Saturday, December 17, 2016

Backcountry Hunters and Anglers


A few months ago, shortly after moving back to Wyoming, I joined Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. BHA is an organization whose main goal is to provide education and action to stop the transfer of public lands in the U.S. into private holdings, thereby preserving the tracts of wilderness set aside by our forefathers, most notably Teddy Roosevelt.

I had been aware of BHA for a while, but the reality of the neccessity of such a group has really begun to sink lately by wacthing the slow but sure erosion of our public lands, and the loss of accessibilty to prime hunting and fishing areas. For various political reasons, there has been a massive move to transfer federal public lands into state management. On the surface, this seems like a great idea. "The dang Feds" mishandle almost everything they do, and those politicians in Washington have no idea how to manage our land. Give it to the states and they will do a much better job. The problem that arises is that the states don't have the financial ability to manage these lands. The first time the land is hit with a forest fire, the state will be forced to clean out it's budget on controling it. So then the state sells the land because it is costing much more money than it is making. This equals less access and opportunity not only for the sportsman, but anyone else who recreates on our abundant public land.

This scenario is not speculation, but is based on the history of events in every case where federal lands have been transferred to state management. The scope of BHA goes far beyond this one issue, but after having lived in a state that has very little publically accessible land, it really hits home. About 4.68% of Georgia's land is owned by Federal or State government, compared to 54% in Wyoming. The danger is that transferring lands will slowly chip away at this number if we sportsmen and other outdoor-loving people are complacent.

Growing up in Wyoming, having a place to hunt was never a concern. There was abundant public land and I took this priveledge for granted during my youth. Living in Georgia, the opportunity is severely limited. There are public hunting areas available, but most of them are over-hunted, and hutning a crowded section of woods is not my idea of a good time. The next step is to find private land to hunt, but that means owning your own land or getting a hunting lease, both of which can be expensive. In a few instances you can get permission to hunt land free of charge but it's never a garantee. 

Now that I'm back in Wyoming, I don't want to see that happen here. So I've joined BHA and committed to helping there cause here in the Cowboy State. There is no local chapter here in the southwest part of the state, but hopefully we can generate some more interest here in the near future. If you're not familiar with BHA, I highly encourage you to check them out and join if you can. Don't take your public recreation lands for granted. Get involved.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Into Africa: The Wishlist

As I plan for my African safari, I was asked to create a wishlist of animals I would like to take. This was more of a challenge than I anticipated because Africa has such a wide variety of animals, and they are all so unique compared to our North American game. Of course this list isn't set in stone but it helps the Professional Hunters plan the hunt around the right locations for particular animals. After quite a bit of thought, research and countless hours searching Google images, I've finally come up with my wishlist.


The number one animal on my list is the Impala. To me they embody the best qualities of so many Plains game animals with their beauty and grace. To me, the trip would not be complete without taking one of these.


Number two on my list is the ugly little warthog, and honestly, it may really be my number one. These animals are so smart and the behaviors I've read about them make them seem like more of a challenge than most would give them credit for. Mike Helbing, the owner of Wild Wildebeest Safaris, told me that they are his favorite African game to hunt.


The gemsbok, or Oryx, is another animal that represents Africa, and as such is a must on my list. Its long, sweeping horns and black and white face markings are a beautiful representation of the variety and beauty of plains game.


Last but not least is the blue wildebeest. Another animal that is uniquely and unquestionably African, this is another one that I feel would be a great addition to the list. It's also supposed to be some of the best eating Africa has, and I'm looking forward to that, as well as the other game on the menu.

Of course if an opportunity to take something not on the list arises, I'm game to give it a try. I've been told by several people that photos don't do many of the animals justice, and that once I see them in the flesh I may change my mind. There are so many animals there that it's bound to happen. But this list will get me started!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Utah Archery Elk


If you've followed my blog for the last few years, you know that my elk hunting has been a struggle to say the least. I've been archery hunting elk for the last few years and have come up empty handed every year. Some years the hunting was tough, some years I made a lot of mistakes, some years I missed shots, but every year I ate my tag. This year I was able to break the streak.


I moved back to Wyoming this year, but wasn't able to draw a tag of any kind. Not wanting to sit out the whole season, I decided to buy an over-the-counter elk tag in Utah. Having never hunted Utah, and with only a couple days to scout, my first days in the field were spent "bowhiking." The bulls weren't bugling at all, so I resorted to looking for sign and trying to find an active wallow. I lucked up and found a couple of wallows a few miles apart that were being hit pretty regularly. I set a trail camera on one of the wallows and got some pics of several smaller bulls, and consiering this was an OTC tag, I was looking forward to getting a shot at one of them.


On the afternoon of September 2, I decided to sit one of the wallows and hope a bull would come out for water in the heat of the day. About 6:30, a 5x5 came out and started feeding through the clearing toward me. Soon after, a small 3x4 came out behind him, acting nervous and looking back the direction they came from. After a few minutes he took off running and the bigger bull looked around and then followed after. I had ranged the wallow from my makeshift blind, but the bull finally turned broadside just past it, leaving me to guess the yardage. Miraculously, he paused for a split second in a shooting lane, and I released my arrow. My guess was a little short, but I felt good about the hit.


I gave the bull some time, then followed his trail. There was barely any blood, but I was able to follow his tracks, eventually locating him about 300 yards from where I shot him. After quartering and caping him and taking one load out, I made the trip out of the mountains to where I had cell phone service and called my parents. My dad was able to come in the next morning and help me pack the bull out. Truly an awesome experience.


This bull has been a long time coming and I'm so proud of him. He's a beautiful 5x5 and a great trophy, especially for an OTC, general area hunt. The only sad part is that my season is over already, unless I decided to pick up an OTC deer tag. But I will be able to hunt elk and deer with my dad and hopefully help him. Another blessing of being back home.


Saturday, August 20, 2016

My Top 5 Hunting Podcasts

Lately I've been listening to a lot of hunting podcasts, especially when I'm running or at the gym. I know that most people listen to jammin' music when they're working out, and sometimes I do too. But the primary reason that I'm training is to be a better hunter, so there's no better time to listen to some of the good info coming from the podcasts available now.

There are quite a few hunting related podcasts out there now, and from time to time I check out topics from most of them. There are 5 that I am subscribed to and like the most, all for different reasons. Im not saying by any means that you shouldn't listen to any others, but these are my picks. 

The Gritty Bowmen

The Gritty Bowmen is a podcast by Brian Call and Aron Snyder and is probably the most entertaining of the bunch. These guys and their guests bounce around lighter side of hunting while still giving you an hour or more of solid information every time. From gear recommendations and shooting tips, to interviews with high profile hunting celebs, and a steady stream of Snyderisms, this podcast is a hoot.

Hunt Backcountry

My buddy Mark Huelsing, blogger at SoleAdventure.com, and Steve Speck of EXO Mountain Gear churn out some great info that is usually tailored to the backcountry hunter, but can truly be applied to almost any type of hunting. With a heavy emphasis on gear and preparation, this is great listening as you get ready for a hunt out west.


Nock On Archery

John Dudley has been one of my favorite writers for many years, and his podcast is also one of my favorites. John is an absolute genius when it comes to tuning and shooting bows, and he shares his ideas, tips and tricks with anyone who will listen. I have a lot of respect for someone who is willing to put information that it took him years of trial and error to acquire out there for everyone to hear. If you're an archer, you will benefit greatly by listening to him.


Jay Scott Outdoors

The Jay Scott Outdoors podcast is a wealth of knowledge for the western hunter. Jay covers draw odds and strategy, recommends areas for each species and gives hunting tips backed by many years of guiding experience. Jay is a guy in the know and you will be too if you listen to him. 

MeatEater

Steven Rinella's TV show Meat Eater broke new ground by focusing on not just the hunt, but the culture around hunting that includes eating what we kill. His podcasts tackle a variety of issues from conservation to squirrel hunting with dogs and like the Gritty Bowmen, are both informative and entertaining.

Do you have a favorite podcast that I didn't mention? I'd love to hear about it.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Advent by HunterVids


At the National Wild Turkey Federation Convention back in Februaury, I had the opportunity to meet Todd Roark, the CEO of HunterVids.com. We struck up a conversation based on the fact that I was wearing a KUIU shirt, and KUIU is the official sponsor of Todd's site. That conversation led to an opportunity for me to work with HunterVids writing some web content, but this post is more about the website itself than that.

HunterVids is an online destination for  a huge collection of high quality hunting films. Some of these films are available elsewhere on the internet, but many are created specifically for the HunterVids network, and all of the films showcased are top-notch. They're all sorted by categories, so depending on what type of film you're looking for, you can find a bunch of them based on the species or geographic region you are interested in. 

In addition to the collection of films available on the site, HunterVids has also created the very first online hunting film festival called the Advent. These exclusive films are available On Demand through HunterVids.com for $10. The films vary widely in content and scope, and feature hunts for several different species over several continents. It is truly worth your time and money to watch these films if you enjoy and appreciate quality hunting productions by talented people.

To sweeten the deal, HunterVids is giving away some awesome prize packages, and you're eligible to win them just for signing up to watch the films. For example, here is the list of items that will be given away this November:

KUIU T-Shirt & Hat
KUIU Merino Base Layer
KUIU Super Down Jacket
Wilderness Athlete Performance Pack
Maven T-Shirt & Hat
Maven Vacuum Bottle
Maven Binoculars
Girls With Guns Hat
GWG 1 pk Shooting Targets
GWG $30 Gift Card
Xpedition Archery T-Shirt & Hat
Ripcord X-Factor arrow rest
NWTF One Year Membership
NWTF Bass Pro Shops Promo Card
DeLorme Earthmate Hunt App

As you can see, that's an impressive gear list and you get an opportunity to win by signing up to rent the Advent and watching it. It's pretty hard to pass that up.

Again, this is all available at HunterVids.com.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Headed West


I recently had the opportunity at work to move back to my hometown of Green River, WY and recieve a promotion in the process. While I've given thought to moving back home over the years, I never dreamed it would all work out the way it did. I am really blessed to be back close to my family, as well as back in the West which feels like home to me.

Since I didn't draw any tags this year, I'm looking forward to having the ability to hunt Wyoming as a resident next year. In the meantime, I have a nonresident fishing license that I've got to get my money's worth out of!

I'll be posting more regularly from now on so be sure to subscribe for notifications of new posts.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Turkey Season is almost here!


Turkey season is almost here in Georgia! I've seen a few pictures on social media from successful hunts in Florida and they're making me a little bit jealous. Season here opens March 26 and I've been selected for a limited quota hunt at Blanton Creek WMA that runs the first two weeks of the season. I'm excited to be back in the woods hunting and for the chance to participate. Check back soon for updates from the hunt!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Weighted Pack Training

Training with a weighted pack, or rucking as it's called in military circles, is a great way to intensify your cardio workouts, as well as prepare your body for carrying heavy loads come hunting season. In addition to the hunting I do out west, the mountain hunting here in Georgia can at times call for quartering up an animal and hauling it out as opposed to dragging it a little ways to the truck.
 

After doing a little research I found a good way to add a realistic weight to your pack without investing much money. This whole project cost me just $10 and some change. 


The ruck "pill" basically consists of play sand inside a sandbag, and then wrapped in duct tape. For my purposes I skipped the sandbag and just used the bag the sand came in. I folded it over in half and started taping it into a "pill" shape. I used about a roll and 1/4 of duct tape to cover the entire thing well. 


All finished, my pill weighs about 35 pounds, and is just the right size to fit in my day pack. It may have been a good idea to start with a lighter weight, but it's too late now so I'll just go with it! I definitely recommend doing this project in a place where spilled sand won't matter or will be easy to clean up. You can experiment with different weights and sizes depending on your gear and fitness level.

Now all that's left to is hit some hiking trails or go about your regular workout routine. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Into Africa: Rifle or bow?

If you've been keeping up with me for a while, you may know that I'm going to hunt Africa in 2017. Even though I've been talking and thinking about it often, I don't think the reality of that sunk in until I met Mike and Karen Helbing at the NWTF Convention in Nashville. They weren't at the World Deer Expo last year where I won the safari they donated, and prior to meeting in Nashville we had only corresponded by email. When I sat down at their booth at NWTF and Karen started going over all the logistical details, it finally hit me....I'm going to Africa!

Wild Wildebeest Safaris is based in South Africa, with hunting concessions throughout South Africa and neighboring countries. They offer hunts for almost every huntable African species, limited only by your pocketbook. Looking at pictures and video of the accommodations, the lodge appears to maintain a good balance between the African experience and still being comfortable enough for Westerners to relax and rest easy during their stay.

Between research on my own and conversations with Mike and Karen, I know a lot more about what to expect than I did back in July when I won the safari. The main question in my mind was whether I would plan to hunt with a bow or rifle. Bowhunting is by far my favorite method, but I'm not going to hunt Africa every year, and I don't want to come home from this kind of trip with nothing to show but some landscape photos. After asking questions about the opportunities for bowhunting and looking at the extensive catalog of succession bowhunts they've had the last few years, I've decided to hunt with a bow. As a last resort, rifles are available to rent if the stick and string work doesn't go as planned. 

Bowhunting Africa is more seasonally dependent than rifle hunting, due to the fact that much of the hunting involves sitting in blinds over water holes, and for that tactic to work you need dry weather. The season begins in May and gets drier as it goes on to September. So my tentative plan is to hunt in late July/early August. 

The next update on this hunt will be my "wish list" of animals, which may or may not change over the next year and a half. There's plenty of time to add and remove animals from the list, but I want to have a general idea. More on that soon! 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Georgia Campus Carry Legislation

On February 16, the Georgia House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee passed House Bill 859 on a 10-3 vote.  HB 859, sponsored by Representative Rick Jasperse, a Republican, seeks to amend restrictions in state law that prohibit law-abiding Georgia Weapons License holders from being able to carry and protect themselves on college and university campuses. Today, the Georgia House of Representatives passed the bill on a 113-59 vote. 

Although it's already obvious to many of us, CCW holders do not threaten public safety, as they are one of the most law-abiding portions of the population. They shouldn't be prevented from exercising their right to self-defense simply because they are seeking a college education. The bill will now move to the Senate for committee assignment and consideration.

In other college news, many colleges take great pride in bragging about their “diversity” and “inclusiveness,” but just wearing a tool of his trade was reason enough for one police officer to be excluded from a class he was taking at Darton State College in Albany, GA. 

There aren't many details available, but several accounts say the uniformed officer escorted from class because the instructor was uncomfortable that a gun was in the classroom.

So far there is nothing to indicate that the instructor’s “discomfort” was due to any threatening or disruptive behavior by the officer. The school has reportedly apologized to the officer for the incident. It turns out that Darton State College generally bans firearms from campus, but makes an exception for police officers.

Most colleges and universities ban staff and students from carrying weapons on their campuses. These bans do nothing to prevent firearms-related incidents! All they accomplish is providing an easy, open opportunity for those who would do harms to others and don't pay attention to the "gun free zone" signs.

This has led to efforts to recognize right to carry on campus in several states. Let's hope HB 859 continues to carry through the Georgia senate. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

GIVEAWAY!


I'm doing a giveaway over on my Instagram and Facebook pages. Here's a chance to win some cool Muddy and Big Game Treestands gear. Find me on Instagram @_Up_and_Adam and on Facebook at facebook.com/upandadamadventures.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Post-Season Scouting


This time of the year is the perfect time to scout your whitetail property for sign from the rut and late season travel patterns. The advantage to scouting now is that the rubs, scrapes and trails from the past few months will still be fresh enough to read as a general rule, and you can piece together what the deer were doing toward the end of the season on your particular property. This can help you determine if you need to move your stand locations from the previous season.

On the hunting club I'm a member of, scouting after the season closed led us to discovering an area full of sign that we just weren't aware of. We got the property in the spring, and although we did some quick scouting and food plot work, there was no way to know exactly where the deer would be when hunting season got here. Now that we've got one season and a general idea of deer patterns on the property under our belt, adding some post-season scouting should help us be more successful this coming fall. 

Another benefit to scouting this time of year is that you aren't spooking deer right before the season starts, or worse yet, during it. Your presence will no doubt be detected, and you may move some deer out temporarily. But once you have the information you need and don't have to venture back into those areas, the deer will settle down and return to their usual patterns. 

There are a couple of bonuses to scouting now as well. For one, if you'll be turkey hunting the same general area, you can get an idea of where turkeys might be hanging out for the upcoming season. And this is shed season, so be on the lookout for antlers to collect from deer you've seen on your property and random bucks passing through. 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

NWTF Convention


I spent a day this past week at the National Wild Turkey Federation Convention in Nashville, TN. This event is a large gathering of turkey hunting and hunting related manufacturers, outfitters, production companies and pretty much anything related to the hunting industry. One day really isn't enough to cover every square inch of the show, but I did manage to cover most of the floor. 


The show is held at the Gaylord Opryland complex every year, and it's a great host facility for this type of event, with plenty of space for the show floor, restaurants available onsite and of course the Opryland hotel itself. One of the main reasons I attended this year year was for a meet-and-great with Wild Wildebeest Safaris, the donors of the Safari I won at the Birmingham Deer Expo. I got to chat with Mike and Karen Helbing about my hunt, ask some questions and looks through photo albums of previous years' hunts. 


One of the products I'm most excited about are the decoys from Ultimate Predator. These lightweight decoys mount to the front of your bow and allow you to sneak in close. They have elk, whitetail, mule deer, turkey, pronghorn and even a cow. There display included a video of Super Slammer Jack Frost using the mule deer to sneak to 20 yards of several blacktail deer in Alaska. To me it seems like a great product and owner Lance Hallum seemed liked a great guy. I would really like to try the turkey decoy this spring. 


The show included taxidermy contests for turkey and for deer, with some serious prizes and bragginf rights given away. This silver bird was the most beautiful animal on display. A great job on the taxidermy, and an awesome, rare trophy for the hunter.


My buddy Josh Carney was at the show and his magnetizing personality seems to draw a crowd no matter where he goes. This guy can produce almost any animal vocalization with his voice, and very convincingly. He's also a huge inspiration and perfect example of turning a negative circumstance into a positive opportunity. Check out Son of the South TV on YouTube.


The Bass Pro Shops King of Bucks trailer was on hand, showcasing some of the largest bucks ever taken. These animals are truly magnificent and if you get a chance to see this display when it comes to your local Bass Pro Shops, I highly recommend it.


Country singer Craig Campbell among others put on acoustic shows at a few different booths around the show. His new song "Outskirts of Heaven" is a good one. Listen for it on the radio soon.

This was just a small sample of what the show had to offer. There were plenty of hunting celebrities onhand, lots of deals on new products, giveaways, seminars, and much more. I was so busy trying to cover ground that I didn't get to take a lot of photos, much less attend the seminars and auctions. Hopefully I'll have more time to take it all in next year. This show is well-worth attending if you're able.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Product Spotlight: Orange Aglow

Orange Aglow

Every year, our hunting clothing options get more and more technical. Advances in materials and construction have created apparel that keeps us dry and comfortable in almost any imaginable condition. The one area of hunting apparel that has been seemingly overlooked has been blaze orange vests required during rifle and muzzleloader seasons. Until now.

A company called Orange Aglow is making lightweight, breathable and fast-drying vests that compliment technical hunting apparel. Most blaze orange vests don't fit well, are made of cotton that retains moisture and tend to flap in a breeze, creating extra noise and movement. The best from Orange Aglow solves all of those problems. 

Signature Mesh Vest

The vests are sized from M-3XL and are athletically cut with elastic in the back to fit over bulky late season clothes. The size medium fits me perfectly without being to restrictive or baggy. The vests retail for $17.99 and are available through orangeaglow.com. It's true that you can get a cheaper blaze vest that will do the job, but for the features I don't think this is a bad price at all. And it is cheaper than the heavier design from Under Armour. To me it's a great option for a very necessarily piece of gear. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

ATA 2016: Bows

The main attraction at the ATA show every year are the new bows that are unveiled, or at least made available for us enthusiasts to fondle and shoot. This year was no exception and there are some great options out there from all of the major manufacturers. Some of the smaller companies are also producing great bows. This is truly a great time for archers because there are so many great shooting bows available.


When I wasn't working the Muddy booth I was able to roam a little bit and check out some of the new gear. The year's new bows were my main interest. Having shot Bowtech for the past few years I was anxious for Bowtech's unveiling of their new bow. They are one of the few companies that always wait until the ATA show to reveal their new flagship bow. This year's release is the BT-X and it builds on Bowtech's basic speed now platform featuring a 6 inch brace height, 32 inch axle-to-axle length and IBO speeds around 350. I was able to shoot the bow and although it didn't offer anything revolutionary, it was a solid feeling and shooting bow. To me it's very similar to the RPM 360 from a couple years ago with the addition of Bowtech's PowerShift technology. This is a movable disc attached to the cam that changes the draw cycle to 3 different settings from "comfort" to "performance."


Another bow that caught my attention was the Impulse 31 and 34 from Elite Archery. Elite has traditionally produced bows on the slower end of the speed spectrum with a focus on shootability. This year, however, they have combined those two attributes in a bow that offers speeds upwards of 340fps while still offering that smooth Elite draw. This bow was a pleasure to shoot and looks, feels and shoots in every way like a premium bow. Also new this year are options for KUIU Vias and Verde camo. The finishes looked absolutely stunning on the bows I shot. 


PSE has entered the carbon riser market this year with their Carbon Air. A mass weight of 3.2 pounds will make this a great bow for mountain hunters. The main disadvantage will be the $1600 price tag. Don't get me wrong, the bow is well made and technologically advanced, but Bowtech and even Hoyt have lightweight bows that cost less. It will be interesting to see how well this bow is received. 


The Mathews Halon was also a great shooting bow, and the new Lost Camo XD finish is the best I've seen on their bows. My favorite version was the Halon 5, with a 5" brace height and speeds up to 353fps. This was the heaviest bow I shot, but many shooters swear by a heavier bow for consistent accuracy, so for most it would be a non-issue. 


There were many other bow manufacturers present that incomplete didn't have time to check out. New Breed, APA, Obsession and Xpedition to name a few. I was able to sling a few arrows with Hoyt's Carbon Defiant and I enjoyed shooting that bow. 


I made myself a deal after I had the cams, riser and string replaced on my Bowtech Carbon Overdrive that I wasn't going to buy a new bow this year. Having seen all the new ones is going to make sticking to that promise very difficult! I recommend shooting several if you're in the market for a new bow this year. Most companies are producing top quality bows and it really comes down to choosing the one you feel most comfortable with. In addition to their flagship bows, there are also several budget-friendly options available from the larger companies. So head to your local pro shop and shoot a few. It's a good year to be a bowhunter. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

ATA 2016: Muddy Outdoors


was fortunate to be back at the Archery Trade Association show this year in Louisville, KY working with Muddy Outdoors. This show is the Super Bowl for most archery and bowhunting related manufacturers and gives dealers and the media a chance to check out new gear that will be available this year, as well as network and tell hunting stories. 



One of the most exciting new products in the Muddy booth was the Pro Cam 12, a brand new trail camera design featuring a 12 megapixel camera, blackout LED's, a 0.6 second trigger speed and 70' flash range. This camera also has a built-in cable lock channel making it easy to secure to a tree and the small size makes it easy to put a couple in your pack while you're scouting and hanging stands. The retail on this camera will be around $119.99. New also is the Pro Cam 10 which is 10 megapixels and more entry-level features for 79.99. 


New in treestands this year is the Vantage Point, which combines the best features of last year's Vantage and Bravada models into one lightweight, super portable aluminum stand. I was able to be in the video below from ArcheryTalk.com highlighting the Vantage Point and the Pro Cams. 



Another new stand this year is the Boss Hawg, a 16 foot ladder stand designed with the larger hunter or the one who just wants more room in mind. It features a wider version of our FlexTech seat and a huge 28" x 35" platform. With the popularity of filming hunts these days, the Outfitter and Hunter camera arms were hot items, as was the new portable bale blind. And for those looking for the most creature comforts possible in a hunting situation, the Muddy Bull blind has you covered. 

You can find more info on these models and everything else Muddy at gomuddy.com. 

Check back soon for some more cool items and people I found at the ATA Show!