Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Colorado Draw Results = Bear Tag for Me!

When I applied for a Colorado non-resident bear tag, I honestly wasn't sure what to expect. On my hunt in 2012, we called in a bear within shooting distance and I had no tag, so I just watched him. I decided that wouldn't happen to me again, so this year I put my name in the hat... and was successful! I received my tag in the mail on Friday and I was giddy (still am)! Having that tag just gives me another option and makes me strive to shoot even better than before. 

Now I will need to practice more, scour the regulations even closer, and plan for a dual bear/elk hunt. I love planning it all out!

I am still waiting on my California tags, but they won't be released for another week. For right now, I will bask in the sunshine of having this CO bear tag and smile.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Weekend Fun Ahead

Weekend projects I live for. I really do. I enjoy staying active and working with my hands. I have some fun little projects planned for this weekend in particular. Each and every 'planned' project involves the outdoors in some way.

My first order of business is making up two batches of jerky. I am drooling on my keyboard as I type this. The first batch will be some elk jerky and the second a mix of whitetail and mule deer. One is going to be a Hi-Country pepperoni flavor and the other sweet 'n spicy. I just haven't decided which one to do first and with what meat. I have some time as the meat thaws, but I am eager to do some taste testing. Who's with me?

If the weather stays right, I hope to get my daughter out fishing one of these mornings. I have a feeling she will be ecstatic when I ask her. We have some local ponds,  but they haven't been stocked in a long time. Could be due to the poaching tools that fill their buckets three times a day when they do stock it. I am going to switch tactics and hope I can get her on a catfish for her first fish. We shall see!

I also ordered my HHA Sports Speed Dial for my crossbow. It's the last piece to be put on before I sight it it. That'll be a fun one! I am itching to try it all out and shoot a little. It should arrive today!

My backup bow arrived this week, too. It's a previously owned Strother Wrath at 70#. Before I shoot it, I am waiting on my new strings from Piranha Bowstrings. Eddy is putting together a rad combo that will be awesome to shoot. Once those go on the bow, it'll be time to sight the bow in and fling some arrows! While I wait for the strings and cables, I plan on getting my HHA sight put on, along with my TightSpot quiver. All little pieces to the puzzle that make it fun!

I am sure there will be some biking, running, and then a cigar or three in there, too. I am sure those projects won't take too long. Then it'll be really nice to relax with the family and enjoy their company. It is going to be a great weekend.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

First Impressions: The Scorpyd Ventilator Crossbow

Owning a crossbow has always been a sort of luxury item for me. I thought it would be cool to own and hunt with one, but hunting with a compound bow has always been my first love, so I never pursued it. After winning a Twitter giveaway from Scorpyd Crossbows, fortune blessed me and they gave me the choice of whatever crossbow package I wanted. After getting some feedback from Rex, Scorpyd Operations Manager and hunter, I decided on the Scorpyd Ventilator at 125#. For one, it looked to be a great hunting rig, but come on...with a name like Ventilator, how could I resist! Who wouldn't want to let the air out of some feral pigs! This would be an awesome weapon to kill pigs and coyotes in California. Now I just had to wait for it to arrive. 

When I unboxed it, I was surprised at how lightweight the Ventilator was, even at 7.9 lbs. Everything I needed to start hunting was in the box (minus broadheads, which I have plenty of). There were 22" bolts from GoldTip, a Hawke Optics scope, a Kwikee quiver, Limbsaver shoulder strap, string cocker, and Scorpion Venom string lubricant. I noticed was the MADE IN THE USA stamped into the side and I felt a sense of pride. Great to know these high quality weapons are made right here on American soil. 

The camo has a matte finish and looks great. Nothing is shiny and everything looks very well designed and constructed.

One cool feature with the Ventilator is the folding stock. The stock is designed to fold down to allow you to cock it in smaller spaces like a treestand or ground blind. I wasn't sure how this would make a difference, but I tried sitting and reaching over the crossbow with the stock set fully in place and it would be tough to cock. Once you fold the stock back it is much easier to reach down to the string. The stock is held in place by a very strong magnet that is also very quiet when you close it. 

I spent a few hours reading the instructions and putting together all of the components. Installation of the HAWKE XB30 crossbow scope was a cinch and the scope is excellent! The one thing I am going to be adding to this is the HHA Sports Optimizer Speed Dial. I want to be able to adjust the scope to specific yardages without guessing. Once that comes in (hopefully Friday) I will be zeroing it in and be ready to hunt.

Even before I even attempt to cock the bow and hunt, I will be watching the Scorpyd provided instructional DVD a couple times. You see, this is the first time I have ever held a crossbow, let alone hunted with one. I want to be sure of what I am doing and be 100% safe. Say what you will about crossbows, this thing is slick and I am sure it will pack a punch.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

An Uncle Called Home

This past weekend, I received some sad news that makes this hard to put thoughts to keyboard. My Uncle David left this earth for a better place. For the past two years, he had been fighting a battle with cancer that he finally lost to. He was a fighter for sure and I am proud to have called him my uncle.

My Uncle David was someone who I looked up to growing up. He was an avid outdoorsman. He enjoyed fishing, hunting, bowhunting, and boating. I used to love hearing the banter between he and my dad when we were out on Keuka Lake fishing for trout or smallmouth. It was hilarious and my uncle had a hilarious excuse for every fish that got off. Makes me smile just thinking about it.

I could tell story after story about my uncle. When I was in my early teens, I was fishing off the end of a dock at the lake when the NYDEC officers approached in their boat. They asked for my fishing license and when I reached into my pocket all I found was lint. I had forgotten it in the cottage! I explained the situation and asked my mom to bring it down for me. They asked my name and when they heard my last name they chuckled.

DEC Officer: 'Is David your uncle?' 

Me: 'Yes sir, he is.'  

DEC Officer: 'That's funny, we stopped and chatted with him last week and he had the same thing happen to him. Guess it runs in the family, huh?' 

We all laughed and they were kind enough to give me a warning and shared a few fishing stories about my uncle. He was known pretty well around the lake for being a good fisherman amongst fellow boaters, fishermen, and the occasional DEC patrol. To me he was just my Uncle David.

When I was 16, my uncle took me out deer hunting to one of his favorite spots. It's a place outside of Penn Yan, NY that brings back fond memories for me. He and my dad had actually taken me through this spot when I was younger hunting for partridge. I couldn't hit the broadside of the sky, but we came back with birds (thanks to them)! This particular chunk of land is a spot my dad took me hunting many times and to be honest, it's one of my favorite spots to be in the world. It is quiet and teeming with wild game. My uncle always treated me like a friend and never once did he say a cross word to me or get visibly mad at me. I cannot tell you how good that made me feel. I was able to fill my deer tags that morning and it was an awesome day. I am still grateful for that day. He took time out of his day and put me in his treestand. We ended up seeing more bucks that day than I ever have in that spot. It was a pretty remarkable day.

This past Monday morning I did not feel like running, but I kept thinking about my uncle. He fought until the day he died and I am sure he would have given anything to go running, so I got up and went running. Along the way, about a half mile in, my back started to get tight and I wanted to quit. Instead I stretched out and ran some more. I must have repeated this four or five times in the first two miles alone. I felt like my uncle was right there encouraging me to keep going. Not pushing me, but encouraging me. That's how he always was. Encouraging and not pushy. I know those elk will be running in Colorado this fall and he'd give anything to be there hunting them, too. I ran faster at times and finished the morning run tired, but grateful. When I got home, the evening was beautiful and I decided it would not go to waste. I got on my bicycle and just rode. It felt so good to ride and for twenty miles I had fond memories of my uncle running through my head.

My mind is flooded with great memories of my uncle and that is enough for me. I will miss my uncle and I know that God is going to have quite a few laughs when the two of them start sharing fish stories.

'You know God, I once caught three trout on one lure.' 

'That's great David. I once caught a whale using Jonah as bait. He even brought the bait back. Isn't that right Jonah?' 

I can almost hear the belly laughs from here.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

DIY Target Repair - Reducing the Penetration of Victory VAP Arrows

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Will California Stop Seeing Feral Pigs as Game Animals?

For years, the cost of a wild/feral pig tag through the CA DFW has gone up on a regular basis. Back in the day, a feral pig wasn't even considered a game animal and you could hunt them at will. Then, when CA figured they could make some money, they start charging the hunters for a book of tags, and now they charge for single tags. A new bill, AB 2268, has been introduced that proposes a study by the DFW on the wild pig population and what can be done to reduce numbers. Thank you to Phillip at The Hog Blog for making me aware if this bill.

The down and dirty of it is that Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) wants a study conducted by the CA DFW that provide 'recommendations on solutions to mitigate the wild pig population.' As I read more into it, it sounds like the bill hints at removing the feral pig from game animal status because (as I interpret the bill) the process to get a tag takes too long, is difficult, and prohibits reducing the population. I am all for that, but also remember that Anthony Rendon was the Assemblyman who spearheaded AB-711, the bill to ban the use of lead ammunition in CA. Does he have an ulterior motive here? I am not saying he does, but there is some trepidation on my part.

I do agree that the CA DFW is doing nothing to help curb the population by raising the fees each year and charging so much for a single pig tag. Seriously, a pig tag costs $22.17 for a resident hunter. Personally, I think they should open up some of the limited access areas to hunters, even for a limited time without charging them more fees to be there. Some of us have yet to kill a pig on public land, but it will happen.

I will be keeping a close eye on this as I like to hunt pigs, but also because all California hunters should watch as this unfolds and show your support for it. Share your ideas, thoughts, concerns and get the word out. Can you imagine if we could hunt them at will? I think it having a hunting license should still be required, but that's it. Take as many as you can with any legal weapon possible.

How do you guys weigh in? How do you feel about this bill?

Monday, May 5, 2014

Product Review: IceMule Classic Cooler - Medium (15L)

The legs are a distraction, I know, but check out that IceMule cooler!

Keeping things ice cold when doing something outdoors for an extended period of time seems to be a dilemma we all share. Carrying your cold beverages around in a hard case cooler can be inconvenient or tiresome on the arms. The IceMule Classic 15L Cooler solves both and for an active person it’s awesome!

When you first look at the cooler it looks kinda bulky and to be honest, doesn’t look like it could keep things cold for an extended period of time. Then again, that’s just the first look and you should never judge a book, right? You can inflate or deflate the exterior portion of the cooler to fit what is inside and to give you extra cushion when you have it resting against your back. Keep in mind that the more air you add, the more difficult it can be to close.

Image courtesy of IceMule.

The 15L cooler weighs in at 4 lbs. empty, so when you add in ice and whatever you want to eat and drink, it can get slightly heavy, but I am also not planning on hiking for miles. A little extra cushion against your back provides a comfort unlike any other cooler I have used. Any hard cooler wouldn't hold a candle to this! You won't catch my strapping a hard cooler to my back.

It is built well and reminds me of a dry bag or compression sack. Once you get your items inside, you fold over the top portion at least twice (letting air out as you go), and then use the clip ends to lock the fold in place. It's that simple and is very effective.

From the IceMule website:

Dimensions & Capacity
  •     10" diameter x 16" tall when closed
  •     12 Cans Plus Ice OR
  •     5 Wine Bottles plus ice


  •     TriFold DriTopTM System. Foolproof seal to keep ice in and air out.
  •     MuleSkinEVTM.  Tough Inner and Outer layers; 2X thicker than most soft coolers.
  •     PolarLayerTM Insulation. Keeps ice intact and contents “IceMule Cold” for up to 24 hours.
  •     IM AirValveTM.  Allows for insulation layer air removal so the collar can roll up for storage in its stuff sack.

For the past two very warm weekends, I have been putting the IceMule Medium 15L Cooler through a series of tests. The first weekend was extremely hot and over 90 degrees, so I placed two large bottles of water (one with ice inside and one without), two cold beers, a 2 liter of Kooler gel, and just one tray of ice (12 cubes). Instead of putting it in the shade, I left it right out in the direct sunlight…for three hours as I worked in our garden. Whenever my daughter or I needed a cold drink of water, we opened the IceMule Cooler to get one. Having a 5 year-old help with this review was great because she constantly wanted to see if the water was cold and it was something new to check out. With the constant opening and closing (at least twice, sometimes three times per hour) the ice stayed solid and the water with the ice retained the ice for nearly three hours. Had I used more ice, I am sure it would have stayed solid for a few more hours.

The outside of the IceMule was hot to the touch and I figured there was no way for the contents to remain cold, but I was very wrong. It was like a night and day difference outside vs. inside. This is something to consider if you are going to use the carrying strap and hang it over your back or if you have kids that are using the cooler. I would not recommend carrying the cooler with no shirt on in the hot sun as the cooler might be a tad warm to the touch.

The weather dipped into the 80s the next weekend, so I decided to test out the comfort level of carrying the cooler using the strap provided. I opted to mow my lawn with a push mower and carry the IceMule over my shoulder. With the design of the cooler being cylindrical, it fit close to my spine and was rather comfortable. The softness aided with comfort and conforming to the contour of my back. For short distances I would see this being very valuable, but not for long distances. After twenty minutes, the shoulder strap (and yes, it comes with a padded portion, too) began digging into my shoulder and felt uncomfortable. I took the cooler off and left it in the sun. Once mowing was done, the beverages were still cold. Very impressive IceMule!

The cooler is leak proof and will float, but I did not test those features out fully. The claim is that it is leak proof, but use care when handling it. I can see the cooler getting punctured very easily if you are not cautious. I am aiming to test it out over the summer while swimming in the ocean (I will be adding a few feet of paracord to it to be sure it doesn't float away) or utilizing it while lounging in our small kiddie pool. I am sure the family will love having a cold beverage inside the pool with us instead of having to get out to find a drink in a hard cooler. The IceMule Cooler is a winner!

The IceMule Classic 15L Cooler is not inexpensive, yet is a worthy investment. It retails for $49.95 and for something that not only keep things as cold a it does, but also can be transported in different ways, I think it is worth the money. Plus, IceMule offers a full 90-day unconditional guarantee. I do wonder if you can patch up any holes that might appear on the outside. Beyond that, I will be using the IceMule Classic 15L Cooler all summer and I am sure the family will as well.

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I received the IceMule Cooler for free from IceMule as coordinated by Deep Creek PR an Outdoor Industry Public Relations Company in consideration for review publication. All opinions are strictly my own.