Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Moe Falls in New York!


A few days after I had returned to California and had rearranged my freezer, I couldn't stop thinking about the hunt. The excitement, challenge, and the sheer numbers of deer we saw made my mind spin. My dad and I had talked about my uncle David and how lucky he was when hunting or fishing. I think some of that luck was handed off to my brother because over the years he has had some awesome luck both hunting and fishing. There are many stories to tell!

Opening day for the NY firearm deer season was that Saturday and I waited on pins and needles for a text from either one. Early on, texts started flying in from my dad saying he had a buck down. Then a doe. Then another. It was looking like a great opener! We sent messages back and forth as I lived vicariously through them. When the day ended, they had work to do and I went to bed thinking about the fun they must have had.

Sunday morning came and went without a text, but the afternoon proved to be a highway of electronic communication.
"I just shot Moe!"

My brother's words popped up on my phone and the smile on my face kept growing. That lucky summina...! I knew this was one of our top hit list bucks and my brother had just dropped him. Then I thought about how much money he was going to have to spend on the mount. I'm glad I shot a doe! I joke about it, but I am thrilled that he was the hunter to take Moe. He and my dad put in a lot of hours setting up cameras, treestands and hauling me around the woods. What a great hunting season we had!


So there you have it. Moe was taken after all and we all filled deer tags this season. I am already planning my 2019 NY deer hunt, but first I have a couple more weeks to try and fill my California deer tag. It will more than likely turn out to be a beautiful hike, but maybe some of that luck my brother shares with my late uncle will make it out west. One can only hope!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

2018 NY Bowhunting Trip Recap

Hunting in New York has become one of my favorite activities. Why would a guy who is from NY say that? After having lived in California for the past 12 years, going back to NY is a blessing and one hunting trip I LOVE to plan for. I prefer to hunt there vs. hunt here in SoCal due to many factors, but it's all personal. Traveling to see my family and hunt with them turned out to be one of the most memorable hunting trips ever.


To begin, I have to take you back to early September when my dad and brother were setting out trail cameras. They figured a couple spots were going to be gold mines and they were not wrong! They sent me pictures of buck after buck after buck. One buck they named Moe, due to Eeny, Meeny, Miny, and you get the idea. They didn't see him in person, but he was there. Somewhere.


Weather is always a factor when hunting and hunting in NY during the rut usually means cold weather. The weather report mentioned 40s and rain. I packed my cold weather Badlands Approach camo fully expecting snow. I forgot to pack my High Unitas Vest (I love this vest for the warmth it provides) and was very disappointed. I had my Badlands merino wool base layers and that helped a great deal, but I was very cold at times. 


We saw deer every day, from every stand, and had a blast! I passed on a yearling fawn the first day, but that didn't stop her from eyeballing me for over an hour and walking up to my stand. Let me say this, I stand by my Dead Down Wind spray. I have said it before while hunting pigs and now with this hunt, the deer were downwind of me for hours, but they never spooked. Not one time did a deer snort or kick off due to smelling me. This particular doe was downwind for a long time and kept smelling the air, knowing I was there, but couldn't place the scent. It was great fun to watch!

I was blessed to be able to harvest a doe on day three at 8 yards. Yes, 8 yards from the stand. Most of the deer I saw were within 30 yards all weekend. My dad sure can pick a good stand location. 


Jumping ahead to the last day of my hunt, with thirty minutes of daylight left I saw Moe for the first time. He was beautiful! He came from downwind of me, walked into a shooting lane and I watched in awe as he walked by at 35 yards. After already filling my archery tag, I was left with only a doe permit, so I could do nothing but watch. It was an amazing sight. The biggest buck of my life had just walked by and there wasn't a thing I could do but feel blessed to have witnessed him.

I came home with a cooler full of delicious venison, but the story doesn't end there. The New York firearm season was about to begin in a few days and while I may not have been there physically, I was there in spirit as the two best hunting buddies took the stand with their rifles. What would happen? Would they see Moe? Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Countdown to Some Treestand Time

The weather in New York is cooling down rapidly and the deer are in the mood. The trees still have a lot of green, but I am prepared. Between my Badlands Approach and Approach FX camo, I'll blend in well. Practice has been on point and I am looking forward to being 20 feet up in a tree for a week. With weekly reports on the deer activity it is difficult to focus on anything else. Deer fever is setting in and the cure seems so far away. 

Monday, October 22, 2018

Gear Review: Propper Kinetic Tactical Pants


Tactical pants are essential if you are at the shooting range often, running drills, or just need things available when you need them. I was very curious to see how a tactical pants would be for the archery range. I also wondered how well they would work as pants when I am scouting. Would they hold up to the beating I would give them? Would things stay put inside and out? Are they comfortable and worth the money? Deciding to test out my questions, I have been field testing the Propper Kinetic® Pant for a couple months on a regular basis. 

  • 6.5 oz 79% polyester / 21% cotton ripstop NEXStretch® fabric w/ DWR
  • Durable water repellent (DWR) treatment to resist dirt and moisture
  • Durable and rugged ripstop fabric with integrated stretch
  • Updated, modern, professional design
  • Gripper waistband
  • Metal button waistband closure
  • Cargo pockets with internal dividers
  • Wider belt loops with badge / sunglasses tabs
  • Ambidextrous pocket configuration
  • Gusseted crotch
  • Classic fit
  • NTOA member tested and approved

When I asked the Propper team about sizing they were very clear in saying to order according to my size. They claimed the pants would fit properly and they were right! I ordered a 36x30 pant and they fit well. There is a thin rubber strip on the inside top of the pant to allow it to grip your skin to prevent slippage. When standing straight up this worked well. In fact, it has a stretch waistband that adjusts to you and fits very comfortably. When I tested it with a backpack on I found it difficult to pull my pants back up due to the rubber gripping lower than I wanted. If the pants had a bit more of a higher waist I would like them better. That truly is the only thing I wasn't a huge fan of, but that is very minor.


The Kinetic Tactical Pants are constructed from NEXStretch™ mechanical stretch fabric that stretches slightly and is tough as nails. I spent time hiking, biking, and taking them to the outdoor ranges to see how they would hold up to abuse. I knelt on rocks, hiking through thorned branches, crawled on sand and also had the cuff rub against the pedals and chain of the mountain bike I rode in an effort to test strength. The Kinetic Pants not only held up, but they also cleaned up surprisingly well. My sweat and the grease and grit from the bike was really prevalent, but a quick wash and they looked brand new again. The color stayed strong and the material looked new again. Also, the metal button waistband closure stayed secured throughout all of my testing. This has been an issue in the past due to my aggressive six-pack (belly) and I was concerned the pants would pop open. Not once did that happen.

The Kinetic pant has eight (8) pockets, but some of the pockets are inside other pockets. If you consider those facts the pants could be said to have twelve (12) pockets. As I recommend with any backpack purchase, just because the pants have 12 pockets doesn't mean you need to fill each and every one of them. Use them properly and they will be a useful tactical tool.

Movement in the pants proved to be relatively easy and comfortable. There was no chaffing and the fabric moves with you. They breathe well, too. I spent a day in 95+ degree temps in the desert and then also in the mountains on a bike (going uphill with a full pack on) and they were great. Even on a 22-mile bike ride and a short hike they stayed relatively comfortable.

Competitively priced at $54.99, the Propper Kinetic® Pant are priced to sell. It's a great price considering the quality material, construction and comfort. Plus there is free shipping and a low price guarantee. I would recommend the Kinetic Pant for shorter trips, not for long trips in the mountains. These are great for the shooting range, archery range, and for a short hike scouting trip, as they are durable and very comfortable in most applications. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

BADLANDS INTRODUCES ARTEMIS TENT SERIES – TENTS MADE FOR HUNTERS BY HUNTERS


West Jordan, UT – Badlands has expanded its already robust product offering once again by offering two new backcountry tents designed to keep hunters agile, comfortable and protected from the elements. Designed with ease of use, durability and functionality in mind, the Artemis Series features one and two-person models that are available now.

Not willing to sacrifice quality and durability for minuscule weight savings, Badlands focused on high quality, long-lasting materials for the construction of the Artemis Tents. While still considered lightweight backcountry tents, the Artemis Series is built for the hunter who puts their gear through all the rigors of backcountry hunting. Features include:


  • Three Season Performance
  • Badlands Exclusive One-Piece 7001 Aluminum Pole Design
  • Welded Bathtub Floor
  • Front Porch Double-Zip Vestibule
  • Ultralight Quick-Pitch Option (utilizes footprint, poles and fly only)
  • Each Artemis Tent Includes a Footprint
  • Minimum Trail Weight = 4 lbs. 1 oz (2 Person Model) & 3 lbs 5 oz (1 Person Model)


“Our focus for the Artemis Series was making a tent that hunters can rely on for a long time,” said Badlands Marketing Manager Blake VanTussenbrook. He continued, “We didn’t add frills or gimmicks that people frankly don’t end up using. The Artemis tents are extremely easy and quick to setup and were designed for the abuse hunters put on their gear.”

The Artemis 1 Person Tent is $379.99 while the 2 Person model comes in at $439.99. Both models include a footprint and the legendary Badlands Unconditional Lifetime Warranty.

Now in its 25th year, Badlands continues to focus on exceptional quality, continuing innovation, unmatched performance and as always, the only unconditional lifetime warranty in the industry.

###

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

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Gear Review: Peltor Sport Tac-500 Hearing Protection


When it comes to hearing protection, I am a bit picky as I have lost some hearing in my right ear due to shooting without hearing protection as a teenager. I want it to work well, be comfortable and if it has multiple functions then I am very interested. The Peltor Sport Tactical 500 electronic hearing protection earmuffs have all of that. I had the opportunity to try them at SHOT Show and was able to speak with the people behind the technology. My interest in the equipment spiked and they reached out to have me put them to the test.

The Peltor Sport TAC-500 hearing protection comes packaged with extra ear pads and an intuitive manual. They are easily adjustable to your head and they fold up easily when you put them back in your range bag. They also fit very well over a hat-button due to a well-designed opening. Nice thinking!


The Tac-500s fit very snug (see photo above and how they are pressing in on my head). It's one of those pieces of gear that I love to hate in this instance. The fact that it is so tight is great when you aren't wearing your safety glasses, but when you do (like you should) it presses the glasses tight to your head and it's uncomfortable. The great thing about it is that you won't have any sound getting in that isn't supposed to. With them being so tight there is one more drawback and that is that your head will sweat more where the ear foam lies. It's a minor dilemma, but an obvious issue I noticed. After a while, you will feel the pressure and I was not a fan of that.


How do the Peltor Sport TAC-500s function? Not only do they work as hearing protection, but they also allows you to hear everything around you while you are at the range. They cuts out when a shot takes place due to the technology and goes right back to allowing you to hear. They also have Bluetooth capability which is really sweet. You can use these as wireless headphones with your computer or with your phone. This allows you to play music or answer a call all while protecting your ears. Bluetooth gets turned on via a button on the right earmuff. This is also where you will adjust the volume of what you can hear inside and outside of the earmuff. Quite honestly, I think the TAC-500s excel in the category of hearing protection with few limitations.

Different calibers were used to test out the capability of the sound deadening. I tested out rifles in .22 caliber up to .300 WIN MAG, a 12 gauge shotgun, 10MM handgun and many others. The TAC-500 worked incredibly well for all of them!

Battery life was outstanding and I thought I would mention this experience I had. I used the TAC-500s on a few occasions where they would give me three beeps after using them for over ten hours (total time). I figured the batteries were running low. Little did I know (had I read the entire manual at that time) that this is letting you know they are going into power save mode because I hadn't actively used them in over an hour. I have had the same pair of batteries in for a few months now and have used them on more than eight different occasions for longer than two hours. Battery life has been great!

The Peltor Sport Tactical 500 electronic hearing protection is not a cheap investment, but it is a solid investment. I wanted to clear that up right away. You get what you pay for and these come with a bunch of extras. They retail for around $169.99 and initially I thought for the amount of shooting that I do that was a steep price, but I have since changed my tune. They do so much and take a beating after being tossed into my gear bag, being out in the desert heat, and the capabilities.

My recommendation on the Peltor Sport TAC-500s is based on these thoughts. If you shoot handguns often these would be perfect! If you shoot AR style rifles or hunting rifles, these are also great! If you shoot rifles with a high cheek rest, these may not be the ones for you as the earmuff hits the cheek rest, especially if you use a high cheek rest. For most applications, these would be an excellent investment, especially if you need all of the functions they come with.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Gear Review: HHA Sports Tetra Single Pin Archery Sight


Over my many years of being an archer and bow hunter, you could say that I have used my fair share of archery sights. If you have followed my blog you will know that I switched from a multi-pin sight to an HHA Sports single-pin sight nearly five years ago and didn't look back. A couple months back, I was talking with Chris Hamm, VP of Operations at HHA Sports, and we were discussing the way I hunt and where I hunt when he mentioned I should give the new HHA Tetra Sight a try and share what I thought. Always willing to put gear to good use, abuse, and rough conditions, I agreed to field test the HHA Sports Tetra Single-pin sight. I chose the right hand, 1 5/8" scope size, with a .010" pin size.  I like a small housing and small pin that allows me to see more of my target in a tighter window.



What makes the Tetra different? It's the first single-pin sight from HHA Sports that allows for third-axis adjustment. What's the 3rd axis? In a nutshell, when shooting uphill or downhill, if the sight isn't level then you are effectively canting the bow one way or another. On flat ground it isn't an issue, but when you hunt the foothills or mountains, your 3rd axis needs to be level.


The Tetra also has a newly designed adjustment wheel, which I don't think improves or takes away any value. It's cool and different, but the original wheel adjust works just fine.


The Tetra is as solid as the HHA sights come and has a redesigned two stage, micro adjust windage adjustment, all new water resistant sight tapes and 2.1” of travel. I wanted to share this specification because it makes a difference when making your adjustments. You can fine tune it with precision.


Setting up the sight was a breeze. Adjusting for the third-axis also went very smooth and I was eager to test it in the field. First, I had to sight it in and this actually was faster that I imagined. As with all of the HHA sights, you sight in at 20 and then at 60. Whatever the difference is between the high and low numbers is on your sight tape give you the proper tape to install. Yes, it really is that easy! It works very well for me and with great results. I had the Tetra sighted in properly in less than fifteen minutes. 

Later on, I set up a ladder in my yard, put my target at 3 yards and shot down. It takes some getting used to shooting down at 1-2 yards, but it can be done effectively and the Tetra performed very well!


I have been shooting it at the range out to 80 yards and in my backyard from 10-20 yards. I can quickly and easily dial it in and shoot. Be warned, if you continue to practice shooting at the same spot over and over with this sight, you are bound to start splitting arrows! 

The MSRP on the HHA Sports Tetra is $289.99. As always, it comes down to "would you recommend it?" Absolutely I recommend it! It's a solid sight, works great, has a lifetime warranty, and comes from an American made company. HHA always delivers and they sure stepped it up with this sight. I truly love this sight for hunting out West and cannot wait to go deer hunting with my bow!

Monday, August 27, 2018

Binocular Discussions - What do I buy?


The past two weeks have been awesome. Sure, I have been busier than a bee, but I am thrilled. You see, I have been at Bass Pro Shops the last two weekends talking hunting and optics with so many people. I didn't even have an optics seminar scheduled, but I love talking optics and hunting, so it was great!


There were more questions regarding Vortex Optics than any other brand. I lingered around the optics counter most of the day and listened to so many hunting stories. That's one of my favorite parts about being on the Redhead Pro Staff. When I get to hear about your successes I am thrilled! So many of the people I talked with wished they had great binoculars and that was a great lead in to why I use many different Vortex optics and stand by the brand. Now, if we can keep them in stock at Bass Pro we will be set! You guys love them, too!

Friday, August 24, 2018

Hog Hunting Seminar at Bass Pro Shops (Rancho Cucamonga, CA)

Hog hunting experts Ron Gayer and Durwood Hollis will be presenting a wild pig hunting seminar at Bass Pro Shops in Rancho Cucamonga on Saturday, September 8 from 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM. Yes, I've attended this seminar and it's worth every penny. The seminar will be held in the fine gun room (top of the stairs to the right of the fish tank and hang a right). Hollis and Gayer have decades of wild pig hunting experience with much of it on public land.

The seminar will cover a wide range of wild pig hunting topics, including: how-to use maps to locate the best spots, reading sign, calls/calling, gear and gadgets, appropriate weaponry and a free set of public land hunting hot spot maps.

This in-depth presentation will be held in the upstairs seminar room at Bass Pro Shops and will begin at 10:00 AM, Saturday,September 8th. Cost is just $40 per person (cash only) and as always, junior hunters are FREE with a paid adult.

Seating is extremely limited and the spots are filled first-come, first serve, so get in line early!

Monday, August 20, 2018

Whitetail Fever!



It won't be long now and whitetails will be hitting the ground. I am stoked that I will be heading to New York to bow hunt for whitetails with my family. Cameras are out, stands are being set up, and I am itching to be in the woods! 

Who else will be hunting whitetail this Fall? Any big trips planned? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Backcountry Hunters Sporting Clays Shoot


Monday, August 13, 2018

SHARE Program to Offer Wild Pig, Waterfowl, Pheasant, Quail and Dove Hunts this Fall

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) program will provide public access for hunting on properties in Colusa, Merced, Santa Barbara and Solano counties this fall.

For the first time, SHARE will offer deer, quail and dove hunts on a new property in Santa Barbara County. Harrington Farms is 785 acres of farmland and rolling hills consisting of oak savannahs and juniper-sage woodlands east of Hwy 33. Deer hunters must have a valid D13, D11, D15 or Archery Only (AO) deer tag. Only non-lead ammo will be allowed on this property. The hunts will take place September 2018 through January 2019.

SHARE is offering nine archery-only wild pig hunts at East Park Reservoir located in Colusa County, approximately 45 minutes west of Maxwell. SHARE hunters will have access to 600 acres of oak woodland on the south side of the reservoir for these hunts. CDFW will randomly draw one permit (good for two hunters) for each hunt period. The hunts will take place October 2018 through February 2019.

SHARE will also offer seven wild pig hunts from November to December at Rush Ranch, located in Solano County. Rush Ranch is a 2,070-acre open-space area bordered by the Suisun Marsh. Two permits (each good for two hunters) will be randomly drawn for each period. SHARE hunters will have access to 1,000 acres of the ranch for these hunts and will be able to camp in a designated area for no extra fee.

SHARE is also offering waterfowl, dove and pheasant hunts on the wildlife management area at the city of Merced’s Wastewater Treatment Plant. The property is located five miles south of the City of Merced and is tucked between sloughs and agricultural fields. The seasonal pond and wetland on the property provide cover and forage for waterfowl, dove and pheasant and 300 acres will be open to hunting. Successful applicants will be allowed to bring a hunting partner or non-hunting partner.

Hunters with a valid California hunting license may apply for these hunts through the Automated License Data System. An $11.62 non-refundable application fee will be charged for each hunt choice. Application deadlines are 17 days before each hunt.

To apply for these hunts, please visit www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/InternetSales, log in to your account and select “Purchase Licenses.” Then select “2018 – Hunting, 2018 - SHARE Hunts Multi Choice Application,” then select specific hunt periods.

These opportunities are made possible by the SHARE Program, which offers private landowners liability protection and compensation for providing public access to or through their land for wildlife-dependent recreational activities. The goal of the SHARE Program is to provide additional hunting, fishing and other recreational access on private lands in California. For more information about SHARE opportunities, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/SHARE.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Your Chance to Help California's Bighorn Sheep

This came through my email tonight and I thought it wise to share. Please read and if you can help, please do! Feel free to share with others.

The California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW), the Society for the Conservation of Bighorn Sheep (SCBS) and the National Park Service (NPS) are requesting help from volunteers to haul water to three big game drinkers (Kelso, Kerr, Vermin) within the Mojave Preserve during the weekend of August 17th-20th. All three drinkers are used by desert bighorn sheep along with many other species and due to the lack of rain this year all three drinkers are at risk of running dry before the end of summer.

We can use all the help  we can get to help layout hose, man the pumps and shuttle trucks with water tanks from the water truck to the drinkers. We'll have plenty of pumps and hoses but if anyone can bring a pickup with an empty bed, or an off-road water trailer, we can sure put you to good use as well. The Preserve is providing a water truck and water buffalo which combined can hold 3000 gallons. SCBS will have some 250 gallon cage tanks for the back of pickups but if you have your own, we'll use it. Extra ratchet straps are always helpful too.

If you have a large water trailer (or water truck!) that is best suited for on-road use, we can use you at the staging area to avoid tripping all the way back up to Baker for refills.  If you don't have a 4x4 but want to help, we can fit you in another truck as a passenger/spotter - be sure to let us know so we can make an effort to arrange it that way.

NPS and CDFW folks will start laying out some of the hoses on Friday (Aug 17th), if you're available to help please contact Debra and Ashley (emails below). Otherwise SCBS folks will be meeting at Camp Cady on Friday evening to prepare equipment, load equipment onto Big Red and cage tanks into volunteer trucks so that we are ready for an early start on Saturday to beat the heat. Show up in the afternoon or any time before 6 am Saturday. There are a few rooms in the bunkhouse but it will be hot and you might prefer camping out on a cot. There is plenty of space to spread out. On Saturday morning we will head from Camp Cady to Baker to load up on water (thanks to Baker Community Services.) Timing can be subject to delays but we should be at Baker around 7 am or so. If you are not inclined to camp at Camp Cady or you're a real early bird then you should plan to get to Baker about 7 am at the latest and watch for us.

Thank you for your time and if you are available to help all or any of these days (Aug 17-19th) please RSVP to the email addresses below:

Steve Marschke (SCBS): stevemarschke@gmail.com
John Roy (SCBS): johnandlindaroy@yahoo.com
Ashley Evans (CDFW): ashley.evans@wildlife.ca.gov
Debra Hughson (NPS): Debra_Hughson@nps.gov

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Product Review: GreenBelly Meals


When it comes to food to pack for hunting I like to have variety. I hunt hard and I like to eat, so I want something that will fill me up, be nourishing, and it has to taste good. A good balance of protein, carbs, and needed salts are a must. For the last few scouting trips I have packed Greenbelly Meals for my meals with some interesting results.






I tried out all three flavors:
  • Dark Chocolate Banana
  • Cranberry Almond
  • Peanut/Apricot

Each 650+ calorie, ready-to-eat meal is divided between two bars in one convenient pouch. They are made from all-natural and gluten-free ingredients. Each pouch contains 1/3 of your daily nutrition, so planning out meals is easy. What I liked right away is that I didn't have to pack anything to heat up water in order to eat. I could tear open a pouch and eat right away. The packaging is excellent for keeping the meal secure and to allow it to close (zip lock shut) if you don't finish the meal.


My first impression of the Greenbelly meals is that these taste really good! I started off with the chocolate banana. I knew I'd be scouting in 85-100 degrees and I didn't want the chocolate to melt. The aroma is great and flavor is excellent. These taste really good (did I say that already?). They are a bit salty for my liking, but I understand you need to replenish the salts in your body when exerting yourself like I was. Even still, I'd like to try some that weren't so salty.

Side Note: While the pouch seals well and is a great size to fit in my pack, they are noisy! If you are hunting you'd likely consider a different way to bring these out. I'd suggest taking them out of the original packaging and vacuum sealing them as individual bars (I'll get to why in a second). That would allow for a quieter experience. I also think these crumble very quickly inside a pack. I found that if i did not put these at the very top of my pack, they bars got a bit crushed into more of a granola and not a bar. That's why I think I would vacuum seal individual bars the next time out. That being said, these do take up less space that your typical backcountry meal pouch and that alone is a major plus.

These are made to be a meal, but I found that while biking or hiking longer distances, eating an entire meal was not a good idea. These are REALLY filling! Along with the salts, you need to drink plenty of water to get these to digest properly. I was better off eating one bar vs. two. If it was the end of the day and I was back at camp then I would slowly eat both. I nearly lost my breakfast a few times due to eating an entire pouch while glassing and then biking a few more miles. I learned the hard way so you don't have to.


Once I had reached my destination (or end of my one way bike/hike trip) I parked under a tree with some shade and ate the peanut/apricot. This was a great combo of flavor. I ate in half-hour increments as to not fill my stomach too quickly. I was able to seal the bag, take a nice nap, and eat the rest when I woke up. I knew I was going to be climbing uphill for a few miles and needed the energy.

Some of the best things about the GreenBelly meal are that they are great for hunting in SoCal. You can't have a fire right now, so it's great to have a meal like this to open and eat. They taste great and fill you up. Gluten-free means more people can enjoy them. They don't melt in the heat like a candy bar or trail mix with chocolate, and they are easy to eat! I can see these being great for a 2-3 day hunt, but I would get bored eating the same thing everyday. I plan to pack some other snacks like jerky and nuts as well.

Overall, I was impressed with how good these taste, fill you up, and keep your energy level up. I did not have a favorite because I liked them all! I will take these out again for sure. A three-pack will cost you $22.99 which is really good considering what competitors will charge you for a meal that you have to prepare (and these taste better!). If you plan on hunting for longer periods of time and need more meals, you are better off buying a bulk pack and dividing it up accordingly. I would certainly recommend these to hunters looking to pack lighter, not have to cook anything, and who want good nutrition while hunting. 

Monday, July 23, 2018

Trail Cams and Trash - A Saturday Story

Out of shape. I must have repeated those words a dozen times as I biked up the mountain incline. The benefit was that each time I had to stop, I glassed the hillsides and ravines. In a short time I glassed up two bucks, one legal, and watched them go where the others had gone a month before. It was a successful trip yet again!

Ramon and I biked in to where we had set our trail cameras. We picked up some trash we found and then grabbed our cards from the cameras. We were excited to have plenty of images of deer (many doe with fawns), one medium-sized cat, a two-legged mammal in plaid, and squirrels. With plenty of battery life left, we downloaded the pictures and reset the cameras. We then hiked up a bit further and set another cam along a cervid highway. I have high hopes of seeing something legal!

We came down the hill to find trash in odd places. When Ramon said he found a recent sardine can I about puked. Who the heck would eat sardines in this heat? Either way, he picked it up and I continued to find more trash. We both filled bags and pack out what you see below. We found even more down a steep drainage to be removed at a later date.

It makes me sick to see such disregard for our public lands. If you bring it in, TAKE IT BACK OUT! I kept laughing when I looked at the "YOU'RE #1" balloon and kept thinking that isn't the finger that comes to mind with all of this trash. We will continue to clean up after others as we want the land to be clean and free of man-made debris. 

The season is looking promising and we are eager for opening day in two months. I hope the temps drop a little, but the deer are moving! What has your scouting looked like? Any good news to report?

Monday, July 16, 2018

Gear Review: Impact Sport BOLT Electronic Earmuffs


What's that? Say again? What'd he say? Huh? These are words you don't want to have to repeat over and over because you didn't use hearing protection at the range. Your hearing is important and if you have ever fired a rifle and not used hearing protection you know what I am talking about. I have used hearing protection all my life and I am always looking for improvements as I grow older. For about six months I have been field-testing the Impact Sport BOLT Electronic Earmuffs from Howard Leight by Honeywell. 

When it comes to hearing protection, I am a bit picky. If it covers my ears, it had better block out the excess noise and work with my rifles with a cheek riser. I also want something that is not bulky, easily adjustable, and it must be comfortable. 

In the package are the BOLT earmuffs, 2 AAA batteries, 3.5 mm auxiliary cable (for MP3 players and scanners), belt clip and extra pads. They come conveniently packed with easy to follow instructions.


The BOLT earmuffs turn on easily with one rolling switch (shown in the image above). You can adjust volume up or down depending on your own personal hearing needs.

Adjustment on these is easy and I was able to fit them to my rather large head with no issues. They cover the ears fairly well and are not too tight. The benefit to that is that your head won't sweat terribly with them fitted properly. Plus, these work well on kids smaller heads. Most of the time my daughter complains at how tight the earmuffs are. She didn't complain with these. The not-so-good part is that they can slip or pull away from your ear if you aren't careful. They don't fit very snug. I was shooting my Remington .270 with a high cheek riser and when I fired the shot, I had the riser too close to the earmuff, thus lifting it from my ear and having my ear take much of the blast. It was my own fault, but I want to urge caution with that. You better believe I only made that mistake once. Even still, I wish these hugged my head a wee bit tighter.

The Impact Sport BOLT Electronic Earmuffs function very well as hearing protection and also as a means to hear when your buddy tries to have a conversation with you while everyone is shooting. The volume can be adjusted up or down to minimize or maximize volume and protection. You can adjust it for different calibers to reduce the volume, but if you choose, you can also turn them right off. These worked very well when tested with four shooters. I was able to converse with my friends while shooting and my hearing was protected.

These will turn off automatically after four (4) hours of non-use. This helps save battery life.

Storage of the BOLTs is easy. Pop the actual muffs back inside to the headpiece and they fit in your hand. They easily pack into a range bag or a backpack. This also helps from them accidentally turning on.

Should you choose to invest, the Impact Sport BOLT Electronic Earmuffs can be found online for around $84.00. For me, that is a sound investment because once your hearing goes, you cannot get it back. Protect your hearing! Even though I wish these fit tighter to my head, I would recommend picking up a pair as they are an excellent hearing protection device.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Helping a Friend Properly Mount His Vortex Rifle Scope


Months ago, I was at the shooting range having a casual conversation with my friend Bill G. about rifle scopes. Seeing the Vortex scopes I was using, he mentioned he had never really had a great scope nor had he really thought about it. At SHOT Show 2018, I had him check out the Vortex Strike Eagle scopes and he loved them. In fact, he had quite a smile on his face after. I told him that we would have to get him set up when he purchased his next rifle.

Fast forward a few months when his new rifle arrived. He decided to transfer an old scope to it and wanted a Strike Eagle for his .300 BLK. I had him look at the specs and offered my recommendations. He enthusiastically decided on a Strike Eagle 4-24x50 and was itching to mount it properly. *Hint, hint, Al!* Unfortunately, I got really busy and had to postpone. Bill is a patient man and last week I finally made the time to go to his house.

Bill mentioned that he had never properly mounted a scope, so I brought over my Wheeler Manufacturing scope mounting kit and got to work. Bill had already compared the glass in his other scopes and the Vortex. He said he was surprised at how crisp and clear it was.

We first got a rough idea where the rings should go and tightened them finger tight. I laid the scope in the rings and we tightened the bolts down to get an idea if we needed to lap them. We determined they need to be lapped slightly, so I walked Bill through the process and had him do the work. Once I was satisfied, we cleaned up the rings and set the scope in, locking it lightly in place.

Next, I wanted to be sure we got proper eye relief set up. Bill is a lefty and shoots a little different than I, so I adjusted the scope while he held a shooting position. Within a few seconds were at a good place. You seriously couldn't wipe the smile off his face!





Once the proper eye relief was set we got to the leveling portion. I am a pretty thorough guy when it comes to things like this. Bill also falls into this category, so we spent the better part of our time verifying level, torquing the rings down, loosening them back up, adjusting the scope once again, and by now I am sure you get the picture. We spent a considerable amount of time getting it just right. We nailed it and were thrilled!





We torqued the rings to 25 in. lbs. and rechecked the eye relief. We both gave the rifle a once over and had to check the optic range of the Strike Eagle. To say it was incredible doesn't give it any justice. Clear, sharp, and when we dialed it up to 24 power it felt like you could hit a sparrow at 400 yards. Who knows, maybe we will have to get this set up shooting that far.



Bill may not smile much for pictures, but that is the face of a happy rifleman! With his new Vortex Strike Eagle 4-24x50 scope mounted properly, he is eager to get to the range in a couple weeks and sight it in. Heck, I am eager to get out there! I am stoked for him and can't wait to see what he is able to do with that set up. I'll bet he is going to be the happiest guy at the range! 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Hog Hunting Seminar at Bass Pro Shops!

For those of you asking me when the next hog hunting seminar is... Wait no longer! Hog hunting experts Ron Gayer and Durwood Hollis will be presenting a wild pig hunting seminar at Bass Pro Shops in Rancho Cucamonga on Saturday, July 21 from 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM. I've attended this seminar and it's worth every penny. The seminar will be held in the fine gun room (top of the stairs to the right of the fish tank and hang a right). Hollis and Gayer have decades of wild pig hunting experience with much of it on public land.

The seminar will cover a wide range of wild pig hunting topics, including: how-to use maps to locate the best spots, reading sign, calls/calling, gear and gadgets, appropriate weaponry and a free set of public land hunting hot spot maps.

This in-depth presentation will be held in the upstairs seminar room at Bass Pro Shops and will begin at 10:00 AM, Saturday, July 21st. Cost is just $40 per person (cash only) and as always, junior hunters are FREE with a paid adult.

Seating is extremely limited and the spots are filled first-come, first serve, so get in line early!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Bass Pro Shops Hunting Seminars Recap (and links)


Our minds are constantly learning and yearning to know more. As a hunter in Southern California, I completely understand that there are new hunters, as well as many seasoned hunters who want to learn more about how to hunt, where to find the animals, and what to do when the animal is down. I was blessed to be able to give five seminars yesterday at Bass Pro Shops in Rancho Cucamonga, CA on topics just like those. The seats were filled and the questions kept coming! I started at 10:30 and didn't stop answering questions until 4:30 - six hours of great hunt stories, questions, and learning.

First off, I would like to thank all of the attendees who came out from far and wide. You guys made every seminar fun and I learned some great things, too! Some of the folks came out from as far as 29 Palms and others from Santa Clarita. You guys rock and I appreciate you all coming out to listen to me all day. Please let me know if there was anything I didn't cover or something you want to learn more about. I'd be happy to share!

Here are the topics I covered and the times:
10:30 AM - Introduction to Bow Hunting
11:30 PM - Scouting For Deer In SoCal: Tactics and Optics  
1:30 PM - Effective Scent Control  
2:00 PM - Packing for a Day Hunt vs. a Multi-Day Hunt 
3:00 PM - Proper Field Care: Tips and Tools

We talked everything from traditional bow hunting to hunting with a compound. The topic of shot placement and tracking came up, too. The most asked questions were where to find the deer and how to find them. My Vortex Razor HD 12x50s came out along with my Viper HD 20-60x85 spotting scope. We discussed biking and hiking into areas, why I wear Rocky boots for both, and I recapped my 22 mile scouting trip from a couple weeks back. Along those same lines, I was able to go for a ride on a Rambo electric bike right before I started my seminars and let me say that I can see why they are a game changer. Very impressive!

Here are links to some of the gear I highlighted yesterday. I have used many of these for years and if you have any questions, please give me a shout!

Badlands 2200 backpack (my favorite and the one I had in store)

Bass Pro BlackOut S3 compound bow

TightSpot Quiver

PayDay Candy Bars - You know you wanted this one!

For those who were looking for the links to the maps:

I use the National Forest Atlas (Quadrangle Maps) from the national forest and they are very helpful. Scroll down and find the one for the area you want to hunt. 

For maps on my GPS I use the onX hunt maps.

Giving five seminars was a challenge and it worked out great! Offering a few more seminars for those traveling from long distances worked well. During the Bass Pro Shops Fall Classic I will be in the Rancho store August 11-12 and 18-19. I'll be giving seminars, but I will also be walking around and available to answer any questions you might have. I look forward to meeting you all! Thanks again for making the day fly by yesterday with some great questions! I loved it!