Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Product Review: Mosquitno Spotzzz and Bracelets - All Natural Bug Repellent

For those of you that ever sprayed bug spray and got it in your eyes or your mouth you know how bad it feels and tastes. Yuck! Ever try spraying your child with bug spray? They don't want any part of it usually because it's got that yucky feel and smells bad. Want to use something your child will find fun when it comes to keeping bugs away? I had the opportunity, actually my daughter had the opportunity to test out some Mosquitno Spotzzz Bug Repellent over the past few weeks and let me tell you, it is much easier convincing her to use the Spotzzz than an aerosol can.

With West Nile being something that makes me very nervous, I am constantly keeping up on the mosquito and fly situation where we live. I have been tagged a few times by both insects and thankfully am still healthy. While we try not to keep any standing water around, the gutters in the front of our house collect the sprinkler run-off and it turns stagnant quickly. It's a great breeding ground for mosquitoes and the kids love to play near the water.

I was provided a 6-pack of stickers and two bracelets to test out with my daughter. As you can see from the photo, she couldn't wait to choose her sticker. I slyly gave her the choice of an aerosol spray or the Spotzzz stickers. She wisely chose the all-natural Spotzzz.

Here is the actual description from the Mosquitno website:

  • heavy-duty sticker infused with citronella
  • lasts for 3 days – up to 72 hours of exposure
  • stick to your clothing, hats, shoes, anywhere
  • 6 fun themes
  • all-natural, safe, non-toxic, DEET-free
  • Safe for kids 3 yrs & up (can be a choking hazard)

For three days and three separate nights we tested out the Spottzz and my daughter never got bit. I, on the other hand, got tagged by a few biting flies. I was thankful my daughter didn't have to suffer through that. When I sat near her the bugs stayed away from me. (It looks like I need some of these, too.) She went about playing and having fun. I was curious about the range of the citronella as she wore the sticker up near her neck. I figured she might get bit around the ankles, but she never complained and I never saw any bugs near her. When it was time to head inside, she was very helpful in taking off the Spotzzz sticker and storing it for another day. Each sticker lasts for three days and she didn't want to miss out on wearing it again.

We also tested out the glow-in-the-dark bracelet. This appeared to work well, too. She put it on and there was a strong aroma of citronella. Everyone around her commented on how good it smelled. She received no bug bites and with the bug repellent features lasting six days we saved this as well. The one thing I noticed was that she wanted to pull and tug on the bracelet more. Not sure if it bothered her on her wrist or what. With the stickers she never even paid attention to it when it was on.


  • Kids love them (variety of colors and designs)
  • Easy to apply
  • Keeps the bugs away
  • Bracelets come in a zipper lock type bag for extended storage and use


  • No easy place to store the sticker after you take it out of the package

Overall, I would say that the Mosquitno Spotzzz are not only a good buy at $3.99 for a 6-pack, but your kids will love them and they aid in keeping bugs away. Plus, I think Spotzz are good for adults, too. All natural, easy to apply and easy to store for another use. Plus, you can make staying bug bite free fun with the variety of stickers to choose from. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the Mosquitno Spotzzz for free from Mosquitno as coordinated by Deep Creek PR an Outdoor Industry Public Relations Company in consideration for review publication.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Product Review: Grand Trunk Parachute Nylon Double Hammock

National Hammock Day was July 22nd and Grand Trunk provided me with a Parachute Nylon Double Hammock to field test. Assisting me was my daughter, who is my trusty sidekick and gear reviewer on all things fun. She was tasked with the testing comfort and swing-ability features.

The Grand Trunk Parachute Nylon Double Hammock is very lightweight at 20 oz. and it is immediately apparent that this will fit easily inside or outside of a backpack. After searching through one of our local parks in Long Beach, I found a perfect location between two trees roughly 10 feet apart. One thing I noticed is that in order to achieve a good balance and to level the hammock well, the trees (or any sturdy anchor point) need to be around 12 feet and no more.

The directions in the bag are very simple and to the point. Wrap the rope around an anchor point (in my case - a tree), tie a knot (or you can do this beforehand and tie a few knots evenly spaced along the rope), and clip in one hook (carabiner) to the desired location. Do the same on the other end and you are ready for some relaxing! It is much easier, and practical, to do one anchor point at a time and then go back and adjust if you need to. Set-up took a total time of less than two minutes and that includes taking time to read the instructions.

When I field test gear I am usually pretty hard on it and because I want to see what it’s capable of for all of you. One of the great things about the Double Hammock from Grand Trunk is that it has a 400# capacity. This allows me to rest in the hammock with my wife or with my daughter. I also sat in it with some force and then began swing a bit. My daughter and I might be just under 300#, but there was no give to the hammock. My four year-old daughter eagerly anticipates when she can help with a review and this one took the cake. She begged me to climb on in and once she did I asked what she thought. She just wanted to lay there and relax. Basically, she wanted it all to herself so I could swing her a bit.

After a brief swing, my daughter surprised me with a great little tip for all of you. The pouch that holds the hammock is attached to the center of the hammock to one side. I didn’t want to have my keys or any other sharp object poke the hammock, so I handed them off to her to hold. She walked around the hammock and immediately deposited them in the pouch! As you are resting, you can empty your pockets into the pouch and reduce the risk of poking through or making your snooze less than desirable. Great tip, Riley!

The comfort level and ease of use of the hammock erased any skepticism I had. This hammock is not only built for comfort, it is also very strong and made with quality materials; High-strength, mildew-resistant with triple-stitched seams and nautical-grade hanging carabiners. I was able to rest, get comfortable and enjoy a nice breeze while listening to the sounds of the park. I could have very easily fallen asleep and had a wonderful snooze.

My wife, who normally wouldn’t give a second thought to my gear reviews, couldn’t wait to try the hammock out. She lay down in it for a while and to be honest she didn’t want to get out either! Her exact words, ‘This is AWESOME!’ She was very impressed and surprised at the support and comfort. It receives a spouse Two Thumbs Up!

Taking the hammock down was incredibly easy. It packs quickly and efficiently back into the pouch with little effort. I thought it might be difficult (think about packing a tent up at the end of a camping trip), but I was wrong. I packed it up as quickly as I set it up and was thrilled. The product is very well made and you can tell a good deal of thought went into the design.

The Grand Trunk Double Hammock retails for $64.99 from their website and I believe that is more than reasonable. If you are planning on hiking into the backcountry, or just taking the family out for a picnic, leave the sleeping on the ground to the critters and enjoy the luxury of of resting in a Grand Trunk Parachute Nylon Double Hammock.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the Parachute Nylon Double Hammock for free from Grand Trunk as coordinated by Deep Creek PR an Outdoor Industry Public Relations Company in consideration for review publication. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Disastrous Results of Too Much Draw Weight

Seeing a guy draw back a bow with an 80# draw weight is impressive. It's even more impressive when he actually punches out the bullseye of a target using said bow. While that is great for him, it may not be practical for you.

Recently, I was talking to a co-worker and he asked if I was still into archery and bowhunting. He mentioned that he had wanted to get into it years ago, but he had the draw weight on his bow cranked up way too high and he torqued his shoulder. After that he set the bow down and never picked it up again. That was nearly thirty years ago! I was immediately saddened, but then thought that this would be something to share with all of you so you don't make the same mistake.

An 80# draw weight is great for some African game, and works for some archers, but let's be honest, for most North American game 50-70# is plenty to kill anything with a well placed shot. Our ancestors were dropping animals with sticks and rawhide and my money is that they weren't focused on draw weight, but instead accuracy and bringing down the animal they were aiming for.

Many bows will perform at their peak draw weight, but that doesn't mean you HAVE to set it that high. Take my PSE DNA compound bow for example. I have the 70# limbs on it, but I only shoot 65#. That is plenty for me and I don't see it changing anytime soon. Guys ask me why I don't crank it up and I tell them I plan on being able to shoot consistently and comfortably. I have set it to 70# before and I wasn't shooting often enough to keep it up high. Once I dropped it down to 65# I was on the money and have been ever since. Each person shoots differently and I encourage you to shoot what you are capable of. Don't let what others say sway you. Stay within your ability and not only will you be able to shoot longer and remain focused, but you will also enjoy archery even more!

Now get out and shoot!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Product Review: FUSE plus you iPhone Case

Originally posted on the PocketRanger blog.

How many times has this happened to you? Your phone slips from your grasp and plummets toward the concrete. In a blink of an eye you imagine utter destruction and loss of all the data held within, right? Now, I don't recommend doing it just to try it, but having a protective case will save your iPhone in that situation is a plus. I have been reviewing the FUSE plus you iPhone case in Blaze Orange and Mossy Oak camouflage for the past few months and wanted to share my thoughts.

After reading the directions and inserting my phone into the case, I started to look things over carefully. It has a solid construction and cool design that I liked. I am fairly hard on my gear and most times, when hunting or otherwise my phone stays in my pocket. It gets dinged and collects pocket dust and debris.

The orange and camouflage was great for hikes as I set my phone down in a few places and walked away to see if I could spot it. I even had my four year old try and spot it and with a color like orange, it didn't take her long to find it in the brush.

The rubber interior casing is a bit loose around the phone for my taste. While it did indeed protect the corners of the phone, it did not hold tight against the corners and would lift away at the slightest touch. I was not a fan of that as it didn't give me the confidence I wanted in a case, but like I said I am harder on my gear than most. For everyday applications, this case would work just fine. I did drop the phone by accident and loose or not, the rubber corners protected my phone as it hit the sidewalk.

My wife wanted to test out the case and she gave it a rave review. It protected her phone and she liked the way her phone fit snugly inside. The rubber corners didn't bother her at all. In fact, she thought it protected her phone very well as she accidentally dropped it more than I. She mentioned it was easy to get your phone in and keep it protected.


  • Protective hard shell on most of the phone
  • Rubber casing to protect against drops
  • Bright orange color helps stand out if you drop it while hiking
  • Does not damper sound quality


  • Not waterproof (but FUSE is considering this for the future)
  • No screen protector
  • No protection from dust and debris in the charging port

Overall, I would say the FUSE iPhone case is a good buy at $34.99. Plus, you don’t find many on the market in blaze orange and camouflage. I look forward to seeing more from them and hope the waterproof case comes out soon! Having a case that protects an investment like your iPhone is a must and the FUSE plus you case did the job.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Win Grand Trunk Gear for National Hammock Day!

Release Aids: Do You Use a Clean One for Hunting?

My Scott Archery Little Bitty Goose release (l) after I lost the trigger.

As I caught up on emails over the weekend, I received an excellent question regarding my archery release from Army Ranger Kelly Freeman.
Do you change releases to hunt? I used to be a sniper in the sandbox. Just getting back to bow hunting. I shoot a Scott release and really sweat at practice. I must say I'm in Bakersfield and its 104. But I shoot at least 70 arrows every day.

I wrote back and explained that I use the same release I practice with the hunt with. I wash it and spray it down, but I think Kelly is on to something. It might not be a bad idea to switch to a clean, sweat free release. I had never really thought about it before, but like Kelly I sweat a lot when shooting.

Back East, I would shoot and always used the same release. I would sweat, but not like I do out here in Southern California. Out of all of the things I changed out here between using ozone on my clothing and spraying down, I never gave changing my release much thought. As I pondered the idea of changing out my release I really think Kelly hit on a good point. I spend lots of time and money making myself as scent-free as possible, but I always use a sweat-soaked, stinky release. While I do wash it, I am sure the deer and pigs can smell it.

One of the reasons why I haven't considered changing my release is budget. Most of us can't afford two or three of the same release. Why do I say three? I will need three releases to carry out this strategy properly. One for practice and two for hunting. I always carry a backup release while hunting. I have had my release hang up on me and had parts fall off while hunting (see my 2011 whitetail hunt for the entire story). Having a backup saved my hunting trip! I used a Scott Little Bitty Goose and I love it. It is a wrist-strap type release and I have used it for a few years. While it is now and extension of my arm when hunting, I think it is time to reevaluate my tactics. I have decided that I am going to pick up another one and have it as my hunting release and leave the stinky one at home. Hopefully, this will get me closer to game and keep my stink down as much as possible.

Kelly, thanks for the excellent question! Even this old dog can learn a thing or two and I appreciate the new found knowledge. Time to start selling some of the gear I am not using and pick up another Scott Little Bitty Goose release.

Do you guys change out your release for hunting season?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

My 2012 Colorado Elk Mount has Arrived!

My 2012 Colorado 4x5 bull.

Nine months after dropping off my elk to be mounted at Authentic Taxidermy in Chino Valley, AZ it is finally in California and on the wall! It has been a test of patience and getting the puzzle pieces to fall into place, but it is here!

Last Fall, I met with taxidermist Troy Smith of Authentic Taxidermy the day after I shot my elk. Now, I would have loved for a full shoulder mount for my very first bull elk, but I didn't see the value in spending that kind of money when we live in a small house. There just wouldn't be enough wall space or money in my bank account. I opted for a European mount as I had never had one done, it was less expensive and would look great on the wall! Troy explained it would be a couple of months, possibly three, before I was able to pick up the finished mount. A month later I got the call that my mount was ready! I was excited, but also at a loss. It was the middle of deer season in SoCal, so I asked if Troy would hold on to it until January as that would be the earliest I could pick it up. He said it would not be a problem.

I didn't fill my tag in California and I couldn't get the mount off my mind. I also know that I would have to drive the seven hours to Chino Valley to pick up the mount and then the seven hours back. It would be a full day, miles on the truck and cost plenty in fuel. I called Eddy at Piranha Custom Bowstrings and discussed it with him. I mentioned I was going to have Troy ship it out to me, but it would have cost me a couple hundred dollars. That was the same as the fuel costs, but no driving involved. Eddy came up with a different plan, but it would involve me being a bit more patient. Eddy had family coming in from California and on the way back through Arizona they would be able to stop and pick up the mount. The only problem is that wouldn't be until June! I figured I had waited this long, why not wait a few more months.

When June finally arrived I was counting down the days until when I could meet up with Eddy's sister-in-law. When the day finally came I could hardly believe it. Was it really happening? Was I really going to get to hold onto the elk mount that I worked so hard to get? Sure enough, I met up with her and there was my elk mount. Troy did a fantastic job! I couldn't believe it had been nearly ten months since I had filled my tag with this beautiful animal.

Before I go on, I want to say thank you to Troy Smith for not only doing top-notch work, but for being so patient with me. Cheers! Thank you to Eddy Erautt for making the calls, connections and helping me arrange a pick up! Thank you to Vicki Erautt for bringing the mount back for me and being so helpful. Thank you!

My wife was ecstatic to see the mount! Ok, not really ecstatic, but she was happy I finally had it home. She never imagined how large the elk mount would actually be and it took some searching to figure out where we would hang it. I do have to say I have a great wife for not complaining when I wanted to take up a wall in our bedroom with an elk mount. I am sure she would rather have cool photos up there, but she knows I worked really hard for this and accepts the fact I am a bowhunter.

Now it is on the wall and looks great! I am so thankful to have been able to take that journey to Colorado and hunt elk last year. I am hopeful for my friends who are going this year and hope that I can fill an OTC elk tag next year. I may have to put an addition on my house if I get another bull though... we will just have to wait and see!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Slowing Down During Summer

It has been fairly quiet here at The SoCal Bowhunter for the past few weeks. Between battling some sickness, working my tail off and spending time with my family I haven't have much strength or ambition to post. I have just been too darn tired, but I hope that is about to change.

To begin, I have been getting back to my roots with yard work and gardening. I love to grow things and working as a farm hand back in NY or paying attention to my mom as she taught my brother and I how to grow vegetables really helped. I was able to pass that on to my daughter this year as she helped me plant our garden. At four, she just wanted to help with the big plants, but now that things are growing she can't wait to help me pick what is ripe. I always enjoy getting home from work and heading to the garden with her to see what is ready to grace our table.

I have multiple gear reviews in the works that I am very excited about. Over the next few weeks you guys will see some excellent products that are beneficial for the bowhunter. There are some products that are beneficial to any person, hunter or non-hunter, too. Good things my friends, good things.

My mountain bike is now fully functional and ready to eat up some trail time. I am hoping to hit the trails nearby for a few scouting trips soon where I can share some video from my MINOX helmet cam. Hopefully I will be able to get a few trail cameras up and locate some good deer. With all of the fires in the area it has been difficult to choose a hunt location for this year. Scouting will be key for a Plan A, Plan B, and possibly a Plan C.

One of the things I really need to do is get my bow tuned. After shooting in my garage the other day, I noticed a tear that wasn't noticeable before. I was able to tweak it a bit and I am 90% there, but I am pretty sure my timing is off. Time to hit the Pro Shop for some expert advice.

I ran into a fellow local bowhunter this morning at our local supermarket. Super cool guy whom I met at the range a few months back. We chatted like old friends and I will say I was a bit jealous (humor-filled jealousy) at the fact that he is headed up to Montana to do some fishing and elk scouting. Lucky dog! Have a great trip, Ryan!

Overall, I am looking forward to getting some reviews completed and getting some scouting done. Hunting season is almost here and I need to get after it! I hope everyone has a great Independence Day and is enjoying their summer. Cheers!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

California Anglers: First Free Fishing Day is Saturday, July 6

One of the great things to do with your kids is fish and this Saturday anglers all over the state of California can fish for free. I received the below email from CADFW this morning and wanted to share it all with you in the hopes that you can get out and have some fun fishing!
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) invites anglers to celebrate summer by fishing for free this Saturday. July 6 is the first of two Free Fishing Days in 2013, when people can try their hand at fishing without having to buy a sport fishing license.

All fishing regulations, such as bag and size limits, gear restrictions, report card requirements, fishing hours and stream closures remain in effect. Every angler must have an appropriate report card if they are fishing for steelhead or sturgeon anywhere in the state, or salmon in the Smith and Klamath-Trinity River systems.

CDFW offers two Free Fishing Days each year – usually around the Fourth of July and Labor Day weekend – when it’s legal to fish without a sport fishing license. This year, Free Fishing Days are set for the Saturdays following Independence Day and Labor Day (July 6 and Sept. 7). Note that on the Sept. 7 Free Fishing Day, ocean fishermen must have an abalone report card in their possession when rock picking or diving for abalone, but no fishing license is required (the abalone season is closed during the month of July).

Free Fishing Days provide a low-cost way to give fishing a try. Some CDFW regions offer a Fishing in the City program where anglers can go fishing in major metropolitan areas. Fishing in the City and Free Fishing Day clinics are designed to educate novice anglers about fishing ethics, fish habits, effective methods for catching fish and fishing tackle. Anglers can even learn how to clean and prepare fish for eating.

Anglers should check the rules and regulations at for the waters they plan to fish. Wardens will be on duty to enforce them. For more information on Free Fishing Days, please visit