Friday, February 26, 2010

Post-season Ducks

My buddy Greg and I spent a couple hours in the flooded timber yesterday morning. The first hour or so I was videoing and got several minutes of close-up footage of wood ducks. Nothing terribly exciting, but they sure are pretty to watch. Does anyone know what the duck was doing at 2:15 when he puffed up the feathers on his head? Was that a mating display? Please leave a comment if you know. I'm just curious.

As soon as I picked up the still camera the woodies disappeared, but some mallards worked in and I got a few good photos of hens flying. The shot of the day was when a greenhead dropped in and seemed to freeze in mid-air with the sunlight just gleaming off his head like an emerald. What was I doing? Picking up decoys, of course. I'm here to tell you that getting good photos of ducks flying is five times harder than killin' 'em.

I'm sure Ann was perplexed as to why we had forgotten our guns (and the scooby snacks, of course), but she did an awesome job of sitting still while ducks landed almost on top of her.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pursuit Hunting Hyperlink Haiku

OK, this is going to take some explaining.

Yesterday I received this wonderful compliment from fellow hunting blogger Kari Murray who liked this article I had written in a minimalist, stream-of-consciousness style. Her comments about how the sparse prose and photos had captured the essence of the hunting experience got me thinking... always a dangerous thing.

In my blog, I've written pretty extensively about the process of hunting. I've written about the emotional highs and lows of hunting. I've written about the relationships that it fosters with friends, family, and the natural world.

So, I wondered, could I enhance the impact of a few well-chosen words by harnessing the power of the internet? Voila... Haiku and Hyperlinks

As a writing exercise, I decided to try writing a Pursuit Hunting Hyperlink Haiku. My self-imposed rules... The piece had to fit the traditional Haiku five-seven-five structure. Each line had to contain a hyperlink to a related Pursuit Hunting blog article that elaborated on the word and the phrase and that helped to capture the essence of the hunt. And it had to include a related photo.

My first (and probably last) attempt:

beneath the white oak
acorns fall      deer come to eat
that is where i hunt

OK, back to gear reviews.

Hodgman Wadewell Chest Waders

Here is a Straight Shootin' Gear Review of the Hodgman Wadewell 2-ply chest waders. Under mild weather and light duty conditions, I found them to be an economical and effective wader. I would have serious reservations, however, about depending on them for a once-in-a-lifetime extreme cold weather hunt.

If you decide to pick up a pair of these waders, you might want to check out this video for a quick course on how to patch 'em up.

Here is a source:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Three Essential Knots for Outdoorsmen

Here are three essential knots that every outdoorsman should master. By "master" I mean you should be able to tie them by feel in complete darkness. If you're ever caught without a flashlight in a pop-up thunderstorm and your gear starts blowing all over camp, you'll thank me when you can secure it quickly and securely.

The video demonstrates how to tie each of the three knots, so the photos that follow are primarily to show how the finished knot should look. You can click on any of the photos to enlarge it to a size where you can easily see the details.

I also show you a handy way to coil and store rope so that it will be neat and tangle-free when you need it.

This is probably the most useful knot there is... period. I use it for all sorts of things like:

Notice that I've made a loop around the grip before tying the two half hitches

Again, a loop around the stock just under the sling swivel stud keeps the rope from slipping off and keeps the muzzle pointed up so that it doesn't get jammed into the dirt, thus avoiding any possibility of a very dangerous barrel obstruction. Obviously, this should never be done with a loaded chamber!!!

Same method of tying a wrap and two half hitches, but pass the rope through the haul loop on your pack first.

I've left this knot loose so that you can see how the rabbit goes around the tree and back down the hole. It should be tightened in actual use.

A very handy knot for tying down canoes, ATVs, Boone and Crocket deer, or maybe even your daughter's pink Barbie bike.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mini Maglite Upgrade - UPDATE

When I did my original review of the Nite Ize 1 watt LED and IQ Switch upgrades for the Mini Maglite, I had an issue with the operation of the IQ switch which I documented in the video. I called Nite Ize customer service to tell them about the "problem". I was treated very courteously and promptly received a replacement switch. I learned something in the process that I'll pass along to Nite Ize.

Sheath Repair

Here's a quick video showing how I used the Speedy Stitcher to repair a multi-tool sheath. I used the stitching technique that I developed in this video where I was repairing a torn pair of coveralls. I also did an in-depth review of this handy tool a couple days ago.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

LaCrosse Alpha Burly Sport Hunting Boots

Nothing in my hunting closet sees more use than my hunting boots. Not my knives, by bow, my rifles, my camo clothing, nothing... Unlike most pieces of gear, my hunting boots get used year-round during the various hunting seasons and for any off-season scouting.

Add in the important roll a pair of boots plays in providing good foot support, traction, protection - and most important - comfort, and I believe you can make a strong case that there is no more important piece of hunting gear than a good pair of hunting boots.

My boots of choice... the LaCrosse Alpha Burly Sport Hunting Boots. Take a look at the following video review to see why.

They are available at the following online retailers:

Bargain Outfitters


Gander Mountain

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Gear Repair with the Speedy Stitcher

Here is a tutorial on how to use the terrific Speedy Stitcher sewing awl to repair some torn hunting coveralls.

I was inspired by this rare sighting of a Sasquatch cleverly attempting to disguise himself as a hunter. Luckily, I noticed his sasquatch fur poking out through a huge tear in the left knee of his coveralls and was able to escape with my life.

When I got home, I decided that my own coveralls could use a little work. From the looks of my sewing job, you can see that I'm clearly not a tailor, but the repair is super strong and only took a couple minutes to do. Here's how I did it:

If you missed my Straight Shootin' Gear Review of the speedy stitcher (which includes a detailed demonstration) you can see it here.

If you'd like to pick up a Speedy Stitcher, you can order it from Cabelas or through Amazon.

Shotgun Thumb

If you spend much time with your hands cold and wet during hunting season, chances are good you've developed irritating cracks in your fingertips. During duck season, my right thumb never seems to heal up. The combination of exposure to the elements and shoving shells into my shotgun magazine keeps it pretty cracked up. Here is a tip that I picked up from my buddy Charles on how to treat that proverbial sore thumb.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bust 'em Boys

The Bust 'em Boys... Whack 'em, Smack 'em, Jack 'em, and Stack 'em makin' it rain mallards on the 2010 youth hunt. Final two-day body count: 30 mallards. Not bad for a bunch of 14 year olds.

Many thanks to Papa Bust 'em for hosting the event.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Buck 3 Stone Sharpening System

There's just no substitute for a good sharp knife. Whether you are field dressing, skinning, and butchering game or just performing cutting tasks around the home or jobsite, a sharp blade will make your job much easier and much more enjoyable. There is a definite satisfaction to the feeling of a finely honed blade gliding effortlessly through whatever it is that needs cutting.

I'll probably offend some folks, but you couldn't give me a serrated blade. If I want to hack and tear, I'll use an axe or a saw. If I need to cut something, I want a razor-sharp edge - something that can only be achieved with a traditional non-serrated blade and proper sharpening. Call me old school. Call me elitist. Yup.

Most knives are only moderately sharp out of the box, and they quickly loose their factory edge after a couple uses. With the intense price competition that manufacturers face, they simply can't afford to put the necessary time and work into finely honing their blades to create a long-lasting, razor edge.

If you look at most new factory-produced blades, you will see that the edge is covered with thousands of very fine parallel scratches running perpendicular to the edge. These scratches are the result of the high-speed sharpening tools used in the factory. They essentially create a micro-serrated edge that feels sharp at first, but that quickly dulls as the tiny "teeth" are deformed through use. Here is a closeup photo of the factory edge on a brand-new SOG blade. You can clearly see the rough grinding marks.

In contrast, here is the edge on the Buck 119 that I hand hone in the following video. Notice that it is much smoother and that I've decreased the sharpening angle to give a sharper, more durable edge.

The good news is that with a little effort and the right tool, you can easily put a long lasting, shaving-sharp edge on your blades. Here is a review of the sharpening system that I currently use. I've used lots of different systems over the years and this is the best I've found so far. I've tried less expensive, similar-looking products in the past. The reason they are cheaper is because they use inferior sharpening surfaces that just don't do the job. Don't waste your money on one.

At the time this was written, none of the big three outfitters (Bass Pro, Cabelas, or Gander Mountain) carry this sharpener, but it is available at a good price through Amazon.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Wader Repair

Here is a quick tip from our Outdoorsman's Toolbox on how to find and repair those tiny leaks in your waders that are too small to see, but large enough to make you plenty uncomfortable on a cold day.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Mini Maglite Upgrade by Nite Ize

If you are looking to get a whole new level of performance out of those old Mini Maglites you have laying around, take a look at these two components that drop into your standard two AA Maglite. Although they are not without some quirks and issues - as you will see in the following video review - I think they are a useful upgrade nonetheless.

The upgrade consists of a 1 watt LED module and reflector (which must be replaced together) as well as a nifty intelligent tailcap switch which Nite Ize calls their IQ Switch. The combination gives your Mini Maglight more light output, longer burn-time on a set of batteries, a better quality beam, the ability to adjust light output, and a handy blinking light in the tailcap for locating your flashlight in the dark.






If you decide to upgrade your lights, I suggest purchasing the LED upgrade and IQ switch together to maximize the benefits and to save a couple dollars on the purchase price. You can get it from Eastern Mountain Sports here EMS Nite Ize LED Upgrade or from Campmor or from Amazon

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Speedy Stitcher

This is the first in our series of Straight Shootin' gear reviews, where we reveal the good, the bad, and the ugly about hunting products. Let's face it, the design, the quality, and the effectiveness of the gear you carry into the field can dramatically impact your success, your enjoyment, and even your safety.

With so much riding on selecting the right piece of gear for the job, our mission is to help you sort through the hype and PR and get to the reality of what works and what doesn't. We don't accept advertising or in any way have a monetary relationship with any manufacturer, so our opinions are guided by our years of hunting experience and our field testing results.

With that said, here is our video review of a neat little item that is not really hunting gear, per se, but a tool that can extend the life of lots of your favorite stuff and save you a bundle in the process. I've used it to repair slings, sheaths, waders, boots, jackets, and tons of other stuff. In the follwing videos, you'll see how straightforward and easy it is to use.

If you'd like to pick up a Speedy Stitcher, you can order it from Cabelas or through Amazon.