Friday, January 31, 2014

Foremost Hunting Podcast Interviews The SoCal Bowhunter

A few weeks back, Chris Larsen from the Foremost Hunting podcast interviewed me in regards to the challenges of hunting in Southern California and my increased fitness level. Download the podcast on iTunes or listen to it here.

Thank you for the great chat and having me on your show, Chris. It was a pleasure!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Facing the Truth, but Battling Against the Odds

Exhaustion lets you know that you need to take a break. Some days it's through your muscles. Other days it might come in the form of a headache. No matter what, you need to listen to your body and what it is telling you. I have a habit of acting like the Energizer bunny as I have a hard time sitting still. Ask my wife, she is constantly telling me to sit down, relax, and just not do anything for a bit. It's hard for me. I am a naturally active person and when I see the need for something to be done, I do it. Unless it's housework, then I tend to shy away. Ha! No matter what, I do overdo it sometimes.

I had a headache all afternoon yesterday. I drank plenty of water, but I could feel it creeping up.Then, last night I took my daughter out to dinner and started to feel worse. I knew that I was tired and my body was telling me so. After she went to bed, I went into our bedroom and lay down. I just wanted to rest. The next thing I know it's 2:00 AM and I am in the same position I was in four hours prior. Still had the headache and knew I needed more sleep. So I took a couple Excedrin and crashed. 

When my alarm went off at 6:30 AM, I did not want to get up. The headache was still lingering, but I knew that I needed to get up. Some days I know when my body needs to rest and some days endorphins are my best friend. I slowly got dressed and forced myself to go to the gym at work. No one is ever there at 7:00 AM so it was good for me. Instead of running outside, I decided I would get on the elliptical machine and bust out a few miles. It's amazing how good you feel when you start sweating and those endorphins pump through your body. Four miles after I started my body felt good and my headache was gone. The weather plays some part when it comes to me and headaches, but the weather can bite me. I refuse to it hamper my progress.

Now I am ready for the day. I feel energized (time to beat the drum) and projects need to be completed. I am well-rested, my muscles got a workout, and mentally I am alert. Sure, I can't stop thinking about bowhunting, scouting, hiking, elk, deer, pigs, ahhhhhhh... you know how it goes, but I needed that break last night. My advise to you is listen to your body, listen to others around you, and take it easy some days. On the other days, you are the master of your own progress. Good luck!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Conservation and Preparation: Hunting Season Approaches

As a hunter, I look forward to giving back in the way of conservation. Sometimes it is monetary and sometimes it is sweat equity. Recently, I learned that the Society for the Conservation of Bighorn Sheep was looking for volunteers to help clean up some springs around Southern California. I read a brief about what they were looking for and I thought it fit the bill for what I was hoping to do this year. So I shot an email over to Bill Tuck, the Spring Coordinator, and waited for a response. It didn’t take long as I received a phone call from Bill later that evening.

When I called Bill back I could hear the enthusiasm in his voice. He was passionate about what he does and that he loves being outdoors. At 69 years young, he is out there cleaning springs, as well as organizing and coordinating with others to clean the many springs that need to be observed.
After noticing my email address, Bill came right out and asked me if I was a hunter. Immediately, I said yes and he went right in to talking about a certain spring that needs to be checked. He shared how this spot held mule deer and sheep, but that it was not an easy spot to get to. That excited me even more! It’s in the desert. It’s a long hike. Only way to find it is by GPS as it is hidden. This would be a challenge, but the payoff could be huge!!

We talked for nearly forty-five minutes about what would be expected of me, photography, and hunting. I was not only thrilled to be considering this, but excited that this might also lead to a new hunting spot, keeping my GPS skills honed, and using solid teamwork to help get this job done. He said he would be getting an information packet in the mail the next morning.

The entire next day I couldn't stop thinking about this opportunity. It would test my meddle and my preparation. It would bring me closer to a different part of California that I had never ventured into. Best of all, it would be an adventure.

My information came in the mail this past weekend and I am scouring the details and sharing them with two of my hunting buddies to get them on board. If we all team up and head out there together, we could form a great hunting bond and also find an undiscovered honey hole. Then again, it might just be a sandbox with some water. I am prepared for either one, but I am anxiously counting down the days until we can hike it!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

2014 Goals & Objectives for The SoCal Bowhunter

Each year, I mentally create a set of archery and bowhunting goals for the year. Most times I will refine them and post them here. It has taken me longer than normal, but I have my goals ready to share with you all. If you have followed my blog over the years, you know that I do not believe in resolutions. They are destined to fail. Instead, I opt to create realistic goals that I want to achieve. (There is a difference in how you think about them and approach them.) These are in no particular order.

2014 Goals & Objectives for The SoCal Bowhunter:

  1. Participate in the 2014 CA Sheep Survey. For two years I have gone out and it has been super warm and windy. I saw zero sheep in the spot I was at and this year I plan on hiking into a different spot. With it being so warm, the sheep have stayed very high and are not coming to the lowlands. Don't they know I am looking forward to counting sheep?

  2. Shoot different manufacturers bows. I have been shooting a PSE for years, and while I love my PSE, I want to try shooting some other bows just to keep an open mind. I love what I shoot now, but I like to try new things. I have shot the Strother bows and plan on shooting the Vital when it becomes available. I know that G5 has a great bow (shot the Prime a couple years ago), but I have never shot a Bowtech or a Mathews or a Hoyt. This year might be when I change that.

  3. Set up a 3D target day with my friends. We are either going to go to a range with 3D targets, or just plan on heading out into the forest and set up a half dozen targets to shoot at. Either way, it will be a great way for us to meet new people, discuss the 2014 seasons, and have a great time!

  4. Bow hunt for wild pigs more and kill one. I have been out hunting pig more and more and this year is going to be the year I slay one. I need some pork in my freezer to balance everything out!

  5. Bow hunt for elk in Colorado. I have been planning this since I got back from my 2012 hunt. This year I plan on heading to CO with my friend Brett. We are both hitting the hills and working hard at getting our bodies in shape for the Rockies.

  6. Bow hunt for whitetail out-of-state. An opportunity has come up to hunt whitetail with a friend and I am seriously hoping I can make it work. It would be a privilege and an honor to get out and hunt with him.

  7. Do a backcountry hunt with friends. I would like to plan a 3-4 day hunt for deer in SoCal with some friends. Backpack in for 10 miles and hunt the high country with archery tackle. If we plan it right we could end up with some awesome adventure stories and hopefully hauling out some big deer!

  8. Photograph more wildlife. I see some amazing things when I am hiking, scouting or hunting and want to share them with all of you! Describing them is one thing, but having the photographic proof would be the best.

  9. Blog more tips and DIY projects that I create. Why not share the ideas with all of you and hopefully save you some money.

  10. Last, but not least, I would like to scout new areas even more. I want to start at the end of January and hike new trails, document the animals I see, and hopefully find a great deer hunting spot for fall.
All of these goals are attainable and I am very excited to see where 2014 takes me. With the support of a great family, great friends, and awesome sponsors, I welcome the challenges and excitement.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Published Article in California Sportsman Magazine

Writing has been a passion of mine from an early age. It's part of who I am and I love to share my hunting adventures and about what bowhunting means to me. To my great fortune, California Sportsman magazine also enjoyed my style of writing and asked me to submit an article a couple months ago for review. After the editor and publishers read the article, not only was it published in the January 2014 issue, but I have been asked to write an article each month! 2014 is off to a great start!

Having the last article in the magazine is a positively a plus. Not only does it show me that I can work my way up, but it also shows me that my article will be the last one you read prior to closing the magazine. Expert writer I am not, but it'll be fun sharing my adventures through yet another channel. My next article will feature some spring cleaning and gear coverage I think we all can utilize. As always, I encourage your comments and if you have something you'd like me to write about, let me know!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

2014 Spring Turkey Tune Up at San Vicente Reservoir

The older I get, the more areas I want to try to bow hunt. The Spring turkey tune up is coming up next month and I may try to get Brett to head out there with me. For turkey, it would be a great spot to try out and see what unfolds. Anyone else going?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Gear Review: Teton Sports Outfitter XXL Quick Tent and Outfitter XXL Cot

For nearly a year, I have had the Teton Sports Outfitter XXL Quick Tent sitting in my garage. Over and over I have told myself to get it out and set it up. I finally decided that in the middle of Winter I would set it up. Now, I must make it known that 'middle of Winter' in Southern California means cold, but not frigid. My daughter asked me about going camping and I figured, why not! The Outfitter XXL is a single person tent, but with an almost five year-old I decided this would be a great opportunity for us. December 27, 2013 was a great day to set up camp in the backyard with my little adventure girl. 

Why did I wait so long? I am not 100% sure. Maybe I was afraid I would have to take more than a half hour to set up a single-person tent. Or maybe I thought I'd like it so much I would begin planning solo hunt after solo hunt. No matter what, it was time to face the music and test it out.

The Outfiter XXL Quick Tent is exactly that - it sets up super fast, but before I get into all of that, here are some details about the tent.
  • Dimensions: 82" x 39" x 32"
  • Packed Dimensions: 25" x 8" x 5"
  • Pack Weight: 4 lbs
  • Capacity: 1 person
  • Shell: 75D Taffeta 2000MM PU
  • Doors: 1
  • Pole System: Quick–up System III
  • Color: Yellow–Orange

The tent weighs 4 lbs. but I wouldn't have guessed that. I thought it was lighter than that. It will sleep one person very comfortably with room for your clothing or a few spare smaller items inside. I am 5' 9 1/2" and I had a little more room for my head and feet inside. I used my regular pillow from my bed which took up a lot of room. I would definitely like to try out a smaller camp pillow for extra room in the future.

Connecting the tent to the cot via six bungees was super easy.

Wanting to get some elevation when hunting in rattlesnake country, Teton Sports recommended I utilize their Outfitter XXL Camp Cot for use with the tent. So I had the luxury of setting up the tent on the Outfitter XXL Camp Cot. The cot itself weighs 26 lbs., so it is not ideal backpacking gear, but if you travel into camp via ATV or vehicle, this will suit you well! For backyard camping and gear reviews it's even better! I have had a few questions about support, structure and weight limits (up to 600 lbs.). To answer those questions, here are some details about the cot that might interest you.

  • Dimensions: 85" x 40" x 19"
  • Pack Weight: 26 lbs
  • Bed: Heavy–duty 600D Poly Canvas
  • Frame: Aluminum top surround
  • Legs: Steel Leg Assembly
  • Color: Black
  • Storage: 600D Canvas Carry Bag with Drawstring Closure

Tell me that doesn't sound awesome to you? A cot that can not only support a larger bodied person, but also allows you to connect the tent to the cot easily and comfortably is a must-have! The tent and cot can accommodate a person who is 6' tall or under - comfortably. Anything over that and you are probably going to want to look into a larger/longer tent. I am 5' 9" tall, and the tent still had a few inches to fill on either end. If you are over 6' tall,  you can probably fit, but your toes may be pushing against the far tent wall.

As you have seen in the video above, the tent is easily set-up and attaches to the cot very easily.  After sleeping in it for a couple nights, there is definitely only room for one person to sleep comfortably, which is what was expected. My air mattress and sleeping bag fit perfectly from end to end. I slept well on the second night, even with my daughter in the tent.

We kept the rain fly on both nights and I am glad we did. The first night it was very cool, but clear and we had no condensation around. The second night it was incredibly foggy and our tent was covered in moisture. Even the inside of the tent had some condensation, under the rain fly, which I wasn't too happy with. I am researching how to avoid that in the future. I left the rain fly attached to the tent to dry for a short while. I then unclipped one end, flipped it over and allowed the underside to dry. Don't forget that part or you'll end up with mildew on your tent. Once that dried, I folded it up prior to the tent take-down.

Taking the tent down was just as easy (if not easier) than the set-up. Normally, putting everything away seems like such a chore, but the Teton Sports Outfitter XXL Tent folds back up, slides into the bag and is ready to attach to your pack in a matter of just a couple minutes. That was very cool in my eyes because if you are hunting and need to move camp quickly, this is the tent you want to use.

The cot is more of a luxury, but it is a very nice addition if you have kids, want to be elevated, and have some patience with the set-up. Overall, the cot was nice and most of the set-up went very well. The final stage of getting the end bars attached got a big two thumbs down from me. I am a strong guy, and I had to horse it to get it to clip in. I mean REALLY horse it. I hope Teton Sports works up some improvements on that. My recommendation to anyone who gets one is to set it up a dozen times prior to going camping to see if the connecting points wear down a bit to allow an easier fit. I would certainly use the Outfitter XXL Cot while camping with family, and even on hunts where I have a vehicle nearby because at 26 lbs., I am not throwing it on my back. 

The Teton Sports Outfitter XXL Quick Tent retails from $129.00 - $85.00 online and I think it's an excellent price for what you are getting and for how easy it is to use. The Outfitter XXL Cot retails for $149.99, but you can find it around for less than that. The cot at Sportsman's Warehouse is selling for $99.99 and the tent $89.99 (and I understand those are everyday prices). Like I said, the cot is a luxury item for me and I am not sure $149.99 is a great price, but for bigger people, it's one of the strongest ones out there. I know that Teton Sports has some new things coming in 2014 and I am excited to hear what hey are and what improvements they have made to their gear. If you are looking for a tent that packs easily, sets up quickly, and protects you from the elements, the Outfitter XXL Quick Tent is a great buy.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Speak Up on Predator Management Policies & Regulations in CA

I just received this in my email and wanted to share it right away. I'm a big fan of predator hunting. Coyotes around here are every where and they need to be managed. I cannot make this meeting, but I am hoping at least one of my readers might!

California Deer Association
If You're Not at the Table, You're on the Menu!!!

What does this mean? Like it or not the antis communicate their thoughts and opinions to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, Fish & Game Commission, and elected officials at every possible opportunity. They have full-time employees whose jobs are to convince the decision makers to limit or take away your hunting privileges. We are fooling ourselves if we think that just complaining to each other will save hunting. We need to get off the menu and take a seat at the table - so here is what you can do for a start. On Wednesday, January 15th the Wildlife Resources Committee of the Fish & Game Commission will be holding a meeting which is open to the public. They are looking for your comments on the management of wildlife in California and you can be sure the antis will be there. One of the main topics at this meeting will be the reform of predator management policies/regulations. The antis are pushing to stop coyote hunting. We have lost the management of mountain lions and with the stopping of hound hunting for bears another management tool has been lost. The meeting takes place on January 15, 2014, from 12:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Van Nuys State Office Bldg. Auditorium, 6150 Van Nuys Blvd., Van Nuys, CA. Please attend and be professional in your comments. It's your State so fight for proper wildlife management. Here is the agenda:












To see summary of recommendations from Predator Subcommittee go to this link:

Monday, January 6, 2014

Saturday Public Land Pig Hunt Recap

Big boar track on the trail gave us hope!
My legs are dog tired! I have hiked mile after mile in sand and up and down hills before, but Saturday my legs and feet took a beating. The funny thing is, I had a blast doing it! My buddy Chris and I were after wild pigs on public land and worked our tails off trying to catch up to them. Prior to meeting up with Chris, I packed up my Badlands 2200 with snacks and a gallon of water and prepared to do some hiking!

Fresh rooting that destroyed a huge plot of land.

Early Saturday morning I met up with Chris at a potential local spot to find him raring to go! He was as eager to hit the trail as I was. We no sooner got into the area and found rooting ALL OVER! I know pigs are destructive, but seeing the damage first hand is something else altogether. Our emotions were ramped up as we scanned the forest for signs of movement or dark shapes. We saw nothing, but we hiked on.

After hours of hiking and seeing no pigs, we ran into some fresh tracks, but they disappeared into an area we couldn't go. It was promising and disappointing at the same time. None the less, we kept on as I felt my boot rubbing the inside of my arch. My boots were rubbing because of the uneven terrain and I knew by the end of the day I'd be popping a blister.

More fresh tracks from some sows and piglets.

No idea what this pig was rooting for, but it was on a mission!

Sweat soaked layers of clothing and rumbles in our stomachs reminded us we needed to change tactics. First, we needed to shed clothing, but get something good to eat! At lunch, we hashed out a game plan to try two other areas. We opted for plan number two due to it being so late in the day.

There was rooting like this all over, so we know we are in the right spot!

Our biggest challenges lay ahead of us as we had to hike even rougher terrain. My legs ached, feet burned, and pack felt heavier than normal. Being as focused on killing a pig as I was, I pushed on. Trails lead into other trails which all lead to more and more rooting. We were in their backyard for sure, but we couldn't find them. I remained positive as we hiked further into the forest, but we came up empty handed.

By the time darkness fell upon us, we had hike nearly ten miles, my gallon of water was gone, and my legs pleaded with me to sit down. Back at our vehicles we just smiled, laughed, and talked about the day. We were surely disappointed, but it didn't get us down. We had a successful day of hitting the trail and going on a pig hunt. We've done it before and we'll do it again. We are going to keep doing it until we get into those pigs on public land and then we are going to arrow one. I look forward to that pig roast!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Product Review: Badlands POINT Backpack

In the hunting community, when you hear the name Badlands you think quality backpacks and now quality apparel. The name is synonymous with quality. I have been using Badlands gear for years and am always impressed with the new packs they come out with. This year they released the Badlands Point pack and for the past few months I have been putting it to use in Southern California. With ATA coming in a couple weeks, I wanted to be sure I shared this review before they launch some new packs for 2014!

My first impression of the pack was that it was compact, durable, and had some interesting features. The new carrying handle is a plus as it makes it easy to pick up with gloves or bare hands. The beaver tail design was interesting, but I wasn't sure how it would play out for hunting out West.

My daughter assisting me in washing the Point before a hunt.

A newly added feature is the water bladder pouch being in a new spot inside the pack. It has been moved away from resting on your back, to the front of the actual pack. This allows the water to stay cooler longer. It can take some getting used to as the hose can get in the way of packing the pack if you aren't careful, but it was great having cooler water. One key thing to consider is that with the water bladder further away from your body, it also 'shortens' the length of the hose. It just doesn't reach as far now.

One feature that I appreciate more and more on Badlands gear is the magnetic closing pockets. They are super quiet and hold very strong. Having to not worry about zippers or Velcro is great, especially when you are wearing gloves or if you are trying to remain quiet. One tip though, don't let the flap snap back into place as it will make a loud clapping sound. I have made that mistake a few times. The magnets work great!

The chest strap sits higher on the Point than many other Badlands packs.

The pack, even when loaded with a gallon of water, first-aid kit, game bags, bow and arrows fit perfectly to my body. I made a few minor adjustments, but the belt held firm even when hiking six miles in uneven terrain. One thing I did notice was that the chest strap is a little higher than it usually is on other Badlands packs. Normally, this wouldn't be an issue, but I like to keep my bear spray there. With the strap now higher, the bear spray was much closer to my face and felt uncomfortable. I'll just have to find a new spot for my bear spray!

You can see how high my bear spray sits on the Point chest strap.

Mounting the bow vertically is ideal, but you have to play around to find the best way to do it.

I also mounted the bow horizontally to show an additional option.

Bow carrying ability is available, but questionable. I noticed one issue that really worked against me. I use a fall-away rest, and with the position of the cam pocket for the bow and the larger back pocket of the Point, you can't lock in your bow without the pocket pressing against the rest really hard (this happens with just about any pack. I mention it as a warning so you don't break the arms of your rest). There was enough added stress that I realized I could not attach it the way it was mean to. I detached my quiver and used one of the side mesh pockets to hold that. In order to attach the bow properly, using the cam pocket, I needed to flip to bow over, so the rest was away from the back pocket, and attach it that way. Even then I had an issue with the bow stick out about 30 degrees at the top because it would not anchor close enough to the pack. I had the back pocket filled with gear and while I know that was the issue, this shouldn't happen.

The bow pocket (with bow mounted) hits my backside no matter if the pack is full or empty.

I also noted that the bow-carrying pocket, in relation to the way the pack is built, sits differently than other Badlands packs. I had an issue with the lower bow cam swinging back and hitting my rear as I hiked. No matter what I did to adjust the pocket, I still had an issue getting it just right. I tried using the beaver tail to hold the bow horizontally, but I strongly advise against that. Not only was it more difficult to get through brush, but the bow swings a heck of a lot more. Use the pocket and anchor it properly. I would love to see some pics or video on the Badlands website showing the best ways to mount a bow to each pack. I have worked on some ways to do it, but I can always learn!

The top pocket is one of my favorite features. You can keep everything you might need quickly right there, like sunscreen, an extra shirt, or maybe a sandwich or snack. The sky is the limit! I was able to keep plenty in there. On one trip I stored my lunch and first-aid items and on another it was a dry balaclava, sunscreen (unscented of course), and a spare knife and still had room to spare.

The top loading design is fantastic and allows you to close it up tight and keep the inside from getting wet or falling out.  It allows you quite a bit of flexibility in how you carry your gear. If what you have in there is just clothing, you can cinch it right down and keep the pack small. If you have to load it with meat, or have more gear than you anticipated, you can loosen it up to a larger degree. You can't fit everything int here, but it does offer a great deal of room. The design is very similar to the Sacrifice as far as loading and I think that is a major benefit to the pack design.

For hunting in Southern California, I think the pack would work best on short, day hunts, or if you hunt out of a treestand. It would be an advantage on relatively short hikes to a hunting spot. I used the Point on a couple 3-mile hikes in to my spot and 3-miles out and didn't have the room in the pack for any meat or extra clothing. On the shorter one mile hikes it worked just fine. I really enjoyed the way it contoured to my back and how compact it felt when hiking. I will continue to use this for scouting and my day hunts. Badlands continues to surprise me with upping the ante on great, quality gear for hunters and I sincerely look forward to what they have in store for 2014!