Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Discovering Upland Game With Kids

To say I have a son and daughter who love the outdoors is an understatement. My son is all hunting all the time, camo everything is awesome to him. My daughter is becoming a pink camo girl day by day. So needless to say we are outside often. 

As we were a few days ago when I heard my son screaming at me "Look what I found!" as I was doing chores in our barn. He came running down to me and when he opened his hand he had a small clutch of California Valley Quail eggs cradled in his palm. Before I could tell him otherwise he was off to the incubator where we already had a few turkey eggs going. 

I was a great reminder to me that one should take infinite awe in Creation and what I so frequently take for granted. I live with my family on a mountain top surrounded by wildlife. It takes an right year old boy who asks a million questions about the life cycle of a Valley Quail for me to appreciate what I have. So in a few weeks I should have a few hatchlings running around here. We shall see. 


The BB

Real question is Dinner or Live Decoys for my Lab?
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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

There are few things a man needs, a good pair of boots, a favorite pair of jeans, a manly beard and a knife in his pocket. Pretty simple really and there is cross over there for women, less the beard. The last part for me is the most important, a good knife.

I have a few qualifiers for a good skinning knife for processing game,
1. Sharp
2. Easy to handle/Won't slip with bloddy.
3. Fixed Blade or Folding I want Strength!

Simple easy and a straight forward list of requirements. 

The Review-
 Gerber Gear came out with the Myth Series knives in hopes to mean the need of the hunting community and by and larger they have done it. In a since that have developed a series of knives that could very well match up with all hunters.  I personally like the fixed blades. I was able to put the knives to the test this past year on 4 Wild Boars, 2 Mule Deer and about 20 Chickens, so I speak with authority on how this blades work to say the least.

1. Sharp- There is nothing worst than having you knife go dull while working in you trophy's journey to the table, especially while skinning pigs that seem to be made of both leather and concrete. The Myth Knives have a solution for that. Starting with a high carbon stainless steel blade that is factory sharp out of the box and then they have added a built in knife sharpeners on the sheaths. Something I find incredibly useful and easy to access. One does not have to look further than their belt to Sharpen their knife, no more forgetting the sharpener at home or rummaging though your pack.
2. Ergonomics is the big word for it feels good, I have big hands and that means I like big knives. Ones that remind men that I am still holding them an when I am holding them they do not slip or slide while I am doing my dirty work. The soft rubberized handles solve that by staying put no matter the situation.  The pictures to the right show the kind of work I do on wild boars and as you can see with all the fat, grease and blood grip is everything.

3. I tend to lean towards fixed blade knives while hunting and though my daily driver is a Gerber Covert FAST, I like strength. Hence fixed blades only in the field. I have had other good skinning knives from multiple companies and they have lacked the structural integrity needed to not be a danger while working in a slick environment. Everyone has purchased those knives that you have had to tighten the screws after a few uses. Gerber fixed that by bonding the blade to the handle in the molding process, simply no screws to mess with on the fixed blades. The folding knives have been good to, strong, easy to open and for me they have been a good back up knives in my pack. 

Final Say-
Reasonably priced, strong, fits well, and doesn't fall apart. The Gerber Myth Fixed blade knives have earned a place in my pack and will stay there for the foreseeable future. The only thing that I wish they had always a slightly longer blade for cutting meat on large animals. The blades they do have are still very workable and very useful, an inch or two longer blade would be nice on the Compact Fixed Blade.  I use their EZ Open to open up the skin, Field Dress Kit to pull back the skin, to remove meat off the bone and de-flesh skulls. 

Pros- Strong, Won't Slip and easy to sharpen. 
Cons- Would like a longer skinny blade for cutting meat.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

PhoneSkope Monday- Long Range Shot ID

Not all Vortex Viper HD Spotting Scopes are created equal, some get pimped with the PhoneSkope and are used to ID targets at long range. Here is my set up at this weekend 600 yard mid range F-open match. 

Bearded Boar
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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Trail cam Thursday- Big Cats

So what are some of the things that you do not want to see on your trail camera? For me it is a big Tom strolling through my frame. I got this picture of this big guy got a few weeks ago strolling through my area, not the most pleasant of things to view when you are downloading your SD cards from a Wild Game Innovation Camera.

What have you found on your camera that have put you on edge?

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

TightSpot Quivers- New Crimson Black Quiver

I have been a fan of TightSpot quivers for many years now, in fact it is the only quiver that I have ever used on my bow. So I have a deep respect for the technology behind the quiver and why you want you bow as close as possible to the center-line of the bow. Simply hold a gallon of milk next to you chest an then hold it out to the side arm stretched. Which is easier your you to hold you balance?

  This past week I was blessed with the opportunity to shoot for TightSpot Quivers and to say the least I am excited to help them grow their Brand in California and the West. Though Prostaff for companies is never something that I pursue heavily due to a lot of stigma that I have for the term, it is what it is. I am apart of a great team with many great hunters that call TightSpot home. 

Since I reviewed the old hood style TightSpot Quiver a few years ago I will not bore you with more of my dribble, but I will leave you with the Video I shot for them.

The BB

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Monday, March 10, 2014

Kicking Off PhoneSkope Monday

I like to shoot pictures of animals as much as I like to shoot with a bow and rifle, so when I got the opportunity to extend my photo abilities with PhoneSkope this year I was just a little excited to say the least. From this day forth Monday will be PhoneSkope Monday, where I will be sharing photos that others and myself have taken.  So to start you week off right here you go.

PhoneSkopes can be found here at www.phoneskope.com and use their product selector to get the correct setup for your phone, iPad or other.

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Friday, March 7, 2014

Weekend Distraction- Donnie Vincent's New Video Series

As if we didn't already know that the weekend was knocking on our door and the temptation to breath the fresh air of the outdoors was not sitting and the sill of our office windows, I have a little treat for many of you who might need a little something to get you through the day.  After creating a new DVD entitled "The River's Divide" where Donnie Vincent hunts a monster buck called Steve, he is teasing us with his great cinema skills as he prepares to release a new film series. The most exciting part of the film comes at about minute 3:35, I could hardly contain myself with excitement.  Check out the trailer below and let me know what you think.

The BB

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Gear Review: Lacrosse Footwear Aerohead Boots

I recently got the opportunity to get a pair of the Lacrosse Footwear Aerohead Boots and give them a try during the tail end of duck season.  I first set hands on them at the ATA Show in 2013 and sat down with them for the tutorial on how the were constructed and why they were superior to the standard rubber boots that are on the market now. If you like all that technical jargon read the next paragraph, if not skip to the next paragraph so you don't glaze over with science.

Basically it comes down to a sealed seam neoprene sock that has the lower boot and shin guard attached to the front by magic or pressure molding that injects a the extremely durable foam around the sock to make a singular waterproof boot.  And finally after 4 years and thousands of miles of actual foot testing of trying to perfect this process they were complete. +1 on the Cool Factor of Engineering.

While at the ATA show a kind gentleman at their booth claimed that you could stab them with a pen and that the abuse would not puncture the boot and right then and there he did just that.  So needless to say I was impressed.  My reluctance about the boot was more the way they looked, slightly odd foot shape and the upper of the boot looked more like something out of an 80's Hip Hop video from MC Hammer, but okay if it works.  Then I tried them on, wow comfortable.  So I thought no way, anything this comfortable out of the box can't be that durable over a long period of time.  Man was I wrong.

 After some procrastination from me on accepting Lacrosse's offer to try the boots out I finally came to my senses and just said yes. Upon receiving the boots I did what any self respecting hunter would do, I wore them everywhere for a few days.  Enough so that my wife asked me to stop wearing them around the house and to the store.  Surprisingly the real test was going to be around the house and not when I went out into the field to hunt. The Barn was the real Proving ground, so I went down to the barn to work.  Not just wearing them in the mud, but moving things, cleaning stalls, feeding animals and moving hay bails.  My Honda Rancher is a big part of working around the yard, so the gear shifter I assumed would tear the boots apart, but no their good.  Well, okay step one complete, they work around the house for me doing my the daily chores with little to no issues. So +1.

Duck Hunting was obviously the next thing that would cause them to fail, reeds, river bottoms, dragging the toes through the rocks, but once again they still looked fairly new. Nothing to speak of that would cause any concern.  I was not trying to see if they would fail, but I was not being careful either.  The first place I took them to hunt was a tidal canal along the Pacific Ocean and the side are lined with rock, so my traveling up and down them constantly surely would do some damage. Nope they look muddy, but after a quick wash they looked new. So +1

So after trying to make them fail or find the chink in the armor I ended up just forgetting about them and just started using them.  Being that I live up at about 5,000+ feet it does get brisk and morning chores are done in a rather brisk temp of 30 Degrees.  Not too cold but sweater weather, the boots have become my go to footwear as I get my morning chores done.  Why? Because they work and I don't need to think about it.  Rubber boots in the past you wonder at first how long will it take for them to break in and finally once they are, how much longer they will last.

Lastly last thing I did prior to putting keys to thoughts was to hit the canyons and shed hunt with my Boone my dog.  I put in the miles on them with crazy elevation changes, up and down rocky slopes, deep leaf litter, steep loose soil and just plain miles, 6 miles in total.  While not a long distance it is in the country I was in.  Feet were dry, the construction of them held up perfectly and I even found a dead shed.

So in Closing, the Lacrosse Aeroheads are different, they are durable, light and extremely comfortable from the time you get them till the end of the season.  So far I am very glad I went with them and will be sad the day I have to put them to pasture, but by then I'll just get a new pair and relive the glory days or old. +1

Do your self a favor if you are looking for a pair of muck boot, rubber boots or what ever else you want to call them buy a pair for Aeroheads from Lacrosse.
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Monday, February 10, 2014

It is no secret so many that I like good food and less surprising is that fact that I much rather make my own food at home than go out to a restaurant to dine.  At the center of my love for creating the perfect home dining experience is creating the ultimate dishing for the holy trinity of  Big game animals,  Elk, Deer and Wild Boar.  I know there are others that would be included, Big Horn Sheep, Red Stag, Axis and a few others, but this is my Sacred 3, because it is what is available to me easily. So enough with the diatribe on to the food.

First all game animals have their place on the table, but not all cuts are created equal.  Some are for steaks, some are for the crock-pot.  Elk is by far my favorite of the meats and I prefer to have it medium rare with a strong pairing of sauces that are either Ginger, Teriyaki or Berry Based. Today it is Blackberry sauce. Because of the generosity of my friend Al at SoCal Bowhunter I came into a few pounds of elk.  So here goes one of my favorite elk recipes.  Its pretty easy and tastes really good.

What you will need-

  • 2 lb Elk Steaks cut to 1" pieces
  • 2 cups Blackberries
  • 2 cups Polish Vodka
    • Plus 1 Cup to drink while cooking, I prefer mine with a twist of lime.
  • 1 1/2 Tbls Fresh Ground Pepper
  • 2 Tbls Kosher Salt
  • 1 Medium Shallots Cut to strips
  • 1/2 Tbls Chopped Garlic or 1 Clove
  • 2 Tbls Maple Syrup
  • 2 Tbls Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/4 cup Dry Red wine
    • I prefer either Cabernet Frac or Cabernet Savion
  • 3 Tbls Olive Oil for Browning Steaks
    • Butter works as well
The Instructions-
  1. I am using an Elk Roast sliced to 1/2" Thick Slices and then let set to room temperature, it is easier to slice when it is cold, but needs to start cooking at room temperature.
  2. Preheat your oven to 500 Degrees
  3. Add Garlic, Red Wine, Worcestershire Sauce, Pepper and Salt to the Elk Steaks and set a side.
  4. Cut onion in half and then cut into strips, set aside.
  5. Put blackberries into bowl and add Vodka and maple syrup, give the berries a head start and with a fork lightly smash a few of them so that the vodka turns purple and the flavors start to infuse.
  6. Heat cast iron skillet with medium-high heat with 3 Tbls olive oil.
  7. Add steaks to skillet and brown on one side 4-6 minutes, depending on range.
  8. Once Elk is browned on one side turn over and place in middle rack in the oven.
  9. 5 to 7 minutes later remove cast iron skillet from oven and place on place in warm area to rest.
  10. Turn heat to medium and add shallots to cast iron pan till semi-translucent.
  11. Once Completed add vodka, berries and maple syrup to skillet and reduce to low-medium heat till it reduces by half.
  12. Blackberries sauce should be still be a liquid and not reduced till a heavy sauce.
  13. When done its time to plate and eat, parable side would be A Mushroom and onion with raw goat milk sauce and a Garlic-Potato side dish.

Give it a try and enjoy, one of my favorite Elk dishes, if you don't have elk try venison or any antlered big game.  Also save your mushrooms and extra meat and save for an tasty omelette the next morning.


Tony the Bearded Boar

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Monday, February 3, 2014

Building an Archery Range.....In My Back Yard

  My first archery range at my house was a small hay bail in the front yard that I hid behind my wooden fence that was about 20 yards.  Then I graduated to a block target when my new Mathews Reezen started to punch through that hail bail on a consistent basis and would slam into my concrete wall. For some reason concrete walls and Easton St. Axis arrows don't play well together. So as I started to move around the house I was able to get out to 35 yards if I set the targets in the corner of my property and then shot from the other side of the yard.  I don't think my neighbors knew what was going on and if they did I am sure they would not have liked it very much. Fast forward to the present day and my new home in the mountains.

I went from a 1/4 acre rental to my current spread of 4 1/2 acres. By no means huge, but it works for me and my family.  I have toyed with all sorts of lay outs for a range, a traditional firing line and then a walk around course.  But, with the possibility of the SoCal Bowhunter and the Strother Archery Rep coming up for a visit and field shoot I had to make some changes.  Then it donned on me, I did not have a good place for my Kids to shoot either. And given my last post , I Almost Gave Up Hunting, it was fitting that I made some adjustments for the others shooters in my family.

So Que the A-Team theme music, get the Honda quad and my kids in tow.

After a quick dismantling of the current setup I went to a new format of range.  A firing line-Course mixed layout. Both kids helps gather the course markets, hay bails, block targets and were cutting pads and building platforms in the new areas.  They were really keen to help, though I just think they wanted to ride atop the hay bails on the quad, and in an hours time we had ourselves an new range with positions set up at 10, 20, 30, 40, 45, 50, 65, 80 and really on out to your wildest reaches if you shot over the corral. A "Please don't shoot the Goats" sign will need to be put up though.

Best part of the day was the very end where my son and I were able to have a great father-son shoot.  And though his bow is not the greatest, do yourself a favor never by the Bear Archery Kids bows, we had a great time working and teaching the kids how to set up the range for shooting.  After the chaos subsided I was able to sight in my new HHA Optimizer XL5510, but that is for another post.
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