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!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Gear Review: Mission First Tactical 10 Round Polymer Magazines and Battlelink Minimalist Stock

For over a year, I have been testing out new equipment on my AR-15. I wanted to find the best parts that made it comfortable for me to shoot, but also effective when hunting. Two of the items that I have tested extensively are the 10PM556 - 10 Round Polymer Mag and Battlelink Minimalist Stock from Mission First Tactical

Let me preface this review by saying that the folks at MFT have been very helpful when it came to these items. They have been very patient and allowed me to fully test these out over time where I could shoot with them, beat them up, shoot some more, and now I get to share my findings. Thank you, MFT!

To start, I'll go over the magazine(s). I have been using both the short 10PM556 - 10 Round Polymer Mag and the long 10-round magazine. They both lock in very well on the first try and feed extremely well. Personally, I like the short magazine because it allowed me to swivel the rifle left-to-right easier and I didn't have to rest all the weight on the corner of the longer mag. They functioned the same, but I focused on the short version. When changing magazines, they both function very well and pop right out the same way. I inserted and removed empty and loaded magazines over and over to try to find a malfunction. I did this close to fifty times with zero issues.

When I still had the magazine quick release installed, I tested out changing out magazines in different types of situations. The texture on the outside of the magazines is great and allow an easy grip with or without gloves. I tried tactical gloves, leather gloves, wet hands and dry hands. There was no slippage and I was able to load and unload easily. In fact, these worked the best out of any magazine I tried. I did not have any malfunctions with the magazines, nor was there any issue with it locking into place when loading. I then tried loading the magazines and removing them with a fixed magazine scenario. Again, they performed extremely well and I had no issues whatsoever. Two thumbs up from me! 

The Battlelink Minimalist Stock is something I think every AR owner in California should look at closely. MFT put some though into this design and it really shows. It weighs in at only 5.8oz and installs quickly and easily.

You should know by now that an AR-15 in California must have a fixed stock. The scope I tested is a telescoping stock and MFT thought it through for us in California. They put a hole in the bottom of the stock to allow you to put a pin (provided with the stock) to secure it, thus making it a fixed stock. Once locked into place I took it to the range to shoot. It functioned very well, stayed locked in place and was very comfortable when shooting. 

The design of the stock is pretty cool as it has a hook-like function on the back end. This allowed plenty of comfort when shooting, but also allowed me to hang my rifle on a branch or hook if I needed to. Having a dual function made me appreciate it even more as a hunter. I did have to be careful not to allow the lower portion to catch on anything, but other than that I was very happy with performance.

Both the magazines and the stock are excellent designs and function very well. They allowed me to shoot my AR-15 at the range and hunt with ease. The 10PM556 - 10 Round Polymer Mags
have an MSRP of $14.99 each and MSRP on the Battlelink Minimalist Stock is $59.99. I recommend both of these upgrades to your AR-15, especially if you live in California. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018


West Jordan, UT – Never known to “take it easy,” Badlands is ready to release the second pattern in the Badlands Approach camouflage series, dubbed Approach FX, along with an entire new apparel line for 2018. Designed using a hardwood color palette that features Badlands Adaptive Coloration Technology, Approach FX is extremely effective concealment for Midwest or Eastern hunting as well as the Western or Southern hunter.

Not content to merely add a new pattern option to the already robust Badlands lineup, an entire new apparel collection will accompany the launch of the Approach FX camouflage pattern. The 2018 apparel lineup in Approach FX will include:
  •     Six base layer/mid-layer pieces
  •     Eight outer layer jackets ranging from fleece to fully waterproof pieces
  •     Four outer layer pants including silent fleece and waterproof pieces
  •     Two glove options in Approach FX camouflage
  •     Multiple accessories including neck gaiters and multiple hat options

In addition to the more than twenty new apparel pieces, the majority of Badlands packs and binocular cases will now be available in either Approach or Approach FX camouflage.

“With the new Approach FX line, we really listened to our customers about what pieces were missing in our lineup,” said Badlands Sales Manager Dominick Murphy. He continued, “We knew the whitetail hunter was looking for a new color palette as well as features such as completely silent clothing, tree stand safety harness ports in the jackets and an overall warm and comfortable lineup. We feel like we checked off every box with the new camo pattern and product offering.”

Badlands Approach FX packs are available now with the new apparel line coming in June/July of 2018.

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

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Successfully Scouting the SoCal Backcountry

Did you hear the one about hunting in Southern California and how easy it is? Yeah, I didn't think so. Knowing the draw results were days away, my buddy Ramon and I were finally able to get out and do some scouting. It was a spot I knew well and we had lofty goals of getting back as far as we dared go on our bikes. That all sounds great when you talk about it, but when you actually do it and your bike won't cooperate, well it makes for a challenging day. I am thankful for my Rocky boots, Vortex optics, ibuprofen and plenty of water!

Right away we saw deer. In fact, as we drove to the trailhead, a healthy doe trotted across the road in front of us in no particular hurry. It got us both excited! After assembling the bikes and gearing up, we hit the trail. The first two miles are uphill, which actually worked out in our favor. I wanted to go in quiet and slow because I knew where I had seen deer before and where the best spots were to glass. Slowly and methodically we walked our bikes up the hill, all the while looking for deer. 

As we crested one of the curves in the road, I mentioned to Ramon that we should drop our bikes and glass the other side. In a few seconds I locked onto a fawn with a doe. I pointed them out and immediately said that if there were fawns there were bucks around. Excellent! We didn't glass this side very long and moved on another few hundred feet. I saw movement right away and spotted our first buck! He was bedded with a doe and they were facing us. He was up and heading for the ridge long before the doe got up. She stretched and followed him over. He was a nice forkie with a short, but wide rack in beautiful velvet. Our day was off to a great start!

About a mile up the road, I peeked over a burm to find the youngest, most spotted mule deer fawn I have ever seen. Oblivious to her surroundings, I motioned for Ramon to slowly inch toward the edge to view her. I knew a doe was close by, but she was invisible. A few minutes of watching the fawn and she decided she was off to play and follow her momma. We eagerly hopped on the bikes to get around the ridge to see if we could spot them. Ramon found the fawn quickly in the shade of some scrub brush looking right at us. She was so little! I saw the doe moving away slowly and eating along the way. A few more minutes of watching them disappear and we saw the fawn dashing up a trail with the doe close behind. We had already seen seven deer and it wasn't even 7 O'clock yet!

The next few hours were riding, hiking, glassing, and repeat. Unfortunately, my bike would not downshift on the high side, so I was stuck in high three all day. My quads were on fire, but we pushed on. 

After six hours of grueling exercise, we made it to an old hunting spot 11 miles in. I checked my water bladder to be sure I had enough for the ride out. I knew it would be close, but I had two extra bottles packed. I grabbed a bite of my greenbelly meal (which was excellent) and then drank some water. I settled in for a quick snooze while Ramon roamed around looking for sign. Two curious hummingbirds decided i looked like a chunky flower as they buzzed three feet over my head over and over. So much for sleep!

We packed up at 1:00 PM and decided to head back from whence we came. The temps were going to get a bit higher, but there was a 5 mph cool breeze that felt great when it kicked in. I knew we had two miles of uphill before there was any chance of a break. While it was tough, I was grateful to be out there and working hard. When we hit the downhill area we were stoked! We started cruising and Ramon ventured ahead when I heard a "POP" followed by a hissssssssssssssssssss as my tire deflated. I hopped off and hiked down the hill, all the while looking for Ramon. It dawned on my that while we had a great plan for our wives, we didn't discuss connecting with each other if we were to get separated. I always wear a whistle, so I blasted on that twice and again twice a few minutes later. Finally, I just hollered, 'RAMON!' and about a half mile down the landscape I spotted him riding back toward me. We met up, laughed, and changed the tire (I am thankful he had a spare as I opted to leave mine home due to carrying extra gear.) Never again will I leave without my spare(s)!

The ride back down was uneventful and while painful at times, was one of the best bike rides ever. The day was full of excitement, challenges, and deer! The entire ride back we couldn't stop talking about electric bikes and how this area would be ideal for one. Let me tell you that I am doing some deep research into purchasing one for hunting. It would help immensely and make it much more enjoyable. That being said, we had a great day all around and we can't wait to get back out and do it again!

Monday, June 4, 2018

Projectile and Powder Testing for Hunting in California (.223 Remington)

California hunters wanting to hunt deer, bear, and many other animals with a firearm must use legal copper ammunition. With our government officials doing a dance on our regulations and laws, purchasing ammunition has been made more difficult and many companies simply do not want to deal with California at all. In order to find the right ammunition for my rifles I have to find the approved ammunition list, see if a local business or FFL-01 or FFL-07 carries it, and if not see how I can get it through them. Why must it be so difficult? In my opinion, that is precisely what our legislators want. Instead of feeling deflated, I began hand loading again and now I am working on developing loads that I can use while hunting. 

My friend Bill and I spent the better part of three hours developing our test plan for loading up hunting ammunition for the .223 Remington. We carefully developed these loads because many people have AR-15s and many like to hunt coyotes. We decided to come up with some test loads with different components to see what worked best. We compared the copper rounds to the common FMJ to keep things fair. I cleaned, resized, trimmed, and primed the cases myself. Bill and I completed the rest together.

Here are the loads we worked up and tested at the range using a Caldwell Chronograph. I fired five (5) rounds of each load and took the average for the result shown in the velocity column. I highlighted (in red) the fastest rounds to help narrow it down. We loaded the low and high recommendations for each of the Shooter's World powders. The Winchester 748 powder at 24 grains is what we have been loading for years, so we used that as our base.

As you can see, we came away with some great results. Our next step is to shoot each round at a 100 yard target to see how they group. Again, I will be the only one shooting. I am eager to see how they perform at distance. I will give my full report and opinion on which powder, load and projectile I found to be the best performing in a future post. I'll compare the availability of the powder, cost, and performance for the California hunter. This is only scratching the surface of what I would like to accomplish and share with you all. If there is something you'd like to know more about or have a question, please ask. Time to go load up some more for range day!