Interview – Mike Kafka – Inferno Hand Pouch
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Hopefully you read my preview of the Inferno Hand Pouch a couple of weeks ago. If not, I suggest you check it out. This hand warmer was created by Mike Kafka, former NFL Quarterback.

A big “Thank You” to Sarah Rose Attman of Sarah Rose PR for setting up an interview with Mike. Also, look for a review of the hand warmer, coming up int he future! A tip of the hat for Mike as well, for taking time out to answer my questions!


1) So – why hand warmers? What motivated you to enter the market with this particular product?

Throughout my playing career, each aspect of my gear evolved – helmet, cleats, shoulder pads, jerseys, and apparel all worn to help performance. As a QB, my hands are the most important aspect and that was also the one element that had not changed in all my years of playing football. Roo Outdoor was developed around the hand pouch product and trying to give the hand pouch a revolutionized edge like the rest of my gear.

While my inspiration for the Roo Inferno began on the football field, in doing my research I realized how versatile the hand pouch product is. The Inferno serves multiple markets beyond football, including hunting, golf, hiking and other outdoor sports. That is why we offer the Inferno Hand Pouch in two models – the Inferno Sport for athletes and active enthusiasts, and the Inferno Terrain for hunters and avid-outdoorsmen.

2) How long have you been in business?

We started the company in 2012 – most of our time was dedicated to Research and Development for production and manufacturing of the Roo Inferno. We also dedicated resources to building our brand during that time. This is our first full season of actively selling and marketing the Inferno product.

3) What was the biggest surprise in your journey so far?

Going into the product development process, I was naive to think that it would be relatively simple and quick to make the desired product adjustments I wanted. The biggest surprise to me was navigating the manufacturing process. It is amazing how much you have to manage in order to develop a single product.

I had to exercise my communication skills in order to source materials, timing delivery and production, and scheduling everything to meet demand. The entire process taught me about performance materials and fabrics, stitching and construction, and product design.

4) What has been the biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge has been spreading the word about a new product. When you are competing against bigger companies with bigger budgets, it’s difficult. But, at the end of the day, I know and have gotten great feedback and reviews to demonstrate that my product is superior. It is great to have the opportunity to collaborate with someone like yourself who understands elite products and loves to share them with their following.

5) Do you have other products in the works (that you can share)?

Right now, we are focusing on the Inferno Hand Pouch. We have identified a niche in the market and there is even more we can do to make the Inferno Hand Pouch the most unique hand warmer available, so that is where we are focused currently. As the brand grows, we definitely want to diversify and introduce new products into our portfolio. Our goal would be to have key products for each season. Right now the Roo Inferno is dominating the winter season.

6) Are you a hunter? What’s your favorite thing to hunt?

Being from the city of Chicago, I didn’t grow up hunting. Over the past several years, however, as I have gotten more involved with hunting, I have really enjoyed it. I started by going skeet shooting and then accompanying my fellow hunting friends in the field to get familiar with the terrain, equipment, and animals.
As someone who is new to hunting, I like small game hunting because I feel like I have better chances of hitting my targets and it gives me an idea of what to expect when I go after larger animals and explore different environments.

7) What’s the dream hunt that is still on your bucket list?

I would love to go on a duck hunt with my dog and see him in action. I have a chocolate lab named Calvin who I would love to train and take on my hunts. If I had to paint a picture of my dream duck hunt with Calvin, I would be in Salt Lake City, Utah. I have read that it is the biggest waterfowl hotspot in the Western US. Not only is the city beautiful and the lakes are amazing, the terrain is ideal for waterfowl migrating west.

Thanks again to Sarah and Mike. Be sure to check out the hand warmer pouch here: Roo Outdoor Terrain

Vapur Partners With Mossy Oak to Launch New Flexible Break-Up Infinity Bottle
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Thanks to Becca Katz from Verde PR for sending me one of these cool bottles to review. This flexible, packable, and durable Vapur bottle is now stepping into the hunting and fishing market, making it easier then ever for the avid sportsman to quench their thirst for the wild. Vapur bottles are lightweight (85% lighter then rigid bottles), BPA free, dishwasher safe, made in the USA, and freezable.

From the Press Release:

OXNARD, CAVapur, manufacturer of the flexible, reusable Anti-Bottle®, is partnering with camouflage leader, Mossy Oak, in the launch of the new Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity Bottle.

Casting into a new category of outdoorsmen, the Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity Bottle is a game changer for the avid sportsmen, including fishers and hunters. Sportsmen can now quench their thirst for the wild with the flexible, durable, and undetectable Vapur Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity Bottle.

“The flexible, light-weight features of the Vapur bottle make it an ideal hydration solution for hunters and fishermen. This was a natural next step for Vapur, and we are excited to be partnering with Mossy Oak to make it happen. We see a lot of potential for Vapur in this market, and look forward to what the future holds,” says Brent Reinke, CAO and co-founder of Vapur.

Weighing in at just a few ounces (85% lighter than a rigid bottle), the Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity Bottle is BPA free, dishwasher safe, made in the USA, and freezable. MSRP: $11.99 for .7 liter bottle.

For more information about Vapur and the new Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity Bottle, visit www.vapur.us.

Founded in 2009, California-based Vapur, Inc. is on a mission to make hydration incomparably portable. As the leading designer, marketer and distributor of reusable, handheld, collapsible hydration products, Vapur’s Anti-Bottles® have been adopted by athletes, celebrities, activists and families alike. The ultra-durable Anti-Bottle is proudly manufactured in the USA, BPA-free, freezable and dishwasher-safe. Privately held, with products available worldwide, Vapur contributes a portion of sales to water-related and environmental causes. For more information, visit www.vapur.us and as always, “Live Flexible.”

So, I was curious about this water bottle and I must say I have really been pleased. I did indeed freeze it, when it was full of water. I rolled it up several times, and it was well-abused in my vehicle being kicked around, stomped on, etc. I am particularly impressed with the top – it seals well and is very rugged and functional. I wasn’t sure at first what a rollable water bottle would accomplish, but when they are empty they store easier when they are rolled up. Also – if you were packing into an area where there was a water source, you could roll a bunch up and put them in your pack.

I kind of like the flattish shape as well. It stands up nicely and even full, it stores in my map pocket in my car. By all accounts this water bottle is tough, functional and well designed. I think it’s a great deal for the price. Of course, having it in camo just makes it even more cool!

A Cookbook Review – All Things Jerky
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ALL THINGS JERKY: The Definitive Guide to Making Delicious Jerky and Dried Snack Offerings

I’d really like to thank the folks at Skyhorse Publishing for sending me a copy of this book to review.

From their Press Release: “Exotic jerky—wild salmon, buffalo, alligator—was projected to be the hot culinary trend of 2015 by Parade’s Community Table. ALL THINGS JERKY: The Definitive Guide to Making Delicious Jerky and Dried Snack Offerings (10/6/15; $14.99) focuses on 100 of the best tried-and-tested recipes from around the world and includes recipes designed for everyone from backpackers to country-living folks and from supermarket moms to the avid hunter and fisher.”

So, I’ve been an avid consumer of jerky for years, but amazingly – never a producer. The world of jerky, other than the “standards” – beef and elk; peppered, plain or teriyaki – I am a novice. I’m a bit sheepish to admit I was surprised there were that many variations of this yummy foodstuff. If you made a different recipe every week, it would take you two years to try them all.

Authors Andy Lightbody and Kathy Mattoon have really, really done a great job. Not only have they made available to us the full spectrum of jerky flavors, but they tell us how to create jerky. Whether you’re an expert jerky maker, or are brand new to the game, this should become your “go-to” reference; seriously, your jerky bible.

Smoker, oven, dehydrator – they explain how. They discuss food safety and what types of meat to use. They tell you how to store jerky, what accessories are nice-to-have, and what accessories are need-to-have. They tell you how to sharpen your knives, for pete’s sake!

How does Hawaiian Islands Ginger Chews sound? How about Cranapple Chicken? Tangy Sweet Salmon? Sweet Ranchy Cola? Not a meat eater? Don’t despair – there is a full slate of yummy veggie and fruit recipes too.

So, of course – I had to make some jerky to try the recipes. I don’t have a dehydrator so I used the oven method. I made an elk jerky and a chicken jerky. The flavor was amazing, but honestly, my technique needs work. My first batches were crunchy, not chewy. Next time the meat will not go as long, and at a lower temp. This wasn’t the cookbook’s fault though – this was operator error, pure and simple. I’m hooked to the point where I am going to be going into serious jerky production, in the future.

I used some elk to make Excalibur’s Western BBQ. This recipe had it all – sweet, heat (just a little), and tang. The flavor was awesome.

Excalibur’s Western BBQ Elk Jerky

For my chicken recipe, I tried the Rosemary Tangy Lemon. Again, I loved the lemon zing, loved the tang, loved the herbal kick of the rosemary.

Chicken Jerky “before”

Chicken jerky all done. OK – overdone. But still yummy!

Chicken Jerky “after”

I’m serious when I say I’m getting into the jerky business.This book makes for a complete reference guide and at the price point – $14.99 – it’s a steal. Well done Andy and Kathy; well done Skyhorse!

Interview Coming – Mike Kafka – Inferno Hand Pouch
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Stay tuned for a possible review and also an interview with Mike Kafka. In the meantime, check out this handwarmer!

The Inferno Hand Pouch, a revolutionary hand warmer created by NFL Quarterback Mike Kafka (Eagles, Patriots, Buccaneers and Vikings). The hand pouch is lightweight and contours to the shape of your body, as opposed to bulky options currently on the market. It is perfect for hunting and even includes a specialized belt to hold 10-15 units of ammunition at the ready for a quick reload.

• Mike Kafka was inspired to create The Inferno Hand Pouch after years of playing quarterback in the Big Ten at Northwestern University and the NFL. He was tired of inadequate, cumbersome hand-warming options during cold weather games.

• Says Kafka: “As a Quarterback, I need to use my hands. When the weather turns for the worst, the only hand warming options were bulky. They didn’t cut it. The Inferno Hand Pouch keeps hands warm without getting in the way. When you are a serious athlete, every piece of equipment and extra weight matters. It can make a difference in your performance.”

• The Inferno Hand Pouch is 7mm thick (about the width of a pencil). It is made in the USA with PolarTec® insulation and a weather-resistant Neo-shield outer shell. It is priced between $49.99 – $59.99 and comes in a variety of colors.

Review – Halo Xtanium 600 Rangefinder
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A tip of the hat to Aaron at Source Outdoor Group for sending me a Halo rangefinder for review!

From the Press Release:

Halo’s XTANIUM™ rangefinders use the best technology available to provide accurate yardage, but it’s their extra features that set them apart from the crowd.

With 8x magnification, you can quickly identify whether a buck is worthy of wearing your tag. You don’t have to get caught trying to juggle multiple optics when every second counts.

XTANIUM™ rangefinders also take the guesswork out of difficult shot angles. Inclines and slopes not only affect our ability to judge distance, they also affect bullets and arrows due to the mathematics of gravity and the true horizontal distance to a target. AI Technology™ built into every XTANIUM™ rangefinder accounts for slope to target. Simply take the reading displayed in your XTANIUM™ and make the shot.

If your target is on the move, XTANIUM™ has you covered. Scan mode allows for constant ranging of moving targets, providing up-do-date feedback for that critical moment.

Finally, even the best data won’t do you any good if you can see it, so XTANIUM™ rangefinders feature a red OLED display to make the numbers stand out in any conditions, whether bright sun or those precious last few minutes before dark.
All those great features are packed into Halo’s new tough but light aluminum housing to withstand the bumps and bruises of the most demanding hunt.

Halo XTANIUM™ rangefinders are available in two models. The XTANIUM™ 1000 which ranges distance out to 1,000 yards and the XTANIUM™ 600 which ranges distance out to 600 yards.

XTANIUM™ 600 Features:

• 600 yard range | 8x magnification
• New designed lighter weight aluminum housing
• Maximum of 600 yards to reflective target
• 8x Magnification
• Red OLED display for easy use (organic light emitting diode)
• AI Technology™ accounts for slope to the target
• Scan mode allows for constant ranging
• Precise to +/- 1 yard
• Water resistant
• 1 year warranty
• Uses 1 CR2 lithium ion batter
• Nylon case included

I drew an Arizona Mule Deer tag for Unit 23 this year, which is in central Arizona. For most hunting in Arizona (and in the west for that matter) – a rangefinder is indispensable. Long shots are much more common, and with the rugged canyons found in most units, angle compensation is a great feature. I was anxious to try out the rangefinder from Halo Optics on this hunt.

The Unit take a single Lithium battery, and access is really easy.

The unit comes with a case and a basic User’s manual that is easy to follow. This rangefinder is smaller than some of the others I have used and fits really nicely into my hand. The holster is simple but practical and has a secure closure that you can fasten and unfasten easily with one hand. These are great features. I wish the cord was a little longer; I like to slip it over my belt or tie off to my bino harness in case I drop it or it slips out of the holster. That being said, this holster is secure enough that isn’t much of a worry.

The rangefinder has a solid metal housing which makes it very tough and it is also weather resistant. Included in the display are a reticle, low battery icon, unit of measure (yards or meters) and the angle. The unit has a scan mode which allows you to range continuously while moving the rangefinder from point to point. The documentation indicates the rangefinder will scan an object such as a tree out to 500 yards, and a deer out to 225 yards.I was routinely ranging objects out to 500 yards on my hunting trip. In my case I think it outperformed its stated specifications. The Unit worked really well in low light conditions.

The price listed on the website is $275 and that price is reasonably consistent with other similar rangefinders, with similar features.

The only negative point about this review is the lack of a deer photo. Unfortunately, all we saw were does during this particular hunt, and I was limited to bucks. I would recommend these rangefinders without hesitation, especially if you managed to find one on sale which would really give an edge to the value. Well done, Halo!

Learn more about Halo at their website: Halo Optics

Be A Part of Something Special
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Hopefully anyone that enjoys cooking wild game is already a fan of Hank Shaw. Hank’s recipes are amazing and will really push the boundaries when it comes to preparation of wild, natural fare. Hank has had two successful cookbooks in “Hunt, Gather, Cook” and also “Duck, Duck, Goose”.

Hank is ready to release a new cookbook focused on Venison, and has aptly named it “Buck, Buck, Moose”. He plans to self-publish his new cookbook and has launched a kickstarter campaign which you can check out below.

Icelandic venison tenderloin with mushrooms and blueberries.

Buck, Buck, Moose: Recipes and Techniques for Cooking Deer, Elk, Antelope, Moose and Other Antlered Things celebrates a food so important to humankind that many scientists believe it is one of the reasons we are who we are as a species today. We have hunted deer, in one form or another, since before we were fully human, and every culture in the world has a living venison tradition – from whitetail deer, elk and moose in North America, to red and fallow deer in Europe, axis deer in Asia, sitka deer in Japan, to the myriad forms of antelope and gazelle in Africa. Heck, even the native Australians hunted kangaroo, which has a flavor very much like venison.

Buck, Buck, Moose embraces that global heritage – and its modern expression – with more than 100 recipes ranging from American classics like country-fried steak to Southeast Asian curries, African favorites like bobotie, Chinese stir-fries, traditional European standards – as well as a host of completely original dishes I’ve created just for this book.

Americans and Canadians are eating more venison now than at any time in a century, and many are eager to expand their skills with one of the most free-range and organic of all meats. Wrapping your venison in bacon or dousing it in canned cream of mushroom soup just won’t cut it anymore.

Even non-hunters are starting to look at venison as a healthy alternative. Farmed venison can be bought in fancier supermarkets, and its high protein content, leanness, flavor – as well as the fact that deer cannot be intensively farmed like cattle or pigs – has boosted this market in recent years.

But the best news of all is that more and more people are taking up deer hunting as a way to take control over what they feed themselves and their families. No hormones, no antibiotics, no horrific farm practices.

Buck, Buck, Moose represents a guidebook for both the beginner and the lifelong hunter that will carry you from that moment in the woods all the way to the months of memorable meals that follow a successful hunt.

So here’s your chance. Help be a part of something special. Help a nationally-acclaimed chef get his cookbook on the shelf, and get a copy or a cool tshirt in the process. More importantly, you spread the word about the bounties and benefits of hunting, namely ethically harvested, organic, natural meat. People can learn to prepare it in ways that will literally leave their families and guests awestruck. How could you not want to be a art of that?

Square Duffel bag from Rickshaw
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A big thanks to Jane Chung from Echos Brand Communications for sending me a Square Duffel Bag from Rickshaw Bags for review.

From their media campaign:

Specs:
•Height: 9.5″
•Width: 19″
•Depth: 9″
•Volume (Approx): 1624 cubic inches

Key Features: Machine Washable, Super Light Weight and collapsable, great travel bag – TSA compliant, carry with durable nylon webbing handles or included padded shoulder strap.

Exterior: Black Waterproof X-Pac™
Interior: Saffron Cordura® Nylon

X-Pac™ sailcloth is the perfect material for those of you in wet-weather climates. X-Pac™ is a special high-performance sailcloth for ocean–going racing boats, with a high-tech laminate is lightweight, abrasion resistant and waterproof. So, if wet weather riding is your gig, rest assured what’s inside the bag will stay dry.

Cordura® brand nylon is the classic “backpack” fabric used for durable packs and messenger bags for over thirty years. The fabric is woven in the United States, is extremely durable, machine washable and should last you a lifetime.

Rickshaw Square Duffel

This particular bag would be great to use as a range bag. For mechanics, it would be a great bag to keep some of your specialty tools together. If I was still working as an industrial mechanic, I’d probably use it for pipe wrenches or my rigging tools – line up tools, pry bars, etc. It would make a great bag to load full of jacks and tools and other supplies to aid you if your vehicle breaks down.

Rickshaw Square Duffel all loaded up

What struck me about this bag is the material. You would have to work at it to tear this bag. I tried driving a screwdriver through it in several places and couldn’t. Really. In the old days I was gentle on review products but now I try to really put them through the paces. I tried to puncture it and couldn’t. I loaded it heavy and bounced it up and down with the shoulder strap, trying to make the stitching or buckles fail. They didn’t. This bag is built very, very sturdy.

Heavy duty zippers and stitching

This is a tough, well-built bag that has dozens of uses. I really couldn’t find much fault with the bag itself. The only issue I have with the bag is the price point of $129. That will scare some folks away but based on what I have seen, this bag is nearly indestructible so the price makes a little more sense.

According to the site, they will repair worn or damaged bags for a nominal charge. I think if they just stretch that into a lifetime warranty, they’ve got a home run.

REPAIRS
Believe it or not, we repair our own bags right here in our San Francisco workshop. If your beloved bag has suffered damage in an accident, or is wearing thin from years of use, our expert bagsmiths are here to help. We can mend tears, patch worn spots and replace broken hardware – generally at a nominal cost for time and materials. If you’re in the neighborhood, just drop on by and we’ll take a look. Otherwise, call us at (415) 904-8368, or email us at returns@rickshawbags.com, to make arrangements.

If you’re looking for an extremely tough and durable bag for your tools, survival items, range euipment or whatever, have a look at Rickshaw Bags

4 in 1 Survivor Penlight from Browning
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Thanks to the folks at Browning for sending me one of their survival pens to check out. What a great idea this is, and would be perfect in a backpack or glove compartment.

Browning Survivor Pen Light

The tool has a ballpoint pen designed to write on most surfaces, and a hardened-tip for breaking glass. It includes a high intensity LED light as well.The pen features an “ultra-tough all-aluminum construction”, with a spring steel clip. You can use the clip to attach the light to your hat brim if needed.

Survival pen with ultra-bright LED light

This device doesn’t take up much room, and it could really make the difference in an emergency. It is simple, rugged, well thought-out and a great little tool to have.

Here is the Press Release from Browning:

Browning’s new 4-in-1 Survival Pen features an innovative combination of flashlight, cap light, writing pen and a tactical glass breaker with hardened tungsten carbide point.

The body of the 4-in-1 Survival Pen made from rugged aluminum. The pen features a lock on/lock off twist switch to prevent accidental operation of the flashlight and a pocket clip for easy access.

The white LED has an effective distance of 22 yards, and four LR41 button batteries give the pen an 8-hour run time.

Suggested Retail: $22.00.

For more information on new Browning flashlights for 2015, please visit www.browning.com.

Trout Unlimited: State of the Trout
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I grew up fishing trout. I think it’s important that we keep an eye on these beautiful creatures, and do what we can to spread the word.

Deadline Looming to buy Tickets For The AZ Big Game Super Raffle
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I enter this every year! Would be cool to draw the tag of a lifetime and the money does great work on the ground here in Arizona! You will be able to purchase tickets online until 10:00 pm (Pacific) on Sunday, July 12th ~DesertRat

These Special Tags are designed to earn money for wildlife and wildlife management in Arizona. Every dollar raised for each species by the raffle of these special big game tags is returned to the Arizona Game and Fish Department and managed by the Arizona Habitat Partnership Committee (AHPC) for that particular species. With input from local habitat partners across the state, as well as the input from the organizations involved with the fund raising, they collectively determine which projects will provide the most benefit to each species represented.

Operating costs are covered entirely by sales of the Optics Raffle and New Mexico Elk Hunt tickets as well as contributions from the sponsoring organizations. The management of the raffle is overseen by a volunteer board of directors.

There are very few limitations on hunting areas and the prices for each ticket have been set to give every hunter in the world an opportunity to win a true hunt of a lifetime. Prices range from $5-25 each. (See the Buy Tickets page).

Arizona offers some of the best trophy opportunities in North America for each of these species. A quick review of the both the B&C and P&Y record book will confirm this. If you are after a truly huge mule deer, elk, antelope, Coues deer, desert bighorn sheep, or buffalo, then Arizona is where you need to be. The only huntable population of Gould’s turkeys in the United States exists in Southern Arizona and can be hunted with this tag.

You can buy your tickets HERE