Wednesday, June 25, 2014

GIVEAWAY! Pat's Backcountry Beverages Carbonator Kit

The giveaway is now over and the winner by Random Number Generator is Jerud Earnest with the very first comment! Congratulations Jerud and thank you for reading my blog. A big thank you to all who entered and thank you all for reading the blog, too.

It's been a while since I held a giveaway and with the arrival of summer it is time! Back in March I reviewed the Pat's Backcountry Beverage's carbonator kit. It's pure genius and brews up a tasty beverage. Now is your chance to win one for yourself! The crew at PBCB has offered up one one complete kit to give to my readers. The kit retails for $49.95, so one of my readers is going to walk away with an awesome prize!

There are a few ways you can enter. For each entry, you will have to come back to THIS post and let me know you completed the task.  Leave a SEPARATE comment for EACH task completed. That means on day one you can have six comments. At the end of the giveaway, I will choose a winner via RNG and post it here. If you are chosen as the winner I will verify the entry, so be sure to follow the rules. 

Here are the ways you can enter:
  1. Leave me a comment below on where you want to take the Pat's Backcountry Beverages Carbonator Kit. You must leave a valid email address for me to contact you if you win. (i.e. backcountry @ yahoo - this keeps the spambots at bay)(+1 entry)
  2. LIKE the Pat's Backcountry Beverages FB page and let them know The SoCal Bowhunter sent you. (+2 entries)
  3. LIKE the SoCal Bowhunter FB page and post your FB username in the comment so I know who to look for. (+2 entries)
  4. Follow Pat's Backcountry Beverages on Twitter. (+2 entries)
  5. Follow the SoCal Bowhunter on Twitter. (+2 entries)
  6. Tweet the text inside the quotes below about the giveaway (once per day). (+1 entry)

     and  are giving away a Pats Backcountry Beverages Carbonator Kit on The SoCal Bowhunter blog!'
Disclaimer: The giveaway starts June 25, 2014 and goes until midnight on July 2, 2014. Winner will be chosen through Random Number Generator based on legitimate entries. Winner will be contacted by email and announced on this post. Winner will have 24 hours to respond to my email. If there is no response, a new winner will be chosen. If you plan on being out of town, away from email, or can't follow directions, don't come whining to me if you miss out. The SoCal Bowhunter will ship product to giveaway winner. Odds of winning prize is dependent upon the total number of eligible entries received.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Product Review: Sea to Summit 10L Compression Dry Sack

Some of our gear, like clothing, takes up a lot of space and when you are planning a backcountry hunt you need to conserve that space. Upon the recommendation from Mark at SoleAdventure, I checked into the Sea to Summit compression sacks. A couple weeks after I began to field test the 10L eVent® Compression Dry Sack with great results. In fact, you have to be careful not to get carried away with packing more than you really need inside of it. 

The eVent compression dry sack has no valve to let the air escape. So how does it work? It uses an air-permeable base made of eVent® waterproof fabric, which allows air to be pushed out of the sack, but won't allow water to get back in. Suitable to keep contents dry in any wet situation where the bag is not submerged.

This pack holds plenty and compresses really well and here's how I used it. On the hike into the desert back in February, I packed my sleeping bag, jacket, pants, and shirt inside and compressed it. The air escaped, but didn't flow back in. Pretty cool technology! I then folded over the Hypalon strip and clipped it, ensuring it was closed and would not unravel. I was able to compress all of that into the size of a normal sleeping bag. Sure, it weighs a bit more, but it is easily manageable. 

While the likelihood that I would encounter any water or rain in the SoCal desert was slim to none, I still wanted to put the compression sack through the paces. I will be going to Colorado in the fall and who knows what type or weather I will encounter. Wanting to know how water-resistant it was, I dunked it a few times into a full cooler of cold water. I then reopened the sack and everything was dry. I continued holding it under for longer periods. At one time I held it under for over a minute and everything still came out dry. I allowed the water to warm up inside the cooler by leaving it in the sun (as not to waste water) and retested. Clothing and sleeping bag were still dry. I don't recommend getting used to that time period, but that's a win in my book! (I then used the water to water my outdoor plants, for those of you with the water police.) 

The stitching holds strong and looks like it can take a beating, but use caution. Just because you CAN make the straps tighter doesn't mean you SHOULD. If it feels good and snug, and well compressed, just leave it be and move on. Should you pull too hard you are liable to tear the stitching, thus defeating the purpose of it being waterproof. You should also note that the fabric is very thin and any sharp object, even cactus thorns, will poke through and tear it. 

If you are planning a backcountry hunt, especially in wet weather, get yourself a Sea to Summit eVent compression dry sack and save yourself some space and mental anguish. The 10L sack that I tested retails for $46.95. I think that's a good buy knowing it compresses well and is basically waterproof for a short periods of time. It's great knowing your clothing is packed away, easy to get to, and will stay dry. It also makes getting to the essential apparel you need much easier than if it were stored in the bottom of your pack.

Overall, I was quite impressed with how well the Sea to Summit compression sack functioned. I would definitely recommend looking at the different sizes and choosing one or two carefully. I chose the 10L because I felt like I would need it all and for the most part I was right, but I'll bet I could get away with a 6.7L sack for most hunts. This will be a great benefit when I hunt the backcountry. I will be looking into the smaller compression sacks for shorter hunts.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Badlands Celebrates 20 Years

Celebrating 20 years of making the best products in the industry, this article from Archery Business, written by Badlands Marketing Director Blake VanTussenbrook, gives a brief history of Badlands and hints of what's to come. I am excited to be a part of this team! (Click it to make it larger to read.)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Promoted to Badlands Operative Pro Staff - O.P.S.

Promotion feels good, especially when it comes from a company like Badlands. I am honored to have been added to the Badlands O.P.S. program. O.P.S. stands for Operative Pro Staff and very few across the country have been given this distinction. For those who have, congratulations and keep rocking that badass Badlands gear! I owe a major thank you to Badlands for including me and giving me the opportunity to represent them at a higher level.

Excuse the crappy cell phone pic. I was limited on time.

As part of our Welcome package, last week I received a box with a beautifully stenciled ammo box with a hat, shirt, jacket, and an incredible SUUNTO watch. The timing is perfect as I will utilize these during my hunting and training for California and for Colorado. How rad is that?I will sport them proudly while representing an awesome brand!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday the 13th = Good Fortune!

It has been a great day today. Friday the 13th is bad luck? I beg to differ! It has been a rough week, but today has been great.

First, I found out yesterday that I drew the California tag that I applied for. Not only did I get my A31 tag, but my hunting partner Brett also drew his A31 tag. We are STOKED! Not only are we excited about that, but we have all of our other tags for Cali, too. We have our AO (archery only) tags and he has his bear tag to fill. We are going to be scouting up a storm over the next three months for deer and we already have our trail cams up. Wow, what a great feeling.

Then I get great news from one of my sponsors (to be announced next week) about being added to their elite staff. Right on! It is totally unexpected and wonderful! I have a few things to do prior to me sharing all of the details.

My annual review at my full time job was today and it went incredibly well. I eagerly anticipate the awesome new projects I have been tasked with. I am so blessed to have an awesome job and to have versatility in my position where I can handle many different projects in different fields. It truly is a gift from God.

Now I am just waiting on a few calls from a couple companies looking to chat about some new and exciting gear being released soon. Super appreciative of the support from my friends and the bowhunting community, plus all of the companies looking to have products field tested and reviewed on my blog. I truly enjoy giving my honest feedback and seeing what great products will help us out during hunting season.

The best part of all of this is that Sunday is Father's Day and I am super thankful the be a dad. I do my best, work hard, and love my little girl more than she will ever know. Being a dad trumps all of the feelings I have written prior to this and gives me the most satisfaction. I love being a dad and look forward to everything it has to offer. That is the best 'staffing' position you can ask for.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Product Review: SealSkinz Thin Mid Length Socks

Take care of your feet. How many times have you heard that being preached? More than once, right? Well it's true! I take care of my feet and for years I have been on the search for great footwear. Along with a good pair of boots you need a good pair of socks. For three years I have been using wool socks on my hunts, but my feet would get sweaty and I had hot spots and major blisters. Then I found Seal Skinz socks and my game plan was changed forever.

The socks are made with merino wool and elastic. They are waterproof and breathable. Waterproof, but breathable socks? Really? How will they work in the warm temperatures in SoCal? That is exactly what went through my mind when I was checking the socks out. Out of the package the thin, mid length socks had an entirely different feel to them. They were thicker, had elasticity, and you could feel a difference when you tried to stretch them out. I honestly was afraid to try them out! I figured that when my feet were sweating on a hike, that last thing I needed was a rubber sock rubbing against my heel, but I sucked it up and planned a two-mile hike with 80# of sand on my back. 

One of the hikes when I tested out the Seal Skinz socks with 90# on my back.

When you first put them on, they feel weird. You can tell they are different, yet they surround your foot like they were molded specifically for your foot. With the boots on over them they felt even better. They had cushion and protection. I knew I was probably going to feel some hot spots on my three-miler, but I agreed to do a field test. I was wrong. Not only were there no hot spots, my feet felt awesome after the hike! I knew they were warm inside my boot, but my feet were very comfortable on the entire hike up and down hills near my house. Back at the house, I took them off and while my feet were sweaty, it wasn't bad. I could only imagine if I were hiking in cold, wet areas.

Pondering a hunt in the backcountry, I opted to not wash the socks right away. I know, pretty gross, but sometimes that is just the way it is. I let them dry for a couple days and went on another hike. This time with 90# of sand on my back, moving faster and taking trails that were not flat. These trails had twists, turns, and steep angles that forced me to think about where I was planting my feet. I wanted to try to create as much friction inside my boot that I could. I did just that and my feet continued to feel great.  

My daughter had a blast 'watering' my socks.

My daughter was watering our garden and I asked her to pour some water over my socks. She was delighted and most of you know she loves helping me with my gear reviews. After two watering cans of water were poured over the outside, I walked around for a few minutes. When I pulled the socks off my feet were dry. It's insane how well these work!

I decided to wash the socks by hand so I could see what happened when they got water on the inside and the outside. The amount of dirt and nastiness that was washed out was incredible, but you don't need to know that. Then I filled a sock with water and held it up. The only water that came off was from the outside. The inside water stayed put. So, if in need of a water bladder in the wilderness, you could use your Seal Skinz sock. Clean it first unless you like Earthy water. Blech! I hung them out to dry and noticed that once the outside was dry to the touch, the inside was still very wet, so I turned them completely inside out. They dried quickly and I had socks to wear again.

My feet felt great even though they were completely wet on the outside!

Fast forward a couple weeks and a long hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. I threw on a pack with 40# on a warm day and hiked and hiked. The dusty trail went up and down and was very sandy, so my feet were slipping. Even still, no hot spots on my feet and they felt great. Long story short, I hiked nearly 10 miles and my feet felt great. I am seriously amazed at how well the socks protected my feet. This truly is a magnificent sock. I told my hunting partner that I needed to get him a pair before we go to Colorado to see exactly what I was talking about. My feet felt great!

The socks are not inexpensive and have an investment value of $45.00/pr. For a pair of socks that will protect your feet in different situations like they do, I would gladly pay that knowing what I know now. I would have a hard time paying $45.00 for socks if I had not tested them out first. One plus is that Seal Skinz offers a two-year warranty on the socks against defects. That's a pretty awesome warranty for a sock, don't you think? I used to pay $6.00 for wool socks, but my feet would slide around and I would get blisters. Three major hikes later with the Seal Skinz socks and I have zero blisters to show. Take my word for it, these socks will change the way you hike and hunt. I already know what my family in NY needs for hunting in the cold, damp winter months when chasing deer. They need Seal Skinz waterproof socks.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Season Prep: Setting Up Trail Cameras

For months, Brett and I have been talking about areas we wanted to scout for deer season. Scouring Google Earth, discussing our old haunts, and planning for the upcoming season have all been part of our weekly routine. Whether we draw the tags we want or not, we wanted to be prepared. The first step in locating a good deer spot is finding the deer. You can glass for hours, days, weeks (I am exaggerating), or you can do what we did; set out our trail cameras and let them do the work for us.

Much of the 'leg' work had to be done by us. We have been hitting the trails pretty hard preparing for hunting this year and knew that last Saturday was going to be a quad burner. I had found a spot a few months back that I really wanted to explore. I mean REALLY explore. It look so promising that I looked at it from 360 degrees on GE. In our research, we had found a trail that we could hike and get most of the way there. It was miles in and mostly uphill, but did that spot us? Heck no! It was a challenge that we met with gusto. We loaded up bright and early and set off on the trail. We anticipated it would take us quite a long time to get to the location, but it turns out that hiking with 90# on your back once or twice a week helps build strong leg muscles and strong lungs. We made it in half the time!

We spent a few minutes trying to find a way through the brush and into a decent spot to set our cameras. After some back and forth chatter, we cleared some dead brush and found our first camera spot. It looked great to us, and with a few deer tracks on the ground we hoped for the best.

Opting to go a bit deeper into the area, I set off on my own while Brett finished up. It wasn't long before I was back to meet Brett and I had a huge grin on my face. I had discovered another spot where I could set up my cameras. More dead brush was cleared and my two cameras we set. Patience with trail cameras is tough, but we would have to wait, and it was going to be quite a hike getting back to these in a month or so with temps being in the triple digits.

We could not contain our excitement on the hike out. Talk of bucks, does, mountain lions, and bowhunting were constantly escaping our lips. We even found a really old forkie shed and that offered promise! 

The hike out took even less time and back at the truck we had some ice cold water and snacks waiting. Once we sat down it was all over. While we were in much better shape than last year, we had done some serious work that morning and our legs were tired. Many miles were hiked and it was tough, but incredibly fun! Now we just have to wait!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Sighting in the Scorpyd Ventilator with the HHA Optimizer Speed Dial

The Scorpyd Ventilator crossbow camo package* comes with many accessories, including the Hawke XB30 Crossbow Scope. The XB30 has cross hairs to be used at different yardage increments. The XB30 scope is an excellent crossbow scope and the incremental cross hairs would work great for most people. I am not most people. I wanted to have my Ventilator accurate to the yard and to remove any guesswork when I am hunting. To make that happen, I purchased and added the HHA Sports Optimizer Speed Dial system which allows you to sight in at 20 yards, then at 60 yards. Once you have both set, you are good from 10 yards all the way out to 80. It is a sweet system!

*Disclaimer: The Scorpyd Ventilator crossbow package was won in a giveaway. I am on the HHA Sports pro staff and purchased the HHA Sports Optimizer Speed Dial and installed it as an add-on.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Gear Review: Strother Wrath SHO Compound Bow


Usually I am quite content shooting my compound bows for years. This year I opted to shoot some different bows to keep my options open. It turns out I really like the way the Strother Archery bows feel when I shoot them. After shooting them over and over and over again, I chose the 2013 Strother Wrath SHO as my primary hunting bow for this year and it is a stunner! SHO stands for 'Super High Output' and with my bow set at 70# it delivers. Many have asked me why I opted for a 2013 bow and didn't go with the Vital, Strother's 2014 flagship bow. The reason is that the SHO felt more comfortable to me when I shot it and anyone who knows me understands that I don't just go for the bow that is touted as the best. I shoot them first and then decide.

First, let's get into the draw cycle of the Wrath SHO. The draw is very smooth and there is no bounce to it. It anchors into a hard back wall (which I prefer) and with 80% let-off there is no creep. I felt like could hold it back for days. In fact, I am practicing more and more just holding it back for around 30 seconds to a minute in case I have to during the season. The bow feels really good!

Speaking of feeling good, at only 4 lbs., the SHO ranks very high as being one of the lighter bows on the market. The weight felt good to me and the contour of the grip allows it to seat well into your hand as you shoot. Carrying the bow by the grip is also very comfortable. Most times I dislike having to carry a bow by the grip due to my hand being twisted at an odd angle. That's not the case with the Strother Wrath SHO as it has been designed well.

Here are the specs from the Strother Archery website:
  • Axle to Axle: 30 3/16"
  • IBO Speed: up to 335 fps
  • Brace Height: 7 3/8"
  • Let Off: 80%
  • Mass Weight: 4 lbs.
  • Draw Length: 27-30"
  • Peak Draw Weight: 50, 60, 70, 80 lbs.

The Badger Cam II has stops that keep the cam from rolling beyond where it needs to be. Your cam stops in the same position every time. In all my years of bowhunting I have never seen anything like this and like the design as it seems to work very well. 

I won't elaborate on the ZT Loc-N-Cradle System because it is a unique system and it is so new to me.

There is zero vibration felt in the grip when releasing the arrow. None at all. In fact, it feels super smooth and like buttah! It's dead in the hand, too. The bow I shot at the pro shop had no extra vibration dampening or silencers on it. My new SHO doesn't either. In fact, straight out of the box it was silent. After shooting over 1000 shots through it, the bow is still silent and has no vibration. That fact alone thoroughly impresses me as most bows seem to need some sort of vibration reduction. This does not as far as I am concerned.

Normally, I go with a shorter brace height, but something about the 7 3/8" BH with this bow intrigued me. Especially seeing as the axle-to-axle is very short, but I like a short ATA bow because I can maneuver better and it doesn't get hung up on brush as much. Trust me, when you bust enough brush with your bow on your back you learn to appreciate the little things. The SHO is very forgiving due tot he longer brace height and I truly like that. For those long range practice shots out to 100 yards, this definitely helps me group my shots better. 

I am not sure how I feel about the contained Super-Glide cable guard. The cables seem to rub a bit more than I normally see, but there isn't any more obvious wear on them either. It'll take some getting used to and I will keep an eye on them.

The claim is that the bow shoots up to 335 fps. I have not chronographed my set up, but I can tell you the bow shoots fast, flat, and drives an arrow through foam like a nail through white oak. It not only feels powerful, it really is powerful.

The bow was very easy to tune and continues to impress me. If you are in the market for a new compound bow and you like the features I do, take a look at the Strother Wrath SHO. Challenge yourself to shoot a dozen arrows with it and see if it doesn't make you a believer, too.

Monday, June 2, 2014

SoCal Bowhunter Tech Tip: DIY Flashlight Mount for Your Bow