Friday, November 20, 2009

Deer Season 2009: Challenges A Plenty

So far, this deer season in Michigan has been full of challenges for me. Between working out of town, coming home from work in the dark, and helping my Grandpa get beans out and wheat planted, I haven't been able to spend as much time in the woods as I wanted to. The weather this fall has also been atypical, unseasonably warm with temps peaking in the 60's throughout most of October and November. The plentiful amount of late rain has also put the farmers behind schedule, with more than half of the corn still standing. As most Midwestern hunters know, deer love to hide out in corn fields and who can blame them. They have all the food they want as well as the security of heavy cover to keep them safe from predators. The rut has been tough to time this season, with it lagging a bit behind from previous years, but as the corn keeps getting cut and weather starts to cool down, the deer have been starting to become more active. Within the past couple weeks, I have witnessed bucks starting to chase does. Some buddies of mine have started to see bucks locking down does within the past week and by now the rut is looking like it may be starting to taper off a bit.


This was the first chance I really had to get out hunting as I got off work early for once. The temps were in the 50's and the weather was sunny, not your normal November day. By the time I had all my gear around and made it to my hunting property, I was in stand by 2:30 in the afternoon. The stand I was hunting from that afternoon was set up on the intersection of three major ridges that had deer highways criss-crossing it. The stand is located about 80 yards from an alfalfa field and is in a travel corridor to this food source. After an hour in the stand, I noticed 2 does to the north of me, traveling along a field edge 150 yards away, definitely out of bow range. The action slowed a bit from there until about 4 o'clock. A doe with her two fawns filtered their way into the field and started to feed there the duration of the evening, about 80 yards away.

While watching these deer, I heard some leaves crunching to my east. There had been squirrels running around the forest chaotically all afternoon, but this sound was not produced from them. I slowly turned my head to see a deer making its way just below a ridge, about 50 yards out. As my eyes filled with the sight of the deer, I quickly noticed some light colored objects hovering above it's head....this was a buck! The buck had average sized antlers, and from what I could surmise a typical 8 point frame with decent tine length. The rack wasn't the widest in the world, as it eclipsed it's ears by a few inches on either side. The buck was well filled out around it's neck and had some sag to it's belly, this was an indication to me that the deer was at least 2 1/2 years old which was a definite shooter for me. Unfortunately, this buck was on a mission and focused in on his destination. He didn't even glance at the does feeding in the field and made his way across the alfalfa, and out of sight.

This told me that the group of does in the field were not in estrus yet, as this buck would have probably checked them out. Another possibility was that a hot doe had been through there earlier, but I can't imagine it the case because this buck never once sniffed the ground. Despite not having any deer creep into bow range, I witnessed my biggest buck on hoof while out hunting, a success in my eyes.

November 14

With the day off work, I was able to get into the field again before bow season wrapped up. Gun season starts the 15th in Michigan, so this was my last chance to hunt lightly pressured deer before the orange army deployed into every nook and cranny in the woods. My girlfriend, Julie, got out of work fairly early, so she was able to accompany me on this hunt. We decided to set up shop in a double blind that was located in an small woodsy island in the middle of the alfalfa I had hunted near 2 days before. We had the video camera up and rolling with the hopes of tagging a shooter buck on film for Midwest Whitetail. The nice buck I had saw days before passed within 30 yards of the island, which gave me hope we might be set up to intercept him. I laid down a trail of Tink's #69 from where the buck had entered the field and essentially traced his path it. I also hung a scent wick saturated with estrus urine nearby as well as deployed a scent canister on a hill, which I hoped would carry the scent back into the woods where I had sat before.

With the scent laid out, we climbed into the stand and set up the camera arm and camera. We patiently waited all afternoon for deer to show, however it we got skunked. Not only did the buck refuse to come to the Tink's ball, but the does that fed in the field on a regular basis were absent. As darkness crept in, we broke down the filming equipment and exited the field. Despite a no show by the deer, this was still a fun time. Being in the woods is always special and even more so when accompanied by someone who is special to you. I was really hoping to team up and lay some brown down, but things don't always work out that way. The temperature was a bit balmy for November, with it climbing into the 60's which probably shut the deer down until nightfall. Not only that, but numerous hunters wait until the days before gun season to spruce up their blinds, which may also shut down the deer.

So far, the season was off to a slow start, but there is still plenty of time ahead to fill my tags. Stay tuned for continued updates on my deer season in progress.

Monday, September 14, 2009

CO Elk Success (Without a Kill) Part Deux

We awoke Day 2 in our modest (read shitty) camp on the valley floor. Being that we stayed in the cool wet river bottom, everything was covered in dew and the dampest it got all trip. We aired the tents out for a bit, said fuck it, packed them up wet and planned to get where we were going quick, set them up, and them dry out there. Figuring out where we were going was easy at first. During the morning piss, we realized we had slept directly on top on the trail we lost the day before! My 1 man tent was literally sitting with it's center along the trail we head facing the trail junction ahead and my feet pointing to the truck! The trail was even marked with orange surveyor's tape. How could we have missed this?

We took our camps on our backs to head out. Its amazing how the pack only seems to get heavier as the trip goes on, especially after yesterdays battles with treetops and swamps. Our newly found trail was a godsend... for about 20 minutes. Then it reached the junction with the trail we were supposed to take up the 1000' to the drainage we wanted to hunt. Or should I say dead ended at the trail junction. There was nothing in any direction except the one we came. We wandered around looking for the signs of any trail for a while before fully committing to climbing the canyon wall sans trail. It seemed easy enough at first, go that way, up. About 10 slips and trips, 5 with near death experiences, 3 or 4 hours and a few gallons of sweat later, we reached our summit, which happened to be a valley floor. But it was what we were looking for. Daryn had beat Ryan and I there by a could 20-30 minutes, damn that machine. I didn't really help when he let us know "that definitely wasn't the hardest thing I've ever done, but I can tell it works a different muscle group then my mountain bike." It worked a different muscle group then my LIFE! But there was no room or time to complain, I knew it would hurt going into this and that was the point. Go where no-one else will go. Distance yourself from the crowds. We were definitely doing that.

From the valley floor, it was instantly noticed most of the area had been engulfed in a very hot burn in the last decade or so. I also knew this going in, well at least that there had been a couple burns in the area, that may or may not have torched this drainage I planned to hunt on my desk at work (funny, that's where I am writing this blog from!) But all wasn't ugly, we spotted our first wallow fairly quickly, and there were a few stands of green pines in the creek bottoms wandering throughout the valley floor. All surrounded by the devastation of a wildfire. "That's okay" we said, "I read somewhere that burns were a good thing." We were clueless and it was becoming more apparent, but who gives a shit, we are, we are doing this, we are elk hunters.

After some more painful walking we found a flat spot to call home and pulled out the wet tents to dry which we packed what seemed like a year ago. After a nap we climbed a few hundred feet of the canyon wall behind us to see what we had for hunting grounds, and to listen for an elusive bugle. Bugles we had, an idea of where they were coming from... well we were shy on those. It seemed with every bugle, the three of us pointed in completely different directions. Whether it was the wind, the landscape, or just three deaf idiots, we couldn't agree on where they came from but it didn't matter. We had come these 1000+ miles on my ridiculously inexperienced skills and had landed, in Colorado, somewhere within earshot of elk. SUCCESS.

The next morning we climbed to a small knoll in the middle of the drainage with, in hindsight, absolutely no cover, to see if some bull or cow would be dumb enough to show its face. They weren't. We wandered a bit, Daryn obviously wandered the farthest, and let us know the entire drainage we were sitting in was burnt as far as he could see. Great, well maybe my location wasn't the greatest. Do elk live in fire pits? We hoped so! We slipped into our tents under a full moon and got ready for the next day.

Today, now Monday, we gathered a days worth of gear to climb out of yet another drainage, this time to reach the dot on my map marked "glass." What appeared to be a point overlooking the drainage we were camping in as well as another with hopes of spotting our quarry from afar. That's what you are supposed to do right? Glass? Well that's what we read so that's where we went. Any hike up a 500-600 ' climb sucks but it was alot easier without a pack. we reached the top and then had about a 2 mile walk around the rim of the drainage to the outcropping we wanted to glass from, along with another 500 feet of climb to put as at 10500'. They said "go high" this early in the season, we were confident we were there.

We took a nap after kicking up a mule deer buck with a couple does and then got set to glass. That lasted for maybe an hour until the ever darkening skys decided we were too comfortable. As the sun went behind the clouds, the temp dropped a good 10-15 degrees, when it started raining another 10 degrees, when it started to hail the mercury shrunk once again. We hunkered down in the rocks, hell it might as well have been pride rock from The Lion King we were so exposed. Everything became less futile and more humorous when our peak was struck by lightening and Ryan and I scurried to (somewhat) lower ground by Daryn to avoid it. Many good jokes about the "Dateline Photo" were told as we watched Dickey fight the wind. Emergency Ponchos (read garbage bags with arm holes) weren't meant for hail storms at 10,5 in the Rockys. Ask Dickey, he's got one with no hood and a rip down the side to prove it. Daryn faired well for having nothing but the flexibility to wedge between the boulders to protect him. I made out the best in my poncho in the fetal position huddled against the granite.

The weather broke after 45 minutes or so and we ran for the cover of our tents to ride out the rest of the storm. This pretty much ruined any hopes of real glassing in the evening and I don't even remember what we did the rest of that evening. Whatever it was, we called it elk hunting and it most definitely wasn't hunting elk.
I made up my mind at this point that we needed to move our camp to the top of the ridge overlooking the drainage we were currently sleeping in to make it easier to glass and find the elk we were searching for. After a little convincing in the morning, I got the others to join and we saddled up and headed back up again. During this hike is when I realized we had insanely over packed food. Heck, my pack was now the heaviest, by ten pounds, and we had enough food between the three of us to feed the whole group for another month. I'd been backpacking before but only for shorter time frames. I assumed on this trip I would force myself to choke down 3000 calories a day as I would be burning at least that. Well that proved all but impossible at the weight I had to carry only meant I would be burning more, and eating less!

We had found what appeared to be an empty outfitters or drop camp the day before, and it would be a good place to work out of. A fire ring, flat ground, and nails in the trees were some of the luxurious accommodations our new camp offered. Top notch. It also offered an inordinate amount of flies (more on that later). We set up our new camp and headed to the point marked "glass" once again. Hoping the weather would hold out and we could finally get a visual on some Wapiti being that it was already Tuesday... We would do just that...
More to come...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

CO Elk Success (Without a Kill) Part 1

Yes, you read that right. We returned from our over the counter CO elk hunt this year with all our tags in hand ready to make a delicious bowl of sou. But the trip was so much more than that, dare I say still a success? The learning experience was intense. The sense of accomplishment felt while driving out from a trailhead no one else drove after walking out the miles that no one else walked in can only be experienced, not described. I'll give you a breakdown of our trip here as well as my reflections on lessons learned.
ALERT: This will be long and rambling!!!
This trip started about 8 or 9 months ago with the planning stage involving a trip for Deryder and myself to go on and as it grew and became a reality, the chance that Mike wouldn't make it do to a necessary surgery loomed. Ryan and Daryn hopped on board and we charged forward hoping Deryder could make it until the week of our departure arrived and Mike's absence became eminent. My first lesson of backcountry hunting was learned before I even left home. The intense amount of effort needed to pack and prepare for this trip was more than could be completed in my 2 hrs after work each night, I called the boss, took that extra day off work on Friday to prepare and stayed up until 1 AM Thursday night prepping and packing my gear.

After sleeping in and a late breakfast with the girlfriend, I departed on my 14hr journey to elk country, hoping to meat Dickey and Daryn who had already begun there 20hr drive to our rendezvous point. The drive was no doubt long but the adrenaline and excitement of nearly 8 months of preparation made it easy and, before I knew it, I as there in Steamboat Springs within 20minutes of Ryan and Daryn's arrival. So far the plan was going well, it may be 4AM but everything was going well. We rolled into a La Quinta and got some rest before the 11AM checkout and our official departure into Elkville, USA.

Saturday didn't begin until about 1100 with another late breakfast as our official last real meal and my chance to finally share the details of the hunt I'd carefully planned with Ryan and Daryn. You see, I hadn't had a chance to review my maps or discussions with biologists with any real detail with these guys until the morning we were set to take the woods. I felt the entire hunt rested on my shoulders. Was the drainage I'd pick going to be a hit or a dud. Either way there would be no-one to blame but myself. Our entire elk hunt was riding on the map scouting and research skills of a guy who had never map scouted, never researched public land, and never hunted elk. We were definitely cautiously confident. After grabbing Daryn's tag at a local Sports Authority where the lady ringing it up at the register let us know that "you had to get pretty close" to shoot an elk with a bow, we were on our way to the trailhead we'd never seen in the mountains we'd only dreamed of. A scouting trip this far from home with minimal vacation and a demanding job just wasn't feasible this year. Is it possible I could put us on elk from my comfortable office and apartment 1000 miles away? We'd soon find out.

The road in to the trailhead was increasingly difficult and tight, Jeeps are much smaller than lifted RAM 1500s. On the way in we passed many experience their version of an elk hunt, usually including outfitter tents and horses. If no horses, they substituted a Quad or two. I was glad we had chosen a Wilderness area for our hunt to weed out most of these folks. No motorized equipped allowed in these parts and hopefully that would separate us from those we passed on the way in.

After a couple hours of some careful negotiations with a few trees and rocks, we were at the trailhead. To our surprise, we were at the trailhead alone. Yea, I am sure the road had a lot to do with that but, we were also fairly confident that most of the other hunters we passed on the way in weren't willing to leave behind the comforts of their generators and wood stoves in exchange for the wilderness.---Alone at the trailhead...

After we took our time getting our gear together and enjoying being the only vehicle at the trailhead, we headed off up the creek drainage from there. Quickly the trip turned from perfectly planned to that "eh?" stage. The trail disappeared into swamp grasses quickly within a 1/2 mile of the trailhead, as we attempted to follow where we thought the trail was supposed to go, based on a Garmin Topo Map on my GPS, we found our selves a couple hundred feet above the creek bottom fighting through the most difficult combination of blowdown and burn I could have ever imagined. Every step required concentration to balance the overweight (we'll touch on this later) pack to avoid tumbling through a shredder of tree tops and granite.
---This is photo from Day 2 in which you can see the blowdown we hiked through the previous day on the other side of the canyon...

We fought on like this for a couple hours before setting down the packs on a rock outcropping and looking out over the valley wondering how in the hell we would get where we needed to be at this pace. We reviewed the much more accurate MyTOPO map at this point and realized the GPS map had us on a wild goose chase after a trail that never left the creek bottom and never crossed the creek. After some planning for the morning, we headed to what looked like a clearing below to set up camp for the night as the sun was only an hour or two from setting. After high balling the first camp in favor of getting back on the right side of the creek for the next day, we setup camp on the only, semi-flat semi-dry area. We'd try again in the morning, and hope for the best. This was a sparse camp at best and we would hope for better luck in the morning.

Spirits were still high despite the tough day. Heck we'd even taken time to pose for what would later become known as the "Dateline Pohoto" you see below. We had only planned on getting to the trailhead by tonight and, despite a few extra miles under our boots, we had made it a mile or so in with hopes of cutting some time of the next days hike and hopes of a good afternoon of glassing or hunting on Day 2. We were alone in Elk country and couldn't be happier.

More to Come....

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Weather 2

It's amazing how things change in 24 hrs!!!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Well I know these things aren't accurate this far out but it could end up being a very interesting trip with this forecast. These temperatures are 5 -10 deg warmer than what we will be seeing in the hills. But on the good news side of things, there might me some snow up high and I haven't seen snow in a while, so that'll be fun too! Could get the animals moving just a bit if it is significant.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Geared Up- Elk style

With the big elk trip looming less than 5 days away, I figured I better make a run to Cabela's to round out my gear (I about had a coronary at the checkout counter). Dbo put together an awesome spreadsheet gear checklist that helped tame the swirling cloud of information that was chaotically consuming my brain. My duplicate hunter's safety card found it's way to my mailbox yesterday (you need to carry it in the field in Colorado) and my tag should be here tomorrow morning which should complete the checklist and I will be officially geared up.

Shell: Under Armour Ayton Jacket and Pants
Lightweight and built tough, Under Armour is a quality product. The jacket and pants both feature UA's moisture wicking system, to keep you dry. The jacket feature 2 zip pockets that vents down each side along where your ribs are. The shell is tightly woven and water resistant and the interior is fleece lined. The pants feature reinforced construction at critical points: belt line, knees and cuffs. They have duel cargo pockets, as well as side front pockets. These are also fleece lined to help on those chilly days. There are zippers run the length of the calfs to aid in easy removal over boots. Both jacket and pants are in Realtree AP.

Base Layers: Under Armour Heat Gear Long Sleeve and Leggings
Another UA product, Heat Gear transfers moisture and body heat away from your skin. They are compression fit to help support muscles and stimulate blood flow. I was lucky to pick these up at a closeout price and had to dig through the racks to find some that were "closeout priced." I plan on ditching the jacket if it gets too warm and these layers are built to stand alone, except maybe the leggings, I'm not sure if Dbo or Daryn want to see me trekking around the Rockies in skin tight leggings!

Socks: Under Armour Performance Crew
Cotton is a big no no in the backcountry and these are made of synthetic materials that are designed to transport moisture. They also are reinforced and padded in all the critical contact points to help fight off blisters. They also are designed to lift and support the arch of your foot, making your hike a whole lot easier on the ole feet.

Underwear: Off brand poly blend
I picked these up without the intentions for back country use, however they are perfect. As mentioned before, cotton is a big no go and these are made of a poly blend to transfer moisture and not stick to you like glue.

Scent Control: Hunter Specialties Scent-A-Way Kit
I originally was going to stock up on Dead Down Wind products but could not pass up this deal. The Hunter's Specialties Scent A Way kit inlcuded everything needed to remain undetected by a slobbering bull at 20 yards.
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Liquid Body Soap & Shampoo
  • Field Body Foam
  • Lip Balm (SPF 15)
  • Anti Perspirant Deodorant
  • Scent-A-Way Spray
  • Scent Safe Storage Bag
  • Fresh Earth Scent Wafers

Water Bottle: Nalgene Type with Survival Kit
I found a sweet combo kit that included a steel capped water bottle that happened to be stuffed with emergency survival gear, well at least enough to make it through a night or two. For the price of a bottle alone, I was able to upgrade to this kit for a few bucks more. It's contents include:
  • Carabiner
  • Multi Function Tool
  • Multi Function Whistle/Compass
  • Flashlight + Batteries
  • Survival Blanket
  • Hand Warmer Packets
  • Candle
  • Waterproof Matches
  • Emergency Poncho
  • First Aid Kit
  • Zipper Lock Bag

Boots: Hi Tec Nova Lite Mid Top
I got these for a great price and after trying on over a dozen pairs, these had the most bang for the buck. They feature waterproof construction, breathable removable sock liners, and a carbon outer sole. They have flexure grooves on the treads in all the right spots. What sold me on these was the fact that they are lightweight, offer ankle support, and felt like an athletic shoe. The tongues are also sewn into the rest of the boot to keep debris at bay.

Headlamp: Cabelas Alaska Guide Xenon
I picked this up on clearance for almost half off. It features Lexan lense, Kraton bezel, Xenoy body, and game safe night vision in green color leds. It operates on 3 AA batteries and weighs in at only 8 oz. It has a 60 yards range, 32 lumens and runs 5 hours on Xenon or 120 hours on LEDS. As you can see from the picture, it also has my crooked tailed cat's approval.

Face Camo: Camo FX
I received this in a gift pack from Bowcast and will be putting it to good use. It is non greasy, and washes off easily with water. The face paint comes in an applicator similar to a stick of deodorant and features 3 colors, brown and 2 tones of green.

Misc. Gear on Loan or Mentioned by Dbo
  • Badlands 4500 Internal Frame Pack
  • Minox 10x42 Bino's
  • Therma rest Lite sleeping pad
  • Kelty Gunnison 2 Tent
  • Mountain House Meals
  • Primos Pack Bugle and various mouth calls
  • Piranta Z Knife
  • Rapala Fillet knife (for boning)
  • Garmin H GPS
  • Bushnell Range Finder

I cannot thank Dbo and Deryder enough for all their hard work put into planning this trip. Unfortunately, Deryder has a baseball sized hole in his back from recent surgery and we're still hoping he can make it out somehow. I would like to thank Dbo and Deryder for loaning me all the gear that I did not have, it made it way easier on the ole wallet and made this trip possible.


Well what does all that gear look and feel like on your back? Today was the "practice run" getting everything into the pack, figuring out the best arrangement for everything and making my last "cut list" on what will not be coming along. Here's the final product: One beautiful Badlands 4500 ready to rock and roll into Wapiti Country with nothing but "THWAAACK" on its mind. It will definetly be the heaviest pack I've ever lugged around but it's also the longest trip I've ever backpacked, and the first one that's required my hunting supplies to come along. My lanky frame makes the thing look small, but that is a standard issue door with a standard height door knob in the second picture. No camera tricks here either, it's that tall.

I bet it looks a whole lot better covered in blood and sweat after the second trip back to the truck transporting a downed majestic bull and kicking one tall guys ass who was hauling it out.

I also just learned you are allowed to buy a second over-the-counter elk tag in CO, an anterless tag. Could anyone even fathom two guys packing out 2 elk in a week, let alone 3 or 4. Hell, we're just hoping to have the chance to sling an arrow at a calf!!!

In other news, after falling victim to my ussual last minute tinkering, the Katera XL and I are finally building some confidence again. At the conclusion of the second shooting session in my weekend two-a-days of today, I slung 4 arrows from odd yardages. They were from apx 23, 35, 46 (the distance that brought down the blacktail last year), and 72 yrds (I lasered the last one). All four hit within about 3 or 4 inches of their mark, and the last long one was the best shot of the bunch. I hadn't even shot past 60 yet! (I know it's luck but let me be, I'd rather be dumb and happy than smart and depressed) I wasn't easy getting back on mark, I'll be needing to buy some more slick tricks to have sharp blades ready for the moment, they seem to get dull after bouncing of granite, and it doesn't help that I lost a couple arrows either. Someone is going to be really preplexed at how so many broadhead-tipped arrows ended up in a field across the street from a 240 store, 1.5 million square foot mall!!
T-5 Days!!!!
(Insert Prayer here that Deryder "finds a way" to make it out there with us.)

And I'm supposed to work this week!?!?! I am going to be the least productive guy the railroad has ever seen.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

2009 Elk Country Gear

Well with all the talk centering for the next couple weeks on Elk season, I'd though I'd drop a highlight reel of some of the gear RD and I will be rocking in the Nat'l Forest this September (17 Days Away !!!!) Stay tuned for gear reviews, but most of this stuff has already been tried and approved with the dbo seal of approval so here we go...


Big Agnes Seedhouse SL1 - This will be one of my new additions to the gear list. During the indoor trial in the living room, it's setup should be pretty quick, although the loop system for the poles will make it impossible to do the rainy-day-special setup: fastfly first then add the tent body clipped in underneath, the design requires the tent body to be setup first, getting wet in the process. Other than that, it'll be a little short on room for the 6'6" man but should be just enough to suffice. Very light (2lb6oz) I look forward to giving it a whirl.

Kelty Gunnison 2 - This is my standby backpacking tent that will probably come along on loan to Ryan and Daryn for a close and cudley two man shelter. It was cheap and everything about it is easy. It weighs in at a little heavy 5lb3oz (2lb9oz/ man). Although its 92x58 floor plan is roomy as far as most 2 person tents go. Tent setup is ultra quick and simple and the vestibule space is a pure luxury! Gets a little cozy with two big boys but that's the way it works in the backcountry. You gotta be willing to cuddle man!

Sleep System

Marmot Helium 15deg Long Sleeping Bag - This thing is a work of pure genius for a long bag at 2.1lbs!!! Super light, Super Warm, User friendly. It can't be beat! Expensive but an easy way to let dollars save you pounds. It has yet to let me down.

Exped SynMat 7 Pump Deluxe - Super Big and comfortable. My ability to get a good nights sleep is one place I don't care about dollars or weight, I'll take whatever it takes to let me sleep. Being a side sleeper is tough in the hills but this pad allows me to do so comfortably. At almost 2.5 lbs it is heavy, but compared in comfort to a similar weight thermarest, it blows them away with its 2.8" thickness. I tried the closed cell, tried the self inflating but nothing lets me sleep like I do at home like this thing.

Cooking and Water

Jetboil PCS - If you know what it is you already outta know it's the greatest and there is no other option for Mountain House meals. Speaking of Mountain House, I eat these things when I run out of food at home. They are that good and I usually end a meal in the backcountry wondering why I don't eat these things everyday at home! They are delicious!

Potable Aqua w/taste neutralizer - Super lightweight, tastes great. Nuff Said.

Other Neat Stuff

Sea to Summit eVent Compression Dry Sack - Everyone with a down bag always wished there was a truly lightweight way to store that bag in a waterproof sack to avoid compromising their precious down. Until now the dry bag option was like carrying a rubber sack that completely eliminated the weight advantage of the down sleep system. This stuff sack made of the ultra lightweight (as well as waterproof and breathable) eVent fabric cures those ales and really gives an extra sense of security knowing you can take on a monsoon and still ahve a dry comfy down bag.

Sea to Summit Pocket Hand Wash - This is another great innovation from the Sea to Summit folks. Picture a Listerine Breath Mint Strip for your hands. It is small dry leaves of soap much like the breath strips. Add water and they foam right up into a sudsy hand soap, that is also biodegradable and safe for the backcountry. I don't know what I use to do without them. Not necessarily scent free for hunting but nothing a few pine needles can't counter act.

Sitka Gear - If you've tried it, I don't need to say anything. If you haven't, my last statement should say enough. Worth it's price tag, and that says alot because that's what the price tag says...ALOT!

Danner Pronghorns - Been alot of talk about these too but I have never had a boot 'just feel right' like these Danners did. My first high dollar hunting boot and probably my last. I'm not saying nobody makes anything better or comparable, I'm just saying I'm so happy with these that I don't care.

Badlands 4500 - May very well be on it's maiden voyage with this 8-9 day hunt. Risky, I know, but hopefully it holds up to its reputation. I'm a little nervous heading to the woods with a pack I haven't had the chance to trial. Oh well.... It'll look good with 2 or 300 inches of bone hangin out of it whether or not my back hurts! One first glimpse takeaway, no waterbottle pockets, which means whatever you fit in the bladder is all you got... Something about drinking out of a hose that isn't as refreshing to me as pouring it out of a nalgene all over myself while trying to get a sip. Guess I better get used to it.

Nikon Fieldscope 20-60x60 - Hasn't even shown up on my doorstep yet. Hopefully it helps and falls into its price range in performance like I expect it to. More on this one later or post-hunt.

Steiner Predator C5 10x42 Binos - Very impressive in recreational use and out on coyote and pig hunts here in CA but yet to really be tested. Another on ethat should have a good report post-hunt.

Havalon Piranta-Z Knife - The best $40 spent in hunting supplies. This is the folding knife that holds the replaceable scalpel blades. Comes with a twelve pack of these things and truly designed for the task of cutting flesh where sharpness and precision could not be more important. Makes amazing fast work of skinning and caping. I like it, you'll like and SUPER light at 2 ozs. Shoot it only weight 3.15 is with 12 spare blades and a holster!!! That can't be beat!

Well that's a "short" list to get the juices flowing, any questions on any of the gear let me know and I'll give you my opinion, for what its worth. I'm not a professional but I know what works for me and hopefully that's enough for others and will help with their own gear selections.

Hopefully Dickey will finalize his gear list here in the next week and we'll be on a roll... AND BUY YOUR TAG ALREADY!!!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Midwest Whitetail- New Season to Begin

I am lucky and proud to have the opportunity to work with Midwest Whitetail this upcoming hunting season. For those of you who are not familiar, Midwest Whitetail was founded by none other than Bill Winke last season. The show is delivered online, free of charge, on the website and has a semi-live format. This is unique because it follows hunter's through their season in real time, with shows airing only days after the hunts take place. Midwest Whitetail experienced great success in the inaugural season, which took place on Bill's farm in Iowa. In fact, three hunts from last years show made it onto the new volume of Monster Bucks. This season, each state in the Midwest will have it's own show, and I am thrilled to be part of the Michigan Pro Staff. The Michigan portion of the show will be hosted by Tony Hansen, editor of Michigan Out of Doors magazine. On Monday August 17th, Midwest Whitetail will launch it's new format with Promo shows from each state. Be sure to sign up at Midwest Whitetail to recieve email alerts whenever new content is added to the site.

Elk on the Horizon

With fall right around the corner, many of us will have some great hunts to look forward to on the horizon. In just a few weeks, I will be heading out to Colorado in search of my first elk. A few buddies and myself have decided to go all in on a week long back-country excursion with our bows and backpacks into the high country of the Rockies. Having never hunted outside of my home state of Michigan, I am stoked to have the opportunity to chase some elk western style. I already have giant 6X6 elk haunting my dreams, slobbering in a rut crazed state of oblivion. This type of hunting is new to me, however I welcome and embrace the challenges that will be presented. I have been a bit overwhelmed with all the decisions, strategy and gear selection for the trip. I still need to make a run to Cabela's to round out my gear, but I will be posting my gear selection process as well as reviews as they filter in within the next few weeks. Stay tuned for all the elk crazed excitement!