Archive for the 'Tips/Advice' Category

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Published by RightWing on 06 May 2008

Hunter’s Tips for Body Odor Control………..

                         

   While sweat is often blamed for spooking game, it is really an oversight. Sweat is an odorless, colorless, natural secretion from our bodies. Perspiration is in fact not the cause of body odor. There are several kinds of bacteria that live on the skin’s surface, some of these bacteria feed on our perspiration. The byproduct from this bacterial feeding action is what we and other animals smell and indentify as body odor.

  To combat this phenomenon, one must destroy or reduce the culprit bacteria. Masking the odor is not a viable solution, it has been proven that whitetail deer can smell multiple odors at once and distinguish each of them individually. The process of applying so called “Cover scent” will do little, if any, good to fool a whitetail’s nose.

  Then the question still remains, how do I fight “Game Spooking” body odor? Luckily there are some practical, inexpensive and effective methods. Most of these products can be bought at any drug store or even a supermarket.  Here are five (5) methods that I will explain in detail; you will find them to be extremely effective with zero gimmicks.

*         Cleanse – Your body……..

*         Neutralize – Odor causing Bacteria…….

*         Maintain – Clean clothing/footwear…….

*         Mask – We’ll talk about this one…… 🙂

*         Play the wind – Enough said………

 

Cleanse- Wash often, showers are good, but soaking bathes are better. Several excellent unscented soaps are available to the general consumer (that’s right, not just for hunters) most of these are marked as “Hypo allergenic” and contain no fragrances. My personal favorite is “Dove” unscented bar soap, because it works well for the hunter, it’s inexpensive and is available almost everywhere.  You can usually find four bar packages of it for under $5.00

 

Neutralize- As I mentioned earlier in the article, bacteria feeding on our perspiration is the culprit in causing body odor. The best ways to reduce the amount of body odor lies in our ability to reduce or temporarily destroy the bacteria. Baking soda (Sodium Bicarbonate) applied during your shower/bath will change the PH on the skin’s surface creating a hostile living environment for the bacteria. Scrubbing down with a good antiseptic is even better. Beta-dine is my personal favorite because almost all hospital and doctor’s offices use it a surgical scrub and surgeons shower with it before an operation. If you are not familiar with Betadine, it is the reddish-orange liquid the doctors and nurses swab onto your arm before sticking you with a needle (bringing back memories now, Huh?). It does have and odor but will dissipate with rinse water and the smell will disappear real quickly (most water supplies contain Iodine anyway), so this is not a problem at all. Just follow the directions on the back of the bottle when using. I pour about a tablespoon full of the antiseptic on a washcloth then lather up real good. I then use another teaspoon in my hair as a shampoo. Rinse well with water afterward, to remove the Betadine and the residual dead bacteria, yeasts, molds and germs from your skin’s surface.

 This treatment will leave you bacteria free for about 6-8 hours. You can buy this antiseptic at most drug stores for around $10.00 a bottle and it will last you the entire season. Another possible brand to use is Hibbi-cleanse but it tends to cost more for a lesser quantity. You will find that having either of these two items beneficial for home first-aid duty as well.  While at the drug store check out alfalfa pills, they contain chlorophyll from plant leaves and will help to fight bad breath. Doctors also recommend them to diabetic patients to remove odor from urine. Personally, I usually just chew the leaves of one of several species of the wild mint family (wild spearmint, horsemint, wild peppermint etc) they are usually blooming during the early bow season and resemble nothing else in the woods, but to be safe before trying, research books of edible wild plants from your library and learn to recognize them. They are natural and leave your mouth with a minty mouthwash taste, plus the chlorophyll from the leaves will help to reduce mouth odor as well. I finish up this regimen with an application of unscented underarm deodorant. I like Arid unscented in either the solid or roll-on you can pick this up for around $1.00.

 

 Maintain- I keep a couple plastic totes with latches around to store my camo and layering clothes in. In this container clothing will stay dry and scent free, but there is a routine that I go though before any of my hunting clothes are ready for the plastic tote. I first run several empty loads of water through the washing machine to remove residual fragrances from standard detergents the family uses for general washing. When the washer is properly prepared I wash my camo in cold water (it keeps the colors from running and is great for washing camo in because it is usually not all that dirty anyway). I again use unscented products that are available at supermarket, just look for the brands marked hypo-allergenic (or unscented), my favorite brand is “ALL” unscented concentrated liquid, but there are many other adequate brands available. It works well in cold water cycles, has no odor, and it is fairly in-expensive too. I then, either hang them out to air dry (weather permitting) or place them in the dryer. My clothes dryer gets a similar treatment to that of the washer, I run a couple loads of wet, clean, and scent free, towels though to remove any odors that might be left behind from the general wash. Inside my plastic tote, I keep a small draw stringed cloth bag containing cedar chips; they give the clothes a natural scent and help to protect expensive wool camo from moths during long periods of storage.  In my hunting footwear I sprinkle a little bit of baking soda to help reduce bacterial growth. Before entering my treestand I apply a clothing neutralizer like the scent-a-way products as a final step.

 

Mask- I already mentioned earlier that I am not a big fan of food-type masking scents like acorn, sweet corn and grape. I also feel earth scents and fox urines are of little use for really helping to fool a deer’s nose. I have however found one masking scent that I believe is the “real deal” and has really surprised me over the years, it will provide you with some room for error while stand hunting. Skunk scent seems to overload the deer’s sense of smell. I have also discovered that they are not afraid of it; on contrary they are very curious of the skunk smell. Whitetail will often, for unknown reasons, seek out and investigate the source.  I place the skunk scent on cotton balls in three places around my stand. This method seems to triangulate the smell and makes it harder for deer to wind you regardless of the wind direction. Just place it at the base of three trees and let the morning and evening thermals do the rest. There are still a few sources of skunk scent available, but the best I have tried is the Bob Kirschner Deer lure company. Bob’s “Skunk Essence” it is harvested in Pennsylvania and has no equal for a masking scent. Bob’s skunk scent is so powerful that he will only package it in amber glass bottles then he seals it with wax. One bottle of this stuff will last you an entire season, though I personally buy enough for two seasons. I have used it for many years, while hunting whitetail both East and West of the Mississippi River. Trust me this is a cover scent that works.

 

Playing the wind- Being vigilant of predominate wind directions when picking a stand is a major “feather in the bowhunter’s cap”. I try to avoid areas where the terrain might cause the air to swirl. Research and try to gain a good understanding of thermals, this information is invaluable. As a rule of thumb try to hunt from higher locations in the morning when the heating air expands and rises, the opposite holds true for evening hunts, always try on hunt on lower ground in the afternoon as the air cools and settles back to the ground. Thermals are present even on calm days and can carry a hunter’s scent for great distances.

 

   All these things will help you this fall when trying to fool those wise old whitetails. Just remember me and this article while you are enjoying those fresh backstraps with friends and family members.

   Stay scent free and shoot straight………..

 

Written By Jason Wilborn     Monroe Tennessee

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Published by RightWing on 06 May 2008

Unlocking the Secrets of Secondary Food Sources…..

 

                        

   During the early years of cutting my teeth on the riser of a hunting bow, I tasted success. Closure came in the form of a Tennessee spike-horn buck. He was taken down in all his glory one particularly beautiful autumn afternoon. The deer was oblivious to my presence while he busily munched honeysuckle. This previously overlooked food source laid close to the thicket he and other small bucks used as bedding cover.

  Later, as the gun season grew ever closer, a fat Kentucky doe fell to the romantic “Twang” of the bowstring. She had been meandering along the brushy property line of an old homestead I had gained permission to hunt. That day her appetite had lead her to, of all things, “Poke berries”.  This was not what most hunters considered typical deer forage.

  The short bow season that followed the ending of the rifle portion also provided numerous chances to refresh the family venison supply, and thus pad the freezer. The most notable of which, was a most appreciated young six point buck. I had watched this deer for the better part of the chilly, late season afternoon. The buck nibbled on lichens from wind fallen logs that littered the otherwise open forest floor.  A silent arrow quickly dispatched the buck and ended the productive evening hunt.

  You are probably wondering at this point, of what importance are these three separate and seemingly unrelated hunts? The fact that all three happened during a year that most considered to be a poor year for deer hunting. An unusually dry summer had caused an almost complete failure to cultivated crops; as a result, most farmers harvested the small remaining portions much earlier than in prior years. To compound an already less than desirable situation, the mast of the white oak was almost non-existent. 

   While most veterans of the deer woods elected to concentrate on watering holes and to enjoy the cooler air associated with moving water, I decided to go a different route. I felt the other end of the spectrum needed exploring. Thus, while others practiced with their bows and worked on shrinking those arrow groupings, I spent my available time in the local library. Numerous books on the subjects of woodland plants, wild flowers and tree identification soon made their way into my research regimen. I yearned for every morsel of literature pertaining to the subject of deer browse that I could find. The lessons learned about whitetail behavior in previous years coupled with the new knowledge gained, no doubt, tipped the scales in this bowhunter’s favor that fall. A good working knowledge of secondary food sources is most valuable to even the most casual bowhunter.

   So, you might ask, how can I apply this newly found food source knowledge to real world hunting scenarios?  The answer is simple and as old as mankind itself. Granted, the generations of hunters before us had to acquire woodsmanship skills becoming woods-wise, meanwhile developing their own personal “mental database” of deer-lore to be successful. Every encounter with our quarry can become a learning experience if one remains vigilant to the details of the encounter.

  Many volumes could be written on the subject of whitetail food sources, and we would probably still leave out pertinent facts on the matter. Due to regional flora diversity and a mind-boggling number of known browse/forage plants, I can only summarize. The following is just a few ways to utilize this food source  information in your quest to unlocking the secrets of your own whitetail diet database.

    First off, deer have a very wide ranging list of possible botanical delicacies. White Oak acorns are of course among the very top of this list, and if you chose to hunt solely over a ‘Hot’ stand of white oaks; you can almost be guaranteed some bow hunting action.  However, years like the one mentioned at the beginning of this article, occasionally come around. 2007 being one example, due to the occurrence of a late spring hard freeze, the white oak mast crop was all but wiped out in much of the Southeastern and Midwestern states. Red Oaks which acorns were almost unaffected were quickly consumed by deer and other competing wildlife. Here again, a personal knowledge of secondary food source plants became invaluable.  Woody browse and the remaining soft mast became the prime feed for whitetails.

  Often times a savvy hunter can just broadcast commercial plant food on existing food sources to create an instant hot zone. Fertilizer like a 10-10-10 mix hand tossed on stands of honeysuckle, multi-flora roses and blackberry brambles can lead to mid and late winter success. The same principles can be utilized with native soft vegetation like sweet clovers, vetches, kudzu and trefoils, as well as numerous legume and non-legume species.  Recently logged over tracts (even though aesthetically undesirable) can become deer magnets if garden lime is used to make the soil less acid so native plants get a chance to grab a foothold. This combined with the additional sunlight available from a treeless skyline allow these important plants to flourish. Even saplings with nutritious buds and twigs will benefit from such a treatment.  

  I encourage you to do your homework discovering and unlocking the secrets to secondary food sources.  All these ideas will help you harvest more game, however you might take caution before playing the stock market this fall, and I certainly wouldn’t buy shares in the “Freezer Wrap” industry; because you might find yourself getting in trouble for “Insider Trading”.

 

 

Written by Jason Wilborn       Monroe Tennessee

 

 

 

18 votes, average: 3.11 out of 518 votes, average: 3.11 out of 518 votes, average: 3.11 out of 518 votes, average: 3.11 out of 518 votes, average: 3.11 out of 5 (18 votes, average: 3.11 out of 5)
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Published by Shaman on 05 May 2008

Poor Mans Turkey Target

As a person on a budget, I am always looking for ways to scrimp and save. A couple of years ago, I got into bowhunting for turkeys. Unfortunately, there was little in the way for turkey targets for bow hunters. I had bought a paper photorealistic target and tacked it to the Morrell Fieldpoint bag. It did not last long. I then took another paper target and glued it to cardboard. It lasted a little longer, but not much.

Then, I hit on the proper combination.

Ingredients:

  • Fieldpoint Bag
  • Children’s Puzzlemat
  • Photorealitstic Turkey Target
  • Glue

Glue your photorealistic target
http://www.turkeyhuntingsecrets.com/store/images/deltabkturkeytarget.jpg

To the PuzzleMat
http://karateinsider.com/images/heavy_bags/puzzle_mats.jpg

Drop your FP bag to the ground and place the puzzlemat with picture in front of your FP bag.
Since the paper is glued to the mat, the paper does not tear on arrow removal.
Shoot it like crazy! The mat and target will last hundreds of arrows worth of shots.

I’ve attached a video of how it works. Sorry the sound is a little muffled, it was windy that day.

Video of Turkey Target

4 votes, average: 3.75 out of 54 votes, average: 3.75 out of 54 votes, average: 3.75 out of 54 votes, average: 3.75 out of 54 votes, average: 3.75 out of 5 (4 votes, average: 3.75 out of 5)
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Published by Gear Junky on 01 May 2008

Hardcore Hunter Must-Haves, volume II

Simple. Cheap. Effective. How many products with those attributes actually improve your quality of life?

Toilet seat covers come to mind. Not much else.

In the previous installation, I recommended a great backpack, backpacking stove, and lightweight bivy. In this blog, I’m going to highlight a few items that are less expensive and get less attention, but are worth their weight in gold. These items will make your next hunting trip more enjoyable, believe me. Simple, cheap, effective…you can’t go wrong.

Must-Have Blister Buster: Body Glide Anti-Friction Stick

Lightweight/Compact:10

Durability: 9

Cost-Effectiveness: 10 ($7 online)

Usefulness: 10

Innovation: 8

On the list of things I hate, blistering and chafing rank just ahead of rectal exams and just behind Kirstie Alley’s voice. I can’t do anything about the other two, but blisters and chafing are now a repressed memory with Body Glide. I found this magic stick when I was training for my first marathon. I thought a few days of wearing hunting boots over rough terrain was bad, but let me tell you, you haven’t experienced a hot spot until you’ve had a blister bleed through your sock and shoe on mile twelve. Of twenty six.

Runners, instead of doing the sensible thing (give up running), invented anti-friction sticks out of necessity. Body Glide is as good as any product out there, and is widely available for around seven bucks. You can apply it to feet, from the soles to the toes and the heel and everywhere in between, before putting on your socks. And it works anywhere else you feel hot spots, which can be a real life saver when each step burns your inner thigh. Ouch. And it works on existing blisters, so if you forget to use it, it isn’t too late – a thin layer eliminates friction, and since friction is the cause of irritation and pain, you won’t notice the blister the rest of the day.

All of those clever remedies – duct tape, band aids, Vaseline – are obsolete. Just keep this stick around or cut off a tiny slice and throw it in a plastic baggy for the backpack. It has the same consistency as clear (non-gel) deodorant, and just one stick will last years.

Must-Have Spotting Scope Accessory: Universal Digiscoping Adapter

Lightweight/Compact: 5

Durability: 9

Cost-Effectiveness: 8 ($45)

Usefulness: 8

Innovation: 9

What the heck is digiscoping? A long time ago, people asked what the heck were wheels, or compound bows, or iPods. And digiscoping is much cooler than wheels or iPods. Maybe I’ll write a separate blog on this later, but for now, here’s the quick story. At some point, most every one of us who own a digital camera and a spotting scope have tried to take a picture through the scope, usually with disappointing results. But like Dylan told us, the times they are a changin’.

As you can see, the adapter serves as a tool for positioning and stabilizing a compact camera on a spotting scope, either angled or straight. For $45, you can capture any images you see in your scope by taking a picture or video clip, and with impressive results. It takes some practice to get it just right, but once you figure out the proper settings on the adapter and the camera you’ll have some fun. Here are some of the photos I took through my scope (27x fixed eyepiece and 3x optical zoom = 81x magnification), which would have otherwise been impossible. This pronghorn probably scores near 90 B&C:

Here’s a link to a youtube video of the same goat, also through my spotting scope at 300 yards:

Now, had I come back and told my buddies that I had found a B&C monster without evidence, what would their reaction have been? Sure, Roger Clemens, an 88 inch pronghorn. But with digiscoping, scouting trips become photojournal excursions. Sure, your results will depend on the quality of your spotting scope and your photography skills. But even a rough image is better than no image, right? At twelve ounces, I bring my adapter along any time I’m not living out of a backpack.

Must-Have Bottom-Saver: Allen Gun Cases Self Inflating Seat Cushion

Lightweight/Compact: 9

Durability: 8

Cost-Effectiveness: 9 ($15 shipped)

Usefulness: 9

Innovation: 7

Nobody likes wet rumps in the field. I don’t like a wet rump anywhere. Nor do I like pine cones or jagged rocks jabbing my nether regions when I’m trying to rest my footsies. This self inflating seat cushion does the trick, keeping you dry and padded when you sit to glass those upper basins or relax and watch a Mariners game from the cold metal bleachers in the outfield. It straps around your waist (like a belt) and stays on all day, and after a few minutes you won’t notice it’s there. It doesn’t flap against you as you walk, and it sits below your backpack so it doesn’t get in the way. When you want to sit, just sit – it will be there. This one is not to be missed – it’s the most satisfying fifteen dollars I’ve spent since Safeco Field opened their cheap seats.

6 votes, average: 3.83 out of 56 votes, average: 3.83 out of 56 votes, average: 3.83 out of 56 votes, average: 3.83 out of 56 votes, average: 3.83 out of 5 (6 votes, average: 3.83 out of 5)
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Published by harleyrider on 30 Apr 2008

Treestand Fall Restraint Systems — Use & Tips

How to Arrive Back Home Alive

By Len Hinrichs

Evan was looking forward to this hunt like none he had ever before.  The rut was in high gear and he had an entire week of hard-earned vacation ahead of him to do nothing but bowhunt for a huge buck that he had been scouting since last year.  His close friend Jerry was due to join him the next day at their lease so that they could hunt the week together, but Evan thought he would get a head start by setting one last treestand in a hardwood funnel he just knew that big buck would be crossing sometime during the week’s hunt.  As the morning dew began to burn off, Evan began assembling several climbing sticks and fastening them to the trunk of a suitable oak; alternately climbing and fastening the sections until he arrived at 20 feet.  That completed, he climbed back down and retrieved a brand new loc-on stand purchased especially for this occasion.  After a brief rest, he muscled back up the tree with the stand in tow to set it in place.  After struggling with it’s positioning for several minutes, Evan finally managed to get the stand fastened to the trunk of the tree.  He stood on the top climbing stick rung for a few moments to survey the area from his vantage point.  It was a beautiful day and he could almost taste the backstraps as he stepped up onto the treestand’s platform.  That’s where things went very wrong……..

Jerry arrived at their hunting cabin the next morning and was curiously surprised that Evan wasn’t there.  Evan was always a reliable, punctual person so it wasn’t like him to not be where they had agreed to meet.  After stowing his gear, Jerry remembered that Evan might have gone out to place that funnel stand that they had discussed, so he set out in his car to give him a hand.  Knowing the general area where they wanted to place this stand, Jerry went there and was puzzled to find Evan’s truck but not his friend.  Sensing something was not quite right, Jerry began calling and walking a grid pattern through the funnel area until, late in the morning, he came upon the sight that will never leave his memory: the broken body of his friend and hunting partner, dead at the base of that oak.

Although the story just related and the characters described are fictitious, similar scenarios happen with startling regularity throughout hunting seasons across this country.

Background

Hunting from an elevated position, or treestand, can be a highly effective method for hunters pursuing wild game such as whitetail deer, bear, hogs, elk, turkeys, etc.  The increased elevation offers several advantages over a ground-based stand: 1) it provides a higher vantage point for improved game spotting; 2) it allows the hunter to remain hidden above the game’s normal line of sight; and 3) it provides a greater level of scent control by allowing the hunter’s odor to disperse a greater distance from their stand location.  All of these advantages make treestand hunting very popular, with millions of hunters taking to the trees each year.

However, this popularity has made treestand accidents one of the most prevalent causes of serious injuries or death suffered by hunters.  Statistics show that approximately 1 out of every 3 treestand hunters will suffer a significant fall in their lifetime.  Those aren’t good odds!

The disturbing news is that most serious treestand fall accidents are experienced by hunters who either:  don’t use any form of fall protection equipment at all; use uncertified or outdated fall protection equipment; or use or install their fall protection equipment improperly.  Typical reasons that hunters give for not using fall protection are that they find it “uncomfortable” or “inconvenient” or that it doesn’t fit in with the “macho” image of hunting.  Some contend that “I never needed one before, so I don’t need it now”.  Well, it’s pretty inconvenient to be paralyzed or dead (and none too macho)! 

The good news is that the vast majority of these injuries are preventable by using proper safety precautions and equipment while installing, ascending, descending, and hunting from elevated stands. The following general guidelines will assist you in making decisions that will make treestand hunting a lifelong, rewarding, and safe experience.

Fall Restraint Systems

Always wear a fall restraint system (a.k.a. fall arrest system or safety harness ) any time you are off the ground while hunting – it is your single most important piece of hunting equipment.  A fall restraint system is any device(s) that hunters use to attach themselves to a tree or elevated position to keep them from falling to the ground in an uncontrolled manner and subsequently allows them to safely descend to the ground after falling.  A fall restraint system should be worn at all times while off the ground rather than just at final elevation, since the majority of treestand falls occur while ascending or descending the tree, and stepping across or onto the treestand platform.  The bottom line is that a safety harness can only protect you from a fall if you are actually wearing it when you fall.

Full-body harnesses with straps that encircle the torso, legs, and shoulders allowing a fallen hunter to hang in an upright position are now the only type of fall restraint system recommended by the Treestand Manufacturer’s Association (TMA) as well as other leading hunter safety organizations.  The old-style belts or chest-type harnesses that were often used by hunters in the past are no longer recommended and should not be used.  Full-body harnesses come in several designs including the standard strap and buckle harness; vests with the harness incorporated into the shell; and hybrids that are somewhere in between. With the number of styles available, it should be relatively easy for almost any hunter to find a harness that is safe, comfortable, and easy for them to use. Interestingly enough, many if not all TMA-certified treestands now include a basic full-body harness at no extra charge.  Regardless of the type of full-body harness you choose, make sure that it is properly sized to fit you and that you are within the specified weight limits for that particular harness.  A properly fitted harness will comfortably allow enough adjustment to accommodate heavier clothing worn during cold weather.

Use the following Safety Guidelines from the TMA website to guide you in the proper use and maintenance of your harness.

TMA Treestand Safety Guidelines

  • ALWAYS wear a Fall-Arrest System (FAS)/Full Body Harness meeting TMA Standards even during ascent and descent.  Be aware that single strap belts and chest harnesses are no longer the preferred Fall-Arrest devices and should not be used.  Failure to use a FAS could result in serious injury or death.
  • ALWAYS read and understand the manufacturer’s WARNINGS & INSTRUCTIONS before using the treestand each season.  Practice with the treestand at ground level prior to using at elevated positions.  Maintain the WARNINGS & INSTRUCTIONS for later review as needed, for instructions on usage to anyone borrowing your stand, or to pass on when selling the treestand.  Use all safety devices provided with your treestand.  Never exceed the weight limit specified by the manufacturer.  If you have any questions after reviewing the WARNINGS & INSTRUCTIONS, please contact the manufacturer.
  • ALWAYS inspect the treestand and the Fall-Arrest System for signs of wear or damage before each use.  Contact the manufacturer for replacement parts.  Destroy all products that cannot be repaired by the manufacturer and/or exceed recommended expiration date, or if the manufacturer no longer exists.  The FAS should be discarded and replaced after a fall has occurred.
  • ALWAYS practice in your Full Body Harness in the presence of a responsible adult, learning what it feels like to hang suspended in it at ground level.
  • ALWAYS attach your Full Body Harness in the manner and method described by the manufacturer.  Failure to do so may result in suspension without the ability to recover into your treestand.  Be aware of the hazards associated with Full Body Harnesses and the fact that prolonged suspension in a harness may be fatal.  Have in place a plan for rescue, including the use of cell phones or signal devices that may be easily reached and used while suspended.  If rescue personnel cannot be notified, you must have a plan for recover/escape.  If you have to hang suspended for a period of time before help arrives, exercise your legs by pushing against the tree or doing any other form of continuous motion.  Failure to recover in a timely manner could result in serious injury or death.  If you do not have the ability to recover/escape, hunt from the ground.
  • ALWAYS hunt with a plan and if possible a buddy. Before you leave home, let others know your exact hunting location, when you plan to return and who is with you.
  • ALWAYS carry emergency signal devices such as a cell phone, walkie-talkie, whistle, signal flare, PLD (personal locator device) and flashlight on your person at all times and within reach even while you are suspended in your FAS.  Watch for changing weather conditions.  In the event of an accident, remain calm and seek help immediately.
  • ALWAYS select the proper tree for use with your treestand.  Select a live straight tree that fits within the size limits recommended in your treestand’s instructions.  Do not climb or place a treestand against a leaning tree.  Never leave a treestand installed for more than two weeks since damage could result from changing weather conditions and/or from other factors not obvious with a visual inspection.
  • ALWAYS use a haul line to pull up your gear and unloaded firearm or bow to your treestand once you have reached your desired hunting height.  Never climb with anything in your hands or on your back.  Prior to descending, lower your equipment on the opposite side of the tree.
  • ALWAYS know your physical limitations.  Don’t take chances.  If you start thinking about how high you are, don’t go any higher.
  • NEVER use homemade or permanently elevated stands or make modifications to a purchased treestand without the manufacturer’s written permission.  Only purchase and use treestands and Fall-Arrest Systems meeting or exceeding TMA standards.  For a detailed list of certified products, contact the TMA office or refer to the TMA web site at http://www.tmastands.com.
  • NEVER hurry!!  While climbing with a treestand, make slow, even movements of no more than ten to twelve inches at a time.  Make sure you have proper contact with the tree and/or treestand every time you move.  On ladder-type treestands, maintain three points of contact with each step.

In addition, you should keep your safety harness clean and dry and store it out of direct sunlight, away from chemicals and possible ozone sources.

Additional Tips for Use of a Fall Restraint System

There are several methods for safely attaching your fall restraint system while ascending and/or descending your selected tree.  Each has it’s specific uses depending on the task being performed.

  • Lineman style ropes which fasten around the tree and directly to D-loops on the harness belt are used to ascend and descend the tree while still allowing the climber to keep his/her hands free.  This is particularly useful for hanging loc-on stands, placing tree steps, or trimming branches.
  • Top-fastened tree ropes are attached to the tree at stand height and hang down to near ground level.  The safety harness tether is attached to the the tree rope via a small sling tied into a special Prussic knot.  The Prussic knot it designed to be slid up or down the tree rope with minimal effort, but locks to the tree rope in the event of a fall.  This setup is useful for ascending/descending ladder stands and loc-on stands that are semi-permanent or already in position.
  • Mechanical retractors are attached to the tree at stand height and consist of a mechanical reel-type retractor similar to an automatic seat belt retractor.  The safety harness tether is attached to the free end of retractor when standing on the ground and as the tree is climbed, the retractor automatically takes up the slack belt.  In the event of a fall, the retractor immediately and automatically locks thereby arresting the fall.
  • Standard tree straps and ropes are attached by looping them around the tree to be climbed then fastening them directly to the safety harness tether.  The tree strap/rope is pushed up/down the tree and snugged up with each step.  These are predominantly used while ascending trees using climbing style treestands.

No matter which type of safety harness attachment system is used, the safety tether should always be kept as short as possible and should be fastened above head height while standing in the treestand.  This will minimize the distance that you can drop if you you lose your balance and fall from the stand platform.  It will also allow a better opportunity for you to crawl back into your stand should you experience a fall.

Make sure when setting stands that you extend your tree steps or ladder system at least 3 feet above the platform level of the stand so that you can step down onto the platform when transitioning to the stand.  This makes it much easier to get into your stand in the dark or during inclement weather.

Always use a pull-up rope to hoist weapons or equipment into your stand.  Make sure all weapons are unloaded and securely fastened before hoisting.

If You Do Fall While Wearing a Fall Restraint System

If the worst happens and you do fall from your stand or while ascending/descending a tree while wearing an appropriate fall restraint system, what do you do next?  The first thing is DON’T PANIC!  Assuming you’re conscious and not seriously injured, you need to make an effort to get yourself either back onto your platform or to the ground as quickly as you safely can.  Even though your harness has kept you from falling to the ground, you may now be in danger of another serious condition called “suspension trauma”.  If you are allowed to hang from your harness for even a relatively short time (i.e., less than 15 minutes), blood will begin to  pool in your lower extremities, thereby starving your central core area and brain for needed oxygen, causing you to pass out and eventually die.  It is imperative that you quickly alleviate this situation in one of several ways. 

  • Crawl back onto your stand platform.  This is possible if you attached your safety tether high and short enough that your fall was minimal and you can easily reach the platform.
  • You may have to descend the tree.  To facilitate this it is recommended that you carry an extra screw-in tree step or a length of sturdy rope sufficient to go around the tree you’re climbing in an easily accessible pocket on your person.  In the event of a fall, you can then insert the tree step or loop and fasten the rope around the tree in order to give you a place to step up to take your weight off the harness.  By alternating moving the step/rope and hanging in your harness, hopefully you can safely descend to the ground.
  • If you can’t immediately extricate yourself by climbing back onto your stand platform or safely descending the tree, exercise your legs by pushing against the tree or doing any other form of continuous motion with your body and legs.  This will help to keep blood circulating from your legs to the rest of your body.  Remember, this is only a stopgap method.  You still need to continue to try and either climb back onto the stand platform or descend the tree as soon as possible.
  • Only as a last resort, you may have to cut your tether and hopefully climb/slide down the tree trunk in a controlled fashion, minimizing injury.  For this you should always carry a knife or shielded strap cutter that is readily accessible or fastened to your harness so that you can reach it easily.  Remember that your full weight will come to bear once you cut your safety tether so hang onto the tree tightly or be prepared for a quick descent!

Summary

Hunting from an elevated treestand can enhance your opportunities as a hunter to see and kill more game.  However, these opportunities are tempered by the many risks associated with the use of treestands that should not be ignored.  Proper use of a certified fall restraint system and thoughtful installation and use of your treestand and accessories can go a long ways towards ensuring that you have a safe and successful hunt.  Remember to arrive back home alive!

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Published by spacetechy on 18 Apr 2008

The New Science of Scent

To the hunter, the snort of a deer downwind and the flagging tail tell the ancient story yet again. Since the dawn of primal hunters, deer have been smelling us, foiling us as frustrated hunters trying to overcome our alarming array of odors. Even though the act seems as simple as the primitive response that causes bucks to flee with one small sniff, it’s actually an interesting scientific process. And harnessing the true science of scent from Ice Age to Space Age can make any deer hunter incredibly more effective.

What is scent?

 

First, we need to identify that mysterious something we cannot see, touch, or usually smell that creates such sudden spooking of deer. At the risk of igniting our universal dislike for chemistry class years ago, the secret hinges on two simple words – molecular biochemistry. Don’t fear. This understanding doesn’t have to be as complicated as splitting atoms. Just a few key concepts are all we need to comprehend the culprits floating in the air.

Even Ice Age hunters probably figured out that scent is simply an outpouring airborne biochemical compounds that have broken free from their source as clusters of molecules. Okay, though the scientific terms escaped them, they understood the raw concept. It’s kind of like seeing breath plumes on a frosty morning where thousands of tiny molecule clusters float away on the thermals from their source, tumbling in a slow state of decay as they break apart further, carrying a million messages to creatures with scent receptors that evolved over eons to avoid predators.

So just what in the heck are these biochemical molecules spooking deer? Unfortunately, the list in man’s modern world is too vast to even begin identifying. But the root is an array of chemical reactions caused by organic compounds and enzymes catalyzing and undergoing molecular changes such as oxidation and temperature that break apart their molecular bonds. It’s akin to a water evaporating. As molecular bonds break down on the surface, individual molecules break free and float away. For an odor to leave its source and become a scent it needs to become lipophilic, or generally electrically neutral and nonpolar, plus small enough in molecular weight (< 300 Da) to become volatile or airborne. This is the point where fragrant molecules escape from their fluid or solid source into the thin air. In our scent-rich world, this process causes the liberation of a vast mixture of molecular aromatics in the form of alcohols, aliphatic organics, organosulphurs, aldehydes, fatty acids, terpenoids, benzenoids, and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into “smellable” odors. More odors are generated by the biosynthesis of these chemicals interacting with one another. Alright, enough chemistry torture. Suffice it to say that it’s those darn little volatile molecules floating off us and our stuff that’s messing us up.

ID The Sources

 

Now that we understand the general biochemistry and molecular science of scent, how do we deal with the complex problem of our bodies and our modern world liberating all these VOCs into the woods while were hunting? Ah-ha, that is the savvy hunter’s quest in understanding the science of scent that can effectively turn blind luck into calculated success.

Let’s begin by classifying the two main types of scent that typically ruin a hunt. They are direct scent “emitted” from the hunter and their gear, and indirect scent that a hunter “disperses” throughout the woods during the overall act of hunting. At first glance, one would conclude that direct scent is the worse culprit in ruining that chance at a big buck. But a closer look at all the causes and cures gives us an important glimpse beyond the simple source.

Causes – Your Body and Your Gear

 

Depending on the hunter, their gear, and their personal environment, the list of direct scent can be downright staggering. Nonetheless, a summary would include the obvious odors of the hunter’s body and breath. Not so obvious are various forms of odor-generating bacteria, natural hair oils producing scent, millions of dead skin cells liberating odors, hygiene products for the body and hair pouring out VOCs, and organic chemicals emitted from skin, ears, sweat, nose and other “shadowy” places on the human body. Dang it, too bad you need that body to take you hunting.

As if that small list from the body wasn’t haunting enough, consider the endless possibilities of odors on a hunter’s gear. Boots alone emit odors of rubber, leather, manufacturing chemicals, waterproofing, floor products, mildew, and virtually everything the hunter has walked past or stepped in – from cow pies to gas station odors. Beside boots, most hunters wear hats loaded with the scent of repeated wearing with the hunt-spoiling aromas of fabric manufacturing chemicals, human hair, hair products, sweat, more bacteria, and dead skin cells. The same goes for a hunter’s clothing worn underneath their camowear. Even a grunt call or rattling antler is loaded with hand oils, breath bacteria, and everything a hunter has touched with lips, gloved or bare hands. So is it any wonder that simply putting on a single layer of scent-control camowear consistently fails to keep our vast array of VOC’s from reaching a deer’s nose? Naw, not really if you think about it.

To make matters worse, every time we walk through the woods, brush against twigs or grass, touch brush, hang a treestand, climb a tree, use a pull-up rope, and lean against a tree, we leave an invisible trail of indirect odors from all the sources noted above. And although those odor molecules are invisible to us, they aren’t invisible to the nose of any mature whitetail, especially big bucks. Yes, we know you’re careful, but every time you enter a stand, you lay down another telltale trail of indirect VOCs that a deer’s nose uses to unravel your ambush. In fact, some of the top trophy whitetail hunters in America admit that it’s their lingering indirect scent that prevents them from scoring more than anything else on a big buck they’re after. That’s also why so many hunters have tagged their best bucks that first time they hunted a new stand. It makes perfect scent-sense.

The Cautions and Cures

 

Though the challenges of eliminating or controlling all this scent seems overwhelming, it can be effectively done and perhaps easier than you thought – especially with the help of today’s technology.

The first scent generating item on you list to control is your body. It may be a bother to shower right before you go hunting every time, but it is one of the most significant things you can do to knock down your direct human scent. It may sound strange but be sure to scrub parts of your body that produce the most odor, such as places you might not consider like in and behind your ears. It’s natural for us to think we don’t stink, but just rub a finger behind your ear sometime and take a good sniff. Your hair, eyebrows, around the nose and neck are also important odor rich spots. Fortunately, your choice of scent-free soaps, deodorants, and a whole new wave of personal scent cover products abound in today’s hunting market. Just a word of caution however before dousing your body with various sprays or lotions that are designed to eliminate or mask your human odor. The reason that more medications are available today as patches to absorb through your skin is that your body readily absorbs stuff put on your skin. And some doctors will tell you that if it isn’t safe to drink, you should think twice about covering your body with it. If you’re unsure, don’t hesitate to ask your family doctor. Or, with today’s Internet realm of research, do a little digging yourself, or simply ask the manufacturer. A safer solution that has worked for years is a dusting of baking soda to neutralize the bacteria and acids that form odors. For your breath, try one of the baking soda toothpastes. And be sure to brush your tongue as far back as you can without gagging.

Okay, now that you’re standing there naked, you better put some clothes on before heading out into the frosty darkness. Basically, treat your under garments and clothing the same as you would your body. Unlike your body however, fabric has a very nasty habit of absorbing a multitude of contaminating odors because the woven fibers act as a molecular sieve to collect all those lipophilic VOCs. Avoid using clothes dryer products and dryers that use scented fabric softeners. These products will generate aromatic VOCs for days on end. That’s one of their selling points.

Also, beware of where you store your clothing – even your underwear. Now before you think I’m paranoid, consider the last time you took clean clothes from a dresser drawer or closet. If you took a big whiff, you might detect a faint hint at what a deer could smell easily – cooking smells, mold, pet scent, and a host of environmental “drawer or closet” odors. And before you say, “No way!” keep in mind that your olfactory senses are naturally “calibrated” to your living environment. Just ask a stranger to smell your closet. Or better yet, smell the drawers or closet of some stranger (okay, relatives) and you’ll smell all kinds of odors that elude their noses because everyone’s nose becomes calibrated to neutral (undetectable) for base odors in their living environment.

 

 

 

 

Technology to the Rescue

Storage

– Just when you thought you might go crazy with all this scent stuff, ta-da, today’s technology comes to the rescue. Besides the products that help keep your body from smelling, new innovations are now appearing for scent-free storage. Both hard and soft storage containers are now available for keeping your clean clothes odor free. Though primarily designed for camo outerwear and boots, the rule of thumb is that if you plan on wearing it hunting, even underneath carbon-lined camo, be smart and keep your under layers stored in an odor free environment.

Find Scent Gold in Silver

– Now that your body and undergarments are odor free, consider tapping into the new wealth of odor control offered in today’s generation of silver-lined hunting garments. Silver ions (Ag+) work as antimicrobial agents toxic to odor generating bacteria on the human body. Ions pass from the silver-lined fibers to inhibit the bacteria’s ability to reproduce and form stinky gases. All the way from underwear to outerwear, manufacturers offer a wide range of silver-lined garments for today’s scent-savvy hunter.

Activated Carbon-Lined Suits –

After nearly two decades on the market, most trophy whitetail hunters today insist on wearing activated carbon-lined outerwear in the form of Scent-Lok products or their licensees to absorb odors. Though its effectiveness might be debatable in some circles, the vast majority of knowledgeable deer hunters today agree that it’s a key component in their battle to control the vast world of scent.

Ozone Machines

– Most recently, electronics have entered the arena of odor control with the appearance of some electronic devices that claim to kill odors using the accelerated process of oxidation. Organic compounds or odors that accumulate on hunter’s clothing, boots and gear can theoretically be oxidized by saturation with O3 (ozone and clustered ozone molecules) to the point that the VOCs become non-detectable OCs. Though ozone-generating technology was discovered way back in the 1840’s, some companies are now promoting the technology to kill a hunter’s odors. One portable ozone device in fact has even been introduced to generate a plume of ozone around the hunter in the field, supposedly neutralizing VOCs coming from the hunter in the stand.

Thanks NASA

– But perhaps the most revolutionary electronic device yet to appear in the war against odor control came from outer space. State-of-the-art technology developed in cooperation with NASA to keep astronauts and spacecraft from getting stinky in extended space travel, is now available in a device for hunters called the Xterminator (www.xterminator.us). This innovative machine uses patented technology to shred VOC molecules into their base elements, which destroys odors on anything within the effective range of the machine. The size of a six-pack, this device turns a hunter’s closet into an odor decontamination chamber by emitting a unique combination of four synergistic technologies. Despite the apparent complexity of the science, the bottom line is that it literally tears apart the molecular bonds of organic compounds into their base atomic elements, destroying odor-producing molecules on everything a hunter wears, uses or carries into the woods. As you might expect for outer space scientists, this gizmo also effectively kills a wide range of bacteria that cause odors. Watch out whitetails.

So next time you head for the woods, think twice about the new science of today’s innovations in scent and how it can make or break your chances of tagging that trophy buck. Some old timers might think it isn’t “fair” to use any technology to fool the nose of the whitetail, let alone use a space-age device that decontaminates odors on everything you own with the flip of a switch. Nonetheless, the whitetail remains the most finely attuned big game to roam the planet, and revolutionary stuff from outer space probably isn’t enough for the smartest ones to consistently elude the majority of hunters.

2 votes, average: 3.00 out of 52 votes, average: 3.00 out of 52 votes, average: 3.00 out of 52 votes, average: 3.00 out of 52 votes, average: 3.00 out of 5 (2 votes, average: 3.00 out of 5)
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Published by csinclair on 15 Apr 2008

Eat, Sleep, Archery – the pay off is … accuracy?

I sincerely feel that all of my archery practice as of late is really starting to pay off. It is becoming very obvious in how my arrows are grouping tightly in two’s and threes, however, I’m still slightly high and to the right it seems, no matter how I tune my sight up to the arrows, which I find odd..?,

*Can anyone help with an explanation of why this may be? I can hit the gold if I compensate slightly low, left, but if I change my sight to that position, I always end up with tight groups slightly high and to the right again, maybe it’s in my release?

I’ve been trying to shoot every day now that the nice weather is back and I’m really feeling good about my shooting, ‘all’ of my arrows are in a pretty tight group now, which they never were before.

I joined my provincial archery association today, (the OAA),  so that I can shoot in 3D tournaments this summer to prepare myself a little more for bow hunting next year, which is very exciting end result of all my hard work, dedication to shooting every day, proper diet and fitness training and all the reading that I’ve been doing to try and get ready for it.

Another good thing that happenned today is that my friend who I shoot with is starting to get noticably better, and really seems to enjoy archery, and his daughter who is 10 years old has also become interested and is shooting well now too, soon enough I may have enough participants to start a club, which is a perfect solution for us seeing as there are none in our area, why not?

6 votes, average: 3.67 out of 56 votes, average: 3.67 out of 56 votes, average: 3.67 out of 56 votes, average: 3.67 out of 56 votes, average: 3.67 out of 5 (6 votes, average: 3.67 out of 5)
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Published by Gear Junky on 14 Apr 2008

Gear Junky: Hardcore Hunter Must-Haves, volume I

I love hunting. I love hunting like Jared loves Subway, like Mannings love endorsements, like Hillary loves taxes. I love hunting so much that I require a weekly hunting fix. That’s problematic, however, since fall refuses to come more than once a year. Other guys are able to scratch that itch with weekend fishing trips, but fishing strikes me as being kind of like the PGA tour – it’s available every weekend and usually keeps you entertained, but never builds to a yearly crescendo. Hunting progresses more like the NFL, the “Superbowl” of all outdoor activities. Like the Superbowl, my yearly big-game hunting adventure usually doesn’t live up to my expectations. But even when it’s bad, it’s still awfully good.

So naturally, I spend eleven months out of the year obsessing over the details of hunting season. I’ve become a gear junky, much to the chagrin of my wife, who tries her best to resist the temptation to tally up the piles of receipts from Sportsman’s Warehouse, Cabela’s, and Paypal that accumulate in my not-so-secret Danner boots box on the top shelf in the hunting closet. You may be thinking, “Hold on, aren’t you in like your eighth year of college? How can you possibly afford long hunting trips, let alone the latest gear?” Well, I’d like to say that I have a profitable side-business or online revenue stream, but the truth is, I just got lucky and found a sugar momma. Until I finish school and they call me Doctor, it’s my wife’s hard-earned cash I’m spending. Suffice it to say, I’m required to be as budget-minded as possible. So my recommendations are targeted towards people like myself who want the best gear for the best value. The Archery Talk community is a natural fit.

Before I get to my first set of hardcore hunter must-owns, here’s a few things to keep in mind when reading my recommendations:

1) These are recommendations, not reviews…and there’s a big difference. I can’t stand the way gear is reviewed in outdoor magazines. Inevitably, the magazine editor’s are given a new product by an eager manufacturer for review, and the editors either try it out for a few weeks, or (worse yet) give it to a subscriber to evaluate. What sort of credibility does that leave the review? Nobody wants to knock a product they received for free, and very few products are given a realistic amount of abuse before the review goes to print. Also, a review of the latest 2008 backpack by a specific manufacturer isn’t very valuable in and of itself. When I’m in the market for a backpack, I don’t care about one specific model of one specific brand in one specific year. Instead, I want to find the best backpack from any manufacturer from any year, in my given price range for my specific needs. A gear recommendation can do just that, if the author’s criteria and price range are comparable to the shopper’s. That’s what I’ll do here; instead of reviewing the latest gear, I’ll identify the best gear.

2) I am not brand loyal. I want the best gear for my hard-earned dollar (um, my wife’s hard-earned dollar) and I’ll go with whomever best meets that need. Loyalty is great in other realms of life, but not for consumers. Manufacturers need to know that if they slip and lose their competitive edge at all, we’ll take our business elsewhere. It’s good for the manufacturer and the consumer when competition thrives, and too much brand loyalty takes a company’s focus off of innovation and places it on achieving name-brand recognition. Fanboys have become too common and don’t give unbiased recommendations, so I’ll try my darndest to avoid being a fanboy…unless we happen to discuss Major League Baseball, in which case, Go Mariners! and Die, Redsox Nation, die flopping in the dirt like a gut-shot ground squirrel!

Only joking. Sort of.

3) I’m open to other great ideas. If you know about something that beats the heck out of one my must-haves, let me know and I’ll give it a chance. I’m always looking to improve my own gear, and I’d love to provide the best recommendations around, even if one of my favorite products gets the bump. Use the comments to our mutual benefit (for a better description of Mutual Benefit, please google “Supermodel weds Texas Billionaire”).

4) My focus is on light-weight, durable, cost-effective, useful, and innovative gear for the backcountry. What meets that criteria? The supermodel mentioned above would rate fairly well in all categories except cost-effective, but close is no cigar, so supermodels do not receive my recommendation. I live and hunt out West, and when you’re chasing mountain mulies or rutting bulls out of a one-man camp, your life depends on your equipment. Hunting whitetails deep in the forest is a similar game, I assume…but if you walk from your front door to your tree stand, some of what I’ll blog about won’t apply. Also, there are thousands of great posts around here about archery equipment, so my focus will be on other gear for bowhunting.

With all that said, here’s my first installment of Must-Own recommendations for other Archery Talk gear junkies. Hope you find this helpful…or entertaining, if nothing else.

Must-Own Camp Stove: The Jetboil

Lightweight/Compact: 9

Durability: 8

Cost-Effectiveness: 8 ($75 online)

Usefulness: 9

Innovation: 10

Like most of us, I often don’t return to camp until an hour or more after dark, and only two things are on my mind: food and sleep, the sooner the better. About ten years ago, dehydrated food manufacturers finally responded to consumer demand and began producing one-step freeze-dried meals that were actually tasty. I understand your reluctance to accept tasty and freeze-dried in the same sentence, since they sound about as compatible as Jessica Simpson and Harvard graduate. But believe me, some of the best meals I’ve had on the road were prepared in those little zippered pouches. The product only requires that you add boiling water, then re-seal and let stand for a few minutes while it cooks your dinner for you. I eat the meal right out of the package, so the only dinnerware needed is a fork. When done, I just seal the empty pouch back up, with no mess and no smell to attract bears or wandering mountain hippies.

How much does a full stomach and all that peace of mind cost? About six bucks for most brands. Mountain House is available everywhere, and has some great varieties. The desserts are fantastic, by the way, and although they aren’t cheap (around $4), they sure beat another lousy candy bar.

Where does the Jetboil enter the picture, you ask? The Jetboil, as Matlock would deduce just before the final commercial break, is the one responsible for the boiling. And how! I’ve clocked it firing sixteen ounces of glacier run-off to a boil in less than ninety seconds. And it wasn’t even trying. My kitchen stove can’t come close to matching that speed, and the story just begins there. As you can see in the photo, the Jetboil utilizes a specialized coil that maximizes heat transfer between the stove and attachable cup while reducing fuel demand. It’s lightning fast and efficient…two or three small isobutane cannisters (a few bucks each, available everywhere) will get you through most hunting seasons. And the stove and cannister fit inside the 1.0 liter companion cup, so the entire system (stove, cup, sipper lid, measuring cup, fuel cannister) takes up only slightly more space than a Gatorade bottle while weighing only 19 oz. That’s pretty impressive for a unit that can serve as a mug, pot, bowl (top ramen lovers can pour their $0.14 packages right in), and even coffee maker (with optional coffee press for those who don’t mind the less-than-stealthy breath). And the best part? The cup is wrapped in a neoprene sleeve so you can hold it firmly, no matter how hot it gets (even while the stove is on). No more metal pot grabber! Combine all of this with a slick little ignitor that works every time at the push of a button, and you have a great piece of gear, all for $75. No matter how light I want my pack to be, the Jetboil always makes the trip.

Must-Own Hunting Shelter: Outdoor Research “Alpine” Bivy

Lightweight/Compact: 8

Durability: 8

Cost-Effectiveness: 6 ($199 online)

Usefulness: 10

Innovation: 8

If you are anything like me (and you have my wife’s deepest sympathies if you are), you’ve spent a fair amount of time wondering what in Sam Hill a bivy sack is, but you have been too afraid to ask. Well, ever since Al Gore invented the internet (tee hee!) we curious types now have a venue for seeking answers without having to ask questions, which spares our fragile egos. Bivy sacks, I have since discovered, are one-man shelters that the mountaineering community developed to surpass the shortcomings of the good ol’ one-man tent. Those of you who have set up camp in a storm already know that a tent can turn into a liability; they blow over, collapse, don’t keep out ground water, and take time to set up. A bivy, on the other hand, succeeds where tents fail.

September bowhunting usually provides good weather, so I prefer to sleep under the stars wearing nothing but my crusty, er, trusty long john’s and a sleeping bag. I own an outstanding two-man tent, but I like to pack as light as possible in the backcountry, and late summer weather usually doesn’t pin you down for more than a day at a time, so a tent really isn’t necessary. But if a thunderstorm or blizzard strikes, a bivy is a life saver. And Outdoor Research’s Alpine Bivy is the best of the bunch for a hunter’s needs.

The Alpine is made out of triple-layer GORE-TEX so it’s waterproof, lightweight and breathable. It fits over your sleeping bag and sleeping pad like a sock, keeping your bedding safe from rain, ground water, and dew. What really sets it apart is one cleverly placed tent pole that arches above the shoulder area. The design lifts the fabric just enough to ditch that claustrophobic feeling that other models are known for, and it allows you to do a little reading or change your clothes without restriction. I slip my bedding into the Alpine even when there’s no chance of rain, because it’s mesh bug shield allows me to see the stars without giving blood. When hunting in the rain, there’s just enough room inside to stuff your pack and wet clothes to dry via body heat overnight. That scenario may be less than ideal, but it’s good option to have if you need it. If a prolonged storm does pin you down, a lightweight tarp (like the kind most of us already own to place under our tents) can be strung a couple feet above for a makeshift camp (thanks to Cameron Hanes for that tip). And the most unexpected benefit I’ve had is on early hunts when my sleeping bag is just too warm – instead of baking inside my bedding, I lay on top of it, and the bivy provides just enough insulation to keep the chill off while my sore muscles enjoy the extra padding beneath me. Because the Alpine is breathable, my wretched mountain-breath doesn’t turn to condensation overnight, so the interior stays fresh and dry.

It ain’t cheap, but very few products that compress to the size of a small loaf of bread can offer so many advantages to the backcountry archer.

Must Have Backpack: Jim Horn Signature Series “Canadian” by Blacks Creek

Lightweight/Compact: 7

Durability: 9

Cost-Effectiveness: 8 ($169)

Usefulness: 8

Innovation: 8

Yes, there are bigger and costlier packs out there, but if you want bang for your buck, this bad boy has it all. I met the designers at a trade show and was thoroughly impressed with their knowledge…they understand how the human body bears weight, and they have created a pack that partners perfectly with biomechanics. The entire line of Jim Horn signature series packs are outstanding, but I feel that the Canadian is the best for all-around hunting and backpacking purposes. Here are some pics and specs from their website:

Specifications:

  • Weight: 6.8 lbs
  • Dimensions: 22″H x 12″W x 11″D
  • Capacity: 2200 cubic inches (expands to 3850)
  • H20 compabitle
  • Carries bow and rifle
  • Spotting scope pocket
  • Orange safety flap
  • Adjustable torso (XS-XL)
  • Mossy Oak Breakup or Realtree Max 1
  • All heavy stress areas reinforced and bar tacked
  • Breathable mesh back
  • 13 pockets
  • Internal frame: high-tech H-frame

Now, that list may look pretty typical, but don’t be fooled. To begin, the concept that motivated the design was the internal H-frame, a lightweight innovation that provides the perfect balance of comfort and strength (the same features that I look for in a truck, hiking boot, and toilet seat). Basically, this pack can haul your meat with the best of them, replacing that annoying prerequisite trip back to the rig to retrieve an external frame once your game is down. The H-frame is surprisingly strong, and the pack is surprisingly expandable. It may not be ideal for elk, but I don’t care – I’d rather have a pack that is great for hiking and hunting elk (and spend a little more time boning and quartering) than have a pack that is perfect for hauling elk but less proficient at helping me kill one.

And man, does it have features – the spotting scope compartment, the integrated bow carrier, the integrated rifle carrier, the fantastic pocket design, the hydration pouch, the durable, quiet fabric and zippers…Santa must have read my list. Don’t get me wrong, most other high-end packs include those features, but none will fit you any better, and none will beat the price. The belt and shoulder harness are fully adjustable for most sizes, and they sell an expansion kit for guys over 6’3″ and 220lbs. (I’m 6’2″/205, and the pack fit great once I set it on the “top rung” on the standard shoulder harness).

I should take a moment to soapbox about two common misconceptions about backpacks. First, the weight of the load doesn’t matter nearly as much as how the weight of the load is distributed, despite what we’ve all heard. There are people out there who tell us that a day pack should be small and light. Not true. A pack that weighs seven pounds empty, yet fits the length and width of your torso perfectly between the hips and shoulders, will feel much lighter than a so-called “day pack” that weighs two or three pounds but isn’t long enough. The second misconception, one that I once believed, is that “a perfect pack should not touch your back, but instead should be an inch or two away for ventilation.” It’s true that none of us enjoy the feeling you get when you take off your pack to find that your back is soaked and ready to freeze with the slightest wind. But the reality is that you’re going to sweat one way or another, and it’s better to purchase quality clothing that wicks moisture away from the skin rather than rely on your pack to ventilate your back. Why? Because every inch that your pack moves away from your spine increases the load exponentially. You want the weight as close to you as possible (this can be demonstrated by placing a dumbbell in the main compartment of your backpack next to your body: note the perceived weight, then remove it, stuff a couple of inflated balloons into the main compartment, and place the dumbbell in an outer pocket with the balloons between your back and the dumbbell. The actual weight in the pack doesn’t change, but the difference in load on your spine is unbelievable). So avoid the manufacturers whose packs are too small or those that include ventilation systems. Like getting a wet kiss from your thickly-mustached great aunt, they mean well, but aren’t doing you any favors.

The Canadian pack distributes weight perfectly. And perhaps its best feature is its endless supply of compression straps, which maintain a solid, close-in load. The pack comes with a free DVD demonstrating how to use all of its features, with extra emphasis on utilizing compression straps. You can tell from the video that these guys will take care of their customers and stand by their product…buy with confidence knowing that the Canadian will handle six days worth of supplies and haul out your game, and still serve as the perfect day-pack to boot.

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Published by djohns13 on 14 Apr 2008

Deer Stand Elevation and Impact on Shooting

I saw the dejected look on his face and knew the morning hunt hadn’t gone the way he wanted.  “What happened” I asked the young hunter.

“I can’t believe I missed the biggest buck I have ever had in my sights”, he bemoaned.  “And it was only a 25 yard shot.  How did I shoot under him from ONLY 25 yards?”

“Well, I don’t know but I can say I know your pain.  Tell me exactly how it happened.”

He started by telling me how he had gotten into his stand quietly and on time, and how the morning had seemed to be off to a perfect start.  Shortly after daybreak three young does had moved past his stand totally unaware of his presence, and although he was tempted to take one, he held off waiting for Mr. Big to catch up to them.  Within just a few moments, he heard heavy leaf crunching coming from the same direction the previous does had come from.  A glimpse of brown through the brush confirmed that another deer was moving his way.  Slowly he stood and got in shooting position in case the deer was a buck.  As the deer moved between pockets of cover, he could see antler, and a lot of it.  As he had been trained, he knew to look away from the rack and start to focus on his breathing and concentrate on setting up for the shot.  The ten pointer advanced up the trail and behind a clump of trees.  Immediately, my young friend drew and got set for the most important shot of his young deer hunting career.  The big buck stepped out from the trees and paused while trying to pinpoint the scent of the does.  The hunter picked a spot behind the left shoulder, took a deep breath and gently squeezed the release trigger.  The flight path looked straight and true as it flew toward the deer.  Just as it appeared ready to deliver a lethal blow to the buck, it arced downward and flew just under the deer’s chest, burying in the ground behind the animal.  The buck didn’t wait to figure out what had happened as it bounded away through the forest.

“And that’s how I missed a 25 yard cupcake shot”, he sighed.

“Wait a second dude,” I questioned, “how are you sure it was 25 yards?”

“Because earlier in the morning I used the rangefinder from up in the stand and it said 30 yards.”

“Huh?”, I said, “you just said it was a 25 yard shot.”

“Right, but you have to factor in the height of the tree stand.  It was 30 yards from my spot in the stand so it must have been only 25 in horizontal distance.  Duh dude.”

“Duh is right dude, grab your stuff and let’s head to the truck.  You are in desperate need of a math lesson,” I said in a way that did little to hide my irritation.

Over the course of my life up in a tree, I have seen similar situations play out many times.  Unfortunately, it seemed to happen to me way too often in the past.  I kept chalking it up to “buck fever” or some other cause when it really came down to not understanding the mathematical impact of sitting in a tree.  After a particularly rough day where I undershot a nice nine pointer three different times (yes, I missed three times as painful as it is to admit), I decided to figure out what was going wrong.  The nine pointer was thirty seven yards away according to my rangefinder, so I assumed thirty two yards of horizontal distance, aimed with my thirty yard pin and missed underneath him by 4-6 inches.  Sitting backhome replaying the misses over and over, I began to question the whole yardage component.   The next morning, I was standing at the base of my tree rangefinding a stick stuck in the ground where the buck had stood the day before.  Instead of the thirty two yards I had guesstimated, the rangefinder showed 36.5 yards.  What the heck!  First I missed a great buck and now my rangefinder is busted too.  Unfortunately, a tape measure proved that the rangefinder was fine and it was just me that was screwed up.  In my screwed up haze, however, lights bulbs starting going off and I began to understand some things that had only been mysteries before.

Suddenly I was sitting back in Algebra class learning the Pythagorean theorem where a sqaured plus b squared equalled c squared.  Back then I wondered how in the heck I would ever use this in “real life” but now I could see the direct application.  By knowing how high my stand was in the tree and the rangefinder distance from my stand to the target, I could precisely calculate the horizontal distance from the base of the tree to the target.  Below is a table showing the “real” yardage based upon common tree stand heights.

Stand Height Distance from Deer Stand to Target in Yards:
in feet:      10      15      20      25      30      35      40      45      50
10      9.43    14.62    19.72    24.78    29.81    34.84    39.86    44.88    49.89
12.5      9.09    14.41    19.56    24.65    29.71    34.75    39.78    44.81    49.83
15      8.66    14.14    19.36    24.49    29.58    34.64    39.69    44.72    49.75
17.5      8.12    13.82    19.13    24.31    29.43    34.51    39.57    44.62    49.66
20      7.45    13.44    18.86    24.09    29.25    34.36    39.44    44.50    49.55
22.5      6.61    12.99    18.54    23.85    29.05    34.19    39.29    44.37    49.43
25      5.53    12.47    18.18    23.57    28.82    33.99    39.12    44.22    49.30

As you can see, the impact of sitting up in the tree stand decreases the further you are from the target, and really only comes into play at short distances with high tree stand placement.  In fact, given the flat shooting trajectories of modern equipment it might not be relevant at all.

Now when I sit in my favorite tree stand next fall and the nine pointer, now a couple of years larger, steps out into my shooting lane, there will be one less variable to deal with.  Maybe both myself and my young hunting friend will be heading to the truck with smiles on our faces.

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Published by csinclair on 11 Apr 2008

One spring day – 3 friends shooting outdoors.

Looking out the window of my office at the overcast and rainy grey day, (which dictates that I probably won’t be lucky enough to get out to my outdoor range spot to shoot today), I am ever so grateful that I had the chance to go out yesterday, for the better part of the day with my cousin and one of my oldest friends to shoot and laugh and tell stories in what will be remembered as a great day of archery.

The other evening, just as I’d returned from the Bow-Shop, my cousin James called me on the phone, I proceeded to tell him about the recent modifications to my Martin Saber, (the peep sight installation), and how I’d just tuned it up to 60lbs., having shot compound bows in the past himself he took great interest and was open to my invite to come out shooting the next morning, I offered him the use of one of my recurves, (a Ragim Victory 66″ takedown), and he accepted. Shortly thereafter one of my oldest friends, (Dirk), called and I asked him if he cared to join us with the Bear Cherokee (oldshool fiberglass camp bow, my first bow), that I’d recently loaned him and he too accepted. Now we had an archery party and the following morning the 3 of us, after a brief gear check we headed out to the trail to make our way to the range spot for a day of archery.

We measured out 3 distances and each of us, having somewhat different bows, took turns shooting from these spots, Dirk shot mostly from 10 – 15 yards, while James shot mostly from 15 and I spent my time honing my grouping from 20 yards all day. We all had good shots and bad, by the end of it all we were all shooting much better than we’d started out at the beginning of the day, we all broke arrows on rocks with arrows as can be expected shooting outdoors, but it was all worth the comraderie and stories and hours of fun we had honing our skills and making plans for the next year or so and how we’ll all become bow hunters soon.

All in all a great day was had by all, one that will lead to many more similar days of target shooting, 3D shooting and eventually we’ll become a bow hunting party. All because of a day of outdoor shooting one spring day and the greater meaning of sport – fun, friendship and personal improvement .

 

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