Shoot for Hope A Success
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Well, while the internet is aflame over pictures of some idiot shooting a cat, a group of hunters from Arizona got together to do something good this past weekend.

John Bingham and his Facebook group Broadhead Brotherhood organized and put on a heck of an event, raising a significant amount of money for Cancer research.

It looks like this event took on a life of its own, with members of the Brotherhood from across the west, along with friends and family, jumped on this cause with a vengeance. The event was rich with cool prizes – some handmade by BB, and lots donated by Corporate sponsors. The archers got into the act as well – many an arrow that was sent towards a 3D target had someone’s name on it. Some were the names of folks who had lost their battle with cancer, some were names of those still in the fight. John and his team put a ton of work into this, and by following via Facebook, it looked like a top-notch, amazing, well-organized event held in beautiful Arizona spring weather.

I wasn’t able to attend but it looks like this will be an annual event – I’m planning on going next year. A hearty “well done” to John, the Brotherhood and all of those that supported the event. Hunters are good people, and this was an important cause.

You can find Shoot for Hope on FACEBOOK

Trophy Bag Kooler – Kooler Gel – The Ice Extender
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I heard from my old friend Steve Glass a couple of weeks ago. Steve runs Trophy Bag Kooler. Steve makes insulated game bags and other products that are ideal for cooling, aging and transporting your game meat.

He makes containers and bags in a variety of configurations, he makes a spray which is an antimicrobial spray, that when applied to dressed and cleaned meat, helps disinfect and control the growth of bacteria and microorganisms on wild game or raw meat.

He also makes a product that when added to water and frozen, makes your ice last a lot longer. I use it in 2L soda bottles and it works awesome. The gel used to come in little “single serve” packets but it has become so popular that Steve is now selling it in bulk packages.

KoolerGel® is an innovative new product that replaces using conventional ice in your ComboKooler™, food coolers, ice chests, soft-sided or hard sided coolers, bait tanks and live wells! It makes ice last longer saving you money.

Mix in any size plastic container with water, from 12 ounces to 5 gallons, and watch it turn into a gel, then freeze! It doesn’t turn back to water, it stays a gel. Plus, it’s re-useable many times, less waste and very economical; one pack makes enough KoolerGe® for at least six 2-liter bottles.

Many uses:
When frozen, it is colder than ice and lasts 30%-40% longer.
It is non-toxic, non-hazardous and environmentally safe.
Use in soft sided and hard sided coolers to keep your food and drinks icy cold.
Use for parties and picnics.
Use in bait tanks and live wells.
Helps to keep waste out of landfills by recycling soda bottles.
Extend the life of your ice and save money.

Goodbye Gramp – Remembering Jim Morrison
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My grandfather passed away a few weeks ago, in late January. I suppose, in a way -I’m still processing what his loss means to me. It was a loss dulled by – I believe – a couple of decades’ worth of not seeing him. I’ve been in Arizona for over 18 years, after having moved away from my last new home – northern Maine. The irony is not lost on me as I remember Gramp was a wanderer too, having lived in Connecticut, Texas and Saskatchewan, among other locations. I was lucky enough growing up however, that he and my Grandmother Kay were within the province mostly, and I was close to them. Although I talk regularly on the phone with my parents and to a lesser degree my Grandparents, I haven’t actually seen anyone in years. This was nothing deliberate, no family quarrel, nothing involving prison or some fanciful adventure abroad – merely life, and circumstance. When I had time and opportunity, I couldn’t afford it; when I could have afforded it, I couldn’t muster an opportunity. Add the fact that I am dealing with some pretty significant health issues here in the MacFarlane compound – I just haven’t been able to get home for a visit. Of course, there are emergency plans in place but in the past few years vacations have been virtually non-existent, and vacations home ended up being confined to my daydreams. My parents, and grandparents for that matter, raised me to be hardy, and not a lot of room in life for self-pity. So, at the end of the day, “it is what it is”.

So, back to Gramp. Of course, I loved him dearly as I do all of my close relatives, but if there was someone to “blame” in regards to my penchant for writing, it surely must be Gramp. I’m not sure that writing skills are hereditary, but that has been far too big a part of my life to be considered mere coincidence. My Grandfather was an accomplished writer, editor and photographer – in later life he dabbled at the arts and really developed a hankering for painting in various mediums. It was cool to see someone take on new challenges in life, at that age, and not only do well, but embrace it. In the photo above, Gramp is pictured as a reporter in 1947 at the Telegraph-Journal in Saint John, New Brunswick. He is at the right front of the photo. He went on to become a newspaper editor, writer, author, and professional photographer. He was also a Canadian Navy veteran – he was there at D-Day and also did the famous (infamous) Murmansk Run – escorting convoys in the north Atlantic.

When I was in High School, a new regional outdoor magazine was announced – Wilderness Trails N Tales. It was printed in tabloid format on newsprint, as opposed to glossy magazine format. That publication went on to become The Maritime Sportsman. Anyway, I wrote the to the editors, offering to write for them. I felt that “From a Teen’s View” might make for interesting content for them. Imagine my shock when one day I was called to the office at school. There were the Editors; they were in town and asked if I could go to lunch (they had my parents’ and the school’s permission). At lunch they offered me my own column – I was on Cloud 9! Of course, when I write my first column, I wanted my Grandfather the Editor to look it over before I sent it in. Gramp obliged and in my young eyes – tore that article to shreds! There was more red ink than black, and I was stunned. I was the big time writer – how could this be happening? Of course now I know that’s what editors do, and I have been one as well, over the years. Back then though, I was shocked. Of course, Gramp helped me over the years when I asked, and I really think there was something genetic too. Writing has always come easily to me, and by all counts – I’m good at it. For that, I blame (or thank, depending) my grandfather Jim. Of course both my parents were voracious readers and raised my brother and I to be readers as well. To this day, when people ask me how to be better writers, I tell them “Read”. I have gone on in life to write and edit for several publications off and on, a feature article here and there, and now have my own blog-format websites as well as a freelance writing and editing business. Truth be told, I don’t make any money at that stuff, but people ask me about enough that I keep pecking away at it. I’ve been in a bit of a funk the past few months – life happened and writing just didn’t have the same effect on me. With Gramp’s passing howoever, I was compelled to write something. To shine a light on the real reason I’m good at this. And to pay homage to the man that truly, I idolized growing up. Now, in spite of all the rationale, I feel tremendously guilty that I didn’t see him again. That I didn’t make more time. Of course, he’d probably shrug at that and point out how foolish it is.

Gramp was never a hunter but he loved to fish. I suppose, though he never said it to me, he had seen enough killing in his life, in that sense at least. Besides a love of writing, he bestowed upon me a love of fishing. Between Gramp and my Dad, I became a fishing fool. Lakes and streams and brooks and deadwaters. Coldstream and Clearwater and Shiktehawk and Nictau Lake and the beautiful St. John River right below our house. Some of my most powerful memories of my grandfather are standing in an icy New Brunswick stream, or sitting in a canoe with he and dad. I can smell his menthol cigarettes, and Old Time Woodsman fly dope, and hear his voice. I remember peppering he and my dad with questions, and he was usually patient – except when we were in a boat or canoe. Then, there was no mucking around and his tone got real sharp if you weren’t following direction. Gramp (and my Grandmother too) seemed to know everything. I don’t think there was a question I ever asked that they didn’t know. It’s too bad that all of the important questions in life – when the answers really mattered – came later in life, and they weren’t nearby. I hope they know how much I treasured their presence in my life growing up. My heart aches for my daughter who has grown up without her grandparents close at hand – answering all of those questions, and just teaching – stuff.

My Grandfather left us on January 31st and maybe most sadly, left his wife of 69 years – my Grammy Kay. He had endured a lengthy hospital stay. One of those chapters in life that makes you question things – makes you question God, makes you question your own decisions in life – heck – it makes you question if you really want to give up cigarettes – if the time it adds to your life is going to be the time like his last few months were. It is deeply saddening to me that a man who had such a rich, robust life ended it with months of sickness and pain, discomfort and indignity. That a man who truly was one of my heroes (and I don’t have many) couldn’t end his time here on a high note. And I was 3000 miles away.

My Mom sent me some articles written by newspaper people after Gramp died. More than one coworker commented “That sounds like you!!” when the writer was talking about Gramp’s qualities, and his personality. I suppose, I couldn’t ask for a better honour, all things considered. Every time I think of Gramp, I can hear his voice in my ear, clear as day. I can smell the McDonald’s Menthol cigarettes, and I can see my first article lying on his desk, bathed in red ink. Thank you, Gramp – for all you did, for who you were.

Below is a picture of my Grandfather Jim and Grandmother Kay at (Canadian) Thanksgiving in 2014.

Review – James Wesley, Rawles – “Tools for Survival”
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Whether you are a veteran prepper, a rookie survivalist, or maybe somebody who wants to be a little bit more prudent “just in case” – I can’t recommend this book enough.

James Wesley, Rawles is a noted author, former military intelligence officer, blogger and an authority on the survivalist movement.

What I particularly enjoyed about this book was it’s thoroughness of scope, its “easy to read” style, and its level of detail. This isn’t a “build a bunker, buy a gas mask” book. It isn’t a paranoid journey into solar flares and EMP’s. Rather, it is a primer into skills and activities that many of us used to know – especially those of us who grew up in rural areas. It is plain good advice on implements and activities that used to be commonplace. What I like is how the book is organized – into systems. Food preservation, gardening, leather-working, sewing, knives, bows, guns – you name it.

This book covers not just why you need to know certain skills, and not just what the skills are – but how to learn them. For example – there is a section on fencing. He talks about different types of fence. What tools you’ll need, and how to construct them. He talks about how to set up an effective and efficient workshop – and what tools are the priorities.

This book is fun to read, it is interesting and it is highly informative. I’d consider it a “go to” reference guide. If I could only have one “bible” – this is the one I would pick up. Seriously.

A quick internet search showed the book was easily available online and will likely run you between 10 and 15 bucks. It’s easily worth that and more.

I’d really like to thank Milena Brown from Plume Penguin Random Housefor getting me a copy of this book to review. Here is the original blurb from the publisher:

In his first non-fiction book How to Survive the End of the World as We Know it, James Wesley, Rawles wrote the definitive guide on how to prepare for any crisis – terrorist attack, economic collapse, or global pandemic. In TOOLS FOR SURVIVAL: What You Need to Survive When You’re On Your Own (Plume original, On sale December 30, 2014), Rawles creates an essential guide detailing the tools and skills needed for total self-sufficiency in the event of disaster.

With TOOLS FOR SURVIVAL, readers will learn from Rawles about the important items and skills needed to survive in the worst of circumstances including:
• A guide to food preservation: canning, dehydration and vacuum packing
• How to start developing your own garden
• What DIY workshop and auto tools to buy
• The four important criteria for electrical and electronic equipment: necessity, efficiency, reliability, and cost- effectiveness
• How to prevent and fight fires on your property
• Gun selection and basic guide to firearms, archery and knives
• List of must-have materials in a well-stocked first aid kit

TOOLS FOR SURVIVAL includes an appendix filled with recommended reading materials, gunsmith service providers and cleaning formulas. Rawles is the ultimate expert for those in search of preparedness advice. With one of his family mottos being, “Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without,” this book covers all what preppers need to be equipped when there’s no one to rely on but themselves.

J-B Weld – The magical fixit potion
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I spent much of my career working as a millwright in manufacturing plants so the value of J-B Weld isn’t lost on me. That being said, with the well-known “traditional” uses and formula of J-B Weld, it’s easy to overlook the fact that they have a whole line of innovative products.

I’d like to thank Anthony from Brandware Public Relations reaching out to me with some info about their other products. Coincidentally, I had just had the hinges pull out of my large cooler and I was stymied as to what might fix it. I asked Anthony and here is what he told me:

“The best product for fixing your cooler would be J-B PlasticWeld, an epoxy putty great for rigid and semi-flexible plastics as well as PVC pipes, fiberglass and several other surfaces. PlasticWeld sets in 25 minutes and cures to a hard surface in 2-3 hours. It cures to an off-white color and is rated at a tensile strength of 350 PSI. After it cures, it can be sawed, drilled, carved, sanded and painted.

Another product you could use is J-B WaterWeld, an epoxy putty specifically made for plugging leaks and patching holes in water and fuel tanks, pipes and boat hulls. The putty sets in 15-25 minutes and cures after in an hour to an off-white color. WaterWeld is rated at a tensile strength of 900 PSI and can withstand temperatures up to 300 degrees F. Similar to PlasticWeld, it can be drilled, tapped, filed, sanded and painted after it cures.”

Anthony was kind enough to send me some samples, so I gave it a whirl…

I mixed both products according to the directions and applied not just behind the hinge plate on the flat surface, but also in the stripped-out screw holes. I let them cure per the directions and am happy to report that both products worked! Now I haven’t really gone crazy trying to make the repair fail, but so far, under normal use, the hinges are holding up fine!

Yu all know the type of plastic that coolers are made of. It has that weird slick surface texture and I couldn’t imagine what would adhere properly. Don’t forget that JB Weld makes a whole line of products that can get you out of a bind whether you’re on a boat, in a tent, living in an RV, or fixing a quad. More from JB Weld:

“Hi Marshall,

Fishing season is in full swing and hunting is right around the corner – outdoorsmen everywhere are re-spooling poles, picking out lures, cleaning guns and stocking up on bullets. Question: What’s the one thing you should never leave home without for a fishing or hunting trip?

J-B Weld. Yep, you read that right. While the original J-B Weld is traditionally a great formula for repairing automotive issues, the creators also offer a variety of products for other aspects of life – including hunting and fishing! Out on the boat and it springs a leak? Your fishing pole breaks? Out on the hunt and your arrow breaks? Piece of your tree stand snaps off? Whatever the case may be, if you have J-B Weld, rest assured the crisis can be averted.

For example, WaterWeld is an all-around good tool to keep in a tackle box as it sticks to plastics, metals, woods and can even stop a small boat leak as it can be applied underwater. SteelStik is a great adhesive that is much stronger and more reliable than traditional glues and only takes 1 hour to cure for those emergencies in the middle of nowhere. KwikWeld is for more permanent fixes as it takes 6 hours to cure but by the next day, you’re good to go!

Additionally, all J-B Weld products are available at a very attractive price and at local home improvement stores everywhere, making them tools the average outdoorsmen should never leave home without.”

Welcoming In The New Year With Mtn Ops
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I’m always on the lookout for great products and cool companies so I am excited to be joining the Field Staff of MTN OPS outdoor performance supplements. It can’t come at a btter time – I embarked on a weight loss journey last year and although it went well (I lost over 30 pounds), I hit some hurdles with health problems and injuries. For 2015 I want to continue the quest, and lose another 30-35 in order to hit my goal weight.

Coincidentally, Mtn Ops has just launched the Conquer Challenge – an effort designed to help you be successful whether you goal is to get lighter, stronger, or both!

If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.

Looking to get real results? Choose Your Challenge—weight or strength.
When you accept the ‪#‎ConquerChallenge‬, we’ll be with you to provide guidance including: 30, 60 & 90 day fitness programs, meal plans, and weekly emails filled with motivation and expert advice.
Every 30 day program receives a FREE Conquer Cap & MORE with purchase of a 60 or 90 day program.
Oh, and did we mention there is a $1,000 prize, including a one year supply of one MTN OPS product of your choice for the winners.

I’m excited to get the product in my hands, and to kickstart my weight loss journey again. I’m excited to be working with a cool bunch of folks like the ones at Mtn Ops. They’re already looking forward to working with me on some product reviews, interviews, and more! Stay tuned!

In the meantime, learn more:

Follow them on FACEBOOK

Check out their BLOG

Learn more about MTN OPS and their philosophy, their roots, and their goal.

Elk Hunt Follow-Up
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Well, you can read the story about the actual hunt here: 1st Elk.

I picked up the meat from Holliday Processing the other day and I couldn’t be happier. I had it made mostly into steaks, burger and green chile bratwurst. Mmmmmm. The guys at Holliday did an awesome job and the price was very fair too. They have shops in the east valley and Buckeye.

If that elk had been one smidgen bigger I would have had to buy another freezer so all’s well that ends well!

Survival Straps With Active Edge
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Well, survival straps weren’t new to me but I was excited when Jason Ovitt from Asylum Public Relations reached out to me to tell me about the newest innovation with the folks from Survival Straps.

Jason posed it to me like this: “Training for a four day backpacking trip, epic mountain climb, week-long kayaking trip or other great adventure puts great stress on a body and stretches anyone to their physical limits. Rather than wearing a fitness bracelet that just tracks the number of calories you burn and how you are sleeping you could be wearing an Active Edge Survival Strap bracelet that can actually improve aspects of your health. This new survival bracelet, treated with a waterproof frequency technology, is now capable of giving athletes and people training for any sport a 7% average increase in range of motion, 12% average increase in grip strength, 8% average reduction in fatigue with an increase in REM restorative sleep time. Clinical trials have proven that wearing an Active Edge Survival Bracelet activates the sympathetic nervous system resulting in an increase of blood flow and decrease in inflammation, which helps to enhance performance. Wearing an Active Edge Survival Bracelet can help improve flexibility, range of motion, strength, endurance and recovery. But when your in a jam out in the woods it can also be unwound to provide the wearer with a paracord rope for gear repairs or medical uses that is strong enough to hold up to 500 pounds.

Would you be interested in learning more about the Active Edge bracelets by Survival Straps and giving one a try?”

I was trying to get ready for an elk hunt, so “Heck, yeah!” I wanted to try one…

Active Edge technology is incorporated into an already great survival bracelet. Why?

“Our Active Edge products are treated with InBalance Technology, a scientifically proven, cutting-edge, proprietary frequency technology developed here in America. When you wear an Active Edge bracelet or necklace, it will help your body to perform at a more optimal level. It will not give you super human strength. However, it can give you an extra edge and improve things like your flexibility, range of motion, strength, endurance, & recovery.

Medical experts believe when the treated bracelet or necklace comes into close proximity with the body, it activates the sympathetic nervous system. This increases blood flow and oxygen intake, while at the same time decreases inflammation, which all helps to enhance performance.”

So? I bet you’re wondering…. “Did it work?” I’d like to say resoundingly, “Yes!” but I think the best I can do is “I think so”. Here is experience: I was in the process of getting ready for an elk hunt. A few months ago, I had changed my eating habits, lost some weight, and had started hitting the gym regularly. I was hoping that the Active Edge bracelet would make a difference in the gym. Unfortunately when the bracelet arrived, I was a couple of weeks into some sciatic nerve issues which were sidelining me from the gym. I was undergoing chiropractic care and getting frustrated. I put on the bracelet, and in 3 days I had a significant reduction in pain, it was almost at a negligible level. Two weeks before my elk hunt, I bent over to pick up a book off of the bathtub and “POW”. It felt like I had been shot in the back, right at the site where I had been having sciatic issues. The pain was substantial and I hobbled to the couch. I thought my elk hunt was gone. By Monday I could still barely move so I called my family doc. They squeezed me in and I was prescribed pain medication, muscle relaxer, x-rays and physical therapy. Within 4 days, and with minimal pain medication I was able to get around pretty good. I was cautiously optimistic – my elk hunt was the following weekend.

The Friday after Thanksgiving I was sore but mobile. My truck was loaded and I was on the road by 5:30 AM. Two hours later I was on a hilltop in elk country, glassing for bulls with my friends. I only had Friday, Saturday and Sunday to hunt (you can read the story HERE) So 3 days of hiking up and down hills and rocky outcroppings and small canyons; 3 days of bouncing around in the Ranger, on some pretty hard-core trails.I honestly thought I was going to finish wrecking my back, and I would be looking at weeks to fully recover. Long story short, I shot a young spike at the 11th hour on Sunday. We packed him out, I picked up my gear at my friends and hit the road. I was home by 10:30 Sunday night. By Monday I was virtually pain free. I have been pain free for the most part, during the past 2 weeks. Was it because of the bracelet? I don’t know. I had a follow up appointment with my Doctor the other day and she couldn’t believe it – I was “cured”.

Honestly, based on the extensive clinical trials and my experience – quick resolution to an existing ailment, sudden extreme regression, and 2 weeks to pain free again…. I have to say, “I’m a believer”, and this technology works.

Here is what the clinical trials revealed:

Results of Clinical Trials

The results of the clinical trials with 2500 people were remarkable and consistent. The testing indicated that by wearing frequency treated products, physiological function had significantly improved in the areas of strength, flexibility, balance, and endurance. Ninety percent of the test participants showed statistically significant improvement in those areas. None of the test participants had any negative side effects or showed a decrease in physiological function. Test results showed the following:

Range of motion increased by an average of 15% – 20%
Strength increased by an average of 3% – 6%
Increased balance
Increased endurance
Increase in blood flow
Decrease in inflammation
In addition, many test participants reported the following:

Reduction in pain from things such as arthritis
Improved sleep
Improvement in breathing when exercising (many reported a feeling similar to getting a second wind)
Reduction in headaches

On my hunt, my “wind” definitely seemed better (I still have a ways to go, on my fitness quest). I do believe my arthritis symptoms have been pretty much absent, which is unusual. I have had some sleep issues however.

I believe in this technology.I certainly believe in the value and quality of Survival Straps, with or without the Active Edge technology. Seriously, I would encourage you to give it a try. I think it’s important to note that they offer wraps, necklaces, dog collars and more. You can visit them online HERE. Read the info, the testimonials, and decide for yourself. For me, I’m sold!

Another “first” – an Arizona Elk
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My friend John Greiss was AZGFD’s 2013 “Mentor of the Year”, and that was no mistake. John has been in on dozens of hunting “firsts”, for nearly every species, and all over Arizona. He was in on my daughter Mikaela’s first javelina, he led the way for my first Coues, and last spring he helped me with finally – my first javelina.

John really liked the idea of me going 3 for 3 on Arizona big game tags, so he was all about strategy on the elk draw. “Put in with me for the late season 22 south tag”, he said. “You’ll likely draw, and we’ll get you a bull.” Lo and behold, I drew that tag along with John and our friend Miguel. From the moment I saw the draw results, the excitement started to build.

John spends a ton of time in that Unit, and between hunting trips, scouting, and other outdoor adventures, he was confident we would score. In the old days, “the curse” would have had me stymied, but I was 2 for 2 with John, so the excitement was there for months. I started a quest to lose weight (ended up losing about 35 pounds), got side-tracked with a heart-health scare, had a job change, and finally, a bunch of back issues. As a matter of fact, I hurt my back bad, 2 weeks before the hunt and it was bad enough I was pretty concerned I wouldn’t be able to hunt. Luckily it had eased enough that the morning after Thanksgiving, I packed my truck and was on the road to Tucson. I only had Friday through Sunday to hunt, so the pressure was on!

John and good friend RL Gray had been watching bulls for a couple of weeks, and RL’s wife Sherri had shot an awesome bull in that unit during muzzleloader season. By the time I got there, they had a plan.

By 7:30 or so I was on a hilltop near Payson, helping glass for elk. My hunt was upon us! By mid morning the guys had spotted a couple of cows, a 4×4 and a spike. They asked if I wanted to chase them. I said to John “you tell me, what do you think?” John said he thought we could do better, and that we should pass for now, and that’s what we did. The afternoon was relatively uneventful, and the next morning we were up and at it early again.

It wasn’t long before we heard from John that he had a good bull located. He was on a point a couple of miles away, so RL and MIguel and I loaded up and made our way over towards him. He watched the elk the whole time, who were nonchalantly moving up a hill, away from a waterhole that we knew was in that area. He had a good 5×5, a spike, and a couple of cows located. RL and I started working our way around the bottom trying to get set up for a shot. Finally we had him spotted! RL was on him and I was getting set up but he moved into some brush. We reset, RL helped me get lined up and by the time I settled down,got my sight picture, moved off the safety, started my trigger squeeze…. a cow stepped directly behind him!He was quartering away up the hill and the cow was located in such a way that had I missed or passed through, I might have hit her. Arrrggghhhh!!! At that point he was near the top, and they ambled up over and out of sight. I was mad,and frustrated that I took too long and at the same time, glad I didn’t take the shot once I was ready.Later that afternoon we saw a spike and 2 cows in a different spot, but no shot opportunity. In the evening, John was in another area, and Miguel glassed up a 4×4, 2 spikes and some cows, but they were way too far away to chase, at last light.

We were confident with all the elk we were seeing, that Sunday we would have a great chance. The morning was odd. Miguel and John went one way, RL and I another. In spite of the fact we hadn’t seen a ton of cows and the days prior, we saw between 20-30 cows and calves in the space of an hour, and then the action stopped abruptly. Nothing was going on, and RL had’t had any sleep. His house wasn’t far away so he suggested a pit stop for lunch and a nap – so off we went. Miguel and John checked in and said they were going to check another spot, then meet us back up at the original hill for the evening shoot. We had a couple hours so RL was snoozing on the couch and I was watching a football game when the phone rang. It was John. He said “I got bulls”. RL said “We’ll be there in 10 minutes” and we scurried out the door.

To make a long story not quite so long, John walked RL and I into shooting position. We were fighting a stiff breeze and it was tricky getting set up. There was a spike and bigger bull feeding in the manzanitas. By the time we were ready, it was a 300 yard shot, a pretty good downhill angle. I was shooting a .270 WSM off of my tripod, using a TriClawps shooting aid. The bigger one stepped out, and I shot clean over his back! Ugh. RL was positive I missed, having watched the vapor trail pass cleanly over him. He scampered off, but the spike stayed put. I missed him underneath. I took a breath, shot him, and he took a step and faltered. RL says “He’s down, but trying to get up. Shoot him again”. I found him and could only see his face and brisket through the bushes. I shot him through his brisket. RL said “He’s done”. John was on the radio saying “Bull down!!”

True to form, John did most of the dirty work, expertly dressing that bull and getting every scrap of meat off of him. By pure luck, the bull went down about 120 yards from an ATV trail. I shot the elk around 4:30. With 4 sets of hands, a Ranger, and a lucky ATV trail nearby. I was cleaned up, packed, and on the road towards Phoenix by 8:30 PM

I learned a lot on this hunt, as I do on most of my hunts. I spent a lot of range time last year, getting loads dialed in, a new scope zeroed, and a custom turret by Kenton Industries installed. That was mostly bench shooting though. My whole off-season range-work this year will be spent shooting off my pack, off the Claw, and from sitting, kneeling and standing positions. I know these things happen, but I was not happy with misses, and needing to shoot that animal twice – regardless of how quickly it was over, it was unacceptable to me. I shot a lot in the military and in those days it was open sights – from 100-800 metres. I need practice getting set up quicker and being accurate – off a variety of positions, shooting angles, etc. I never had problems like this in those days. My glassing is getting better. I’m no expert by any means, but I am finding stuff now and then. Practice helps, but like I said – I’m always learning something hunting with these guys.

I am very indebted to John, RL and Miguel. RL did a lot of scouting before I got there, and was a huge help and coach on my hunt – usually operating with little or no sleep. Miguel helped, gave advice and is just a good guy to hunt with. He had the same tag and passed on opportunities so I could get a bull first. John is an amazing friend and truly is a mentor. I’m always learning from him and he is a warrior on these trips, usually doing all the heavy lifting – figuratively and literally. He sacrifices his time, opens up his home, uses his vehicles – to help people hunt. And he loves every minute of it. I need to thank my friend Greg McBride too. He helped me learn to relaod and develop great loads for my rifle, he always has good advice, he’s a good shooting coach and finally – an awesome taxidermist too.

Ironically, in the weeks leading up to my hunt John kept asking me what kind of bull I was looking for. “Anything but a spike”, I’d say. “Spike elk look weird”. Well, we all know that our standards go down as the hunt draws to an end and honestly – I think my spike elk looks just fine! A muley and a bear are on my bucket list for the coming year. Truth be told though, I’m already anxious for my next elk hunt.

Swab-Its a Great Addition to my Gun Cleaning Kits
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A big “thank you” to Pam Den Hartog from Super Brush for reaching out to me about Bore Tipsand Swab Its and providing some samples to try!

I was curious as to how foam would hold up with different solvents and I have to say, they worked like a charm! I stripped and cleaned a few different guns including my .270 WSM and my Glock 32. I tried the foam products with Break Free, Butch’s Bore Shine and Hoppe’s No. 9 and they worked even better than advertised!

The foam held up like a champ, even after repeated usage.The Bore Tips were great for applying solvent, removing fouling and drying the bore.

The swabs worked great for the small nooks and crannies, including all of the places I would have used my small steel brush. They got the gunk out with ease, cleaned the shiny bits, and sparingly applied lube where needed. That foam is tough! It didn’t crumble, shred or deteriorate in any way. They cleaning implements come in several sizes and tip configurations, and the Bore Tips come in several popular calibers.

I have to say, when it comes to these products, I am now a fan – they will be the mainstay on my cleaning bench from now on, replacing brushes of various materials, slotted jags, and little bits of flannel patching.

Best of all, their products can be cleaned and re-used as seen on their website.

What a great family of products!

From Swab Its:

The Story of How Swab-Its® Changed the Way People Clean Their Firearms

This is the story of an innovative American company, Super Brush LLC, which, through its Swab-Its® division changed the way people have cleaned their firearms for the past 200 years.

For 60 plus years, the company has been developing and manufacturing products in the USA for the high tech, electrical, medical, cosmetic and aerospace markets around the world.

Because their employees were having problems cleaning their own firearms, the company decided to apply its high tech engineering staff to these problems and to engineer a solution and bring it to the rest of the world.

The first firearms cleaning products, Swab-Its® Bore-Tips® – were launched three years ago at the Las Vegas Shot Show and were deemed by bloggers at the Shot Show to be one of the best new products of the year. The Swab-Its® Bore-Tips® garnered similar accolades at the following NRA Shows.

Superior to patches, Swab-Its® Bore-Tips® save time, are simpler to use than a patch, follow the rifling better, are reusable for multiple times, and easy to clean with soap and water or mineral spirits.

Swab-Its® has continued to develop more firearms cleaning products, from the initial launch of just two sizes of Bore-Tips® through 20ga shotgun sizes, and including Gun-Tips®, new products designed to clean parts outside of the bore. Based on extensive research with a wide range of firearms specialists, and feedback from an enthusiastic public, these new Bore-Tips® and Gun-Tips® are much superior to patches and any other firearm cleaning product on the market today.