Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas - Unplugged

Facebook. Twitter. Blogging. Those are three things I haven't been doing for the past twelve days or so. I reached a "social media" saturation point and took a self-imposed break from the online world. When I get burned out or annoyed by those things, I have to step away and take a breather. It's remarkable how much I got done! Not to mention, life continues to function just fine without a daily barrage of Twitter and Facebook updates. Don't get me wrong - I enjoy both and the friends I have there, but there are times when I have to cut the electronic umbilical cord. 

I've spent more time with my daughter, especially since she's on Christmas break. I've also done some hunting, made preparations for the holidays, and started reading a honest-to-goodness physical book. Reading is something I really enjoy, but don't make as much time for as I should. 

My main purpose for this post is to wish those of you who will be on the road or in the air safe travels. I hope everyone has an enjoyable time spent with family and friends! I've still got some wrapping to do myself. Yes, I'm one of those last minute folks. 

Here are a few recent photos I'll share. Other than that, I want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas! God bless you and your families!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Hunters Wanted. Do You Have What It Takes?

The outdoors is looking for a few good men and women. Specifically, the outdoors is looking for a few good men and women to fill the position of Hunter. This is a high-level, demanding position that requires a certain kind of person with specific qualities. In order to assist you in determining if you have what it takes to fill this position, we have summarized some of the primary qualities a hunter needs to have. Before applying, please read over the following list and it should help you determine if you have the right stuff. 

Necessary Characteristics of A Hunter 

1. Impeccable Fashion Sense 
The hunter must be able to dress in the appropriate camo for the situation at hand. Mixing camo is a definite no-no. Wearing Realtree AP with Mossy Oak Infinity is not the proper attire for the hunter. If you go to work wearing one black sock and one blue sock, you may not have the necessary fashion sense. 

2. Animal Identification 
The hunter must be able to instantly identify target animals. This is not as easy as it sounds. For example, can you tell the difference between a deer and a squirrel? They both have fur and they both live in the woods. Not so easy, huh? 

3. Promoting the Job 
While not a requirement, owning a truck is a big plus for the hunter. All of those decals look much better plastered all over the back window of a truck than they do on a car. Not only that, but you can put many more decals on a truck. Once the back window is full, you still have the tailgate and rear bumper. 

4. Impeccable Hygiene 
Your hygiene routine in preparation for a big date may leave something to be desired, but when preparing for a hunt, you must pay strict attention to personal hygiene. Are you prepared to shower with scent-free shampoo, wash with scent-free soap, brush with scent-free toothpaste, use scent-free deodorant, chew scent-free gum, use scent-free lip gloss, wash clothes in scent-free detergent, store clothes in scent-free bags, dress at the site, spray your clothes with scent killing spray, spray your equipment with scent killing spray, and then do it again when you get to the stand? 

5. Tolerate Long Hours 
The hunter must be able to endure long, grueling hours in the stand - perhaps as many as 2-3 hours at a time. While this may seem near impossible, it is generally acceptable to take breaks for certain things - to pee, eat, take a drink, stretch, smoke, check email, update Facebook status, tweet, check sports scores, make a call, pee again, etc. 

6. Ninja-like Skills 
It is imperative that the hunter have the ability to sleep in the stand without dropping anything that might spook game. Snoring is permitted if it sounds like a grunt call. The hunter must be able to continue listening to his or her surroundings while asleep and be able to wake with the reflexes of a cat

7. Marksmanship 
The hunter must have the ability to put as many rounds down range as it takes to drop the target animal. Preferably, all rounds should be in the same general vicinity.

8. Judging Distance 
While there are rangefinders for this purpose, being able to accurately judge distance by eye is a good skill to master. This will allow you to determine if you can get the job done with just 2 or 3 shots or if it's going to take every round you have (refer to marksmanship above). Plus, there's the added benefit of being able to accurately tell your buddies how far they're going to have to drag your animal. 

9. Excellent Physical Condition 
It is absolutely, positively mandatory that the hunter be in excellent physical condition. You have to be able to ride your ATV from the cabin door to the stand without running short of breath or having a heart attack. 

10. Survival Skills 
Wilderness survival skills are a must for the hunter. If you run out of Doritos, Slim Jims, jerky, and Mt. Dew, you must be able to fend for yourself until you can get back to camp on your ATV. 

11. Fearlessness 
If you're afraid of the woods, the dark, being alone, getting lost, strange noises, bunny rabbits, insects, wind pigs, bulls, beavers, being eaten by bears, Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Yeti, werewolves, vampires, the HillBilly Beast, chupacabras, Goatman, gargoyles, brown-eyed monster things missing a tan leg, or having chickadees land on your head, this probably isn't for you. You must have nerves of steel.

12. Creative Thinking 
The hunter must be able to think on his or her feet. If the hunt didn't go exactly as you planned, it is important when telling the story later that you can "fill in the gaps" and make it sound the way you wished it had turned out. 

13. Continuing Education 
The position of Hunter is an ongoing educational process. During the off-season, you must be able to devote hours, days, weeks, and even months to watching television shows and hunting videos. It is a necessary hardship in order to keep your skills sharp. 

These are the basic, yet required characteristics of a Hunter applicant. If you think you posses these characteristics, you may just have what it takes to join the ranks. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Blog of the Week: The Hunter's Wife

This week's blog of the week is already familiar to some of you - The Hunter's Wife. It is owned by Jody, who really is a hunter's wife. Jody is a self-proclaimed city girl who uses her blog to highlight the humor in being married to an outdoors kinda guy and everything that goes along with that. She has a knack for finding the funny, too! 

While outdoor humor is the focus of her blog, Jody also includes other interests, some funny and some serious. She has done some high profile interviews as well as being interviewed herself and has done several reviews. Being the social butterfly that she is, Jody can be found on both Twitter (@thehunterswife) and on Facebook

The Hunter's Wife is not only one of the funniest blogs around, but also one of the most professional looking blogs on the Web. If you haven't visited Jody's blog before, you really should. She updates it regularly and it's a very enjoyable read! To use Jody's own words, "I feed squirrels and hug little baby deer. In my borrowed camouflage." 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Close Encounter. Or Deer Gone Wild.

This is a short 24 second clip from a video my brother shot while he was hunting. Adam was sitting between rows of a cornfield and had attached his video camera to a cornstalk next to him. You are essentially seeing everything from his point of view. Watch closely what happens 14 seconds into the video.

You can hear the buck coming just moments before he blasts into view and you can hear my brother as he realizes what's happening. Adam said it really startled him! If you've ever hunted in a standing cornfield, you know about the limited visibility. A tad bit closer and Adam would have been buck roadkill!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Do You See Two of Me?

Some of you may have noticed that I'm following your blog twice. I am, but not really. To make a long story as short as possible, I recently changed my email address. The only problem was that Blogger/Google didn't like me using a second Gmail address with my Blogger account. When it was all said and done, I finally got my new email address associated with my Blogger account, but it treated it like a totally new profile and I lost my "following" list with the original profile and email. Even though my original email address/profile has been deleted, that profile still shows up on some of your friends lists. Why it wasn't removed when the original profile was deleted is beyond me. I had to go back and follow your blogs with my "new" profile (so stupid). So that's why you may be seeing two of me following you. I don't have a twin and I'm not a creep, perv, or stalker...just so we're clear!

And while I'm on the topic of Blogger, I have a minor rant. Has anyone else been having problems lately when viewing or commenting on other blogs or even when working on your own? I've had tons of "time outs" and problems getting blogs to load recently. I don't know how many times I've typed a comment on a blog and when I tried to post it, the page would time out and stop loading. It's very frustrating and it only happens with Blogger related sites. It's like their servers are slow, overloaded, or both.

Anyway, just wanted to throw that out there. I feel better now.

Stupid Google.

Okay, now I feel better.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Blog of the Week: The Run*A*Round Ranch Report

For this blog of the week, I'm featuring something a little different. The Run*A*Round Ranch Report is owned by Theresa, aka TexWisGirl, who lives in Texas. She is originally from Central Wisconsin and moved to Texas when she was twenty. Theresa and her family live on a ranch with their horses, dogs, a cat, and various wildlife. 

Theresa's blog is not about hunting or fishing which are topics that comprise much of my own blog. I've learned to visit and follow blogs that are outside of those interests and The Run*A*Round Ranch Report is one of them. I enjoy Theresa's blog because of the wonderful photos and how she incorporates them in her great posts. She is one of the most active blogger's I follow, often posting more than once a day. Her blog makes mine look like it has cobwebs. It is a real pleasure to read and her photos are not only very good, but enjoyable to look at. 

Theresa herself is very active in commenting on other blogs and follows those that are outside her own hobbies and interests. If you are looking for something refreshing and not necessarily related to hunting or fishing, you should definitely visit The Run*A*Round Ranch Report and give Theresa a follow! She has an excellent blog full of great material! 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Where Do They Come Up With These?

I decided it was time to bring a little levity back to my blog and a recent conversation with a Twitter friend gave me the idea for this post. Most of you probably know of some funny or weird names of towns or places in your state. I've known of a few here in Kentucky, but decided to do a little research and see just how many strange town names we have. For your amusement, I have compiled a list of names in the Bluegrass State - some silly and some slightly embarrassing. And, yes, these are real places. 
Kentucky Place Names

Bear Wallow
Beaver Lick
Bee Lick
Big Bone Lick
Big Beaver Lick
Black Bottom
Black Gnat
Black Snake
Cut Shin 
Deer Lick
Future City
Gays Creek  
Knob Lick
Monkey's Eyebrow
Mud Lick
Number One
Possum Trot
Rabbit Hash
Swamp Branch
Wolf Lick

You may have noticed "Lick" is a common theme. Don't ask me, I just live here. Personally, I wouldn't want to lick any of those.

Google this for your state and see what strange names you have. I would be interested to know if anybody can top this list. I don't know if that would be a good thing or not.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

For Grandpa

If you read my previous blog post, you know my grandfather passed away recently. This is just a short addendum to that...

Michigan's firearms deer season opened on Monday, November 15th - the day after the memorial service for our grandfather. My youngest brother, Adam, lives in MI and we were staying with him over the weekend. My other brother and I had to drive back to Kentucky on Monday morning. Adam was long gone when we awoke on Monday because he wanted to be in the woods well before first light. We had said our goodbye's the night before.

As we were traveling south on the Interstate, I received a text message at about 10:30 that had a picture attached. The message consisted of two words-

"for grandpa". 

Adam was hunting on our grandparent's farm and had killed a 9 point. I immediately called him and I could tell he was very excited and emotional. It was a thrill for him to take the buck on our grandparent's farm and dedicate it to our grandfather! I'm sure Grandpa was smiling down in approval.

For Grandpa

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Always My Hero

Theodore A. Borsum
August 24, 1921 - November 10, 2010

It's very difficult to know where to begin with something like this. Just six weeks ago I lost a good friend and now my grandfather is gone. I'm not even sure I'm ready to write this, but at the same time I know it will be therapeutic. That's my hope, anyway.

My grandpa, known to most as Ted, was the primary influence on my outdoor passion. I have a cousin a year younger than me and a middle brother who is two years younger than me. As kids, we were the Three Musketeers. Our grandpa shared his love for the outdoors and shooting with us at a very young age. We spent many hours on the farm shooting and hunting. Grandpa watched over us as we shot paper targets, tin cans, clay pigeons, and groundhogs. He belonged to a trap and skeet club and would take us so we could see how the pro's did it.

Grandpa shooting from his handmade bench 

My grandfather was an expert at reloading ammunition. He did it all - shotgun shells, rifle cartridges, and pistol cartridges. In one area of the basement, there were work benches with loaders mounted on them and he showed us the proper methods for loading ammunition. As kids and teenagers, we weren't always patient enough to listen, but in the long run I learned a lot from those lessons.

My grandpa served in the Army Air Force during World War II as an aerial gunner and gunnery instructor. After leaving the service, he and my grandmother bought a farm and he later began working as a steel fabricator. He became a Project Engineer for two companies until he retired at the age of 75. He was the Project Engineer for the team responsible for developing the elevator system in the St. Louis Arch. My grandfather was one of those people who could envision something in his head and then make it with his own hands. He was an excellent steel and wood worker. The back of my grandparent's garage consists of a workshop where he brought many of his creations to life.

My grandfather in his workshop

My grandparent's farm comprises forty acres in lower Michigan. They bought the place long before I was born. To me, it's like the family homestead. I can't possibly convey the good times I've had there over the years. Grandpa worked the farm for a bit at first, but when he began his career as an engineer, the farm land itself was leased out to other farmers to work.

Grandpa on the ol' Allis Chalmers tractor

Shooting and woodworking weren't the only talents my grandfather possessed. He was also a small aircraft pilot. My brothers and I grew up in West Virginia after our father was given a job transfer from Michigan. I'll always remember Grandpa flying to WV and picking us up and flying us back to Michigan. He even let us take turns flying the plane. It was an awesome experience! It was definitely much faster than the usual eight hour drive.

My youngest brother with our grandfather

My grandfather was a very practical man. He was quiet, laid back, and never bragged. I never heard him raise his voice in anger. He would give you the shirt off his back and the last dollar in his pocket if you needed it. At the same time, he wasn't one to reward laziness. He worked hard, didn't complain, and expected the same from others. I'll always remember one occasion when us three boys had done quite a bit of shooting. We were always eager to send the lead down range, but usually not as quick to clean the guns or reload the ammo we had shot up. We were in the basement after the shooting session and doing a slacker's job of reloading ammo. I think Grandpa had been patient with us many times and decided we needed to get a bit more serious. When he walked in and saw that we were goofing off, in a stern voice he said, "You shoot a few, you reload a few". For him to use that tone with us, we knew he meant business. Yet, even then it wasn't out of anger.

Hunting in Michigan's Upper Peninsula

For many years, my grandparent's owned a cabin in northern Michigan. We made numerous trips to spend a few days there. Grandpa took us fishing, glassing for deer, and sometimes we'd drive to Lake Michigan. And we always stopped at the local ice cream shop which was well known for its great ice cream. My grandpa's truck at the time had a topper on the bed and I'll never forget sitting back there with a battery powered AM/FM radio listening to country music as we drove around the small town.

Grandpa shooting pool

I learned many things from my grandfather - from shooting guns to shooting pool. Although, I was never able to match his skill at the latter. As is typical in life, many of the things I learned from him I didn't realize until I was older and a bit wiser. I've always respected my grandfather, but didn't always know when he was trying to teach me something. Funny how those things often click later on.

With Grandpa after my return from Desert Storm

As a kid, I just assumed my grandfather would be here forever. He was 89 and his passing was not unexpected, but I still have a hard time coming to grips with the fact that he's gone. He was truly the patriarch of the family. When he was a little older, we jokingly referred to him as "The Pope". He and my grandmother were the rock of the family. They would lend a hand wherever it was needed and you never left their table hungry. They came from a generation that worked hard, lived simply, and were generous.

Doing what he loved to do

I had the opportunity to speak with my grandpa one last time and I'm so glad I did. We spoke about various things for several minutes and, naturally, the conversation turned to hunting. Before we were done, I thanked him for taking the time to introduce me to the outdoors when I was young. If I hadn't told him how much I appreciated that, I would have regretted it the rest of my life. 

Ted Borsum is survived by his wife, three sisters, three daughters, six grandchildren, and ten great grandchildren. My grandfather may be gone now, but he will always be my hero. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Pet Peeves. Or I'm With Stupid.

Sooner or later we all deal with "stupid" people. Some of us more often than others. The hunting, fishing, shooting, and outdoors community is not exempt from the not-so-funny, annoying, and sometimes dangerous behavior of these people. I call them stupid, but often they know exactly what they're doing and their actions are intentional. Or they know better, but just don't care. No matter how you categorize them, there are things people do that really get on my last nerve and give the rest of us that proverbial bad name. I'm going to list some of the things I've experienced that annoy the happy right outta me and then see what pet peeves you have. I'm going to venture a guess that they're very similar. 

This Ain't Your Personal Garbage Dump
There's no excuse for leaving trash behind. Period. I've been in the woods and come across pop or beer cans that looked like they had been there for ten years. That stuff doesn't just magically disappear. Same goes for plastic items. If somebody wants to do that to their own land that's one thing, but it should never be done on public land or when a guest on another owner's property. Throwing trash into a lake or stream is even worse because it's not nearly as easy to clean up. This one is pretty straightforward. If you carry it in, carry it out.

(Gypsies, Tramps, and) Thieves 
Many of us who spend time outdoors have experienced theft of some kind. I hate thieves. Treestands, trail cams, ATV's, firearms, fishing tackle, and even downed game have all been targets of thieves. Vehicles parked at landings, access points, and hunting locations are popular targets. There's simply no excuse. I normally won't leave stands on public land. A good friend I hunt with bought a cheap hang-on stand to use on some public land we occasionally hunt. He locks it on the tree, but if somebody steals it, his thought is that he's not out a lot of money. If it doesn't belong to you, there's no excuse for taking it. Thieves have ruined many an outing for people. In my mind, it's worse if the people who steal are other hunters or anglers. They don't deserve to be called sportsmen because sportsmen don't behave that way. 

Don't Crowd Me, Bro 
You get in the woods or on the water nice and early and get all set up. You're excited and hopeful. The next thing you know, you see another hunter come in and set up fifty yards away or another boat pulls up within casting distance of you. It is possible to end up close to another hunter without realizing they're there at first. When you do figure it out, common courtesy would dictate you move on and find another spot. Crowding other anglers is usually not a mistake. Nobody likes being cut off on a lake or river.

Last April, three of us were turkey hunting on our land. We heard a tom gobbling and had to do some work covering a lot of ground to get in position to call him in. We went back and forth with this tom for quite some time. He sounded hot, but after thirty minutes, it became apparent he was moving away from us. Shortly after that, we heard a gunshot. Long story short, the people who own land adjacent to ours were literally hunting six feet from the property line. A lot of the calling we heard was actually them trying to coax the tom from our property onto theirs. They had shot at the turkey as it flew past them, but weren't sure if they hit it. This wasn't the first time they had hunted right on the line. And it wasn't the first time we had confronted them about it. Yes, they were on their property, but whats aggravating is they own 800 hundred acres - many times the amount of land we have. They could easily hunt far enough away from our property that we would never see each other, but they choose not to. This is a matter of common courtesy and respect in my book.

Safety or Lack Thereof
Nothing gets me out of my happy place faster than unsafe firearms handling. I don't want a gun pointed in my direction...ever. And don't try to be funny and say, "don't worry, it's not loaded". People who can't master the simple rules of firearms safety don't deserve to have them. Don't stand around and chit chat with your gun casually pointed in the direction of others. Don't sight in your gun or check your scope's zero by shooting without knowing what's in the background. And don't take shots at game unless you know you have a safe background. People who walk around with their finger in the trigger guard are just asking for trouble.

Anglers have their share of problems, too, with people who operate boats or jet skis in a reckless manner. I avoid fishing a lot of lakes during the summer for this very reason. There are just too many idiot operators on the water.

This is another pet peeve that is not only highly annoying, but also illegal. If you don't belong there, don't be there. It's one thing to be genuinely lost or mixed up, but when you know you are hunting or fishing where you shouldn't be, I have no sympathy. The people who feign ignorance when caught are the worst. And if they shoot game while trespassing, now they've also stolen what doesn't belong to them. Do the work and seek permission like the majority of sportsmen. 

Generally Poor Behavior
I cringe when I see somebody fishing or hunting and acting a fool. We joke about the beer drinkin' redneck hunter stereotypes, but there's a reason those stereotypes exist...because some people actually behave that way. How does tossing beer cans out the window of your big, noisy four-wheel drive truck while "road hunting" promote anything but a negative image? Rudeness is not a good way to make a favorable impression on the general public, either. For that matter, it doesn't go over well with other hunters or anglers. People will generally remember a negative encounter more so than a good one. The non-fishing, non-hunting public often associates bad behavior with all sportsmen. We have enough to deal with in protecting our sport without slobs making it more difficult.

What Are Yours?
These are big pet peeves in my outdoors book. What are things you've seen or experienced that annoy you? And it doesn't just happen to hunters and anglers. Campers, hikers, photographers, and anyone who spends time outdoors have seen things that flip their switch. I know my list isn't all inclusive. And that's unfortunate.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Double the Color

This double rainbow appeared after a recent storm. It was quite stunning in person! Since it was impossible to get the entire thing in one shot, I had to settle for a photo of each end. You can enlarge them for a little better view. I wasn't sure if the pot o' gold was at McDonalds or the water tower. Have a great weekend!

Monday, November 1, 2010

And The Winner Is...

Magnum Boots USA and heyBJK Boot Giveaway

I won't keep you in suspense by burying the name of the winner way down in this post. The winner of the Work Horse 6.0 boots is- 

Congratulations, texwisgirl! You should be receiving a message from me. If you haven't yet, please let me know.

Before we wrap this up, I want to thank everyone who participated! A special thank you goes out to Dennis at Fishing With Dad and Michael at Troutrageous! for promoting this giveaway on their respective blogs! Thanks, guys! I appreciate everyone who mentioned it on Twitter and Facebook, as well! 

Big thanks, of course, to Magnum Boots USA for the Work Horse 6.0 boots prize and their support in putting on this giveaway! They have a great team of folks who are a class act!

Thanks again and I hope you all enjoyed it!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Review: Magnum Boots Work Horse 6.0

Before I get into the review, I want to take care of some business first. I'll start by saying I am an official field tester for Magnum Boots USA. I am not employed by Magnum Boots, however they do send me products to evaluate. In exchange, they want honest feedback on their products to include the good, bad, and ugly. They do this so they can provide the best possible products to their customers. 

The two major careers I've had in my lifetime have required me to wear boots. I've worn many styles of boots from many different manufacturers. Over the course of my life, I've spent more time in boots than any other kind of footwear. At this point, I know what to look for in quality boots and what is required for a pair of boots to work for me. I've had Magnum boots in the past - long before I became a field tester.

I say that so you know I'm not promoting Magnum boots just because I'm a field tester. The folks at Magnum are seeing this review for the very first time just like everyone else. It has not been proofed, edited, or approved by anyone except me.


Magnum Boots Work Horse 6.0 Review

I have been wearing the Work Horse boots for several weeks. If I had to pick a single aspect of the boots that really stands out to me it would be comfort. I can say without hesitation that these are the most comfortable boots I've ever worn. As with any kind of footwear, if they aren't comfortable you aren't going to enjoy wearing them and probably won't keep them for long. The padding on the tongue and around the ankle is very, very good. The cushioning in the foot bed is top notch. To me, walking in these boots is like walking in a good pair of tennis shoes. They are also quiet. They don't give off that loud "clomping" sound that some boots do.

Work Horse 6.0

Here are the ingredients in the Work Horse 6.0. The boots have a full-grain leather upper. They are waterproof with a breathable membrane. They have a Cambrelle® moisture-wicking lining and an Agion™ antimicrobial treatment. The boots are made with Coats Barbour anti-fraying stitching thread and durable non-metallic composite hardware. Inside you will find a lightweight compression-molded EVA midsole and a M-PACT contoured sockliner with memory foam. They have an X-Traction outsole and are electrical hazard resistant. 

Waterproof boots are pretty standard nowadays, but some are better than others. I like to test the waterproof capability of all my boots. To test these boots, I stood in a cold creek with the water covering the top of my feet. I knew if there were any "leaks" it wouldn't take long to feel the cold water. I'm pleased to say my feet stayed bone dry.

I haven't just worn the Work Horse boots for general everyday wear. I've hiked in them in the woods at our cabin, worn them while working a new food plot, and most recently while doing construction projects. They are lightweight and have excellent traction. The sizing of these particular boots is spot on. I wear a size 11 in boots and these are neither too wide nor too constricting.

Because I have been testing these boots to provide feedback to Magnum, I have really been looking for something to disappoint me. So far, I haven't found anything. There has been no fraying of the stitching. The soles have held up perfectly. There are no gaps in the seams. And I already mentioned the waterproofing.

As with any tool, you have to use the proper tool for the job at hand. For example, these boots are not insulated so I would not wear them to sit in a tree stand for hours in sub-freezing temperatures. I have hunting boots for that purpose and that's not what the Work Horse boots are designed for. They are intended for work and everyday wear. They would be perfectly acceptable as a warm weather hunting boot if you chose to wear them for that purpose.

Footwear is a very personal choice. What fits good on me won't necessarily fit well on everyone else. Just like when you go into a shoe store to buy new shoes. You see something you like and try it on. You know immediately if those particular shoes feel right. If they don't feel good, you put them back and move on. For me personally, these boots beat anything else I have in comfort. I enjoy wearing them. If they weren't comfortable I wouldn't wear them. Period. And if I wouldn't wear them myself, I would never recommend them to others. That's not how I conduct business.

If this is the style of boot you like, you would do well to take a close look at them when making your next purchase. They are well made and, if I haven't already mentioned it, comfortable!

Magnum boots are available at many dealers online. To find a dealer near you, check the Magnum Boots website.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Review: Redfield Rebel Bino's

For the past year, I've been on the hunt for new binoculars to replace my aging Bushnell's. Not only have they been used heavily, but technology has advanced so much that it was simply time for a better pair. After doing a lot of research, I settled on the Redfield Rebel 10x42 bino's. Hunters know Redfield for their quality scopes and now they're making binoculars and range finders.

Let me get the technical spec's out of the way first. The Rebel's are 5.9" long, weigh 26.4 oz.'s, have a field of view of 341' at 1,000 yards, and a close distance focus of 4.3 feet. They are a roof prism design utilizing BAK4 prisms and fully multicoated lenses. The Rebel's are fogproof, waterproof, and have an armored aluminum body. They are black in color and come with lens covers, neoprene neck strap, and a carry case. 

Redfield Rebel 10x42 binoculars

My criteria for new binoculars included a set price range, roof prism design, and ten power magnification. The roof prism design is more compact than porro prism designs and I wanted a higher power than my previous pair. Obviously, the higher the power the more "shake" you will notice when looking through a pair of binoculars. That's something to keep in mind if you don't have steady hands. 

The Rebel's lenses are fully multicoated which means every lens and lens surface has been coated multiple times. Generally speaking, there are three types of coating: coated, fully coated, and fully multicoated. Coated is the least extensive type and means only certain lens surfaces are covered. This is normally used on cheaper quality bino's. Fully coated is the next step up and covers all lens surfaces once. Fully multicoated covers every lens surface with several coats, as I mentioned, and is used on high quality binoculars. These coatings help with light transmission, anti-reflection, and glare. 

In addition to the high quality coating, the Rebel is built using BAK4 prisms which are made from higher quality glass. BK7 prisms are made of lower quality glass and are found in cheaper quality bino's. BAK4 prisms provide much clearer, sharper images. Most manufacturers will specify what kind of prisms and coatings are used in specific binoculars, but if you find some that don't, you can bet they're probably cheaply made. 

I've used my Rebel's while hunting and I am more than impressed with the quality of these binoculars! The view is sharp and crisp from edge to edge. Light transmission is exceptional. They feel solid and well built. The focus wheel turns flawlessly - there's no catch or looseness. The eyepieces adjust for people who wear glasses, but unlike older binoculars where you folded the rubber eyepiece down, these eyepieces twist up and down. The armored finish provides a very secure grip and I can attest that they are indeed fogproof. 

I watched two bucks from my stand this past weekend and was very pleased with the image these binoculars produced. I have a pair of Steiner binoculars that I don't use for hunting because they are too large. Anyone who knows anything about binoculars knows Steiner produces quality stuff. I literally cannot tell a difference between the Redfield's and the Steiner's just by looking through them. And my Steiner's cost four times as much. 

In addition to the 10x42 model which I have, the Rebel is also available in an 8x32 version. If you prefer a porro prism design, Redfield makes a Renegade line consisting of a 7x50 model and a 10x50 model. Now for the cool part...the Rebel 10x42 will run you $150. That's it. Try finding quality bino's with the features of the Rebel in that price range. They are few and far between. 

I am extremely pleased with my choice of binoculars to replace my old Bushnell's. Binoculars are very much a personal preference item, but if this is the style of bino you like, you should have these on your short list the next time you're shopping for a new pair. 

I know Cabela's and Bass Pro sell the Redfield's. Gander Mountain does not as of the time of this review, but I'm sure there are several other places that do. You can see the Redfield binoculars on their website: Redfield Binoculars. They did it right the first time with these optics.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

How NOT To Hunt Bears. For Real.

I wanted to start this with "once upon a time", but unfortunately, it's no fairy tale. I will try to keep it as condensed as possible while still hitting the highlights...or lows. You see, my best friend, Marc, and I hatched this plan to go bear hunting in the heart of West Virginia. And when I say "hatched" I mean the plan, when executed, was still in the infancy stage and should have been allowed to grow a little more. But hey, when two tough guys decide to hunt bears, having a detailed plan is immaterial and irrelevant, frankly.

We decided to hunt an area in the mountains where Marc and his father had trout fished many times. This particular area was known for having a good number of black bears so we figured it was as good a place as any. 
On the appointed day, we made the drive and arrived at our destination fairly early. The only drawback so far was that it looked liked it was going to rain. No matter. We weren't going to let a little rain stop us from bagging a big ol' bruin.

We parked along the river where Marc and his father had fished in the past. While the parking was easy, we actually intended to hunt on the other side of the river. However, there were no bridges in sight. No big deal. The new addition to our "master plan" was to simply wade across the river. How hard could it be? 

We gathered our weapons and packs, locked the vehicle, and began looking for an easy avenue across the river. We would have preferred one with large rocks we could walk on, but due to the rather high water, those were in short supply. After a few minutes of looking, Marc finally decided to take the plunge and just cross, using a few visible rocks along the way. I don't recall if he used a stick to help himself across, but the current was a bit swift. When I stepped in, I do recall thinking perhaps this wasn't the best way to start the hunt. Now we were getting wet and it was a chilly, overcast day. After several minutes, we finally made it to the other side. I needed to remove my boots to wring out my socks. Evidently, if the water gets over the top of your boots, they are no longer waterproof. Who knew. The conversation went something like this: 

Me: "Hold up a minute. I need to take my boots off and wring the water out of my socks." 

Marc: "Say what?" 

Me: "My feet are soaking wet. I need to get the water out." 

Marc: "Your feet got wet?" 

Me: (No reply. Just a look.)

Now that the river crossing was complete and I had dumped a couple of gallons of water, it was time to execute the hunting phase of our plan. What was the hunting phase of our plan? I'm glad you asked! Our carefully thought out plan for shooting a bear was to "still" hunt our way through the forest until we, quietly stalked, up on one - and then shoot it. Easy. In fact, as my daughter would say, "easy peazy, lemon sqeezey"! 

Did I mention neither one of us had ever been in these woods before? First time. I'm sure I mentioned that neither one of us had ever hunted bears before. No? First time. Minor details. So, anyway, off into the woods we went. With any luck we'd find a bear soon enough and be back at the vehicle before dark. Master plan. 

Fast forward a couple of hours and I was sitting against a tree in a fairly open area of the woods as was Marc some distance from me. I was beginning to get a little disappointed that we hadn't come upon a bear yet. Not a single sign even. No tracks. No bear crap. Nada. Puzzling. Not to mention I was getting hungry. And a bit cold. Especially my feet. On top of that, it had lightly rained on and off throughout the day. I decided it was time to break out my lunch - a.k.a. Ding Dongs. Yes, the Hostess snack cake. Don't judge. 

At this point in our quest for a Mountain State black bear, the only critters we had seen were fairy-diddles. In fact, while I was sitting there munching on Ding Dongs and Marc was eating who knows what, there had been several fairy-diddles scampering around the forest floor. It was then we amended our master plan with plan B. What was plan B? Why, shoot fairy-diddles, of course!

Marc was armed with a Smith & Wesson Model 29 .44 magnum. If Dirty Harry said it was good enough for shooting bad guys, it was good enough for shooting a bear. I elected to bring a rifle in the off chance we ran into an especially angry bear and we needed extra firepower. That is why I wisely chose my Marlin 336 in bear-stopping .30-30 caliber! Master plan. 

Now, granted, these weapons were probably a bit much for fairy-diddles, but it was all we had. And we were bored. Hence, we commenced Operation Fairy-diddle! For several minutes the woods came alive with loud booms as we tested our skills on the small and very fast critters. When it was all said and done and the last fairy-diddle with half a brain had gone into a hole somewhere, I can honestly say I don't recall us hitting a single one. More importantly, if there had been any bears around, they were easily in the next county by now. So much for sneaking up on one. 

Marc and I were now growing weary of our quest. I know, this surprises you, right? We had walked a lot, we were wet, we were cold, and the bears were obviously not cooperating. Not to mention we had sent some lead downrange and had nothing to show for it. After a careful discussion that lasted about three seconds, we decided to make our way back to the vehicle. All we had to do was cross the river again and we would be home free.

After a lot more walking, we finally reached the river late in the afternoon. The problem was it did not look like the same river we had crossed initially. It really was the same river, but since our first crossing, it had risen considerably and now there were chunks of ice in the fast-moving current! 

We stared at the river for quite some time shocked at how much it had changed - or perhaps trying to make the water level go back down through the use of Jedi mind tricks. Even though neither of us said anything at first, it was apparent we were not going to be able to cross the river again. It had truly reached a dangerous stage. We were now separated from our vehicle with no way to get across. We had no cell phones, no GPS, no extra food or water, no dry clothing, and no plan for dealing with our situation. 

In fact, we had done no research on the area prior to the hunt. Marc had fished the river before so that was good enough for us. We had done no research on bears or proper bear hunting techniques. We had not planned to get wet at the get-go by crossing the river. We had no communication capability other than our guns. Now reality hit us that we could be stuck in the woods, possibly overnight. We were not at the panic stage yet, but things had quickly become serious. Or at least semi-serious. 

After several minutes of attempting to find a way back across the river, we decided the best course of action was to follow it downriver. We had no idea how far we would have to walk until we found a way to cross, but it was better than standing there looking like Dumb and Dumber. Although, we had already managed to pull that off quite well. 

It wasn't long before we noticed someone on the other side of the river and it appeared they were trying to get our attention. I mean, if you consider yelling and waving your arms wildly as trying to get someone's attention, then okay. We couldn't hear because of the distance and the noise of the water, but there was no mistake they were signaling us. I even turned around just to make sure there were no other hunters standing behind us. Everyone has done that awkward wave only to realize the person was waving at someone near them. I just didn't want to feel awkward. That produced a conversation that went something like this: 

Me: "I think they're waving at us."

Marc: "Don't acknowledge them. Just keep walking." 

Me: "What if they need something? I wonder why they're hollering at us?" 

Marc: "It doesn't matter. Let's just keep walking. We'll be fine. Pretend you don't see them." 

You see, there's a certain pride among hunters (and men, in particular) and very few people like to admit when they're lost or in some kind of trouble. We were fairly certain these people, whoever they were, were trying to assist us in some way. But we decided to play it off and make a show of knowing exactly what we were doing. 

We continued walking downriver for a while still not knowing where we were going. Then, suddenly, we met a group of what I presumed to be locals walking upriver toward us. As we got within speaking range, I couldn't help but have thoughts of Deliverance. It turns out those thoughts were completely unfounded as this group of locals was our rescue party! I mean, you could tell they considered themselves our rescue party. We considered them a thorn in our pride. 

Long story short, they asked if we were stranded and needed help getting back to our vehicle. It's difficult to describe how you go about acknowledging that fact while still appearing to be competent and in control. Actually, there isn't a way. We needed help and we looked like pure virgin amateurs! And to have mentioned that we were bear hunting would have invoked outright laughter. They guessed we had crossed the river earlier in the day and had not anticipated the rise in the water level. We sheepishly followed our rescuers downriver where we finally came to a small bridge and a waiting vehicle. Apparently, the person we saw earlier waving and yelling was trying to inform us of said bridge and waiting vehicle. It was a quiet ride from the bridge back to our car. 

It was now late in the day and we had absolutely nothing to show for our hunting effort. We were wet, tired, hungry, and humiliated. Marc and I decided to spend the night in a local motel and head home the next morning. The motel was nothing to write home about. It was pretty much a dump. We spent the evening eating take-out pizza and watching videos on MTV. It turns out the highlight of the trip took place while we were watching television. Because of the crappy day we'd had, Marc decided to inform me early that he had scored tickets for us to see Cheap Trick and House of Lords in concert in Columbus, Ohio! 

Man, a bear hunt doesn't end much better than that. 

The Back Story

If you've made it this far, you're probably thinking, "Gee, Brian, I thought you were something of an outdoorsman. I'm beginning to wonder." Well, this story took place over 20 years ago while we were in college. Even though Marc and I had both been hunting deer and other game for many years, we had never been bear hunting (obviously). We didn't have cell phones, GPS units or home computers back then. Researching a hunting area at that time was a completely different ballgame. Marc and I literally did not speak of this hunt to anyone for a long time. We only discussed it between us. And even then, we spoke of it rarely. It wasn't exactly a masterpiece of planning.

Some of you may have caught on to the time period at the end of the story. I mean, after all, how long has it been since MTV actually played music videos?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Blog of the Week: Massanutten Game Trails

This week's blog of the week belongs to Joe and is called Massanutten Game Trails. Joe lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with his wife and their dog, Dawson. He is an electrical engineer by trade and enjoys hunting, fishing, sports, and the outdoors in general.

Several years ago, Joe bought his first trail cam and since then has enjoyed using the cameras for getting wildlife photos as much as he has for hunting. A couple of months ago, Joe decided to start a blog to show off the photos he was getting. His subjects have included deer, bears, coyotes, foxes, turkeys, squirrels, and even turtles. Joe has captured some really nice wildlife images. 

I've enjoyed visiting Joe's blog weekly to see what has walked in front of his game cameras. Take some time and check out Massanutten Game Trails for yourself. Joe has a nice photo-featured blog happening over there in the Shenandoah Valley!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

RIP My Friend (Steven Flint)

Steven Flint 
March 23, 1961 - October 1, 2010

I'm deeply saddened by the recent passing of my long time friend, Steven Flint. He lost a hard fought battle against cancer. Steven was not only a friend, but one of the very best anglers I've ever known. His skill at reading the water and his instinct for finding fish were incredible! Those of us who knew him gave him the informal nickname "MA" for master angler.

Steven was originally from Ohio where he was working for The Nature Conservancy when we first met. He was a tireless advocate for rivers and streams. Not only did he love to fish them, but he was very active in trying to clean them up and rid them of sources of pollution. Steven later moved to the Adirondacks of New York where he continued to work for The Nature Conservancy and also operate a fishing guide service. 

Over the years, I fished with Steven twice in Canada. He was also a guest in our home in Kentucky where I took him fishing on our local lakes. Most recently, I had the pleasure of spending a week at his home in the Adirondacks where he took me fishing on Lake Champlain as well as several other beautiful lakes. When he started his guide business he asked me to design, build, and maintain his website which I did for many years. I could write many, many paragraphs about Steven's accomplishments and activities, but I find this hard enough to complete.

Steven loved the outdoors, loved to fish, and had a way of understanding nature that I've rarely seen. He named his guide service Beyond the Banks. As of 8pm, October 1, 2010, Steven Flint has truly gone Beyond the Banks.

Rest in peace, my friend. You will be missed.