Sunday, June 23, 2013

HHA Sports West Coast Pro Staff

Recently, I reviewed the Optimizer Lite Ultra single-pin archery sight from HHA Sports. I have been asked why I changed from a 7-pin set-up and how a shooting single-pin benefits the bowhunter. To be honest, there have been some really great questions and I have tried to answer them all. (If I missed yours, please let me know!)

When I was approached by HHA Sports to join their Pro Staff I accepted without hesitation! Representing companies whose products I trust and believe in makes me feel great. I stand by the products I represent - otherwise what would be the point? I stand by HHA Sports because they make a quality product right here in the U.S.A and they offer great customer service. If you need an answer, you'll get it and get it quick. As a bowhunter and an all-around busy guy I appreciate the fast, quality service HHA provides.

You see, I have been shooting their single-pin sight for a little while now and I love it. You can read my first impression and my full gear review to understand why I love this sight so much. I am proud to be representing HHA Sports as their very first West Coast Pro Staffer! I am stoked (a West Coast word I have become very fond of) and hope to grow the HHA community out here in SoCal. If you see me at the archery range or want to meet up to discuss archery or bowhunting, shoot me an email and let's make it happen!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Planning My 2014 Elk Hunt - and Maybe Bear, too!

The planning stage for bowhunting Colorado Elk in 2014 has begun! Brett and I have been talking about it since my return from CO last September and now we are gearing up. As we have been practicing, talking about what fitness level we want to be at, and talking gear, I received a few trail cam photos from my good friend, and Piranha Custom Bowstrings owner Eddy in Colorado. After seeing these and thinking about the close encounter I had with the bear last year, I think I am also going to be putting in for an OTC bear tag when we go! Not too fond of that lion pic though!

These photos have me excited for bowhunting!


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Too Busy To Go Fishing? No way!

Father's Day this year was a nice change of pace for me. It was filled with some of the most enjoyable relaxation I have had in a long time. My wife and daughter surprised me with a brand new weed eater and a day to do whatever I felt like doing. Now, many of you would say 'A gift like that just leads to more work'. While it might, I love taking care of my lawn and working outside. My neighbor thinks I am crazy for liking it so much, but it's all good! I truly enjoy it!

I had a wonderful breakfast with my wife, daughter, mother and father-in-law and the rest of the day I sat around the house relaxing. I don't do that very often. Not because I am always too busy, but because I don't like to sit still! I always want to be active. I did have to water the garden because a man has to eat, right? We can't have the veggies withering away! But I stayed away from any yardwork (but I did keep thinking about that weed eater and where to use it first).

Now, I am not writing this to share what material gifts I received. Not at all. What I am most thankful for on Father's Day is having a daughter to be a father to. When I was younger I imagined being a dad, but never dreamed it would be so rewarding. Riley made my Father's Day when during breakfast she looked at me and asked,  

'Daddy, when can we go fishing?' 

Right then and there, without missing a beat, I promised her we would go the following Saturday. Just she and I to the local park for a fun morning of fishing and enjoying some time together. Without a doubt, I am so very thankful for being able to share these moments and to cherish them. I am already looking forward to relaxing by the water, having great conversations with my little munchkin, and laughing the morning away with her. It will be a great day.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Properly Caring For Your Archery Gear

My latest article for PSE Archery.

The off season is the perfect time for bowhunters to take the time to review what gear they have and what they might need to replace. Bowhunting in Southern California has many advantages; there is plenty of public land, you can hunt in many ‘no firearm’ areas, and deer season is much longer. Due to the different land, weather and lengthened seasons, many bowhunters forget to stay on top of one key ingredient – caring for your archery gear.

One of the major factors in the deterioration of your bow parts is dirt getting into places it doesn’t belong. Add in the dry heat of SoCal and you have a recipe for disaster if your gear is not attended to regularly. I have learned over the years that after each hunting trip I go on, whether it be a day trip or a week-long adventure, I need to carefully look over my gear and clean it if necessary.

Cleaning should be easy. Wipe dirt away with a rag and also use an air compressor to blow dirt and sand out of any small crevices. If the limb pocket grease spreads out or splatters, clean it up. Don’t use water or harsh abrasive cleaners, just compressed air and possibly a bit of alcohol on a rag. Do this with the limb pockets, any holes or crevices and also the additional components such as the sight, arrow rest, etc.

Wax the string on a regular basis, but don’t allow dirt or grime to build up. That means you are putting too much wax on the string. Rub it into the string and wipe away the excess. Once you have everything clean, shoot a few arrows and make sure everything is functioning properly.

The same principles apply for your optics and release aids, too. Check the eye cups of binoculars for dirt and debris. If there is debris, clean it out, but USE CAUTION! Don’t just stick a rag in the eye cup and wipe as you could scratch the glass. Blow the majority out of there and then use an optics cloth to carefully clean the lens. With release aids, check the trigger for dirt and rust. Use a scent-free oil to lubricate the moving parts of the release often.

By carefully checking and cleaning your gear after each outing you will decrease the chances of any malfunctions that may arise and increase the life of your gear allowing you to focus more time on bowhunting.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

California Big Game Draw Results Are Up!

The California draw results are now up and I am stoked to say that I drew my A31 tag! While it may not be a big deal to some, this is the first year that the A31 tag was a draw. Normally it's over the counter restricted tag, but with so many hunters purchasing the tag early in 2012, this year it went to a premium draw. A31 is one of the few tags that allows you to take a buck OR a doe during the extended season. There are limitations and rules with this tag, like any other. You can't shoot a spike buck, unless the antlers are less than 3". That is one element hunters often overlook.

This is from the 2013 California Big Game Hunting Regulation Guide:

Antlerless Deer: Female deer, fawns of either sex other than spotted fawns, and male deer with an unbranched antler on one or both sides which is not more than three inches in length. CCR T14-351(b).

Either-sex Deer: Antlerless deer, or legal bucks that have two or more points in the upper two-thirds of either antler. CCR T14-351(c).

Forked-horn Buck: A male deer having a branched antler on either side with the branch in the upper two-thirds of the antler. Eyeguards or other bony projections on the lower one-third of the antler shall not be considered as points or branches. CCR T14-351(a).

Spike Buck Deer: A male deer with unbranched antlers on both sides which are more than 3 inches in length. FGC 204(d).

Even better new is that my hunting partner Brett Bumgarner also pulled an A31 tag. The season begins September 28 and runs through December 31. Three months of hiking and hunting and hopefully some meat in the freezer! We also both have an AO (Archery Only) tag which allows us to hunt any of the other units around for a buck during archery or firearm season. We now have to get some trail cameras up, do some more scouting in the field and online and with maps. Our biggest challenge this year is going to be finding land that has not been closed or hit with a wildfire.

Provided we find a good spot, put in the hard word and practice...2013 is shaping up to be a good year! 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Gear Review - HHA Optimizer Lite Ultra DS-5519 Archery Sight

Originally posted on the Pocket Ranger blog.

New bowhunting technology fascinates me and I love improving my chances at filling my freezer with some wild game. I have almost always used multi-pin archery sights because I thought they were the best options. When I was introduced to the HHA Optimizer Lite Ultra DS-5519 Single-Pin Archery Sight from HHA Sports my views on multi-pins changed immediately! The HHA sights are Made in the U.S.A., carry a lifetime warranty, and have been voted moveable sight of the year by Bowhunting World readers an astounding 9 years in a row!

For the past two months I have been shooting exclusively with the HHA Optimizer DS-5519 Single-Pin Archery Sight (with an additional 4x lens) and I am beyond impressed. When I read the directions (my first impression) I felt a bit nervous as they seemed too simple, but don’t let them frighten you. They are meant to be short and to the point, and that is an excellent tool for any archer. You can find the directions in a PDF file here.

Some information from the HHA Sports website:

All Optimizer Lite Ultra Series Sights are constructed from 100% Machined Aluminum and feature our green sight ring, Totally Toolless micro windage adjustment system, A.R.M.O.R. Sight Pin Technology, Patented DS-TAPES and Mathews® Harmonic Damper™. They also include a revolutionary yardage dial that allows for rapid adjustment by the yard. Simply sight in at 20 and 60 yards and select one of the included 52 color-coded tapes, numbered in one yard increments. New for 2013, sight tape ranges have been extended from 20 to 80 yards on faster bows.
  • Weight: 10 oz. 
  • 1 5/8” sight housing 
  • 5 feet of fiber optic
  • Accepts Lens Kit B and All HHA Blue Burst Lights 
  • Exclusive mechanical rheostat feature adjusts pin brightness in seconds
Installing the 4x lens kit.

Attaching it to the bow was very easy, but be sure to take a look at the directions. The directions were very helpful with installation of the sight and the 4x lens attachment. Pay close attention to how low you install the sight on your bow as this could affect your arrow clearance.

Once installed it was time to hit the range! The one thing I found about the Optimizer Ultra that really intrigued me was that you sight it in at 20 yards and then at 60 yards. There is a sight-in tape on the adjustment wheel that you only use to record the number on the wheel when you are punching X’s at those two ranges. It can seem intimidating and hard to believe, but it actually works very well!

The HHA Optimizer fully mounted on the bow.

The single pin allowed me to focus without any distractions. The 4x lens allowed me to see the target clearer and more defined. Having never utilized a lens before, I found this to be an excellent addition! The five feet of fiber optic cable makes a big difference, too. I was a great test subject because I don’t see well in the early morning or late evening hunting hours. I was able to test this out in twilight and it was super bright and I used no extra lighting. The .019” pin was illuminated with plenty of light and seemed to glow even in the waning hours of the day. What if the pin is either too bright or not bright enough? HHA Sports has taken care of that! The Optimizer Lite Ultra has an exclusive mechanical rheostat feature that allows you to adjust the pin brightness in seconds!

After some adjustment of the sight, due to shooting a faster bow, I was able to fine tune the sight and begin shooting out to 80 yards. Once I moved back in to 30 yards and then 20 yards I noticed my groups were the tightest they have ever been (see below).

The HHA Optimizer Lite Ultra single-pin archery sight mounts easily, can be adjusted to suit your needs, and when utilized properly will have you shooting some of the tightest groups ever! It has dramatically affected my shooting style. Quality products like this are worth every hard-earned penny. The suggested retail is $239.99 and with that you can count on quality craftsmanship, solid construction and a well-performing single-pin sight that has certainly increased my confidence on the range. This is one archery product I highly recommend to any bowhunter looking to increase your ability of consistently hitting the center of your target.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Father's Day Adventures and How I Remember Them

When I think about Father's Day, I think about spending time with my daughter and I also think back to my childhood. The two have very distinct differences as I grew up in the country and Riley in the city, but we share the fact that we get to do outdoorsy things together.  

I recently shared the story below for the Father's Day contest on The Will to Hunt blog. Not so much to win the prizes, but because I love this story, I love my dad and this was one of THE best days on the water you can imagine.

I know what you are thinking, 'He rocks a tank top pretty well'.

My dad is an avid outdoorsman and he always shared his love of the outdoors with my brother and I. I would like to nominate him for your Father's Day contest. I have many stories I could share, but there is only one in particular that I think of every year on Father's Day.

Back when I was just hitting my teen years, we asked my dad what he wanted to do for Father's Day. He thought about it for a minute and said he would like to go fishing. To understand my dad you have to know how much he loves to fish and he's really good at it. I never knew how good until now as I think about it. He could read the weather, the waves and the bait fish to see what it was we needed to do and where to go. It's great to think back on it as I sit here smiling and typing.

This particular Father's Day, my dad got the 12' aluminum boat ready, geared up and took us down to Seneca Lake to do some trout fishing. We were going to be going after lake trout, so we picked up some bait and headed out on the water. My brother and I were happy to be on the water fishing with our dad. As we made our way South of the Rod and Gun Club, my dad found a spot that he thought would be good for fish. He didn't use a fish finder then either. He just used his gut feelings and anchored.

We baited the hooks with fresh saw-bellies and lowered them to the bottom. That's when the fish started their frenzy! For the next two hours we reeled in lake trout after lake trout. We kept throwing fish back because we wanted to keep fishing, but we were also running out of bait. These were no small fish either! We were reeling in 4-7 lb. lakers over and over. We started running out of bait so we began using the old, dead saw-bellies and the trout were even hitting them! It was, by far, the best day of fishing I have ever had and I got to share it with brother and my dad.

As I think back on that day, it wasn't the amount of fish we caught, or the tasty eats we had later that night that I remember most. What I remember most was seeing my dad smile and laugh like I have never seen before as he had the time of his life. It was just my dad and his two boys out for an afternoon of fishing that none of us will ever forget.