Friday, October 30, 2015

Blaser & Boone and Crockett #FairChaseContest

How many of you believe in Fair Chase? How many of you feel a passion for hunting? Check out what Blaser and Boone and Crockett are offering up right now. It's hunting season all over and YOU could be writing up or videoing your entry. Read on...

Submit a short essay up to 350 words or a video up to 2 minutes long telling us what Fair Chase hunting means to you and you could win the new Blaser R8 Professional S rifle, a Leupold VX-6 2-12X42mm rifle scope, and VIP passes for two to the Boone and Crockett Club’s 29th Big Game Awards in Springfield, Missouri. 

Official site: 

Social media submissions:
Tag Blaser USA and/or Boone and Crockett Club in your post or tweet
Use #FairChaseContest in your post or tweet ‘Like’ or ‘follow’ Blaser USA and Boone and Crockett Club on Facebook or Twitter 

Other methods:
Email submissions to:
Send entry by mail along with name and phone number to: 

Blaser USA Inc.
403 East Ramsey
Suite 301
San Antonio, TX 78216

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Product Review: Get Home Alive Medical Kit LITE

Staying safe in the backcountry is something I continually express to my fellow outdoorsmen. A solid first aid kit is part of that and is something that can help save a life in an emergency situation. A severe injury or trauma kit is one step up from that. I have packed the Wild Hedgehog Get Home Alive Medical Kit LITE in my pack for a couple months and while I have not had to use many items, it is a kit everyone should take a look at. This is not your 'run of the mill' first aid kit and deserves a thorough consideration for your backpack.

One of the things I did not address in the video is the cost of the Get Home Alive Medical Kit LITE. It retails anywhere from $45-84 and while that sounds like a deep pocket investment, consider needing the kit and not having it when you are eight miles deep in the backcountry. My other kits have basic first aid kits cost around $35.00, but they are full of things for basic first aid, not trauma situations. Personally, I think this kit has a reasonable price and remember, you can always add a few other items to the kit if you like. I think this is a carefully thought out kit that hunters who like to pack light will benefit from.

Great news! Wild Hedgehog has offered SoCal Bowhunter readers 15% off the kit if you buy from their website
Just use code socal15 at checkout!

Disclaimer: The reviews on The SoCal Bowhunter are solely my honest opinions. These products were either provided to me for the purpose of review or I purchased them myself. I receive no monetary compensation in exchange for these reviews.  All content © The SoCal Bowhunter. No reproduction, in any form, w/o explicit written permission.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Opening Day Etiquette and the Lack Thereof

My demeanor goes from enjoying nature, to disgust, to anger. Read on for the details.

Last Saturday was the firearm opener for deer in many of the SoCal units. Brett and I were hunting in D14 near Big Bear and we had a less than excellent day due to some inconsiderate hunters who lack hunter etiquette. This is a bit of a rant and if you are offended, you are free to move on if you don't like what I am saying, but as everyone knows, I speak my mind and I speak the truth.

First off, the rifle opener is almost always going to be packed full of hunters no matter where you go. I completely understand that and I am at peace with the fact I may have to adjust my plans if my spot is already taken. Now, if only everyone else figured that out, too. We made it to our spot at 5:00 AM and had only passed one other truck on the way up the mountain. It was pretty crazy how few vehicles we found. We were the first ones at our particular trail head. As we began pulling our packs and rifles out of the truck, another truck pulled up next to ours and asked us if we were with Larry or Lenny's group. We said no, he repeated himself, and again we said no. We turned our headlamps on and began walking into our spot. When we arrived at the location where we would split up, Brett took one fork at the trail and I took the other. 

By the time I arrived in the area I was to hunt, it was still pitch black. I saw no other headlamps and heard no other sounds except for a pair of small owls above my head. I still had an hour before sunrise, so I leaned up against a tree and let my eyes adjust. One of the owls flew off, but another flattened against a branch and rustled around. I turned my flashlight in low to view it and it was just looking at me. It flew to a closer branch and stared at me, cocking its head back and forth comically. Even though I have seen many owls in my years of hunting, it never gets old. It was such a cool experience!

The sun rose and by 6:35 AM the first shot rang out. At 6:45 is when the drama began. Down the trail about 150 yards, I see movement. With my naked eye I can see it's another hunter, wearing all black and blue, no orange at all. I am standing in plain view and he looks right at me. I turn on my flashlight so he there is no mistake that I am standing there. He evens raises up his binoculars to look at me and then proceeds to walk in my direction. I figure he is going to cut in at any time. Boy, was I wrong! He crept closer and closer and by the time he got to 60 yards, he climbs the hill and posts up behind a tree looking in the same spot I am. Really dude? So, I walk out on the trail so he can plainly see me and walk back to my spot. He comes back down to the trail and walks ten feet from me and starts asking questions. Unreal!

Mr. Inconsiderate: "Are you with Paul and Lenny? You are with our group, right?"

Me: "No. I am not with your group. I am not with Paul or Lenny." 

Mr. Inconsiderate: "Ok, so you are Paul, right?"

Me: "No, I am NOT Paul. I am not with your group."

The hunter doesn't even hear what I am saying and stares blankly at me as he describes that he ventured too far and needs to cut in behind me. 

Mr. Inconsiderate: "So did you come in with Lenny?"

Me: "No. I am NOT with YOUR group. I am in a separate group and the rest of my group is wearing blaze orange and is on the next ridge." 

Mr. Inconsiderate: "Oh, so you are not with our group? Oh, well sorry, but this is where I need to cut in. We have had this plan since last night and I need to follow it."

Mr. Inconsiderate. Enough said.

Where he decided to cut in was directly behind where I was hunting. Not down the trail, directly behind me, thus ruining any chance of a good hunt for the morning in this spot. Before I could say anything, he was off hiking behind me and what was I going to do? He was incredibly inconsiderate and showed no etiquette at all. Whether you have a plan or not, plans change due to unforeseen circumstances and you need to adjust. He should have hiked back to where he needed to go in originally.

If this were me hiking into an area where I was going to put on a drive and I found another hunter where I needed to go, I would find another way around. I would not go in and ruin their hunt! If it were the only trail head around and he needed to get into the forest that would have been a different story, but this is not that situation. Nor was it dark and he walked up to me. He walked right up to me in broad daylight. Unfortunately, that is the reality of inconsiderate hunters on public land.

I stuck around for another couple hours going up and down the trail as not to mess up Brett's hunt on the adjacent ridge. The best part of my morning was spotting a very large, and beautiful bobcat at 130 yards. He was a lucky cat as I still had 5 more days before he was legal!

When Brett and I met up at 9:00 AM, he talked about getting to his spot and hearing some noise right in front on him. He saw an ear flicker and knew it was a deer! Unfortunately, it was a doe, but she walked right toward him. She stopped at 18 yards and then two other deer came up behind her. You guessed it, two more doe and they just lingered around for a bit. I'll bet Brett's heart was racing! On our ride up the mountain I had cracked a joke about how the deer would be at 20 yards because it was rifle season. It turns out I was darn close!

He then proceeded to tell me about two guys from a hunting party who hiked in behind him (after the sun came up) and walked right by where he was hunting. He couldn't believe it. He was also wearing blaze orange and they were not. Go figure! Then I told him my story and he shook his head. This is why some hunters get upset and blog about things like this. People constantly say that we need to stick together as hunters, but I disagree when it comes to situations like this. Not only is it rude, but there is a major safety issue here.

Waiting out the afternoon while watching a distant hillside.

In the afternoon, our plan was similar to the morning hunt. We each hiked into a certain spot to sit for the night. I positioned myself above a canyon where I could see up the trail and the canyon. I felt like the evening watch could be productive, so I moved some rocks around, set up my rifle, and waited. About an hour later, here comes Mr. Inconsiderate again hiking up the trail. This time I was 150 yards beyond where I was in the morning and he spotted me right away. He lifted his binoculars to check me out and I did the same. I let him know I could see him, even if he was wearing black. I refused to look away and that's when he got on the radio and began chatting with his group. It took him about three minutes to decide that hiking toward me was a bad idea and not the right thing to do. So he hiked a different way, right? He walked toward me about 50 yards and then hiked up a small hill. I figured he would crest the hill and disappear, but I was wrong. He skirted the hill walking right towards me again. This time I made sure to get right out on the trail and walk toward him a bit. I wanted him to know how uncool it was what he was doing. Almost immediately he saw me, glassed me, and cut into the brush and disappeared. I noticed this time he had his orange meat shelf flap pulled over his pack. I watched for another 15 minutes and saw that he indeed was gone.

I slowly made my way back out the way I came in. I scoured the hillsides, the crevices, and under the trees. Nothing. No deer. The sun began to set and I heard someone coming down the hill. Sure enough, there was Brett with another story for me. He had set up on a point of the ridge and from down below, another hunter hiked up toward him. He looked right at Brett (you couldn't miss his blaze orange), and sat down right in the middle of the valley. He was directly in Brett's shooting lane! Needless to say, there wasn't much we could do at that point as it was time to head out.

We hiked back out to the truck and shook our heads the entire way. It was a harsh learning experience, but I know we will not only have plan A and B, but also C and D in the future. To the guys who disregard safety and etiquette, I hope you have a great season, but wake up and think of your fellow hunter. We are all out there to hunt, have a good time, and fill our freezers. Don't be so selfish and think about others. Time to go back to the drawing board and avoid people like that as much as we can.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Dawn of a New Era for the SoCal Bowhunter!

It is the dawning of a new era for the SoCal Bowhunter. Prior to moving to California from New York nearly a decade ago, I utilized my archery equipment and firearms to hunt. I focused on bow hunting mainly, but I also loved using my rifles and shotguns. When I moved to CA, I left my firearms in the care of my family and focused strictly on bow hunting. That time has come to an end. My rifles are now here in California and it is time to get them prepped for hunting! (It only took me ten years!)

Many of you are probably asking why I am moving away from bow hunting. I'm not leaving bow hunting behind at all! I have chosen to also utilize my rifles in California because I want to fill my freezer. I am out of red meat. Plus, I have the opportunity, so why pass it up? I want to hunt as much as I can, the most efficient ways possible. Most of the time I will continue to focus on bow hunting, but I also want to improve my odds. I also want to enjoy the hunting experience more. With the drought and so many hunters out here, breaking out the boom stick is a viable option.

To get things rolling, I have have installed new Vortex scope rings and a new MINOX ZA 5 3-15x50 scope on my Remington 270 WIN. This will give me incredible clarity, even in low light conditions, and with the ballistic reticle, I can shoot out to 400 yards comfortably. I know on paper I can shoot out to 500 yards, but with a 34-37" drop I think I'll stick to closer ranges with this weapon.

Brett and I ventured out to Oak Tree Gun Club in Newhall, CA last night to sight our rifles in for this weekend. Yes, Saturday is the firearm deer season opener and we aim to be out there. Pun intended. Am I excited? You bet I am! I haven't hunted deer with a firearm at all in California, so this is going to be a new adventure for me. 

Brett and I drove an hour and a half last night to get to the only rifle range open past 5 PM. Brett was sighting in his .30-06 and I my .270 WIN. We were zeroing in for 200 yards. His first two shots were off the target, so we knew something was wrong.We spent some time with his scope and had a difficult time getting it zeroed in. When it was my turn, I was very high, but adjusted the turrets easily and I got a bit ahead of myself by adjusting too far. I feel like I wasted a couple rounds there. Our bullets have to be non-lead rounds out here, so as you can imagine they are not cheap. I shot nine shots total and got in a decent spot, and decided to let my barrel cool while Brett tried again. His shots went wide again and we then realized his turret locked up. It was a complete mess! Neither one of us could figure out what the problem was. Even the range manager couldn't get it to move. Talk about frustrating.

Back on the bench, I shot another 5 and got even closer while Brett tinkered with his scope as light was fading. Fortunately the range is lit up, but my targets were fairly dark at the center making it difficult to pinpoint the exact bullet hole. Then, by some miracle, Brett finally got his scope turret to adjust and was able to get closer yet. It was go time!

My next 3 shots put me in a great group. I adjusted slightly and my last 3 shots were exactly where I needed to be. I was ecstatic! I set my rifle down to cool and we looked over his rifle. I peered down his scope and saw that his lens was foggy around the edges and the clarity wasn't very sharp. I offered up my rifle so he could look down range with the ZA 5 scope and the smile on his face was priceless! He looked at me and said, 'I need to get me one of these scopes!' I completely agree!

We left the range in good spirits and talked hunting the entire drive home. We will probably be the only ones wearing blaze orange on Saturday, but we will be out there ready for a deer or a bear.  I hope everyone stays safe out there and fills their tags humanely. Enjoy yourselves and be aware of your target AND what is beyond it. I am looking forward to your successful hunting stories next week!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Gear Review: Olight S1 Baton Flashlight

Over the years, I have tested out numerous flashlights and headlamps. I am always looking to better my hunting experience and want the best lights I can afford without breaking the bank. When Olight contacted me to review the Olight S1 Baton I looked over the tech specs and agreed to a review. After using it for a couple months, I can say the Olight S1 Baton is the most compact, ultra-bright flashlight I have ever used. I think I have finally found the flashlight I have been searching for!

Here is a short list of specifications (you can find the rest here). 
  • Cree XM-L2 LED. Maximum light output up to 500 lumens.
  • 3 standard modes: 8 lumens, 80 lumens and 500 lumens.
  • 2 special modes: 0.5 lumen moonlight mode and a 10Hz strobe mode.
  • 6061-T6 aluminum alloy body with anti-scratch Type-III hard anodizing
  • Body material:  6061-T6 aluminum alloy structure, Type III hard anodizing
  • Stainless steel pocket clip, stainless steel flashlight bezel, stainless steel binder ring
  • Dimensions:    Length: 61mm, Diameter: 21mm
  • Weight :  30g (excluding batteries)
  • Max beam distance:  110 meters
  • Waterproof:   IPX8

The first thing I encountered when looking over the flashlight were that you needed special batteries. Basically, you need a CR123A photo/camera battery to operate it. Most stores around me don't carry them. I had to resort to buying a pack of ten online for around $18.00. Pretty good deal, but I wish I had known that from the start. The great thing about the battery size is that you can pack extras and they don't take up too much space or add much weight. 

Operating the flashlight is very simple. The only drawback I found is that at first, you really have to play with the timing of the buttons for the strobe and moonlight mode to get the timing right.
  • Single click --- Turn ON / Turn OFF
  • Click and hold --- High brightness, select timer, or activate moon light mode
  • Quick double click --- Turbo brightness, or enter setting
  • Quick triple click --- strobe mode

The S1 Baton is very small. Smaller than a roll of pennies! So small, in fact, that it fell out of my hands and fell on concrete. Yet it still works fine! Other lights I have dropped have failed miserably. Everything stayed intact and in the proper place.

Let's talk about the brightness factor. I think the Mars Rover was getting signals from me when I turned this thing on to 500 lumens. Even Darth Vader might think I had a light sabre and challenge me to a duel. The moonlight mode is awesome for looking at a map or using a subtle light. The mid-range light is incredibly bright and the high range is super bright! DO NOT look directly into the light! It is common sense, but I see people do it and this will hurt your eyes! The strobe is a great feature for those emergency situations (or is you like to disco).

The S1 Baton has some awesome features like the magnetic back. You can place in on car hoods, metal tables, the stabilizer of your bow, and many more places, provided they have a magnetic surface. It also come with a lanyard and threading pin. This is handy to use to get the lanyard through the eyelet. You'll want to hang on to that pin though. If you want to use the hat clip for mounting to the brim of your hat, the lanyard is going to be in the way and you'll want to remove it. When I did use the Baton on my hat (less the lanyard) I found that I absolutely loved it! It works better than my headlamp and if I want to use it as a flashlight I can just take it off the brim.

The Olight S1 Baton retails for $49.99 and while it seems expensive, it really isn't. You get so much with this little powerhouse. In fact, I have already shared my findings with my friends and hunting buddies and they are all looking at purchasing one. This is seriously one of the coolest gadgets I have had the opportunity to field test and review. This definitely gets a two thumbs up from me.

For Sale: Nikon Archer's Choice Rangefinder

I have lowered the selling price on my Nikon Archer's Choice rangefinder. I have two cases for it (both camo). One is Realtree APG and the other is Realtree as well, but more light brown than anything. It's in great shape and works great. Only reason I am selling is that I am buying a new one that will go beyond 100 yards. No scratches and it's waterproof. Throwing in the retractable tether, too ($15 value).

You can read the specs here. It is selling used for $222.00. I am asking $125.00 (obo) for it with the two cases and lanyard. Email me with any questions of offers.