Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Milwaukee M12 heated Jacket "In The Field" ITF Review
In this video I review the M12 Heated Jacket made by the Milwaukee company, known also for their quality tools.
Quite simply, this jacket utilizes a small but powerful lithium ion batter pack to keep the user warm in cold temperatures by controlling jacket warmth with an easy to use activation system. This is a no brainer.
Now, I never advise to rely on gear (especially gear that is electronically powered) to keep yourself safe/comfortable, skill should always be the most important thing you bring with you in to the woods. That said, this jacket still has great application for any outdoorsman. In a hunting application, being able to turn on a jacket to warm yourself up might give you the extra edge to stay on stand long enough to see that big buck walk by. In a bushcraft application, being light weight is always a positive, you can wear a lot slimmer profile of clothing and still get out when the temperatures are low (again while keeping in mind my statement on skill over gear). It even has applications on a social level (there are other colors and models besides camo).
All in all a well made, effective item. Around the price of a similar quality name brand jacket, along with the compatibility of the power packs between the jacket and Milwaukee tools, this item fills a nice nitch, and does it well.
See more at the Milwaukee website:
Ribz Front Pack "In The Field" Review
In this review I take a look at the excellent Ribz Front Pack. Designed to consolidate essential gear in an easy access location for back packing, the Front back is a great item for anyone who frequents the outdoors. Not just for backing though, it also serves well for other uses such as fishing, hunting, and even has bush craft and survival applications. Anyone that has ever been on the move in the woods with a large backpacking pack in a bivouac scenario can appreciate not having to dismount the whole weight of the pack to retrieve a small item... and that's exactly what this front pack does for you. By keeping your essential items close at hand, you can avoid that hassle.
The pack itself is constructed of rip stop water resistant CorDura, which is a great material for this item. Its light weight, comfortable, and also works well whether you have it fully packed, or only place a few key items within it.
In this video I show the pack in use while out for a day hike, only utilizing the pack as a stand alone to show its independent capabilities, while I visit an old survival shelter and make a small fire in the single degree temperatures. The Ribz Front Pack is a great addition to any serious backpacker, bushcrafter, or outdoorsman.
See the Ribz Front Pack website for more information:
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Welcome back to my Spring Gobbler Hunting Series.
In this video I discuss some of the gear that I have chosen to utilize for turkey hunting. This is subjective as you could obviously harvest a bird with more or less, but I think there is some good information in this video for someone new to turkey hunting.
I discuss the following: Camo, Pop-up Blinds/Ground Blinds, Front Cover Blinds, Decoys, Turkey Vests, Backpacks, GPS, Binoculars, Trail Cameras, Gun Rests, and more.
Welcome back to my Spring Gobbler Hunting Series!
In this video I take you on a series of hunts as I successfully harvest my first spring gobbler in 2013. This is my first season actively hunting for turkey, and if you watch this series, I go through my progression learning how to hunt for turkey, learning about their calls and different gear associated with hunting them. For anyone who (like me) didn't grow up in a hunting family, its never too late to learn and its something that everyone can accomplish with a little hard work.
He wasn't any record setting turkey, but it was a fun hunt and exhilarating hunt, and its given me something to look forward to. I learned more in the two hours watching these birds than I could have learned in a month anywhere else.
***Update 11/2013... finally had time to update the tech issues with this vid and repost.
In this video I show how anyone can breast out the meat from their own harvested turkey. This is a very easy and very clean process if done with care. Anyone can clean their own turkey out and avoid having to pay to have it cleaned or processed by a taxidermist. Breasting out a bird is very easy, this was the first time I ever tried, and I was able to get more than 95% of the meat.
In this quick DIY video I show how to make a wild turkey cape mount for less than $5. It is a very simple process that allows your to preserve your turkey without having to pay exorbitant costs that you would have to pay to have a turkey processed by a taxidermist. This is a very simple process, my cape came out great in this video, and this was the first time I ever tried it!
Monday, April 15, 2013
Welcome back to my Spring Gobbler Hunting Series. In this video, as you probably guessed, we are going to discuss everything related to your Turkey Shotgun, including Turkey Loads, Choke tubes, patterning and more.
Before we head to the range and actually pattern, lets cover a few couple things. If you’ve watched any of my other videos, you probably know by now, I’m the type of guy that likes to be prepared. Mentally, tactically, spiritually, and of course, gear wise haha. Unfortunately, the process of patterning your shotgun can get rather expensive, aftermarket chokes can easily run over $50, and some turkey loads cost more than a few dollars a pop. Fortunately for us there are other hunters just as OCD as us, that have done their homework with enough attention to detail that would make a scientist proud and I’ve used that information to make this process easier for us.
Here’s I’m going to present some considerations you may want to make so your shotgun is the best turkey slayer it can be. Keep in mind what I’m discussing with you is just what I’ve decided to use based on my own preferences.
• 12 gauge – I use a Weatherby 12 gauge, but plenty of turkey have been harvested with smaller gauges. I went with 12 because this gun serves multiple roles for me, but 20 gauge has killed plenty of turkeys and has gained popularity in recent years, especially with women and children. But there are plenty of pro-hunters who swear my 20 gauge. As new creative shot shell metals and wads are developed I believe this will expand even further.
• Barrel Length – Again, this shotgun serves multiple purposes for me, so it may be a bit longer than what you use. There are probably hundreds of thousands of threads discussing how much effect barrel length has on the pattern, but we aren’t going to waste time discussing it because I could give you a dissertation on it at this point. The bottom line is the choke tube is what you should rely on for tightening a pattern, and then figure out which load works best with that choke. The more meaningful difference between barrel length is simple: shorter barrels will make it easier to move through the woods, longer barrels give a longer sight radius if not using an adjustable sight.
• Sights – there is a huge market for shotgun sights, I kept it relatively simple. I’m using this Tru-Glow Universal Ghost ring sight. I tried initially using just a fiber optic style sight on the end of the barrel, but I was not happy with my aiming consistancy at further distances. My other potential concern was not being able to get a good sight alingment if I had to take a shot from a shooting position I wasn’t prepared for. This sight solves both of those concerns for me – mainly though, it helps make me confident in the farther shots.
• Choke tubes – depending on the gun you bought, you may have received a few mfg brand choke tubes. If youre unfamiliar, a choke tube is screwed in to the end of the barrel, which modifies how tight (by using constriction) the pattern is, so you can tailor the gun to your needs. Most likely, the tighest choke tube your gun came with was something like a Full. While I’m sure you could kill a turkey with this constriction at closer ranges, when you’re aiming for a target the size of a pencil with a quarter on top of it, you better be damn accurate. Your best bet is to buy an aftermarket choke tube. This will give you tighter patterns at farther distances.
• Turkey Loads – whether you chose to go with a 2 ¾” 20 gauge shell or a 3 ½” 12 gauge, is entirely up to you. You will need to experiment with different shell sizes as well as shot size and brand to find the best you can. If you find one that works stick with it, no need to shoot every ammo brand your local gun store has. Shot size 4, 5 and 6 are the most popular for turkey.
• Shot Lethality – It is generally accepted that at least 2.5 ft/lbs of energy is required to penetrate the flesh and bone of a mature tom. The smaller the shot size, the faster it loses this energy. Lead #6 shot fired at about 1300 fps will cross this threshold somewhere between 35-40 yards. #5 shot retains about 3.5 ft/lbs of energy at 40 yards, while #4 retains about 4.4 ft/lbs at 40 yards. If you are using any of the heavier shot types, such as tungsten alloys, you will extend the lethality range even further than these general figures. This will come in to play later when we analyze our patterns at our maximum ethical shooting distance.
• Maximum Ehtical Shooting Distance – Which brings me to my next point - This is something every hunter should determine for themselves. The NWTF recommends 40 yards as the farthest ethical distance. There are many people who have their guns dialed in at distances well beyond this. After you go through this process of patterning, you can determine what your distance is based on the results you get. We will talk more about this later.
Now to actually test the different loads you have purchased. I’ll be honest, I have already went through more testing than my bank account would like to admit. But I simply wasn’t happy with the results I got after my first trip so I decided to do it over again.
Here is what I learned from my first trip to pattern.
• Some of the different brands will consistently pattern off center and favor one direction or another. Having an adjustable sight will eliminate this from being an issue because we can adjust to this point of impact after we chose our best load.
• If you plan on shooting more than 15 turkey loads, you should strongly consider using a lead sled. I’m no pussy, but after shooting about 35 magnum turkey loads over a period of an hour, my shoulder had seen better days. Use a sled to take out as much human error as possible.
• There is such a thing as over-constriction. When using some of the different shell varieties, over contricting the shells with higher shot count (like these two oz # 6s), or larger shot size (like # 4 compared to # 5 or # 6) seemed to cause the patterns to be much less dense than they should ultimately be. This makes sense if you think about it. Imagine a bar on a Wednesday night not too crowded, and someone pulls the fire alarm. Everyone gets out in a pretty organized fashion without much fuss. Same scenario on a Saturday night will result in a lot more chaos. To take it even further, imagine the same scenario on a Saturday, except everyone there is 250lbs. Definitely gonna be some chaos. The more shot or the larger the shot you have coming out of a smaller space at the same time, the more this will cause the pattern to fall apart some. Pellets may smash together and/or become deformed resulting in opening up the pattern. Morale of the story, try a looser constriction on both the heavier and larger shot sizes if the pattern looks chaotic with a tighter choke. If that still doesn’t improve the pattern it could just be that your gun dislikes that brand, but its worth checking.
• And lastly, take your time especially if you aren’t using a sled. These shells aren’t cheap and if you’re recoil flinching before the shot user error may be contributiong to port shot patterns or flyers.
Now with that it mind, here is how I decided to work through the patterning process:
• Set up a target at 30 yards. Use large sizes of paper. This way you can identify the entire pattern. A lot of guys just buy those anatomical turkey targets, but they don’t show you the whole picture. I won’t be using those until I identify my best load or loads. Draw a point of aim on the target that is large enough to see from farther distances. I drew about a 2” red dot.
• Depending on your gun set up, this next part may be different for you than me. At some point we want to draw a 10” circle to measure pattern density. If you are using a gun without any form of adjustable sights, draw this cirlce beforehand. If you have an adjustable sight like I do though, we can draw the circle afterwards based on where the highest density is, and then adjust our sight to the actual point of impact. It doesn’t make sense to adjust your sight until after you chose a load, because each load may have a different approximate point of impact – just make sure you are consistently aiming at the same point of aim with each load.
• Fire 1 shot with each different load you bought at the target at 30 yards. I say 30 because its still close enough to aim easily without sights (compared to 40) and the pattern won’t open up as much yet, but is also far enough away (compared to 20) for the pattern to open up a bit and show any possible issues you will have at farther distances. Mark all pertinent info down on each target such as shot size, brand, distance etc.
• From these targets we will analyze pattern density. Again if you are using a gun without sights, you will want to choose the load(s) that patterned the most shot within the predrawn 10” circle. If you are using adjustable sights like I am, use a 10” circle cut-out and place it over the most dense part of the pattern. Count the number of shot within that 10” circle.
• Choose best patterns and then we will advance the distance with these better performers to 35 yards and repeat the process.
• From here we will probably eliminate another few loads. Take the final remaining loads and fire 1 each at 40 yards. You can continue this process out to farther distances if you plan on shooting farther distances, or if you’re just curious to see what the pattern looks like.
• The NWTF recommends that at 40 yards you should have at least 100 hits in the 10” circle to ensure an ethical kill. If during this process you discover that your patterns stop meeting that threshold, you have identified that load as a non-viable option up to that distance – at least by the NWTF’s standards.
• Now, my 0.02 - It only takes 1 good placed ball of shot to kill a turkey if it hits in the right place, but turkeys are some tough birds and you have little control of what shot hits where. But some patterns will result in a bird more dead than others haha. With this process you are greatly increasing your efficiency and more importantly your confidence, as you attempt to harvest a turkey ethically.
• If you’ve discovered that multiple different loads pattern effeciently up to your maximum ethical shooting distance, then you’ve got to determine which load you would go with. A significantly higher amount of shot improves your chances of a lethal shot, but remember the trade off between shot size and shot energy. If I had to chose between a marginal increase in the number of shot versus a larger shot size, I would go with the larger shot and more retained energy. But if the number of shot within the pattern was significantly higher, then that may be your better option.
• From here, I will first adjust my sight’s point of aim based on the approximate point of impact of the pattern for the load I have selected. Then I will shoot at the anatomical targets at different distances. This gives me a bit more of a real world experiment. From this I will count the number of lethal hits. 8-10 is a good minimum in either the brain or spine, as is a minimum of 20 total hits.
At this point you should know what your best load is. I will also recommend if you are using a vest and or a blind or some form of gun rest or shooting sticks that you should practice with them. I don’t want the first time I’m using the set up to be when I’m out in the woods, only to find that I have to adjust my aiming if I can’t get a good mount or sight picture. This will make you at least a bit more prepared for whatever those jokers throw at you. You may also want to throw a pattern at 10 or 15 yards. You will see the margin of error gets smaller and smaller the closer the bird gets, and depending on your choke tube, you’ll probably realize after a certain point you might be better of fixing bayonets haha.
That’s it for this video guys. Hopefully this will help you pattern your shotgun, and has increased your knowledge around patterning in general. I know it has for me. With a little bit of work, its easy to make your shotgun the best turkey slayer it can be. Stay tuned for my next video in the series, on all the other miscellaneous gear related to turkey hunting.
As always, stay safe,
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Hello everyone and welcome back to my Spring Gobbler Hunting Series. If you just stumbled on this, check out part one where I introduce what this series is about. In this second video we will be discussing Turkey Calls. This quite possibly will be the most difficult video of the series, barring the actual video of harvesting a gobbler.
Wild turkey have a very diverse vocabulary, and because of that there is quite a diverse selection of calls available on the market today and I am going to do my best to navigate through the different options. This will definitely be one of the more subjective areas as a lot of the choices you have will be made on personal preference and trial and error. Remember, this whole series is not me telling you what to do, its just what I have decided to try based on the research that I have done. For each video, I will include a brief summary in the description, as well as a full detailed article on my blog page. I will also include the links/articles that I based my choices on.
One thing about calls is certain; you will want to select your calls well before the season to allow yourself plenty of time to practice – particularly with diaphragm calls, or mouth calls. You won’t call too many gobblers in if you sound like a cat caught in a dishwasher. Its important to be able to replicate turkey vocalizations with the correct tone, pitch and cadence, and it could be the difference between tagging out or coming home empty handed. Variety in this case is your friend. You may get a gobbler to respond with one particular type of call, only to find he freezes up just out of range. Having a backup call or twelve can give you that added advantage and bring him in those last few steps. Also, what works under one set of circumstances, might not yield success a half mile down the road. Having options within your repertoire will be key in your success.
As I mentioned, it is important to mimic calls as close as possible, but don’t feel bad if it takes some time to get use to. I certainly haven’t mastered calling either. So don’t feel bad if you don’t quite stack up to the Pro Hunters you see on TV… they’ve probably been calling just as long as talking. If you can mimic the sounds close enough, usually you will get a gobbler to respond. Actually, last year Bownhunter and I were at a local Gander Mountain which just happened to have a field next to it. We had bought a new box call, I had just ripped it out of the packaging and were practicing in the parking lot and all of a sudden I realized a tom had run out of the woods into the field and was coming straight for us! Too bad I didn’t have my shotgun haha. But lesson learned, I hadn’t even really made that great of calls and he came runnin full speed. Obviously do your best when using a call, but most of them today are truly good to go right out of the box.
I think what I learned from this is that you can’t be so scared of making a mistake calling that you don’t call at all. Its more important to be careful with accidentally making an alerted call like a Putt, when you were trying to make a cut or cluck, more so than being exactly on pitch or cadence when calling.
Before we cover the different types of calls, lets quickly take a look and briefly discuss some of the actual sounds we are trying to replicate and what they mean when a turkey makes them. Here are just a few clips of some of the sounds turkey make. These audio clips are free and available to all courtesy of the NWTF, credit for the audio goes to them. A link is included so you can listen to them as well:
Cluck – Used to get attention of other birds.
Cutt – Excited hen sound. Can lure dominant hen and her tom.
Yelp – Plain and excited. Can lure in toms or dominant hens.
Purr – Sound of reassurement, often made when feeding
Putt – Alarm call used to alert of turkeys of danger
Gobble – Locator - Used to elicit a shock gobble. USE CAUTION.
Owl Hoot – Locator – Used to elicit a shock gobble.
Let’s go through just some of the most popular types of calls, with a bit of background info behind each. Keep in mind this is not an all encompassing list. In no particular order:
• Diaphragm aka mouth calls – These are small hands free calls placed in your mouth. There are the most difficult calls to master, but are also very important. With practice, you can replicate pretty much any turkey sound with this call, and the ability to call without using your hands means they can be on the gun. This is a great tool that can be used to bring the gobbler in those last few yards, or get him to stick his head out for that shot. Start early with these calls. Its hard to give you a starting point with these unfortunately because everyone’s mouth is going to be different. What works for one person may not work for another. Fortunately, these call are relatively inexpensive and often times can be purchased in multi-packs, so its easy to try multiple calls to figure out what works. I personally started with the more simple designs and worked my way up to the more advanced, multiple reeds/different cuts and notches. I practice on my commute to and from work, so that gives me an hour a day of practice. I haven’t mastered it yet but that’s why I started early.
• Push-Pull Call – These calls are simple yet extremely efficient at replicating a hen’s yelp. You simply push and/or pull the call to create a good yelp tone. This can be a great call for a beginner that hasn’t quite figured out the yelp on the mouth call (me), but its versatility adds value even to an advanced hunter’s call arsenal. With practice this can be done one handed which will be extremely beneficial for me since most of my hunts will be solo adventures. This is a wood component call, so care must be taken so as not to get it wet which will make the call useless. Also be sure to apply chalk before going out in the field.
• Box Call – Another call that excels at making yelp calls, but can produce a variety of sounds with practice. A little trickier than the simple push pull call, but easy to master. Again, this is wood, care must be taken to keep it dry and chalked.
• Slate Call (AKA Striker and Pot Calls) – This call Is yet another friction call. It consists of a platform held in one hand, while a striker rod is used in the other to mimic vocalizations. There are multiple different combinations for these. The pot can come in wood, slate, aluminum, or glass to name a few, and the strikers come in multiple types of wood, carbon, plastic and a host of other types as well. Some work better in dry conditions, others are unaffected by dampness. You will have to decide which options suits your needs best. Check this forum link for a good resource.
• Owl Call – Locator call used to elicit a shock gobble in the early morning or late evening. Great for pinpointing roost locations the night before. Use the cadence “Who cooks for you, who cooks for you all”
• Gobble Call – Locator used to elicit a shock gobble. Be very careful using this especially in public land as you may trick a hunter in to thinking you are a turkey!
Again, the key to mastering turkey calling is starting early and practicing, a lot. Nothing is a better teacher than mother nature when it comes to listening to examples, but the links I provided are a close second.
I don’t know if I’ll be able to master the mouth call by the start of the season, but hopefully with practice I’ll be good enough.
With the variety of calls I have, I’ve got a good arsenal and starting place.
This was certainly not an all encompassing video, there is simply to much to cover. But its my hope that this video will help you get started so you can bag your own gobbler come this spring.
That’s it for this video guys, stay tuned for part 3 where we will discuss Pre-scouting.
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Hello and welcome to my new series. This year I am going to take you along step by step as I continue to learn about wild turkey hunting. I have some experience from previous seasons, but wanted to document going through the process from start to finish, starting from scratch.
The series will look something like this:
Turkey Calls – Start Early, Practice a lot. We’ll go over the different types, and when to use each.
Pre-Scouting – Where to start and what to know.
Gear – Camo, Blinds, Decoys, Toys.
Scouting – Look Listen Plan
Firearm – What gun, which load, which choke.
Scouting – 2 Minute warning. Zeroing in on which location(s) to hunt.
The Set Up – How To Set Your Trap. Blind/Decoy/Location Tactics.
And last but not least,