Review: MSR Pocket Rocket Backpacking Stove

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

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

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!

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.

I drew a early season backcountry deer tag!

June 4th, 2007

Well now the work begins. I found out Friday that I drew an early season deer permit in one of our wilderness areas here in Colorado – above 10,000 feet! It is a tag that I was hoping to get but I really didn’t think that I would be fortunate enough to get it this year. I am very excited. I have never been on a backcountry pack-in hunt. I have talked my girlfriend into doing the hunt with me. She says that it will be a way to finally get me to go backpacking!  I haven’t done very much of this sort of thing since I got out of the service. I am really looking forward to it. Since I was a kid I have always dreamed about packing into some remote area and hunting. I have always believed that the big ones live were people can’t get to them. Now I get to test my theory. Even if I am unable to connect on a nice deer, the adventure alone will be a hopefully not a once in a lifetime experience but truly an adventure that I can cherish for the rest of my life.

Like I said earlier, now that the easy part is over, the work will surely begin. Like I stated in earlier posts, I try and stay in fairly decent shape, but with this new challenge ahead of me I will need to really step up my workout routine.

Wish me luck; I will keep you posted on the progress. I hope that you were lucky enough to draw the tags that you wanted.

How to cook with game meat – go rare!

June 1st, 2007

One of the most enjoyable things about hunting to me is
trying to figure out new and exciting recipes to use with game meat. I love to
cook and I am always looking for new recipes. (You can see some of my cooking at My Man’s Man.)  My favorite standbys are elk chili and goulash, as well as bacon wrapped elk or deer loin
braised with maple syrup. However, I am always keeping my eyes open. With most
game meat, you can substitute it into just about any recipe that calls for
beef.  Be careful though! There are definitely some dishes that do not taste
good with venison or elk but for the most part, it will work just fine. The
problem that most people have with game meat is that they over cook it.
Especially when it comes to steaks. I hate to say it, but if you like your steaks
well done, you should probably just stick to regular old beef. Game meat is
best cooked a little bit south of medium with medium-rare or even rare being even more appealing to the pallet.

Go rare!

Is game meat a cheap way to feed your family?

June 1st, 2007

For those people that think that going hunting is a
cheap way to feed your family, I am sorry to disappoint you.  By the time
you figure in the cost of licenses, gas, lodging, gear, and food for your trip, the price per pound of game meat is quite a bit higher than the price of a good beef steak. But
on the other hand, the first time that you bite into a juicy piece elk steak,
you can’t help but feel proud of what you have achieved.  Plus you have the adventures, memories and stories to tell!

What did you draw?

May 23rd, 2007

Well today I am patiently waiting (well maybe not so patiently) for the Colorado Division of Wildlife to post the 2007 Elk draw results. I already found out that I did not draw my moose, sheep and goat tags. So even though it is another disappointing draw year so far, I still have a couple of shimmering stars still out there to wish on.  The elk draw is supposed posted today and then I am still waiting and hoping on the Colorado deer and antelope draw, as well as the Wyoming antelope draw that does not come out until July.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but for me waiting to hear back on what animals I will be chasing this year is almost like a second Christmas. I may not get everything that I want, but with anything that I get, I will have fun. With more and more states posting the outcome online. I no longer have to wait until that day when Mr. Postman drops the results at the house. As the countdown continues, I can only hope that the Drawing Gods will smile on me.

Good luck with your pursuits!

Do you want to hunt in Rocky Mountain National Park?

May 15th, 2007

Whooohooo! For those of you who hunt in Colorado – the days of driving through Rocky Mountain National Park ooing and awing at all of the trophy elk and deer might be over.  You might actually get a chance to hunt in such a mecca – or at least your dream just got one step closer to becoming a reality. Today I read that they might turn RMNP into a wilderness area with the help of a few congressmen and women and a bill that they are submitting to congress! The details are still not clear on what this means to sportsmen and women, but it is one step closer to allowing hunters a chance to hunt in a pristine and controlled environment. At the same time it would help the park control an already over-populated herd of elk.

Keep your fingers crossed! I will keep you informed of the outcome.

11 year old saves home

May 10th, 2007

Now here is a little girl that you need to read about! Not only did her parents teach her the importance of gun safety, but they also taught her what to do in a situation where her life was in danger! Don’t get me wrong, I do not recommend a society of gun wielding 11 year olds, but I do think that people need to stop becoming victims. Especially in there own home!