Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Game of Swine

Facing the day did not sound appealing when my alarm went off in the wee hours of the morning Sunday. My body wanted to rest some more and I was OK with that. Suddenly, a thought raced through my mind...pigs were out there and it was time to hunt. Two cups of coffee and a slap to the face later, I packed the car as my friend and Strother Archery rep, Dave Diekmann, pulled up. It was go time!

Early morning hiking is the best. It's quiet and peaceful. It also means that if you are like me, you drank two cups of coffee before you left and a bottle of water in the car, so you need to relieve yourself. Dave joked that we should be ready because you always see animals when you take a leak. Turns out we both should have heeded that advice! I no sooner zipped up and walked back toward the trail when I saw them. PIGS! Dave's eyes were the size of saucers and I am sure mine were huge, too!

We were 50 yards from the open field and there were pigs running right by the opening. One, two, three,...four, five, six... and then nothing. I had an arrow nocked and ready, but there was no movement. We inched closer and closer to the opening in hopes of seeing a straggler. We didn't, so we went on the offensive. We knew they went into some thick brush, so we devised a plan to circle around them and try to cut them off. They were long gone.

Nothing like excitement like that to get your heart racing!! I have been to the particular chunk of public land many times in the past few months and have not seen a pig. I have plenty of trail cam footage, but this was a first. Knowing the pigs moved on to posted property, we headed in to the spot we'd be hunting. Dave set up on the ground and I up in a stand. We sprayed down with scent killing spray and got ready.

For two hours we sat and waited. Birds were chattering and flying all over. It was a beautiful day, but nothing was moving. We had some rain in the three weeks since I was here last and the vegetation was growing rapidly. Some spots were completely covered in greenery whereas they were dirt three weeks prior. It's is truly amazing how fast plants can grow with a bit of moisture. 

Dave is hunkered down in the upper right.

I continued to admire the landscape, the birds, and the far off open field when I saw the coyote. Nose to the ground, he was walking the opposite edge of the field at about 250 yards. I motioned to Dave that a coyote was across the way and to be ready. I figured I give the yote a few squeeks and distress calls to see what he'd do. His head came up, ears perked, and began running toward my stand! He was on a mission and so was I. I motioned to Dave and then got my bow in hand. We waited for a few minutes and didn't see the song dog. I knew he was around, so I stayed still. A few minutes later there he was! Ten yards from me behind a bush. I drew my bow and locked onto me. Busted! As I settled my pin he bolted away from me staying behind a tree. What an encounter!

The red circle is where the coyote stopped when he spotted me.

As things settled back down, I kept a watchful eye to see if anything would appear below the stand. About a half hour later, I saw a lone, dark shape moving exactly where the coyote had been across the field. Even without binoculars I could see the massive body, sagging belly and gait. This was the lone boar I had video of and had been hunting and he was on the move. Seeing as I was up in the treestand, I knew we needed to move fast. I called down to Dave and explained what I had seen. I directed him to the field and told him that he would have the best chance to get out there quickly and to head out to cut the boar off. He took off and I waited in the tree to see if I could see the boar moving. I couldn't see Dave, but waited ten minutes for him to get in front of the boar and I climbed down.

After texting Dave that I was coming out, I walked into the open field and caught movement to my immediate left. Not 75 yards away was that coyote! He matched my steps as I walked out and when I stopped, he stopped. Figuring this would be a great opportunity, I began to walk towards him. Immediately he turned and walked away from me, constantly looking over his shoulder. Then he did something fascinating! He positioned himself between two low-lying saplings and peered at me from between them. As I got closer, he moved to a single low sapling and stopped. So did I. I ranged the tree at 50 yards, but he seemed further and I estimated 52 yards. I drew, anchored, and released only to watch him run back into the woods. the shot felt great and I couldn't figure out what happened. As I walked to where he was, there was my arrow buried in the dirt. The coyote had been at 55 yards and what I had ranged was the small shrub right in front of the sapling. Bummer!! That was exciting and had I ranged it right, there would be a dead song dog.

After a quick text to Dave telling him to stay put, I circled around to where I last saw the boar. Cautiously, with a bit of adrenaline pumping, I slowly walked into the brush looking for a dark mass. Sadly, I could not find him and met up with Dave and he said he hadn't seen anything come out. We knew the beast was in the thick stuff and we needed to find him before he ventured onto private property. Unfortunately, Dave and I had prior obligations and had only a half hour left to hunt. We quickly devised a plan to go in after him and set up, but the half hour disappeared with no sightings.

Our hike out was full of us recalling the events of the morning, plans for a future hunt, and how we would approach it next time. It was a thrilling day and I was stoked to be able to hunt it with Dave. You see, Dave has hunted a lot, but not often with a bow and even though he didn't get to draw back, I am sure he can't wait to get back out there. I know I am eager to get back after that big boar and to get another shot at that coyote.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Latest Trail Camera Video

Went for a quick hunt yesterday and pulled my trail cam footage. This lone boar has been on the camera a few times.

And I laid eyes on him yesterday for the first time during daylight hours. Story to come!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Product Review: EasyGo Dispenser

In preparation for hunting this fall, I have been adding whey protein powder to my daily diet and forgoing the normal oatmeal. My muscles feel better and I get a chocolate shake for breakfast every day. Right on! Ever try making a protein shake in the morning before coffee? It can be a challenge. It's not too difficult when you have a blender and a big pint glass to pour the mega scoop of powder into. My issues have been when I am at work, on the go, or want to mix a protein shake and figuring out how to use that giant scoop with my small water bottle. That's where the EasyGo Dispenser comes in handy and this thing works great!

About the EasyGo Team: Blake, Tony, and Michael met while serving our country in the Illinois Army National Guard. All three were deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Blake and Tony were later deployed to Afghanistan.  While on deployment, the three friends realized there was no easy way to make an instant protein shake, a common source of nutrition for combat soldiers. What they really needed was something portable and convenient to store, carry, and dispense a pre-measured amount of protein powder. Upon returning home, the three veterans teamed up to develop the EGD Pro™ Dispenser. In discussing this with friends and family, they realized that not only did combat soldiers and fitness enthusiasts need this product, but anyone who used baby formula as well, and the EasyGo Baby™ was born.

Thank you gentlemen for your service.

After you put the EasyGo together (easy to follow directions are inside the bottle) and you are ready to use it, read the directions again. Rotate the knob a few times to be sure you have ample clearance and that it is working properly. I had a question on mine and the customer service at EasyGo was great. Blake was quick to respond to my email and help me out right away.

The EasyGo Dispenser is constructed out of a solid plastic and feels very tough. I haven't dropped it, nor do I plan to, but I'll bet this could handle a drop or two. I don't recommend doing that though! The stickers that show the directions are on the bottle and they leave a little to be desired. The peel off pretty quickly and could use a bit more to keep them adhered. With that being said, after you use the EasyGo Dispenser a few times you really don't need to have them on there any longer, plus the stickers aren't what makes the EasyGo work.

The EasyGo Dispenser allows you to use the giant scoop to pour in about 4-5 servings of protein powder, which is great for athletes on the go. The label says six servings, but that all depends on the powder you use and the measuring scoop. I found it to be less than five servings for the whey powder I use. You fill up the bottom receptacle and then can take it on the go. Just don't add water to the actual container. It's only meant to carry and measure out protein powder. It is not a drinking apparatus. After you fill it for the first time, be sure to use it to fill up your measuring scoop to be certain how many times you have to rotate to get the desired result.

I really like how this eliminates any need for a funnel of any kind. In my case, it was usually a piece of paper, rolled into a funnel to fit the desired width of the bottle opening. I usually ended up having powder fall onto my desk, table or get stuck to the paper. What a waste!
The pouring end fit inside every water bottle I have tried. It's made to fit inside a small water bottle and it works great. I had no issues and was very happy with how it fit inside each bottle I tried.

The EasyGo Dispenser makes getting your protein very efficient, easy to carry, and provides far less mess than the other routes.
At $19.99, plus shipping and tax, it's an investment that isn't for everyone, but if you are serious about your fitness goals and getting enough protein each day, this works great.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Victory Arrow Deconstruction/Reconstruction Project

Building arrows is a process that I have a passion for. I love building arrows. The entire process is something I enjoy from cutting the shafts to size, cleaning them, fletching, and then setting the inserts. Now, what happens when you have to work backward a bit to attain the results you want? You have to do some research and plan your strategy well.

A couple weeks ago I bought a dozen brand new Victory VAP V3 350's. I had been shooting Easton FMJs for years, but I needed a change. The FMJs were just too heavy for me and I wanted a bit more speed out of my arrows. Plus, I didn't feel I was getting the accuracy I was striving for. Call it a gut feeling or a need for change, but either way I needed it. After chatting with a few fellow bowhunters, I opted to evaluate a dozen Victory Archery arrows to see if they were a good fit for me. Not only are they a fit, they completely blew me away at the flight, durability, and accuracy.

After building the first dozen from brand new components, I had the opportunity to attempt a reverse build. I traded a dozen new GoldTip shafts for a dozen Victory V6 350s from a guy off of Archery Talk. There were some roadblocks. One is that he fletched them all using Blazer vanes, while I normally use AAE Max Hunter vanes. I was not about to refletch them as these were perfectly fine to shoot, so I left them. I decided to use it as part of the final flight test. The second issue is they were already cut and the 50 grn. Penetrator outserts were installed using super glue. The good news is they were cut far longer than I needed, so my plan was to cut off about 2" of excess carbon and then somehow remove the outsert. That would be the true test as I wanted to do it with little damage to the outsert itself. (I wish I could have shared more photos, but holding a camera or setting it up while I was trying to work was hindering the process.)

A little scuffed up, but a good outsert with glue and carbon residue.

I measured and cut the arrows, careful to leave plenty of room for the outsert end. I didn't want to cut into that. Once the arrows were cut, the real work began. How was I going to get the 2" or carbon arrow off the outsert? My first option to consider was acetone. It is a solvent that can pull up super glue and also weaken carbon fiber if left sitting in it for too long. My second option was to somehow cut through the carbon and remove as much of the remaining arrow that I could and use a knife to cut off the remainder. The third option was simply to buy new outserts. Yeah, that's a no go as I knew this could be done and done properly.

I opted to cut off as much of the carbon as I could and then use acetone to remove any remaining glue and residue. I have a rubberized arrow mounting feature for my vise that works exceptionally well. Wearing safety glasses, I secured each outsert and began the painstaking process of slowly removing layer upon layer of strong carbon. Splitting the shaft up the middle made the most sense and worked much of the time. After six arrows like this I began to get weary and wanted to try another route. This time I used a pipe cutter to slowly cut small sections of the arrow away. Once cut, I removed the section with a pair of pliers. It actually worked well!

Excess carbon (L) and a clean outsert (R) after soaking and scraping.

The remaining 1/4" of carbon was fused solid. I cut, notched, cut again and removed nearly 98% of the excess. To remove the rest I decided it was time for acetone. On went the rubber gloves in preparation for using this solvent. It's powerful, so please use caution when using it. Be sure the area is well ventilated, is not around any sparks, and is kept away from children. I dumped the dozen outserts into the ashtray and poured enough acetone to cover them all. After sitting in the solvent soup for an hour, i removed one at a time and chipped away at the glue and carbon. The first bits came off very easy and then there was more glue underneath. This process could be repeated a few times, but I felt I was as close as I would need to be. Thirty minutes later I had a dozen fairly clean outserts ready to be tested.

Not perfectly clean, but close enough to get the job done in my opinion.

Almost immediately I noticed that there was just enough residue left on some of the outserts that I would need to rethink my strategy. Using the arrow stone from my Eastons, I sanded away some of the end of the shaft. A few turns back and forth and the outserts slid in and fit surprisingly well. I ran a small bore brush inside the shaft to clean and scour it for glue adhesion prior to cleaning the end with rubbing alcohol and a Q-tip.

VAP V3s with Max Hunter vanes (back) and VAP V6s with Blazers (front) - will I see a difference in flight?

A half hour later, the shafts were dry and ready for the outserts to be glue in. Before gluing the outsert in, I weighed an arrow from my first batch and one from my second batch. Each arrow from the first dozen weighed in at 288 grains. The arrows from the second dozen range from 284-286 grains. For me that will work great. Gluing took less than ten minutes and they were ready to shoot the next day. Friday evening will be the test of truth as I test them at the range against the first dozen arrows. Any thoughts as to what my outcome will be?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

California Licenses and Tag Purchases Available Online Today!

Just a quick reminder that you can purchase your licenses and apply for tags beginning TODAY in California. Don't wait until the last minute! I have my tags applied for and licenses have been downloaded. I am ready!

Here is the link:

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Squealers are BACK!

As promised, I am sharing some of the game camera footage I was able to capture over the past month. This camera has been up for a while and we knew there were pigs in the area, but we had videoed mostly coyotes. That was until the rains came and new plants began appearing.

Now, to give you some insight, Chris and I knew the pigs were coming into this area. Their trail was obvious, but then once inside this area they scattered. At least, that was what we surmised. There were prints all around and they basically made a circle around a few trees. We figured the trees were dropping some nuts or fruit of some sort, but we had no idea what it was. No matter what, when the rains and winds came, the trees gave of their fruit and new seedlings sprouted. The pigs made short work of any new growth. Check it out for yourself.

Monday, April 7, 2014

When the Opportunity Presents Itself

Seeing this after releasing arrows at 40 yards with a 20-30 mph crosswind was encouraging!

My thoughts had been on bowhunting all week. Every day was filled with more than enough to do, but come Friday at 5:00 PM I needed some arrow therapy. Once it arrived, I knew it was time to unwind. I hit up the El Dorado Park archery range and finished dialing in my bow. It felt so good to shoot!

Saturday was a day of opportunity for me. I was able to spend some time with my family in the morning and then go hunting in the afternoon. Plus, my trail cams had been up for a month and I was eager to see what was on them. Were the coyotes still reigning supreme over the area or had the pigs returned? Along with the actual hunt, I was going to be field-testing some new boots and a climber treestand for an upcoming article. Needless to say, I was very excited to get to the woods, but I had a long drive ahead of me for only a couple hours of hunting.

Hiking into my hunting spot, I encountered only two other people hiking and biking out. Off the main trail, the area was empty and not a soul was spotted. I covered the mile and a half to my chosen hunt spot quickly and began searching for a tree to set up in. I decided to check my trail cam to see if it had recorded anything and there was plenty on it! I decided to download the card after my hunt to give me more time in the tree.

This was the first time using this particular climber, but I had taken the advice from the folks at headquarters to watch the How-to videos at home prior to trying it out in the woods. Let me tell you what, I used abdominal muscles that I never even knew existed! After hooking up my safety harness, getting up the tree wasn't so bad and I stopped around 20 feet up. It felt great to be back in a stand and checking out the area. Unfortunately, the wind didn't cooperate. I sat for three hours in gusty winds. It wasn't conducive to hunting, but I was there and wasn't about to let an opportunity pass me by. I saw nothing but birds.

About forty-five minutes before sundown, I decided it was time to climb down. Let me rephrase that. It was time to torture myself on the way down. One very important, key factor I came to understand emphatically is that you DO NOT want to use a climber on a palm tree in Southern California. Yes, that was one of the trees I had the opportunity to climb and decided it looked promising. Sure did. It promised me a half hour of pain and suffering as I climbed down.

The face of a man who knows he has to work to get down from the tree.

The bark of a palm tree is not friendly and unforgiving to bowhunters.
Before I forget, those of you who, like me, wear a binocular chest pack... leave it in the backpack for climbing. Mine kept catching on the seat of the climber and digging into my stomach. Talk about an awkward way to end the day. I almost flipped it around to get it out of the way. Next time it will stay in the backpack on my way up and down the tree.

Back to disembarking my tropical tree prison. On the way down, the straps of both the seat and foot platform kept catching on the bark and hanging up. Every time I lowered myself a few feet it would catch and I would have to spend a few minutes either peeling bark or creatively getting the straps over the bark. This is not easy with a backpack on your back, but thankfully I was strapped into my Hunter Safety System the entire way down.

It took me nearly a half hour to get down out of this tree. That's three times longer than it took me to get up! My elbows were hurting from the seat (more on this when I write the review), my abs were screaming at me, and my legs were tired. Mentally, I felt tired from having to figure out the hard way to not go too far up a palm tree. That being said, I am glad I did it and suffered so you don't have to.

I downloaded the videos from my game camera and packed up the stand and backpack on my back. Hiking a mile and a half out at dusk was a bit tiresome and the treestand straps wreaked havoc on my shoulders, but there way beauty in it. I saw cottontail rabbits everywhere and beautiful game trails in the sunset. I am thankful I had the opportunity to hunt, see the beauty of nature, and test some gear. 

When I arrived home, I talked with my girls about the day and, like I always do, asked Riley if she wanted to see what was on the game cameras. It's fun for both her and I alike and we were both surprised at what we saw. Multiple videos of...

The surprise will just have to wait until Wednesday.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Celebrating the Life of Bob Wickes - Field Time Sport and Guns

This appeared in my email and I wanted to share it with all of you. If any of you local archers, bowhunters, outdoors men and women can make it out to this, please do. I have a prior engagement and cannot attend, but this would be a huge help to the family. The info below is directly from the Field Time Sport and Guns website. 

Celebrating the Life of Bob Wickes 
Benefit BBQ ~ Silent Auction ~ Raffle & Much More!
100% of the proceeds will be used to help with Bob's medical expenses.
Sunday, April 6th, 2014
11:00am - 3:00pm 

On February 25, 2014 Bob Wickes entered the gates of Heaven. He is now home with Jesus. Bob has been a blessing to many ~ a great husband, father, friend, teacher and an amazing man of God. Join us to celebrate his live, support the Wickes Family and raise funds to help cover medical expenses. 

Event parking in the structure on Huntington Village Lane. Please do not park in the main lot.

Old World Village
7561 Center Ave
Huntington Beach
(Behind Costco & Bella Terra)

For more info
Bart Fernandes