Friday, June 29, 2012

Product Review: KOWA SV 10x50 binoculars

Staring into the shadows of an overgrown brushy hillside or down into a steep canyon, you look for an ear twitch, or a shape standing out differently than the rest of the scenery. In order to step up your game and be an effective hunter, you must use quality optics that are crisp, clear and powerful. As part of my scouting, and utilizing them on the Spring CA Bighorn Sheep Survey, I have been reviewing a pair of the KOWA SV50-10 binoculars from their new product line. I was also able to utilize them when I went hog hunting in different terrain and while shooting at the archery range.

Image © kymberli q. photography


Included in the box are:
  • Case
  • Strap
  • Rainguard
  • Objective Lens Covers
  • Kowa Lifetime Warranty

SV50-10 Specifications:
  • Model SV50-10
  • Magnification     10X
  • Objective Lens Diameter     50mm
  • Real Field of View     5.0°
  • Exit Pupil     5.0mm
  • Relative Brightness     25.0
  • Twilight Factor     22.4
  • Eye Relief     19.5mm
  • Field of View at 1000m/yds     87m/yds
  • Dimensions (Length x Width x Height)     178x133x60mm (7x5.2x2.4in)
  • Weight     740g (26.1oz)
  • Warranty: Lifetime of the product from manufacturer's defects

Right out of the box the binoculars felt great in my hands. They are lightweight (only 26.1 oz) and easy to maneuver.  The grip was smooth, non-slipping and well designed. Plus, they looked really cool!

My daughter loves helping me test out binoculars! Image © kymberli q. photography

COST EFFECTIVE WITH SUPERIOR OPTICAL PERFORMANCE
All lenses and prisms of the YF and SV Series are fully multi-coated. In addition, the roof prism (SV Series) is phase coated and has a highly reflective coating that minimizes the loss of light and produces a clear visual range and sharp image. Even though costs were reduced through simultaneous product development and the implementation of an objective focus mechanism (SV 32/42), the superior optical performance was maintained without sacrificing important features like being waterproof and dry nitrogen gas filled.

For a 'cost effective' item from KOWA, the lens clarity on these is excellent. They are very sharp, not at all cloudy and easy to clean. The focus was sharp in all conditions whether is be sunny, cloudy or at dawn or dusk. The view is crystal clear. Did I mention no graying around the edges and no fogginess?

The diopter (focus adjustment) on these binoculars is very smooth. The right-eye focus allows you to pinpoint exactly where you need to have it. Everything holds true and stays where it needs to be. It will hold your settings even if bumped around a bit. Still, even if you did bump it, you can find your settings very quickly. Recently, I took these on a two mile run where I had them loosely in my bino pack while I ran and they bounced around quite a bit. I stopped halfway through my run, and at the very end to use them. My settings were right on and I was able to observe a family of coyotes I would not have seen clearly with the naked eye.  My setting never moved on the run. I had my daughter adjust them and when she gave them back I was able to find my focus smoothly and quickly.

Image © kymberli q. photography


One of the main features I test with binoculars is the interpupillary distance.
My eyes are set narrow on my rather large head and I have had difficulty finding a high-quality pair of binoculars that will adjust to fit my needs. The SV50-10s adjust in tight for me and open wide for someone who might have a greater eye spacing. My eyes couldn't be happier! I was able to adjust them accordingly and am truly happy with the result.

The unique neck strap that
comes with the binoculars is padded neoprene covered in soft cloth. It seats comfortably on the back of your neck and doesn't rub. Like many hunters in the West, I am using a binocular chest pack to house my binoculars. If I was not using a chest pack, I would be using one of these padded straps. It is well constructed and very comfortable.

The KOWA
SV50-10s have the ability to mount them to a tripod using standard ¼-inch threading. Having the ability to mount these to a tripod, especially out here in Southern California where you are constantly glassing is a necessity. My tripod always goes with me and the 10x50s mount easily and are a pleasure to use. I had these on my tripod many times.

These are longer binoculars, but they're very well balanced in your hand. The grip is very nice as it is smooth and it has a nice contour to it. My hands did not did not slip on it when they got sweaty in the high desert of Southern California.

Image © kymberli q. photography

These binoculars fit very well in some chest packs and not so well in others. Some of the full enclosure cases house the 10x50s perfectly. While some of the flip top cases do not. So you have to figure out which case will work well with these. Personally, I would recommend the Badlands binocular case because it'll fit just about any size binoculars, including the KOWA
SV50-10s. I really like the way they fit in the Badlands case. They don't bounce around too much, fit well and stay protected.

One of the things I recommend is reading the fine print in the specs on these website. When KOWA says that they are fog proof they mean is that they are fog proof on the inside of the lenses. They're nitrogen filled so that they won't get foggy on the inside. That does not mean that they won't be foggy on the outside. In cooler weather, they may fog up on you on the outside. Just clean your binoculars from time to time with the optics cloth that comes with the binos or the comes with your binoculars case.

I really like the way that these are built and I like the weight of these binoculars. They work very well for spotting and stalking wild game. One slight difference between the KOWA BD 10x42s and the
SV50-10s is the fact that the 10x50s weigh slightly less. For me, the weight difference was noticeable in the field, but that was probably all mental (we are talking a 0.2 oz difference). It really seemed like the 10x50s were lighter weight. I think that anyone purchasing the 10x50s especially DIY hunters or on budget hunters would be very happy with these. I honestly like these better than the brand-name binoculars I have purchased in the past (which were even higher priced, for less magnification).

KOWA is known for high-end optics and I really think they're onto something with making a high
quality binocular at this price point. If I'm not mistaken, KOWA has never made of binoculars at this price point before. They usually have a higher price point (due to high-end glass), but I think that with the SV50-10s they are really going to surprise the budget hunter and the do-it-yourself hunter. Personally, I think that the optic quality of these binoculars is just as good as the 10x42s. These function and feel like high-end binoculars to me and most of you know how picky I am about my gear.

The KOWA SV50-10s retail for $305, but you can find them as low as $275. For your hard-earned dollar I highly recommend the KOWA SV50-10s for any hunter out there. These are also a great pair for those on a budget who want quality optics in the field. You get a quality product that you can always rely on. I assure you, these will be my go-to binoculars for glassing from a tripod this season.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Do You Plan for a Life or Death Situation when Hunting?

The other day, a question was asked on DIYbowhunter.com about what to pack for a week long hunt. Quite a few people chimed in and gave some great advice. A few days later, while sitting at work, I brought the subject of backpacking and survival with a co-worker who is an avid hiker. We discussed scenarios and options that could happen to any of us. We discussed thinking ahead and survival in the outdoors. I've been reading up on hydration and survival lately, and it is disturbing how many people only pack enough food and water for the exact time they plan to be outdoors. 

Now, I realize that there are many other factors to consider like bears and mountain lions, etc. when you venture into the wilderness. I am only touching on a few major topics.

Last year, when planning a day-long hunting trip in the high desert, I checked the weather and saw that the temperature where my friend and I were going to be hunting would be in the 90s. I also knew that we'd be hiking a few miles in, spotting and stalking, and be sitting in the direct sunlight much of the day. Where I hunt there are no water sources at all. Every water source listed on the map has dried up, so we plan accordingly. We each packed in an extra gallon of water.You should have seen the emails and comments I received stating I was crazy. Many said I was packing too much, or that I was over-thinking the situation. The day of the hunt, we found ourselves having to hike out a longer distance and we ended up drinking all of our water AND we had to stop at a gas station for more. Thank goodness we had planned to have extra on hand!

The next discussion was about food and how much to pack in. Sure, for a day hunt you may not need a lot of extra food, but do you pack more just in case? I know that when I go out, I plan for an extra two days. That's even when I go on a day hunt into the backcountry. Plus, if you pack in smaller food stuffs, like some of the 400-calorie survival bars you can save space. I don't want to be caught alone, not able to get out of the forest, and to be dehydrated and hungry.

We also discussed surviving the elements and I mentioned that I always pack a survival blanket. It's not always me I am thinking about. What if my hunting partner falls and needs to stay put overnight until help arrives? What if I come across a stranded hunter who is chilled and needs assistance? These are some of the things I think about when I am hunting. Sure, it can mean a little extra weight, but I am willing to heft the extra 10 lbs or so in. To me it's worth it.

There are some great articles out there about what to pack and if we pack too much. Mark, from SoleAdventure, posted this two-parter back in April offering some great ideas and advice.

What do you hunters do? How much water and food do you pack? Do you plan for a 'what if' situation? I am very curious whether you are a treestand hunter who hunts a local farm or you are an extreme backcountry hunter who hikes 10 miles in. Please comment and let me know.

Monday, June 25, 2012

New California Harvest Reporting Guidelines

In another turns of events for California outdoorsmen, the CA Department of Fish & Game is now going to require us to submit our tags, successful or not, back to the DFG.  We can mail them or fill them out online. I see this as being good and bad. Sure, it'll help keep tabs on wild game and keep us accountable, which is good. The bad news is that it makes an already difficult and confusing system even more tiresome. Especially for the unsuccessful hunters. Why should they have to report if they didn't kill anything? To me that makes no sense and there is nothing like rubbing salt in the wound of having to eat tag soup.

When I lived in NY, we went through similar changes, such as being able to submit our kill info via phone vs. having to mail it it. Calling it in made it very easy, saved some hassle and once it was done the NYSDEC had a digital record of it. I didn't mind doing it because the laws in NYS are much easier to follow and they try to work WITH you and not against you. In California I feel there is way too much political/private party influence. Plus, you didn't have to call in if you were unsuccessful.

This is taken from the CA DFG website Harvest Reporting post:

DFG needs your harvest data to manage fish and wildlife populations in California. Information gathered from hunting tags and sport fishing report cards is important data needed by fish and wildlife biologists to support science based hunting and sport fishing seasons and sustainable quotas for harvest. This data is one of the critical components used to prepare the regulatory and environmental documents required for hunting and sport fishing programs. Because harvest and effort data is essential to fish and wildlife management, hunters and sport fisherman are required by regulation to report hunting tags and sport fishing report cards in a timely manner. For most species, you must report even if you were unsuccessful or did not hunt or fish. 

The other tough thing about this is that, as far as I can tell, it was just recently announced. No one mentioned this when I bought my tags, which would have been helpful. I wonder how many hunters will completely let this slip because it's so new and they weren't told about it. I hope the CA DFG is forgiving this first year. 

How do you hunters and fishermen feel about this new guideline and how do you think it will affect this season and future seasons?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Gearing Up for Colorado

One of the best parts of hunting, in my opinion, is the planning phase. It's when the anticipation builds, your excitement level increases and you just get pumped! I love the planning process. Ask my wife, my friends, or whomever I deal with. Planning is one aspect of hunting that is not only essential, but can be quite a learning experience. 

Along with planning comes practice. Not just archery practice, which I have been doing every Friday with my buddies Brett and Brandon, but also fitness (mental and physical) and using your gear before you hit the forest. I've been working out and have started increasing the difficulty using heavier weights or running trails. Don't get me wrong, the working out sucks, but it'll be miserable, if not unbearable if I am hunting at 10,000 feet and have not worked out at all. Another area to practice is using your GPS. I know that I will be using my GPS often when I am in Colorado, so I plan on breaking it out more and more to learn the essential features before I get there.

Improving my odds by shooting this pig target at 60 yards.


Colorado has some of the best elk country in the USA and I am headed there in September. I'll be heading out with Piranha Custom Bowstrings owner, and friend, Eddy Erautt. We have been sending emails, texts, talking extensively on the phone all in preparation for hunting elk in September. I am blessed with the fact that Eddy lives there and can do some preseason scouting before I arrive. It is not only a huge blessing, but also something that will help make our hunt that much more enjoyable and hopefully end in a successful elk kill!

Last night, Eddy and I spent the evening reviewing maps, areas to scout and gear to bring. We had a blast discussing our options and you could tell we were both very excited. We also knew that we'd have to start picking up some of our gear soon, such as Mountain House meals and wool socks. Trust me, there is much more that I will need, but each week I plan on setting some gear aside as elk season approaches.

One of the great features of the hunt that Eddy and I went over last night was mapping. I normally use BaseCamp for setting up my maps. I have the HuntingGPSMaps for California which show BLM, private and public land. It's very detailed and up to date. Eddy mentioned a newer feature they offer which is the maps for Google Earth. So, I downloaded the Colorado map for Google Earth. I wanted to get a feel for the area before I arrived and also mark some spots and water holes. Eddy and I were able to view the areas we'll be going into, via the map, and that made it much easier and excited us even more! By the end of our conversation all I wanted to do was start packing for Colorado!

I will share more of how the hunt planning is coming as September gets closer. For now, it's archery practice, plenty of research, and hitting the hills in preparation. I cannot wait to hunt elk for the very first time!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Product Review: LifeProof iPhone Case

Technology seems to follow us everywhere these days. The days of the paper topographic map are certainly not gone, but the days of electronics are also here to stay. When scouting or on our hunting excursions we tend to bring our cellphones. Sure, most of us want to have them available in case of an emergency, but we also have them to take photos, use the hunting apps or just text our friends from our watch. On any given day there could be inclement weather. Dropping your phone on the ground or in the dirt is inevitable, too. If you keep your phone in your pocket, like I do, you are bound to sweat and get it on the phone. We need to have our cellphones (a.k.a. portable computers) protected against the elements.

Protecting my iPhone was a high priority for me. I needed to get a protective case that would work for me while hunting and I wouldn't settle for a run-of-the-mill case from a department store. In researching the best on the market I found LifeProof. The description of the case and the videos on their website give some great information. The LifeProof case is described as being water proof, dirt proof, snow proof and shock proof. Sounded like this was right up my alley! After describing to LifeProof my concerns for my phone and how I would be using it while in the outdoors, they sent me one of their cases to review so I could see for myself. Sorry Android users, LifeProof currently only makes a case for the iPhone and iPad.


Some pertinent product features from the LifeProof website:

Protects against everyday hazards—full IP-68 rating against water and dust, and designed to Military Specifications

High degree of shock and impact protection—tested to Military Specifications MIL-STD-810F-516.5 (2 meters/6.6ft drop on all surfaces and edges. 26 tests)


Fully sealed protection against minute dust particles

Includes bonus General User Headphone Adapter and Keeper for headphone jack cover

Ability to swim and take underwater (2 meters/6.6ft depth).

    
Weighs less than an ounce (28g).

Unique combination of materials that will not stick to your pocket

    
Double AR-coated optical glass lenses provide unprecedented crystal-clear photo and video quality

First impressions were that the case was very thin, sleek and looked pretty cool. Solid construction and the instructions were laid out well.
Note: I did not test this in the snow, but I did use it in the heat and in wet conditions.

The first order of business was to complete the water test. This is described in the instructions. Basically, you put the case together, sans iPhone, and submerge it in water for an hour or more. The purpose if to be 100% certain there are no leaks and you can put the case together properly. I completed the test successfully and was very happy with the results. No water seepage and it was easy to assemble and disassemble the case. On the disassembly, I was a little concerned when prying open the case with a penny as it bent up the corner slightly. The instructions advise you to take care as to not pry too much or too hard as it will cause a gap. For me this was a fine line, so I definitely advise you to take care when doing this. Although I took great care, I felt that I came very close to having the corner pop open and having a gap remain.

Once the water test was complete I placed my phone in the case and locked it shut. You definitely know when the case is shut properly as it not only makes a 'clicking' sound, but you can also feel and see it as it locks into place. I set out to verify that all of the buttons worked with the case on and they did. I then had to test out the waterproofing again. Sure, I was taking a risk, but if I am in the backcountry or just fishing and drop my phone in water or it gets wet, I want to be sure it's protected. Needless to say, the case protected my phone and it came out bone dry. Whew!

The clear window allows you to utilize the touchscreen on the phone, but you have to be sure to press slightly harder than normal. This can be a pain sometimes, but when I considered the protection the case offered it was soon forgotten. The clear window is shiny to a fault. I found this to be very annoying and bothersome to my eyes. If I was in the shade I had little issue, but in the sunlight or light of a lamp, I constantly had to adjust the angle to view what was onscreen. I contacted LifeProof and they said there is no current plan to make a non-glare screen, but that they would take it under advisement. When hunting, keep in mind that the screen could flash like a mirror if you are messing with your phone.

Dirt and sand are a constant here in Southern California. Whether I am headed to the beach or up in the foothills to hunt there is dust and dirt everywhere and there is always a breeze or stiff wind blowing. To test the case out, I set my phone in the sand at the beach and also next to me when scouting, but I didn't stop there. I actually covered it with dirt, moved it around in the dirt, and then picked it up and used it. It worked flawlessly and there was no dirt inside. I lightly rinsed the case with water and then checked the exposure points like the charging port. No dirt inside and it was grit free.

The headphone adapter is a separate part that comes with the case. If you want to use your headphones for working out or watching a video clip you have to use this accessory. It has an o-ring that seals it and protects it as the connection point of the case. The adapter works great and even has a spare screw-in plug in case you lose the one on the case itself. The adapter can be very bulky when you are running or exercising because it sticks out. When you run it bounces with you and pulls a bit. It worked well, but wasn't the best feeling as I had to keep mine in my pocket. I can't imagine I would have this issue when hunting because I won't be taking my headphones with me, but it did happen.

On a side-note with the headphone adapter (LifeProof also calls it a connector which makes it confusing) - mine has already disappeared, meaning I lost it. Now that I have lost it, I cannot use my headphones with the case. I HAVE to have that adapter/connector in order to utilize headphones. This was very discouraging as it would be nice to be able to use my headphones without it. Believe me, I understand why this is built like this, but it makes it difficult when you can't find a place to buy a spare connector from the LifeProof website. I was told by another LifeProof user that the adapters were in the store, but you had to search hard for them. I looked and looked and finally found them buried in Accessories>Connectors. As a current website usability tester and
a former website designer, I am going to make a suggestion to LifeProof. Please make your website easier to find items. First off, there is no search to type your request in. Then, there are links to pages that have 3 or 4 or 5 items. Clicking over and over makes people crazy and less likely to shop. Try reducing the number of clicks and put more items in one locations... like Accessories and leave it at that. Make it simple. Long story-short, LifeProof does have them in the store, should you misplace or lose yours, like I did mine. They are also going above and beyond and sending me a replacement connector. Thank you, LifeProof.

The double AR-coated optical glass lenses do provide crystal-clear photos and video. I know on some cases the glass is constructed so the photos have bent edges or distortion. You won't find that with the LifeProof case. The glass is well-built and superior to anything I have tried out. The photo quality is exceptional and so is the video quality.


While this isn't a factor for the hunting world, the sound quality is rather good with this case, even with all areas being closed or covered. The back of the case also distributes the bass very well. You can actually feel it reverberate and it's being transmitted.

The LifeProof case is built with a plastic that does not stick inside your pockets when dry or wet. This is a great feature! I have tried other cases and almost every one of them was gummy or slightly tacky when trying to put in or take out of a pocket. The LifeProof is the very opposite. Even when I took it trail running, I left it in my pocket and at each half mile point I pulled it from my pocket with ease. As gross as you may find this, the seat was built up on the outside and the case was not sticky. Not once was the case gummy.
 
Pros: 

  • Excellent protection from dirt, sand and water
  • Solid construction
  • Lightweight
  • Lens quality works great for photos and videos

Cons: 

  • Reflective screen is very shiny and hard to keep clean
  • Headphone adapter cord is bulky (especially when running)
  • Can't plug in your headphones without adapter cord
  • Sound quality is better when you open the bottom charging door. A minor inconvenience, but it was noticeable.

LifeProof offers a standard warranty of 90 days from purchase, but you can extend your warranty free of charge (up to a year) by viewing the instructions, registering, and completing the helpful operating checklist at www.lifeproof.com/support. It covers material or workmanship defects AND you must file a valid claim within the warranty period. LifeProof will replace the case only, not your iPhone. So be responsible!

At $79.99 the LifeProof case is not inexpensive, but it is also not cheap. You get what you pay for and this case is well-built and it will protect your phone in just about any element. I definitely recommend this case to anyone with an iPhone, regardless of hunting, fishing or just taking the kids to the beach. The LifeProof will most certainly be protecting my iPhone this hunting season.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Enter to Win a Hunt with Cameron Hanes

Do any of you want to hunt caribou in Alaska? Better yet, want to hunt caribou with hunting legend Cameron Hanes? Even better would be winning an Alaskan caribou hunt with Cam and having it all paid for, right? Well, here's your opportunity at a chance to not only hunt with some excellent people, but you could get some great gear out of it, too. 

While I did get to shake Cam's hand, chat with him and attend his bowhunting seminar...

 I am in no way affiliated with this giveaway or the sponsors.

I am posting this because it's a great opportunity for any hunter looking to win some prizes, get a chance at bagging a caribou and to go hunting with Cam Hanes. Heck, maybe after this trip he'll have a shirt made that says "I. Eat. Caribou."



Tenzing and Sportsman's Warehouse are pleased to announce the "Win a Hunt with Cameron Hanes" sweepstakes! These to companies have teamed up to offer you the chance to win a rifle or bow hunt (your choice) of a lifetime just by entering the contest. To enter, you can register here and I highly recommend reading the rules first. 

What do you win if your name is chosen? The Grand Prize is an Alaskan Caribou Hunting Package (either rifle or bowhunting). You also get these fine prizes:
  • ScentLok base layer, outer layer and rain wear
  • Big Agnes 0 Degree Long Storm King Sleeping Bag, Insulated Air Core Pad and Copper Spur 3 Man Tent
  • Vortex Viper HD 10x42 Roof Prism Binocular, Viper 20-60x80 Spotting Scope, and a Ranger 1000 Rangefinder
  • Tenzing hunting pack

Solely if winner selects a bow hunt, winner will receive:
  • Bear Archery bow
  • Trophy Ridge bow accessories
  • Plano Bow Case.

Solely if winner selects a rifle hunt, winner will receive:
  • Vortex Viper HS LR 4-16x44 Rifle Scope
  • Plano rifle case

Total Approximate Retail Value of the Bow Hunt Grand Prize is $9,500.00. 
Total Approximate Retail Value of the Rifle Hunt Grand Prize is $8,925.00.

What about transportation, meals and lodging? Well, the hunting package also includes: roundtrip coach air transportation from the major airport nearest the winner’s residence to Anchorage International Airport, Alaska; 4 nights’ accommodations and meals; 5 days of hunting with Cameron Hanes; ground transportation between the Anchorage International Airport and the hunt accommodations; and the cost of Alaskan Caribou tags and Alaskan hunting licenses (the winner must be eligible to obtain any required licenses or permits).

The hunts will be videotaped as a potential episode on an outdoor TV series or web promotional video. The trip must occur between September 23rd, 2012 and September 30th, 2012, and the winner must book the trip with sponsor on or before September 1, 2012.

To enter, you can register here and I highly recommend reading the rules first. 

You can also receive all sweepstakes updates by following Tenzing on Twitter (@tenzingoutdoors) or Facebook, and Sportsman’s Warehouse) on Twitter () and Facebook. Contest ends at 11:59pm (MT) on Aug 8th, 2012. Good luck!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Bowfishing Slam: Part Two


As promised, here is Part Two of The Bowfishing Slam with Bill Howard. I am really excited for him and what he is looking to accomplish!

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Likely the most dangerous of all the trips will be the shortfin mako. Not only are you looking at a shark that is ferocious when it is in a good mood, but after that arrow hits you have no idea where the 500 lb beast may go. One place you do know it will head is up to 30 feet in the air as it leaps out of the ocean. Many anglers have perished after hooking a mako when the mako takes a sharp dive down and then turns upward. The shark can swim up to 65 miles per hour, causing the line to drag in the water to the point of continuously shredding line from the reel even as it is making its ascension to the top. Then out of nowhere, the mako leaps 30 feet into the air and lands in the boat, killing the angler and anyone else nearby from its weight and strength.

So, [with only] one more species left, and instead of one more salt water [fish], I went with the only non-fish species you can bowfish for legally in the U.S. The American alligator is perfect for bowfishing whether from a boat during day or night, or stalking on shoreline.

In nearly every case, the most expensive part of [each] hunt will be the travel. Even the most expensive charter for deep sea and mako will cost less than a typical elk outfitter. Heck, even a guided wild turkey hunt likely costs more.

In the book, I will cover hunts for each of the species, sharing the locations and costs of each quest. You will learn a little about the history, habitat, and equipment needed.

To supplement the book, I will be releasing a DVD series and also broadcasting on MyOutdoorsTV which is owned by the Outdoors Channel. MyOutdoorsTV is subscription based online televison/video similar to Netflix but for outdoors hunting and fishing entertainment.


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If you want any further details on his hunts, his book or just want to help him fulfill his quest, you can check out The Bowfishing Slam blog and contact him through there. I think that the book is going to be a great new look into the world of bowhunting/bowfishing and it has much promise. Good luck, Bill!

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Bowfishing Slam: Part One

Learning about what others are doing when it comes to bowhunting gets me excited. Especially when it involves something I am new at or something I want to try. Describing my lack of knowledge and experience in bowfishing was posted last week on my blog. Much of what I have learned has come from Bow Adventures e-magazine owner and editor, Bill Howard. Bill is a dedicated family man, bowhunter, and bowfisherman. Bill has also been quite an asset when it comes to bowfishing knowledge, but he also is a great all-around guy. Like most of us, he has a passion for the outdoors. Bill is on a quest to fulfill his dream of the Bowfishing Slam. He is turning this quest into a DVD series and is writing a book based on his adventures. Instead of me going on about something I recently heard of I am going to let Bill share it in his own words. 

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My grandfather was the first person I knew of that was attempting the slam. I'm not sure he even knew it at the time, and I know I didn't, but over the past couple of years is when I realized that is exactly what he was doing. He had taken 5 of the 6 Big 6 African game, and by the count I can do in my head of the mounts he had on the wall, he had successfully taken over 20 of the 27 North American big game animals. Most of the North American game were Boone and Crockett. To my knowledge, he had never killed a whitetail of all things.

I have dreamt of the slam myself, and have even thought of seriously going after at least the Super 10 (Ovis), having taken whitetail, black bear, and bison thus far. I've been mountain lion hunting although we were unable to get on one during the 10-day hunt (we were always about a day behind the tracks and covered over 20 miles each day by horseback).

While looking at the feasibility of such an endeavor, I realized it is very expensive, and most people will never have that chance, even for an abbreviated goal of something like the Super 10.

Then I started researching something else. Bowfishing may be the ticket for the Any Man to achieve a hunting/outdoors accomplishment that can rival the true land based animal hunts. First of all, fishing licenses are much cheaper than hunting licenses, and in all but a few of the species you would attempt to target you would not have to worry about 'draw permits'. It can be accomplished at almost anytime of year, so it would not take away the true hunting seasons as well.

So after figuring this would be an economical goal, I had to figure what species would you go after. Most people think the North American Slam are all the big game animals. Actually this is not true. Tell me an alligator that weighs over 1,000 pounds doesn't deserve big game status. Heck, in North Carolina, wild turkeys are considered big game. This made me more comfortable in not selecting EVERY fish species. At that point, I decided to pick 10 species. For the species to qualify it would need to be one that creates its own challenges. I didn't want 10 species of fish that you bowfish for exactly the same way in exactly the same environment.

From that I decided to split the species into two groups, freshwater and saltwater. The most common target of bowfishermen is the common carp. Think of it as the whitetail of bowfishing. Another that is close on that list is the grass carp, but the two go hand in hand. Same habitat, same waters. So common carp would be the overall selection.

Next would be the alligator gar. This is the pinnacle of freshwater bowfishing. They grow huge and have a ferocious look. 

This is not the alligator gar, but a smaller cousin from North Carolina.


Then I picked the paddlefish (or spoonbill catfish as it is also called). A very interesting look in a select part of the country makes it worth the trip and the inclusion.

Then I chose the Asian carp. Actually it is a mirror carp as common and grass are also considered Asian carp. What makes this fish interesting is this is the one Chris Bracket made famous with the aerial extreme bowfishing. Upper Illinois river, boat motor trimmed high, and watch the fish fly 6 to 8 feet out of the water. Instead of adjusting for light refraction in the water, you just set the arrows flying in the air instead.

One of the most feared fish is the snakehead. Located in only a handful of places with a sustainable population, the snakehead's appearance in a body of water will cause municipalities to completely drain the water in order to eradicate it. They are an apex predator, only matched by the largemouth bass. However they are very protective of their fry, allowing there numbers to grow quickly. Also known as the frankenfish, the two primary locales are the Potomac River near the nation's capital and the canals of Miami and southern Florida. That is clearly enough to include it in the list.

Bill just harvested this stingray over the weekend.
Next I marked several saltwater species. The stingray and skate are my only 'pair' included. Habitat is similar, and even the bodies are similar. The goal to separate here is the skate migration up the brackish rivers which should be an adventure in itself.

The hammerhead has always been one of my favorite shark species. Again, go with the interested look and the natural fear man exhibits...

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Want to know what the most dangerous fish is that Bill will be going after? Tune in tomorrow for the details and the info on his upcoming book! 

In the meantime, check out the video below of Bill's successful bowfishing expedition this past weekend where he was able to arrow a stingray and what looks to be the new North Carolina record flounder. Great job, Bill!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

I am a Bowfishing Virgin

In Southern California, there are plenty of carp-filled lakes, and many of them will allow you to bowfish for them. One of the hotspots is Big Bear Lake and in a couple of weeks they will be having their Carp Roundup where teams of two will be able to go out, either by shore or by boat, and try to arrow some carp for prize money. Some of the DIYbowhunter.com guys have participated and said it's a blast. Up to this point I have never tried it, but this year I wanted to give it a shot. After talking with avid bowfishermen like Bill Howard and Tony Catalde, my thirst to arrow a fish has grown.

When I arrived home yesterday there was a box waiting for me and I had a feeling I knew what it was. After carefully cutting the seam of tape, I opened the box to reveal these bad boys. Two new bowfishing kits from Cajun Archery

Bowfishing kits from Cajun Archery that have me very excited!

One of the kits is for me to review and the other I am sharing with my buddy Brett who is going to take me out bowfishing soon. You see, I am a bowfishing virgin. Brett has gone bowfishing, but I have never even tried it. He's going to put me in a spot where we should have a blast. We won't be fishing in the Carp Roundup, but we definitely plan on heading up there a couple weeks after. I am looking forward to the day when a group of us can all get out and do some local bowfishing. Another great trip would be bowfishing for alligator gar with Bill in Texas. See, now my imagination os growing and I haven't even been out yet!

Now it's time to get on over to the pro shop and get my new Piranha strings installed on my bowfishing rig, set it up with the Cajun Archery gear and go bowfishing!

Monday, June 4, 2012

My Coast2Coast Outdoors Interview

Tonight I had the pleasure of chatting with two of my brothers in the outdoors, R.B. Wright of R.B. Wright Outdoors, and Kerry Mackey, Chaplain to the Outdoorsmen. We had a great conversation and I am humbled to have been asked to be a part of their show. I had a great time with them. Thank you both for the kind words and the opportunity to chat with you all.

For those of you who missed it, you can check out the interview below. Enjoy!

Watch live streaming video from coast2coastoutdoors at livestream.com

Friday, June 1, 2012

New Badlands Hunting Apparel - First Impressions of the Badlands Momentum Pants

A couple weeks ago I posted my first impressions of the new Badlands Ion pants and I was impressed to say the least. I was sent a size XL, but I have been training hard for elk season and my waistline has shrunk so I sent them back for a smaller size. Yesterday I received a package from Badlands and inside were the new Badlands Momentum pants instead of the Ions. No worries here as I am very excited to test the Momentums out. Please keep in mind, this is not a full review. Right now I am only sharing my first impressions. 

Upon pulling the pants out of the box, I noticed the increased weight as compared to the Ion pant. They are slightly heavier than the Ion pant, but not over-the-top and certainly not bulky.

The pants are well constructed and I felt in order to do them justice I had to put them on right away. They fit like a glove! Seriously, they go on easily and hug your body. What I wasn't prepared for was the built-in removable gator. This was a nice surprise! I'll be doing more testing on it in my full review later on, but these have promise!

A good pair of hunting pants needs to allow you to move freely in highly technical terrain. They must breathe well and withstand what could be considered 10 years of use in a single weekend. All of this while making your butt look small.

I don't know about making my butt look small (I don't think anything can do that), but the Momentum pants do allow you excellent range of motion. The articulated knees gave me the freedom to crouch and crawl without having them bunch up or get too tight and uncomfortable. In fact, they were super comfortable and I can't wait to get them out in the field!

The interior of the pants were the highlight of my first impressions. The Hex-Lite fleece liner is not only going to help keep me warm on those cool days, but the material is the most comfortable lining I've ever worn. I take comfort very seriously when you are talking hiking miles not yards in the high desert of SoCal. These pants are VERY comfortable. The one feature I am looking forward to testing is the breathability of the pant.

Like the Ion pant, the Momentum pant utilizes re-enforced zippers covered with the same style waterproofing system as on the Badlands packs. They open very quietly and close with ease on most occasions. I did have to work a bit when using one hand to open. I imagined a bowhunting situation where I may have my bow in one hand and need to access a pocket. I'll be sure to further test that out.

Again, like the Ions, I like the strong nylon re-enforced belt loops. You can clip something onto any of the loops for additional space for carry your small hunting items.

After walking around for a bit I noticed the pants are VERY quiet. Even when the material rubs against itself it was quiet. Major bonus points for that. I forcefully scuffed the legs together as I walked to try to get a coarse, scratchy noise, but that didn't work. Well done, Badlands, well done. I'll be testing these out over the next few weeks. Be on the lookout for a full review later on.

Be sure to check out my buddy Mark's first look at the Badlands Velocity jacket, and my buddy Ryan's first impressions of the Badlands Inferno jacket. These items are set to hit the market on July 1st, so it's time to do some testing.

Coast2Coast Outdoors - Tune in Monday!

In just a few short days, I'll be a guest on Coast2Coast Outdoors with Kerry Mackey (Chaplain to the Outdoorsmen) and R.B. Wright (r.b. wright outdoors). The show will be broadcast LIVE on Monday, June 4th at 9pm EST/6pm PST. Kerry and R.B. will discuss the latest industry news, the outdoor life, and ask me a bunch of questions. Let's hope I am prepared!

While I have known Kerry for a little while, I have not had the pleasure of chatting with R.B. and I am looking forward to some great conversation about life, hunting and the outdoors. Click on the image below and it will take you to the streaming webcast.


 See you all on June 4th! Who knows what we'll get to talking about.