Monday, August 27, 2012

Cobrabraid Bracelet Giveaway!

Yesterday, I posted my review of the Cobrabraid paracord bracelets. With the popularity of these growing I know many of you want one, right? Good news! 2 Monkey Trading LLC has offered up TWO (2) of the Cobrabraid bracelets for a giveaway. They will be in Realtree camo colors. Entering the giveaway is simple by using the Rafflecopter links below. I will pick two random winners on September 5, 2012. Good luck to all!




Product Review: Cobrabraid Paracord Bracelets

Planning a hunting trip or scouting adventure comes second nature to me. I plan like a Boy Scout and try to be as prepared as I possibly can. Having some 550 paracord in my pack is always a must, and when 2 Monkey Trading LLC contacted me to review their Cobrabraid products I thought this might be an option to reduce the extra paracord in my pack, so I happily agreed.

After using the Cobrabraid guidelines to measure my wrists, I sent in my measurements. I waited only a couple weeks and a package arrived with a bracelet with Velcro, a zip bracelet and a keychain. I immediately put one of the bracelets on my wrist to check for fit and comfort. To my surprise, it was over an inch too large! The second followed suit. I contacted Cobrabraid and they mentioned they had added a bit more anticipating I would need it. I found that a bit presumptuous and feel that they should stick with what they specify in their guidelines. Personally, I like my paracord bracelets somewhat snug on my wrist. I do not like it flopping around and sliding up my wrist like a bad watch band. 


 
Cobrabraid was very good about sending me new product at the correct size. These fit much better, but were still slightly large. One of the recommendations for any paracord bracelet, and one that
Cobrabraid also mentions, is to soak the bracelet in water and allow it to dry. This should help it shrink a bit. I did exactly that and the bracelet did shrink slightly. It now fit exactly how I needed it to fit.

Instead of using the ever popular Velcro strap, regular paracord bracelet for my full review, I chose the Zipbraid paracord bracelet. This one fit a bit better and I wanted to try to utilize the metal clasp for a project. The metal clasp has a bolt that goes through the eyelet and screws in to lock it into place.


 
My Zipbraid bracelet came in handy a few weeks ago when I was hanging trail cameras. I found a tree that was in a perfect spot to hang the camera, but I need to reenforce the camera to the tree. I placed the camera in position and unclasped the bracelet. With the zip, you don't have to cut anything, which made this VERY efficient. You do, however, have to take out the metal clasp by unscrewing the bolt, pulling it out, and then sliding the clasp out from the loop. Then, I was able to flip over the small paracord loop securing the end and then pull on the ends of the cord to unravel it. It took me all of about five seconds. I tied off one end to a eyelet on the camera and proceeded to wrap the paracord around the tree and surrounding branches.

I left the clasp attached to the other end of the paracord and used that to secure the trail camera closed. This wasn't necessary, but gave me an opportunity to see how well the clasp worked. I set the clasp in place and suddenly the bolt slipped from my fingers into the overgrown brush below. No good! After searching for a few seconds I did find it. This could have been avoided had the bolt been attached to the bracelet with a piece of thread. There is a small eyelet in the end where this would be logical to do. I flipped the buckle over and placed the bolt in the hole. This allowed the bolt to go from top to bottom. It worked great, but not having it secured to the cord could have been a disaster!


 
When checking my trail cam two weeks later, the paracord worked great at holding the camera in place. The clasp worked nicely, too. It was unnecessary to really use in that situation, but I wanted to try it anyway.

After using both types of bracelets, the
Velcro strap and the metal clasp, I would have to say that I liked the Velcro connector better. I am not a huge fan of Velcro when hunting, as it makes a considerable amount of noise, but the plastic and Velcro made more sense to use vs. the metal clasp. It's less bulky, temperature won't affect it and it doesn't make much of a noise it it hits metal.

Now for the sticker shock. The regular paracord bracelet is $9.99, whereas the Zipbraid bracelet retails for $19.99. Yikes! I can see paying $9.99 for the one bracelet, but I'd be hard pressed to spend $20 on one with a metal clasp/buckle unless I really needed it. I can see why the Velcro is so popular! In my opinion, as a budget conscious hunter, the regular paracord bracelet with Velcro is better suited for the hunting community.

As a family-owned business and one who listens to customers, I would definitely recommend 2 Monkey Trading LLC and their Cobrabraid products to others. They were very good about sharing information, replacing the product and answering any questions I had. I like being prepared like a Boy Scout and will be wearing one of the regular Cobrabraid bracelets into the woods this hunting season. I just hope I never REALLY have to use it!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Equipment List for my Colorado Elk Hunt

For the past year I have been putting together my cache of gear to take on my quest to bowhunt elk in the state of Colorado. Much of this will stay in camp or in the truck, but I want to cover everything I can. Some of the equipment will be taken care of by my buddy Eddy of Piranha Bowstrings in Colorado. I am very thankful for the effort he is putting forth in setting up camp and glassing up bulls before his brother and I arrive in camp. Thanks, Eddy!

Many of you have been asking me what I am bringing and if I'd share my list. Sure I will share! I have gone up, down, around and through this list and while it's not a perfect list, it's my list. Each person takes whatever they decide they will need and I think I have much of it well thought out. It is my first time and with talking with many elk hunters my list is 99% complete. If you have any recommendations, tips or just plain constructive comments, please share. I know I have more than enough, but I would rather be overly prepared than under.

One of the items below goes with me on every hunt. The Buck Special knife is one my dad gave me around 20 years ago. It still out performs many of my hunting buddies knives due to me taking care of it and constantly keeping it razor sharp. It has helped butcher up more animals than I can count and while it is a heavier knife, it is one of those sentimental items that goes with me always. Thanks, Dad!

Without further delay, here is what I am taking with me, minus the kitchen sink.

PAPERWORK
  • Hunter Education Card (Must have in order to hunt non-resident in Colorado)
  • Hunting License (Will purchase OTC when I arrive)
  • Hunting Regulation Book

ARCHERY TACKLE
  • PSE Bow Madness 65#
  • Easton 340 Full Metal Jacket Arrows
  • G5 T3 and Montec Broadheads
  • Scott Archery Releases (also bringing a spare)
  • Judo Points
  • TightSpot Quiver
  • Nikon Archer's Choice Rangefinder

OPTICS
  • KOWA 10x50 Binos
  • KOWA 10x42 Binos
  • Tripod with Ball Head
  • Badlands Bino Pack

FOOD STUFF
  • Mountain House Meals (6 days worth, only camping for 4)
  • House of Jerky Black Pepper Jerky
  • Jetboil
  • Jetboil Fuel
  • Coffee Packets
  • Wilderness Athlete Gel Packs
  • Energy Bars
  • Cookie Boy Cookies

BACKPACK GEAR
  • Trekking Poles
  • Badlands 2200 Backpack w/96 oz. bladder
  • Pure Hydration Water Bladder And Filter
  • Commander Freighter Frame Pack
  • Knives (Buck Special, SOG Woodline Fixed, Havalon Piranta)
  • Knife Sharpener

ELECTRONICS
  • SPOT Locator
  • Garmin Etrex Venture GPS w/HuntingGPS Maps
  • Smith&Wesson Flashlight
  • LENSER L7 Headlamp
  • Nikon Camera
  • Brunton ReSync Charger
  • Camera
  • Camera Case
  • Digital Cards with extras
  • Extra Batteries

CLOTHING
  • Schnee's Wilderness Hunting Boots
  • 6 Pair Of Wool Socks
  • Camouflage Pants (Insulated and Non-Insulated)
  • Camouflage Jacket (Insulated and Non-Insulated)
  • 2 Pair of RedRam Merino Wool Base Layers
  • Camouflage Gloves (Insulated and Non-Insulated)
  • Camouflage Cold Weather Hat
  • Brimmed Hats
  • Rain Gear
  • Alaska Game Bags (2 Packs)

MISCELLANEOUS GEAR
  • Multi-Tool 
  • Allen Wrenches 
  • Carbomask Facepaint
  • Fresh Step Cover Spray
  • Pure Aqua Tablets
  • Paracord Bracelets
  • Yellowstone 20 Degree Sleeping Bag
  • Klymit Sleeping Bag Pad
  • Marking Tape
  • Cow Call
  • Bugle Call
  • Field Dressing Gloves
  • Compass
  • Lens Cleaner/Cloth
  • Mole Skin
  • Tape Measure
  • Topographic Maps
  • Tripod
  • Water Bladders
  • Whistle
  • Wind Direction Checker
  • Bath Towel/Wash Cloth
  • Butane Lighter
  • First Aid Kit
  • Handkerchief/Kleenex
  • Ice Chest/Cooler
  • Magnesium Fire Starter
  • Notebook & Pencil
  • Plastic Trash Bags
  • Shovel
  • Forks, Knives, Spoons
  • Emergency Space Blanket
  • Extra Shoe Laces (Paracord)
  • Toiletries And Personal Items
  • Aspirin/Pain Reliever
  • Cell Phone
  • Chap Stick
  • Dental Floss
  • Contacts
  • Eye Drops
  • Extra Truck Keys
  • Nail Clippers
  • Scent Free Deodorant
  • Scent Free Wipes
  • Toilet Paper
  • Toothbrush & Toothpaste
  • Pillow
  • Waterproof Camera Case/Bag
  • Zip Ties
  • Nylon Rope 
  • Cash 

My trip to Colorado is getting closer and closer everyday and I am extremely excited to not only hunt, but share some new memories with friends, capture some great photos and breathe in some clean, mountain air. Come on September!

Monday, August 20, 2012

High Temperature, High Desert Scouting

The temperature read 96 degrees in Brett's truck. Were we thinking straight? It was 4:00 PM in the high desert and we were putting on 40 lb packs to hike into the Angeles National Forest to do some scouting. Yes, it was very hot, but we were motivated by what we had seen a couple weeks ago. Additionally, all three of us were very eager to see what was on our trail cameras.

Let me tell you, hiking up hills in 96 degree temps, with no breeze, no shade, and a full pack is tough. It's not only mental, but you have to watch your heart rate and hydrate often. Once we had hiked more than a mile in, the trail leveled out and walking was tolerable. From this point on we could begin scouting. The deer tracks were plentiful, the bugs minimal and our brains thirsting for the knowledge only to be found on our trail cameras and hillsides.

We quickened our pace and made our way for the cameras. Three-quarters of the way to the cameras Brandon whispered abruptly, 'DEER!'. We stopped collectively where we were, turned slowly and saw a beautiful doe standing not thirty yards away from where we were. She stood there for a solid ten seconds before having enough and walking away. It was such a promising sight! She is a very healthy, well-fed animal and if the season had been open, Brandon would have punched his tag. We proceeded to watch her for a few more minutes as she walked over the hill.


As we were standing there, I noticed Brandon kicking his boots together. I asked him what was up and he mentioned there were fire ants all over. I looked down and immediately realized our mistake. We hadn't bothered looking down when we stopped to look at the deer. All three of us were standing on top of or near a large fire ant nest! We began kicking our boots together, brushing and flicking them off our pants and then I felt it. The distinct feeling of small legs crawling on my skin, from UNDER my pants. That's when I felt the sting and the burning. Being tagged by a fire ant and then another feels like a bee sting, followed by a burning sensation. Immediately, I reached down and pinched where I thought they were. There is a feeling of achievement when you feel those stinging insects pop between your fingers, but that is quickly followed by the reminder that you were already too late. I ignored the burning best I could and we trekked on.

Once we got to the first camera we found that a branch had fallen and had covered up Brett's camera. There were no pictures, which was a downer at first, but with a little trimming and adjustment we should get some now. When we arrived at the location of my trail camera the heat didn't seem to matter. We dropped our packs and I hiked through the foliage to see if there were any recorded images. When I saw 158 on the counter I got very excited! I quickly removed the card, made my way out and loaded it into the laptop. Yes, I brought my laptop so we could see the images and make educated decisions on glassing points and hunting spots.

Once loaded into the computer we started to view the images. All three of us gathered around and viewed the screen. Here are a few of my favorites.





Exciting stuff, right? After formatting the card, I ventured back in to the camera location. I replaced the card and batteries in hopes of seeing more deer and hopefully some larger bucks. With a month to go before the season opener we are hoping for the best.

On our way in, we had picked out some great spots to glass from. Now that our spirits were flying high from seeing the images we got back on the trail and backtracked to them. It was getting to be prime time to start glassing for the evening.

We each picked our spots, got set up and started glassing. It didn't take more than ten minutes before I did a 180 and with my naked eyes saw two deer coming down from a peak from just over half a mile away. I quickly motioned to Brandon (I couldn't see Brett as he was positioned on higher ground and was set back from my location). Brandon set off from his original location and made tracks to a slightly higher point to glass from. We then settled in.

The rest of the evening was great. We spotted two spike horns and a few more doe. Altogether we saw seven deer and that made it all worth the hike in. All three of us were chatterboxes down the trail to the truck. We couldn't get over how successful we have been in just getting out and scouting the times we have ventured out together.

I mentioned this to both of them when we got back to the truck, but I want to say it again. It's great to be out practicing, scouting and hunting with two guys who take pride in not only making a clean kill, but who also aren't afraid of hard work on the trail. I am proud to be hunting with these two guys this year.

The next few weeks have much in store for us. Brandon is off to the Trinity Alps in hopes of filling his deer or bear tag. Best of luck out there, Brandon! Brett is hoping to fill his bear tag and I wish him the best and hope he is able to tag one. Can't wait to hear the stories guys! As for me, I will be finalizing my gear for my Colorado trip and packing. I'll be checking in with Eddy from time to time to see what the action is like, but I am already excited. I can't wait to see what September brings!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Planning Upcoming Archery Hunts

It's been a slow week for my blog. Beside working, I have been either on the phone, in my workshop or compiling what I need for this season. When I say season I don't mean just deer season. I am also talking pig, elk, bear, turkey, etc.

A few new areas to hunt have opened up, and God willing I will be able to travel up north a little ways to hunt deer and pigs. There is a slim chance that I could hunt a property for some bear, too. No matter what, I have a few spots locally that should produce this year and I am chomping at the bit to hit the woods.

We will be continuing our scouting this weekend, too. This time we are going to leave the morning alone and see what's moving in the evening. My excitement level is at an all time high because it's not often we get to scout these areas in the evening. Plus, we are going to be checking our trail cams to see if we were able to get any photos. I sure hope we have some good deer footage and not a lot of cat footage! I'll have an update for everyone next week.

Best of all, we get to hit the archery range tonight and fling some arrows. A little arrow therapy goes a long way when you are at a desk all week! By this point in the year, we are all shooting well and are loving the range time. I know Brandon has a trip planned to the Trinity Alps in a few weeks and we are all pulling for him to tag a nice blacktail deer. Best of luck up there!

I hope everyone has a great weekend and good luck to those who have begun their hunting seasons!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Product Review: S4Gear LockDownX Optics Deployment System

Whether you are putting a stalk on that big mule deer buck in the high desert of Southern California, or a trophy whitetail on the frozen tundra of Saskatchewan, the last thing you want is to have your binoculars bouncing around with each step alerting your target. To be honest, that is what happens when you use a provided binocular strap or an ordinary binocular harness. Most provided straps usually dig into your neck and aren't very comfortable. The straps on a harness are elastic and flimsy, yet still very popular due to less expense. Your binoculars need to be secure, unmoving and in a place where you can get to them easily. 



Utilizing a binocular chest pack, like the S4Gear LockDownX Optics Deployment System, will ensure that the binoculars stay in place and will be easily accessible. I have been testing out the LockDownX for the past two months and I can say they are a definite improvement over basic elastic straps. The people at S4Gear sent me the Realtree APG full camo model. I prefer the camo to all black, but that's a personal preference.

This system is very easy to use. You attach your binoculars to the tethered cords on either side of the protective case, fit your bino's in and pull up the bottom flap and secure with the cord. I found that a size 10x42 binocular (the manufacturer was not a factor) fit this system the best. I tried out a relatively small pair, a medium pair and a larger pair. The medium size pair seemed to fit like a glove.

The information on the LockDownX says it fits binoculars that range from 5.75” to 7.5” in length. I did not find this to be true. I utilized the KOWA SV 10x50s and they are 7" high. I couldn't get them to fit inside without bending the top metal frame a great deal. Not sure if that was needed, but it seemed like a bit much to get them to fit.

Adjusting the straps/cords was very easy and it
was relatively easy to attach the cords to the binoculars. Just be sure you didn't just trim your fingernails. The ringlets are tough and will dig under the nails, or through your skin if you aren't careful. I learned the hard way.

Once adjusted to my frame, the chest pack worked well. I did have issues where it rode up a little into my neck, but a slight adjustment to the straps seemed to help that a bit. It still seemed constricting at times, but after wearing it a while and wearing different clothing I was able to reduce that factor.

A word of caution regarding the metal hook at the front of the system. If you are loading or unloading gear over the side of a pick-up truck DO NOT wear the chest pack! The metal hook is at the perfect level to scratch up any paint job. I had the LockDownX on and tried to load up my archery targets when the hook came into contact with the quarter panel. Seeing as it was my wife's truck, that has a nice paint job, I backed away immediately and took the chest pack off. The truck was not going to get scratched!

With a stiff breeze, dust will kick up from time to time and the case, while it does provide good protection, is not protected on the sides. I did have a few occurrences where dust and debris blew onto the lenses while hiking. Not a major issue, but I wanted to share that in case you hunt a spot that has a lot of dust. 

Pros:
  • Lens Protection (against most debris)
  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Easy to use
  • Quiet

Cons:
  • Fitting a full 7" bino didn't happen
  • Not dust proof

All in all, the S4Gear LockDownX Optics Deployment System is a very good alternative to ordinary, rubbery binocular straps. At $54.99 (retail) you get a good product at a decent price. I believe you can find them priced a bit less if you search around. I think the price point should be dropped to $39.99 because of the limited ability to fit larger binoculars. Even still, if you are looking for a good alternative to a bouncy bino harness and want to keep you binoculars protected in a treestand or a stalk, this is a good product for you.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Burning Boot Rubber Leads to a Successful Scouting Trip

Driving up a Southern California freeway at 4:00 AM on a Saturday morning can be exciting when you are headed out scouting for deer. It can also be tiring, dreadful and irritating when it seems that everyone else decided to get up early, too. The freeway was very busy for an early morning on a Saturday. Even still, when Hunter Hayes is the first artist singing when you turn on the radio, you just have to smile. I mean, he has 'hunter' in his name, so what's not to like? The drive seemed short (I wasn't driving) and we made it to the trailhead well before sunrise. Time to get our game faces on!

Our bags were loaded with our gear, extra water and our bows. We figured if we ran into a coyote or some rabbits we'd do some shooting! Our bags weighed in around 53 lbs each, so we knew we were in for a long hike, but we had no idea how the day would turn out. As we turned to head up the gated road, the sun started to light up the sky with amazing colors. What a beautiful sight to take in on a Saturday morning. Glancing down, my watch said 5:40 AM. After a quick double check on our gear we began our ascent.


The sunrise was absolutely beautiful.
 
The hike was steep and invigorating that early in the morning. A half hour later and a mile in we spotted a lone doe on a far hillside. She was feeding down the ridge. It was beautiful! As we continued to glass, Brett spotted another... and another! There were three doe feeding, skylined on the ridge about a half mile away. We watched them feed over the hill and away from us toward the shady side of the mountain. We continued on and fifteen minutes later I glanced up to see two deer staring at us... on the same ridge, but further to our West. I quickly pointed them out and immediately we brought up our binoculars. Two bucks!! One was a spike, but the other was a definite shooter. This was VERY good news for us as finding a buck out here is a priority!


Hard to see from my camera phone pic, but the deer are roughly a half mile away.

We watched the bucks for a minute and suddenly two does materialized out of the brush. Out of the group there were three shooters, the forkie and two does. Unfortunately, spikes cannot be taken in California. Even still, we had located a decent legal buck and that was all we needed to feel supercharged! Now we just have to wait for the season to arrive and hope he sticks around or doesn't get shot.

The surprise of our scouting trip was shown on the map, but usually doesn't mean much in the high desert. What I am getting at is the presence of water. Prior to our hike, Brett and I had discussed this at length. We had hoped to find a water source, but in all my years of hunting out here they were almost always dried up. Not this time! The map showed a small stream and that was exactly what we found. Clean water for the animals to drink and a spot where we could filter water for us to drink. Double bonus! The drawback is that where you find water you also find poison oak and sure enough, there was lots of it. Brett also spotted a bobcat near the water, which I missed, but it gave us hope. Both of us have bobcat tags, so when the season hits we'll be on the lookout to arrow one.

The remainder of our hike up the hills was filled with finding snake trails, deer tracks and glassing scrub brush. We were fortunate enough to be in the shade of the hills for the hike up, but the sun was rising, as was the temperature. Our goal was to travel to a spring located on the map, but the further we got it became pretty clear that we wouldn't be going that far. As we pushed on, we noticed there were no more quail tracks and no more rabbit tracks. There were no more deer tracks either. We found this for two straight miles. As we set on foot in front of the other, nearing our destination, we found out why. Along the edge of the trail we found one of the largest mountain lion tracks we'd ever seen. We both knew why all of the tracks vanished from the dirt. With a lion around, there was bound to be far less big game in the open. Then we found a smaller set of lions tracks. This confirmed our suspicions of a family of lions and we decided not to hike any further. We were already 5.5 miles in and still had to hike out in the heat.


This is the smaller of the tracks. My pics of the larger tracks were hard to see in the direct sunlight.

While we truly wanted to hunt this spot, there was no deer sign thanks to the lions.

We ate a brief lunch, discussed our hike in and what we wanted to do. We had gone through almost two liters of water. We had each packed an extra four liters in case we couldn't find water and if we had hiked deeper into the forest. The decision was made to head back down the hill. We each emptied one water bottle to lighten our load and save on our knees. 

Although desolate, the dry landscape still offers quite a view.

The hike back to the truck was long and hot. The shade had disappeared, the sun was in full force and we had a long way to go. We hydrated often and took our time as not to overheat. Our pace quickened once we were able to cut the deer tracks from that morning again. That made the hike out a little more exciting.

We decided to hang our trail cams to see if we could catch something coming down the trail.That took the better part of an hour because of the few trees available, but I think we did a great job with what we had. Plus, we made it fun by cracking jokes and imagining what animals we'd see pop up in the images. Let's just hope they work well and that we get some good pics of some nice bucks in the area! Once our cameras were hung we sauntered the rest of the way to the truck. We still had a long way to hike and our shoulders were killing us. Even after adjusting the straps on our packs, drinking more of the remaining water and taking multiple breaks we were still hurting. 


When we first caught sight of the truck we couldn't stop talking about sitting down in the AC and grabbing a cold beverage. That's exactly what we did, too. The AC felt great, the drinks were cold and after an 11 mile hike on a deer scouting expedition we felt sore, but fulfilled. We had done what we set out to do and had spotted deer, set our trail cams and now we just have to be patient and wait.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Archery Practice Leads to Dead Deer and Hog

Sorry for the misleading title! As you can see, 'real' animals were harmed during the making of our practice session! I was referring to our targets at the archery range on Friday night. Brett and I hit the range early and our first shots at 40 yards are shown below.


Needless to say, we were on fire! The entire practice session was the best we have had on the range. We picked different ranges by tossing an arrow someplace, walking up to it and shooting. It felt great to be able to judge the distance at will. To make things interesting, I put together a makeshift rabbit target out of old socks and placed it out there for us to shoot at. What a confidence boost when we pegged this thing every time we shot!


After practicing, we chatted about our scouting trip we had planned for the next morning. You could see the excitement in our smiles as we talked about packs, terrain and temperature. Once everything was set, we headed back to our homes to finish packing and to get some sleep. In a few short hours, the alarm would go off and we'd be making our way into the mountains.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Want to WIN a 2012 PSE Dream Season EVO Compound Bow?

Most of the people who read my blog, Bow Adventures or follow me on Facebook and Twitter know that I love PSE bows. I've been shooting them for four years now and I am hooked. They are a fit for me like no other and I love the way they perform.  I also love a good contest or giveaway and the one listed below is one you may want to check out.

How would you like a chance to win a 2012 PSE Dream Season EVO bow package? Go to Facebook at www.facebook.com/OfficialPSEArchery and CLICK on the enter to win tab! Sweepstakes ends August 31st, 2012. Click here for rules. See the app page for more details at http://bit.ly/NmqjHf. Good luck!