Friday, March 31, 2017

Into Africa: The Gear

It only seems like a few months ago that I found out I had one in African safari at the World Deer Expo in Birmingham, AL, but in truth it has been almost 3 years. To say the time has flown by would be a gross understatement. In about five months I will be setting foot on African soil for the very first time. The feelings of excitement and anxiousness keep growing as I prepare for not only my most adventurous hunting trip to date, but also my first time requiring a passport to fly.

Over the past 2 1/2 years I have dreamt about and read about the many species of plains game available for me to hunt on this trip and I've narrowed my wish list down to a few species that I feel represent the continent well. Stories and films of other hunters safaris have helped to  fuel my own fire to make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime trip. The timing of the hunt was specifically scheduled around the moon phase and seasonal weather patterns most conducive to bowhunting. I have become even more meticulous about my gear and I'm in the process of finalizing my list to pack for the trip. From the very beginning I planned to make this an archery hunt and as such have really spent time dialing in my bow setup for the game I will be pursuing.

Such a great adventure would seem to demand specialized gear, but in reality my packing list for this trip is not much different than an elk or mule deer hunt in the Western US. The lodge I'll be staying at provides laundry services so a lot of extra clothing is not required and a bow that is set up for hunting elk is more than sufficient to take most plains game. That said, I have made a few tweaks to my gear and here is what I plan on taking with me.

- 2 KUIU Peloton 130 T's
- 2 KUIU Attack pants
- 1 KUIU Peloton 200 Zip T
- 1 KUIU Peloton 240 Hoodie
- 1 KUIU Kenai Jacket
- 2 KUIU Peloton 130 bottoms
- KUIU Ultra NX rain jacket
- KUIU Peloton 240 beanie
- KUIU Peleton 200 gloves
- 4 pairs merino wool socks
- 4 pairs Adidas Climatech boxers
- Scarpa Zodiac GTX boots

Hunting Gear
- Maven B.1 10x42 binos
- Nikon Prostaff 3i rangefinder
- KUIU bino harness
- KUIU Ultra 3000 pack
- KUIU Yukon gaiters
- Benchmade Grizzly Creek knife
- MTN OPS Enduro Trail Packs

Archery Gear
- Hoyt Defiant Turbo
- Sure-Loc Lethal Weapon 5 pin sight
- Stokerized Stasis stabilizer
- AAE Elevate rest
- Hoyt Carbon Pro 2 piece quiver
- 24 Easton FMJ 400 @ 25.5", 460 grains
- Nockturnal lighted nocks
- Muzzy Trocar 100 grain broadheads
- Tru-Fire Sear release (x2)
- Extra String and cables

Camera Gear
- Canon 700D SLR camera
- Tamron 18-270mm lens
- Sigma 18-200mm lens (backup)
- GoPro Hero5
- GoPro Hero4 Session
- various GoPro mounts
- Manfrotto Befree tripod
- Manfrotto Befree One tripod
- Manfrotto 128RC2 fluid head
- extra batteries, chargers, memory cards
- portable hard drive

This is all in addition to a couple sets of travel/camp clothes and shoes, toiletries, and travel basics like enough Nock On Archery podcasts downloaded to last the entire trip. I'll be filming as much as possible (hence the extra camera gear) and hope to make the entire experience into a film to submit to hunting film festivals next year. At the very least I will be documenting what is sure to be a memorable adventure to share with my friends and family.

As always no gear list is finalized until you're headed to the airport, so some items may be subject to change. I will post again if there are any major changes before I go.

My next post will address the logistics of an overseas trip and some of the hurdles faced, as well as how to handle them. Until then, join me in reading a Peter Hathaway Capstick book.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Application Season 2017

Application season is in full swing in the west and for many it's almost as exciting as hunting season. E-scouting new areas, adding up your preference points and sending off applications allows us to geek out as we plan our upcoming spring and fall hunts. Some of us are even looking at next year already!

Understanding each state's draw process and regulations can be very frustrating. The laws and wording vary from state to state and can be confusing. I have spent most of my life in Wyoming and still didn't understand parts of our draw process until this year. If you're looking at hunting out west this year, or anytime in the future, I'm going to share a few resources I've found that may help you out.

The first option is completely free. Podcasts have become a valuable tool for outdoorsmen over the past few years. Some are informative and some are just entertaining, but one of my favorite podcasts to gather information from is the Jay Scott Outdoors Podcast. Jay is a guide, outfitter and certified Turkey Hunting Nut based in Arizona. Many of his episodes focus on the southwest, but he has an amazing network of friends and guides throughout the West that join him as guests and provide some great information for most western states. The guests break down the draw process for the states they guide or live in, as well as a general overview of the available areas and species in their state. They analyze the statistics and terrain of different units with real world language, giving the listener a clearer perspective than reading draw odds charts ever could. If you don't listen to podcasts or have overlooked the Jay Scott podcast, make sure you subscribe.

The Jay Scott Outdoors podcast is sponsored by, and that brings me to the second resource I'd like to cover here. The website offers some basic information but where you really starting digging up some gold is by joining and becoming a Insider. This does cost a little bit of money but the information that becomes available to you is more than worth the price of admission. breaks down each state by species and unit, and provides draw odds, success rates, bull/buck:cow/doe ratios and more, as well as general advice about the terrain and type of hunt each unit provides. During application season they also publish strategy articles that guide you step-by-step through the draw process for each state and provide recommendations for hunters no matter where they stand in the points game.

It was through these strategy articles that I really began to understand the draw process of the state I've hunted in the most and have been applying in for many years. The language is consistent on the site and allows you to compare your odds in different states without having to learn a new language or navigate to another website. All-in-all this is the most comprehensive guide to applying for tags in the west that you will find. There are other resources available on the web, but I don't believe any of them are as detailed or accurate as Jay Scott references the site in his unit breakdowns often and these two resources are dynamite for understanding western draw systems.

As an honorable mention, I would also suggest listening to the Rich Outdoors Podcast as well. Along with great content in general, Cody Rich has been covering the tag lotteries of several states, and provides his perspective on the hunts and tags available. The Rich Outdoors is a good listen for hunting stories and information, and is very entertaining.

A couple of deadlines have already passed us but there is still time to get in the game this year. These resources will put you on the right track. Also I'm happy to help as much as I can so leave a comment or send an email with any questions you have. Good luck this year!