Monday, June 29, 2015

Dehyration, Scouting, and Fire Season

Yard work can teach you a great deal about what you are capable of and what your limitations are. It also serves as a reminder that when you are out in the elements, nature is the boss, not you. Yesterday, I was thinking about the reviews I need to type up and blog posts I'd love to share, but my heart wasn't into it. I had other priorities around my house that needed to be addressed first. Not wanting to feel stressed, I headed outside, sunscreen in one hand and water in the other. Temperatures were on the rise, but I felt good. There was landscaping, mowing, and digging to be done and I don't have a landscaper, plus I like maintaining my own place.

I won't go into detail about everything I did, but I was outside working for only 3.5 hours. It was very hot and I took my share of water breaks, but it was really tough to keep going. (My farming days are far behind me.) I drank a gallon of water and did not have to go to the bathroom at all in those nearly four hours. I was, in fact, dehydrated. I didn't have a headache, nor did I think I was dehydrated. Knowing that I didn't have to go to the bathroom made me aware that I was dehydrated. I drank more and more water until I finally had to go. Let's just say it wasn't pretty, but I knew I needed more water.

The point I am trying to make here is that hiking into the backcountry or high desert in SoCal is going to require some planning and plenty of water. I was not hiking with any weight on my back, but I was exerting plenty of energy and working in the direct sun. I was feeling great until I sat down and realized how drained I really was. If you get caught like this while scouting 5 miles in, you had better have a plan. You also must have plenty of water. If you can only carry enough water for a couple mile trip in the desert heat, only travel that and no further. One important bit of information I have picked up is to only hike as far as half of your water supply takes you. I would edit that slightly due to the fact that you might start hiking in the cool air before the sun comes up and then be hiking back in the direct sunlight. Plan accordingly! Now, if there is a water source on your hike, plans can be adjusted, but don't overdo it.

Also, use appropriate clothing on those hikes. I wear a long-sleeve shirt to protect my arms from the sun and it also helps keep me cool when I am sweating. I also wear a wrap around my neck that keeps me cool and protects me from the sun. It's one that you can soak with water and hold water for a long time. Truly beneficial! I also pack a SPOT locator beacon. In the event I get into serious trouble, I don't want to wait around. I also inform my wife of where we are going, when we will be home, and if I don't call by a certain time to call the significant other of whomever I am hiking with to see if there has been any communication. 

Keep an eye on the fire dangers, too. They seem to be erupting all over now and you do not want to get caught behind a fire line with no escape. There is always an element of risk when scouting or hunting. I take risks, too, but plan ahead and if it's too risky with the fires or lack of water, think twice before going. I know I have packed a gallon and a half of water on a scouting hike before and it sucked for my knees, but I was glad to have the water. I also know that if there was a fire, I'd be screwed in that situation. Sure, I had my SPOT, but that won't fly me outta there. 

We can all do a little more preparation and research before going out. Go with a buddy, or two or three. Enjoy yourselves and think smart. Try to stay as cool as you can and don't overdo it. I want to hear and read the stories of the animals you have taken this year. I don't want you to be a headline in a rescue mission. Now, if you think this will get me out of doing yard work in the heat, think again. Better planning my friends! Time to do the yard work in the evenings, when it's overcast, or pace myself a bit more. No matter what, I always learn from my experiences and I hope you do as well. Enjoy your summer!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Take Aim Outdoors Podcast is now LIVE!

Last week, I was invited to be a guest on the Take Aim Outdoors podcast with Brandon Hammonds. It's an honor to be on with Brandon and had some good questions for me. Plus, we got to talk deer hunting, which I love to do. Listen to the Episode 45 of the podcast and then let us know what you thought. If there are more topics you might want to hear covered in the future, let me know!  

Brandon, thank you for the invite! I had a great time chatting with you and look forward to more podcast interviews from you. Keep up the great work on the podcast and good luck this year in the deer woods!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Gear Review: Small Diameter Hunting Arrows (Part 2)

In order to simulate shooting into bone, I opted to shoot through plywood as it offered an even surface to compare all arrows. To verify arrow speed, I contacted the pros at my local pro shop, Archery Outpost (562) 860-9292). They have always been extremely helpful and I knew I could count on them. Lead tech, Connor Kelly, was not only helpful, but eager to see what would happen. He helped me chronograph all of the arrows and was my second witness to the plywood test.

I made an executive decision to use field points instead of broadheads. I wanted to see what kind of penetration I could get with the same field points I used in the foam target testing. I also didn’t want to destroy the targets at Archery Outpost. (They may have never invited me back if I had!) The penetration results of a 28” arrow into ¾” plywood at 20 yards are incredibly interesting.

Arrow Brand and StylePenetration through 1 sheet of plywood, factoring in the .75" plywood (inches)
Victory Armor Piercing (VAP) V327.125
Deer Crossing Archery SD Hunter26.26
Deer Crossing Archery Hunter25.75
Carbon Express Piledriver Pass Thru Extreme 20.187
GoldTip Kinetic XT Hunter17.312
Easton Deep Six XD10.25

GoldTip Kinetic XT Hunter – Out of all the arrows I tested, the KineticXT Hunters had the most kinetic energy. When the arrow weighs 10.4 gpi there is bound to be some KE behind it, 77.91 lbs. of KE and that topped all the others by a couple pounds. It averaged 10.41 inches into the foam, but it didn’t penetrate well into the plywood. Only 17.312” of the arrow made it through the plywood. As far as I could see and feel, the arrows flew straight and true.  With the widest OD of the arrows tested, the KineticXT Hunter performed well.

Deer Crossing Archery SD Hunter – The 120 grain outsert provided plenty of FOC, but certainly slowed the arrow down. I chronographed the arrow at a speed of 260 fps, which is not super-fast, but the KE was worth noting. The proof is in the penetration into both foam and plywood.

Deer Crossing Archery Hunter –The DCA Hunter penetrated 25.75” through the ¾” plywood. Impressive! It had the least amount of KE at 74.38, but also showed speeds of 305 fps. Overall, I think for the price and the results, the Hunters are a great buy for bow hunters on a budget. 

Carbon Express Piledriver Pass Thru Extreme – The PTE was a surprising stand out. Excellent penetration into foam and clocking in at 277 fps, it was plenty fast. It performed the best into the HybrimatCRM target by penetrating an average 11.88”. 76.35 lbs. of KE drove the arrow 20.312” through the plywood.

Easton Deep Six XD – There are drawbacks to using the Deep Six XD inserts provided with the arrows.  If you use these inserts, you must use the Deep Six field points and broadheads. This is a major drawback, in my opinion, and feel will alienate many. Arrow penetration was decent.

Victory Armor Piercing (VAP) – As one of the lightest in the test group, increased FOC, and with speeds reaching nearly 300 fps, the VAP performed very well. The 50 grain Penetrator II outsert is larger than the arrow shaft, thus making a bigger hole when it hits.

The arrows were undamaged (except for the DCA Hunter) after shooting through the plywood. If an arrow with a field point can do this to plywood, just imagine what it will do to an animal when combined with a sharp broadhead?

The retail prices on the arrows vary greatly, and I think that is where many are going to have an issue. At $76.99/dz. the DCA Hunters are a value and performed well, even with the insert issue. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the VAPs retail for $169.99/dz. and that is pricey for many. With that said, after seeing how the arrows perform and the results, I’ll save up my money and continue shooting the Victory Armor Piercing arrows. Personally, I feel the VAPs are tough, fast, and even if you shoot them through an animal, you will more than likely get the opportunity to shoot them again.

Think of your arrows as an investment and not strictly as a drain on your bank account. Decide what animals you are going to hunt and choose the arrow that is going to perform the best and do the most damage. You are going to get what you pay for, and if you want quality and a better arrow, you may need to pay a bit more for it.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Gear Review: Small Diameter Hunting Arrows (Part 1)

When I was a kid, I didn’t give a second thought to hunting arrow design. My brother and I would head right for the arrow bin at our local department store and just grab some arrows. We opted for quantity over quality and wanted to know how many arrows could we buy. To us, it didn’t matter that we were shooting 32” aluminum arrows and our actual draw length was 25”. Arrow Spine? What was arrow spine? Fortunately, as we matured, our increased knowledge pertaining to the specifics of proper equipment and form took over. We now shoot the proper arrow, at the correct length, matched with the draw weight of our bows. We all need to grow up sometime.

Bow hunters are particular about the arrows they shoot, and they should be. As a bow hunter who actively hunts deer and feral pigs, I need an arrow that is tough and will deeply penetrate. It’s no secret that I have shot many different slim diameter arrows in the past with excellent results. My curiosities lead me to see which ones would perform the best. While some bow hunters want speed, other focus on kinetic energy. If you wanted a sports car, you wouldn’t opt for a tractor trailer, or would you want a combination of the two? Either way, you want to get the most out your arrows.

Disclaimer: At the time of this article, I was not on any arrow company pro staff, nor was I paid by any of the arrow companies to write this review or include their arrows. In fact, the arrows in this review were either provided to me or I purchased them. While some major arrow companies opted not to participate in this review, I included some of the best arrows I could get my hands on. The HybrimatCRM target was also provided by American Whitetails as part of this review.

Why did I choose the HybrimatCRM target to gauge arrow penetration into foam? First and foremost, the target is virtually indestructible and stops the arrows dead. I have used some other brand name targets and the slim diameter arrows blew right through them. After using the HybrimatCRM for this review, I can tell you that I am more than impressed.

All arrows were shot from my compound bow set at 70 lbs. The finished length of each arrow from throat of nock to end of insert or outsert is 28”. After double-checking the spine and tolerance with cutting them that short, I verified all of the arrows would work well with my set-up. I used a digital scale to weigh each component before assembly and the fully assembled arrows.

Introducing the participants and assembly results:

GoldTip Kinetic XT Hunter – The components weighed in exactly as GoldTip stated and this was the heaviest arrow of the bunch.

Deer Crossing Archery SD Hunter – I opted to use the 120 grain stainless steel outserts offered with these for increased Forward of Center (FOC). These outserts go completely over the shaft and not into it at all. All three outserts weighed in differently by a few grains (122, 124, 118). None of them came in at 120. I had an issue getting the outserts to fit over the SD Hunter shafts properly, too. It took some time, but I was finally able to get them to fit. The FOC was 15.5%.

Deer Crossing Archery Hunter - I had issues with the inserts fitting into the shaft. Two of the three inserts fit perfectly, but the third shaft was either too narrow or the insert too wide. Either way, I could not get it to go into the shaft fully. I tried fitting the inserts in the other two Hunter shafts and had no issues.

Carbon Express Piledriver Pass Thru Extreme – Manufacturer specs matched my findings.

Easton Deep Six XD - Manufacturer specs matched my findings.

Victory Armor Piercing (VAP) – Manufacturer specs matched my findings. The Penetrator II outserts fit into the shaft and have just enough on the outside to keep it in place. The FOC was 13%.

When it came time to test the into the HybrimatCRM target, I asked fellow bow hunter, Brett Bumgarner if he’d be a witness to what I was doing, look and listen for abnormalities, and to also verify my measurements. I took six shots using each manufacturer’s arrows at 20 yards, and took the average penetration for my final result. Average penetration is listed below by arrow, ranked from deepest penetration to least.

Arrow Brand and Style Penetration (in inches)
Carbon Express Piledriver Pass Thru Extreme 11.88
Deer Crossing Archery SD Hunter 11.83
Victory VAP V3 11.79
Easton Deep Six XD 10.83
GoldTip Kinetic XT Hunter 10.41
Deer Crossing Archery Hunter 9.92

These were all fairly close penetrating into the foam target, but the Cabron Express Piledriver came out on top here. The next test would be a good one for all bowhunters to see. Part 2 will be posted later this week.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Badlands / Mathews Bow Giveaway

For those of you who have asked what packs I use - it's Badlands! I love the packs because they are durable, work for the different hunting I do, and they have the best warranty in the business. Some of you have said you need a new pack and now if the perfect time to buy a badlands pack. Check out the giveaway they are having!

Buy a new Badlands Lost Camo pack at and you'll be entered to win a brand new, built to your specs, Mathews No Cam HTR bow.
  • Offer not available in stores
  • Purchases must be made at
  • Offer only available on Lost Camo Packs
  • No entry form required. Your purchase is your official entry
  • Online purchase must be made on or before July 31, 2015
  • Please fill out email address line during online checkout (this is how we will notify the winner)