As a gun-owning father, I always wanted my kids to have a healthy respect for firearms, and to have the knowledge to remain safe around them. I didn’t want them to have outright fear of the inanimate object itself, but I also wanted them to be fully aware of their destructive potential. But, how to do that effectively????
So, you didn’t get drawn for elk in your home state (story of my life here in AZ), or you live in a part of the country that simply doesn’t have elk hunting. You’ve watched all the shows, been sucked deeply into the YouTube vortex of Western elk hunting, and would LOVE to chase these majestic creatures this fall. But, where do you even start? It’s hard enough to navigate your local hunting options…now you’re gonna throw a dart on a map in an area you’ve NEVER been before, travel hundreds of miles, and hit the trail hoping that everything comes together? The idea of taking your first out of state hunting adventure is equal parts exhilarating and terrifying.
In my relatively short bowhunting career, I have had three wildly different bow shopping and/or tuning experiences at three different locations. A big box store and two different independent archery shops - two experiences were terrible and one was fantastic. Having now experienced some of the worst in the bow-world as well as some of the most amazing archery professionals, I am firmly convinced that EVERY archer needs to have an ongoing relationship with a really good bow shop. Here’s why and how to identify one…
I LOVE sharing my passion for the outdoors with my family and seeing my son have some great first-time experiences, but there are those moments where the hunt is impeded, where whining is the order of the day, and where I am just ready to start a full-fledged dad-rant! So, how do you do it? How can you create awesome memories and raise your kids with a love of the outdoors without going insane? Well, I’m certainly still figuring it out, but here are five things I’ve learned that help everyone have a much better time. There will still be periods of frustration and “teachable moments” (translation: those times when you might just leave your whining son on the side of the mountain), but these ideas can help mitigate the worst of it.
So, I had now accepted I was not fully prepared physically or mentally for the rigors of western mountain hunting, but what was I to do? I still had years of research and practical experience telling me that extended cardio sessions only serve to break-down muscle tissue, that total body strength was better than balancing on a ball while holding a 5 lb. dumbbell in a strange pose, and the simple fact that I like being strong and didn’t want to go back to being lanky and weak (what can I say, my wife is now very attached to my big, squatting butt). Well, as is often the case, it seems the answer lies somewhere in the middle. I didn’t need to swear-off barbells and start running marathons, but I also didn’t need to just keep pushing for new PRs all the time.
So, let’s say you’re ready to head to Amazon or your local gun shop to pick up a pair of sights for your carry pistol of choice. Surprise…there are 9,000 different options in the night sight game, and for every three people in the room, you’ll get five opinions on “the only ones any person who doesn’t want their whole family to die would ever carry”…it’s one of the biggest debates in the pistol world, second only to Glock vs. All-Things-Not-Glock. Some are designed to be super quick, some are designed for more precision, one dot, two dot, three dot. And of course, laser sights and holographic red dots are becoming increasingly popular. But which option is best for YOU???
I just got back from a bear hunt where absolutely everything went wrong. Between getting eaten alive by mosquitoes the first evening (seriously, it was bad), and the moon being so obnoxiously bright that I couldn't sleep, it was already off to a rough start. Add to that the fact that I hiked and glassed multiple drainages, stared at countless prickly pear cacti brimming with perfectly ripe fruit that hordes of bears SHOULD be eating, and yet turned up absolutely zero wildlife. It was actually eerie...every other step I was walking through old elk, deer, antelope, and even some bear sign, but I never encountered a single fresh piece of evidence that any other living creature was currently in this part of the wilderness. It was as if aliens had come a year before and abducted every four-legged creature in this canyon, leaving only their dried and sun-baked poo as a reminder that they once roamed the landscape. Traditionally speaking, the hunt was an absolute failure.
We built our fire, ate some camp staples (all roasted over the open fire, of course), told a few hunting stories, and turned in for the night. Of course, the five year-old I was worried about most (who was spending his first night ever in a tent) fell fast asleep and stayed that way all night. Then, just as I was drifting off for the first time, I awoke to, "Dad! Dad, wake up...do you hear that? Something is breathing outside our tent!!!" Somewhat delirious, I popped my head up and listened closely...sure enough, there was a steady, growling, breathing noise that sounded extremely nearby. As I listened, trying to remember if I had, in fact, put every scrap of food safely back in the truck so as to not attract bears, I realized the sound was coming from directly in between us. I breathed a sigh of relief and whispered, "go to sleep - it's your little brother snoring."
Every hunter knows the agony and anticipation of draw day. You've done all your research, triple-checked your applications and credit card info, and have the day of the official Game & Fish draw marked on your calendar. That day comes, and you spring out of bed to check your bank account...no hits yet. You come back a little later...and a little later...hit refresh a couple times...still nothing. Then you start seeing social media posts popping up with ecstatic dudes proclaiming their card just got hit and they are going (insert your dream animal) hunting this year. When the dust settles, your account remains untouched by your local Wildlife Management Bureau, and you accept the horrifying truth that you did not draw a tag this year. You now have the option of putting all your gear into long-term storage and giving up, or adapting and finding ways to still get into the field and put meat (of some sort) in the freezer this year.
We've all been there: miles from civilization, weather and/or darkness moving in, the animal just stepped into range, and it's the moment you envisioned when you chose/purchased/packed that one piece of gear. You go to set it up, or take the shot...and you realize it doesn't work! Or, doesn't work like you thought it would, and you're going to have to improvise. Or, you miss the shot opportunity and never see that bull or buck again. It's almost part of the outdoors initiation process, but it's also one of the easiest situations to avoid...just test your gear beforehand!!! In this article, we will look at three key pieces of gear that we often don't test (at least not as rigorously as we should), and hopefully identify some things to look before before even making a purchase so we end up with better, more effective gear in the first place.