Archive for July, 2007

What hunting knife is best?

Monday, July 30th, 2007

What is the best type of knife to carry when you are hunting? A sharp one! All kidding aside, I have read numerous articles written by experts in the field, all suggesting that you should have this type of knife for skinning and this type of knife for eviscerating the animal once it is down and yet a whole other type of knife doing the camp chores. Do you need all these different types of knives? Sure! It is like asking your wife if she needs all those shoes. Does she wear them all? Probably not and you probably won’t use all of the knives that you collect throughout your hunting career. Myself, I have started carrying three knives with me when I go to the field. Is that a lot? Maybe, but after a number of years of hunting I have decided that that is what works for me. If you have ever cleaned an elk you would know exactly how fast a knife can dull and how nice it is to have a good sharp knife at the ready.

Here is what I carry and why.

Anytime that I am hunting I always carry a folding lock-blade pocket knife. The one that I am currently carrying is a BladeTech Hunter.  It has a drab olive G-10 handle and a stainless steel blade. The knife itself is extremely light weight, with most of the knifes weight being in the blade. It is very balanced when open and the blade has a thick spine that adds to its
stiffness. Also, it is easy to sharpen and it holds a good edge. I use this for most of my everyday chores. I try not to use it on animals. Not that it wouldn’t do a great job, but just because when you are in the field, folding knives tend to be a little bit more
difficult to clean and if you have ever gutted an antelope, you will find out real quick how tough it is to get the loose hair out of the handle and folding  mechanism of the knife.

For the majority of my animal work I have switched over to using fixed blade knives. I carry these knives in my pack so I am not concerned with how they carry on my belt.

Mostly I prefer the drop pointed blades on these knives. However, I am currently using a Knives of Alaska Light Hunter that is a pure skinning knife. This knife features a non-slip handle and also offers a gutting hook, which I have become quite partial to. It isn’t the lightest knife that I carry. Even though it is an overall short knife. It has a very heavy blade and is very stout. The company claims that it could even be used as a mini cleaver! I haven’t used it for that purpose yet, but I am sure that you could use it to chop through the H-bone or rib cage of an elk if need be. I have only had
this knife for a season and I was only able to use it on a mule deer that I shot last fall. The knife performed superbly and held a good sharp edge throughout the whole process.  The other knife that I carry is a Spyderco Temperance fixed-blade, drop point knife.
Spyderco is more known for there unique designs and folding knives, but with this one they hit the nail on the head. What I look for in a knife, is a comfortable non-slip handle, a stiff spine and the
ability to keep and maintain a sharp edge. This knife meets all these criteria. Last year on an antelope hunt I was able to clean, split the rib cage and H-bone, quarter and skin three antelope before the knife needed to be resharpened. Then when I did resharpen it, a couple of swipes on the stone was all it needed to be razor sharp. This is a real meat and potatoes type of knife that has found a permanent home in my pack.

In all it doesn’t really matter what type of knives you carry as long as they are sharp! A dull knife is a sure way to get hurt and to make an easy job, a difficult job. Let me know what you like. I am always looking for something to take the work out of the work once the animal is on the ground. Good luck.

What type of shelter do you use?

Friday, July 27th, 2007

What type of tent or shelter do you use when you camp? Since this whole backcountry mule deer hunt has come up, I have been trying to decide what type of shelter to carry that would be comfortable and lightweight. If we were going to be doing a big right off the road camp, I would be using our large comfortable outfitter tent.
However, that is not the hunt that I will be doing and carrying a tent that weighs a couple of hundred pounds, just isn’t feasible. So, I have been doing quite a bit of research on the subject and frankly, I have become quite confused. There are three season tents, sill shelters, tee-pee style, dome style, bivi bags, modified bivi bags, and the list goes on. Oh, and I must add, the lighter you get, the more they cost! It is kind of funny when you think about it, because you always want the most for your buck, but in this case less is more. See, I am confusing myself just writing this down. Anyway, what I have decided to do is just to stick to what I know from back in the service days. The good old (not so glorious) Poncho Hooch! For those of you who are unfamiliar with the poncho hooch, all it is is a square piece of waterproof material, such as a tarp or rain poncho.
If it has grommets it makes it much easier to attach your guide lines to. No poles, but a few stakes may come in handy in areas that do not offer very many trees and that is pretty much it. The set-up is pretty much left up to the builder and the terrain. With a little imagination a person can build themselves quite the mansion! Well maybe not a mansion, but at least a place to stay dry and out of the elements.

Review: MSR Pocket Rocket Backpacking Stove

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

This weekend on our backcountry trip, I had the chance to use a MSR Pocket Rocket Backpacking Stove. I was a little sceptical that it would be able to perform up to my expectations. Boy was I wrong!

What the little stove lacks in size and weight it makes up for in efficiency  and user friendliness.

This little stove, weighing in at mere 3 ounces it really worked well. It was able to boil 30oz. of water in 4 minutes at 11000’ of elevation. I was able to turn it down to a low simmer while I was finishing up my cowboy coffee. Also it was extremely quite and easy to start. Even though it lacks the size of some of the
other stoves on the market, I was very pleased with its performance and will
continue to use it.

Badlands 4500, A Backpack Review

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

Wow! Were do I begin? I chose the biggest of the Badlands hunting packs partly because I have had such great success with the Badlands 2200 day pack that I currently use when I hunt. However, for my upcoming backcountry hunting trip, I needed a pack that would be able to carry all of my gear and a boned out animal if I should be so lucky. After researching the various packs and reading as many reviews out there as I could, I chose the Badlands 4500.

When the pack arrived I was very anxious to get a chance to use it, but my trip was still a week away. So one night while I was hanging out with my 7 year old, I coaxed him into hopping into it so that I could carry him around. I was thrilled at the way the pack handled his weight.
Finally, this past weekend I had a chance to put it through its paces. To say that I was impressed would be an understatement! Although I have gone pretty light weight with everything that I carry, this past weekend I also was carrying all of my girlfriend’s gear – sleeping bag, clothes, food, and other assorted items as well as all of the clothes and assorted gear that comes with taking an 11 month old to the field with you. As you can see from the pictures, the pack was filled to the brim. First I would like to say how well the pack handled the extra weight and how comfortable it was to carry. The hip and shoulder straps are molded to fit the contour of your body. The pack also comes with a series of  tightening straps that allows you to really snug down the load as close to your body as possible to allow you to try and center the weight right over your hips. Never once did I feel like my load was pulling me back. It always seemed to be positioned right over my feet.

Badlands seems to have really thought of everything with this pack! You have one main cargo compartment that you can divide into two separate compartments to keep the heavier things in your pack higher up on your back  Also, the pack has several external pockets that are big enough to store just about anything in them. I was able to carry a fairly large set of binoculars and a water filter in just one of them, to give you an example. The top part of the pack, the part that has been designed to hold your water bladder, can also be removed and used as a fanny pack. I did not use it personally on this trip, but my girlfriend did and she said that it was very comfortable to wear. This pack also comes with a hidden zippered mesh bag that adds an extra 200+ cubic inches that you can attach to the outside of your pack to put your gear in, to keep it from getting bloody when you do get lucky.
Overall I would have to give this pack and its designers two thumbs up. With the no quarrel lifetime guarantee, I should get many years of use out of it.

High Country Scouting

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

Well this weekend we were finally able to get out and do a little scouting in the high country.  I had my head scout and Sherpa with me so I knew that things were going to work out well. I was trying to get a lay of the land, being as how it will be the first time that I hunt this new area. So with my two helpers, our trusty watch dog and me
we rucked up and headed out on a six mile (one way) hike. We went to an area called Twin Crater lakes. The lakes themselves are a little above timberline, so we made our camp in the trees and then walked the last quarter of a mile to the lakes.
What a beautiful area! So once we had seen the lakes, we headed back to camp. Along the way we stopped and refilled our water bladders using a pump filter. This was the first time that I had ever used one and I have to say that I was impressed. It did not take long and the water tasted a lot better than if I had used iodine tablets. I had picked up a new backpack to use this year for a pack-in hunt. I chose the Badlands 4500 and I could not have been happier. What a mule!
I will give a full product review in upcoming posts, but to say the least, I was impressed.

Once we got back to camp, I really started to get to work glassing the surrounding hillsides. I was using the 4 step glassing process developed by David Long and mentioned in his book, Public Land Mulies (The Bottom Line). Like I have said earlier, I am new to this backcountry type of hunting. I really didn’t know were or how to start. After reading David’s book it really gave me a direction to go and it really has helped me out so far. I highly suggest reading it if you get a chance.

It was early in the afternoon and I really wasn’t seeing anything, but as the day got later I started noticing a few nice mule deer and then a fairly decent bull elk. Success! Well kind of. I was glad to see that some techniques that I had read about worked, but I still am looking forward to seeing a little more of the area that I have to hunt. We have another trip planned in a couple of weeks and hopefully I will be able to narrow down the area that I would like to start out on opening day.

I’m back!

Friday, July 13th, 2007

Well, I apologize for the hiatus. It has been a very busy
summer. But as I write today, I only have a little bit over a month and a half
till it is time to go chase my (hopefully) huge mule deer. Training for my trip has not been as consistent
as I would have hoped, but I feel that come August 25th I should be
ready to go get him. I was fairly fortunate this year on drawing most of my licenses.
However, I did have one hiccup in Wyoming.
I learned a hard lesson, be sure and sign the check that you send in with your license
application! I didn’t and now my hunting companions will be chasing some
monster pronghorns this year while, hopefully I will be able to pick up a
couple of reduced priced doe tags to help fill the freezer.

Antelope is one of my most favorite animals to hunt as well
as being one of the best meats to put on the plate. I can almost taste the
grilled blackstrap already.