Working overtime early this year while in Ohio allowed me to set my sights on a new bow. Well, that along with the fact I sold my 2008 Bowtech Guardian to my friend and was in need of a bow before Summer rolled around and practice time would be at a premium. Having shot different brands and models of bows the past few years while debating on updating what I had, I knew I liked the way Hoyt's balanced not just during the draw cycle and the shot but also just while holding and carrying around. As you'll hear in the video below, I shot numerous Hoyt models once I had decided that my next bow would be one and really liked the way the Vector 32 felt in my hand. I could continue to type out the pros and con (yes there is one slight con about the bow now that I have been shooting it but I believe I can get that taken care of) but I'll let the video of me talking do the, um, talking instead. Enjoy!
I purchased my first Ladder stand this past year. I've hunted from homemade ladder stands quite a bit but given my limited time this past year and the opportunity to hunt some private land I decided to purchase one to save me some time. The benefits of having some ladder stands set up is that it gives you much quicker set up time in the morning.....no need to attach a climber and climb a tree. However the drawback is that it is not easily or quickly moved to a new spot and would most likely need to wait until the next season to move it. So my first recommendation is scout, scout and do some more scouting of your location before setting up a ladder stand. Since this stand is not going to be my primary hunting spot, nor is it close to my home I did not want to spend a lot of money for the stand. I did however wish to have something roomy and comfortable that would hopefully last multiple hunting seasons.
I bought the Summit Solo Pro here for about $170. I really liked that this stand was under the $200 mark and that it had a full size platform and a fold up bench seat and shooting rail. The bench pad is removable and I'd recommend removing it and replacing it each time you use the stand so you have a dry seat to sit on. The pad is not the most comfortable thing to sit on for an all day hunt so I usually brought an additional seat pad with me. I like to use the following hot seat to compliment the seat pad.
I found setting up the stand was at least a two person job. I did it with the help of another person and it would have been much easier with a third. Overall the instructions were spot on and easy to follow. I did however find I was missing a few parts and contacted Summit and they promptly sent me the missing parts with no questions asked! So a big thumbs up to their customer service department! After hunting from the stand for an entire season and taking two deer from it I'd buy another one in a heart beat! It was much roomier than many of the other stands I was looking at. The shooting rest and bench fold up out of the way to make bow hunting and standing shots very easy. It attached to the tree pretty securely but I did add an additional ratchet strap to the platform to give it just that little bit of extra stability.
In closing, if you need a ladder stand that is roomy and hunt-able all year long then I think this is a good one to try out. Summit has many other stands to look at in the same Crush Series, advertised as their economical line without all the bells but they have the necessary features for a comfortable hunt!
Now that it is the off season, and I had a full season to try out Hornady's new SST-ML Low Drag sabots, I wanted to share the results with our readers. If you are anything like me, once the off season starts I begin to correct any issues I may have had the previous year. If you had problems or were not impressed with your current sabot for your inline muzzleloader then I'd highly recommend using these. I've been hunting with a CVA Accura .50-cal for the past few years and started out by using the CVA slick load 300-grain sabots. Although these CVA sabots loaded easily and grouped nicely at 100 yards, I was not impressed with their performance on game. There were two deer shot with these sabots and neither had an exit wound. Having only an entry wound can make tracking a hit animal difficult, especially in the South where we rarely have the pleasure of tracking in the snow!
After seeing the Hornady sabots in the local sporting goods store one afternoon I went home and did some research. I found that others were really impressed with these new bullets so I went back the next day and picked up two boxes of them. Then came a trip to the range the following weekend. I was happy with their performance on paper as only minor adjustments were needed to get them grouping literally on top of each other. I also had the pleasure of taking three deer this past season with these bullets and with the results I won't be changing for sometime now! Every one of the shots resulted in a pass through and the lethality was exceptional as each of these animals dropped within 50 yards or less of where they were shot. I was shooting the 300-grain sabots and had my rifle zeroed at 100 yards as most of my shots are within that range. If you look at the ballistics for this bullet they are very impressive. Hornady recommends to zero them 3 inches high at 100 yards, making your shot at 200 yards be 3 inches low. That's a 6-inch spread from 0 to 200 yards...not bad if you ask me for a muzzleloader! I plan to get back to the range and do as suggested by Hornady so I can be more comfortable with a longer shot this coming year if one presents itself to me. If you want to take a look at the ballistics for yourself you can find them here.
I purchased a Browning BPS a couple of years ago and have been pretty happy with it thus far. I decided on the 3" camo model with a cantilever barrel. I then mounted a 2-7 power Nikon ProStaff scope on it with some dura sight mounts. I've taken a couple of deer so far with this and it has performed well for me.
- I'm a left handed shooter and this is a good ambidextrous shotgun. The BPS has a top tang safety as well as bottom-load and bottom-eject. This is one of the few shotguns that actually has a bottom-load, bottom-eject setup; for those of you who remember the old Ithica shotguns, this is very similar.
- Fully rifled 22-inch barrel, with a 1-in-28 twist, shoots a very accurate sabot slug.
- Reasonable weight at 7lb-10oz.
- Smooth trigger pull
-Price. I got mine for about $650 which is pretty reasonable for a slug gun! There are also many after market accessories available including additional barrels.
- The Dura Touch coating leaves something to be desired. After only two years of use I have a lot of wear on the coating and the area around the muzzle of the barrel is starting to peel away.
- I had some cycling trouble where a shell would drop out of the mag while pumping a round into the mag. I fixed this with a good oil job and I have not had this problem again but it's worth mentioning.
Overall the BPS has made a good addition to my collection and I can't wait to get it out in the field again this year. As a note I do shoot the 3-inch Light Field slugs that I reviewed here , for hunting deer.
New Equipment - Round One: Leupold Acadia 10x42 Binoculars and S4 Gear Lockdown Optics Deployment System
This off-season has been one that has seen me not really buy a bunch of hunting stuff, which is not the norm. However, the few items I have bought and will be buying in the next few days before the season opener are very important in the grand scheme of things and I'll be highlighting my new toys in the days leading up to September 10th. First up are my new binoculars and the harness system I bought for them, so let's get right to it.
I've been in need of a good, reliable set of binoculars for a while now. I've usually just settled for the small, cheap ones and considering how little I have used them, they have always been adequate for the terrain I hunt. However, I've always wanted to get a better set, especially for when I finally make my daydream Western hunts become a reality, and decided that this would be the year I would take the plunge into better optics. Since spending Zeiss and Swarovski like money at this point in time was out of the question, I turned to glass that I knew gave the best quality for the money: Nikon and Leupold. After searching around online for good deals on these brands in 10x42 configurations, along with others such as Bushnell, Vortex and Zen Ray, I was set on just waiting one more year before dropping any money. That's when I just happened to walk into Bass Pro Shops and ran across a deal on Leupold Acadia's I just couldn't pass up at the time ($180 after taxes for those wondering). After giving them the look over and testing them in the store, I was sold and walked out the door with my first set of quality binoculars. They may not be Gold Rings, but so far I love the clarity of their glass and have found that the low-light pick-up is pretty dang good (haven't had them out in the woods yet though).
-Good deal compared to other, similar optics in that quality/magnification range
-Twist eye-cups provide great relief both when I do and don't wear my glasses
-Very good glass for the price paid
-Lens caps are cheap and don't stay on
-Straps that came with it are flimsy and not worth using
To combat the low-quality straps that came with the Leupolds, as well as not wanting to put the binoculars on my Redhead harness (which never worked as good as I had planned), the final item I needed in my quest for new binoculars was a quality harness system. I was looking hard at the Crooked Horn Outfitters system when I ran across S4 Gear and their Lockdown system. After giving them a look over in the store, I was sold! I did wait a few weeks though, to make sure I didn't find something else that was better. I didn't of course and ended up grabbing the last of the Large Lockdown System at BPS this past Friday. One quick note: Make sure you grab the right size you need for your binoculars as they have a Micro size as well. I actually grabbed both sizes and tried them with a set of binoculars in the store to make sure the Large is that what I needed for the Acadias. Once home, all it took was a few minutes to get the harness set-up and my binoculars on them. So far so good from the small amount of walking around I did with harness system on, the real test will come in two weeks however.
-Once fitted, harness stays tight to the body (so far)
-Binoculars stay protected when you are not using them
-Easy, one-handed "operation"
-Binoculars stay in place while walking i.e. no bouncing (again, so far)
-A little expensive IMHO at $40
-Bulkier when compared to other harness systems I've seen (but for not bouncing around as well as optics being protected, I can live with it)
I'll probably write up a quick response to this post in the coming months as we get into deer season and I am out using both of these more, so be on the lookout for that whenever the time comes for me to tell you whether these are good purchases or not. Until then, check out the pictures I took of them below and by all means, let me know if you have any experience with either!
When I purchased my Browning BPS about two years ago I wanted to take full advantage of the rifled barrel. Having never used a rifled barrel on a shotgun before, I started to do my research. I talked to friends and family who use sabot slugs as well as did a ton of reading online. I settled on Lightfield slugs. I wanted to be able to reach out to 100+ yards and still have great knock down power.
I decided to try the Hybred-Elite 3" sabot slug and I have never looked back! One of the great things about Lightfield is they list their ballistics on their website and the box, which allows you to sight in your slug gun more easily. For the Hybred-Elite 3" slugs, it is recommended that you sight-in at 50 yards and ensure that you are shooting about 2.5 inches high at this distance. Once you have 50 yards set it will ensure that you are dead-on accurate at about 125 yards!
Now you might say "125 yards? That's it?". Well remember we are talking about a slug gun here...sure, modern day rifles shoot well over that distance, but where I do a lot of hunting in Upstate New York you can't use a rifle so you have to get the most of your shotgun! Remember traditional slugs out of a smooth bore shotgun barrel are most effective inside of about 60-75 yards; Yes you can take longer shots and many have been successful, but your accuracy starts to deteriorate.
Back to the Hybred-Elite slugs: I've used these for two seasons now and have had great success. I've taken two bucks with these slugs and boy do they hit hard! The first buck I took was a decent 4 point dropped in its tracks at about 40 yards. The second buck was an 8 point at about 80 yards that ran a short distance and dropped. These slugs are very accurate, I can shoot 1 inch groups at 50 yards and they perform the same at 100 yards and beyond. Also, as advertised their knockdown power is unbelievable; the best I've seen in a slug yet. They expand and do maximum damage to the game you are shooting.
Now I'm not done yet!!! Lightfield has also developed what they call Same Site Accuracy. Same Site Accuracy allows you to sight your gun in with the Hybred-Lites and they guarantee that you can shoot two other slugs and have the exact same performance! That's one sight-in session and three slugs to choose from for your different hunting needs. They have this available for 12 gauge and 20 gauge slugs! Now even though some of the slugs have lower velocities, where one goes the others will go as well. The slugs available are : Hybred-Elite 3", Hybred-Lites - which are reduced recoil and the most accurate out of rifled choke tubes, and the Hybred Exp which is the standard slug in 2 3/4".
Let's talk price. The Hybred-Elites run about $14 a box, Hybred-Lites $13, and the Hybred-Exp come in at $13 as well. These are by no means cheap slugs but they really do perform as advertised. Lightfield also has another line of ammunition they call the Commander IDS Plus Series. These slugs are available in 12 and 16 gauge and are a high velocity, stable slugs that are made for larger game at long distances. They offer one of the only available 3 1/2 inch slugs on the market (whoa!).
Ok, so now I'll get off my soap box, but I honestly do recommend these slugs to anyone looking for a good sabot slug for their rifled shotgun! Now I do need to give a bit of a warning: Although the knock down power of the 3" slug is great, it does pack quite the punch to the shooter in the form of kick when shooting these bad boys! The kick is not unbearable and I never notice it while hunting, but if you are planning to shoot multiple boxes in the back yard during a sight-in or practice session, you might get a sore shoulder.
Has anyone used these slugs before?
I bought a Browning BPS about two years ago that was coated with Dura Touch, the coating that Browning uses to place a camo pattern on their firearms. I've only shot about 50 rounds through this gun, which I use as a dedicated slug gun mainly for deer. I shot the BPS this past weekend and after cleaning the gun I noticed that the coating was peeling away at the muzzle of the barrel.
I can only attribute this to the coating not holding up against the powder solvents that are used to clean the inside of the barrel. Unfortunately, after a quick Google search, I found that many folks have had this same issue; some have sent it back to Browning but have been told that this is due to "normal wear and tear". I'm pretty disappointed with this and am currently looking into an alternative company to have this barrel dipped in the same camo pattern, in a coating that is more durable.
I'll let you know after the upcoming season who I decide to go with and just how good it holds up. I'd like to hear from others if they have experienced similar issues with Dura Touch coatings, so leave a comment below!
So just wanted to post two quick reviews of the camera gear I ordered and finally got in the mail (of course both pieces of equipment had to come in while I was working in Mississippi these past two weeks!).
First up is my Vanguard Alta+ 263 AT tripod. I chose this tripod because of the price ($110 new on Amazon), reviews and specs. It met the requirements I was looking for in a tripod, from everything like in the field photography and videography to "studo" interviews. It's light enough to throw over my shoulder and carry back in the woods without too much fatigue setting in while also being sturdy enough to not shift when panning the camera, though the first leg setting isn't the best for this (need the middle leg setting for the best stability it seems). All that being said, let me list out some of the specs (you can find more after following the link above):
Weight: 3.31 lbs
Leg Sections: 3
Leg Lock Style: Flip Lock
Feet: Rubber with retractable spikes
Leg angles: 3 (25 degrees, 50 degrees, 80 degrees)
Extended Height: 60 1/4 inches
Folded Height: 22 5/8 inches
Max Load: 11 lbs
Features: Hook to hang bag/counterweight, padded leg wraps, rubber shock mount to protect equipment if center column slams down, carrying case
Now we have the one item I wanted last year that I just never got: A LANC remote. I won a Varizoom VZ-Rock for a steal of a deal on ebay ($62 lightly used; these are $250 brand new!) and am very pleased so far with it after a little testing. The side-to-side rocker for the zoom control is smooth and very controllable while the focus rocker works decent too; I am just going to have to get used to it in order to get smooth focuses though. The only complaint I have with this remote is that the button to turn on/off the data on the LCD screen doesn't seem to work. No big deal though since I am used to all of that being up there anyway, plus for $62, who can complain about that? If I really wanted to get it fixed, I could send if off to Varizoom and they would fix it for $70, which would still put me over $100 less than a new one. All in all, it does the job intended and is a great addition to our video arsenal this year!
All that is left for me to get are a Zoom H1 for the Go Pro (audio is the key ingredient to good video and the Go Pro's on-board mic is seriously lacking), a set of wireless mics (a big investment and might not happen this year) and Beachtek adapter, and finally a light for those early morning/late evening "camp" shots as well as nighttime recovery. Got an opinion on the items I touched on in this entry? If so, let your voice be heard and leave a comment!
In my honest opinion, a good flashlight is one of the most important pieces of equipment any hunter (or outdoorsman) can invest in. Every hunter knows you need a reliable firearm, matched ammunition and good comfortable clothing; however one of the most over looked pieces of equipment is the flashlight.
I have to admit I was in this same category for quite awhile. Last year while I was bow hunting with Cory and our friend Chris, I shot a doe about an hour before dark. We heard the doe go down out of sight; however by the time we got the climbers off of the trees, found the arrow and packed all of our gear up, it was already pitch black out. We found a blood trail and started to track the downed deer. As the blood trail became scarce I found myself on my hands and knees in areas trying to find the next spot of blood. This difficulty was due to the lack of a good flashlight. The lights we were carrying were not bright enough to make the tracking easy.
Once we had admitted defeat we got Chris and headed back to the trucks (a solid mile away) with our gear so we could fetch a brighter light. We walked back to the area we thought the deer had gone down in and started to scan with our light and we found her quite quickly. Let me pause for a quick tip: When looking for a downed deer in the dark, scan with your light from left to right slowly and look for the white under belly and the glow of the eyes from the light. This trick has saved me more than once!
After that trip I decided I needed to spend the money on a good flashlight so this would not happen to me again. Over the past couple of years the technology of flashlights has advanced immensely. The market is flooded with terminology such as LED (Light Emitting Diode), which can make the average outdoorsman cringe with tech lingo. Some of the things to look for when shopping for a solid light are as follows:
1) Multiple brightness settings, a low and a high will be fine for most people.
2) I prefer a light that runs on regular AA or AAA batteries as these are usually less expensive than other batteries and you can use a rechargeable battery as well as they are easy to find at any store!
3) I would recommend an LED light that has an output of at least 100 lumens. I purchased a Browning Hi Power light that can be found here for about $75. In my opinion, the brighter the better!
The Browning light I purchased runs on two AA batteries, is 145 lumens (measure of brightness) and reaches out to about 150 yards. It is also compact enough to fit in a cargo pocket and does not weight a ton! With my new light it makes getting to a stand in the morning much easier not to mention tracking and finding downed game!
So if you are looking for your next hunting investment, think about making it a good quality flashlight.
So I wanted to write a review on the Mundial 5-inch Boning Knife that I recently purchased. I bought this knife from Bass Pro about two months ago and have used it multiple times since. I recently put on a North Carolina Pig Pickin' and used this knife to carve up the pig. For the price of about $11 you really can't beat this product!
- The blade is made of a high carbon stainless steel. This has two benefits:
1) The high carbon steel holds an edge longer.
2) The stainless portion of the mix keeps the knife from rusting.
- Handle is sturdy
- Blade holds a great edge! I carved an entire 134 pound pig without sharpening.
- A couple more inches in blade length would be nice for larger jobs, not really a Con since you can buy larger boning knives but worth mentioning that the 5-inch blade won't be the right choice for larger game. However, average size deer, etc would be a good fit!
If you do your own butchering or are just looking for a good knife for kitchen butchering then this is a good buy. We all need a few good knives and this one won't break the budget!
Sometimes the great ideas that we have just need something to bring them to the forefront. The Inside Out team will be putting our talents to work and sharing our knowledge and love of the outdoors with anyone who wants to listen.
Curran's Outdoor Adventures
GoBlog (Get Outdoors)
Grants Blog (Growing Deer TV)
Hunt Like Your Hungry
inFOCUS (Campbell Cameras)
inMotion (Heartland Bowhunter)
Make It Happen Outdoors
Taking a Walk on the Wild Side
The Rivah Blog
The Will to Hunt
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