Tuesday, May 22, 2018

California Big Game Drawing Deadline Approaches

The Big Game Drawing deadline to get your tag applications in to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is June 2, 2018. In case you haven't been paying attention it's coming in fast! Have you considered everything for hunting this year like the use of unleaded ammo, bow hunting vs. firearm, forest fires and time to spend in the field? These are all major considerations and you really don't have much time left to make that call. Decisions need to be made and you have less than two weeks to do it. I'll share some of my own obstacles and processes in the event they can help you narrow down your choices.

First thing I think about is family time and along with that my vacation time. Will I have enough vacation set aside for my family? Will I then have enough time set aside for the hunts I want to go on? Most times that isn't an issue, but those older my daughter gets, the more I find myself wanting to also spend more time with her before she grows up. It's a conundrum and a choice I have to make myself. 

Another factor to consider is the unit I apply for or the tag(s) I go for. Do I want to only bow hunt? Do I want options like being able to use a firearm? Do I stay close to home or am I willing to travel to go after that animal? Will my hunt partners be able to hunt the same units and are they willing to? Then comes the question of, do I have enough money for these tags? With this decision comes the non-lead ammunition factor and if you are using the allowed projectiles. Be certain you have non-lead ammunition on you and in your firearm when hunting in the non-lead zones. Next year it won't be an issue as you won't have a choice. You could be like me and already be utilizing non-lead projectiles when hunting. It takes the guesswork out.

Right along side of deciding which tag to go for is the closure of lands due to forest fires. I have heard from some hunters saying that while areas have been closed to fire, hunters are allowed to hunt there. They insist that DFW has informed them of this. Take it as you will, but verify it for yourself. I make no claims to that statement, but it would be nice to not be locked out of a region you hunt due to fire closure.

These are just some of the obstacles we face as hunters when it's time to go in for a California tag. Other things come into play, but don't be like I was last year and wait too long. I missed out because I was on vacation and thought my tag wouldn't sell out. Unfortunately it did sell out and I was left hanging. If you want that tag, put in for it and give yourself a shot! Good luck!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Gear Review: Vortex Razor HD 12x50 Binoculars


One of my favorite pre-season activities is scouting. Glassing for animals to be more precise. I began scouting last year with a pair of Vortex Diamondback 10x42 binoculars and loved every second of it. Great glass for the price. Then, in between two of my seminars at Bass Pro Shops in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, I made the best mistake ever when I tried out a pair of Vortex Razor HD 12x50 binoculars. I liken it to watching an action movie on TV in color on a 30" screen to then viewing the same movie on a flatscreen 72" 4K HD TV in full color. The view was crisp, stunning and immediately I knew I had to have a pair. If I have said it once, I have said it a hundred times, "You get what you pay for in optics. Buy the very best you can afford and if you can't afford them now, save up for them and buy excellent glass once." I did exactly that and purchased my own pair of Vortex Razor HD 12x50 binoculars without hesitation.


Out of the box these were easy to use and worked great for me. My normal issue with larger, more powerful binoculars is the interpupillary distance. To be frank, I have narrow set eyes and it is often difficult for me to find high quality binoculars above 10x. The Vortex Razor HD 12x50s allow for a wide range of motion and I was able to get them adjusted perfectly to my eyes with a little room to spare. Finally, a pair of high power, high quality glass that I can use in the field!

Focusing was fast and easy due to the diopter knob adjustment being wicked smooth. You can fine tune on a subject very quickly and easily. I allowed my daughter to try them out and it took forever to get them back when she realized how easy they were to adjust. 

Eye relief with these binoculars is great. I have sat behind these for hours and never had eye strain or a headache. As you can see on the image below, the dirt and grit on the eye cups show plenty of use from last season, but in no way did that affect the sharpness. And yes, I do clean these with the cloth provided (sometimes).


The Razor 12x50s are lightweight, not bulky and fit very well in your hands.They also fit well into nearly any binocular chest harness. That's a big plus for those who hunts out west.


Set the binos on a tripod and it's like you have two spotting scopes doing the work for you. These are the only 12x50 binoculars I have been able to use handheld or on a tripod with great results. Utilizing them on a tripod is the best way to go, but if you like to go back and forth from handheld to tripod (as I do), pick up the Uni-dapter tripod adapter from Vortex for $35. The new design is great and allows you to pull the binoculars off the tripod with no buttons or levers, thus eliminating noise and reducing movement.

I found that the Vortex Razor 12x50s work incredibly well in low light conditions. Just before sunrise and after sundown, these worked great and you are able to spot not only movement, but the actual animal outline at quite a distance. Two thumbs up for that right there! 

Many times at the beginning of my scouting seminars, I start out by passing around the two sets of Vortex binoculars. I have the attendees tell me which they like better and why. Nearly every person, whether man, woman, adult or child preferred the Razor HD 12x50s. After using these for an entire season, it was easy to convince them why the price shouldn't matter. The MSRP is $1499.99, which is a great price for the optics you are getting. The best part is you can find the Vortex Razor HD 12x50 binoculars at Bass Pro for $1099.99. You get great binoculars along with the Vortex VIP Unconditional Lifetime Warranty. You can't beat that.