Monday, April 22, 2013

Gear Review - Under Armour Droptine Boots

I was super excited to get a pair of Under Armour's new Droptine hunting boots to review before they are available on the market. I was actually in the market for a new pair of hunting boots in the 400 gram insulation range where these boots fall. That seems to be about the perfect insulation level for me for hunting elk and deer in the high country in late September Nd October.

My first impression of the boots is they seem well made, and fairly light weight compared to similar hunting boots I have owned and worn. They feature Realtree's new Xtra pattern and 400 grams of Primaloft insulation.

The weather is warming quickly here in Georgia but we've still had some cool mornings in the mountains. So I decided to head to the mountains to chase some turkeys and give the new boots a rest drive. Turkey hunting in the Cohutta Wilderness is much like elk hunting the Rockies, with steep mountains, seemingly endless logging roads and cool nights and mornings.

After plenty of walking and climbing in pursuit of thunder chickens, and readjusting the laces a few times to find the sweet spot, these boots have proven very comfortable. They provide good support when climbing but don't feel too stiff. They also feel light on my feet which should also help with fatigue. The temps warmed up too much during the day to really give a fair analysis of the Primaloft insulation. The waterproofing seemed adequate, and wading an ankle deep creek multiple times to get to a sweet turkey hunting spot didn't get my feet moist at all.

All in all, the Under Armour Droptine 400 seems like a boot that is going to fill the mid weight, western hunting boot niche very well for me. I imagine that after some break-in the comfort is o my going to improve. I'm looking forward to taking these boots out west this fall.

Georgia Turkey - Bow 'n Go

A week ago I read an article in Petersen's Bowhunting magazine titled "Bow & Go Gobblers" that addressed hunting turkeys with archery tackle without a ground blind. Prior to reading the article, that was something that seemed far to difficult to me to even try. But the way the article broke down the tactics it started to seem a lot like archery elk hunting. So two days later while chasing turkeys in the Cohutta Wilderness of North Georgia (which is also much like elk hunting) I decided to give it a try.

I had hunted with a shotgun the two days prior and been on a few birds but couldn't get a shot. The evening before, I found a nice clearing about a 30 minute hike from the truck. Sure enough, I spooked a bird off it as I eased into the open. After a quick scout around the edges I knew where to be the next morning.

Through the clearing were several good size trees and I started to think about the article I'd read. The real challenge in Bow & Go turkey hunting is the right setup. You need to be in a position where you will be completely hidden from the gobbler when you draw your bow. Those trees could help me do just that if I positioned my decoys just right.

The next morning I took my Bowtech Insanity into the woods instead of my shotgun. During the 30 minute hike I visualized where I was going to setup so by the time I got to the clearing it was simply a matter of setting up the decoys and waiting for daylight. I put out 2 hens and a jake between two large trees. My hope was that if the Tom came from either side, the tree trunks would hide me long enough to draw my bow.

Just after first light I made a few soft yelps on my slate call. Immediately I heard a gobble. After a few minutes I helped again, and again he answered, closer this time. That's exactly what you want to hear!

Before long, the bird came out into the clearing, and that's when time started to move very slowly. I noticed right away that he was a jake, but I decided if I could pull this whole thing off, I didn't care how big he was. The jake decoy was probably the reason he took so long crossing the field, but he literally backtracked every few steps. It seemed like it took him an hour to get to the first tree but it was really more like ten minutes. He would take a few steps, stop and strut, turn around and go back, then turn and strut again, then inch forward again. And as luck would have it, he stopped behind the tree to strut again as I drew. I was starting to shake when he cleared the tree and I was able to release. I never found the Easton FMJ after it zipped through him. My only thought at the time was nocking another one just in case. It wasn't needed as he ran a few yards and toppled over.

A jake isn't a huge trophy to be proud of but I am proud of what I accomplished in taking him, and the fact that it's my first bowkill turkey. So rarely does a plan actually come together the way you envision it, that I can't helped but feel blessed and happy to pull this off, no matter the size of the trophy.

Monday, April 15, 2013

North Georgia Turkey Hunting

The perks of hunting in the north Georgia mountains...awesome views!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Gear Review - Bowtech Insanity CPX

A while back I traded my Hoyt Maxxis for a 2012 Bowtech Insanity CPX. After setting up the new bow with my trusty Spot Hogg sight, QAD rest and Doinker stabilizer, I took it out to a 3D range for a test drive. It didn’t take long to realize that it’s a shooter.

My first bow was a Hoyt ViperTec, a 2004 model. I spent countless hours shooting that thing and it served very well as an introductory tool to the wonderful world of archery. From that first bow, I was a Hoyt “fan boy.” To me, Hoyt bows just felt right, and I saw no reason to change. I shot a few other bows, but none of them impressed me enough to leave my beloved Hoyts. Hoyts aren’t the fastest, but I grouped pretty good, and took a few animals and a 3D trophy plaque with a Hoyt in hand.

After shooting a Bowtech Insanity CPXL at an archery shop, I began to feel like I could up my game by shooting a faster bow. Before you think I’ve jumped on the speed bandwagon, I want to clear things up a bit. I have a 27” draw length, and my Easton Full Metal Jacket hunting arrows this year had a finished weight of 426 grains, and the Hoyt I hunted with this past season was shooting about 270 feet per second at 70 pounds. It doesn’t take much math to realize that I’m not really in the speed game for speed. I’ll never be able to get close to the advertised speeds that today’s bows are capable of creating with longer draw lengths, and I won’t sacrifice kinetic energy by going to a super light arrow. All that said, there are still advantages to shooting a faster bow.

Most “speed bows” have a brace height of about 6 inches. On the other hand most flagship bows on the market have a brace height closer to 7 inches. What this translates to is the power stroke of a 6’ brace height bow keeps the arrow on the string for a longer period of time than the 7” brace height. It creates the same effect as extending your draw length by an inch. The tradeoff is that the longer the arrow is on the string, the more flaws in your form and torque from the bow can affect the flight of the arrow as it leaves the bow. For this reason, 6” brace height bows are said to be less “forgiving” of mistakes and form flaws.

After the trade I went from shooting 270 FPS to about 295 FPS. Now this number might be laughable to guys with 29 or 30 inch draw lengths, but for a guy my size, these are strong numbers, especially with a heavy hunting arrow. The real key for me is my kinetic energy also increased.

I'm really happy with how this bow is shooting, and I believe it will be my main hunting bow for quite a while. It will take a heck of a bow to knock this one out of first place, in my opinion. Plans for the spring include a custom string and trying it out with some new Easton Injexion arrows.