Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Exercise Regimen - for Bowhunters and the Like!

After the second helping of turkey and gravy, third piece of pie, and then a night cap with family, it's now time to relax, right? I know that a few continuous days of this will lead to lethargic behavior and a desire to make best friends with the couch. Don't allow yourself to get sucked into that mindset! While I am not an expert, I am going to offer up a few ideas to help keep you honest with your body and with keeping fit through the holidays. Not only for keeping fit, but many friends and family plan on hunting the day after Thanksgiving and you want to enjoy it, right?

Each week prior to Thanksgiving, my fellow bowhunters (and others) tell me that they are going to eat anything they want and get back on track January 1 and lose all the weight they gained. Why do that to yourself? I'll be honest, I love to eat. I do. But I also hate feeling overfull and tired after the Thanksgiving meal. Here are some tips you can follow to not only enjoy the meal, but get out and hunt the day after without feeling so sluggish. I plan on hunting the next day!

Take a walk or go running Thanksgiving morning. My wife and I participate in the Long Beach Turkey Trot 5K race every year on Thanksgiving morning. We burn off around 600 calories and get in the mindset that working out and staying healthy feels good! You can go to a local park and walk, hike a forest trail, or bike someplace fun. Just do something active PRIOR to the meal!

Bring storage containers with you to the meal. As crazy as it sounds, my dad got me hooked on this years ago. I used to gorge myself on the meal because I knew it would be a year until I had more. But why do I have to wait that long? Just bring some of the meal home with you and enjoy it for a couple days.

Drink plenty of water before and with your meal. It'll help you feel fuller, faster. Plus, you will begin to digest the meal better.

Put the salt away! Who needs high blood pressure when you want to relax. Plus, if you are planning on hunting the next morning, you'll want to avoid all of that extra sodium. I am sure there will be plenty in the other food served.

Don't go back for seconds! Don't go into a tryptophane stupor and put a second helping in your mouth just because it tastes great. If you are full then stop eating. Best advice is to wait twenty minutes or so and then decide if you really are hungry or if you are full and just want to eat it because it's good. You are going to want to save some room for pie, right?

Plan on an after dinner walk. Just a walk folks. Don't go crazy and plan on strenuous exercise. It's not goof for your heart. Plan to go for a nice family walk and burn some calories and get the metabolism going a bit faster.

Be grateful for the Thanksgiving meal and don't be a glutton. My wife and I tell my daughter every year to remember that there are thousands of people going without a meal or eating far less than we are today. Don't get sick on your meal, be thankful and enjoy it. Enjoy your meal, but consider all you are blessed with before acting like pack of meat-crazed wolves on the hunt.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Southern California Deer Hunting Turns Cold

Driving to our hunting location at 4:00 AM on Saturday was much better than the normal 3:00 AM, but it was met with chilly air that turned colder as we neared the mountains. Brett monitored the temperature gauge and we laughed about it being colder than normal and hoped we had packed warm enough clothes. When we parked, we noticed raindrops forming on the the windshield. Once outside the vehicle the wind was gusting 10-15 mph and it was cold! We knew we had a decision to make; hike into our spot in the rain and have the wind in our faces for an our before sunrise, or relax in the truck for another 45 minutes and then hike in and stay a bit warmer. We opted for the second as we have been up here with the wind before and it was not pleasant.

After a 45 minute nap, we hit the trail and took our time as to not get too sweaty. Our plan was to glass a valley that normally doesn't get seen much. Brett would take the far, high side and I would hike down the backside of the hill, into the valley, and up the other side to stay out of the wind as much as possible. Brett and I noticed fresh tracks in the rain-soaked sandy trail and thought it looked promising. As I hiked around the hilltop, I noted two more sets of tracks and these were extremely fresh. So fresh that I thought I may have spooked deer right to my partner. I followed them until they reached a drop-off point, but saw that they were headed for Brett's location. I had high hopes!

I dropped my pack and began glassing before I made my descent. I saw nothing and knew I needed to drop down and get out of the wind. As I made my way down the hillside, I noticed some great features in the brush that would hid the largest of bucks. It actually made me smile knowing that we could be sitting right above a legal buck and never know it if he just stayed put. Hunting to me is about the experience and the adventure. The meat in the freezer is the bonus.

Once I finally reached my spot, I knew it would be a difficult sit. I was in a good spot for a shot for any deer thay came down the valley or was skirting the hillsides, but I couldn't get out of the wind like I wanted to. That being said, I still put my neck gaiter on and tried to get comfortable. Finding a good seat on a steep angle of rock proved to be difficult. I was finally able to get somewhat comfortable and began glassing. Brett had hidden himself well on the hillside. It took me a minute to find him. For an hour and a half we sat and saw no deer. Brett located a nice rabbit near my location, but nothing else.

We met up and decided to drop our packs, hit a side trail, and glass up a spot that was good last year. We glassed it and saw nothing. No movement, no deer backsides as they try to shield the wind, and no dark shapes on the far side of the valley. We figured it was time for breakfast.

Taking the time for breakfast was something we haven't done in a while. Normally, we'll just pack a sandwich, but we knew it was going to be cold. So out came the Jetboil, the coffee and hot cocoa, and the Mountain House Scrambled Eggs with Ham. As we enjoyed the hot beverages while the dehydrated meal soaked up the boiling water (sounds appetizing, doesn't it?), we talked strategy about the remainder of the day. We knew we had our work cut out for us, but we also knew if we kept moving, we would stay warm.

This was a great breakfast as we shared ideas for the remainder of the hunt.

After breakfast, we hit the trail and moved very slowly along a treeline. On a couple separate occasions, we have spooked deer and had them stop and stare at us. Not this day though. We saw nothing down below and saw only one set of fresh tracks, but they were headed in the direction we were headed. We were downwind and hopeful. Then the tracks disappeared up the mountain and we were back to square one.

We hiked a trail for the next two hours looking for sign, glassing, and checking out new ambush locations. By the time we had to head back we had some good options and had covered a good chunk of land to get there. We were pretty happy with how well our boots performed and how cold the winds were getting. We also watch snow dropping on the far away mountains. It was beautiful to watch.

On our way out, we noticed something that made us laugh. There were fresh tracks coming from a ridge line that crossed right over our tracks just an hour and a half before. A deer had come off the ridge we had walked by and the tracks were huge! We commented on how the deer were mocking us and we just had to laugh. The deer had evaded us yet another day, but that was OK.

We made short work of our hike back to the truck and realized we had hiked eight miles. It felt pretty good and we discussed elk hunting in 2014, knowing we would have to step up our game to get after the wapiti. At the truck, we began making plans for our next outing as Our season isn't over yet. We are just hoping for less wind and more deer next time!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

First Impressions: Strother Rush XT and Wrath SHO Compound Bows

After talking with local Strother Archery rep, Dave Diekmann, about the new compound bows, I just had to get out and shoot them. Up until this point I had never shot a Strother bow, even though I had been hearing good things about them for years. One of the main reasons is that we had no dealers down here willing to carry them. That kinda puts a damper on things! So we set a date and met up at Field Time Sports and Guns in Westminster, CA. I had been to FTSG once before when they first opened and were preparing to put in an archery range. Now that the range was up and running, I wanted to check it out.

First off, the folks at Field Time are good people. I had met the owner, Bob Wickes, a couple years ago and love hearing his hunting stories. I met Chris for the first time Tuesday night and really dug his personality. Asked all the right questions about my interest in archery and if I had been shooting long. When I mentioned 30 years of experience, he said he'd stop talking and let me shoot, but I insisted on hearing more. You see, I don't know everything and will never claim to. Chris sees these bows often and hearing his enthusiasm and impressions of the bows was great! Thanks for the guidance and enthusiasm, Chris! 

When Dave showed up on Tuesday evening, the range was packed! I wasn't sure we'd get a chance to shoot. He brought out the Rush XT and the Wrath SHO, both in Realtree Black. The bows looked pretty sick if you ask me. At first look, I thought the cable slide looked a bit odd and constricting. I even felt it might interfere with the shot a bit. The ZT Loc-N-Cradle limbs looked awesome and locked in secure, which I had never seen before. The Badger cams looked great and even had a stop on them to keep you from overdrawing the bow. Pretty nifty design.

First up to shoot was the Strother Rush XT set at 60#. The range is set up at 15 yards and the target in my lane was a pie plate. (I guess they know how much I love pie.) The weight of the bow is great and the grip fit into my hand very well.

The draw on the Rush XT is very smooth, has very little change in feel at the valley, and not much of a back wall. Overall, it drew smooth and steady, and I was able to anchor very comfortably. As a challenge, I opted to shoot for the very bottom of the pie plate to see how close I could get. The shots were very flat, fast, and there was no vibration in the bow. One cool thing I like about the Strother line is there isn't any limb vibration dampening, and there was no stabilizer on this bow. As you can see, the bow was not only set up properly, but with the HHA Optimizer single pin sight, I was able to nail the bottom of the pie plate.

Next, I shot the Strother Wrath SHO set at 70#. The bow grip felt a bit heftier than the Rush, but it wasn't an issue. I used the same arrows and shot at the same spot on the pie plate. I drilled the bottom of the pie plate with this bow, too. This bow has a tougher draw at 70#, but when it hits the valley it eases a bit into a hard back wall. You really feel it, but I didn't mind it. I noticed a little vibration in the riser when shooting, but the ATA is 30 3/16" and figured I might feel some. It's the shortest ATA bow I have ever shot. Overall, it performed well for a bow that short!

After shooting both bows, I was very happy with both. I REALLY like the Rush XT. The Rush has a shorter brace height, which I tend to be fond of, than the Wrath SHO. I plan on shooting both of them again and shooting the new bow that is rumored to be coming out soon. I want to really take some time with each bow. Have any of you shot the Strother line? Are any of you interested in shooting Strother? I am interested in what everyone thinks after shooting them. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Product Review: SIX Nutrition - Vitamins for Men

Growing older for a man usually leads to a quest for either getting a better body or going through a mid-life crisis. I am fighting the 'closer to 40' feeling by finely tuning my body and mind. For the past 30 days I have been working out and taking SIX Nutrition Vitamins for Men to see how they help me perform.

I do not like the gym. I despise the machines and being boxed in. I feel limited. Instead, I prefer exercising in the great outdoors. I do not like to run long distances. I am a naturally built sprinter and I used that to the best of my ability when playing rugby for twelve years. As I have aged, sprinting and running are not something I look forward to. With that said, I do enjoy the results they provide.

Back at the end of August, I began a training regimen to try and lose between 25-30 pounds and build up some strength and endurance. My wife is the runner of the family. She is the one who got me into trying out running and I am thankful for that. I started running, biking, hiking, lifting light weights and eating right. The biking and hiking was the easiest part and the running was the toughest. I was running a couple miles a day, a couple times a week. Throughout each run I was aching, tired, and miserable. I just did not have the stamina to keep pushing. I'll admit, even mentally I didn't feel up to the task.

When I began working out (two months prior to taking the SIX Nutrition supplements), I would run a couple miles and feel exhausted. Mentally, I was having to work hard to focus on my goals while running. I also noticed that my body would tighten up and at one point I pulled a tendon in my calf and couldn't run for a week. My back muscles would tighten and then I'd feel fatigued. When the opportunity came to test out the SIX Nutrition supplements, I figured why not. I had nothing to lose. So I began taking them.

Let me say that taking six pills sucks. Especially with that plastic coating that makes them float in your mouth. They were difficult for me to swallow at first. The package says to take them 30 minutes prior to working out or in the morning with 8 oz. of water. Taking them 30 minutes prior did not work for me. I like to workout first thing in the morning, so I opted to take them immediately AFTER I worked out. When I took them prior to running I felt like I was going to vomit the entire run. I hated that feeling. When I took them after my run, or the evening before my run, I didn't have that feeling and I felt great. I think the best benefit I had came when taking them the night before.

Officially, these worked great for me! Let me touch on the finer points of the SIX points.

  1. I noticed an increase in endurance. I went from running two miles in agony to running a 5K three times a week. Some days I pushed myself to 4.25 miles and felt great.
  2. Recovery: I was rarely sore throughout the 30 days and I worked hard to make myself sore. I ran, the next day I would bike twenty miles, then run again on day three, and then hike a steep 6 miles on day four. Then I'd repeat it in some fashion. I just didn't feel sore.
  3. Overall, I felt good. My joints that are normally very sore and achy did not feel anything like they did. After many years of rugby and being overweight much of my adult life, my knees get achy. They felt incredibly lubricated and loose while taking the supplements.
  4. Sex drive: I'll be honest - I never had a problem with that, even as I get closer to forty. The wife is going to love that I said that, but it's true.
  5. Strength and muscle were two things I honestly didn't think I'd see many results in, but I was wrong. My core is tighter, I feel stronger, and I didn't pack on pounds of muscle. I feel better now at age 38 than I did when I was 20. When I run, I can actually feel my core tighten and stay really strong, which helps me breathe better. A vast improvement!
They also offer a 90-day guarantee, too. Not just any guarantee, a 110% money-back guarantee:

If, after using SIX FOR MEN for 90 days, you don’t agree that it is the best nutrition program you have ever used, if you don’t feel more energy or experience better overall health in 90 days, we will return 110 PERCENT of your money! 
Remember my weight loss goal? I lost 39 lbs in 12 weeks. The testing of the SIX Nutrition came at the end of the 12 weeks, so it's a legit test. (This is not a weight loss supplement, but an overall supplement for a mans health.) This greatly improved my ability to stay focused and train hard when I was tired and my body felt shot. I have never had a supplement plan work well for me until I began using the SIX Nutrition supplements. It worked so well that I was able to not only keep up with my hunting partners on our last couple trips, but I was able to stay out ahead of them and I wasn't even close to out of breath. My muscles felt strong and I felt like I could hike for days. It was a wonderful feeling!

A 30-day supply of the SIX Nutrition Vitamins for Men costs $59.95. Considering it is six pills each day in a convenient pouch, and the fact that they worked well for me, I will say that's a good price. Better yet, buy the three month supply and save $30 or so. Keep in mind the guarantee, but I am going to bet you won't be needing that. 

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I received Six Nutriton supplements  for free from Six Nutrition as coordinated by Deep Creek PR an Outdoor Industry Public Relations Company in consideration for review publication. All opinions are strictly our own.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Orange Army and Staying Positive

Blaze Orange. You wouldn't believe the amount of blaze orange Brett and I saw last Sunday. We knew we would encounter some, but we must have run into 40 rifle hunters near our spot. It was good and bad. Good to know that if there are that many hunters there is land to hunt, but bad that we were the only archers. With a quick, 'Screw this, let's go to our other spot!', we hit the road and hiked in to our other spot.

Neither one of us were anxious to hike nine miles with all the orange because we knew with every orange hat or vest, there were probably five guys NOT wearing orange. We hashed out a plan to hunt the backside of a foothill that overlooks two canyons. We normally viewed this hill from about a half mile away, but we always saw deer on it. Today it was our chance to see what we could make happen.

We skirted below the ridgeline to keep from silhouetting ourselves and decided to start peeking over the edges. As I looked down one side, I immediately noticed an odd shape at the bottom of the ravine. Rifle Hunter! He was crouched down, rifle on his lap and not wearing any orange. Just as I told Brett, he turned to me and said, 'Two doe coming up the ridge!' Immediately, we went into hunt mode.

Brett backed up, dropped his pack and grabbed his bow. He backtracked around the hill to get in front of the deer while I stayed put in case they bolted. I watched as Brett made his way over the ridge about 100 yards away and sat down to glass. I also kept an eye on our firearm carrying hunter down below. This guy was in a great spot, but we knew he could only shoot a buck. The does were ours if we could make it happen. Turns out, the doe had other ideas. They never came up the ridge. We glassed four nearly a half hour and nothing.

We regrouped, but were not discouraged. Deer had been spotted and that is ALWAYS a good sign. As we ate our breakfast, we watched the other hunter hike a trail and set up facing a steep face more than half a mile away. A half hour later, I spotted our two deer nearly a mile from where we first located them and they were headed away from us. At the rate they were going and with the hunter right there, there was no point in trying to go after them. We still had a month and a half to fill our tags.

We glassed for another couple hours, spotted another hunter and no more deer. For us, it was a successful outing. We had seen deer, got some hiking in, and had a game plan for a couple weeks to get out and hike our tails off in search of a SoCal mule deer. With the weather cooling down and rifle season now over, it is time to wait a couple weeks for things to settle down. After that, it's game on as we go back after them!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Product Review: MINOX BL 10x44 Binoculars

Hunting the West forces you to become best friends with your optics out of necessity. Covering ground in a short amount of time is imperative.  One of the best ways to do this is with the use of high quality optics. As a Southern California hunter who has to cover much ground in search of wild game, I have become one with MINOX Sport Optics. As part of the MINOX Adventure Team, my MINOX BL 10x44 binoculars are an essential tool to locating animals and if I ever left home without them, I'd make the drive back to pick them up. I have been using them for all of 2013 and they are without a doubt one the best tools I am using and will continue to use.

The BL 10x44 binoculars are extremely lightweight and very easy to carry and hold while glassing, but don’t let that fool you. These binoculars are top notch in the form of quality. I carry them while scouting, hunting, and even hiking with the family. I do like having them on a tripod when I am glassing an area for a long period of time, but honestly, these are light enough where I can comfortably rest my elbows on my knees and glass for hours.

The powerful light-gathering optical systems feature multi-coated lens elements that guarantee the best optical performance and neutral color rendition of the object in view. Thanks to the roof prisms with a phase-correction coating, the user is offered an image with exceptionally high detail rendition and high contrast, also in low light situations.

Low light visibility is one of the best features of the BL 10x44 binoculars. On a recent deer hunt in SoCal, my hunting buddy and I were set up long before sunrise. I began glassing an hour before sunrise and he asked me if I could actually see anything. Not only could I see, but I didn’t have to squint or refocus. I viewed a valley over a half mile away with ease. It is one of my favorite features of the MINOX 10x44 BLs. I was able to spot a doe, bedded across a canyon from us before the sun rose and my confidence in these binoculars grew even more.

Eye fatigue is something I hear so many of my fellow hunters talk about and share with me. They ask me how I avoid it and I simply say, 'I don't get eye fatigue because I use MINOX optics.' That's the honest truth. I glass the foothills and mountainsides for hours every time I hunt and my eyes always feel good. No headaches, no fatigue, and a crisp, clear view of everything I am looking at.

I also look for smooth diopter adjustment in a binocular. These have it! I am able to adjust the diopter and refocus quickly, smoothly and it stays in place. I have used other binos where the diopter adjustment would rotate on its own. The adjustment is very smooth, even when it gets gritty from use in SoCal, which leads me to my next point.

I am very hard on my gear and the conditions out here are rough on it, too. It’s dry, sandy, and hot. It is inevitable that my gear will get dusty and dirty. My MINOX binos have seen their share of dirt this year. I don’t just clean them with an optics cloth though. First, I blow out as much of the debris with an air hose at a low PSI, and then I use an optics cloth. While most of the dirt comes out, I have noticed that some dirt has made a home around the diopter adjustment. There is a slight grinding sound when I focus. Not a huge issue, but it is there.

MINOX also offers one of the best warranties in the business, too. You can read it below.

MINOX offers all customers a specialized Total Coverage Warranty. After a simple registration, customers can benefit from an extended protection against all manufacturing and functional defects - from the day of registration, the MINOX Total Coverage Warranty will be valid for 30 years.

The MINOX BL 10x44s retail for $499.00 and for quality optics and a warranty like they offer, this is a great price for optics. Plus, you will use these for more than just hunting and the investment is worth it in my opinion. Even now I can’t stop thinking about hitting the forest with my MINOX binoculars in hopes of locating that elusive mule deer buck!

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Middle of Another Tough Season

My gear has been getting a workout this year. So have my legs. I have been practicing, scouting, hiking, and hunting for a couple months and have yet to draw back on a deer. It's been tough to say the least. Will I let that get me down? Heck no! I am still pumped as I have nearly two months left to fill a tag.

A couple of my buddies and I have been out bowhunting SoCal mule deer together for the past two months. We have spotted some deer, but haven't been able to get close enough on public land. Have we been able to get out as much as we hoped? Nope. We all have families, jobs, and things that come up, but those days when we do get together, we make the most of it. We hike, glass, hike, glass, and repeat over and over. Many would be discouraged, but I am not. I am just getting in tune with the land and when it is meant to happen, it will.

Lately, we have found plenty of mountain lion tracks in our go-to spot. Not just any tracks, but big ones alongside little ones. No bueno! Last weekend, my buddy Michael and I hiked nine miles in search of deer. We glassed basins, trails, valleys, and didn't spot a single deer. It's only the second time in two years I have gone out and not seen at least a handful of deer. We did spot some rifle hunters, but only three of them and most were more than a mile away. Even still, we hiked around a few hillsides and that's when we located the kitty tracks. 

The best thing to happen to us was at the end of the day when we were heading out of the parking lot. Michael had just left when another truck pulled in. The driver cordially asked if I was a hunter and if I had any luck. When I said no, he asked what my weapon of choice was. I told him I was a bowhunter and he lit up. He shared that he was not a hunter, but that he and his buddies were motocross enthusiasts and they had a problem. There were so many deer around their spot that they couldn't ride without fear of hitting one. For a few more minutes I chatted with him and got the directions to his spot and I am hoping to make it out in the next two weeks to scout the area and hunt it. 

It's always hard to hunt out where I hunt, but I know the deer are there. Time to put my boots on, put my muscles and optics to work and try to located a high desert mule deer.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Showing Some Love to my SoCal Hunting Buddies

Recently, I shared some hunt success from the East Coast and now it's about time to share the West Coast version. Some of my hunting buddies have been putting in a great deal of time and effort to kill some deer and pigs this year and have met with great success!

Tony Catalde - The Bearded Boar - killed this beauty of a blacktail a couple weeks ago on the last day of the season with one, well-placed arrow. Tony and his family live off the land and he's a great guy to get to know and follow. He does some great things for the hunting and fishing industry and is a great cook (from what I read and see). Here's is his brief recap of his hunt:

Arrowed this Blacktail at 30 yards. He went another 15 and laid down, after a long and hard season I'm finally glad deer season is over. I can focus on bears and pigs finally. And make a lot of Jerky and Venison dishes. Love the life.

Follow Tony on Twitter and Instagram.

Cody Scott hiked a long way into unit D14 and camped overnight in hopes of finding a mule deer. The next day he put the crosshairs on this magnificent mule deer buck. Cody hauled this animal out on his own and by the size of that animal I'll bet it was a chore. Cody is a big dude and that animal is rather large to say the least. That is a great buck for D14! Way to go Cody!

Follow Cody on Twitter and Facebook.

Chris Turgeon and a buddy hit some SoCal public land in search of some feral pigs recently. Chris is a pig killing machine and when he found a sounder near his hunting spot, they set up and were able to kill two fine eating pigs. Here is Chris with his trophy! The smile says it all!

Great job men! I am super stoked for these guys as they are some of the hardest working hunters I know. Plus, they are all family men who hunt in California. I am proud to call them my friends and can't wait to hear some new stories of their adventures!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Product Review: RZ Mask

For those of you who hunt in dusty terrain, or get an influx of bugs when walking to your hunting setup, you know how difficult breathing can be. On a few recent hunts, I was walking behind my hunting partner and the sand from the trail was billowing into the air as he walked. I was stuck trying to breathe and wondered if there was any way to do it without choking. Then, by chance, I was on Twitter a few days later and came across some tweets about RZ Mask. These guys make a mask for dirt bikers to keep the dust from caking their nostrils and lungs. Would it work for hunters, too? I opted to try it out.

The folks over at RZ Mask recommended the camo version of the mask. The mask arrived with the stretchy 'skeleton' and three replacement filters. Attaching the filters was easy as they just snapped into place near the bridge of the nose. Then you undo the Velcro on the strap and fit it around your face. You can also adjust the bridge of the nose to get it seated properly.

From the RZ Mask website:
The lightweight Stealth Hunting Mask makes a great edition to any Hunting Enthusiasts gear. Complete Sight and Scent Concealment is the edge.....A replaceable RZ Scentless Filter the exhaled air of any scents. RZ allows you to breathe easier and perform at your very best. It’s Dual Valve Exhaust plus the Active Carbon Filters remove 99.9% of impurities from a user’s breath. Hi-Definition 3D-Camo and Comfortable Fit. Designed to be packed with ease and not take up much space, this Abrasion-Resistant Neoprene Protects against the harshest Wind and Cold Weather.

How does the mask prevent scent from escaping?
When hunting, odors coming from the body can be picked up by animals from as far as 585 yards away, this could be sweat, deodorant or anything else being emitted. One of the most overlooked sources of scent is from the mouth. The breath being exhaled is absorbed by the active carbon filter in the RZ Mask. The filter seals off the nose and mouth of its user, allowing for zero scent being emitted.

I chose to test the mask out using three different applications. Hiking into my hunting spot, hunting with the mask on, and the other while riding my mountain bike on the trails around my house. They all have merit and you will see why later on.

First, I chose to wear it on our hikes into our hunting spot. If you thought hiking up hills with 40-50 lbs. on your back was tough, try doing it with airflow being restricted. It wasn't so much as difficult as much as it was uncomfortable, but the dust particles were kept out of airflow. I was breathing clean air the entire hike. I had a hard time keeping the mark exactly where I wanted it on my face, but it wasn't worth not having it on. As we sat in our locations, I also kept the mask on for three reasons. One, to keep dust out. Two, to filter my breath from the deer smelling me. Three, to camo my face and hide it from approaching animals.

Now, as a guy who wears glasses, I did have them fog up a few times due to breathing heavy with the mask on. I had to adjust the nose piece over and over to allow extra air to escape. This sort of defeats the purpose of filtering your air in and out, so I chalked it up as a drawback due to frustration. I didn't give up though. On a separate trip, I realized that you must keep the mask fairly tight to your face to have everything work and FIT properly. I am not a fan of Velcro, but it works great on the RZ Mask. It holds everything in place and I was able to breathe comfortably without my glasses fogging up or having dust particles penetrate the mask. I was very impressed with the fit!

The next test was to wear the mask while riding my bike on the San Gabriel River Bike Path around Long Beach, CA. Why would I do this when it's paved and there is no dust? Three reasons again. First, to filter out the smells of the treatment plant and vehicles I had to pass. Second, to restrict my airflow to beef up lung strength. Third, and most important, to keep from swallowing bugs along my 20 mile ride.

The bike test proved to work well, minus the fact I think I scared the crap out of everyone I passed. I mean come on, I looked like a character reject out of Mortal Combat! The RZ Mask worked well for keeping my face warm and allowing clean air to make it to my lungs. It doesn't fit very well when wearing a bike helmet, but I didn't care. It worked well at keeping the bugs out, too. The mosquitoes and black flies that hover are awful when you suck them in while biking. The mask kept them out and I rode in peace!

In the hunting application I think the mask works very well. I have no issues with the way it functions. For biking, I would offer one suggestion to RZ Mask and that is to have the small netting holes to be of an even smaller diameter. That way, you could take the filter out while biking and still protect yourself from the bug inhalation. This would allow you to breathe a bit freer when riding the paved trails. Other than that, I found it to work very well!

Now, if you are unsatisfied with your RZ Mask, they do offer a 100% Guarantee. Personally, I don't see why you would return it. It works very well, fits comfortably, but it does have a relatively steep price tag of $34.95. The benefits are that you do get three filters with the mask. When you consider the filtering and fit you get what you pay for. Plus, you don't have to clean any oily residue from waxy paint from your face.

Overall, I think the RZ Mask has found a place in my gear bag, but I don't think I will use it all the time. On hot days it feels like it is smothering me. I am not so sure it's great for the hike in either, but it functions as a great training aid for high elevation hunts! I now try to hike off to the side of my hunt partner because I want to have a dust-free hike and need that cool air hitting my lungs. When I use the RZ Mask while hunting, I find my breathing is improved (no dusty nostrils) and I can't even smell my breath (a plus when hunting) so the deer may not be able to either. I definitely would recommend trying the mask out and I think you will see that in comparision to other masks, the RZ Mask stands out as one of the better masks on the market for all the benefits that come with it. 

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