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!