Review – When Bears Attack
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A big shout out to Jake Klein from Skyhorse Publishing for sending me a copy of “When Bears Attack – Close Encounters of the Terrifying Kind” for review.

Nearly every outdoor enthusiast has an interest in bears. Whether its a mutual predatory respect, or an awestruck preoccupation, or a flat-out, paralyzing fear – most of us like stories about bears. Lots of us like bear encounters – when they are sane, and safe. Unfortunately, not all encounters end well.

This book, edited by Joseph B Healy is a great compilation of bear attack tales. Here is the release:

Bears are one of nature’s apex predators, gentle and magnificent to watch from a distance, fierce and unpredictable when aroused. If startled or frightened it’s often too late for humans to escape a dangerous, fearsome, or fatal bear encounter. In this collection, we gather the ultimate thrilling and frightening bear-attack stories, including classic stories of the past few decades.

Joseph B. Healy takes a closer look at some of the notable bear attacks of recent history in order to determine their causes, evaluate what happened, and appreciate the raw power—and danger—of mother nature. He tells tales of hikers enjoying weekend camping trips as well as workers going about their daily routines. Follow along as the victims’ lives are disrupted by bears, and see how survivors were forced to think and act in the moment to stay alive.

As modern life continues to encroach on the wilderness and as bears make a resurgence across North America and due to development are forced to live proximate to mankind, encounters between bears and humans will only increase. And while you’re still less likely to be attacked by a bear than you are to be killed by a lightning strike, any and all outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen will enjoy the raw power and potential lifesaving tips found in this ferocious account.

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About the Editor:

Joseph B. Healy has spent more than two decades in publishing, editing outdoors magazines for much of that time. His editorial career began at Outdoor Life and continued in fly-fishing and lifestyle publishing. He currently is editor of Covey Rise, a magazine covering the lifestyle of international wing shooting. Healy is the author of Training a Young Pointer, and he has edited Jesus on Forgiveness and John Stuart Mill on Liberty. He lives with his wife, son, and bird dog in Vermont.

I enjoyed the book immensely and one of the things I enjoyed most was the diversity of the stories. Some were funny. Some were pretty scary. Some were informative, and some told a bigger story than that just of the bear. There were bears in Maine and bears in Alaska. There were bears in Canada and California.

There was a great tale of an alcoholic bear in Montana. Causing a ruckus, that bear was finally shot stealing beer. There’s a yarn about a fisherman’s wife who had two big fears – bears and bush planes. Her personal nightmare story included both. There are stories of fatalities, stories about cuts and bruises, and stories where someone’s pride was the only thing injured.

Regardless, the stories are all entertaining, all well-written and once you start a new chapter, it is really hard to stop until you finish that particular tale. You can practically smell the pines of the west or the dank forest floor in Maine. You can imagine the rancid breath of a puffing bruin as it chases you up a tree. It’s likely you’ll learn a thing or two about bears, and maybe a thing or two about people. You’ll probably chuckle a time or two, and maybe – just maybe – you’ll read something that will penetrate to one of those deep, shadowy corners within your brain – and stay there.

If you’re a camper, hiker, fisherman or hunter that is interested in bears – I’d really recommend this book. It’s a great one!

TriClawps Rifle Rest – A Review
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I grew up in the northeast where most shots at deer or moose were in cedar swamps or across clearcuts. Sure, some folks were adept practitioners of the long shot but realistically most hunters were happy to keep shots at 200 yards or less, and it worked. Hunting the west is a whole different ballgame where I would say many shots are at greater than 200 yards. Most hunters I know regularly shoot big game at 300, 400 even 500 yards – and that’s how they practice. They’re not simply lobbing lead around – they are proficient at the long shot.

Shooting at longer ranges means you need (or should) use every tool at your disposal – rangefinders, scope turrets, good optics, and sturdy shooting platforms. That’s where the TriClawps comes in.

From their website: “The Triclawps adapter clamps to your rifles, shotguns, crossbows, and even some handguns and lets you attach your firearm to any camera tripod. Doing so provides a stable rest regardless of the field conditions you’re hunting or shooting in. Sure, it’s always best to get prone, but in reality, that’s not always possible. Triclawps is the best alternative to situations where prone doesn’t work; and has consistently led to more hunters and shooters hitting more targets in difficult field conditions since we first started offering it.

Not too long after I started hunting in Arizona, my friends started telling me about Triclawps. Most people hunting in Arizona do a lot of glassing; they already have a tripod. Triclawps offers a device that securely holds your rifle firmly onto your tripod, providing a steady rest for those long shots.

My first real hunting experience with a TriClawps was my daughter’s 1st javelina. It was called The Claw back then, but it’s the same company, same product. My daughter was shooting a single-shot .223 using The Claw. We helped her get set up, got the rifle mostly lined up, and she took over for the shot. After that hunt, I saw it used successfully a number of times.

Since then I have taken a javelina and an elk with mine. The elk in particular was a pretty steep downhill shot. These are very well-made and are also equipped with speed clamps to get them on and off your rifle quickly. I have mine set up on an extra quick-change plate for my tripod. This makes it easy to swap binos for the rifle pretty quickly.

If you are helping new hunters, or are making shots in difficult terrain, or making long shots where you need an extra sturdy rest, I would highly recommend picking up a TriClawps. They retail for about 100 bucks and they are worth every penny. They are a sturdy, precisely made piece of equipment, of a high quality. If you need a tripod, the folks at Tri Clawps can provide those as well.

Again from the TriClawps website :

Triclawps is made of a high-density, glass-reinforced resin that is light weight, and tough enough to handle the recoil from the largest mangum rifles.

The standard 1/4″ 20 threading ensures your system will work on any camera tripod.

Triclawps comes with a lifetime, no fault, no questions asked warranty.

Check Out These Great Hunting Podcasts from John Stallone
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I don’t do podcasts. Maybe I should but I don’t seem to have the time. Writing and editing keep me busy enough. Friend John Stallone is an author, TV host, and you guessed it – produces great podcasts. Podcasts are terrific because you can download them and listen to them on the go, you can pick your topic or guest, and you can listen on your computer, mobile device, etc.

So what are you going to find, when you check out John’s podcasts?

John Stallone Host of Days in The Wild Interviews professional hunters , and hunting industry leaders on deer hunting, elk hunting, big game hunting, whitetail, mule deer, antelope, moose, bear, ibex and everything in between. to bring you the best tips and tactic to help you improve your hunting success. The goal of this podcast is to educate and inform by covering topics ranging from hunting, fishing, wildlife, elk, moose, bighorn sheep, mule deer and Coues deer, ibex, wild turkey, whitetail, tip and tactics, guides, outfitters, archery, bowhunting, rifle, and much more

So are you ready to give a listen? You can find John’s podcasts here: John Stallone – Interviews With The Hunting Masters

One more favor? If you like the podcasts, leave a review – they help big time with John’s rankings and would be greatly appreciated.

Replaceable Blade Knife Review – the Vixen from Wiebe
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I’d like to really thank Glenn Walker from the Providence Marketing Group and also the folks at Wiebe Knives for sending me a Vixen Folding knife to try.

Per the Press Release:

The Vixen Joins the Wiebe Knives Lineup

Lennox, SD — Wiebe Knives®, the replaceable-blade knife category leader in durability and value, has added the Vixen to its extensive and diverse category hunting, field-dressing and skinning knives.

Every aspect of the Wiebe Vixen is designed under one simple premise: Don’t fight the knife. The Vixen features a folding, replaceable-blade design sporting a surgical-grade scalpel for a long-lasting and consistent edge to work with. And when the blade does become dull, simply dispose of the old blade and insert a new, wicked-sharp blade.

No more wasted time sharpening afield, and no more messy precision work due to a dull blade. Wiebe’s replacement blades are designed to withstand the toughest field work by the most serious hunters, as well as the lightest precision work done by the most detail-oriented fur skinners.

When open, the Vixen measures 7.5 inches and sports a featherweight, ergonomic handle for comfortable use on long jobs, and the folding design makes the Vixen the perfect take-anywhere companion. The knife comes with 24 wicked-sharp replacement blades.

MSRP for the Wiebe Vixen replaceable-blade folding knife is $34.95.

About Wiebe Knives

The entire collection of products from Wiebe Knives—including hunting knives, field-dressing knives, skinning knives and an extensive lineup of fur-handling tools—were developed, tested and proven by hard-use hunters and trappers. Wiebe’s mission is simple: to provide tools of exceptional quality at an unbeatable value.

The knife comes with extra blades right out of the gate so that’s a good thing. The first thing I noticed is that although the knife is light, the handle is thicker than many of competitor’s knives handles and it is contoured with finger grooves. This handle is well-designed to be easy to hold when covered in blood, wet, cold, etc. The knife feels great in the hand.

The blade changes easily. With some replaceable-blade knives, this is a challenge. Not so with the Vixen. Blade changes are pretty easy once you get the hang of it. Some replaceable blades seem to be brittle and snap at the first bit of twisting. I pushed and twisted on these a fair amount with no blades snapped.

Finally, this knife just plain looks good. The wood handle is attractive, and the whole knife is well-designed. I couldn’t wait to get it into the field.

Typically when I do a review I like to really give it a good going over on my bench or at the table, then I like to use it in the field. This time, I had something happen that hasn’t happened in over 2 decades of outdoor writing. I lost the product. I don’t know if someone moved it, I don’t know if someone took it. I can’t explain it. I came home from a scouting trip and I had 2 knives on my belt, including the Vixen. I took them both off and put them on the counter in the regular spot. A week later one knife was there, the other one wasn’t. I literally tore the house apart trying to find that knife, to no avail. I was heartsick. I did use the knife enough to know that I want one and I will be purchasing one soon from their online store. Replacement blades are about 6 bucks per dozen – a very reasonable price.

If you are in the market for a replaceable blade knife, I strongly suggest you look at the Vixen, or one of the other great models from Wiebe Knives. The price at 35 dollars is reasonable for such a well-designed, sturdy knife. Blades are scalpel-sharp as you would expect, and the knife handles very well. The thick, contoured handle will come in handy when your hands are cold or covered in blood. Well done, Wiebe!

I’ll have another Vixen with me when I head out to chase Javelina in February. I’ll be sure to post a follow-up report, from the field!

Testing the Pine Mountain® ExtremeStart™ Firestarter
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A shout out to the folks from Pine Mountain Fire for sending me this great firestarter to try out! The ExtremeStart Firestarter seemed like a great addition to any camping trip or backyard bonfire, so I thought I would give it a try!

From the Press Release:

Are you tired of collecting kindling only to have an even harder time starting your fire? Kindling can be a conundrum. Not only can it be difficult to collect and light, but sometimes it’s unclear whether it may cause more harm than good.

Thanks to the *new* ExtremeStart Firestarter from Pine Mountain, you can get the fire started in no time, and without the fear of potential toxins. About the size of a candy bar, the ExtremeStart Firestarter is all natural, portable, and easy-to-use. Simply place one firestarter among your wood or coals and light for a perfect flame. Whether you’re using it for tailgating, hunting/camping trips, or fire pit entertaining the ExtremeStart Firestarter is a must-have for an unforgettable fire this fall.

Enjoy a good fire with the simple strike of a match—anytime, anywhere.
• For indoor or outdoor use—fireplaces, fire pits, charcoal grills, chimineas, wood barbeque grills and smokers
• Clean burning and odorless with less flare-up
• Fits most grates

The first thing I noticed about the firestarters is that they were clean and easy to handle. Best of all – they have a pleasant smell. Most firestarters I have tried had at best – a weird odor.

My first test was in my chimney-style charcoal lighter. Not quite per directions, I broke one in half and put the two pieces in the bottom f the chimney and filled it with charcoal. I lit with a match through the bottom and within 20 minutes, my charcoal was ready. Easy!

For the next test, I wanted to utilize two Guest Reviewers. My co-worker Amy was going camping with her family and I thought her kids Katie and Lucas might like to help me test the firestarters.

According to Katie and Lucas, “The firestarter didn’t work as good as pine needles, but it did work good.” They stated that an added benefit was that Mom didn’t make them go gather tinder, when using the firestarters. Awesome guest review by 8-year old Katie and 11-year old Lucas! They are great kids- active in girl scouts and boy scouts, doing good in school, and more…. I was grateful for their help.

Finally, I was on a hunting trip myself, and we camped in the desert. We had a campfire each night – there is nothing better than steak cooked over mesquite coals! Getting the fire going was super easy! I put a firestarter at the bottom, and arranged the kindling over it, teepee style. Lit the corner of the wrapper and soon we had a crackling fire. These things work great. They would be especially useful if you were trying to start a fire in cold and/or wet conditions.

Pine Mountain makes a number of great products related to making fire in the great outdoors.

Like they say on their homepage:

“Deep in our genetic code burns a desire to be near the warm glow of a flame. Strike a match and feed your soul.”