Thursday, February 25, 2016

BADLANDS Announces a Bold New APPROACH to Camouflage Technology


West Jordan, UT – After undertaking the company’s biggest project to date three years ago, Badlands has announced that Approach Evasion Technology is ready to conceal hunters everywhere in 2016. Developed around a “Design, Test, Repeat” mentality, the Badlands Approach pattern evolved into the most versatile and adaptable camouflage to date.


Based on Badlands’ “Adaptive Coloration Technology,” the look and feel of the Approach pattern changes based on the wearer’s surroundings and lighting conditions. Heavily wooded forests shift Approach to a green and brown dominant pattern while sagebrush and rock bring out the lighter tones of the Approach pattern. Tested at both extreme distances and up close, Badlands Approach features an innovative breakup pattern to ensure visual confusion for whatever may be looking the wearer’s way, no matter the distance.

“The Approach project got its name for two reasons,” said Badlands General Manager Bill Crawley. “First, we truly did take a brand-new approach to looking at how and why camouflage is effective. Second, this pattern will really allow you to physically approach the game you pursue more effectively and get you closer than ever before.”

Available Spring/Summer 2016, Badlands Approach will first be offered on several Badlands packs and all-new apparel items. Pricing will vary. Additional information can be found at www.badlandsapproach.com.

Now in its 20th year, Badlands continues to focus on exceptional quality, continuing innovation, unmatched performance and as always the only unconditional lifetime warranty in the industry.

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For more information about this product, other products in the Badlands line, or general inquiries, please contact Blake VanTussenbrook at 1.800.386.7839 or blake@vortexoutdoors.com

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

San Gabriel Bighorn Sheep Survey Next Weekend!


The San Gabriel Bighorn Sheep Survey is coming up March 5th-6th and they need volunteers. I have participated in this a couple times and it's not only a lot of fun, but it's great to meet new people. The last time I went out was in 2013 (see my recap here) and I brought in a bunch of gear to test out. I won't be testing a bunch of gear or carrying 57 lbs. in, but I will be having fun, doing research, and hopefully spotting some sheep with my MINOX optics!

You can sign up here to attend. Be sure to include however many will be coming with you. There is a mandatory orientation the evening before where you will sign up for one of the areas. Some are difficult to get to and some are easier. There has been more snow this year than in years past, so be aware of the road conditions. I hope to be able to hike through some snow, spot some sheep, and get some great photos!


Now who is going to come with me? 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Are You Smarter Than A Pig?


Are you smarter than a pig? Am I? You wouldn't think so by the results of last weekend. Brett and I finally got out after some public land pigs with our buddy Chris, and it was an interesting morning in the woods. In fact, it was a very early morning for us. A very chilly morning. Perfect for hogs to be roaming around. (I apologize for the lack of quality photos. I was cold and after a while completely forgot to take them! Doh!)

On our hike in to the hunting blind we found a single set of boar tracks. They were headed the opposite direction where figured the pigs were coming from, but we hoped he might come back. There were no more tracks going in that we could see by headlamp, but we had high hopes. Once situated, Chris ventured off to his spot while we arrange seats and bows.

As we sat in the darkness, we listened intently to the sounds of the forest. It was great finally be out hunting for pigs. We must have sat for a half hour in darkness when a bright flash caught us off guard! It was so bright we had no idea where it came from or from what. We would learn later on, from Chris, that it was a shooting star that went right over us. It was intense!

The temps were low and we got a bit chilled in the blind as the breeze blew right inside. It didn't take long for the jackets to come out so we could sit without a chill. Once the sun came up, things felt much better. All during that time we heard and saw zero pigs. We saw a Pope and Young class cottontail rabbit (out of season) and some beautiful birds, but that was it until the lizards woke up. They kept us entertained for quite some time.



With nothing on the move, we packed up and headed back up the trail. Not fifteen feet behind our blind was a fresh set of boar tracks on a dirt trail! Our lonely wanderer had indeed made his way back, but had done so behind the blind. It was crazy to see how close he actually got without us hearing him. We all shook our heads and smiled. We would be back soon and we would have a different plan in mind.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Product Review: TAC-BAR Tactical Food Ration



Safety, planning, and survival are terms we hear and see all over these days. Survival is a major one. Have you thought about surviving 'the big one' or a catastrophic event? Would you have enough supplies for you and your family to survive? I am going to focus on survival food as I review the TAC-BAR meal supplement bar. 


The TAC-BAR comes in a plastic ammo can with five bars, a pouch of 10 water purification tablets, and a tactical belt. When I contacted Expedition Research about the ammo can, it was shared with me that they decided to use that to protect the bar from damage during shipment. It is a good solution. The ammo can is reusable and the belt is a nice touch. If you remove the belt, there is some room inside the ammo can if you want to add a small first-aid kit or added food.


Packaging is a big deal to the folks at TAC-BAR. Each bar is sealed in an airtight pouch that keeps freshness for up to five years. There is an area at the top where it looks as though your can use your fingers to open the package, but that is incorrect. You must use a sharp object to open the package below the seal. In a survival situation this may or may not cause problems. If you didn't have a knife or something sharp, opening this would be very difficult.

UPDATE: After talking with Aaron at Expedition Research, he informed me that the charity version (orange packaging) does have the easy open notch. After I saw that, I made a small notch in the tactical packaging I have and they opened with no issue. You may want to do the same thing when you are stockpiling your TAC-BARs.


The TAC-BAR is split into threes, one for each meal of the day. Each section is 840 calories. You can eat the entire portion at once or spread it out. It is very crumbly and does make a mess. You will want to take care when breaking it up so you don't lose any portion of it. The lines that 'separate' each meal portion of the bar are deep enough that you can use your hands to slowly break the bar at the seam. This method works well and you don't lose much of the bar at all. It's when you start to eat it that it can crumble. I recommend cutting it into manageable sections to eat. I tried eating a section for breakfast as a single bar. It crumbled easily. I did the same thing at lunch, but took better care. That worked fine, but the best result I had was cutting it into four smaller sections and eating each of those. I lost very little this way. Each portion is actually quite filling, too. Now, it's not the perfect solution for a meal, but this is meant to be a survival bar and it works well as such.

The flavor of the bar is interestingly good. There is citrus in the bar to aid in a longer shelf life, but you don't taste it much. In fact, I was quite pleased with the flavor and the aroma. It tastes very close to the flavor of raw cookie dough. More specifically, like chocolate chip cookie dough (minus the chips). It was very tasty. I had my seven year old try it, knowing she is very picky. She liked it as well.

I tried the bar by itself and I also dissolved portions of each section in hot water. As a chunk, it takes much longer to dissolve, as with anything, but if you crumble it up a bit and stir it dissolves well. In water, the flavor isn't very strong at all and tastes almost like an oatmeal tea. Weird, yes, but if I were surviving on this alone I would be delighted!

This bar is definitely not low on sugar. It's actually the first ingredient! The sugar make the bar a bit gritty due to the sugar, but it will keep your energy level up if you are active or in a dire survival situation. I tested it out while working out and while working at my desk. I do not recommend eating it while sedentary. While the TAC-BAR tasted great and filled me up, I was pouring sugar into my body and not doing anything to burn it off. This is definitely meant as a survival meal bar.

One suggestion that I would make is to have a resealable pouch for the remainder of the bar. No one is going to sit and eat the entire days worth of calories in one sitting and currently the pouch will stay open unless you have tape to close it. It would be better for freshness and to keep crumbs from getting all over your pack, too.

I have tasted similar bars that come in individual (400 calorie) servings from other retailers. They are a bit harder, but they have more flavors to choose from. Also, the bars from other retailers come in packaging that are easily opened without the need for a knife. This might be something TAC-BAR wants to look at in the future.

When you order, keep in mind the TAC-BAR is not sold individually. Again, they are shipped in cases of five due to their ease of crumbling or being mishandled in shipping. The ammo case that they come in is well designed and works great in my opinion. They box retails for $69.99 on Amazon (ships free with PRIME) and includes 10 water purification tabs and a tactical belt. For survival planning, this is a nice short-term survival kit. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Guest Post from Warne Scope Mounts: Is Lapping Needed?

Today's post was written by the folks at Warne Scope Mounts. They have graciously allowed me to repost this blog entry. As I begin my 2016 hunt planning, I have decided on a new rifle build. More to come on that later. With that, I will be adding a new MINOX scope. Last hunting season gave me the opportunity to get my .270 set up with a new MINOX scope. I bought horizontal scope rings and a lapping kit. I spent an evening getting everything just right and am very happy with how it turned out. The rifle shoots well and life is good! When I started researching my new scope, I noticed a photo on Facebook from the 2016 SHOT SHOW where a MINOX scope was mounted on a rifle with the Warne scope rings. Further inspection and research showed me that they have a great set up with vertically split rings. When this blog post came up in my research I was sold. Read it for yourself and let me know what your thoughts are on scope rings.  

Content and photos copyright Warne Scope Mounts. Check out their story when you get a chance!
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Is lapping needed?

When using some designs of scope mounts, lapping is recommended to get the best performance. Lapping can increase the amount of surface contact between the ring and scope tube, and also help with proper alignment between the scope rings.  If one were to read the installation instructions for Warne Maxima vertically split rings, Lapping is not recommended. The important question is why Warne does not recommend lapping when so many other ring brands do?


To start out, what is lapping?  The process of lapping in its rudimentary form is taking 2 or more surfaces, applying some kind of abrasive compound between them, then creating friction between the parts. this process smooths and polishes the surfaces, and helps contour the surfaces so they mate better.  Specifically applied to scope rings, the user would assemble the base and rings with a steel lapping bar; a lapping compound (which is basically an abrasive liquid or paste) is applied to the bar. The rings are tightened to the point where the bar can move, but with slight resistance, and the bar is worked back and forth. When the lapping job is done, the bar and compound knocks down high spots, and rough patches, all while essentially polishing the ring surface that contacts the scope tube.  Since it is a common practice with horizontally split rings, it can also help make sure the ring cap is properly aligned with the ring body.  Lapping is valid practice, and can improve the performance of certain kinds of mounts, especially those that are windage adjustable.


Since lapping has all of these benefits, why does Warne not recommend it?  First and foremost, vertically split rings like Warne Maxima should not be lapped due to their basic design.  With a horizontal split, you have a ring body, and a ring cap.  The ring body attaches to the base, and the cap is secured with screws, applying a vise-like clamping pressure on a scope tube. Maxima rings attach to the base and the bottom of the ring comes to a close. When the top screws are tightened, the ring flexes around the scope tube to apply a hose clamp-type pressure on the tube as explained in our Why Vertically Split? Blog post. Maxima rings have only one small gap at the top where the ring is not in contact with the scope tube.  Compared to horizontally split rings, the vertical split starts out with more scope tube contact out of the package to begin with.


Since vertically split rings need to slightly flex around the tube to tighten, lapping is difficult to impossible to do correctly.  Since the ring is designed to be slightly flexed at the correct torque around the scope tube, to properly lap the ring, it would need to be in that tight flexed state. This would make it so the lapping bar cannot move, so to be able to lap a vertically split ring, the ring must be loose.  This can be a problem because the ring will have material removed, changing the shape of the interior surface of the ring. When the ring is then tightened, and flexed around the tube, it is not the correct shape. This can cause high and low spots, as well as uneven pressure on the scope tube.


Windage adjustable, horizontally split rings are most commonly lapped, and for good reason. Windage adjustable rings purposefully push the ring off center from the base, this can lead to misalignment of the 2 rings, putting either a bind on the scope tube, or reducing the holding power of the rings due to a loss in surface contact.  These styles of mounts are then lapped to bring everything back into alignment to ensure they function properly. A Warne Maxima ring naturally centers itself on the scope base since the two ring halves evenly tighten.  Since the ring naturally centers itself, as long as the receiver is drilled straight, and high quality bases are used, the rings will be in perfect alignment every time without the need for lapping.

While lapping can be a very necessary process when mounting some brands of scope rings, at the end of the day, it is just not needed for Warne mounts.  With prices for lapping kits sometimes in excess of $100, Why not save yourself some time and money, and just pick up a set of Warne rings instead?

Link to the original post on the Warne Scope Rings website.