Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Cure for Post Season Withdrawl

My recent post for PSE Archery.

February is typically a month where we feel deprived of hunting. There is a void in our lives as not too many are out actually hunting, but more so just thinking about it and how they can’t wait for deer season to roll back around. Even for me it can be a tough time of year to get out, but with turkey season rapidly approaching getting into the woods to scout is key to success. A major plus is that while scouting areas for turkey in California you can also hunt coyotes or hogs year round so bring your bow and arrows when you scout, too!



Target Practice

Practicing should be a year round activity. Just because the snow is falling or there isn’t any hunting season open doesn’t mean you should hang up your bow for the next few months. Stay sharp year-round by practicing year-round. I am fortunate to have good weather and an outdoor archery range open throughout the year. This year I plan on also setting up a small target in my garage to allow me to shoot a few arrows every day just to keep my body fluid.
 

Scouting
Bring a friend out scouting and introduce them to the wild! Another good way to get people interested is to take some of that hard earned venison and whip up a nice meal. Have some friends over for a venison feast, swap stories and share the wealth. You would be surprised at how many guys want to go hunting after tasting some steroid-free meat!

Bring a GPS…and be sure you are up to date with the current versions of software. Land may have changed hands, public land become private or vice versa. By bringing a GPS into the field you can mark different areas to review in the comfort of your home and give you exact locations for when you head back out to hunt.




Two more items that are a must when I scout are my binoculars and my camera. A good pair of binoculars like my 10x42s are great for scouting because they are powerful and I don’t mind the extra weight when it comes to optics. I want good quality, power and reliability (just like my compound bow). I also bring a camera along to document areas, things I find on the ground, and any animals I might see. It’s also a great way to document your trip to show your hunting buddies or your family.

So, if you get out there to do some early pre-season scouting or are fortunate enough to get some hunting in share your experiences and photos on the SoCal Bowhunter Facebook page. We would all love to participate in your progress, excitement and all around success!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

First Elk: My Elk Hunter Magazine Article

My faithful blog followers have read all about my 2012 archery elk adventure in Colorado back in September and October. It was one of the most amazing hunts I have ever been on. OK, it was THE most amazing hunt I have ever been on. Fortune fell upon me again as my story also appears in the Spring 2013 issue of Elk Hunter Magazine! This is the first hunting success story I have ever had published in print and I am pretty stoked! Just take a look at the cover with Nate Simmons hunched over on his pack out. That tells the story of pack out right there. My First Elk story appears on page 92, but there are also some great tips and articles in the preceding pages. I highly recommend picking up a copy (or a subscription) to Elk Hunter Magazine. It's chock full of great info and exciting stories!

A big thank you to the team behind Elk Hunter Magazine for not only a great publication, but also for including my story in your magazine. It is an honor and I am humbled that you included it. Thank you!

I am not going to spoil the article, but here is a shot of the spread. Great job to the designers of Elk Hunter Magazine!

 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Behind the Scenes Scouting Progress

When I am not in the woods hunting I am either practicing at the archery range or online researching or on the phone hunting down areas to hunt. One of the key ingredients to my success this year is gaining access to some other areas in Southern California. So far things are moving in the right direction!

Late last season, my friend and hunting partner Brett and I discovered one of my hunting spots was closed down. Come to find out, a new person bought the property and decided it was best to block access. With a little digging and positive email correspondence I have been able to get in touch with the new owner in the hopes of gaining access to the property. I am keeping my fingers crossed that with a little help in upkeep of the land that Brett and I might gain access late in the season!

Last season, as we came out of our gated hunting spot, we picked up an incredible amount of trash. I proposed to the powers that be that cleaning trash out of that area would not only benefit the wildlife, but make it a better place in general. My proposal was received and they are reviewing it for a future project. My goal is to clean the area with a bunch of my fellow hunters and outdoorsmen and women in hopes of making it a better place and getting in deeper to scout that area for deer season.

In my online scouting, I have found an area that holds many deer, but is gated. The gates aren't a big deal as we can still hike in, but it would certainly benefit us if we could drive in a few miles and then hike another couple to find the deer. Getting a key to a gated area is a goal of mine and so far I have hit the proper channels. Again, with some email correspondence and me offering some insight into me as a bow hunter, I have made progress and I am hoping that in future weeks I will have access to this area.

On a side note, meeting with manufacturers was a goal of mine in 2012. While I didn't get to do as much as I would have liked, I started off 2013 with a bang. So far I have contacted, or been contacted by multiple manufacturers. I have a couple plant tours in the works and will be meeting with some manufacturers of top gear in the industry. I am a gear junkie by nature and this just feeds the fire!

So as you can see, even though the blog hasn't been pumping out new information these past couple weeks, I have been hard at work behind the scenes trying to make new things happen. I am pursuing new ventures and loving the challenge. This year is building up to be one of the best hunting years ever and that's only because i am willing to put in the extra effort. I hope you are, too! Best of luck this year!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Product Review: PSE Phantom Micro Adjustable Drop Away Rest

Having been a fan of drop away rests for years, I have tested many with decent results. Some are cable driven and others are limb driven. The PSE Phantom™ Micro Adjustable Drop Away Rest is a cable driven drop away rest that offers much more than your everyday drop away. Reviewing the Phantom Micro was very enjoyable and enlightening. 


The PSE Phantom Micro Adjust is our finest drop away arrow rest and features a full capture platform for the arrow. The rest falls out of the way for complete arrow clearance. The oversize screws make adjustments and tuning very easy.

Installation of the Phantom Micro is simple, but there were no instructions in or on the packaging, so you have to get them online. This would have been better if they were in the package in my opinion. Follow the directions found here and you’ll be headed in the right direction.

My favorite part is the fact that the rest itself never touches the riser. Unlike most drop away rests, the Phantom sits slightly behind the riser thus allowing it to swivel and function quietly and more efficiently. One of the best features is no aggravating slapping sound when the rest drops. I can’t tell you how much time I have spent trying to quiet down other drop away rests. When the Phantom Micro drops it is ultra-quiet and super smooth.


The curved supports on either side have a rubberized coating providing more sound-dampening when your arrow makes contact. It contains the arrow and is quiet. No more needs to be said.

I did not like that there is no glue or sticky bottom to the rubber piece that sits on your riser. This is the piece that your arrow makes contact with to keep it from making noise. In order to utilize it, you must purchase an adhesive and glue the rubber rest to the riser. If you don’t, the arrow makes constant contact with the riser and metal-on-metal makes noise.


I spent two days at the range after I installed the Phantom where I shot a minimum of fifty shots. During that time I had a good friend listen to the bow while I shot. Specifically, I had him focus on the arrow rest. He said he heard no noise and was also impressed at how fast it dropped. The Phantom Micro is the quietest rest I have ever used. I plan on using this rest in 2013 as it boosts my confidence in knowing I have less chance of spooking game.

Overall, I have to say that the Phantom Micro Adjustable drop away rest is one of the best I have put to the test. I like it better than any of the other dropaways I have used and it’s a great buy at $99.99. I have and will continue to recommend this rest to my fellow archers looking for the quietest, most highly functional drop away arrow rest on the market.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Volunteers Needed for Bighorn Sheep Survey

Getting outdoors during the off-season is great and taking part in things like the California Bighorn Sheep Survey is one way to do it! I took part in it last year and will be again this year. Here is the press release and info from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife:
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Society for Conservation of Bighorn Sheep (SCBS) are seeking volunteers to assist biologists on March 9 and 10 (Saturday evening and all day Sunday).
No survey experience is necessary to participate but volunteers must attend an orientation on Saturday, March 9, at 6:00 p.m. at the Angeles National Forest Supervisor’s Office in Arcadia.
Volunteers will hike to designated observation sites in the San Gabriel Mountains early Sunday morning to count and record bighorn sheep. A representative from CDFW, USFS or the Society will lead volunteer groups. Participants must be at least 16 years old and capable of hiking one mile in rugged terrain, although most survey routes are longer. In general, hikes will not be along trails. Accessing survey points will involve scrambling over boulders, climbing up steep slopes, and bush-whacking through chaparral.
Volunteers are encouraged to bring binoculars or spotting scopes in addition to hiking gear. Mountain weather can be unpredictable and participants should be prepared to spend several hours hiking and additional time making observations in cold and windy weather. Volunteers will need to start hiking early Sunday morning. For volunteers who wish to camp, complimentary campsites will be available to volunteers on a first-come, first-served basis at the Applewhite Campground in Lytle Creek on the night of March 9.
Surveys for bighorn sheep in the San Gabriel range have been conducted annually since 1979. The mountain range once held an estimated 740 sheep, which made the San Gabriel population the largest population of desert bighorn sheep in California. The bighorn population declined by more than 80 percent during the 1980s but appears to be increasing now. Recent estimates have put the population at about 400 animals.
Please sign up online at http://www.sangabrielbighorn.org. If you do not have access to the Internet, you may call either(626) 574-5287 or (909) 584-9012 to receive a volunteer packet.
Media Contacts:
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications,(916) 322-8944
John Miller, USFS Communications, (909) 382-2788
Norm Lopez, Society for Conservation of Bighorn Sheep,(805) 431-2824

Monday, February 4, 2013

Is there really an off season?

 My most recent blog entry for PSE Archery:

Resolutions are tossed around at the start of each year and most last but a few weeks. The off season can seem like it lasts forever, but does it really have to? Does it even exist? For the die hard deer hunter who hunts only deer the off season can feel like an eternity. For guys like me who hunt year round to stay sharp there is no off season. I don't hunt all the time though. Taking part in other activities not only helps me prepare for whatever hunting I will do in the Fall, but it also helps me out a great deal. Some of my shared tips not only help sharpen your skills, but you might be lucky enough to have one or two lead you to some new hunting land.
                   
As soon as the season is over I review the data I have compiled throughout the season and set a mental note for what areas I want to research through online mapping, zoning and to see if they are private or public land. During the deer season I found areas that were posted and others that I want to explore further. The off season is a perfect time to do that. I begin by scouring the internet, finding out who owns the property and then ask permission to either hunt it or, if I am lucky, seeing if it borders public land in any way.

 
Taking part in the 2012 California Bighorn Sheep Survey.

Take part in events that get you out in nature. What do I mean? Do some shed hunting! Find an area of land and just search for sheds. Volunteer your time in a conservation effort. Take for example the Southern California Bighorn Sheep Survey. I participated in this last year to see what the local sheep habitat looked like and to help count whatever sheep I saw. Not only did I get to meet some new people now turned hunting buddies, but I also was able to hike into an area I normally would not have access to. Come to find out the area has a public access point and there is ample huntable public land. We glassed steep, rocky hillsides for hours and didn't turn up one single sheep, but we had a great time and knew we'd be back. You can also take in a few hunting seminars. It's a great way to learn more about the animal you are hunting and a great way to make new friends.

Hiking into some new areas in the off season can often surprise you.

Scout, hike and get in shape! Some of you are probably curious as to why this isn't my number one recommendation. If there is one thing that I avoid is making resolutions regarding losing weight because it is usually the first resolutions I hear made each year. I am not one of the masses who vows to lose weight each year. While I can always stand to lose a few pounds, my goal isn't to lose a set amount of body fat. I aim more to get out more and hit the trail and better yet, hit the areas that don't have trails. Get out there and glass new areas and hike them. Get a feel for the land and be sure to take your camera and GPS. Losing fat and gaining lean muscle is an added bonus!

Make an effort to pick up some trash and beautify the areas you are hiking or plan to hunt.

You can make an effort toward conservation of the land by picking up trash. Make the hunting areas that much cleaner and safer by picking up what others have left behind. These past two years I have located some seriously trashed areas due to human negligence and we aim to clean them up. Plan a day or two with a group of friends where you hike in with trash bags and pack out every piece of movable trash you encounter. Be aware that there may be creatures making homes in certain items and you should verify each is empty before picking it up. If you can drive a vehicle into some of the areas, try to load them up with as much garbage that you can to reasonably  haul it out. Sure, I know this is hard work and that it shouldn't have to be your job, but it does give hunters a good name, and more importantly it beautifies the land, make it safer for the animals and gives you greener pastures to hunt in.

This is also great time of year to utilize some gear you haven't used often or a good time to pick up somethings you want to try out. Why wait until the hunting season? If you test them out now and list the pros and cons, you will be better off when hunting season comes around. I like to test out gear in the off season to see what works well or not so well in order to consolidate what is in my pack come September. You can find out what is effective for different hunting situations and remove the gear that is not.


An alligator bow hunt is one of the top hunts on my list!

Last, but not least is to research some new animals to hunt. Last year it was to hunt elk for the first time and that turned into one of the most memorable hunts of my entire life. This year, with the help of my friend Bill Howard, I am researching an alligator hunt in Georgia. It's a hunt I have thought about often, but know nothing about. With his help I am going to be finding a way to bow hunt an alligator sometime in the next couple years, but it is not a hunt that I will take lightly. It's a hunt that will take careful planning and practice while utilizing some bowfishing skills.

These are but a few of the things I do while preparing to hunt deer in the Fall. For me, there is no off season. In the Spring there are turkey's to hunt and in Southern California you can hunt wild pigs year round. What a great opportunity to find new areas to hunt, meet some new friends and to hone my skills as a bow hunter. 2013 has much to offer and I plan to enjoy the off season as much as I possibly can.