Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Confidence Level Stabilization - Bullseye!

In my post from yesterday, I mentioned how my shooting was way off and that I had found an issue with my stabilizer. After a day of rest, I attacked my project. With a little elbow grease, some rough sandpaper and heavy duty super glue I fixed the stabilizer. After giving it 24 hours to allow the glue to cure, I reattached the stabilizer to my bow.

I never used to to put much thought into stabilizers until I saw the benefits firsthand. Sometimes, we just need to revisit the simple things, like bow stabilization. To help make it even clearer, PSE Archery recently posted a video about balancing your bow in your hand. I watched it and tested the lesson. My bow, sans quiver, was balanced and it felt good. Well, it was balanced until I added the weight of my quiver and five arrows. THEN it was way off. So, I added the four ounce weight to the end of my Trinity stabilizer with high hopes. The added weight on my stabilizer really helped balance the bow in my hand. Now I needed to see if it worked whilst shooting.

Many people ask me why I don't just take my quiver off the bow when shooting or hunting. Most of my hunting is done out West, so  I leave it on for a couple reasons. First, I want to have all of my arrows with me when I am shooting. If I set my quiver down, put on a stalk and forget where I put it then I am in trouble. Then I have to spend time looking for my lost quiver. Second, when I am hunting I like having everything attached to my bow that I normally shoot with. I don't hunt much out of a treestand anymore, unless I am in NY for whitetails. Even then I leave the quiver on most of the time. I like having my arrows right where I can see them all of the time.

Last night, I couldn't take it anymore and I went to the archery range. I know it had only been a couple days, but I had to see if the stabilizer issue was fixed and if the added weight improved my shooting. My sight was slightly off from me tweaking it, so my first arrow (photo on left) blew right through the wet straw bale and hit the ground 10 yards behind the target. Can you say power? I love how fast, flat and powerful my PSE Bow Madness shoots! With a slight sight adjustment, and continued mental focus, I shot again and again. On the right, you can see my average grouping (from 20-60 yards) and my stabilizer. With the added weight, my bow felt perfect... and I mean PERFECT (remember me mentioning that yesterday?) in my hands. After countless prayers, surveying the situation and a little work I had my bow back to where I needed it to be. After shooting at different ranges with the same result I believe I fixed my problem!

Feeling very thankful, confident and extremely happy, I went home and started to gear up for scouting on Saturday. I figure it'll be worth it to bring my bow in case we run across some jack rabbits or some coyotes. I sure hope we do because I feel the need to put some arrows in flight and bring down some song dogs!

It just goes to show you that if you get frustrated, take a step back and survey the situation. Ask yourself questions until you can figure out what the underlying issue is. I did just that and it worked wonders. Take your time, get it right and you'll be back knocking out bullseyes before you know it.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Range Time Revelations

Shooting arrows perfectly doesn't happen without much practice. Also, you can practice your tail off and still come up short. Just ask the Team USA archery team. They shot great yesterday and still ended up one point short. They still snagged a silver medal, which is fantastic. It is the only Olympic event I have ever been 100% into. Great job, Team USA!! Now getting back to my original point - practice. Friday evening was range day. I met up with Chaplain to the Outdoorsmen, Kerry Mackey, at my house and we ventured over to El Dorado Park, where we met up with Brett, Brandon and Tyler. After some introductions and chatting we got to shooting.

For the past couple months, I have been shooting every Friday and I have been doing fairly well. Then, last weekend I adjusted my peep and noticed my string needed a half twist to get it just right. I didn't want to run to the pro shop right away, so I rotated my d-loop and got my peep set. I had taken my bow to the range and thought I had everything dialed in. That is, until Friday evening.

Brett, myself, Brandon and Kerry at the El Dorado Park archery range in Long Beach, CA.

The first few arrows I shot were atrocious! Then it proceeded to get even worse. I was shooting low and left all night. I always put more pressure on myself because I want to get better and better, but Friday it took a bad turn for me. The guys said it didn't seem that bad, but I felt like crap. I kept hearing a weird noise and I mentioned to Brandon a couple times that I heard a noise and felt a vibration. I looked high and low and could not find the problem. My arrows were still all over and I was frustrated. When we finished shooting I was dejected and ticked at myself. No pity party, just downright ticked. I went home, set the bow down and called it a day.

Waking up Saturday morning felt good. Almost immediately I thought about the prior nights shooting. I couldn't shake it. Then I sat down and watched Team USA vs. Team Italy in the gold medal match of the Olympic archery competition. Watching these guys shoot made my day, but it also showed me that you can be the best of the best and still not be perfect. I think that was God's way of telling to stop putting so much pressure on myself to be 'perfect' and to just enjoy bowhunting. It was a wake up call.

Knowing I had a busy week, my loving (and awesome) wife decided to give me some time to get a few things done and to relax a bit. Her plan was to take my daughter out for a few hours which would leave me to focus on Friday's fiasco at the range. Before she left, I took my daughter out to shoot her new bow for a few minutes. Just seeing the smile on her face made me a proud papa. Then the girls packed up and left.

My next stop was my personal archery shop, a.k.a. the garage. I wanted to find my bow level set to be sure everything was perfectly level. There I go with that word again. I searched the garage high and low and could not find it. The frustration was beginning to take hold again. In all of the places I knew it had to be... it wasn't. Grrrrr!!! I filled the afternoon looking for the set, taking my recycled bottles and cans back and cleaning the garage while looking for the levels. No dice. The frustration was too much and I hit the gym for a solid workout before my girls came home. It felt fantastic to sweat!

After explaining my woes to my wife, and discussing how I rarely misplace anything, I went to the garage again knowing full well the levels HAD to be there. I stopped and thought about it. I had been putting all of my tools in my backpack so I'd have them on hand at the range. Was it there? No way. Why in the hell would I put it in there? I felt an urge to check and in the side pocket were the two levels I had been searching for. I suddenly felt like there was a huge weight off my shoulders. I proceeded to check out my bow and found it completely level. I had worried about the 3rd axis and everything being level for no reason.

When I took the bow off my workbench, I noticed my stabilizer looked funny. Not funny really, but it had a slight 'bend' to it. Upon further inspection I saw that my stabilizer was coming unglued from the mount!!! When I held onto it and moved it, it nearly came off in my hand. Three more wiggles and it did come off! I am 99% sure I found my vibration problem. I fixed the stabilizer and added the weighted end that I had removed prior to this season. My bow is now balanced in my hand with a full quiver of arrows. I feel much more confident now, even if I haven't taken it back to the range.

It just goes to show you that you can practice all year and have one event happen that frustrates you beyond belief. It also showed me that I just needed to look over the bow, avoid the frustration and just take a breather. Some days it's harder than others. I am looking forward to hitting the range this week to test out my theory. Wish me luck!

Monday, July 23, 2012

New Meaning to the Term "Weekend Warrior"

To me, being a weekend warrior used to be someone who went out and just filled up their weekend with the things they couldn't get to do during the work week. Things like hunting hard all weekend from dawn until dusk or punishing your body by playing rugby all day Saturday and recovering on Sunday. How times have changed for me! Now it's filled with being a good husband and a good dad, target practice, and honey-do's. There isn't a moment left empty, and I wouldn't change it for the world.

My weekend started out great. My daughter and I practiced casting and reeling with her new fishing pole. Practicing patience with your kids is KEY for their success and I was sure to show Riley plenty of that. She got frustrated a few times, which was to be expected. That frustration didn't last long though. Before long she had the look of determination and the 'I can do it myself!' spouting from her lips. So do it herself she did! I let her try it out and when she got frustrated I helped her out. It was such a proud moment for me to be able to share that experience. We both enjoyed it and now she's begging to go fishing. Love it!

The days flew by as I took my new Schnee's Wilderness hunting boots out to my shop (a.k.a. the garage) and proceeded to liberally rub wax into the leather. I'll have an in depth review of the boots after my Colorado elk hunt, but I am first breaking these boots in and thought it'd be nice to share some tidbits of information. I spoke with the fine folks at Schnee's and while they informed me the Wilderness boots are already waterproof, caring for the leather will certainly make them last longer. So I spent a good part of Saturday evening doing just that by working in some Nikwax (provided by Schnee's). I want these boots to last a long time and SoCal heat will not be kind to them, so I must!

The highlight of my weekend was born out of my own frustration. If you'll remember, on Friday I posted about how frustrated I was when I went to the pro shop and we couldn't figure out the issue with my string. I went home and realized the peep was the factor. It was off. I did not want to the pro shop, wait for them to fix it and then charge me a lot more than I wanted to spend. Instead, I vowed to do it myself. Sure, it might take me a bit longer, but what I wanted to get it right. After removing the serving around the peep, lowering the peep and reserving it I was ecstatic! I had not only put it exactly where I needed to, I saved myself some money and had learned a valuable lesson. I immediately went to the range and adjusted my IQ Bow Sight to my adjusted peep. A few minutes later I was plugging bullseyes and it felt fan-freakin-tastic!See that duct tape in the above picture? There are actually five arrows in there. My PSE drove one through the center like a nail gun. I didn't feel like losing any arrows and decided to shoot along that edge to be certain of that. I still came close to having to spend some money on a couple arrows though!

This weekend was full of entertainment, hard work and positivity. Patience, review and determination lead to a great feeling of accomplishment and I can't wait to see what this week brings. I hope your weekend was as productive and as positive as mine!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Know Your Archery Gear and Record Your Settings

Learning things the hard way, or long way, is something that I have learned to tolerate and accept. I don't always like it, but things happen. By sharing my experiences it will hopefully help you avoid the same mistakes. It's how you deal with them makes all the difference. 

Have you ever become too comfortable with your gear? Complacency can set up shop if you aren't careful. You take it for granted and then when the time comes for a piece of gear to be fixed you forget what the original settings were. In turn, this makes it harder for you, makes the process longer than it has to be to fix and can be very frustrating. This has happened to me.

Please keep in mind before reading further that I am NOT pointing fingers at anyone but myself. This is not about what someone else did or didn't do.
On the contrary, this is about what I SHOULD have done. 

Normally, I take note of all my compound bow settings. My draw length, arrow length, draw weight of my bow, etc. What I failed to do was something very simple and drove me nuts. I had failed something simple and something we probably all overlook from time to time. Read on to find out what it was.

A few weeks ago, I noticed my serving was worn and slightly unraveling on my buss cable. It was right at the point of contact on my lower cam of my bow. It is not sharp, but the constant friction of cam to string wore it a bit. No matter what happened, I knew I had to get a new one. Why was this wearing away? A quick phone call and I had an answer. This sometimes happens on the lower cam of the single cam bows. Upon inspection I saw that was exactly what was happening. Three days later I had a replacement cable in my hands.

I took my bow over to my local pro shop and asked them to put the new cable on. A few days later it was ready for me to pick up. When I went over we talked about the fix, I paid my fees and left. My first mistake was leaving right away and never drawing the bow back or firing any arrows. That would have been the way to go, but no, I took the bow home and put it away. It wasn't until two days later when I went to shoot it that I noticed something was off. Shame on me for being hasty.

My first two rounds at the range were 6" high. I was at the center of the target, but I wasn't pegging the X. At first I thought my sight got jostled. I am using the IQ Bowsight and the little black dot was slightly off. I won't go into detail about the sight, but I knew it was off. So, without thinking too clearly, I adjusted the sight. I was still off and growing more frustrated. Dejected, I put the sight back to the original setting, packed the bow up and took it home to think about it.

Then, I got busy during the week and didn't take the time to try and figure out the issue. Nor could I hit the prop shop during the week. Or Friday get together at the archery range came. Brett and I met at the range and we shot our first set at 60 yards. My arrows were hitting 6" high once again. Nothing had changed, which was good to know. At first I thought maybe I was anchoring incorrectly, but after testing that out I was in the same place I always am. Brett confirmed it and we scratched our heads bewildered.

Suddenly, it hit me that my peep was off. I realized that I was adjusting my head and eye to the peep setting and not my normal setting. My peep was a half inch high. In turn, it was making my groups hit 6" high at 60 yards. Interesting, right? How about more frustration. What was wrong? I drew my bow, had Brett look at my form, drew again and we couldn't figure it out. My peep hadn't moved, the serving hadn't slipped, but it was off somehow.

I flipped the bow over and looked at the cam, cable and string. Now, when replacing a cable on a PSE Bow madness, you don't have to take the string off of the peg. You just replace the cable and you are done. I inspected the string loop, the peg and went back and forth calculating in my head. Then it dawned on me. My string seemed to be on the wrong peg! My draw seemed slightly long, peep was high, and I was shooting high. It was on the wrong damn peg! For me, it should be in the MINUS peg and not the normal/original peg. I put the bow away and plotted a time to hit the prop shop with my findings.

You can see the PLUS and MINUS pegs, along with the normal peg the string was on.

At the pro shop, they noticed I was slightly overdrawing my bow. Subtle as it was, it was enough to let them see that something was most definitely off. After some discussion regarding logic and the set up, we made an educated guess as to what had happened. The bow was on the press to get the new cable on. Something happened... a phone call, distraction, whatever. Then my string either came off the peg or was pulled accidentally. Someone was trying to be helpful and put it back on the peg. It just turns out that it was the wrong peg. So, we put it on the peg I thought it should be on and low-and-behold my peep was in the right place. My sight also lined up perfectly. Success at last!

In retrospect, I blame no one for this turn of events except myself. Now, you are going to be asking me why, right? First off, we have no idea how it happened. We can guess, but it would have gotten us nowhere. Secondly, if I had recorded what posts my strings were on I wouldn't be writing this. I would have been able to tell them right away what had happened. If I had taken the time to really know my set up intimately I think I'd have been hitting bullseye after bullseye for the past two weeks instead of checking my set up over and over.

To be completely honest, I am actually glad it happened. I am glad because it has taught me to not take things for granted (once again, thank you God) and to work WITH my local pro shop instead of against them. There was nothing to be gained by pointing fingers. What I gained was knowledge and understanding. We figured it out the long way, but at least we figured it out. I'll be hitting the range again on Friday and my confidence level is already high. I learned something new this week and for that I am grateful.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Through the Eyes of Our Children: An Outing to Bass Pro Shops

Spending time with my wife and daughter has always been and will always be a priority. I want them to know that I love them no matter what and that just being together is wonderful. Introducing my daughter to different aspects of the outdoors is something I have been doing since she was born. Heck, her first ball cap was a Bass Pro Shops hat. Gee, I wonder who bought that one? As a lover of the outdoors, archery, fishing and the gear associated with each... I also love Bass Pro Shops. I love to walk through the store and imagine what gear I need/want to get next. I also want my daughter to be exposed to hunting and fishing. I want to show her the wonder and excitement that lies within it. She can make her own choices whether or not she wants to continue with it moving forward, but for now I get to share my knowledge and love for the outdoors.

Yesterday, I wanted to share the Bass Pro Shops experience with Riley. More importantly, I had been promising her this week that I wanted to get her her very first fishing pole. Plus, she had mentioned to my wife the week prior that she wished she could go fishing. I had some gift cards to use so it was a done deal! Seeing that Bass Pro is about an hour away from our place, I planned to take Riley for the afternoon. Plus, I knew it would give my wife some much deserved alone time. My wife explained to her that they had a huge aquarium and she could see the fish up close. So, when I asked Riley if she wanted to go you could see her eyes light up. All morning she asked if we could see the fish and she did it as innocent as any child could. I was elated!

After breakfast with my wife and the in-laws, Riley and I hit the freeway. Within five minutes she was asleep in the truck. Anyone with kids knows that it is a blessing when they can get their rest. I love talking with Riley on our dinner dates or truck rides, but the traffic was horrible yesterday and there were some bad accidents on the freeways. I just wanted to get there safely and being able to crank the A/C, tunes and focus on the crazy traffic helped out. About a quarter mile from the entrance she woke up, and by the time we parked she was talking about the aquarium, the stuffed animals and how excited she was. She sure is articulate for a 3.5 year old and can really put a smile on dear-old dad's face!

The conversation we had on our walk from the parking lot was wonderful. It's not so much in what was said, but how we talked and the fun things we wanted to do. Lately she has been playing detective at home, and I found the perfect opportunity to her involved as we walked in. Anyone that has been to a Bass Pro Shops knows they have footprints in the concrete outside and inside the store. When I mentioned this to Riley she couldn't wait to play detective and immediately started looking for animal tracks. It didn't take long and she was on a set. She crouched down and pointed, asking me what made them. When I told her it was a bear I was expecting her to show fear or something, but the glow she had said otherwise. 'Let's follow them!' Like that, the chase was on!

At the front door, I had to snap a few photos. You know, for the blog and all. Some photographer I'd be if I didn't bust out the trusty iPhone and capture the moment, right? I loved all of her questions about what animal this was. She was all about knowing what the hooves were and antlers and it was great! She never once complained, but really wanted to keep following the tracks, see the fish and check out the sights and sounds.

Inside I took her straight to the aquarium. Even with people standing everywhere, she dodged the crowd and darted for the glass box filled with fish. It didn't take her long to climb on the 'rocks' and stare at the giant largemouth bass, the catfish and the blue gills. I started wiggling my fingers and those fish saw DINNER! and a dozen of them shot over to investigate. Of course, little eyes were watching and she wanted to do it, too. It was incredibly cute to watch. I am smiling as I type this because it really was that darn cute.

For the next two and a half hours we walked and we talked. 

For the next two and a half hours I forgot about the outside world and enjoyed every second I had with my daughter.

For the next two and a half hours I was a very happy man and enjoyed one of the best days ever

Seeing the priceless look on my child's face while she pointed things out to me was an experience I will not soon forget. The stuffed bear, elk, deer, hogs, raccoons and big horn sheep amazed her, but most of all, she just wanted to see the fish in the aquarium again. So I had to make a plan. For every item or two I needed to purchase, I promised her we would go back and watch the fish. She loved the aquarium and so did I.

Showing her the fishing poles was something I have looked forward to for a very long time. I remember the first time I went fishing with my dad and how using a large pole was cumbersome. Heck, I just about smacked my little brother in the face trying to reel in. I wanted Riley to have her own smaller pole that she could use. For those that don't know me well, I believe in God winks. Some would call them coincidences, but I just don't accept coincidence. Everything happens for a reason in my book. Having Riley choose her own fishing pole was a God wink. I showed her the Mickey Mouse, the Disney Princesses, and others, but the one she picked absolutely made my day. A little digressing here, but when I came out to Cali for my first date with my wife, we made a joke about how I liked Tinkerbell and how she and I had a connection. Something like that anyway. Then, a few years later while going through Disneyland I found a Tinkerbell pin. It is still tacked into our cork board. More can be shared, but the fact that Riley chose the Tinkerbell fishing pole and NOT the pink ones was a God wink. She was emphatic - 'I want Tinkerbell, please.' So Tinkerbell she got.

She wanted to track the animals some more and we did just that. We tracked some deer tracks throughout the store, so I took her to where the deer and elk were. She loved touching the fur and the hooves. She knows that I hunt deer and when I told her I was going to be hunting elk this year she just looked at me and smiled. She just wanted to gaze at the bull elk.

With all of the talk of hunting and then bowhunting, we ventured over to the kids section to see what they had to offer. There were the games and squirt guns. The race cars and video games (Ugh!), but best of all... the kid-sized compound bows. I asked Riley if she wanted to shoot like daddy and she said she did. We looked it over and guess what else she brought home?

We shared some fudge and goofed around a little. Then I showed her the trout swimming in the stream. Riley showed no fear as she climbed on the faux boulders and sprawled out to watch the fish swimming.

Some fish would race up the stream and back, one kept lurking in one area while many of the smaller fish just congregated around the submerged log. I listened to her as she asked about the fish, told me what they were doing and heard the happiness in her voice when the little ones passed by. It was the best sound ever, next to her laughter. That is until I found some fish food that had been dropped on the rocks. I handed it to Riley and told her to toss it in. The hook jaw rose up and snatched it off the surface with a 'SCHLOP!' and that was all it took. 

'Daddy, let's look for more fish food.'

'Ok, let's play detective and find some.'

We found a couple more and she tossed them in. She was very happy and so was I. It was peaceful and she loved every second of it. 

We checked out the aquarium once more and then decided to check out. We both were hungry and we needed to eat as it was getting late. This is where I felt God directing us again. I was going to take her to the restaurant there because I wanted to spend some more time chatting with her. What I didn't want was to spend a weeks worth of pay on lunch when we would be eating dinner before too long. After paying for my gear, I couldn't decide if I wanted to drop things off at the truck or just go right into the restaurant and eat. Well, the choice was made for me as one of the items I purchased set the alarm off and we had to turn around at the register. It just so happens that the register was at the far end and we faced out the glass door. Through the glass I recognized the shape of a hot dog stand. Would we want to eat Gator bites or hot dogs? So, I gave Riley the choice and she chose the hot dog. We took care of the alarm issue and them went outside to get a hot dog. We bought our lunch and no sooner was the food handed to us when the people started tearing the pop-up down to close up. We were the very last customers! If we had waited five more minutes or had gone right into the restaurant, we wouldn't have had the chance to grab a quick, less expensive lunch and best of all sit outside and chat.

Halfway through our meal, Riley looked up at me with the biggest smile and said,'We're having a picnic.' I love my little girl. 

We had a great day together. I promised to bring her back to see the fish and track some more animals. Some like the zoo or the mall (to me they are one and the same), but I will take Bass Pro Shops any day. Bass Pro Shops, my little girl and a picnic lunch on a wooden bench. And you know what? That was the best picnic I ever had.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Scouting for Success in Southern California

In the early morning hours, he restlessly stirs. He suddenly sits up, glancing at the light streaming in the bedroom window and fears he has missed his alarm. He reaches for his phone and laughs when he sees that he has woken up at 2:22 AM. A full eight minutes before the alarm is set to go off. It is time to get up and go on an adventure!

That is exactly what happened to me last Sunday morning. I was awake before the alarm went off and ready to scout for deer. Fortunately, I had my gear ready to go and after a quick cup of coffee I was out the door. I met up with my Friday night archery range buddies, Brett and Brandon, and we loaded the truck and hit the road.

We made the long drive to the trailhead in the Angeles National Forest only to find it still locked. It was 5:15 AM and it was light enough to glass, but we could not continue with our original game plan. We needed a new plan and fast. Disappointment quickly dissipated as we pulled out the maps to find another location to scout. We could have hiked into this area, but we also wanted to make a few phone calls and ask some questions before proceeding. After scouring the trails near our location, Brandon pointed out a promising trail guarded by hills. It didn't take long for us to pile back in the truck and beat feet to the trailhead.

After parking at the second trailhead we discussed our situation and devised a plan. The temps were very chilly and that was motivation enough to start moving. In the short time it took us to get our packs on and talk strategy, our hands got quite cold and that was motivation enough! It was a good day to be testing the Badlands Momentum Pants, too. We hiked in a short way and decided that the sun was coming up fast enough that we needed to get set up. The deer would be moving toward shade and we wanted to catch them in the act. We glanced around the huge bowl and smiled. Just the fact that we were out there made all three of us happy. Genuinely happy.

We glassed for an hour. The beauty of the hillsides was amazing. As the sun rose, they came to life and were filled with greens, soft reds and tan. High desert for sure, but it was beautiful. I was utilizing my KOWA SV 10x50s mounted to a tripod for most of my glassing. It makes such a difference having them mounted to a tripod. At other times I had my KOWA BD 10x42s up as I scanned the distant terrain. About halfway through the first set, I glassed a far hillside which I estimated to be a mile away. (We found out later it was only half a mile.) I saw movement barreling down the face. It was a very large coyote and he was running from something. It kept glancing back over its shoulder, but nothing ever crested the top. I have no idea what was chasing it, but that song dog was hauling some tail.

Beautiful hillsides with multiple hiding spots.

If you look close, you can see Brandon sitting in front of the bush on the bottom left.

Brett set up glassing the far hillsides.
On the hour, we met up, talked about all of the deer we had not seen and hiked further in. We made our way to where I spotted the coyote and calculated the distance to under a half mile. It seemed so far away! For me, it was good and bad. It showed me I need to judge distance better, but it also meant that if we did spot deer during the season we could get to them faster than originally thought. We just had to find deer first!

This bird had a beautiful song and kept his watchful eye on us.

We hiked deeper, set up and glassed. We repeated this a few times and saw nothing but big jackrabbits. I am talking some of the biggest I have ever seen. We started to regret not bringing our bows! We could have tried to put a stalk on one for some fun.

After the sun came up it warmed up rather quickly. No, that wouldn't be a fair way to say it. It was stinking hot! The heat didn't bother us though. We were thrilled to be outside, breathing clean air, hearing no traffic and having fun. I had wanted to backtrack to glass a hillside with multiple trees because I felt the deer would be sitting in the shade and once the sun rose they would be on the move. We all agreed to that and went back, found some shade of our own and started glassing. It didn't take long for Brandon to get his eyes locked onto a doe and her fawn about halfway up the hill in front of us. Our excitement level rose about ten-fold.

The deer Brandon spotted standing in the shade of a bush.

This all happened before 10:00 AM and it was getting toasty where we were. We viewed the shadows of the hillside for another ten minutes and decided that we wanted to check out one other area, so we hit the trail and started burning boot rubber back to the truck. At this point we were all fairly hungry, too. We had our snacks and trail bars in our packs, but our lunch sounded better. 

Back at the truck we devoured our lunch, hydrated and then made way to another trailhead. This new trailhead was also gated and locked. It was unfortunate, but a blessing nonetheless. With some things happening back at home, we had to pack it in and head back. It was hot, we were tired and family duties beckoned. We took a different route home and found a slightly shorter way to get to our second spot. Another blessing as everything happens for a reason!

No matter how you looked at it, our day was a success! We had found a new area to hunt and had spotted deer. We had put our minds and muscle to the test, and we had prevailed. Our new friendships were growing stronger, we cracked jokes, told stories and stayed motivated for upcoming hunting season. This year may turn out to be one of the best yet as I see that these guys are hard workers, good hikers and I can't wait to see them kill a deer with a bow and arrow.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Bow Adventures - Summer 2012 Issue

It has finally arrived! Many of you have been asking me about when the new issue of BowAmerica would be published. To answer your question, BowAmerica is now Bow Adventures and will be published on a quarterly basis. I am very excited about this issue because it's a fresh start, has some great articles and an interview with well-known huntress Melissa Bachman.

Plus, in this issue I have two articles. The first is Getting Into Archery. 
With the archery craze hitting the mainstream media with movies like The Hunger Games, The Avengers, and Brave more and more people are looking at getting into archery. The thing that usually holds them back is they don’t know how to get started. Recently, Bass Pro Shops in Rancho Cucamonga, CA invited me to give a seminar on Getting Into Archery directing it toward women and our youth. I can see why as just the other night, after returning from the archery range, I was outside my garage chatting with a fellow archer when a car drove past us down the alley and abruptly stopped. The driver put the car in reverse and stopped right behind me. I could hear two kids in the car exclaiming, 'That's so cool! Awesome!' It dawned on me that I had my side quiver full of arrows attached to the outside of my backpack. I quickly turned around and said hello and they just seemed mesmerized. Goes to show you the impact these movies are having. Sure, there are plenty of other movies and television shows where archery was present. Most times people can rattle off two or three right off the bat. There are many and most are traditional archers. Think Robin Hood and Lord of the Rings. Then you have the recurve and compound shooters from movies like Rambo, Blade: Trinity and TV shows like Smallville (Green Arrow).

Fortune was on my side as I got my start in archery when I was very young. How young? Nine years old to be exact. I hail from a bowhunting family and my dad introduced me archery by handing me a fiberglass longbow, some wooden arrows and walking me to a stack of hay bales on the farm. Growing up on a farm had its advantages. The straw bales were plentiful, so I always had a target to shoot at. My brother and I would fire arrow after arrow after arrow, all the while pretending we were hunting or saving a train from would-be robbers. No matter what the ‘game’ of the day was we had fun, and were fortunate enough to have someone right there to teach us.

The most common question I never get asked is...
Read the full article on page 18.

The second article is a gear review on the KOWA BD 10x42 Binoculars.
Quality. Whenever a hunter asks me about what optics to buy, quality is the first word out of my mouth. That's what you want in optics and I can tell from first hand experience that KOWA is quality.  I'll admit, I didn't know much about KOWA when I first saw some advertisements in a hunting magazine. I had heard about people using the brand, but hadn't seen them first hand. I didn't even personally know a single hunter who used their optics. I hope this review will change that for the hunting community.

While talking with the folks over at KOWA, it is obvious that they have the utmost confidence in their products. Not only are they knowledgeable, but they are dedicated to providing quality, customer service. They gave me the opportunity to see for myself and to share my findings with the hunting community.
So, for the past few weeks I have been testing out a pair of KOWA 10x42s and a pair of the SV10x50s from the new product line. I was able to put them to use in the field, along with a TN-773 Series Spotting Scope when I went on the CA Bighorn Sheep Survey in the SoCal mountains. I have also taken them out hog hunting in different terrain at a different time of day. I enjoyed every second of reviewing these. For this review I will cover the KOWA BD 10x42s Binoculars and the others in subsequent reviews...
Read the full review on page 54.

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Let the Southern California Scouting Begin!

Every Friday evening, the archery range greets my friends and I with open arms. We set up our targets and we shoot. While a simple task, it is so much fun honing our skills for the upcoming deer season. We also talk about scouting, our gear, life in general and we have a great time. Brett was fortunate enough to get this small deer target for Father's Day. We were all excited to practice with it because it gives us a 3D experience, plus with it being a smaller target we have to concentrate to hit it perfectly. As you can see, we need some practice past 60 yards, but for the first day this was fun. We all have goals set and mine is to be able to get inside the kill zone at 80 yards. My FMJs are all in there at 60, but I want better for myself. Tomorrow evening should be great fun!

We recently learned that the some of the area I used to hunt here in SoCal, that was closed by wildfires in 2009, has reopened. Not only am I excited to get back in there, but I am positive we will see animals. There will be fresh vegetation, the area hasn't been hunted in 3 years and there have already been reports of nice bucks in the area. I am also thrilled to be able to share the experience with Brett and Brandon. We are headed out this weekend to scout the area, do plenty of glassing, and burn some boot rubber. I'll report on it next week for sure!

Before the scouting and archery practice, I have had to get my body into shape, both mentally and physically. Training has been a key factor for me this year. I am not getting any younger and 12 years of playing rugby has wreaked havoc on parts of my body, like my neck and knees. Still, I don't allow that to get me down. I have been exercising as much as I can. I have been hitting some of the local trails near me that most would overlook, but they are great for training. They are also great for spotting wildlife. When you train, don't focus solely on training. Look around you and soak up what God has laid out. Earth is a canvas of wonderful color, beauty and life. Every time I head out, I see some new, some old and always enjoy it. Between the coyotes, hawks, owls, alligator lizards, rabbits and butterflies, I have a great time knowing viewing an abundance of wildlife. Even if it is only a mile from the beach!

Not only have I been training for hunting in California, but my true focus has been on elk hunting in Colorado in September. I have been running and also loading up my pack with sand to give me something to work hard at lugging around. Right now I have 100 lbs. of sand in the pack. Once I add water, the weight of the pack and other small items I am then up to 110+ lbs. My goal has been 120 lbs. by September and I am almost at my goal! Tuesday night I hit the trails and let me tell you, this IS NOT easy even at sea level. So what did I do? I pushed harder and went further! Instead of the normal 2-2.5 miles I walked an extra circuit. I hiked the 3.25 miles with the weight on my back and even encountered some new folks on the trail. One lady was all talkative when she saw how hard I was working. That is until she asked what I was training for. I told her and she shut right up. Oh well, you can't make everyone happy! Then I ran into another guy who insisted on asking me questions. He and his buddy reeked of Mary Jane and I had to stop him from talking just so I could keep going. I was afraid my knees would give out if I stayed there any longer. That last mile was one of the toughest hikes I have ever completed. All I can say is damn, my knees, back and shoulders hurt, even after a couple days. Don't let the smile in the photo fool you, I was hurting!

Supplements to aid in my training have started to take hold, too. I have been testing out BuckPower (Antler Velvet) through Bob Ray at CarboMask. The stuff is great for your joints! My hips have been taking a beating from the excess weight of my pack and the BuckPower certainly helps. When I stopped taking it my hips hurt... bad! I also started up drinking the Wilderness Athlete Hydate & Recover formula. I used a similar product when I was in college and I loved it. The H&R tastes very much like it and I hope it provides the same results to my muscles. I've only used it one day, but you can bet I'll be drinking it before, after and during each workout session from now on to see how well it works.

This weekend should prove to be a test of our orienteering, scouting and fitness as we head into the forest to scout. All three of us are ready to hit the trails, make some new ones and start locating deer and bear. Get out and scout, practice with your gear and most of all have fun!