complete removal
(b) Exceptions:
(1) The taking of domestically reared and released game birds on licensed pheasant clubs and other licensed game bird clubs;
(2) The taking of resident game birds and mammals on or over standing crops, flooded standing crops (including aquatics), flooded harvested croplands, grain crops properly shocked on the field where grown, or grains found scattered solely as the result of normal agricultural planting or harvesting;
(3) The taking of resident game birds and mammals on or over any lands where shelled, shucked or unshucked corn, wheat or other grain, salt, or other feed have been distributed or scattered as the result of bona fide agricultural operations or procedures, or as a result of manipulation of a crop or other feed on the land where grown for wildlife management purposes: provided that manipulation for wildlife management purposes does not include the distributing or scattering of grain or other feed once it has been removed from or stored on the field where grown. 
When I hear bait I think food. Most people think food. Right? That's understood and I am OK with that, but the regulation says nothing of scents and attractants... it says feed. I did some research and someone else asked the same question to CA DFG Q&A back in Nov. 2010. Carrie Wilson answered this question:

Can Scent Attractants Be Considered Bait?

Question: I understand the baiting issue, but I would like clarification on deer and elk attractant scents, like “Tink’s” or “BuckBombs”. There are also scents for bears, hogs and predators and I want to be in full compliance for whatever I’m hunting for. (Michael J., Mojave)

Answer: California Fish and Game Commission regulations do not specifically prohibit using the products you mention. However, the regulations do prohibit taking resident game birds and mammals within 400 yards of any baited area.


The definition of baited area is, “. . . any area where shelled, shucked or unshucked corn, wheat or other grains, salt or other feed whatsoever capable of luring, attracting, or enticing such birds or mammals is directly or indirectly placed, exposed, deposited, distributed or scattered, and such area shall remain a baited area for ten days following complete removal of all such corn, wheat or other grains, salt or other feed.”

According to retired Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Captain Phil Nelms, scents sprayed into the air and allowed to disperse over a wide area in the wind generally do not fall within the definition of bait. Scent products that have to be applied directly to a surface such as a rock, tree or bush generally cause the game to come to that specific place, and if they feed on it, it is bait.

So, if the product you use causes the game to chew on, nibble at, lick, etc. the surface it is applied to, it is “feed” and as such falls within the definition of bait. In that case, you are prohibited from taking (e.g., hunt, pursue, catch, capture or kill or attempt any of those actions) game within 400 yards of that area.

So, I wrote to Marc from DFG about using scents and he responded with this:

Scented lures are legal for black bear. The caveat is that there cannot be any type of food reward associated with it. Typically, scented lures are paper strips that have some sort of chemical applied to them either with a spray or dropper. A vanilla scented candle is made of wax and is edible, therefore may be classified as bait. Your best bet would be to discuss this with the warden who patrols the area you hunt, as he or she would have the last say.
Ok, so he says you CAN use an attractant. I wanted to follow up with the local warden and when I called to ask the question I found out that things have changed in the F&G office out there. I spoke with Josie in the office and she explained that the wardens are no longer working out of that office. For those who don't know, when you kill a bear, you are required by law to contact to closest DFG employee/officer (a.k.a. Warden) to come validate your tags.
Only DFG employees may validate bear tags. Bear tags must be validated before the bear can be transported except for the purpose of taking it directly to the nearest person authorized to validate the tag.
Knowing that the wardens are no longer in the office, I asked Josie whom I should be contacting then. After a brief silence she said she didn't know and that she'd contact the warden and get back to me. Immediately, I posed the scent/attractant/lure question to her. She said she would ask the warden that, as well, and call me right back.

Ten minutes later, Josie called back and we discussed what the warden said (didn't get his name). SoCal bear hunters - Pay Attention to this! He said that now, if you kill a bear, you are required to call the State Parks Southern Dispatch Center at (951) 443-2969 or 1 888 DFG-CALTIP(888 334-2258) and explain that you killed a bear and need to have a warden come out to validate the tag. It's a 24-hour line, so you should be fine. They will then relay the message to the warden. Here's where I am confused. Does the warden call you back and explain what you now need to do? Does the Dispatch Center have you wait on the line? Who knows! Long story short, you cannot transport the bear without having the tag validated, unless the warden tells you to meet him/her someplace.

On to the second question of scents and lures. I received a phone call from CA DFG warden Rick Fisher, who said that the use of scents/attractants/lures are considered bait and they cannot be used whatsoever.
It is illegal to feed or bait bears for the purpose of hunting them. It is illegal to hunt bear over bait, or within a 400-yard radius of a garbage dump or bait.
While I will follow the law and abide by what Warden Fisher has stated, I have to question the law as they are written. I mean really, how can a scent be considered bait? It's not something they are going to eat, it's an aroma. So if a scent is considered bait, then how come the local hunting stores and the big name ones in CA sell deer, bear and other scents and attractants? What about a sow in heat or doe in estrous? It's a scent, not a food, but it's considered bait? I have been told it is ok to use scents for deer, but not bear. How can that make any sense? If we follow that line of thinking would women using perfume be considered 'baiting us men'? One has to wonder.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Top Shot Swag Giveaway Winner!
Last week, I announced that Top Shot: Season 3 was launching this week (tonight on the History Channel) and that I had swag to give away. To enter, you had to answer this question:

What are the names of the Top Shot: Season 3 contestants that are archers?

You had to get all four of them to win and then I would do a random selection from the correct answers. I was going to go through the answers and post the winner next Tuesday, but after reading the responses, only one person had all four correct answers! Besides, the show starts back up tonight and we may as well be watching!

Congratulations to Dustin Jones for listing all four Top Shot: Season 3 contestants who are also archers (the answers were listed in their bios).
  1. Billy Rodgers
  2. Drew Shprintz
  3. Dustin Ellermann
  4. Mark Schneider
Congrats, Dustin! Shoot me over your snail mail address and we'll get your swag shipped out right away. 

Thanks again to all who entered and re-tweeted this contest for others to see. We'll be doing another giveaway soon, but in the meantime... shoot on over to the Sole Adventure blog for his Broadhead Review and Giveaway. Mark reviews a variety of fixed-blade broadheads and you'll be interested to read his findings. Plus, you have a chance at winning some broadheads!

Cheers and have a great week everyone!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Scouting for Black Bear and Meeting Cameron Hanes
Yesterday was a great day. First off, I was able to head out to my bear spot with Nate Welsh and get two treestands up. My arms and legs are sore as heck today from climbing up and down the trees, but it is one of the sweetest set-ups I've used. We spent a couple hours getting it just right, but I now have a set-up with 180 degrees of shooting area. The season opens in less than two weeks and I am stoked to get out there. I have learned of a few new rules and updated regulations this year, so you Cali bear hunters, pay attention to my blog. I'll be posting the info later this week.

After doing the morning work, I drove over to Bass Pro Shops in Rancho Cucamonga. Most days when I go to Bass Pro I spend way too much money. Today was no different as I dropped $5.99 on some unscented deodorant. Wowza! I had the great fortune of meeting Cameron Hanes at Bass Pro before his Bowhunting the West seminar. Many have asked me this question today - What's he like? You would be pleasantly surprised when I say that he is just like you and I. He's a hunter, but he's also a damn cool guy that loves life. A few of us, Eric and Nate Welsh of DIYbowhunter.com, Pastor Kerry Mackey of Chaplain to the Outdoorsman, and I chatted a little with Cam before his seminar. Super humble, great listener and made time for each and every person there. Every. Single. One.

Redhead Pro Staffer Eric Welsh, Cameron Hanes and yours truly.
Cam's seminar spectators came out of the woodwork. It was only Cam's second time doing a seminar for Bass Pro (first one was Friday in Denver, CO), but it was packed. There had to have been over 200 people sitting, standing, watching from the stairs just to get a glimpse of the hunting legend. He covered plenty of hunting in an hour, yet one of the most memorable things I took away yesterday was this. A young boy was trying to find a seat and kept moving up to the front. His dad had another child sitting on his lap, so he sat on the floor just looking up. Cam immediately took notice and as soon as he was done with what he was discussing, he walked right over to where the boy was sitting. He said hello and proceeded to chat for a second and give the boy a few items off of his table. I was only able to catch a side view, but the kids face was priceless. I love it when someone takes the time to do that for a young hunter or future hunter. It made my day.

Once the seminar ended, the stampede for autographs and questions began. I hung back with Kerry and we caught up on his Utah trip and his son's new bow. I am stoked that we now have a new member into the archery field. From what I hear, he's going to cost Kerry an arm and a leg in targets.

Following Cam's seminar was a FoxPro Predator hunting seminar led by Pro Staffer Al Morris. I am not much of a predator hunter, but this seminar was fantastic and entertaining. Big Al had better delivery than most stand-up comedians as he described different hand calls and the FoxPro. His calling techniques we impressive to say the least, but he was downright hilarious, too. Another well-done seminar. Makes me want to go yote hunting now!

Thanks to Kerry Mackey for the photo!
During the FoxPro seminar, Cam moved over to a table to finish signing autographs, taking pictures and chatting with local hunters. I had to get in on the action, too. Sure, I had exchanged messaged in posts on Facebook and on his blog, but I had to show him my Fat Albert --> Skinner Al photo and see if he'd sign it. Not only did he sign it, but he was very positive about the whole thing, even comparing my 'look' to that of a WWE wrestler. Thanks, Cam, for all of the info, the positivity and overall humbleness you showed during your short time here in Cali. I hope your flight was able to be rescheduled quickly!

Redhead Pro Staffer, Eric Welsh, followed up at 6pm with a local bear/deer hunting seminar. While only a few folks showed up (dinner time seminars are brutal) the guys and gals that were there had plenty of questions. Two of the guys recognized the DIY local and my mug and asked me a few questions regarding getting into archery and hunting. It was some great conversation! Gents, I truly hope you are able to get out there and fling some arrows. I stick by what I said, if you have ANY questions, feel free to email me. If I don't know the answer I'll find the people that do.

The day was an all around success. When I got home and walked through the door, my day felt perfect. My wife and daughter were patiently waiting for me to come home with smiles and hugs for this stinky hunter who just happened to have dinner with him. It was good to be home.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Product Review: Cookie Boy Cookies
Backcountry hunting involves preparation, perspiration and burning plenty of calories. Yes, calories. If you are going to burn boot rubber you will need to refuel. Most times I pack in a lunch complete with a couple of sandwiches, energy bars, energy gel, maybe a pack of M&M's and a half gallon of water. Those are usually enough carbohydrates to give me that kick to push on through for a day.  I've tried plenty of different packable snacks and normally it's the same old thing - eat a cardboard flavored energy bar and wash it down with water praying I don't have to eat another one right away to feel full. Sure, the energy bars taste like flavored roughage and don't always hit-the-spot, but you make do.

Recently, I was given the chance to try out the high protein, high energy cookies from Cookie Boy. Yeah, I know what you are thinking, 'Chubbs McQuack, you got to try out cookies? That's like putting raw meat in front of a wolf.' I know, I know. Fat kids, or not-so-fat-anymore kids,  like cookies and given the shot at 'field-testing' them, well of course I would try them out. So for the past few months I have been giving these different cookies a thorough 'test'. 

Packed with protein and no flour or salt. This is a hero of a cookie.

Back in April, when I first spoke with Holly Pack, M.S., R.D, one of the co-owners (along with Anita Cohee) of Cookie Girl, LLC,  I knew she knew her stuff. She is passionate about these cookies and wanting people to get the very best out of them. She's so passionate that the cookies are homemade by she and her business partner and not mass-produced by some company in China. That's some serious dedication if you ask me! When I asked if she sold them by the case her answer was, 'I don't sell the cookies by the case, however you can order as few or as many as you like.' That's understandable seeing as they are made at home, but it might be a huge plus for them if they did. Holly sent me samples of the COOKIE BOY cookie which is 4 oz and 400 calories (That's a serious cookie!) and the ENERGY BOY cookie that  is 2.2 oz and 230 calories.  The large cookies sell for $2.50 and the small for $1.50. Holly had recommended that because the cookies were fresh, and if I wasn't going to eat them right away, to put them in the freezer and that's exactly what I did.

Now I had the daunting task of trying these cookies out. This truly was a dilemma for me because I was trying to lose weight and eating a few cookies like these had to be carefully fit in to my caloric intake. Yeah, yeah, boring stuff, but it's true and that's exactly what I did. 

I first tried these out after an arduous workout at the gym. My stomach was feeling super empty and I needed something that would give me that energy kick to level out my blood sugar.  Immediately I thought of the chocolate chip, Energy Boy cookie. It was only 230 calories, but it had the chocolate chips and sugar I needed, plus it was packed with oats which added flavor and texture. Plus, it had NO flour or salt. It was great, but in order to give it the full test I wanted to wait twenty minutes to let it settle in. I really wanted to eat another one because it was so good, but instead I drank a glass of water and hit the shower. Twenty minutes later I felt recharged, the shakes were gone and I felt fairly full. I did feel like I needed more water, which is only natural, so I drank some more. First round complete and the Energy Boy cookie did its job. Nice!

Scouting for bear season can take a lot out of you. It's hot, you have to hike and glass a lot and eating a big lunch isn't something you desire. My hunting partner, Michael, and I hit the trails in search of bear sign a few weeks ago. We had both brought a lunch, but decided to pack in just a few energy gels and a couple Cookie Boy cookies. The combined calories was around 1,000, so we wanted to be sure we worked for them. We hiked all morning, drank plenty of water and around 9am both got pretty hungry. Out came the Cookie Boy cookies. Michael had the chocolate chip and I had the toffee chip. Super moist, tasty and filling. I didn't think I'd be a fan of toffee chip, but I was surprised that it tasted so good. After slugging down some more water we made way back to our vehicle to head home. 

By the time we reached the car we felt great. We had plenty of energy and felt pretty full. Both of us didn't want to seem like pigs, so we didn't eat our second cookie. That is, until later. Michael admitted that he ate a second on the way home from my house. I ate my second as soon as he drove away from my place. (They really are that good!)

The ONLY negative thing I have to say about the cookies (as a hunter) isn't about the cookies themselves, but rather the packaging. Not the look of it, but the plastic wrapper that each cookie comes in. The wrapper is extremely noisy! If you plan on doing any stalking, or sitting and need to be quiet I have a recommendation: Put however many cookies you want to eat in a Zip-loc baggie before you hit the woods. It's much quieter!

Let me run down the list of positives for you.
  • NO Flour or Salt. Huge bonus points for this one!
  • They pack well.
  • They come in a variety of flavors (see the website).
  • They taste great.
  • They are filling and packed full of protein.
  • They are moderately priced (compare them to an energy bar)
Overall, I really like these cookies and give them two thumbs up. I will certainly be recommending these to my hunting buddies and blog readers. These are top-notch and perfect for just about any hunt, just watch out for the bears!
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Disclaimer: The reviews on The SoCal Bowhunter are solely my honest opinions. These products were either provided to me for the purpose of review or I purchased them myself. I receive no monetary compensation in exchange for these reviews.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Top Shot: Season 3 and A Giveaway for You!
Being a marksman is not all about firearms, gunpowder and bullets. Did you know that Top Shot: Season 2 winner, Chris Reed, is an avid archer? Yeah, I was surprised to hear that, too. I honestly didn't know that until this past Spring when talking to an archery instructor from Edinboro, PA. Come to find out, there are a few contestants with archery in their blood. It seems there's more to the History Channel than just, well, history! 

Top Shot: Season 3 is less than a week away, so are you ready to see some rad competition involving firearms and other weaponry? It airs on History Tuesday, August 9th at 10/9c and you can watch the trailer with the new cast below where I’ve also included a brief summary of the program.

WEBSITE: http://www.history.com/shows/top-shot/

CAST VIDEOS:

http://www.history.com/shows/top-shot/videos/top-shot-season-3-cast#top-shot-season-3-cast

FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/HISTORYTopShot


SHOW INFO: HISTORY’s hit competition show is back with a gauntlet of all new extreme challenges and eager marksmen ready for a shot at greatness.  16 competitors chosen from across the country vie for the $100,000 prize and the title of TOP SHOT.  A national revolver champion, two homeland security agents, a former Navy SEAL, firearms instructors, a restaurant owner and a camp director must demonstrate their skill using the most diverse weapons, from state-of-the-art firearms to rocks.  This season also stars some of the biggest weapons ever featured on TOP SHOT such as the Gatling and Hotchkiss Mountain Guns.  Colby Donaldson returns as host for the competition that takes a page from history.

The 14 marksmen and two markswomen were carefully selected from thousands of applicants to participate in this season of TOP SHOT. The contestants include a national revolver champion, two homeland security agents (who also happen to be close friends), a former Navy SEAL, two cops, a nurse and several firearms instructors. Two of the contestants, a restaurant owner and Christian camp director, are self-taught.

The shooters will have to display mastery of weapons from all eras of human history, from the most primitive (rocks) to the most sophisticated tactical firearms. Contestants will employ some of the biggest munitions ever featured on TOP SHOT, including the Gatling gun, the Hotchkiss mountain gun and the CornerShot. In addition, they must endure extreme physical tests to stay in the game. High-speed HD cameras capture the skillful execution of each test in extreme slow-motion.

The premiere of season three begins with a gauntlet of extreme challenges. 16 marksmen immediately pair off and duel with one of the world’s biggest handguns. Teams are then divided into winners and losers before facing off in a surprise military challenge. In the elimination challenge, two competitors get the ride of their life on a horse-drawn stagecoach as they shoot to stay in the competition.

Now it's time for a giveaway. I have some Top Shot swag to give away and here's what you need to win some great prizes!
ENTRY REQUIREMENT 
(Answer the following question:  

What are the names of the Top Shot: Season 3 contestants that are archers?

Go to History for the answers. Then come back and leave a comment on this post with your answers along with a valid email address for each entry you complete. *Hint-Hint* - You must get all four of them to win, so read carefully! This is how I will contact the winner(s). If you put multiple items in a comment it is only counted as one entry.) 

BONUS ENTRIES

(+1 for each and only after you answer the first question completely and correctly - add one comment for each item you complete. Complete all or any.)

Like The SoCal Bowhunter on Facebook

Follow The SoCal Bowhunter on Twitter

Tweet the following (can be done three times a day, at least one hour apart - leave direct link as a comment):

RT #Win some swag from @HistoryChannel @SoCalBowhunter & #TopShot #giveaway http://bit.ly/oyoFRL (8/11)


Disclaimer: I was contacted directly by History who asked for my participation in the ways outlined above. In addition, they are providing the prizes for this giveaway in exchange for this blog entry. Open to US only. Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm PST on August 8th. Winner(s) will be chosen by a random number generator from all correct entries. Winner(s) will be contacted by email and announced in a post the following Tuesday. Sponsor is responsible for shipment of product to giveaway winner. I am not responsible for shipment of prizes. Number of winners depends on the number of correct entries.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Shameless Plug: Trying to Win a Trip (via ThermaCell)
Ok, so I entered the ThermaCELL® August Appliance-a-Day Giveaway! Now I am trying to increase my chances of winning some ThermaCELL mosquito repellent products. I have two ThermaCells (which ALWAYS go to the woods with me), but my main goal is to wina hunt. When I refer a friend, I am eligible to win the hunt of a lifetime (a $4,000+ value) and a lifetime membership to the North American Hunting Club (a $1,100 value)! I already have a lifetime membership with the NAHC, but I sure would love a good hunt @ The Grigsby!

Here's what you'll need to do. Go to the giveaway page and you must enter my referral code (HS6co) in order for me to get credit. The contestant with the greatest number of referrals wins! The contestant with the second and third greatest number of referrals wins a lifetime membership to North American Hunter.
 
Plus, for every friend who registers with my referral code, I'll get an additional contest entry for the daily prize (a ThermaCELL Mosquito Repellent Appliance in Realtree APG™) and grand prize (a ThermaCELL $400 Mosquito Repellent prize pack).

My referral code is: HS6co

So, if you have a few seconds and don't mind entering, go sign up now and enter my info. Sure, it's shameless, and some of you might not like it. Oh well, then don't sign up, but for those that do... Thank You!
An Afternoon Family Nature Walk: Part 2
As we ventured down the path I fell behind. The girls kept going and at one point they were a hundred yards ahead of me. That would turn out to be a good thing because unbeknownst to them, nature had a treat in store for me they would have probably scared off.

As I came up to a trail opening, I heard a distinct rustle of leaves and branches. Immediately I froze knowing that something was nearby. I glanced to the point of origin and I found a scaly tail disappearing into the bushes. Gopher snake and a big one, too!

After he became invisible to my eyes, I decided to walk ahead and show the girls my photos. My gut told me that he'd be making his way out and crossing the path to head towards the squirrel community. I gave it five minutes and wandered back towards where I thought he'd be and I lucked out. Photo #2 is the snake slithering across the path and #3 is him about ten feet away. He was super cool and well fed. Being the only person who was ecstatic to see a snake, I stayed there and watched it disappear into the greenery. I'll definitely be heading back to see if I can get more photos of this guy!

Rustling bushes revealed a scaly tail disappearing into the foliage.
This 6' gopher snake was the first I have seen in California.